When You’re an Extrovert With Anxiety {Who May or May Not Be a MilSpouse}

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m an extrovert. There’s no question about it. I love to laugh, and be loud. Hanging with a crowd, going out with a group of people – it’s where I love to be. But there’s another side to be an extrovert that I’ve only recently faced head on.

When you’re the extrovert you are almost always a couple of other things…

1) You are the initiator. You are frequently the planner, the organizer. The desire to go out and be around people drives you to pull others along with you. You value the time out and you recognize how important it can be to not only yourself, but to others as well.

2) You Reach Out. You typically make the phone calls, write the texts and send the emails. When you are feeling alone or miss people you text, call, poke, bug and annoy! Even though we do this naturally, and usually love it, it can be hard to keep this going.

There’s another side to those things that I struggle with – trying to balance the ‘Extrovert’ in me with the realities of my struggles with depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression are an Extroverts Battle too!

One of the biggest ways this manifests itself for me is the concern that my friends aren’t actually my real friends. It sounds crazy, but if you think about it it can make perfect sense. When you are the planner and the caller, the person that reaches out, it isn’t very often that someone needs to do that to you. Most likely you are beating them to the punch. But then there are days and weeks, or even months, that go by without hearing from someone because YOU haven’t been the one to call them. You think, “does this person even like me?” It’s a combination of factors that has led you to this point. When I’m anxious or overwhelmed I draw in to myself, I don’t talk about it, and I don’t ask for help. Thus the downward spiral begins. I stop calling, stop texting and therefore I become more isolated. No one is calling me, because I’m the caller! Or maybe its because they aren’t actually my friend and don’t really like me. Maybe not, but my brain can’t rationalize the difference. Sometimes I just don’t want to be the ‘caller’. But on the other hand I realize that it might not be fair to suddenly alter a relationship without telling the other person. I don’t know what its like to be an introvert, or someone that doesn’t like to talk on the phone.
If you are someone who is the ‘Reacher” you may have heard “well, I always think you’re too busy. You look like you’re so busy!” Don’t let those stop you from calling someone! I try to be the kind of person that will answer the phone quickly to acknowledge the call and say that I will return it quickly. Because you know what happens? A day turns into a week, which turns into a month. Pretty soon, its been six months and you’ve haven’t talked to that person. As an extrovert I will NEVER NEVER ever be too busy for contact…even phone or text contact. In fact I would guess that most of us literally light up and smile so big it hurts when my phone rings! The only exception came when I was suffering from some major depression. 
The realities of a Milspouse Extrovert with Anxiety….

This particular part of my life can really accentuate my anxiety. Moving away from the ones you love, from the ones you’ve built your life around and with changes things. Whether you are an extrovert or not. I’m here to tell you, this three hour time difference is pretty crappy and is the worst!!! This has been one the single hardest things of my life, keeping relationships strong and connected. I can’t do it with facebook and instagram alone! It might be my age showing here, but I just can’t. I need a voice to go with that relationship; and I refuse to let my busy life get in the way of what fills my love jar {have you read a Love Languages book?}. My depression that kicked in with my last move was all-consuming. Even I, the queen of the extroverts, didn’t pick up the phone. I knew it was a lot to ask to not have people not give up on me, after months of not picking up the phone. But I beg of you, if you find yourself in this situation, keep calling them. 
So, what can you do as an Extrovert in this situation? I don’t really know or have the answers. I’m going through this right now and this is the first time I’ve talked about it; navigating these waters for the first time.  But I will say this one thing…
Communicate. I think as women, whether we are moms or not, we know how to talk. We talk about our feelings and frustrations. But are we really communicating? I would argue we aren’t. As a self-proclaimed expert in emotions and sensitivity I am terrible at communicating. I never ask for help, I never tell someone that I’m struggling until its zero hour and I’ve forgotten two things for the meeting we are at and I’m bawling as I race home in my car for the SECOND time to get it. I walk back in and I’ve fixed my face having not expressed my feelings or how I’m struggling. It’s not good. Admitting your struggles doesn’t make you weak!
From the perspective of an extrovert, what can you do
 when your extrovert isn’t quite themselves?
1. Call them now!!! Something is probably up. If you haven’t had a major falling out, they aren’t sick or something along those lines, then something is right. When an extrovert isn’t being an extrovert something is not right.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.  You might not be extrovert and you rely on these extroverted friends of yours to get you out of the house. Well, you might have to step out of your comfort zone.
3. But what if I’m a mom and they’re a mom and the kids are running around crazy!!! I feel like these are the people that need someone calling them the most, and you need to talk the most! Our kids are our lives, and our husbands are important, but self-care is also important. As a military spouse I also rely on my legacy of friendship to get me through those times I feel isolated. When I’m in between friendships, or developing new ones, or just long for the “good old days.”  Those long time friends, despite how much you talk to them, end up being the most valuable things you have in your lives. Don’t forget about those people.
I hope this blog post touches someone, speaks to someone, or someone that is feeling this same way is validated by reading this. Are you struggling with this same feeling? How do you cope with them? If you are a military spouse feeling this way contact Military One Source. It was one of the best decisions I made. Please contact me as well, anytime!!

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Ring Doorbell – Peace of Mind at Home

I am really excited to bring to you all my review and experience with Ring Video Doorbell. I had first seen this cool product on my friend’s cell phone. They had received it as a gift from someone and I instantly became obsessed. I immediately thought of all my military family and how having this type of product would not only make them possibly feel better, but their spouses who travel often. Its a doorbell and basic security system {while not technically so} all roll into one. I can tell you right now that I absolutely love this product and wish I could buy one for everyone in my life. The combinations and possibilities to combine your Ring experience to your customized needs is part of what makes this a really neat product.

Meet the Ring, Video Doorbell

It comes in four different finish options, included the nickel you see above, antique brass, polished brass and venetian bronze, which looks very black. There is an HD camera that presents an extremely clear image, microphones that are very clear and very loud {I’ve yelled at my kids across the lawn before!}, motion detection and night vision {you can clearly see out your Ring video even when your porch light is off – seriously cool}. Mobile access is through your android or iPhone devices {check out the app here} and you have several options for installation. For us, we chose to set it up with its rechargeable battery. Our current doorbell is ancient and would require major repair, so we chose this way. The battery lasts for FOREVER even with regular use, which we were pleasantly surprised as it isn’t easy to dislodge the Ring from the plate that is screwed your house. While this is extremely good for security (no one is stealing your Ring) we weren’t looking forward to having to remove it often for recharge. Thankfully that is not the case. You are looking at over a month of constant use (depending on how you have your area of coverage set up) before you have to recharge it. If however, someone does manage to rip you off, Ring comes with a lifetime protection coverage. If someone steals it, Ring will replace it for free. {$200}

Customization Options

So, I know I previously mentioned customization. And other than your faceplate colors, the options to customize your experience with the Ring are pretty neat. 
Snag yourself The Chime, which is a really cool plug-in extension of your phone app. If you are away from your phone, if you have a large house the chime is a perfect option. And don’t worry, you can put it in sleep mode if you have little ones sleeping or just want some peace and quiet. {$29.95}
{via Ring}
You can also add secondary cameras around your home, with the easy-to-install Stick Up Cam! {$199.00}
{via Ring}
Cloud Video Recording comes with your Ring for 30 days, after that a small yearly fee keeps your videos available anytime you need them to look back on them. 

Overall we’ve been really pleased with the device. The app set-up was very easy, and once we got the right screws, installation was easy. We have a brick house, and the we did have to go out and buy a bit for our drill that could cut through the bring better. But once we did that it was a breeze. Setting up the perimeters took a little bit of adjustment. We wanted maximum protection but didn’t want the car going off with every car driving buy. I was very impressed with the fish-eye type camera that detected movement all the way to my driveway and to the opposite side of the house. I had briefly thought about purchasing one for the side door, but when I discovered that the reach was so good I realized I didn’t have to. The cloud recording is a necessary feature in my book. We haven’t yet purchased it, but I plan to. Unless you catch the video right when you are altered by your app you can’t even go back and view the alert, which is kind of a bummer. So if you don’t have the cloud viewing, make sure you are checking every alert. But at about $30 a year, it seems like a tiny fee in comparison to other options out there on the market. I think that for military families, families with spouses who work long hours or travel a lot, this is a remarkable product that could greatly improve peace of mind. It is incredible affordable when you compare it to other types of more complex security services, and I love that it serves many purposes. The two-way talk option is probably my favorite.
One down side is that occasionally we have this problem. And the loading can take forever. But it doesn’t happen often enough for me be frustrated enough to say forget it. 
Check out a Ring Video and visit them on their website or facebook and twitter! Also please feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll be happy to answer as best as I can! Thank you so much and spread the word about Ring!
do you have a home security system? what do you love about it?
Do you own a ring?! share your stories with us!

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Thanking our Military During the Holiday Season #MetLifeTDP

This post was sponsored by the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central

As a military family being thankful for our military community is something that usually on our minds all time. We are right in the thick of things. During the holidays though, especially when we are fortunate enough to have our loved one home, we think about those that don’t. We know the pain and sadness of the empty chair. Its something that can be hard to deal with. But you make your own way. You fill your house with other people that also have empty chairs, or sometimes you just put your daddy pillow in that chair and power through. Sometimes thanking the Military isn’t actually thanking the service member. Sometimes its acknowledging the family that is left behind.

Checking in on our fellow Homefront people, inviting them over for dinner, game night, offering to watch the kids so the spouse that is at home can have some time to themselves. These are all ways that anyone can be a part of acknowledging their military community during the holidays, and anytime of the year. Because while the holidays may be some of the hardest times to not be with your family, service members are overseas and away from their families all year long. I make sure to send care packages as much as possible, and if my husband learns of someone he is with that is having a particularly difficult time, they get a care package too. Even a small letter is appreciated! Getting your whole family involved shows your children that they can make a difference, even in a small way. It helps us us cope in our own way,

Organizations and companies, like Metlife TRICARE Dental, also want to wish military families well during the holiday season. The Winter season can be rough when it comes to taking care of yourself. Sickness is going around, sometimes weather makes it difficult to get out, and you just want to stay holed up and cozy in your home. .,.

Metlife TRICARE Dental has some great winter health messages and ideas for us,
 to get us through, not only the holiday season, but the winter season as well.

It’s important during Pregnancy, to take of your teeth. In TRICARE’s Winter Dental Health Matters issue, they discuss this very thing. “According to the American Dental Association, the hormonal risk of developing gum disease, which can affect your health and the health of your baby.” Dental health during pregnancy is so important that TRICARE includes a third cleaning during a consecutive 12-month period at no extra cost. The fact that TRICARE sees the importance and backs it up by encouraging you to take care of your teeth without causing financial difficulties shows me what a great organization they really are.

Another important message this Winter is that of survivor benefits. This is another area in which TRICARE has seen a very real issue and is doing what they can to help during what is a very difficult time. There is no requirement to have been previously enrolled in TDP to utilize the benefit. Premiums are covered in full. And what really hits home for me is that Metlife TRICARE Dental extends this same benefit to those on Guard and Reserve duty, regardless of whether or not they were activated at the time of death. This coverage is made available for three years, and then surviving family is able to enroll in the Retiree Dental Program. This is what is so wonderful about the Military community. Even though things are never perfect, there are so many organizations, for profit, and non-profit, that are supporting you during your worst times.  And for that I’m very thankful. You can read more from their 2015 Winter Health Matters newsletter here.

And perhaps the most important thing to me, as an Air Guard spouse, is the quality of care that we receive from the dental program. I am thankful for the ability to get decent care and I really encourage any National Guard and Reserve family that doesn’t have dental, or perhaps only uses civilian, to either sign up for Metlife TRICARE dental or add it as an additional service as we do in our home. Then you will have access to a provider network of over 250,000 dental locations worldwide! And as a National Guard or Reserve service member, who is enrolled in TDP, you can have your network provider fill out the Department of Defense Active Duty/Reserve Forces Dental Examination Form (DD form 2813) at no cost. Hubby does this all time, at a dentist of his own choosing, without having to go on base. Its really awesome!

connect with them on social media!

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MilSpouse Stories: How We Do Reintegration {In 5 Easy Steps}

While we all know reintegration can sometimes be the opposite of easy, there are things that you can mentally prepare for that will make the transition as easy as possible. We recently had what felt like our one-millionth reintegration and this time around I’ve had several people ask me how we do it when he comes home. Fortunately for us Mr. Air Force and I have had a ton of experience at this, but we weren’t always this awesome at it. And while most of my advice in this particular post centers around family, reintegration without kids can be tricky in its own right. A lot of the stories and advice work for both situations.

Reintegration is tough, ask any MilSpouse. I’ve found myself struggling with making sure I find the balance between letting them feel like they are a part of the family directly and not putting too much pressure on them. For the spouse that has been at home, me, I’ve gotten into a routine. I’ve filled the role of both parents, of house fixer, boo boo kisser, bedtime story reader and all that other stuff that is usually split up between two people. I find myself taking over and doing things that he would normally do…or doing nothing in the hopes that he will step in and do it. Neither of which is probably fair for either one of us. I am a lucky girl though. I have a spouse who comes home and realizes that we’ve been going on without him, that I’ve been doing a lot, that the kids have chores and routines that he might have forgotten or not realized. He always asks how things are going, and what their chores and routines are. This is something that has evolved over our the years in our marriage, something we’ve really worked on. We’ve learned a lot over the last fourteen years and hopefully what we’ve experienced can help someone who reads this.

1. Don’t Rush It
We’ve done it both ways, rushed and not rushed, and taking it slow when you need to is the way the to go. There are times that we’ve really needed it, and times that we’ve picked up right where we’ve  we left off without so much as a hiccup.  Leaving the next day for a family vacation, even if its just the a quiet one, might not be the greatest of ideas. And while having a Welcome Home party is a fun idea, overwhelming your service member with a large group of people directly after they arrive home, might be best saved for a couple days down the line. But just like everyone does deployment different, everyone does reintegration different.
“Give yourself time to readjust as a family/couple BEFORE inviting extended family and friends for an extended visit or long weekend stay. Having additional moving wheels in your new dynamic can really set things back. I would include parents and siblings in this guideline.  The deployed parent is playing catch-up with childhood milestones, the kids are trying to navigate the new normal while keeping up in school, and the non-deployed parent is just trying to hold it all together.”
Don’t rush things. You all have changed and experienced different emotions, joys and challenges and it will take time to find your new normal. Just make sure that your expectations are realistic, and most of all be patient with each other. Things may not be like before and that’s ok.
Judy – The Direction Diva

photo credit: Gronde Photography

2. Routine
In my own personal life this has been key. The excitement of having a parent home when they’ve been gone a lot for the kids, and myself too. And while sticking with the standard routine can be complicated sometimes when you are introducing a parent in who hasn’t been a part of the routine or doesn’t know the changes in routine well, its a good thing for kids. Resilient as MilKids are, the structure that is found in a routine is so important for them. This is why I have learned how important it is to keep the deployed service member aware of the routine through your normal conversations. It keeps them connected and feeling involved while they are gone, and can only help with the reintegration process when they return.
 I’ve (slowly) learned that the key for our family is routine. It’s bewildering for my husband to come home and be dumped into the routine we figured out. His unfamiliarity with daily activities makes him uncomfortable, frustrates and confuses our son, and puts me on edge (often unreasonably). Our last deployment I had the surprising effective idea to put a small dry erase board on the fridge with our daily schedule Every morning, if there was anything different or unusual going on, I would write it at the bottom. I also emailed that schedule to him before he came home. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule – just an outline of how our day normally ran. What time munchkin needed to be in the bathtub in order to get to bed on time, etc. It totally changed reintegration for us. There will always be adjustment, but keeping communication open (especially non-confrontational channels is always a good idea. This time, I also insisted on taking some time for myself, and setting aside some time just for our son and I, even right after he came home.
3. Expectation
Expectations can be all over the place and it is important to talk about them and acknowledge them. What are you excited about, what are you worried about, what do they want and what do you want. If there are children involved, sometimes they aren’t as excited for the return of their parent as much as you might hope. This is something I’ve experienced myself. My husband was so incredibly sweet and patient with our littlest one. Its important that they know it isn’t them and don’t take it personally.
The hardest thing for us is my husband and the kids. {My husband} was gone six of my son’s first year (2 three month deps) and also away for his birth so they’ve had a lot of trouble connecting. Basically {he} wanted nothing to do with him and it broke his heart. So we eased into him being home, accepting that it would take time for {our son} to fully accept him. I’ve had to really reassure my husband that it will take some time and they’ll be best friends before he knows it. Fortunately our daughter adores him so it’s never an issue for her when he returns.
~ Anonymous MilSpouse~
4. Time as a couple
Especially important, and almost always forced to the back burner when you have children, is the importance reconnecting as a couple. I’ve noticed as the kids get older and become more aware of the realities when Daddy is gone, the focus switches almost entirely to them. It is sometimes a good thing because I am so focused on helping them through this that I don’t have time to dwell on my sadness. The flipside of that is if I ignore myself entirely for too long I end of freaking out over something tiny. So inevitably when they come home the kids want to command all of the attention, which is understandable. Date nights are important all the time, but after a long separation they should be a priority. Even if its a stay at home date night, setting apart time to do something special is so key to a successful reintegration.
Take time to spend time together but also take time to spend time apart. Jumping from being apart all the time to being together all the time can be challenging at times. Scheduling some alone time can help. I also find that scheduling things for us to look forward to doing together is helpful. It helps if we get out and do things instead of simply staying around the house all the time. They’re kind of like “dates” to help us reconnect.

5. Help them play catch up
Especially when your service member is gone for a year, there is so much they can feel like they missed. And sometimes a themed care-package doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve seen people delay taking down Christmas if the arrival of their service member is close to Christmas, or wait altogether. Back in the day when you used VHS to record things, I recorded all sorts of silly and ridiculous things that my husband missed during a year long stint. That was a commitment! To this day I record tons of things and we have almost nightly date nights playing catch up on all that he missed. To involve your kids, have them keep a deployment journal with pictures or written entries if they are older. It will be so much fun to look through with their parent.
 I also keep a folder of random things from during his deployment he can look through when he gets a chance (or when he can’t sleep). It has notes I made, or cards that came in the mail, funny things I read and thought of him, etc. Last deployment he was gone over Christmas so I had a big pile of Christmas cards for him. I think it helps make him feel “caught up” on what he missed while he was away.
Tara ~ An Aiming High Wife

photo credit: Gronde Photography

learn about reintegration tips and more in this new book!
Don’t miss you

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MilSpouse Wellness Summit is coming ~ Oct 19-23 {attendance is free}

I am so exited to be a part of the MilSpouse Wellness Summit, brought to you by INdependent, Army Wife Network and USAA Educational Foundation. Invest in yourselves by attending this free summit online.

The summit will prove to be an invaluable and truly wonderful experience for all who attend.

At the summit you will find health, nutrition, fitness, and financial experts who are all eager to help you thrive as a military spouse. EVERY REGISTERED participant receives a 1-year membership to Thrive Market (Retail Value $49) and a chance to win tons of PRIZES by MetLife Dental, MSB New Media, SpouseBox, Elva Publishing, QALO rings, Lucy Activewear, and many more. If that’s not enough to peak your curiosity I’m not sure what is.

One of the reasons I’m looking forward to this summit is that taking an all-encompassing view of wellness, not just a physical wellness, is so important. Physical wellness, mental wellness…and financial wellness. Money has always stressed me out, and I didn’t realize how crucial all of that was to a total body wellness. Military spouses are strong individuals. We power through so much, deal with so much, and succeed through so much. We are not to be pitied. And that’s what I appreciate about all those involved in this summit. They see all those things.

Come join myself and other ambassadors by following us on social media, with the hashtag #MSWS15! Don’t forget to register here so you can snag all the amazing stuff!!

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