Dear Warrior, First, let me start by saying Happy Veterans Day to those who serve and/or have served. Now, let me move quickly past that to the point of my letter to you. YOU MATTER MORE THAN JUST TODAY. Now, don’t get me wrong, you deserve your day, alongside the other days that honor those who serve, have served, and have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, but, (which I know the word “but” negates everything stated in front of it…so let me repeat it) BUT, I want you to know that you deserve more than a few days a year and you are worth so much more than everything we can give you as our feeble attempts to show some sort of appreciation. Over the years of spending time with you through our work with EveryWarrior.org, I have noticed an odd trend tied to you and your service, and it centers around five simple words...“Thank you for your service”. I’ve watched you cringe sometimes when you hear it and, at other times, I’ve watched you proudly shake the hand of the one thanking you, and I've seen every reaction in between. I have one simple hope for you, and that hope is that you go to bed tonight knowing that YOU ARE MORE than your service. Your uniform does not define you. Your job does not define you. Your rank does not define you. Your time in service does not define you. Your credentials, decorations, education, accomplishments, volunteer bullets, awards…nope, they do not define you. Your sacrifice...not even that defines you. You’re more than all of it. While all of that is important, I don’t ever what you to minimize yourself to being defined by something fleeting. I want you to be defined for who you are as a man, woman, son, daughter, mommy, daddy, friend, leader, influencer, just to name a few. You have taught me more in the past six years than a lifetime of experience elsewhere. You’ve taught me about teamwork in the face of division. You’ve taught me about authentic leadership in the face of a culture that screams you have to run over others to get to the top. You’ve taught me about inclusiveness in the face of racism, bigotry, and exclusivity. You’ve taught me about faith in the face of religion. You’ve taught me to fight for what matters while giving up seems like a viable option. You’ve taught me how to love those who are hard to love, how to maintain a relationship on the other side of the world, how to get to know new people, and how to say goodbye to best friends. You’ve done all that in me, and then some. And most of the time you weren’t even in a uniform, you weren’t at work, I didn’t know (nor care) whether you were enlisted or an officer...no...that didn’t matter. Why? Cause while you were doing all of this, without even knowing it, you were just being you, normal people who have given themselves to something bigger than themselves. While sacrificing time with family, birthdays, holidays, and friendships, dealing with deployments and TDYs, FaceTiming your family from the other side of the world, and moving to a new place, and giving of yourself physically and mentally...you take it all in stride and come out stronger, even if you feel like you come out battered and broken. We see you! Did you hear me? WE SEE YOU! We see the very core of who you are, the one who misses his family, the one who is navigating hard times with her work, the one who is just trying to put one foot in front of the other and survive parenting alone, saying goodbye again, another briefing, a friends suicide, a loved one dying back home, sickness when your spouse is deployed, and the list goes on. WE SEE YOU! And you are more than you’re giving yourself credit for. You matter, to me, to your family, to your friends, to your coworkers, to God, to our community, to this world...and no, not because of what you do, but because of the men and women that you are. Tomorrow is brighter and this world is better because of YOU! And I hope you know that the very core of who you are, your story, your experiences, your mistakes, your heartaches, your successes, the things that set your soul on fire and the things that will teach you even more life lessons...all of that makes you the amazing person I know and love and all of that is what is going to empower you to influence the very core of the person next to you. Imagine what you can do in this world. Take pride tonight, cause your existence is changing it. So, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed your free food and discounted perks today, cause you deserve it all, and more. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU, and by you, I mean the most amazing, loyal, genuine, fun, authentic, loving, selfless people I've ever met. Because Every Warrior matters! -Trey
An Open Letter to My Friends.
November 11, 2020 • Trey McGuire
A Look at Our Daily Interactions • November 5, 2020 • Josh LeBlanc
The normal person has roughly 12 interactions a day, whether those interactions are face to face, via telephone, text, or teleconferencing, those interactions directly affect our feeling of worth and inclusion. Think about those two words, “directly affect”...what does that mean to you? To me, it means that we ought to be awfully careful about the way we interact with people and take time to build relationships, and not just demand of those that work for or with us. I can tell you from my experience, the interactions I have with people throughout the day play a huge part in my emotional and social wellbeing. The more pleasant the interactions I have throughout the day, the higher my motivation and morale are, when there is a negative interaction, it affects me in a negative way. I think this is the norm for most people. Our interactions at work and in daily life directly affect our performance, our desire to achieve, our emotional wellbeing, and our commitment. There is a book that I read a few years back called “How Full is Your Bucket” by Don Clifton. The premise of the book is that you start everyday with a full bucket, however, each interaction you have throughout the day can either drain or add to your bucket. You see the premise; each negative interaction drains your bucket, while each positive interaction adds to your bucket. The “water” in this “bucket” represents your emotions, when the bucket is full you feel great, and when the bucket is empty, well, you feel like crap. Though the premise of the book is simple, when you stop and think about it, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. How many of us work, live, or interact with a taker daily? You know that one person, or multiple people in your life that all they do is drain your bucket and take from you. They never have a kind word, a praise, or are willing or able to fill your bucket. Those are the people you need to kindly remove from your life, or at the very least be able to recognize that they are a drain on your emotions, and as long as you let them they will feed on your joy, motivation, and slow you from reaching your true potential. Takers are everywhere, especially in our workplaces, those people that use everyone around them as a stepping stone, always wanting, never giving, not concerned with who they trample to reach their goals and aspirations. There is one thing that we have to remember as leaders, friends, and people in general, we are all in this thing together and we require a team around us that help feed our dreams and fill our buckets. Don’t be a TAKER. The only way we make it through life is by building those around us, not tearing them down! You are all amazing, thank you for being part of our herd here at Every Warrior! -Josh LeBlanc
Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser
October 29, 2020 • Trey McGuire
I’ll say it...I’ve been a people pleaser for as long as I can remember. In fact, there is not a moment of my life that I can think of where I have not wanted people to be happy with me. Now, that’s not a terrible thing, don’t get me wrong. Yet, people pleasing is something that has horrific effects on your mental health, and that is exactly what it got me, horrific results. A people pleaser is someone who cares a lot about whether other people like him or her, and always wants others to approve of his or her actions. Through the years, more recent than distant, I’ve become what I call a “Recovering People Pleaser”. By that, I mean that I have realized the error of my ways, yet I still struggle with this more times than not. It’s not a switch you can just turn off. If we’re being honest, and if you know how I feel, you will agree that when you begin the process of self care and healing, it can seem, to you, selfish. I genuinely love people...a lot! I genuinely want the best for folks. This is one reason I neglected myself for so long, because the thought of making sure I was taken care of was so contrary to making sure everyone else was. The Bible even tells us to count others more significant than ourselves. Is there a way to do that while still making sure you are not allowing yourself to be abused, walked on, stressed out, and mistreated, and not becoming a door mat, a relentlessly depressed man, a woman who walks around with crippling anxiety, or a liar who has destroyed trust? Oh yeah, all while having the absolute best of intentions?!? Confession 1: I allowed it. Yep, it was my own fault. All the pain that was caused because of my relentless pursuit of other people being happy with me was self inflicted. I’m learning the power and importance of personal boundaries in my current season of life. There’s a weird thing that happens when you have zero boundaries, and that is that you have zero respect...both from anyone else or for yourself. My pursuit of approval left me wide open. And all the abuse, stress, mistreatment, self denial, and everything else just got pushed down over and over, therefore causing me to erupt with this awful anger. Anger is another funny thing. My counselor told me just the other day that “anger is the part of you that knows your mistreatment and abuse are unacceptable. Your anger knows you deserve to be treated well, and with kindness. Your anger is the part of you that loves you.” That stopped me in my tracks. Cause I could look back over YEARS of my life where I had taken out my anger on other people, and it was always right around the same time me as a person was being violated by someone I was trying to get approval from. So, where do boundaries belong? Right about the place where you start feeling that anger kick in. Right before that place where you allow yourself to be violated. Place the boundary. And then, protect and enforce those boundaries. The people we talk about at the end of this blog will love you for it. Confession 2: I became it. I became this person that I didn’t even like. But, was I going to do anything about it? No, because “so and so” may have something to say or may not like it. First thing I became was anxious. I carried with me the fear that I would upset someone or mess up something. 99.9999999% of the time that anxiety was completely unfounded and unnecessary. And the other .00000001% of the time, the situation I found myself in was warranted and still didn’t need anxiety. Then, I became a door mat. I’d do anything and everything for those I was trying to get approval from. My needs, thoughts, feelings, family, responsibilities, and everything else got put on the back burner, all the while everyone else’s were the main things. That led me to become a liar. Why? Cause I could not stand anyone being upset or disappointed in me. So, my wife would ask me if I did something? My answer was yes, knowing good and well that I had not. Work buddies questioned me on something? Sure...let’s hide that too. Friends asked me to help them do something or with a project? YES! Knowing I was going to regret that “yes” later or I was already too overloaded with tasks and responsibilities. So what happens? I get found out. The truth comes out. I miss deadline after deadline because I over promised and under delivered. So, now, trust is broken. All the while, had I just said no, owned my mistake, told the truth, or just fessed up...then I may make someone a tad perturbed with me but I’d still have the ever so valuable trust. And that’s when I learned that integrity always wins. Then the sheer lack of trust...well...that just flat out led me deeper into depression. Confession 3: I was wrong. I was selfish. While my intentions I thought were good, they were still self serving. People pleasing was something I did to fill a hole. A hole inside of me that I didnt know how to fill. So why not fill it with what I love, right? I love people. So if people are happy with me, then therefore I find value and I find hope and I find fulfillment and I find joy, yet, because of what I became (mentioned above) that hole in me just got deeper and deeper and emptier and emptier. Notice the focus of that entire reality? Yeah, it was I and ME. Self serving NEVER works and NEVER fills the voids, no matter how selfless it may look. The present, wrapped a pretty bow, still is a lump of coal. My “good intentions”, to love people well, to help folks, to never say no, to always be available, to give, and give, and give, and give some more, got me nothing but separation from the ones who loved me for me. BOOM! Wait, what did I just say? Did I just say that people loved me for me? People didn’t want anything from me? People didn’t need me? People didn’t give two craps about my issues or past or anything else? There were those few around me that didn’t expect ANYTHING out of me? Oh yeah, they were there. They were right there all along the way. But my People Pleasing just hurt them because they didn’t want my pleasing, they just wanted...wait for it…….me. And all they asked from me was for me to just be the me that God made me to be. Not the me that I thought people wanted me to be. The honest me. The fun me. The caring me. The vulnerable me. The genuine me. And today, those people far outweigh and exponentially outnumber anything that people pleasing ever got me. Funny how that works isn’t it? -Trey
October 22, 2020 • Brianna Cooley
There are lots of times that life gives you lemons. I know the saying says we are supposed to make lemonade… but the reality is most of the time we don’t know what to do with ‘our lemons’, so they just sit on the kitchen counter and waste away. Lemons are very useful in some situations. Just like making lemonade, lets talk about adding a little sweetness to the bitter year 2020 has given us. This year we got hit with COVID. (I know, no big news, right?!?) No one could have expected that COVID would have this much of an impact on our lives. But alas, COVID is a real ‘lemon’ in our 2020. While most people were devastated that they couldn’t go anywhere- work, the gym, or even go to the store- I made a conscious decision in late March that helping people would be the best way to get through these tough times. I wanted to not only make myself happy but, show others how easy it was to stay happy while staying in the house. I challenged everyone to Kindness Bingo each day in April in hopes that it would encourage people to show kindness at home. How much more enjoyable would it be to be stuck at home if home were full of kindness and smiles? A handful of families joined in and saw real change in their homes and families. So now life is starting to return to normal, maybe a new normal, but normal. I challenge each of us to use the lemons we’ve been given lately to positively affect others. I believe that kindness is a great ‘sweetener’ to the lemons that COVID gave us… and there were a lot. And even better, people LOVE lemonade. How will you use your ‘lemons’ each day? How will you sweetened the lives of those around you through your kindness?