Finding Priorities in Changing Environments

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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IMG_5117As a military family, we are not strangers to change.  Orders change, duty stations change, daddy leaves, daddy comes home. Mommy’s happy; mommy’s overwhelmed. Change is just a part of our lives and we have adapted to it as our family grows.

But this Christmas, 6 months after our big PCS move from Kittery, Maine to Kodiak Island, AK, I noticed just how much an environmental change had impacted our family dynamic, and the truth was startling. It would seem insignificant to someone in the lower 48 states, but we are totally limited to the food, activities, and events that occur ON Kodiak Island, AK.

Family Changes

When we watch TV, we see commercials for places, restaurants, and activities that occur all over that State of Alaska (which is BIG, if you’re not familiar). But unlike Alaskans that live on the Mainland of AK who can reach these different places by land, we say to one another, “well, we can’t even drive there” or “wouldn’t Pizza Hut be yummy? Too bad we’re here on the island.”

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You see, the only ways off of Kodiak Island are a 9 hour + ferry ride, or a plane ride to Anchorage. And plane rides aren’t cheap for a family of four. Through our military base, we can take a Space-A flight on one of the Coast Guard planes to Anchorage for a day trip once a year (or more times, if we put our names on the list and wait for availability) – and we do plan on doing that in the Spring. But it’s a huge change from anywhere else in the United States in that I can’t say “I need to run to target” or “Let’s go to the mall and walk around.” This is so different for us and for our Silly Bears, because driving to the mall to walk around and visit the play place on a rainy day was commonplace, and we enjoyed going to Target and Joann’s Crafts and all the restaurants that just aren’t available here. . . the kids would look forward to earning a special eating-out trip, as long as they didn’t accumulate three strikes for unruly behavior during the week. Their favorites: The Grapes and Chocolate Spagetti Store (Olive Garden) and the good ol’ House of Mouse (Chuck-e-Cheese’s). Neither of which is available here on the island (and if anybody on Kodiak is reading this, wouldn’t a Chuck-e-Cheese franchise here make BANK!? Just saying. . . )

Fitness Frustrations

The most impactful issue facing me regarding this change from mainland life to a secluded, limited island life is the issue of fitness. When we were in Maine, I had gotten into a really solid workout routine at the YMCA in the neighboring city to ours (a 20 minute drive at most) and 5-6 days a week, I would take the kids with me to the Y, and they would enjoy an hour and a half playing in the KidsZone child care center while I worked out, got a shower, and enjoyed some peaceful, mood-boosting exercise, un-hurried and unencumbered.  It was good for ALL of us. Kodiak Island has no YMCA, and no gym with childcare that I know of. I tried taking the kids to the “Parent Room” in the gym on base, but honestly, I hated it. I would’t get a good workout because I was constantly stopping to parent my kids. And by the end of however much time the kids allowed me to have, I was more stressed than before I went to go exercise.

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There’re more things that I tried to do in order to get exercise while mommy-ing my little Silly Bears here on Island. But the time that Abbey is at preschool (and Joe is home with me) is the best time for me to have work/college time, and at night, after the kids go to bed, is just not a productive time for me to exercise. I’m tired, and usually, I’m also facing deadlines for college or writing or sewing for my shop, so I use that night time for those tasks as well. Hiking and jogging outdoors is only feasible during a few months out of the year. Playing in the snow is fun exercise, but it seems like we get more icy rain than snow here (at least this Winter so far).

As a result of moving here and not having access to the community amenities (like the YMCA) that I had at our last mainland duty station, I’ve gained at least 5, if not 10 pounds, and most importantly, my mood and energy level has suffered as a result of not getting the exercise that I was accustomed to.

Changing – To Stay the Same

But it really is true – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even facing a really frustrating situation and suddenly realizing the issues it was causing for me, I was still the determined, multi-faceted, creative thinking person that I’ve always been, and after telling my husband that I needed to have his support in creating a way for me to get exercise (preferably kid-less at least a couple days per week), I set out to make a plan to get it done. We’re a week into 2014, and I have been exercising consistently 5 days a week for the past 2 weeks. It feels SO GOOD. I missed it SO much. I’ll write more later on the ways I have achieved this.

I really don’t care how many pounds I lose, or the fact that exercising will make my clothes fit better again (of course, that will be nice for my self-esteem!). I care that I FEEL GOOD AGAIN. That’s always been a priority of mine, and it will continue to be.

I thrive on stability in exercise. I’ve definitely realized this as a result of our move here and the environmental change that took our normal “fun activities” out of the house off the table along with my beloved YMCA with a child care area.  I pretended for the first few months that island life wasn’t much different from life in the lower 48, but I’m not pretending anymore. It’s different here, and it’s vital to stay consistent in my priorities and adapt them to my environment in order to make sure that I, mommy, am feeling good.

Have you ever gotten out of a good habit as a result of a change in environment? How did you reconcile your needs and your new environment?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Comments

  1. Oh, my gosh, Amy, I’m trying to imagine a loooong Alaskan winter without Chuck E. Cheese & indoor play spaces. Your last thoughts are so important — sometimes what it takes to change what’s not working is to admit that it’s not working and that it’s up to you to adapt to the differences. Good for you for figuring out a way to work with your new environment! Tell me if you open that House of Mouse and become a millionaire. ;)

    • tee hee hee. I could never run a franchise (well, never say never. . . ) but really. . . somebody would seriously have major business even if they just opened up an indoor play area here!

  2. It sounds like you have made some really big changes in your life but you have adapted to keeping life the same where possible. Hope you find some alternative places to take your children that you all love. :)

    • We have found great places to hike, and we love playing at the parks available to us, or going to see the sea life exhibit (small, but nice!) at the fisheries building. . . there’s definitely stuff to do, but mostly, it’s getting through the winter and rainy cold spring and fall that’s hard. You run out of options pretty quickly, when you have limited options available.

  3. Wow, I can’t imagine living somewhere like that, we’re in London, UK and everything we need is minutes away! It sounds like you’re making good progress to overcome to challenges though, although it must be hard after being used to living in a certain way x

    • I could never have imagined it either (I grew up in Houston, TX which is a big metro area). But moving around in the military can really shift your perspective. I find it both a blessing and a curse <3 Thanks for your comment!

  4. This sounds a bit like when we first moved to Italy . . . of course things were more accessible, but they were all SO different than what we were used to. We had to get used to not being able to just run out to wherever like we had been. (It was a long two years without Target and Starbucks, ha!) Glad to hear you are doing well. We PCS in just under 8 months, so already thinking about it and planning in my head.

    • Oh, wow! Italy! It’s kind of freeing in a way not to be able to just run to Target. . . or get take out for dinner. I’m learning new recipes, learning to preserve foods, and I’m learning to be yet again even more adaptable. But you know the feeling. Sometimes it’s just all you have within not to scream “let me out of here (off this island/back to my home country/etc). Good luck with your next PCS and thank you for your family’s service!

  5. That sounds crazy-making, Amy. I don’t know how you are doing it. Really – how are you doing it?!

    • Definitely with lots of prayer, introspection, frequent pow-wows with the hubs, and love and support from all my amazing friends and family near (and/but mostly far away). . .

      Yeah, I’m not sure how I’m doing it. I guess that’s what my blog is about: Making it All Work! ;)

  6. I think it’s so wonderful to be able to say “I thrive on stability in exercise” and to make that stability happen even in a challenging environment. I’m interested to know how you’ve managed that! Your creativity in finding solutions-for-all is inspiring :-)

    • I really try to make that my central thought regarding health and exercise: I thrive on getting the exercise that my body needs. I feel so much better when I do, and I’m a better wife and mom (and friend, and LLL Leader, etc) too!

  7. I cannot imagine the huge change that comes with moving to a remote island. Great that you were able to reestablish your exercise routine. I couldn’t wait to get back into running post partum. At least I was able to take walks outside during the summer to at least have some type of movement. It feels great to get the blood moving.

    • Thanks for your comment, Katie! It really does just get you “go get ‘em” going when you get that blood pumping. That’s why I love getting active . . . however I can! And also why I got so down in the dumps when that stability wasn’t available for me!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

  2. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

  3. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

  4. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

  5. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

  6. […] first with regard to what I need to feel good was something that I needed to do to survive here. I thrive on stability in exercise, whether or not I am trying to lose weight.  Exercise just makes me feel good, and its something […]

  7. […] Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness. […]

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