Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Commit. Mindset. Development. Confidence. Grit.

USO Kansas Center and Operations Manager Traci Taylor demonstrates how to stamp a chosen word onto a bracelet during the “What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop for military spouses Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

These were just some of the words participants of the USO Kansas “Just For You Spouses Workshop” stamped onto their intention bracelets Jan. 30 at the Armed Forces Insurance Exchange conference room.

“‘What’s Your Word for 2020?’ is the theme for today’s workshop,” said Traci Taylor, USO Kansas center operations and programs manager. “We’re going to talk about mindfulness and setting intentions.”

The workshop is one of four that will be provided at Fort Leavenworth in the coming months, following USO Fort Riley’s transition to USO Kansas in 2019.

USO Kansas Center and Operations Manager Traci Taylor demonstrates how to stamp a chosen word onto a bracelet during the “What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop for military spouses Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“USO Fort Riley changed the scope of their services to USO Kansas so that we can formally share our service and mission with all entities of active-duty service men and women in the state of Kansas,” Taylor said. “(With the ‘Just for You’ workshops), we want women who are connected to a service member to remember that they need to take care of themselves as well and pause to focus on supporting themselves and building a support network with other spouses. It is not only what we offer at these workshops, but it is the connections that are made there as well.”

Maralis Self, military spouse and master mindfulness practitioner, led the workshop.

“I advocate for military spouse wellness,” Self said. “Mind, body, spirit.”

Military spouse Maralis Self, “What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop facilitator and Reiki practitioner, yoga instructor and mindfulness mentor, leads workshop participants through an exercise to help them find their words to help define the year Jan. 30 at the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. During the USO Kansas-sponsored workshop, participants found a word that resonated meaning for them to guide them through the year and then stamped the word onto a bracelet. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

First, Self taught participants about the importance of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment,” Self said.

Some of the techniques Self taught participants was “two feet, one breath” where she encouraged them to focus on their breathing and being aware of each part of their body.

Following the mindfulness lesson, Self guided participants through a worksheet that helped them identify their word for 2020.

“What is beautiful about having a word of the year is it kind of gives you a frame for your year,” Self said.

On the worksheet, participants listed words that they associated with a person in their life who has clear goals; listed words that they associated with a person in their life who works for a cause; listed words describing what they wanted more of in their life; identified their dreams if there were no limitations and the things they wanted to change; and answered questions like “What brings you joy?,” “What energizes you?,” “What do you want to improve on?” and “What might you want to let go of?”

After answering the questions, participants highlighted the words that stuck out to them, chose one to be their word for the year and stamped that word on their bracelets.

“What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop participants Jennifer Broaddus, Jennifer Johnke and Melissa Poole, front row, watch a word-stamping tutorial video with workshop facilitator Maralis Self and USO Kansas Center and Operations Manager Traci Taylor before making bracelets featuring words chosen to help guide them through the year during the USO Kansas-sponsored workshop for military spouses Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“In order to create a habit, you have to be intentional and mindful about it,” Self said. “Consider these bracelets a promise to yourself to continue to work toward that goal.”

Workshop participant Jennifer Broaddus chose “grit” for her word.

“I feel like the past year I just haven’t been putting in as much effort or working as hard and becoming complacent, so I kind of want to push myself a little more this year and start putting in that work,” Broaddus said. “I want to set short-term goals for the next three or four months. I think short-term goals are easier to meet. It is just more realistic than setting a goal for the entire year, and I feel like once I reach that goal then I can come back and set another goal.”

“What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop participant Jennifer Johnke, spouse of Col. Bart Johnke, School of Advanced Military Studies instructor, stamps the word “confidence” into a bracelet Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. The workshop for military spouses was sponsored by USO Kansas as one of its “Just For You” initiatives to help the spouses focus on supporting themselves and make connections and develop support systems with other spouses. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Participant Jennifer Johnke chose “confidence” for her word.

“I am getting back into my work field, and I’m needing that confidence-driven feeling to do it and carry it out,” Johnke said. “This workshop is a great opportunity for spouses. People who didn’t show up missed out.”

“What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop participant Melissa Poole, spouse of Chaplain (Capt.) Craig Poole, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, stamps the word “mindset” into a bracelet Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room.

Participant Melissa Poole chose “mindset” for her word.

“I want to change some things in my life,” Poole said. “To change yourself, you have to have that mindset that you want to change to continue the process. You can’t do it one day and then stop.

“I thought (the workshop) was very encouraging and inspiring,” she said. “Sometimes with the lives that we live with our spouses we don’t always have that person to talk to, don’t have that extra thing that we can go to and release and become our own person and just be relaxed and doing something for themselves versus somebody else. This is a good, positive move for a military spouse.”

“What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop participant Jennifer Broaddus, spouse of School of Advanced Military Studies student Maj. Samuel Broaddus, holds a bracelet stamped with her chosen word “grit” during the USO Kansas-sponsored workshop for military spouses Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
“What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop participant Melissa Poole holds a bracelet stamped with her chosen word “mindset” during the USO Kansas-sponsored workshop for military spouses Jan. 30 in the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

For more information about USO Kansas, e-mail Taylor at usofortriley@uso.org.

For updates on upcoming workshops, visit the USO Kansas Facebook page.

Military spouse Maralis Self, “What’s Your Word for 2020” workshop facilitator, leads workshop participants through an exercise to help them find their words to help define the year Jan. 30 at the Armed Forces Insurance conference room. During the USO Kansas-sponsored workshop, participants found a word that resonated meaning for them to guide them through the year and then stamped the word onto a bracelet. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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