“Bloom where you are planted.”
“Home is wherever we are together.”
“Hurry up and wait.”
All phrases I had heard before, but didn’t really appreciate until I became a military spouse. OK — maybe not the last one.
I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Reena O’Brien. I spent close to two decades working in TV news before meeting my husband and embarking on this journey. Before then, my exposure to military life was limited to stories told on the news.
Since then, I have found different roles in my career field but remain, as many military spouses do, wondering when and where our next move will be. This nomadic life often has me looking forward to tomorrow instead of enjoying today.
This is my third duty station as an Army spouse. Three moves in five years. Each move causing an air of uncertainty, but always growing to love where we are planted. Lifelong friendships are born and treasured memories made.
We arrived at Fort Hood last year and it has taken me 365 days to really find my way; to find my trusted pals and advisers, find the right organizations to get involved in and to find my “go-to” spots. In short, to find a delicate balance to Army life.
That delicate balance will look different for each of us. Here at Fort Hood, I search to find my purpose — it feels like I am reinventing a small part of myself. From deployments to permanent change of station moves and everything in between, one thing has become clear — that search for purpose is up to me.
My motivation comes from a variety of places — family, career, giving back and health and wellness. And there are many ways for me to find my way here at the Great Place. I guess it just took me a little longer than I had anticipated.
For me, it came from forging new friendships and building on existing ones; from volunteering for Santa’s Workshop to provide toys for our military boys and girls. It came from attending redeployment ceremonies to welcome home our heroes as they are reunited with family and friends. Some days, I draw purpose from simply sitting on the porch with the family and catching up on the day. And other times, from spending time on the yoga mat reminding myself that I am enough.
What I have learned in my search for purpose is how strong, supportive and resilient military spouses are. The kindness spouses show each other has made me proud to stand in such great company. Are there bad days? You bet! And on those bad days, we have each other. And from each other, we gain strength, support, love and kindness.
We are in this together. And I have never met a community that sacrifices like military families. And I have never seen a community come together like military families.
So, as we welcome spring with fields of bluebonnets and Texas wildflowers, it seems the perfect time to reconnect with ourselves.
It could mean carving out a few minutes to stop and breathe, or it could mean turning up your favorite song as it comes on the radio while picking up your kiddos from school.
It could mean waking up a few minutes earlier than normal to enjoy that morning cup of coffee. It could mean stopping to chat with your neighbor. People travel at such warp speeds every single day — life is busy. Many times, we may feel like we are drinking from a fire hose and we forget to stop and take stock.
So, before the Texas summer sets in, take a minute, breathe and give yourself a pat on the back.
Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and a Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.