The Making of InDependent Summit



Self-care as a military spouse is more difficult than most people realize. You not only are dealing with life personally, but also managing your home and family, usually on your own while you SO is deployed.


"This can break you down if you are not careful."


And the term “self-care” does not mean pedicures and shopping trips - although those are nice too. It includes all aspects of wellness, including mental, emotional, spiritual, social and physical. It includes taking insight into your needs and making sure those are filled in order to be your best self. Doing this while also living a military lifestyle can be a challenge at times. It’s best to find the experts and dive right into their wisdom.


When I first met Kimberly Bacso, instantly there was something about her that drew me in. A fellow military spouse herself, she is very aware of the ups and downs of military life and what that means for self-care and wellness. She is also passionate about all aspects of wellness. In fact, she is one of the co-founders of InDependent! Since InDependent is having it’s Wellness Summit soon, I wanted to reach out and interview Kimberly to learn more about her passion AND InDependent! And now I can share with you!




I am so excited to be interviewing you! Please tell me about your Military spouse journey and how you and your spouse met!

"Thank you for having me! My husband and I met and started dating at a small boarding school in Idaho. We were both DJs at the campus radio station and we were in the traveling singing group that also put on the school musical every year. One day senior year, I told a friend all the qualities that I wanted to have in a boyfriend. He said, "That sounds like Kenny Bacso." It must have been a good, mature wish list because we were a great match and got married about eight years later. Before we were married, my husband did an internship in D.C. with the Army during law school and he came back saying that if he joined up after graduation they would most likely send him to Germany. We got married the December after he graduated from law school and he joined the Army in January 2001. I finished my MBA while he was in training and then we set up our first home in Stuttgart, Germany."


You are passionate about wellness for all Military spouses! Tell me a little about your background and why overall wellness and self-care are so important to you?

"I was not a sporty kid. I played the piano and read a lot of books. In high school, I stopped wanting to spend countless solitary hours in a music practice room, so I joined the basketball team to spend time with my friends. It was a very small school, so I was able to do a crazy thing like that. My roommate was one of the stars of the team and she taught me how to pace my breath while running and how to lift weights. In college, I read "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health" by Dr. Andrew Weil and I started cleaning up my diet. As a young professional and graduate student, I discovered yoga and it changed my life. I'm pretty Type A and prone to anxiety with a harsh inner critic in my head. Yoga gave me a way to tune in to my breath, be present in my body, and let go of the tension and stress that were my constant companions. It made me feel so great that I knew I wanted to share it one day. I became a yoga teacher in 2010 and have had the privilege of leading 200-hour yoga teacher training to grow new teachers. I co-founded InDependent in 2013 because I wanted to help other military spouses feel better too despite the obstacles we face. Overall wellness and self-care are important to me because I want to feel good in my mind and body and have the ability to enjoy adventures with my family. If I'm not well, I'm not fulfilling my potential. I believe that my wellness matters and that military spouse wellness matters."


Have you ever experienced a time when your lack of attention to your wellness affected you? What made you make a change in a positive direction?

"Even though I had learned to be more active and had cleaned up my eating as a teenager and young adult, I didn't have a way to cope with stress and anxiety until I found yoga in my mid-20s. My eyesight was worse at every appointment. I was grinding my teeth away. My jaw would lock up sometimes. I wasn't sleeping enough. I had an upset stomach before exams and important presentations. When I was working as a CPA, I had "busy season neck" and couldn't even turn my head. I didn't make a conscious choice to change in a positive direction. I found yoga by accident. My officemates and I decided to join a gym that was walking distance from work. We decide to come in half an hour early in the mornings so we could have a ninety-minute lunch break to take whatever class was happening at noon and have time to shower afterwards. Yoga was on Tuesdays. Pretty soon, I was scouring my schedule for other times I could make it to yoga. I had found something that made me feel better that was my gateway for learning more wellness practices."


It is so exciting to have you as one of the co-founders of InDependent. Why did you pick the name InDependent and what is the mission of InDependent?

"We chose the name InDependent because we're military dependents but we are also individuals with needs, goals, and dreams. Our mission is to make wellness accessible and create opportunities for all military spouses to connect through friendship, accountability, and inspiration. We envision a time when all military spouses thrive through connection to community and resources that results in healthy decision-making for themselves and their families.


When we first started InDependent, we wanted to help military spouses optimize wellness through eating well, being active, and connecting with each other. But as our experience has deepened and we've gotten to know our community better, we realize that we're in the business of saving lives. We must speak to all dimensions of wellness, even the more difficult ones. Military spouses have been in the practice of putting on brave public faces while they're falling apart behind closed doors. We've become hardened by our difficult experiences so we've lost the ability to empathize with others going through the same experiences. InDependent wants to let military spouses know that they're not alone in their struggles and give them useful resources to turn to in times of crisis. We've started opening the doors to share more difficult topics that military spouses face so that we don't have to hide in isolation or feel like we have to don masks of perfection. We also introduce vocabulary that we can use to support friends and community members going through difficult times."


One of the programs you host/offer is the InDependent Wellness Summit! And this year is your 5th year; from March 2nd - 7th. That is coming up! Tell me what is expected at the InDependent Wellness Summit. Do you have to be an active duty military spouse to attend?

"The InDependent Wellness Summit is a virtual event open to military and first responder spouses. Our definition of military spouse includes past, present, and future spouses, so we definitely do not limit attendance to active duty spouses. We want the event to be accessible to all military and first responder spouses so we're happy to offer a free option! We also have an All-access admission option with many other extras included."


That is awesome! I love that you are opening it up to everyone to attend! I also noticed that you guys now host the Private Wellness Lounge on Facebook. What is the benefit of joining that and how does someone do that?

"The Wellness Lounge is something that we started with last year's Summit and it's been amazing! A year-long membership to the Wellness Lounge is included with the purchase of an All-Access pass. During Summit Week, the Wellness Lounge features intention setting, discussions about the day's interviews, fitness/nutrition tips, special activities, and exclusive giveaways. This is a safe and positive smaller group where members get to know each other and feel comfortable opening up about the realities of military life. Summit Week goes by so fast, and there's tons of information to absorb. In the Lounge, we're able to deep dive each interview with a workbook and thoughtful programming so you get the most learning and inspiration out of your Summit experience."


What is your dream for the next step with InDependent?

"We have always wanted to do in-person retreats and events. The powers of technology make connecting online ever easier, but we're becoming more isolated. In-person connection is essential to our well-being. We're offering our first ever in-person, overnight retreat in April in partnership with Maralis Self of Empowered Energy. The Becoming Retreat is for female military spouses who are ready to welcome wellness in a holistic way. The retreat includes mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and Reiki. I'm excited to teach yoga for this event! But I'm also excited to venture into the in-person retreat space and I hope that this will be the first of many wellness-focused retreats for us."



It was such a pleasure to speak with Kimberly about this amazing wellness/self-care resource. If you would like to learn more about the InDependent Wellness Summit, visit https://in-dependent.org/wellness-summit and sign up! Don’t forget, when you sign up for the all-access admission, you also get a year access to the wellness lounge! And to learn more about The Becoming Retreat visit https://in-dependent.org/the-becoming-retreat and be ready to sign up for some in-person fun!


Hi, I'm Noralee! I'm a military wife of 10 years, mother of three under 4, and lover of southern comfort food, my planner and dark chocolate. In between our 7 deployments and 4 PCSs, when I'm not reading kid books, changing diapers or grocery shopping, I love to run, read and cook freezer meals to feed my family. Military life has a way of bringing out the worst or best in us and I want to help everyone be their best even on their worst day! I am passionate on how to manage home and family while focusing on self-care and finding a tribe in this crazy life! Connect with me at:

www.instagram.com/mrsnavymama

www.facebook.com/mrsnavymama

www.pinterest.com/mrsnavymama

www.mrsnavymama.com

noralee@mrsnavymama.com

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