By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)March 14, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - V Corps Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Spriensma could have given a big pep talk on rock climbing before hitting the walls with a group of spouses at T-Hall Indoor Rock Climbing, but it was not necessary.
Instead, Spriensma presented Strong Bonds training, much of which was right on target for indoor rock climbing as well as life as a whole.
"Whatever thoughts you have are directly going to affect your feelings, right?" Spriensma said Feb. 28 at the climbing hall. "Whatever you're telling yourself or whatever you're allowing other people to tell you, is going to direct how you feel. And how you feel quite often, combined with how you think, is going to affect your behaviors."
Amber Heffron, a V Corps spouse who participated in the event, said the training went perfectly well with the climbing.
"You need to have support, have someone hold you up, give you advice, tell you when to take a break and tell you to refocus," said Heffron. "The training touched on that and all the things you're supposed to do to keep everything in control."
When a climber got stuck and did not know where to go next, T-Hall manager Petra Ehrenberger and her staff pointed out a foothold or handhold nearby and instructed the person to rest until ready to go on. Many spouses expressed an interest in returning to the hall.
Melody Fugazzotto, also a V Corps spouse who participated in the event, said the event helped her overcome the mental obstacle of climbing up a wall. "The training was good. It was my first one to attend with V Corps and I really enjoyed it," she said. "It helps me know that I've been doing the right thing."
Most of the spouses' husbands are deployed, and several spouses noted during the training that deployments can be a difficult part of life.
Spriensma, who organized the event with V Corps Family Readiness Support Assistant Candice Lane, talked about why it is important to remain optimistic.
"They say that how you react to a situation is usually about 10 to 15 percent the situation itself and 85 to 90 percent the way your body internally perceives and reacts to it," Spriensma said. "Have you ever heard that before? So that's one of the reasons it's not so much the situation so much as it's also how you're perceiving and how you're reacting to the situation."
It can also help to take a step back during a difficult situation - or climb - and go back to it with renewed energy.
A large part of Spriensma's training dealt with resiliency, and he offered his own interpretation of the word:
"Even when hardship comes in life, you're able to respond to it," Spriensma said. "You're able to go through it, and not only that. I would argue this: True resiliency is not only to get through it and return back to normal, but it is able to go through it and yet through grace you're able to grow from that adversity in life."