When we last spoke, it was August. I was searching for consistency, for a real mattress, for a sense that this place could be my home.
I’m still looking for my coffee shop, and have yet to settle anything in this house aside from the linen closet and the pantry (where there is order, blessed order), but I’ve learned that this is a great house for rainbows. We get a full arc that you can see from the front door every time the sun comes back out after a storm.
Although I’m looking forward to the day when there are no more walls to paint, no more furniture to move, and no more missed exits on the interstate, there is something painfully beautiful about this time. I can feel myself growing, stretching, and peering around corners that I’ve avoided for the past few years. I have no answers as of yet—and I hate not having the answers—but I can feel that there is room for possibility, to start asking good questions.
If you asked me over coffee what’s gotten me through this move, I might toss out a glib answer like takeout food, Netflix, or the Phryne Fisher mystery series (yes, I’ve read all 20 books in this new home of ours). But if I’m honest, the one thing that’s gotten me through this move is writing.
I’m talking about the kind of writing that isn’t limited to professionals or freelancers. I’m talking about the kind of writing you could do this very minute. If you’re knee-deep in transition alligators and are ready to try anything to make things feel less out of control, look no further.
Get yourself a pen that writes smoothly, a sheet of paper, and a cup of something delightful. Help is on the way.
- Write a letter to someone you love. It can be something short and sweet, just a note to say what they mean to you, and five dollars for that cup of coffee you wish you could share. It can be a novel-length epistle that takes another stamp to get it to its destination. You can write a parent, a dear friend, a niece or nephew, or a local business you miss from your last duty station. Send a note out into the world, and remember that you’re a part of it.
- Do some expressive writing. Sit down first thing in the morning or take out some paper after you’ve finished your lunch, and try writing for five to ten minutes without any plan in mind or taking your pen off the page. You can start out with anything… the fact that you don’t know what to write, your first memory of writing, the thing that’s most annoying or worrying to you. And after your five to ten minutes are up, step back and stretch. See how you feel once it’s all out on paper. You might find that you’re focused and calmer. You might find something that bears more exploration. At the very least, you won’t have all of that cooped up on your insides.
- Write a goodbye note (or two, or three… whatever you need) to the military life you just left. You can write down what you hated, what you loved, what filled you with pride, what made you feel exhausted. Write it all down, and say goodbye to each and every one.
- Write a note to your past military spouse self. Take a walk in your own past, think about the life you’ve lived, the choices you’ve made, the dreams you had, and the dreams you still have. Write that person advice, or a thank you, or an apology. Whatever you find that they need. It may give you some perspective on where you are now, or where you really want to go from here. Maybe there are some dreams that need to be aired out in this new season.
- Spend some time dreaming on paper. What do you want more of in this new life of yours? What do you want less of? Post the note somewhere you can see it, and over the next year, work to make those desires real.
The chaos doesn’t end once things are down on the page, but somehow it feels like something settles. Whether you’ve gotten something out so you can move on, or you go back to see if you’ve written something that could become a story or an essay, writing can be what saves you during this transition season. No matter how high the boxes are, there’s always room to sit in the floor with paper and a pen.
Story by Emilie Duck