August 4, 2007

Journalist searches for cure for deployment blues, boredom

Editor's note: In a previous post I told you that I was working on a commentary about attending various activities on post and writing about my experiences. Last week my boss decided that it was such a good idea that I should make it a series and write a commentary each week. This is the first of that series.

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (Aug. 3, 2007) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

Boredom –– an enemy to many, but none more than to the Family members of a deployed Soldier. Long days, lonely nights, and an empty chair at the dinner table make the separation as daunting as mythological Sisyphus condemned to roll a large rock up a hill. Upon reaching the top, the rock rolls back, and the task has to be repeated. Like that rock, the cycle of deployments can be overwhelming.
But in all fairness, life is what you make of it.
So as my husband’s unit prepares for another deployment, I decide that maybe I should take the time to prepare as well. Through my work at the Guardian I learn about many activities on post –– activities that can keep me busy and help me meet new people. From ways to better myself to getting creative, I make a list of what I am interested in and work it into my schedule.
What I discover while exploring Fort Polk is a collection of activities to help Family members stay busy while their Soldier is deployed.
This week I try a class Wheelock Bayou Fitness Center. Every New Year’s we make resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more, but why wait until January? The upcoming deployment will give me that “kick start” and deadline to motivate me.
There are a variety of aerobics classes to choose from so I make a list of the classes that will fit my schedule, be in my physical ability level and help me reach my body fitness goals. I sign up for a lunchtime ab class.
I am a bit shy as I arrive early. No one is in the aerobics room yet so I set my stuff to the side and wait for others to arrive. Soon they started filtering in. The instructor enters and turns on some upbeat music as people begin stretching.
I set up my station, strategically placed, so I cannot see myself in the mirror-covered walls, a little apprehensive about what I am getting into. I admit, I am thinking about chickening out since I am a little self-conscious about working out in front of people, but I decide to stick with it. It’s only 30 minutes.
Class begins with stretching using an aerobics ball. “Not bad,” I say to myself, even though it takes me a few minutes to figure out how to balance and do the exercises.
Crunches, leg lifts and a combination of other exercises are my only focus as I concentrate on balancing on the ball. Some exercises are new to me and others boost my confidence. Before long we are stretching again.
“What? Class can’t be over.”
Sure enough, I look at my watch and realize that my 30 minutes is up.
“That was a breeze. I’m definitely putting that on the maybe list,” I say as I put away my equipment.
On my way out of the gym I pick up a list of other classes that Wheelock offers.
Wheelock features a cardio center, weight station and stretching area with floor mats which would allow me to workout after work if I can’t make it at lunch. Personal trainers are also available in case I need help reaching my goals.
There is a rock wall, something I enjoyed in college, and aqua massages for the times I get a little overzealous.
Basketball sounds fun, but I haven’t played since high school.
The gym’s cardio section has a lot of with equipment including bicycles, treadmills and elliptical steppers. I work out longer when I am entertained, so the option to listen to any of three television channels or three radio stations is definitely valuable.
For an added challenge I am considering participating in the “treadmil club.” All I have to do is log my mileage from the gym’s treadmills and soon I’ll earn a T-shirt proclaiming my achievements.
Although my abs are still a little sore, I am anxious to see what else I can find. I think I’m in the mood to get creative, but you’ll have to read about what I choose next week.

For more articles in the Fort Polk Guardian, visit our web page.

3 Tea Party Guest:

stitcherw said...

Nice write-up, but then I always enjoy reading your articles. Good luck exploring all the different things that are offered and then writing about them to educate others on the varous opportunities.

Seamus said...

Excellent! Who knows what you'll uncover in your quest. Certainly better that falling into the depths of depression, or worse, despair. ;)

Julie said...

Great article! I hope you'll share others as you write them.