Friday, April 24, 2009

Deployment Lessons 1: Taking care of myself

What's really crazy: It was about a year and a half ago that I heard about and voluneered for this deployment. I've done a lot so far to make myself into the kind of person who is ready to go to war, and I've realized that a lot of my lessons so far can be applied to living life in general, including:

*Learning how to pack light. Trust me, you don't need all the crap that you think you do, and it is do-able to have everything that makes you comfortable without having to throw away or waste things. I've learned to keep only what I need and sacrifice the rest. This is something that comes with moving around a lot -- from city to city, apartment to apartment, duffel bag to rucksack, barracks to barracks, now country to country.

*Getting a head start. Yeah, all that administrative stuff? making sure my bills were online and accessible by both myself and my power of attorney was imperative to leaving with a clean conscience. Plus you don't worry about all that paper mail being shipped to Lord knows where or winding up in a landfill. I like knowing that my personal affairs can be handled easily by me, myself and I, or, if I end up without an internet connection, my mother.

*Getting in shape. You can't shortcut everything with diet. You have to move your butt! "I'm too tired, long day at work," "I don't like exercising with people," "I don't like exercising in front of people," "Carrying around all this gear/training is enough exercise." Mmmm Hmmm... Remember, a little effort is better than none! 20 push ups here, a few sit ups or lunges there, a one mile run is better than just feeling guilty about doing nothing and plotting to run five miles tomorrow. I still have a lot to do, but I have to constantly forgive myself for not being perfect and start over. It's okay tho, we're all a work in progress.

*Connecting with loved ones. That ignored phonecall, neglected text message, unanswered email, deleted voicemail. Yeah, those add up. It's easy to cut people out when they aren't prominent roles in the movie of your life right now, but at least let them know you're alive. Sgt. Joe Roos loves to say that "The best gift you can give somebody is your time." Sure, it's gonna take a while to really catch up with Nana, but a quick 5 or 10 minute phone takes little effort and at least you know that you did it should something happen. If you really are strapped for time just simply say at the beginning of the phonecall, email, whatnot, "I've been pretty busy and don't have much time to talk right now, but I just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you and thought we should touch base."

Most of the best things in life are a result of the things that we don't want to do at first. We always feel better about ourselves after we pay our bills, go for a little run, do our laundry, do our homework. Sure, it's hard to get shakin', but once you do, it's hard not to follow through.