Category Archives: Live.

Mission Entrepreneur

Mission Entrepreneur

★★★★

Applying Lessons from Military Life to Create Success in Business Startups!

I am beyond thrilled to share my latest project with you!

As a military spouse, veteran, entrepreneur (and now author!), I’ve always been inspired by amazing stories of military families who’ve overcome obstacles and succeeded in starting a business.  So I decided to write these (and my own) stories down.  However, as I was writing this book, I discovered that these lessons aren’t only about business…they tell a story of resilience, perseverance, and giving that applies to everyone.

So, whether you’re looking to launch your next great startup idea, you’re already a business professional, you’re a community leader, veteran, or military spouse, or maybe you’re just looking for a little inspiration, check out “Mission Entrepreneur” and discover how you can apply lessons from military life to succeed in your next venture!

Download your free chapter, “How to Overcome Your Fears Like a Navy Seal,” and become a 4-Star member of the tribe by clicking here!

And if you’re ready for more, pick up a copy (at limited pre-order pricing) at Amazon.

★★★★

This has truly been a labor of love and I am incredibly grateful for your support!

All proceeds go back to supporting the military community!  

XOXO

How a Vacation Changed My Life


Written by Jen E. Griswold

HOW A VACATION CHANGED MY LIFE

(Four Lessons Discovered on a Nordic Vacation)

My family and I have just returned from a fabulous Northern European vacation that included 7 nights on the Disney Magic cruise vessel.  This was a much needed chance to recharge and share the love Mr. Milpreneur and I have for traveling with our kids, ages 9 and 11.  It was their very first trip to Europe and we figured that the comforts of the Disney cruise would be a great way for our picky eaters to both see the sites and ensure they would have something they would like to eat every evening.

Along with the recharge I was also enlightened with several great business and life lessons while experiencing new cultures.  With a clear head and fresh perspective, it was amazing what I picked up from the beautiful Nordic culture and sites.  From the cobblestone streets, to the immense history, to the restaurant experiences, there were new discoveries and important lessons around every corner that I can take home to enhance my business practices.

1.  Less is More

Less is More

Russian food is pretty simple

As a lover of all things interior design, I think the architecture and style in the Nordic countries was truly remarkable.  They have perfected the art of efficient and smart design.  No extra, no frills and no waste.  As I would admire the clean and well designed bathrooms or building architecture, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways I could apply the idea of simplifying in many areas in my life.

In my business, I am committing to scheduling my day more efficiently.  Rather than answering emails all day long, I have decided to stick to a strict schedule of answering messages during two 30-minute times in the early morning and late afternoon.  No major development will suffer if I don’t answer it within 15 minutes.

Additionally, I am committing to cutting back on our calendar commitments.  As much as I like to host each event or party, sometimes I can schedule myself into a corner.  Not every event is value added, so I am committing to asking myself more honestly whether each and every added event to the calendar is worth the input.  My hope is that this Nordic cleanup of my practices will allow for a better mental health status and the ability to feel “done” at the end of the day, rather than just on a constant hamster wheel.

2.  Your Roots Matter

Know Your Roots

Given that my great grandparents were both Swedish and Norwegian, I felt an unspoken connection to the people in Northern Europe.  As I learned more about their deep spiritual ways and their struggle as Vikings, it made a lot of stories my grandmother told me come into perspective.

It’s funny how just that physical feeling of “belonging” in the region (although my hair is more of a manufactured blond than most of the true Nordic women), made me feel more confident in my journey in life.  In a way, it makes me make more sense to myself.  And, with that confidence, I think it instantly helped me see how I fit into the bigger picture.

3.  Don’t be Afraid of Different

Try New Things

Cole trying Russian soup

My son is absolutely the worst when it comes to trying new foods or experiences.  And I remember being exactly the same when I was his age.  Yet, I eventually grew out of it and kept reminding him how exciting it is to experience new things.  I found myself repeatedly saying, “Don’t be afraid of things that are different.”

For instance, when we stopped at the port in St. Petersburg, Russia, I expected a bleak and dreary Russian city where people moped around and wished for a more exciting life.  I know that is a wildly undereducated prediction and I should have done more research, but what we found was completely the opposite.  The city was vibrant, colorful, rich in history and religion and full of happy people.

From a city decimated by Hitler during WWII, there was much to learn.  After enduring tough times, the city and people of St. Petersburg found ways to survive and thrive.  Russia has very little agriculture or natural resources and it is cold there most of the year.  Yet, they were resourceful and created caviar and vodka out of fish and potatoes, which are delicacies that have become common across the globe.

Additionally, with cold winters and bleak weather, artists had little distraction and were able to accomplish amazing work in the areas of art, music and ballet.  All in all, before experiencing St. Petersburg, I had an entirely inaccurate perspective and understanding of this fascinating city.  And it reminded me that there is just nothing like experiencing new cultures and experiences to open our minds to what is possible.

4.  Finding Wonder and Magic in Your Daily Life is What Keeps You Young

Magical unplugged family moments

Despite the fact that we are not typically Disney people OR big cruise people, we have somehow fallen in LOVE with Disney cruises.  The amazing service, the attentiveness to all ages, and family togetherness have an incredible effect.  Those who know me know it takes a lot for me to get sentimental, but when it comes to these cruises, they are truly “magical.”  And for the past 4 years, they have been the times I look back on most fondly.

The key reason is because Disney provides us the chance to find the wonder in things again.  Without wi-fi (which they make so ridiculously expensive we just go without), and the pressures of a job, they take care of everything and allow you to truly find the wonder in the places you visit and the people you are with.  It’s just as they say; magical!

Now the truth is, that it doesn’t take a Disney cruise to find the magic and wonder in your life.  It just takes enough escape from the rat race to gain some perspective again.

So, go escape to someplace new.  Enjoy the adventure and let us know what you’ve learned!  Leave a comment on our Facebook page!

Written by Jen E. Griswold

www.jengriswold.com

 

Lessons From My Dad…

Lessons From My Dad

By Angela Uebelacker

How do you capture the legacy of a person you place on a pedestal? My father was a great man, not without imperfections, but definitely the glue that held our family together. On father’s day we celebrate the people in our lives that hold this role. The people that have created a legacy that get’s passed on for generations, and there is such a significant reason…

A Legacy

I lost my father shortly after I graduated from high school. He was a man that always made a funny face in photos; on countless occasions you could catch him making up lyrics to random songs, and always dancing without a care if anyone was watching! Our family is made up of men that are always pulling practical jokes on everyone and truly add to the comic relief needed when life gets chaotic. My father served in the Air Force, was an engineer, and could honestly fix just about anything. He was a great cook, instilled traditions and values in us that live on to this day…a family man that loved the outdoors and having us all together.

Losing my father was one of the most devastating moments of my life, and as life continued after I would soon realize the amazing moments I would miss out on. My father used to send me instructions in college, very detailed instructions on how to remove the backing of my car registration sticker, how to make sure the license plate was clean before placing it, and where to place it. It’s moments like that where I can laugh out loud and then soon realize how much I miss his very presence.

His Blueprint

I’ll never get to see him playing with his grandchildren, but I know how amazing he would’ve been as a Grandpa. Although I am married, I never had a wedding but I’ll never get to walk down the aisle with him or share that father daughter dance. When I fix things, I know that’s his influence and feel his hands guiding mine. When I hear my daughter make up songs, I know that’s him singing along with her…and when we dance around without a care that anyone is watching…I know he is dancing with us! It is my deepest belief that the legacy’s our father’s leave is the greatest blueprint to how well our lives will be! In the most difficult moments their memory or legacy has a way of breaking through and providing us with a vision so clear and secure. There are many fears I have in this world, many moments I will never have, but it is in his very absence that I find the beautiful purpose he has given me.

Lesson’s From My Dad

He has taught me to live a life full of love, and to always find the laughter through the storms we endure. He has provided me with strength and confidence in my role as a parent. He has shown me that being silly, laughing at your self, and dancing as if no one is watching is the medicine to life and how we should all be living it!! And although he is not here to walk me down the aisle when I do plan my actual wedding…I know that he will be present every step of the way! My father’s legacy has taught me to live without regret, embrace being young at heart, and to not take any moment for granted.

Daddy, I am so grateful for the memories we had as kids, for the love you gave us and for everything you taught us. Your presence is deeply missed each and everyday, but your influence remains deep within my heart and soul! I love and miss you…Happy Father’s Day!

Written by Angela Uebelacker

https://www.facebook.com/auebe25


Wishing all the Dad’s & Amazing Guys who support us and teach us to conquer our fears a joyous Father’s Day!

How to Run Your Business (While Vacationing Like a Rockstar)!

Vacation like a Rockstar

Vacation

By Susan Brown

Summer is coming!

Can you believe it? Along with the fun in the sun comes change in routine, kids out of school, and, the best part:  VACATION!

Are you a business owner wondering how to run your business while away? I’ve got some tips to help you ROCK it!

How to Run Your Business While on Vacation:

1).  Be Prepared!

Goals and Plans

If you know you are going to be at the beach, on a cruise, or out of the country, prepare yourself accordingly. A goal without a plan is just a wish. You’ve got to have a method going into your madness to make it work! I suggest writing out a day-by-day list of what you WILL and WILL NOT do while on vacation. If you want to completely unplug, that’s great, just make sure you set up auto-responders on your email accounts and make your network aware you will be away.

2).  Make a List!

I’ve made it a habit to make sure my business is ready to take with me, just as I would make sure to pack sunscreen and a bathing suit in my suitcase. Having a ready- made list of people to contact will maximize the few minutes you do have here and there to work your business! You can also make a week long list of items that are must-dos so you don’t forget anything as your daily schedule changes while away.

3).  Share your Experience!

You aren’t always on vacation, so make sure you take advantage to the cool adventures you are on and share them on your social media accounts! Your audience will enjoy learning about how you spend your free time and it’s a great way to increase engagement!

4).  Meet New People!

Going to a new place is the PERFECT opportunity to grow your network. Strike up a conversation with people you are staying near, those you meet on the beach or by the pool, and even those you sit on an airplane beside. There are ENDLESS opportunities to make new friends while traveling this summer.

Stay organized, plan ahead, and you will ROCK your business this summer!


Click here for more tips on Growing Your Business and Developing a Brand that distinguishes you!

Written by Susan Brown

The Power of Positivity

 

Power of Positivity

By Susan Brown

How many times have you heard THIS one before?  Be honest!  I know it can get old:  the power of positive thinking.  However, it truly IS one of the most powerful things you can do for your life, and let me tell you why!

I recently came across a quote that read something like “what you think about now determines where you will end up in five years.”  I was honestly blown away by this and had to read it several times.  How?  How is that true?  As my befuddled brain thought through it, I realized what I think the author was getting at:  What you think about, you bring about.

I’ve heard this phrase countless times from various leaders in my company.  Motivational speakers, books, and even on my Pinterest feed!  I mean, who doesn’t love a good quote, right?  This one is profoundly true time and time again, at least for me.

I find that most thoughts engineer themselves in my head from negative self-talk, upon further recollection and mindfulness on this topic I realized that some things even manifest from untrue and/or unloving things people have said.  For example:  Have you ever looked in the mirror and called yourself ugly?  That’s what you will think about all day:  “I am ugly”.   Or, have someone tell you as a child you aren’t good at math?  You will tell yourself you can’t possibly run a business.  It REALLY is true that the thoughts that pop in and out of your head influence your day-to-day actions.

Are you wondering if this is true in your life?  Experiment a little!  Write down your thoughts each day.  Pause and write on your phone or a little notebook any time you have a negative thought.  Then think:  where do these come from?  Why am I telling myself this?  Is this actually true?  I’ve found tons of incredible insight through self-reflection.  And, in doing so, it has created so much empowerment and positive change in my day-to-day outlook and attitude!

Here’s a story to show you that what’s between your ears really does influence your actions…

Yesterday, I took my sweet toddler to his 30-month well baby visit.  We adore our pediatrician and our son (he is the sweetest boy)!  However, we’ve recently noticed that he shows significant speech delay and there have been a few other things that gave pause for concern.  Despite these things, I’ve tried my best to maintain a positive attitude and went into the appointment upbeat.  Sadly, that’s not how I left it.  It was a difficult conversation with our pediatrician who continues to be concerned about areas of his development.  As a mom, this is not fun news.  I sobbed.  I felt sad, angry, and helpless.  But you know what?  Instead of drowning myself in all the negativity that I was SO tempted to do, I chose to focus on the positives:  early intervention, the great services we are already receiving, insurance to be able to seek services, my amazing son, and our incredible support network.

Yesterday, and every day, I will CHOOSE the positive outlook because it IS powerful.  I hope you can, too!

Written by Susan Brown

From the Rearview Mirror

Mission Milpreneur

Reflections in Mirror

By Angela Uebelacker

When I think back to before I had children, I’m reminded of how I hoped it would always be.  My child would have the best life, we’d always be on an adventure, we’d always play and have so much fun, and never be tired of this world we created for our little loves.  Life would ALWAYS be something we would look forward too; we would always be on time, present, and ready to play ALL DAY!!!  It never occurred to me how much would actually be true, what details would actually change, and even as the years go by how often I’m reminded of how I hoped it would be.

             

Changes…

My child from the age of 6 months old has experienced so many changes…changes she has never once asked for, but very bravely endured!  There have been two deployments, and three moves in her 5 years of life.  She has lived in a hotel, traveled across the states, and traveled internationally.  She has fallen in love with family, friends, neighbors, daycares, and pre-school teachers all to be pulled away when our lives took on a different journey.  She has questioned these changes, feared being forgotten and most importantly feared being left behind the entire time!

As parents, there is no such blueprint on life, let alone on how to be the best parents we can possibly be.  There is no truth to what we hoped it would be like, simply because we’re not meant to know our true journey…We get tired, we have schedules, routines, work, school, extracurricular activities…and somewhere in between what we do to make “our lives” better we have the time for how we hoped it would be.

It’s simply not that simple…the love and pride I have for my husband’s service and the community we belong to continues to grow with each passing day.  I chose this life, not knowing the depths of how much would change, but fully accepting the reason behind it!  Every new experience no matter how frustrating, no matter how many new interviews, friends, neighbors or finding our way around unfamiliar territories, I’m so forever grateful and proud of the choices we have made…And one day, my hope is that she will be too!  But until then, I would like her to know…

From the Rearview Mirror…

From the rearview mirror, Mommy has watched you grow into a brave, smart, adventurous little girl.  I have feared every change you have had to endure.  My heart has broken with every single goodbye, and I have even forgotten how to breathe with every tear!  Through all of these changes, you have continued to make me so proud.  You have inspired me to be a stronger, BRAVER, person and one that I hope you can be proud of too.

From the rearview mirror, I have watched your curiosity, frustration, and even felt you worry…I see your sad eyes, I see your tears, and understand your fears!!  I’ve watched you wave goodbye, race my car until the fence ends, and watch which direction I turn.  And with each passing day, I’ve missed you!!  There is nothing more that I would rather be doing, but spending all my time with you…and when Daddy is “away” for work, I have captured every moment I could.  Cheered on all your first milestones, and made myself available for every ‘pre-school’ party and event so you always had someone present.

From the rearview mirror…I have seen your excitement, I have seen you smile, and felt your laughter!!  My job is just a job, my continued education a dream, and no matter how busy life gets my hope has always been the same.  One day you will understand the choices that I’ve made, you’ll appreciate the changes, and look forward to what lies ahead.  And no matter where we go I hope you always know how I hoped it would always be, and that with each passing day I continue to strive to make it all be true.

From the rearview mirror, I did it all for you!

Written by Angela Uebelacker

https://www.facebook.com/auebe25

Finding Happiness Through GRIT

G.R.I.T.

Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity

Let’s take a minute and think back about our lives before social media took over, shall we?

While it wasn’t that very long ago, it almost seems hard to fathom that about a decade or so ago we experienced very fulfilling lives and relationships before the explosion of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I think most of us will agree that our lives are more positive and staying connected with others through social media is pretty awesome.

However, I’d like to be real for a few moments about what we don’t talk about too often about the beast…

Social media and more specifically, Facebook, is like a beautiful ice cream sundae.  Let me elaborate here…In real life where we communicate and interact in person, we sometimes say the “wrong” things and we may portray a less than perfect image but this is not so much the case with social media.  If any of us were to scroll through our newsfeed today, we’d see stories and posts of what seem to be perfect lives topped with picture perfect dollops of whipped cream and cherries.  While it serves no real purpose to exude negativity, rant, and vent to others each day, this “pie in the sky” vibe can be misleading.  Wouldn’t you agree?

The Highs Come With Just As Many Lows

The bottom line is, that each and every one of us has our own personal struggles, setbacks, and goals not yet achieved.  We create our own happiness in life by choosing a positive outlook and embracing a spirit of determination or what I like to call “grit”.  Let’s face it, life can be HARD.  Really hard and that reality is not always something we choose to share on social media.  I think many times we see others’ successes at face value but what we don’t see and perhaps they have never shared, is that the highs did not come without just as many lows.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good story of the “under dog.”  You know, the person who has had all odds stacked against him/her and through sheer determination over time, have conquered their world.  I’m talking about people like Oprah Winfrey who came from a scarred childhood but rose to become an amazing entrepreneur with a net worth of nearly $3 Billion.  Or, how about Stephen King whose first novel was rejected thirty times but today his books have sold over 350 million copies and have been made into many motion pictures?  Most of us know of Bill Gate’s story and how his first company and product failed miserably but today, he is a household name and the richest person in the whole world.  The stories can go on and on.  How encouraging is it to know that our own personal story is not over as long as we have grit and the will to try and try again?

Achievements Don’t Happen By Themselves…It’s Called Grit


If you ask me, grit is what true character is made of.  It takes courage, humility, belief, and so much more to overcome adversity and keep our eye on the prize.  When we get caught up in our own shortcomings and what seems to be others’ perfect lives, it’s important to remember that huge achievements in life don’t happen by themselves or overnight.  In most cases, the journey to our own personal greatness resembles a marathon rather than a sprint but it also brings a beautiful finish line that is always within reach.

Avoid The Comparison Game By Reflecting On Your Journey

It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in social media and a place where we find ourselves playing the comparison game.  When we find our thoughts going in that direction, we should reflect on our own journey.  We should focus more on being in the moment and embrace the fact that it’s through hardship and struggles in life that we find our strength.

Having G.R.I.T. will help you grow into the person we are meant to be.

Written By Risa Riepma

 

Progress Starts With YOU!

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

Today is a global day of celebration for the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women!

I think this is a great opportunity to reflect upon some of the brave women who have gone ahead of us. They have paved the way for progress in so many arenas and we owe them a THANK YOU!

In the spirit of the day, I thought it was the perfect time to share some of my favorite stories of bold women.

TOP 5 TED TALKS FROM BOLD WOMEN OF OUR DAY!

The Easiest Place To Start Is With You!

1).  Learn from professor Amy Cuddy on how practicing strong body language can actually influence the way you approach the world.

2).  Meet Nancy Frates. This amazing woman started the infamous ALS ice bucket challenge and raised $160 million for continued research.

3).  Reshna Saujani gives one of my favorite TED talks on how we should teach our young girls to value progress and bravery in life over perfection.

4).  Psychologist Carol Dweck encourages us to have a growth mindset in order to truly believe we can improve and helps identify the motivation that leads to success.

5).  Author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, famous from Lean In, explains why there aren’t enough women in leadership positions in the our country and how we can make small changes to get there!

I encourage you to watch one of these TED talks each day this week (check them out below). Challenge yourself to find 3 takeaways you can implement into your life.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate progress for women, and the best way to do your part is to make a commitment to change the things around you…

THE EASIEST PLACE TO START IS WITH YOU!

 

 

 

 

Progress Over Perfection

Hey ladies!  Ok, I need you to be honest for a second.  Could you be guilty of allowing perfection to paralyze you from achieving your goals?  It could be that you avoided a phone call because you were scared of not saying the “right” thing?  Maybe you had a business idea, but squashed it because you told yourself that it would never work?  Or maybe you DID try to achieve something bold, but it didn’t go as planned, and that one failed attempt to stole your desire to give it another try.

As I watched my 9-yr old daughter play soccer this morning, I was fascinated to see her team’s relentless pursuit of their (physical) goals.  No matter how many times they missed a goal, lost control and went out of bounds, or were given a slight correction by the coach, they had smiles on their faces and kept giving it 100%. They played with a bold and brave desire to do their best that was absolutely infectious!

REWARD EFFORT NOT ACHIEVEMENT

I attribute a lot of their brave demeanor to her coach.  I have always admired his style, which is to reward every try, rather than shame any failure.  It sounds a bit soft, but don’t think that he sacrifices top performance because of this style.  In fact, he coaches some of the most elite teams in the area with this method.  In essence, what he has perfected, is a lesson of which all of us need reminding.  And that is, that no matter how old we are we should keep our focus on progress, not perfection.

I recently attended a retreat with other successful businesswomen colleagues where the need for this lesson was reinforced. The retreat was an invitation-only event for those who had achieved new titles and promotions, so I was surrounded by an impressive group of proven leaders.  Our first agenda item during training was to connect with each person’s motivation for starting their business; or our “why” as it is labeled by author, Simon Sinek.  As we went around the room and each woman spoke, there were revelations about childhood, marriage, wanting to regain an identity, achieve a sense of security, etc.  It was a powerful session and the emotional connection through this exercise was absolutely unbelievable.  But the one thing that was surprisingly noticeable in many stories, was an overall unspoken feeling of guarded optimism by each woman that she truly believed she had what it took to achieve her big goals.  It wasn’t that anyone lacked belief in our company, the product we represent or the system we use.  Unfortunately, it was that they still had a shadow of doubt in themselves.  I found this realization completely ironic, because by anyone else’s measure these women had already proven themselves successful.  So why are we as women so hard on ourselves?

TEACH BRAVERY…NOT PERFECTION

The reason for each person’s ounce of self-doubt varied that day, but according to a 2016 TED talk, “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection” by Reshna Saujani (founder of Girls Who Code) the overall problem stems from the way we raise our girls.  Think about it.  As kids, boys are encouraged to participate in daredevil acts like jumping off the highest playground equipment, playing with weapons, and being bold and aggressive at sports.  Yet, as girls we hear things like “act like a lady,” “be nice” or “don’t be too bossy.” And this kind of subtle societal disparity creates women who will strive, but only to the degree they can achieve perfection.  And if she falls short or attracts any criticism, she starts second guessing her abilities.  Over a lifetime, this breeds the exact feeling I was surrounded by at the retreat.  Unlike men who interpret failure as an opportunity to ask, “What went wrong?” we as women, blame ourselves for an imperfect outcome, and ask, “What is wrong with me?”

I’m not here to say that I’m not guilty.  In fact, I may very well be one of the worst offenders.  I was a straight A student, my friends will tell you that I am obsessed with keeping our house picked up and “presentable,” and I probably will have revised this article at least 5 times before you see it.  Beyond that, where I really notice my insecurity come into play is when I return to the male-dominated military world.  I only have AF Reserve duty in the Pentagon twice a year, but each session brings out an irrational questioning of my abilities.  In my business life, I confidently coach and lead a team of over 7,000 women.  But the second I walk through the Pentagon doors, it can easily seem like none of that success matters and it’s easy to question what I have to offer.  See how this quest for perfection works?  Thankfully, I have had to talk myself through this scenario for almost 17 years and I’ve gotten better at standing my mental ground.

CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

All that said, I think it’s important we truly begin to create an environment where we place more value on progress than perfection in our next generation.  I returned home from the retreat with an intense desire to create an environment where my daughter believes:

1)  That her ideas will always be as good as anyone else’s

2)  That she can try and fail, because failure is a natural stepping stone to success

3)  In herself and knows that that belief can’t be stolen by any single person’s words, by any tough situation, or by society’s norms

4)  That progress is worth more than perfection

So, for the sake of the young girls in your life, I challenge you to think about the way you see the world.  Is it perfection or bust?  Or are there small changes you can make to help encourage your girls to make bold, carefree attempts at going outside their comfort zone and tackling big things…regardless of the outcome?  As Reshna Suajani so eloquently stated, “when we teach girls to be imperfect, and we help them leverage it, we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us.”

The Most Important Job…

img_0483This kid.  Some days he frustrates the heck out of us.  He picks on his sister, only wants to play computer and can grumble about just about anything.  On these particular days, I wonder if anything I am doing as a mom is working.  And if his future job might end up being a grumbly garbage man.  But then there are the good days.   Days like today, where I can catch a glimpse of the extraordinary being inside that grumbly, developing body and it causes my heart to swell!

Last week was the first week in our new school and Cole’s 4th new school as a military kid.  It can be scary and nerve-wracking the first few days as the new kid in school and we all brace ourselves for impact with each move for what the first week could bring.  Luckily, for the most part we’ve weathered each move (CA, VA, NJ, and now back to a different city in VA) without too much trouble.  But as a mom, I tend to stress on their behalf each time.  I’m sure most moms, and especially military ones, can relate.imagejpeg_0

To make us all feel better, the kids and I attended the school’s “meet the teacher” day.  One of the hot topics there was what “job” each 5th grader was assigned.  As the oldest members of the elementary school, the 5th graders get the privilege of helping out in many different capacities (which sometimes even results in missing some math).  Since Cole was new, and didn’t get a job assigned to him at the end of 4th grade like the others, he would need to pick a job, so I thought it’d be good for him to hear about the options.  The other kids informed Cole that there was everything from technology team, to art assistant, to grounds helper, to PE assistant to crossing guard.  Some required you to show up to school early (insert Cole groan) and others did not.  But I quickly inferred from these 5th graders that your “job” was a BIG deal!  We left running through the pros and cons of each potential job and headed home to enjoy a long weekend before the first day.

After many nervous questions and a few pre-school jittery feelings, the first day seemed to go pretty smoothly.  I dropped the kids at school, and although I know both were nervous, they handled it like champs.  Me, though–I was absolutely lost with the quiet at home.  I had plenty of work piled up, but for some reason I was completely scattered all day thinking about all the things that could have been happening at school.  Are they making friends?  Do they have someone to sit with at lunch?  Is their teacher nice?  Are they making sure they don’t feel left out?  What would I do if a bully picked on one of them?  Etc, etc.  It was the normal ridiculous line of thought that happens in a Mom’s head when you get too much quiet time- lol!

Yet, all the worrying was for not, when I was met with smiles outside the school after the bell.  They did great!  The only complaint was that they needed bigger snacks!!  In fact, now that the first week has come and gone, it seems like they’ve been here forever.  Both are full-speed into their soccer teams, music lessons and morning routines.  Each have picked out kids they enjoy in their class and also the ones they don’t. And on Thursday, Cole came home elated to tell me he had picked his job!  I was eager to see which one he picked, guessing he would have gone with something in his normal wheelhouse, like the technology team (more time to be on computers). imagejpeg_3

To my surprise, he was jumping-out-of-his-skin-excited to tell me he chose to be a helper for the special needs class.  He would get the pleasure of aiding 4 younger boys with autism who would use his helping hand to assist throughout their day.  He was just beaming as he explained how on the first day they did yoga together, how one of the boys loved when Cole spelled his name instead of said it, and how they even had their own quiet fire alarm, so that it wouldn’t “hurt their ears so much.”  I was literally almost in tears listening to my kiddo truly loving recounting his experience and how he found such comfort in helping these kids.

And what I realized in that blissful moment is that no matter where we live, no matter what school we’re in, or who is there with us, if we love and pour into our kids, they will find their way.  Probably in their own way, and not in the same way we would do it.  But they will find their own, beautiful, and unique path every time.  And on days like this one, we’ll get a tiny little sneak peak into what their blessed future holds.

So as I reflect on a week filled with lots of emotions, I encourage every military mom to take a deep breath and know that all your toils and tribulations are creating something wonderful.  It doesn’t always feel like it when you’re in the middle of it, but the challenging days will come to pass.  They always do.  Just remember that what you’re doing matters.  Every new school you ease them into, every new friendship you help them develop and every hurdle you help them overcome matters.

Each experience is building a strong foundation of service and character that even if you can’t see today, will reveal itself in time.  At the end of the day, our journey as military families may look a little different than the civilian kids down the street.  It most certainly has a few more zig-zags and a lot more speed bumps, but it’s still just as beautiful.  And if my prayers are answered, these amazing little humans will be ready to inherit the world’s most important jobs of the next generation!imagejpeg_2