I declare it: 2013 is time to celebrate the Successful Military Wife. They are the ones who have created their own mark on the world. They manage deployments, PCS’s, raising kids, and every uncertainty that military life brings while also building businesses, careers, authority, and influence in their industries.
I talked to these amazing women and asked them all the same question: “What do you do on a day-to-day basis that contributes to your success?”
If you want the quick version, I wrote a summary of their answers here.
Take notes, here is what they had to say:
El Brown, founder of KinderJam. Since December 2008, KinderJam has grown from an activity taught in her home for her young son during her husband’s deployment to Iraq, to an international Early Childhood Enrichment and Parent Education movement! KinderJam has enriched the lives of thousands of young children and their parents in over nine countries.
- I do something for my business everyday. I am firm believer in short and long term goals. A clear vision allows me to wake up everyday and know exactly in what direction I need to head. Being a wife and mother in addition to an entrepreneur doesn’t allow for me to complete linear tasks. Sometimes, I’m all over the place. Having several short term goals that build to my overarching long term goal allows me to experience small successes everyday. No matter how hectic my life may get…sick child…husband TDY…household fires to put out…I make sure that I accomplish at least one little goal everyday. Even if it means, I have to wake up at three in the morning (like now) when my house is completely quiet and I can be alone with my thoughts to complete my goal for the day. In the moment, those little accomplishments may not seem like a big deal or reason for fanfare but when you add up all those little accomplishments, step back, and look at yourself or your business after six months or so…you will be amazed at how far those little daily steps have taken you.
- I recognize and eliminate distractions and time wasting activities. My short and long term goals allow me to effectively prioritize my time and energy. I only have so many waking hours in each day. Therefore, I have to use them wisely. Before committing to or participating in an activity, I ask myself, “Will this activity move me in the direction of my personal or professional goals” If the answer is “No”, I don’t do it. When you work for yourself it is extremely important to be able to differentiate between being busy and being productive…one just makes you tired and the other moves you towards your goals.
- I come back to my “Why”. I started my business for a reason. As a Military Spouse, I wanted to be able to have a fulfilling mobile career while being completely available to my son. He is my “Why”. Everything I do is motivated by my desire to create successful opportunities for my son. Therefore everyday, I have to carve out some time to be completely focused on my baby (who’s six). He centers me, rejuvenates me, and puts everything in prospective.
Ellie Kay, America’s Family Financial Expert®. Ellie Kay is the best-selling author of fourteen books including The Sixty Minute Money Workout, Living Rich for Less as well as The Little Book of Big Savings (all with Waterbrook/Random House). She is a popular international speaker, presenting at arena events with 8,000 people. As a media veteran, she has appeared on over 600 radio/tv stations including CNBC, CNN and Fox News. Ellie is currently seen on ABC NEWS NOW as one of their experts. She is an international radio commentator for Money Matters and Focus on the Family.
As a popular columnist she writes for six national magazines. She has been the subject matter expert or writer for hundreds of national periodicals including The Wall Street Journal The New York Times, The Washington Post, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Redbook, Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan and Life Beautiful.
Ellie and her team have taken the “Heroes at Home World Tour” from coast to coast in the United States and to China, Germany, France, Italy and England. In all these venues, they are helping military families with key issues including finances.
Ellie Kay is married to Bob, a test pilot and they have seven children. To read Ellie’s blog or to sign up for a free newsletter, go to www.elliekay.com . The Kays live in Palmdale, CA.
I’ve always prioritized family and multi tasked in order to be able to do so much at the same time. I.e., make 15 military moves, play the role of “single mom” when my husband was deployed, be a mom to seven children, homeschool my kids for 7 years, write 15 books, appear on 800 media outlets, build a million dollar company, write for dozens of national periodicals and travel the world presenting to audiences as large as 8,000.
Here’s my daily philosophy:
- Put family first but teach my kids to be independent, have a good work ethic and do things for themselves. I refuse to be a helicopter parent and I encourage my children to accomplish age-appropriate tasks
- Plan my day with a manageable list of “to do” items and group items that can be multitasked (i.e. take a manuscript to edit to the soccer practice and edit while sitting on the sidelines or bring research articles to the doctor’s office and read over them while in the waiting room or write a blog that can easily be repurposed as a column)
- Pray over my “to do” list and be content with the idea that if something doesn’t get done because I chose to help a hurting friend or spend extra time talking to my child rather than work on my blog, then it’s OK and it will all work out in the end.
- Always choose family over finance. I.e. I was offered my own reality TV show pilot on the BBC but it would have come right after a move, with five kids at home, having to make adjustments to the new location and schools. and I would be gone for 3 weeks out of every month for 7 months. I said no to the project and didn’t regret it.
- Do one thing every day for marketing or to build your business (i.e. social media, phone call, contacts, etc)
- Make time for yourself, whether it’s as simple as a quiet cup of coffee, lunch with your favorite TV show (via Hulu or Netflix) or a spa treatment. You have to take time to regroup and refresh daily.
- By following these daily imperatives, we were able to successfully build a business and raise our kids. All the children I raised will graduate debt free (no student loans, credit card debt or car loans). They all paid for college with scholarships, military service, work/study programs, summer jobs, and we also helped. All of our children contribute to society and are kids to be proud of including graduates/students from Columbia, Stanford, University of Texas, Moody Institute (Chicago), United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Military Academy.
Tara Crooks, co-founder of the Army Wife Network. She also started Army Wife Talk Radio in April 2005 as the original internet talk radio program for military wives. The show has had a great amount of success being featured in Military Spouse Magazine, Stars & Stripes Newspaper, Military.com, and Army.com, to name a few. Tara has been featured in the national news circuit on the FOX REPORT and even been called the “Oprah of the Armed Forces” by CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric. Tara teamed with Star Henderson and co-founded Army Wife Network in April of 2009.
In November of 2010 Tara and Star partnered with Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer to begin a writing project about loving military life. The result was an amazing tribute to our military families – 1001 Things To Love About Military Life released November 2011.
Tara’s accomplishments include signing on as a Military Spouse Community Manager with USAA in 2011.
I am not ashamed to tell you that I LIVE by my calendar. Only by trial and error and many blunders (as well as great advice from a mentor) did I figure out how to learn to say “no” and mean it, and to work in what is really important to me. To answer your question I work daily on tasks and try to focus squarely on my list for the day and not be distracted. As a distraction comes along I have to decide if it needs to derail me b/c it is time sensitive or if it can go to the end of the list to work into another day. I still underestimate the time it takes to get things done but I am getting better at the focus. I work down the list and PLAN – there’s the key – at LEAST two weeks ahead of myself. That advance planning makes those “derailments” easier to manage.
On a professional note, I truly believe that staying in contact answering emails efficiently and personally responding to our fans has immensely contributed to the success and sincerity of our network. This is something I do first thing, every day.
Starlett Henderson, co-founder of the Army Wife Network. She is also the co host of Army Wife Talk Radio, coauthor of Field Problems™, and speaker at Field Exercises™ as well as Editor-in-Chief of Army Wife Network. She is a coauthor of 1001 Things To Love About Military Life.
Star is a National Guard Army wife and Army veteran of full-time and Army Reserve components. Since leaving the military, she worked briefly as a budget analyst with the Department of the Army and later returned to school to earn her Master’s of Arts in Professional Counseling. Her desire to return to service for military members and their families drew her to Army Wife Talk Radio where owner, Tara Crooks, and her became fast “battle buddies”. She was awarded the FINRA Education Foundation’s 2011 Military Spouse Fellowship, which provides training to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) designation.
Prioritize! I learned early on that saying yes to something means saying no to something else. One truly can’t do it all, be all things to all people, or have it all. To prioritize you must know what’s important to you. My priorities are my faith, family (including my military family), and friends.
Without making time for those key ingredients in my life, I would be nothing more than a blip and would not have staying power in any arena. I not only prioritize what I do but also who I listen to. For example, I never would have helped create the book “1001 Things to Love About Military Life” had I not established a crucial mentor-mentee relationship with co-authors Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer early on in my milspouse personal and career life.
The motivation I get daily from our co-author Tara Crooks is key too! They all brought me along to succeed with them and kept me from bending to the self-doubt in my own voice.
Good causes and good people keep me accountable.
Wendy Poling, Founder of MyMilitaryLife.com, USAA Spouse Community Manager Deployment, Creator and Host, Military Life Radio and Navy Wife Radio. Wendy started MyMilitaryLife and Navy Wife Radio in 2007 after a PCS move and right before an upcoming deployment. From her platform at MyMilitaryLife, she earned the opportunity to work as the USAA Spouse Community Manager. Wendy’s background includes working as a DoD civilian for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. She also occasionally works as a freelance writer and has been published in Military Spouse Magazine, Navy Times, Military.com’s SpouseBUZZ and the original Military Spouse Magazine Blog.
Navigating military life is tough, and it isn’t for everyone. I’ve made many mistakes along the way. I hope by sharing what I’m going through and have gone through someone can learn from my successes yes, but more so from my mistakes!
First, I start by giving thanks and I pray a lot. If the good Lord above never did another thing for me in my life, He has already blessed me well beyond my wildest dreams. I remind myself everyday that no matter what I’m going through or obstacles I face, there is always a silver lining.
Second, I’ve learned through the years when I need a break I take one. I’m a workaholic. I’ve learned I do need to slow down and it’s okay. I’m working on being kinder to myself when I hit bumps in the road, which I learned from Krista Wells, The Military Spouse Coach, who has become a trusted friend and is now part of our show.
Third, your dream is my dream. If I can help, I want to do that. If I can share a resource or make a connection, I want to do that. I love helping people. I am happy to share the mistakes I have made along the way in hopes someone can learn what not to from my experience!
The fourth thing, I surround myself with people who know more than I do. I have a fantastic talented group of military spouse bloggers on the site, a killer blog editor and two funny, bright co-hosts. My job is more fun and rewarding than I ever thought possible. I have to say, while building our platform I always worked a full-time job. I was a contractor working with the US Navy and a founding member of the Navy’s Operational Stress Control Program. Now that I’m working in the studio full time, we have already seen some major movement forward. One of our recent shows had over 22,000 downloads, when we were averaging about 900! Our site and show will begin its 6th year in Spring 2013.
Also, being flexible has really made a difference. By doing what you love, while you may be working in a full time job that isn’t exactly your dream job, you will gain experience even if its in the form of taking baby steps while still fulfilling your desire to develop your unique gifts and talents. I’m the Deployment Community Manager for USAA’s Spouse Community, an opportunity that would have not come my way with out all the years of effort of building my own platform of doing the show month in and month out. My word of advice here is, think about your circle of influence and how you can make a difference. You can start small, just make the effort to start.
…and if I can sneak in one more, I’d have to add no matter how challenging, stressful, unpredictable navigating military life can be, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m so inspired by the stories of our listeners / military families and the challenges they overcome on a daily basis. They inspire me, motivate me, and remind me to never quit!
Jacey Eckhart, military life consultant and nationally syndicated military columnist. Her critically acclaimed book, The Homefront Club: The Hardheaded Woman’s Guide to Raising a Military Family, has made her a sought after speaker at military installations around the world. She is also the voice behind the award-winning CD, “These Boots: A Spouse’s Guide To Stepping Up and Standing Tall During Deployment.” and “I Married a Spartan: The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage”. Ms. Eckhart was selected as one of the most influential military spouses in the country by Military Spouse Magazine.
“I’ve got three things that contribute to my success every day:
- Habits. Stephen King said that writers do two things: Writers read and writers write. I read nonfiction in the tub every morning. I read fiction in my bed every night. I write every single day without fail. I go to Starbucks or Panera or the library and write for about 90 minutes. Like some people gotta run, I gotta read and write or I don’t feel good.
- Strengths. The research says that people do better at work when they are working within their strengths. I found that the the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, Strengths-Finder, and Positive Psychology’s Strengths Test helped me figure out what I do best. Now I arrange my work so that I am using those strengths every day–extraversion, communication, significance, empathy, intuition, input, inclusivity, woo, etc.
- Collaboration. I’m a partner person. I do my best work with one other person–often someone who my total opposite in strengths. I love my business partner because she will actually read all of our contracts and return people’s calls on time. I love my managing editor at SpouseBuzz.com because she knows the news facts first so I get to focus on meanings and insights and big picture ideas. I love our events manager at Military.com because no detail ever escaped her color coordinated binders. I’m also big on helping my partners get better at their work and promoting their success. No one ever succeeds alone. We military spouses need to help each other.”
Monique Rizer, Deputy Director of Spouse Programs at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). In addition to working in marketing for a top 100 accounting and consulting firm, Monique has served in several areas of military family support. As a family readiness group leader she was awarded the Commander’s Award for Public Service. Additionally, she has worked in development with the National Military Family Association (NMFA) and as a writer with several military organizations and publications including NMFA, Military Spouse Magazine, GI Jobs magazine, Vetrepeneurmagazine, and the Wounded Warrior Project. She also has been published in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as three writing instruction textbooks, and is a certified instructor of the career development workshop, Dependable Strengths.
One of the things I do on a daily basis to contribute to my success is develop strong relationships. Whether a lunch meeting, or a formal conference or an email exchange, I strive to treat everyone with the same respect and courtesy I would like to have. You never know where people’s paths may go and that relationship could be a key connector to a future opportunity. But I am not disingenuous! If I don’t feel a connection, I don’t force the business relationship. However, I am always professional. So keep your contacts updated and stay in touch with people. Plus, you may be able to help someone in your network one day too. We have to support each other!
Roxanne Reed, Military Spouse Foundation Founder. Proud military brat, military spouse and mother of two. She is a published author in Military Spouse Magazine, professional contributor for Military Officers Association of America and Blue Star Families, a contributor/advisor for Military Spouse Corporate Career Network and has been featured by Fox News, CNN, American Support You (ASY) Radio for her thought leadership in military spouse career issues. She is an instructor at Coastal Carolina Community College and has experienced her own entrepreneurial successes with the well-known Jane Wayne Gear and All Fired Up Candle Company brands. She has spent the past 8 years of her life establishing herself as a community leader among professional military spouses through business consultation and mentorship, and is proud to have founded the Military Spouse Foundation.
Roxanne has earned Bachelor of Science of Psychology from Old Dominion University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
After I get the kids out the door to school I grab this little book of inspiration. I try to take a few minutes just to chill before I start getting ready for work. Many times I have needed that little book and its thought provoking comments to keep me focused. Building a business can be very tough on one’s heart, soul and wallet and for some reason that book always provides spot on support. I try to eat a good lunch and I often take a break and walk outside for a few minutes throughout the day to reboot. I always walk away from the computer at 4:30 and shut my office door for the rest of the day. Work smart – not long and hard – is my motto.
My quick list of sayings that keep me sane at times:
- To be successful I have learned that you must have a life and enjoy your down time. It helps you to be more creative, productive and focused overall.
- Bottom line, keep it real.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Throw a Hail Mary pass when you have a good gut about it…sometimes it’s worth the risk. Win or lose, you will learn from it – so don’t be scared.
- Believe in yourself, put your big girl britches on and keep walking towards your own version of success.
- In my opinion leadership is really about serving others in your own unique way, so give yourself a break and be patient with the process.
- I have learned that you can have it all. Just not at the same time.
- Most overnight successes take 13+ years to happen – so pace yourself for the long haul and enjoy every second of the journey.
- Win or lose – it’s your journey, so own it.
Adrianna Domingos-Lupher (@milmoneychica) is the Editor in Chief of NextGen MilSpouse, co-founder of MSB New Media, and the Chica behind Military Money Chica, her personal blog. When she’s not wrangling her munchkins or taking over the world, she’s sitting on the couch with a giant mug of coffee trying to figure out what she ought to be doing other than sitting on the couch. Oh, and she secretly loves to fold laundry because it affords her guiltless tv time.
As cliche as it sounds, I wake up confident in my ability to tackle whatever challenges come my way in my personal and professional life. I’ve always believed that the majority of success comes from believing that you are worthy and deserve it. You have to believe you are successful in order to be successful.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself staring down a problem that I have no idea how to solve because I lack both the necessary skill and experience. I might not be able to make up for lack of experience, but I always have the ability to learn and acquire a new skill. Whatever the challenge, throwing my hands in the air and walking away from the problem is not an option, so I do the next best thing. I gather every last piece of knowledge I can get my hands on about my current challenge, whether it’s books, articles, or videos, and I pretty much fake it ’til I make it. And if I hit a wall, I don’t stop. I ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help.
On a more practical level, I am a creature of routine and I find that I’m happier when I have a predictable flow to my day. It helps me juggle my many roles as a mom, military spouse, entrepreneur, and person. That, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
Michelle Aikman, owner of Skilled Assets, LLC. Through Skilled Assets, LLC, she is focusing her energy on improving the lives of people by sharing her progressive employment strategies. Her business is built upon the belief that we all have a unique set of skills and perspectives from our experiences. Michelle is dedicated to promoting that transferable skills are a competitive advantage for individuals, the businesses that employ those individuals and the organizations that help develop those skills.
Michelle’s life as a mobile active duty military spouse, her steadfast dedication to pursuing satisfying, impactful and society-enriching work, and her willingness to fulfill her life’s greater purpose all guided and molded her unique career path. Her remarkable job pursuit success rate is 57%; she has interviewed for over 40 positions, received 17 job offers and declined an additional seven offers for site visits and/or top candidate interviews.
Many, many little things…
- Take a few moments for myself. Coffee, a really hot shower, and exercise is enough for me these days.
- Schedule my day. I have very little time to do everything I need to get done each day. If I don’t schedule ahead of time then I waste a lot! Before kids, I could work as long as it took to get the job done. I do not have those luxuries anymore because my family takes higher priority than work so I have to keep my work/life balance in check.
- Recognize my limits. I have very ambitious career goals; I want to change the world! However, I have to ask myself, “what has to give?” when I am contemplating taking on a big project.
Joanna Williamson, Co-Founder Military Spouse Business Association, Inc. Prior to founding MSBA, Mrs. Williamson founded and continues to operate and manage Heroes on the Home Front, Inc. (www.AttaGirlGifts.com), a retail online site dedicated to honoring the achievements of military families. She has served on numerous Spouse Club and Family Readiness Group boards.
Mrs. Williamson was instrumental in the passage of the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act where she was involved in all facets of the bill from inception to final passage on November 11, 2009.
Mrs. Williamson received her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Florida.
It sounds like an easy question that is surprisingly difficult to answer. Is it the tangible, day to day professional activities that propel me forward or is it the intangible daily affirmations (and REaffirmations!) required to get me through the tough days? Probably a bit of both.
I think I know how I’m supposed to answer. Be disciplined, stay organized, check my daily calendar, answer phone calls first thing in the morning, answer emails by 10am, orders out by noon, work on 5 year plan by 1pm, network, turn off when the day is done. I mean, these are the basics of good business practices.
Want to know the truth? I struggle. I struggle to stay organized when it feels like there are so many fires to put out I think my calendar has spontaneously combusted. Returning phone calls while stationed in Hawaii, five (or sometimes six) hours behind the East coast is a hit or miss game. I usually miss. They usually hit. At 3am my time. Emails, I regularly have so many in my inboxes it can take hours just to go through them. Five year plan? Are you kidding? You can get two out of me, max. Then all bets are off. You know, needs of the Navy. Then there’s turn off when the day is done. Sure. Just when exactly is my day done? My ‘corner’ office is right next to the kitchen. It’s amazing how important sparkling counters become when you have a huge project ahead of you.
So why do this at all? Because I believe in what I’m doing. I don’t always love the day to day of what I’m doing, but I deeply care for each and every customer who trusts us to capture their sincerest emotion in a gift. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe military spouses should be recognized for their own military life achievements. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe military spouses are natural entrepreneurs who should be properly supported and encouraged to flourish. Every day, as my hands polish a customer’s awards, I imagine the recipient when she holds it in her hands. Every day, in the whir of the postage printer, I hear a giggle, and a gasp, that turn into the tears of joy from someone who feels treasured. It may sound hokey, but I kid you not, it’s what I do.
I don’t always get emails answered right away, I’m not always in the right time zone to immediately return phone calls. But without fail, every single day, I take purposeful moments to think about military spouses.
That is, until the calendar pop up reminds me that I’m going to be late for a meeting.
Kathie Hightower, An author, columnist, and international speaker, Kathie encourages audiences to access possibilities and “Jump into Life– At Any Age!” She and Holly Scherer have presented their trademark workshop Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military™ for military spouses all over the United States, Europe, Japan, and Korea. They’ve keynoted conferences of all services worldwide. Frequent contributors to military publications, including years of columns in Air Force/Army/Marine Corps/Navy Times newspapers, Military Money magazine, Military Spouse magazine, and Military.com, they are coauthors of Help! I’m a Military Spouse–I Get a Life Too!, in its second edition. In 2011 they wrote 1001 Things to Love About Military Life with Tara Crooks and Star Henderson.
I’d say the following are the daily habits that contribute to my life success:
- I plan my next day every evening using a form I created. Each planning page includes my current daily affirmations about how I want my life to be for me to read and internalize. The “To Do” part not only includes key business areas but also personal (soul goals), time with my husband and friends, health habits I’m working to develop. Do I get my list items all done each day? Not always and of course often things change outside my control. But if I didn’t write them down and plan, very little would ever happen!
- I give gratitude for what is good, writing three to five things that were good about the day in a journal. When I hit a low period all I have to do is reread the journal to be reminded of the many blessings I do have rather than focusing on what I don’t have. (which by the way I did do for years, focusing on what I didn’t have, what I couldn’t do, what I had to give up because of military life…NOT a good way to live, trust me.)
- I make time for some kind of exercise, walking outside, yoga, weights, or my personal favorite, hoopdancing. I learned the hard way that without exercise I’m not as focused and can more easily slide into depression!
- This isn’t daily but it’s important…it’s what my daily planning is based around. I take time once a year on or around my birthday to review my year (all areas of my life, not just business), list accomplishments, and create a plan for the coming year. And by the way, I’ve learned not to be too tied to my plan. I think it’s key to have the vision and to be taking action, taking steps (even if they are baby steps) to move forward and then be open to serendipity and magic and the possibility of the universe stepping in to help me move forward in ways I hadn’t even thought of.
Holly Scherer, An author, columnist, and international speaker, Holly encourages audiences to see the possibilities and Live Life Now..not..When. She and Kathie Hightower have presented their trademark workshop Follow Your Dreams While You Follow the Military™ for military spouses all over the United States, Europe, Japan, and Korea. They’ve keynoted conferences of all services worldwide. Frequent contributors to military publications, including years of columns in Air Force/Army/Marine Corps/Navy Times newspapers, Military Money magazine, Military Spouse magazine, and Military.com, they are coauthors of Help! I’m a Military Spouse–I Get a Life Too!, in its second edition. In 2011 they wrote 1001 Things to Love About Military Life with Tara Crooks and Star Henderson. Holly has moved over 13 times as a military spouse and now she and her family live surrounded by green rolling hills in the Virginia countryside, she has found her home.
I’ve learned a lot over years working with my co-author, Kathie Hightower. The very first military spouse workshop I attended was her “Managing Priorities” presentation. She shared the daily planner she created that helped me focus not only on my “to do list” for business, but for all the goals I have in my life. Soul goals like family, friends, health, gardening. Before I went to bed at night I would write down what I was going to do the next day towards all my goals, because all parts of my life are important – not just business.
One significant piece to planning my next day’s agenda was to pause and write down my blessings – what I’m grateful for. I always say: If you aren’t grateful for what you have – how can you expect any more blessings in your life.
In addition to the daily goals, I always strived to reach out and stay connected in my community.
Whenever I lived on a military base, I joined the spouse’s club; PWOC; the FRG and worked and/or volunteered to stay connected with what’s happening on Post/Base. This is where I hear about programs that are not working or obstacles other military spouses encounter. This is what I love to do the most – brainstorm ways to solve problems. I especially get fired up when I hear someone says – “that’s the way it’s always been done and we can’t change it; even though it’s not working”. That’s all the fuel I need to make me want to work harder to figure out a way to change things for the better.
I’ve come to accept that some things take longer than I would like, but change can happen when it’s for the right reasons. I keep focused on the end result, I don’t care who gets credit for the success, as long as a change is made that will benefit other military spouses/families.
Kathie and I have worked tirelessly for years traveling around the world with our workshop series “Follow Your Dreams While Your Follow the Military™”. The goal in our workshops and our books are to help military spouse see the possibilities and to start living life now – not when. Not when they moved to a different location, not when their spouse returns from a deployment, not when they retire from the military or when the kids grow up….Live your best military spouse life now.
There are so many resources available to help military spouses and their families to have the best life possible – they just have to know about the resources and connect with others. Your website will be a great addition to helping military spouse do exactly that.
Siobhan Fallon, the author of You Know When the Men Are Gone, which was listed as a Best Book of 2011 by The San Francisco Chronicle, Self Magazine, Los Angeles Public Library, Janet Maslin of The New York Times, and won a 2012 Indies Choice Honor Award, the Texas Institute of Letters Award for First Fiction, and the 2012 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. Her collection of stories about the families of Fort Hood, Texas, during an Army brigade’s deployment to Iraq, has been called “the explosive sort of literary triumph that appears only every few years” by New York Journal of Books, “a terrific and terrifically illuminating book” by The Washington Post, a “searing collection” by Entertainment Weekly, and “fascinating” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Theatrical productions of her stories include performances by Word for Word in San Francisco and Stories on Stage in Denver. More of Siobhan’s work has appeared in Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, New Letters, Publishers’ Weekly, NPR’s The Morning Edition, Huffington Post, and she writes a fiction series for Military Spouse Magazine. Siobhan has an MFA from the New School in NYC.
Yikes, the part about “daily basis” is a little tricky for me these days—I just had a baby on New Year’s Eve, so I feel like the only thing I consistently manage to do lately is change diapers! But, seriously, I think you’ve gotten to the heart of what makes people successful: it’s the habit or consistency that will carry you through good times and bad. As a writer, there are a few things that I’ve had to work on. Writing, for me, must be a habit. As an army spouse and mother, there are always a million things to do and it is difficult to carve out the time to write. But you have to make the time. Do the laundry later, research the new schools or housing tomorrow, go another week without getting your hair cut, and make time for your career/passion no matter what. Especially as military spouses, when our soldiers’ careers often come first, we need to be sure to dedicate energy to ourselves. If I can get an hour of writing in, even a half an hour, it’s a triumph with my five year old begging to play princess and my newborn wailing to be nursed. But those hours add up to paragraphs and pages, and ultimately (hopefully!), new articles, stories, a draft of a novel.
Another thing I find intrinsic to success is being aware of current books and authors out there. I try to know the market, stay versed in new novels or story collections, as a way of understanding what readers want. Ideally I’d like to read a few of those new releases, but sometimes the best I can do is walk around a Barnes and Noble, pick up the latest hardcover books and read the synopsis on the back. I might try to connect with some of these other authors through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to see what they are doing to stay in touch with their readers and how they are keeping their work exciting and fresh. I find role models who are succeeding with grace and pay attention to them. I also subscribe to magazines and blogs that give the best insight into the writing world. I think this is applicable in any career/hobby—you should always stay abreast of what’s current and be an active part of a like-minded community (I certainly hope that my doctors/dentists are reading about all the latest treatments, and discussing medical advances with their doctor/dentists friends!). As mil spouses, we’ve become pretty adept at social media, we use Facebook, etc., to keep up with our military friends tossed all over the globe, so it’s natural to also use it to stay up-to-date in our fields. It also helps me justify scrolling through Facebook and Twitter as personal career development instead of mere socializing!
Shellie Vandevoorde, Author: Separated By Duty, United In Love (A Guide to Long Distance Relationships for Military Couples)
Shellie is an active volunteer at a number of organizations. At family readiness, she is a certified instructor for family team building and involved in company, battalion, and division leadership committees. She continues ongoing family support training and conventions within the military.
Shellie has been a guest speaker for National Women’s History Month as well as the United States Special Operations Family Readiness Conference. She has received several volunteer awards including the “Outstanding Civilian Service Award” from the United States Army.
As a military spouse, a working mother, a volunteer, and one who has lived in a long-distance relationship, Shellie offers a no-nonsense guide to getting the most out of your relationship. Sharing her experiences as well as those of hundreds of others who have survived long-distance relationships, Shellie continues to serve the people of this great nation with this book.
I feel everything starts within. Thoughts lead to action and/or attitudes, goals and dreams. I like to start my days with something positive and self developing. Once I’ve feed my mind with positive input, I feed my body with healthy whole foods. I also attempt to stay balanced by making fitness part of my life style. I focus on maintaining balance (mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally). Being out of balance in any area affects all areas of life and success.
Christina Piper, Co-Founder www.herwarhervoice.com
The thing I do everyday is choose who I will be in this moment and remember that I always have the choice to choose differently in the next moment.
Melissa Seligman, Author: The Day After He Left for Iraq Co-Founder www.herwarhervoice.comMelissa Seligman is the author of The Day After He Left for Iraq, a memoir about her husband’s deployment, and Simply Green, which she co-authored with her husband, David. Melissa is a U.S. Army wife, and she writes from home when she is not caring for her two kids.
Every day, I get up and take the time to remember I have a choice. Show up. Or don’t show up. Knowing and remembering that this is something I choose to do because I love it gives me room to move through my day with little expectation as to where it should go. If I believe it will go where it should if I pursue my passion–usually it goes well.
And when it doesn’t: I have the choice to remember I can walk away until I can re-center again. Anything that feels like a job will be treated like one.