photo: Catherine Sanderson
Roots: I was born and raised in Austin. Most recently, my husband’s military career took us to The Netherlands for five years. We loved our time there and all of the amazing travel opportunities we had. We are now in the process of moving to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas where Chad will attend Command and General Staff College for a year. We will then begin a new path in the Army, where my husband will receive various levels of training and education to become a Foreign Area Officer. He will specialize in South East Asia, where we will eventually live and work at a U.S. embassy or consulate. We are really excited about this new adventure!
Family Life: I have been married to my husband, Chad, for nine years. We are pregnant with our first child and I am due on December 1st. Chad and I have technically known each other since birth. We were both born premature at Seton Hospital around the same time and were in the NICU together, so our mothers got to know one another. We didn’t begin dating, however, until my final semester at Texas A&M University.
Work Life: Out of college, I worked for the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) in Austin for 5 & 1/2 years in their Customer Service Policies and Procedures group. Then, my husband’s military career took us abroad where, instead of working, I completed my master’s degree in international relations. I hope to work in the embassy when we move to SE Asia.
Who Inspires Me Most: Many of the senior Army spouses I have met throughout our time in the military. These women have raised children both with and without their husbands, navigated numerous moves across the country and abroad, and done it all with a great attitude toward life.
If I Weren’t In My Current Career I’d Be… An interior designer. I love home design shows and Pinterest!
~ My Story ~
Becoming a military wife wasn’t ever how I envisioned my life. I thought I would graduate from college, begin my career, meet someone along the way and settle down somewhere. All of that changed when Chad and I began dating just before I graduated and I became aware of his commitment to the U.S. Army.
Chad and I married on July 1, 2006. We knew we wanted to get married before his first deployment and this gave us a few months together as a married couple before he went to Iraq for the first time. We have been through three deployments over the last nine years, and I have learned that staying busy is the best way for me to handle the stresses and the many months of separation associated with deployments. Through the first two deployments, I was fortunate enough to have a full-time job in Austin to keep myself occupied. Living with either my sister or parents also made the challenges much easier.
One of our most difficult times as a couple occurred when we made the international move to The Netherlands. After the initial excitement of living in Europe wore off, we hit a few bumps in the road. Being immersed in a new culture had it’s challenges, and we had to learn that we needed to work a little harder to get things taken care of — everything from figuring out where to buy a vacuum cleaner to how to navigate the narrow roads took a little more effort and patience. The cloudy/rainy weather also affected our mood. These changes, along with the fact that I was no longer working full-time, made my outlook less than positive and affected how I was treating my husband. After some much needed reflection, I realized that I needed to get busy pursuing a few of my passions and focus on my personal goals. Soon, I joined the board of the Military Spouses Club, where I met some wonderful friends, and I also began taking classes in pursuit of a master’s degree. Soon I grew to truly love every aspect of our life in The Netherlands, the sense of home we felt there and the people we befriended. Saying goodbye to that life a few weeks ago was one of the hardest things I have done.
In overcoming the challenges of moving abroad, I learned the power of the quote, “Bloom where you are planted.” Moving every few years was never something I desired, but I now look forward to the new opportunities that arise every time we are stationed somewhere different. A new home comes with new chances to experience life differently and opened my eyes to differing perspectives and new opportunities to learn and grow as a person. Working through that challenging time also reminds me to keep my personal goals at the forefront of my life, despite my ever-changing location.
iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.
Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org