Relocating Your Cultural and Personal Passions During a PCS (Tawny Cale, Activist and Small Business Owner)

Relocating Your Cultural and Personal Passions During a PCS (Tawny Cale, activist and small business owner)

You’ve unpacked the boxes and registered your kids for school. Your military PCS is all wrapped up, and now you’re friend single and ready to mingle.

If only plugging yourself in to your new duty station was that simple. No matter your cultural background or interests, finding that perfect new community wherever you are can feel hard. So how do you successfully relocate those passion points while dodging the temptation to reinvent yourself after every move?

In this episode of “PCS with,” Air National Guard spouse Tawny Trottier Cale, an activist and small business owner, talks about how she navigates the tricky subject of relocating culture and passion, and shares her tips on how you can successfully do the same. Listen now.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with

Amy Bushatz: Welcome to PCS With I'm your host, Amy Bushatz,'s executive editor. On this podcast, we talk about everything you need to know to make this military move season your best yet. PCS With is brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union. Proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at Our members are the mission.

Now, let's get this PCS started.

You've pushed through all the moving pieces of a military PCS, you've shipped your stuff, you've found a new home. You puzzled over how it is that two bread pans that you know were not left in a cabinet at your last home could simply vanish. You got internet at your new house all set up and, whew, you are done.

You are now new duty station friend single and ready to mingle. Welcome to a new type of exhaustion: community dating. Relocating all the time means finding or building a community around your point of passion or cultural heritage, and then leaving it all behind thanks to another PCS. As military spouses, we don't wanna give up on the things that are important to us, activism, our culture, whatever.

But keeping those things going, move over, move can feel so exhausting. So why is this so hard, and how do you find that part of home wherever you are? Joining us in this episode of PCS with is Tawny Trottier Cale. Tawny is an enrolled citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as the descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Spirit Lake Nation. Tawny and her family live in Great Falls, Montana, where her husband Tyrel serves full-time in the Montana Air National Guard. Tawny is the founder of Sister Beads, a company through which she and her three sisters create custom fashion bead work as a way to share their cultural and empower others. Cultural connection and activism are hugely important to Tawny, and today she's gonna talk to us about finding and creating community no matter where you are. Tawny, welcome to PCS with

Tawny Cale: Hi. Thank you so much for having me today.

Amy Bushatz: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us. So, I know you guys are a National Guard family, but that does not keep a person from moving around hither and thither. How many times have you moved with or without the military?

Tawny Cale: So, through our almost 15 year marriage, we have moved nine times. Two of them have been PCS moves, and then our last move, we just moved in January of this year. So we're brand new in our newest um, base community.

Amy Bushatz: Wow. Wow. Well, congratulations on accomplishing yet another military PCS. It's exhaustion and you know it's real because you just did it.

Tawny Cale: Yeah, we did just do it again.

Amy Bushatz: Again. So I know as I said in your introduction, that cultural connection and activism are really important to you. So I can't wait to talk to you today about recreating that no matter where you are, something that's probably fresh on your mind in your new community. So can you tell me, as people who move around all the time, what is missing by not having that cultural collection? Like, let's sort of back up, right? If you just let that passion point go, what are you missing by letting that go?

Tawny Cale: I really think that you're doing yourself a disservice by not staying connected to your culture or to um whatever community you want to be affiliated with. You're, you are missing out on those connections that really do make up a lot of who we are as indigenous nations. And you're also robbing your children of those potential connections as well. So , with my reconnecting journey, if you will, and things that I've been able to find out more and more about my culture cuz I grew up knowing, you know, knowing who I am, knowing my tribal affiliations, knowing three of my four grandparents come from three different nations. So I've grown up knowing this knowledge, but being able to dive deeper into it as an adult and then being able to share that with my children so that they have an understanding. Cuz I'd rather them know, cultural protocols and know more about ceremony and stuff like that than just like your stereotypical what natives should do, pocahontas, hair blowing in the wind can communicate with animals. I'd rather them have a more functioning knowledge of their heritage than just what's being made available to them through Hollywood. So I think yeah, not having that just you're just robbing yourself and you're robbing your kids of, that foundation, if you will.

Amy Bushatz: And that could be true I think in any, really, any culture that you come from.

Tawny Cale: Oh yes.

Amy Bushatz: I imagine that if you are somebody of, let's say, South Korean heritage, which many military spouses are, that you leave that behind and without reconnecting with that community you're robbing yourself, as you say of that connection.

Tawny Cale: Yeah. And I really think that, people talk about America as being like a melting pot, and I think that that's not a very good term. Like I think when you melt things together, they lose what makes them unique and they lose that individuality. So it needs to be more of like, we need to be like a salad. Like we all need to have, we each stay our own thing, but we can all come together to create, this beautiful, wonderful thing. And so really knowing your identity and being able to bring that forward. I just think there's just, what are the negatives to that? I just think that there's only positive.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And then on the separate related topic is passion points that aren't necessarily cultural, but they're things that are deeply important to you. So that could be something like activism. I didn't mention faith in the introduction.

Tawny Cale: Oh yeah.

Amy Bushatz: But it could be a faith community, right? That these are, they feel like they are a cultural part of you because they are so deeply seated and important to you as a person.

And those can be also hard to truck around with you because you, again, you have to go friend dating and community dating. And man, that is a special kind of exhausting.

Tawny Cale: It really is. It's very emotionally exhausting and can be very mentally exhausting because it kind of feels like you just, like when you're meeting someone brand new, you're putting your best foot forward, your best foot forward, and just kind of having to be on guard, I guess all the time. Just it is. It's exhausting, you know? whereas with people like your family and your friends and that you have established already, you can just kind of be who you are. Take your shoes off in their home, leave your socks in the middle of their living room floor, and they won't get so mad about it. But you're not gonna do that at someone's house that you just met. You're definitely gonna keep those socks on.

Amy Bushatz: Let's hope. Just the pro tip guys. . I mean, it probably depends on the culture of where you are.

Tawny Cale: Oh, that's fair. That's fair. That's fair's.

Amy Bushatz: That's a thing. I don't know. But I mean, to your point, like you wanna be able to be who you are and yet, you have to, or you feel like you have to really present the best version of yourself when the best version of yourself at this exact moment is also very tired from all of the stress, all the stress of moving and it's so hard. I remember when we relocated to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, go getting ready to go to a Bible study group on base, which is something I was involved in, protestant Women of the Chapel is the name PWOC, but it's a great place to meet friends because no matter deep you are into that sort of culture and, and faith community, you can go there and find other people who may be at your same level. And so I was like, all right, like, I'm ready to go. And I remember getting dressed and being like, what are you doing, Amy? You never look like this, ever. Except for today.

Tawny Cale: You're setting a standard now. You're setting a standard.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I've got like the flippy. I, I remember thinking, I get to reinvent myself now, and now I'm going to be the person who wears this flippy skirt on a Tuesday or whatever, and I guys, I don't know if I need to tell you this, but I am not a person who wears a flippy skirt on a Tuesday or literally any day.

Tawny Cale: Well, you are now.

Amy Bushatz: That has never happened.

Tawny Cale: Now you are.

Amy Bushatz: But now I, and then I was, and it was like, okay, I'm creating this perception of who I am to what end? And it was because I wanted to friend date, I wanted friends. And it was so hard and it is so hard to find that connection.

So I'm wondering though, if you could talk a little bit more about why it's hard. Is it hard because they don't exist or is it hard because we don't know where to look?

Tawny Cale: I think it's hard because a lot of times we don't know where to look. So just let, let's speak first on for example, like Native American or indigenous culture. So I am a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe but I also have descendancy from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and then as well as the Spirit Lake Nation. So in kind of shorter terms I'm Lakota, Dakota and Anishinaabe and I now live, essentially Little Shell, Chippewa territory, as well as Blackfeet territory.

And so the cultural differences are definitely there, but at the same time, there's a lot of connection between like Little Shell Chippewa and Turtle Mountain Band at Chippewa. So they're actually technically the same band of people and I don't need to get into that. Right now, But there's, there's a connection there.

And then as somebody I did not grow up on the reservation, I'm an urban Indian. We lived out at St. Michael North Dakota until I was five, I think. And then we moved into town. And then I've, joked that I was a weekender. We went back cuz my grandparents lived on the reservation. But I did not grow up there. I did not go to school there. And so being an urban Indian is about finding not just your own tribal members, but about finding the native community in general because we're so, intermixed and there's so many, you know what I mean? So like, for example, I come from three different tribes, so I don't just necessarily identify with one, I identify with all three of them. All three of them make me part of who I am. And so that's just so true for so many other native people. So just being able to find, you know, where that commonality is. So for me, I've been able to find it like through our school system a lot. We have a really great Indian education program, and that's really one of my passions as education. I went to college to be a high school English teacher and have been a stay-at-home mom for the last 12 years, but education is, you know, where my heart really is. So yeah, so I've been able to find that there. But social media I think helps a lot too with finding people. If, there, there is information out there, you just have to be willing to look for it, I guess. And then I guess leaning on some connections that you may have as well.

When it comes to activism though, activism is something, I think it depends on, what your stance is on some situations, because a lot of times, groups that are working, towards some end, quite frankly, there's never enough people. There's never enough people, and so a lot of times for when it comes to, something that you feel passionate about and wanna get involved with and wanna make a difference, just showing up makes a huge difference on that. They're just looking, they're looking for people. They're looking for people to help. And if you're somebody who's willing to help, then absolutely. That's where they, they will find you. They put out calls to find people to help, even if it's like stuffing envelopes for something, yeah. A mailer. A legit mailer.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I think you made just a really good point though about showing up. That's the key here, because so much of what we do in our life right now as military spouses and just in the social media world in general is social media. And we go online and we say, oh, I wish I had friends, or, oh, I, don't know where to meet friends. But it's very difficult to show up. It's very difficult to take off the jammy pants or what, you know, whatever it is. I mean, wear your jammie pants. I don't care. It's very difficult to peel yourself out and to break out that inertia of being on the couch to get out, especially when you're exhausted emotionally and physically and mentally from moving, to peel yourself out and go out there and show up and take that first step.

Tawny Cale: And then we're coming off of, you know, the messaging for the last little while was like, stay home. Stay home and don't go anywhere. And we all kind, well, not all, but we kind of leaned into that too. Like, oh, I, you know, I better not go. It's just, it's so much easier to just stay home because you've got a million things to get done at home.

But yeah, just taking the time to actually walk out the door, I mean, that's 90% of it right there is just, you know, it's like going to the gym. People always say that too, like going to the gym or actually working out. Like 90% of it is just mental. It's actually going to do it. Yeah. Then you'll see the results if you will.

Amy Bushatz: Just a quick pit stop here to thank our sponsor. PCS With is brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union.. They may be called Navy Federal, but they don't exclusively serve sailors. Serving all members of the armed forces, they have the products and resources to help you navigate your finances through every phase of life. So even if you can't tell port from starboard, Navy Federal Credit Union will help you earn and save with great rates and exclusive discounts. Learn more at Navy Federal Credit Union, our members are the mission, an equal housing lender.

So you have mentioned already through a couple of tips for making this happen. We just talked about showing up, for example. Can you give us a couple more about finding community wherever you are and maybe lean into a little bit about creating that community for yourself if indeed you do find yourself somewhere that doesn't exist in, in the format that serves you best.

Tawny Cale: Yeah, absolutely. So my, I think number one thing is just knowing your why, if you will. I come from, I have a little bit of background in direct sales from like a lifetime ago, but it was all about your why. Why are you doing this? Why do you wanna do it? And I just think having a good knowledge and understanding about why this particular issue, why this particular part of you or, or whatnot, is important, being able to lean on that and like really understand and always going back to that. So really understanding your why I think is really important for wanting to find your community.

The other thing I think is very important is utilizing your network. So if you're a military spouse, you've moved around a lot, most likely, and you've been here and you've been there, and you've made friends along the way, and not even necessarily friends, but sometimes just an acquaintance, like somebody you met through somebody. Well, they might know somebody who knows somebody here and, oh, hey, when we moved to where we live now, I had three or four people message me and say, oh, hey, if you're moving there, I know this person who lives there or this person, oh, I know this person.

So people are willing to put you in connections and sometimes like take advantage of that, absolutely. Like if somebody you know, thinks you'll like this person, chances are they're right. And so taking that risk, I guess, and, and actually utilizing that networking.

And then the last one yeah was show up, which we've already kind of talked about that, but really, truly just showing up makes a huge differe.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. It strikes me that this is not unlike job hunting in a way that, in that you when you lean on your preexisting network. That's very normal in the job seeking world, and it sounds a little bit too calculated to talk about it for making friends or finding that community, but I don't think it is. I think that's just using the tools that you have and the ways that the world works to find the people who you would mesh with best. And those community connections really can be the difference between like, I love this duty station, or I tolerate this duty station and I hate this duty station.

Tawny Cale: Oh yes.

Amy Bushatz: Um, Yeah. And nobody wants to spend three years hating somewhere that they live. That's terrible. You gotta find a way to power through and you don't have to love the location, you don't have to love the weather, but if you have a community there, it can Sure. Make up for those two things.

Tawny Cale: Yep, absolutely. When we moved to our last place that we lived, I was not happy. I was kicking and screaming and I was not looking forward to it. And my connected neighbor, hi Karina! Ended up being one of my best friends and I love her so much and I mean she made our time there just fantastic. So I look back on our time there with, lots of fondness and lots of great memories and just because like I happened to find her and I mean, how lucky that it was my connected neighbor that I got along so well with, cuz you could be connected to somebody that you don't, and that's unfortunate. But you know, like you said, power through. Cause at least you had got some commonality there with like being mill spouses. And that's a whole, that's a whole community in itself that I'm learning to navigate as well. Even though I've, you know, technically I've been a mill spouse like 15 years. My husband and I have been married this fall and, I feel like I'm still learning on the job for for that as well.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. But you know, I would say like that's a great attitude to have and I think that what you're saying can be instructive to so many people who have been doing this a long time because not everybody listening to this podcast is gonna be brand new to this life. And even if you are, you can remember that if you approach military life with the attitude of learning on the job for the entirety of your experience, you're always gonna have an openness of spirit to. What other people can teach you and what you can receive from them. Because even if you've been doing this forever, things change, they change. People change the culture changes, where you live changes like we're talking about.

Tawny Cale: The acronyms change.

Amy Bushatz: The acronyms change you wake up one day, it was a do it yourself, DITY move, now it's a PPM, whatever that means. I mean, stuff changes and so being willing to say, I'm learning on the job even though I've been doing this for X number of years is an attitude that not only is going to help you make it through the practicalities of military life, like how to pack your stuff, how to move to the next spot, but also these cultural things that we're talking about today. Making new friends. Keeping new friends, creating that connection. Finding your spot, finding your passion point if you don't already have it. And I, without that attitude, I don't know how else you successfully make it in this life. I just don't.

Tawny Cale: Yeah, I agree. And I think just for me personally with our last move. So we actually moved off base when we first got to where we are and we lived there for about two years. And in that whole time we were in that neighborhood, I met one neighbor. I mean, it was insane. There were, I know there were kids that lived there cuz we have four children and I never saw other children, didn't, where were all the people at? So we lived there two years before we finally said, okay I don't love living here to keep paying for this house. What about if we actually move onto base?

And it was an adjustment cuz it's, it's, it's smaller and going, you know, being from a homeowner going back into military housing was a bit of an, we're still in the adjustment period. But the first day that we brought a load of stuff over to the house, six kids showed up at our door wanting to talk to my kids and wanting to know who we were.

And I was like, yep, I'm gonna love it here. This is exactly what I was looking for, what I was wanting, what we've been missing at our last location. And I'm, I mean, it was just across town, but it, this is, this was a fantastic move and I am really glad that we're here. And like my youngest is in kindergarten and she comes home from school, and if the weather is nice, she turns around and she goes back outside and there's at least 10 kids that I see out the window and I've waved to the moms and we haven't really had a chance to meet yet cuz it, it's been cold and it's winter and we're not sitting outside. But I know that once the summer comes, I'm gonna meet at least three people in my immediate vicinity. And I am really looking forward to this. I really, I can't wait. New friends!

Amy Bushatz: Tawny, thank you so much for spending your time talking to us about this really important issue that I think people just don't think about until they're in the thick of it and fill in the stress. So thanks for helping us prepare for that. Appreciate your time. Yeah.

Tawny Cale: Uh, Philamayaye I am grateful to you. Thank you for having me on your show today. I appreciate it. It's been fun.

Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to PCS With Want more PCS advice? Check out the rest of PCS With wherever you get your podcasts. A special thanks to our sponsor, Navy Federal Credit Union, proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at Our members are the mission.

And until next time, happy moving.

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