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Military life has its ups and downs. Here's how families cope with it.

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Macy's

When Meredith Lozar's daughter was just 3 and a half years old, her husband, Nick, came home from a tour of combat in Afghanistan.

He had been gone for nine months. During that time, Meredith did everything she could to keep their daughter connected to him — showing her photo albums and even giving her an old shirt of Nick's to sleep with at night.

But when Nick finally came home, instead of the joyful reunion one might expect, Meredith watched her husband freeze with fear.


"He stood at the threshold of her room afraid to go inside … he wasn't sure she would even remember him."

While Nick was afraid he had been forgotten, those fears would quickly turn to joy.

"[Our daughter] recognized him immediately," Meredith remembers. "While she did not go to him, she did kiss him on the cheek and say, 'Hi Daddy.'"

And that meant the world to him; it was a major step forward as their family reunited, got used to being together again, and recovered from the stress of deployment.

Of course, this wasn't Nick's first homecoming nor would it be his last. Over his 17-year career as a Marine, his family lived through eight deployments and five combat tours. And with each reunion, there came new complex emotions, anxieties, fears, pain, and, of course, joy at finally being back together. But that's the reality, Lozar says, of being a military family.

With the Fourth of July approaching, there's never been a better time to learn more about military families and their experiences.That's why we've created this list of 17 things military families want you to know about them.

[rebelmouse-image 19346429 dam="1" original_size="5616x3744" caption="Photo by Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash.

1. Reunions aren't always picture perfect.

Many of us have an image in our mind of how it plays out. A playful Labrador retriever tackles a man in military uniform, hardly able to contain excitement after months apart. Or a daughter is in tears as her mother, fresh off the plane in her combat boots, rushes to embrace her. After all, most of us have clicked on those emotional homecoming videos as they float across our newsfeeds.

But not every reunion goes down like that.

[rebelmouse-image 19346430 dam="1" original_size="5472x3648" caption="Photo by Jonathan Tajalle/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Jonathan Tajalle/Unsplash.

"I can tell you that it's not that easy," saysSavannah Hewett, whose husband works as a security officer in the military.

Once, for example, she and her husband had been apart for 465 days. She had planned to surprise him at the airport only to find out that his deployment had suddenly been delayed by a week. Then, when that next week came, she had to wait over seven hours in the airport before she could finally embrace him.

2. Many families find ways to help their kids stay connected even while military members are away.

While separation can be difficult, there are creative ways that families stay connected to deployed loved ones. Some military members record a favorite bedtime story for their kids before deployment or create special photo albums. Even an old blanket or shirt can help a child feel comforted while mom or dad is away.

[rebelmouse-image 19346432 dam="1" original_size="5471x3647" caption="Photo by Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash.

3. Finally coming back home can be an adjustment.

When military members come back home, it can take time for a family to reintegrate after having spent so much time apart.

Hewett describes that separation as living "two separate lives" — hers back at home while she parents and tries to maintain some sense of normalcy and his defending their country overseas. For kids, especially some who might not totally understand why a parent left or were too young to remember, seeing those lives come back together can be challenging.

Thankfully, those transitional times are made easier by organizations like Blue Star Families, which focuses on providing support to military families, including free events for them. Even a day at a planetarium can make all the difference for a family that is newly reunited.

That's why Macy's is making it easy for all of us to support charities like Blue Star Families. As part of their July 4 Give Back campaign, if you donate $3 at checkout in stores or online, you'll receive 25% off your purchase and a portion of your donation goes to helping Blue Star Families with their mission.

[rebelmouse-image 19346433 dam="1" original_size="6720x4480" caption="Photo by Edward Cisneros/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Edward Cisneros/Unsplash.

4. Of course, being reunited isn't the end of the story.

As long as they are enlisted, military members are still at work — and work can mean multiple deployments. Since 2001, more than 900,000 children have experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.

"They're still deploying to every clime and place, as is their job. And the unknowns and uncertainty that come along with that still exist," Lozar says. "We don't know, sometimes, when our service member will be home, and we don't always know what they're supporting. And that's all part of it."

5. Deployment isn't like any normal long distance relationship, either.

It can be easy to try and put yourself in a military spouse's shoes by remembering a time when you and your partner were long distance. It's just not the same thing, though. Spouses not only have to grapple with distance, they also have to cope with the anxiety of not knowing if their spouse will return safely and how an injury or loss could change their family's future.

6. Spouses trying to overcome that distance have to find ways to cope, which can mean getting a little creative.

It's not uncommon to go months without hearing from a service member, particularly if they're in active combat or special forces. Even a phone call or a letter home isn't guaranteed to come with any regularity, which means that every time there's breaking news about an attack, many families are left feeling helpless, not knowing if their military members are safe and dreading the worst.

That said, as technology has evolved, many military spouses have found new ways to stay connected. For military members with access to WiFi, virtual dates have become much more common thanks to platforms like Skype. So while the distance can be difficult, when spouses finally reconnect, seeing their loved one's face is priceless.

[rebelmouse-image 19346434 dam="1" original_size="4336x2891" caption="Photo by Hanny Naibaho/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Hanny Naibaho/Unsplash.

7. All this time alone though means that some military families can start to feel isolated.

In fact, according to a survey conducted by Blue Star Families, more than half of military families feel they do not belong in their civilian communities.

"The price of war runs so much deeper than what I think most civilians realize," Hewett explains. While trying to lead their own lives and fit into their new communities, they also have to deal with having a loved one at war while parenting alone — and it can take a toll.

That's why Lozar works as Blue Star Families' connected communities manager, helping military families better integrate into their communities.

8. This isolation isn't helped by the fact that they have to move a lot.

According to the Blue Star Families annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 72% of military families live in their communities for two years or less before moving, which means they don't get enough time to really form any deep connections with their communities.

It also means that the average military kid will have attended anywhere between six to nine schools by the time they're a senior in high school. If you've ever been the new kid on the block or in class — not knowing where to sit at lunch or how to make new friends — imagine the emotional roller coaster that comes with being that kid every two years.

However, according to Hewett, many military families can be fortunate enough to move together, so families that developed close ties on one base may wind up making the same move to another.

9. But that's just one of many sacrifices military kids make.

All the bedtime stories, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and sports games missed can take their toll. And the very real confusion, fear, and even anger over a parent's absence, however noble that absence might be, means that these kids can struggle with their mental health a lot more than their civilian peers.

That said, with the right support, military kids can thrive. As with any mental health challenge, early intervention is key to ensuring youth have the resources they need to succeed.

[rebelmouse-image 19346435 dam="1" original_size="4928x3280" caption="Photo by Frank McKenna/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Frank McKenna/Unsplash.

10. Spouses make their own sacrifices too, including professional ones.

The military wife staring wistfully out of a window waiting for her husband to return is a stereotype. Being a military spouse simply isn't a full-time job.

In fact, a second source of income is very important to many military families, who may find that a military income isn't sufficient to support them. Not to mention, spouses often have career aspirations of their own, and those aspirations can sustain them while their partners are away.

11. Unfortunately military spouses can have a tough time getting hired.

The military spouse unemployment rate is estimated to be at least four times higher than the civilian rate. Because they often move frequently, their resumes can look a little different, with positions held for short periods of time or gaps when jobs were difficult to secure. That leads to many spouses remaining unemployed, underemployed, or taking on volunteer roles instead.

"[Employers] know they're going to move in a couple years or a couple months," says Hewett, who knows this issue all too well, having struggled herself to find meaningful work. That's why she decided, after being unable to secure flexible work that fit into her family's unpredictable schedule, to volunteer as the president of New Mexico's Blue Star Families chapter to support families like hers.

[rebelmouse-image 19346436 dam="1" original_size="3000x1843" caption="Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash.

Luckily, though, this is starting to change. Many companies are starting to make it a priority to hire military members and their spouses.

12. However, securing reliable childcare can be a challenge.

Spouses also struggle to land work because securing childcare can be difficult. "It's very challenging for us because our service member doesn't have [predictable] hours," Hewett explains.

It's difficult to know when you'll need a sitter if your spouse is called to the base at the last minute, deploys with little time to prepare, or picks up an extra shift unexpectedly. "Often times, as the spouse, we are [both parents], at unexpected times and for long periods of times," Hewett says.

And even when you finally figure out a good system, you'll likely be moving again and have to start over. That's why assistance programs and day cares that offer subsidized care for military families are so crucial.

13. Housing can be tricky, but it's not all bad.

Obviously if you're moving frequently, you can't really buy a house and expect to live there forever. And with some military bases being very isolated, many families are faced with a difficult decision. They could live on base and take whatever the military is willing to provide, choose a location that isn't near much of anything, or live entirely separate lives from their spouses until they can reunite again.

However, there are great aspects to living on base. Depending on where you're stationed, some bases have campgrounds, community events, dancing, youth centers, arts and crafts centers, libraries, and bowling alleys. What's more, many military families develop close bonds to other families in the area, creating an important sense of camaraderie.

14. There are a lot of misconceptions about their families — and the stereotypes hurt.

Infographic via Upworthy.

15. And that's why, even with support from other military families, veterans need their civilian communities more than ever.

[rebelmouse-image 19346438 dam="1" original_size="3460x2618" caption="Photo by Benjamin Faust/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Benjamin Faust/Unsplash.

Studies are showing that many veterans struggle with loneliness, with vets reporting that their spouses are often their sole confidants.

With social and community support, as well as a little education, the mental health of military families could improve significantly. "Even one connection is all it takes to help a military family feel less isolated," Lozar says.

16. Thankfully, that connection is something any one of us could offer.

Lozar says that being neighborly can make all the difference. "Military families want to be more involved in their neighborhoods," Lozar explains.

"Be a good neighbor and go over and say hello," she continues. "Help that person feel more welcome."

[rebelmouse-image 19346439 dam="1" original_size="4288x2848" caption="Photo by Brandon Morgan/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Brandon Morgan/Unsplash.

Beyond a simple hello, support could look like volunteering with organizations like Blue Star Families, offering free child care to a local military family that's struggling, helping those families connect with sports teams or clubs for their kids, and encouraging schools to reach out to new military families to get them more involved.

17. Even with these sacrifices, it doesn't mean that military families regret their decision.

"There's a lot of hardship, but there's also a lot of good things, too. We have the opportunity to travel. We meet people all over the world," Hewett says. "And somehow [the military becomes] your family."

For families like Hewett's, there is pride in knowing that they've contributed to something bigger than themselves.

"I don't think anybody would regret being a military family," she continues. "[We have] a higher purpose. There is something far greater than us that's going on that we're a part of."

Salute those who serve by donating at Macy's to organizations that support veteran and military families from June 28 to July 8.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Health

Her mother doesn't get why she's depressed. So she explains the best way she knows how.

Sabrina Benaim eloquently describes what it's like to be depressed.

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother."

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother" is pretty powerful on its own.

But, in it, her mother exhibits some of the most common misconceptions about depression, and I'd like to point out three of them here.

Misconception #1: Depression is triggered by a single event or series of traumatic events.

empathy, human condition, humanity

Depression isn’t just over sleeping.

Most people think depression is triggered by a traumatic event: a loved one dying, a job loss, a national tragedy, some THING. The truth is that depression sometimes just appears out of nowhere. So when you think that a friend or loved one is just in an extended bad mood, reconsider. They could be suffering from depression.

Misconception #2: People with depression are only sad.

family, parents, mom, anxiety

The obligation of anxiety.

Most people who have never experienced depression think depression is just an overwhelming sadness. In reality, depression is a complex set of feelings and physical changes in the body. People who suffer from depression are sad, yes, but they can also be anxious, worried, apathetic, and tense, among other things.

Misconception #3: You can snap out of it.

button poetry, medical condition, biological factors

Making fun plans not wanting to have fun.

The thing with depression is that it's a medical condition that affects your brain chemistry. It has to do with environmental or biological factors first and foremost. Sabrina's mother seems to think that if her daughter would only go through the motions of being happy that then she would become happy. But that's not the case. Depression is a biological illness that leaks into your state of being.

Think of it this way: If you had a cold, could you just “snap out of it"?

No? Exactly.

empathy, misconceptions of depression, mental health

Mom doesn’t understand.

via Button Poetry/YouTube

These are only three of the misconceptions about depression. If you know somebody suffering from depression, you should take a look at this video here below to learn the best way to talk to them:

This article originally appeared on 11.24.15

Here's how to be 30% more persuasive.

Everybody wants to see themselves in a positive light. That’s the key to understanding Jonah Berger’s simple tactic that makes people 30% more likely to do what you ask. Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the bestselling author of “Magic Words: What to Say to Get Your Way.”

Berger explained the technique using a Stanford University study involving preschoolers. The researchers messed up a classroom and made two similar requests to groups of 5-year-olds to help clean up.

One group was asked, "Can you help clean?" The other was asked, “Can you be a helper and clean up?" The kids who were asked if they wanted to be a “helper” were 30% more likely to want to clean the classroom. The children weren’t interested in cleaning but wanted to be known as “helpers.”


Berger calls the reframing of the question as turning actions into identities.

"It comes down to the difference between actions and identities. We all want to see ourselves as smart and competent and intelligent in a variety of different things,” Berger told Big Think. “But rather than describing someone as hardworking, describing them as a hard worker will make that trait seem more persistent and more likely to last. Rather than asking people to lead more, tell them, 'Can you be a leader?' Rather than asking them to innovate, can you ask them to 'Be an innovator'? By turning actions into identities, you can make people a lot more likely to engage in those desired actions.”

Berger says that learning to reframe requests to appeal to people’s identities will make you more persuasive.

“Framing actions as opportunities to claim desired identities will make people more likely to do them,” Berger tells CNBC Make It. “If voting becomes an opportunity to show myself and others that I am a voter, I’m more likely to do it.”

This technique doesn’t just work because people want to see themselves in a positive light. It also works for the opposite. People also want to avoid seeing themselves being portrayed negatively.

“Cheating is bad, but being a cheater is worse. Losing is bad, being a loser is worse,” Berger says.

The same tactic can also be used to persuade ourselves to change our self-concept. Saying you like to cook is one thing, but calling yourself a chef is an identity. “I’m a runner. I’m a straight-A student. We tell little kids, ‘You don’t just read, you’re a reader,’” Berger says. “You do these things because that’s the identity you hold.”

Berger’s work shows how important it is to hone our communication skills. By simply changing one word, we can get people to comply with our requests more effectively. But, as Berger says, words are magic and we have to use thgem skillfully. “We think individual words don’t really matter that much. That’s a mistake,” says Berger. “You could have excellent ideas, but excellent ideas aren’t necessarily going to get people to listen to you.”


This article originally appeared on 2.11.24

Pop Culture

A comic about wearing makeup goes from truthful to weird in 4 panels.

A hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

A comic shows the evolution or devolution from with makeup to without.

Even though I don't wear very much makeup, every few days or so SOMEONE...

(friends, family, internet strangers)

...will weigh in on why I "don't need makeup."


Now, I realize this is meant as a compliment, but this comic offers a hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

social norms, social pressure, friendship, self esteem

“Why do you wear so much makeup?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

passive aggressive, ego, confidence, beauty

“See, you look pretty without all that makeup on."

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

expectations, beauty products, mascara, lipstick

“Wow you look tired, are you sick?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

lizards, face-painting, hobbies, hilarious comic

When I shed my human skin...

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

Not everyone is able to turn into a badass lizard when someone asks about their face-painting hobbies. Don't you kinda wish you could? Just to drive this hilarious comic all the way home, here are four reasons why some women* wear makeup:

*Important side note: Anyone can wear makeup. Not just women. True story.

Four reasons some women* wear makeup:

1. Her cat-eye game is on point.

mascara, eyes, confidence

Her cat-eye game is on point.

Via makeupproject.

2. She has acne or acne scars.

acne, cover up, scarring, medical health

She has acne or acne scars.

Via Carly Humbert.

3. Pink lipstick.

lipstick, beauty products, basics, self-expression

Yes, pink lipstick.

Via Destiny Godley

4. She likes wearing makeup.

appearance, enhancement, creative expression

Happy to be going out and feeling good.

Happy Going Out GIF by Much.

While some people may think putting on makeup is a chore, it can be really fun! For some, makeup is an outlet for creativity and self-expression. For others, it's just a way to feel good about themselves and/or enhance their favorite features.

That's why it feels kinda icky when someone says something along the lines of "You don't need so much makeup!" Now, it's arguable that no one "needs" makeup, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look.

For some people, feeling good about their appearance includes wearing makeup. And that's totally OK.


This article originally appeared on 05.28.15

Joy

Adorable 'Haka baby' dance offers a sweet window into Maori culture

Stop what you're doing and let this awesomeness wash over you.

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.



The intensity of the haka is the point. It is meant to be a show of strength and elicit a strong response—which makes seeing a tiny toddler learning to do it all the more adorable.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Danny Heke, who goes by @focuswithdan on TikTok, shared a video of a baby learning haka and omigosh it is seriously the most adorable thing. When you see most haka, the dancers aren't smiling—their faces are fierce—so this wee one starting off with an infectious grin is just too much. You can see that he's already getting the moves down, facial expressions and all, though.

@focuswithdan When you grow up learning haka! #haka #teachthemyoung #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou #kapahaka ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

As cute as this video is, it's part of a larger effort by Heke to use his TikTok channel to share and promote Maori culture. His videos cover everything from the Te Reo Maori language to traditional practices to issues of prejudice Maori people face.

Here he briefly goes over the different body parts that make up haka:

@focuswithdan

♬ Ngati - Just2maori

This video explains the purerehua, or bullroarer, which is a Maori instrument that is sometimes used to call rains during a drought.

@focuswithdan Reply to @illumi.is.naughty Some tribes used this to call the rains during drought 🌧 ⛈ #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp ♬ Pūrerehua - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

This one shares a demonstration and explanation of the taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon.

@focuswithdan Reply to @shauncalvert Taiaha, one of the most formidable of the Māori Weaponry #taiaha #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

For another taste of haka, check out this video from a school graduation:

@focuswithdan When your little cuzzy graduates and her school honours her with a haka #maori #māori #haka #focuswithdan #fyp #graduation @its_keshamarley ♬ Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

Heke even has some fun with the trolls and racists in the comments who try to tell him his culture is dead (what?).

@focuswithdan Credit to you all my AMAZING FOLLOWERS! #focuswithdan #maori #māori #followers #fyp #trolls ♬ original sound - sounds for slomo_bro!

Unfortunately, it's not just ignorant commenters who spew racist bile. A radio interview clip that aired recently called Maori people "genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol, and underperformance," among other terrible things. (The host, a former mayor of Auckland, has been let go for going along with and contributing to the caller's racist narrative.)

@focuswithdan #newzealand radio in 2021 delivering racist commentaries 🤦🏽‍♂️ #māori #maori #focuswithdan #racism DC: @call.me.lettie2.0 ♬ original sound - luna the unicow

That clip highlights why what Heke is sharing is so important. The whole world is enriched when Indigenous people like the Maori have their voices heard and their culture celebrated. The more we learn from each other and our diverse ways of life, the more enjoyable life on Earth will be and the better we'll get at collaborating to confront the challenges we all share.


This article originally appeared on 01.28.21