Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday's Tips

Balancing Life as a Military Mom

Danielle Blackwell

I am honored today to write about my friend, Danielle. With Veterans' Day approaching, I thought it only fitting to feature not only a mom, but a woman who also serves our country. She does this while being an awesome mom to her daughter. Danielle & I met at a church our families previously attended together and I have been fortunate that our paths have crossed again. I am thankful for the connection that we have.

  Tell us about your family
  My family and I are originally from Oakland, CA (except for my granny, she is from Crossett, AR), but we (my mom, sister Jessica my sister Patrice and I) moved here to Arkansas back in December of 1999.  We are a small family somewhat spread out.  My mom still lives in Crossett, while my sisters and two nephews (Malik, age 9 and Kingston age 1) live in Conway.  My 83 year old grandmother and 86 year-old grandfather live in Maumelle and I live in Little Rock with my daughter Alivia (7years old).  Alivia has changed my life! I can't imagine my life without her. She's very intelligent, funny, and full of personality, compassion, love and pure kindness.  She is exactly what I prayed for.

Why did you decide to join the military & at what age did you enlist?

 I had absolutely no intention on joining the military. I always wanted to be an author/broadcast journalist and work for CNN.  So one day while working in the customer service department at my local grocery store, this recruiter approached me about joining the National Guard to pay for my college.  I didn't want the financial burden of college tuition so I said yes! I was twenty five years old when I raised my right hand and swore an oath to our nation and twenty six when I went basic training.

Have you ever been deployed overseas? If so, what was that experience like? Have you been deployed (either stateside or overseas since becoming a mom?
I joined the National Guard in 2001, went to basic training in 2002 and was mobilized to Iraq, to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in February of 2004.  This was the first big mobilization for the Arkansas Guard and I had no idea what to expect.  I knew that I would be safe and protected, but the fear of the unknown weighed heavy on my mind before I went overseas.  My experience was very personal and spiritual.  I began to mature in my faith, grow as a Soldier and a young woman and had the opportunity to look at life through an entirely different lens. I made friends and developed bonds that were strong.  My family was very supportive. Both biological and church.  I received letters and care packages all the time.  I have not been deployed since being a mom.

 How do you balance motherhood & full-duty service?
Balancing motherhood and full-time duty has its challenges, but I do not do it alone.  I have a strong support system with my grandparents.  They keep my daughter whenever I work late hours or weekends, pick her up and take her to school... you name it they do it!  However, I utilize what I call the 4 Ps:

1.    PRAY- .Pray  for guidance and wisdom
2.    PLAN-  Plan my days ahead
3.    PREPARE- Prepare for my days ahead
4.    PROCEED- Proceed with the plan. These principles work at home and on the job!

What advice do you have for other military moms?
My advice to military moms is to first be centered in who you are. As women, we wear so many different hats, we often lose our identity.  So in essence, a strong sense of self-awareness is vital.  Also, I am learning to "be in the moment" with my daughter; to be completely present in my mind and energy when I am in her presence.  It's easy to pick up our children from school or come home with "work funk" on us, so I try my best to rid myself of it! Lastly, take a day off to RESET! Sometimes our internal "Surge Protector "goes haywire and we just need to take a moment and push the RESET button!!  

Until next time, thank you for stopping by....

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