Embracing Time and Life Lessons in Seoul

**Guest post by Lindsay Swoboda of Uplifting Anchor**

What can I do right here and right now? This is the question I ask myself during the most challenging portions of my military spouse journey. It is not a question I automatically knew to ask, but it is one I have gained perspective with over time.

Time is a valuable and non-renewable resource. The ticking tock of our military clock has dragged our family across the world and back. It has been spent with precious minutes together, and tough ones apart. Hours have been invested in figuring out what’s next and best for me. How I can use my time wisely in each new chapter?

There have been months of working, not working, discovering a purpose, becoming a mother, trying on the hats of teacher, writer, and online salesperson. Years have peeled off the calendar, and suddenly I am now under the heading of “seasoned spouse”. When did that happen?

It happened with time.

Our family’s military stats are as follows: my spouse is an Active Duty United States Marine.  We’ve been married for almost ten years, with one daughter, five deployments and five PCS’s.

I suppose when I type those all out, I do feel seasoned. I feel more sure, proud, and eager to continue this journey. That is only because I know that I’ve gained more tools in my milspouse toolbox to help me along the way.

Becoming a military spouse might happen at the altar, or further along in your lifetime, but the biggest aide in understanding how to find your strength within this community is with time and experience. It is figuring out the fine details of what makes you feel you are coping with military life and not suffering.

One of my finest hours of suffering happened during our tour in Seoul, S. Korea. It is where I learned one of my most treasured lessons: What can I do right here and right now?

Our move to USAG Yongsan was an amazing experience in the end. But upon arriving, I found myself in a foreign culture: friendless, jobless, and quickly becoming a wraithlike cocktail of anger and sadness. The job position I left in California had been my favorite to date. It was a place where I felt both passionate and valued. I had great hopes of continuing working overseas, but whilst applying for work in Korea we discovered that jobs on base were few and far between. The VISA restriction of being in country with my spouse prohibited me from working and making income off the Republic of Korea.

I applied anyway, filling out the grueling background check for base work. My application sat for eight months, waiting for a glimmer of hope to put my skills into play.

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During those eight months I slowly stopped mourning from not working and found strength in turning that time into a sabbatical of sorts. I welcomed exploring Seoul as my pet project. I started up a blog and went out on daily adventures. I would take photos of wacky cafes; try new restaurants, parks, and museums. Sometimes I had fellow spouse adventurers with me; often I rocked my outings solo. Back in our tiny apartment I toiled away on the blog, posting and realizing what power I had found in my explorations. Seoul was revealing herself to me, and she was a fine and beautiful duty station.

It was incredible to have spouses approach me on base and tell me they had seen my blog. It was even more gratifying to know they had utilized directions I had posted to go on their own new adventure. The results were infectious. I fell in love with writing and exploring. I also developed a new skill set away from my primary profession of teaching dance.

My explorations gave my confidence a boost. I started asking myself, what else can I do with this time?

I now had ample time to practice my craft instead of just teaching it. On my hunt for new friends I found a refreshing group of expat thespians in the city. I auditioned for different plays and projects. Soon my outings were with an Irish stage manager, a dancer from Canada, and a director from New York. I performed in a play festival and choreographed and danced in an Indie music video.

I found refuge in a dance studio nestled in one of Seoul’s vibrant neighborhoods. I rode the subway for thirty minutes to saunter into the mirrored room. I was usually the only “westerner” in the class- my blonde hair sticking out like a beacon. However, I found when the pulse of the music was on, we all moved as one.

Those eight months without work became an enlightening, wonderful period of growth for me. I found that I can live under a rock and mope when all the tides turn against me- or I can scale that rock and launch my own boat off of it.

My application finally did get pushed through, and I spent the rest of our time in Korea opening my own dance program under the assist of C.Y.S.S. on base. It was a good thing I had enjoyed my sabbatical, because after opening the program my exploration of the city slowed. A new chapter began with returning to work, and while I was glad to have it, I was equally glad I had used my time off wisely.

There have been many more years, jobs, and periods of waiting after that first experience in Korea. I’ve hung on tightly to the knowledge that I always have a choice on how I view and spend my time. Military spouse life is never an easy road to walk, but I would walk this road again and again. I have grown stronger with each chapter and so will you.

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Lindsay is a military spouse, mom, and writer. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. As a former professional dancer, you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen and leaping after her daughter. Lindsay also believes in curating a creative lifestyle and digging to uncover the positive in tough chapters. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world, but believes there is always more to experience.

Connect with Lindsay at:

Uplifting Anchor

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© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2018.

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3 thoughts on “Embracing Time and Life Lessons in Seoul

  1. hannahgracebecker says:

    What an inspiring post! Seoul sounds like quite the adventure. I love how Lindsey emphasized the importance of living in the present – it’s so essential for military life. Figuring out what you can do right here, right now is always a great place to start!

    Like

  2. Christine Maxwell says:

    This sounds like same story! I lost my job when we moved to Seoul. I spent 4 months depressed on the couch…then I finally snapped out of it, and really started LOVING Seoul and getting out and about, just in time to get a job. Then I had no time to do anything. Looking back now I wish I would have used those first 4 months to explore, instead of feeling sorry for myself!

    Like

  3. Kara says:

    We loved our time in Seoul! We really miss it actually! It was hard at first, especially since our PCS didn’t go easily. But by the end, it truly felt like home. We miss our apartment, even though it was too expensive to use the AC so we sweat all summer which lasted like 6 months, and the Pho place just up the road, and our convenience stores, and the subway, our favorite beef & leaf, and of course kimchi.

    Like

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