Mind, Body and Soul

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. J. Olaf Holm
  • 66th Training Squadron commander
I have been in the military now for 24 years, and in that time I have learned a little something on how to maintain my sanity. If I challenge myself in three areas each day, those being mind, body and soul, I can count my day complete and balanced.

As the commander, I find that a lot of my days are spent roughing up my limited brain capacity by putting out the many "fires" that pop up all over the squadron. By the end of the workday, all too often my cranium is full and I just want to go home, vegetate in front of the tube with a cold beer and a bag of cheese puffs. Now for the very short term (until about the time the cheese puffs run out), I am content with this remedy for my stressful day. However, after the third re-run of "Family Guy," I look at my watch and see that it is late and my two boys and my lovely wife are already in bed asleep. As I pull myself out of my ugly but wonderfully comfortable recliner and re-button my oh-so-tight, yet "loose fit" jeans, I realize that something from my day is amiss. Despite my bloated stomach, I feel empty inside with the realization that I wasted yet another precious day.


It is true that my current job significantly challenges my admittedly simple mind each and every day. And yet I believe work is simply not enough to keep my mind in shape. There must be time to seek intellectual challenges outside the workplace. I like to read historical books and the newspaper as well as debate politics with those who have it all wrong. These little escapes for my mind help me relax and, as a result, actually make me sharper at work.


My super-freaky fit SERE Specialists will be quick to point out that their commander is not the "manliest man" in the gym. I do however, know how to keep my 42-year-old frame fit to fight (or at least for the office), the hard part is keeping to a schedule. A good workout for me takes at least 90 minutes and includes 10 minutes of stretching, 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength exercises (the extra 20 minutes are spent BSing with the guys). Another key component for a happy body is to get plenty of sleep, as well as to eat and drink right; to be honest, 90 percent of the time I fail in this department. But when my wife calls to remind me to eat a salad at lunch and drink more water and less pilot juice (diet Pepsi), I can report that she is spot on and I feel much better.


Through it all, though, the most important component of my day is the rejuvenation of my soul. Everyone is different, but for me the most important part of any day is ensuring that my soul is fulfilled with worthy interactions with the world around me, my friends and family, my Lab and my God. This may include everything from a daily prayer and Bible study to riding my motorcycle home (if my wife ever lets me get one) during a glorious sunset. Or it may come in the form of cracking yet another joke at the group staff meeting, or perhaps enjoying that stash of single malt with my brothers on a Friday after work. Above it all, though, my best days have always been spent with my wonderful family. My youngest asks me all the time how my day was. And every time I tell him that the best part of my day has been spending it with him, his brother and his mom. It is the absolute truth.

So folks, get out there, have a great summer and feed your mind, work that body and enrich your soul. And remember you will never see a headstone that says "I wish I spent more time at work."