For a reason.

A motif addressed in An Operator’s Daughter, parts I through III, is the concept that things in our lives happen for a reason. It is a concept I have struggled with personally my entire life.

Sometimes I feel I am lacking the faith gene; like my main character, Ashton McAllister, I struggle with faith, whether it is in a higher power or in those around me. I learn from my experiences, and those experiences have led me to go about things cautiously.

This week marks my first year anniversary working as a military contractor at the Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord. To begin, it took a leap of faith to put myself up for a position as a substitute instructor in their Basic Skills Education Program—teaching math skills. My subject endorsements are English and Social Studies. Math has never been a strong subject for me. I’ll admit that once I understood those were the skills, I would be primarily teaching, I hit the Internet, YouTube videos, in particular, to recall what I had learned during elementary, middle school, and high school math classes.

As human beings, we learn through our experiences, through trial and error—none of us wish to make too many errors—and through repetition. Doing things correctly, over and over, inscribes those skills on our brains. It was how I was taught, and learned, those basic math skills to begin with and I am grateful for that repetition because those patterns came back to me fairly quickly and I could then instructor the soldiers who were enrolled in the program to increase their own GT scores leading to expanded opportunities for career growth.

That leap of faith on my part took a great deal of courage. I had been beaten down not only by being harassed out of a teaching career I loved and putting my heart and soul into making a difference, but then faced rejection and rejection as I looked for new employment. It hurts to get through the interview process, then being told you are exactly what they were hoping to hire, then have the reference check tank everything—and this happened repeatedly. When the offer of employment finally came from my fabulous supervisor at Indtai, I pinched myself, waiting to hear it would be pulled back. I am ever so grateful it wasn’t.

The opportunities for professional and personal growth with this new employer have restored my faith in myself and those I have the privilege of working alongside. Having recently been moved into a role where I am giving briefings about benefits, counseling service members, their dependents, and veterans on educational opportunities, and even being given the opportunity to start a writing lab to provide support for those wishing to improve their skills while writing application essays, working through research papers, or even writing in Army-style, I feel blessed that I am now in a position where I can serve those who serve our nation.

But did all this happen for a reason? Did I have to go through the heartbreak of giving up my teaching position to land in a place where I am surrounded by the support of others, and those others truly appreciate the support they receive?

Do things, crappy things or happy things, happen for a reason?

I will continue to explore that concept through my serial fiction characters, having faith that others will find strength in the story. As I have written it, I am finding faith in myself.

Managing Expectations.

As I wait for the next season of my serial to go live on Kindle Vella, I deal with conflicting emotions. I am excited to continue the story of my main character as she comes of age, but feel apprehension about its publication.
I continually deal with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, which lead to anxiety, nearly paralyzing in its attempt to keep me standing still in my personal and professional growth. I continually tell myself I am a new author, new to publishing serial fiction, or any writing whatsoever. I should not be this hard on myself, and I should do what I have coached others to do over the years, to keep trying. But it is hard to look over the statistics of reads on my Amazon Kindle Vella dashboard, and not become discouraged. I suppose I have the unrealistic expectation of others who know me, who provided verbal or posted encouragement, would actually give reading my efforts a go—as those first three episodes on Kindle Vella are free to all readers, and Amazon provides another 200 free tokens to get readings into the serials.
Yes, I am disappointed in the lack of support, especially from former colleagues… but they did little to reach out to help me while I was struggling before I left teaching. I supposed that is just human nature to abandon others drowning while you concentrate on keeping your own head above the waves.
Honestly, I had such high hopes for gaining readership—especially among those who know me, the real me, the me who throws myself into everything I do with energy and passion for doing things right. As an inexperienced manager in television production, I tried to mentor my employees, pushing for cross-training of skills and providing opportunities for them to use those skills. When I moved from one company to another, I shared about the opportunities within the new employer and several followed me there—I provided excellent recommendations to our boss about their skills and capabilities as I believed in them, and still do.
As an educator, I wrote letters of recommendation to assist my students in gaining admission to the college of their choice or to be awarded scholarships to pay for higher education. I prided myself on never having to fly by the seat of my pants; I never planned one lesson at a time, but units of study and posted those lesson plans by unit so students and their parents knew what was coming as if it was a syllabus for a college course. Funny, this would have made it easy for me to teach during the virtual learning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I was driven out of my career before that time came.
Again, I am taking this in a direction that is not productive to staying positive. I need to manage my expectations, as I cannot control others’ actions, but go back to giving myself a pep talk and not wallow in the defeatist attitude which could hold me back from meeting my goals and living my dreams.
So here it goes:
When I began writing, it was to bring about healing, to help me deal with traumatizing experiences, and to move past them. I feel I have done that, and I now have a new job serving others in military educational counseling where if I can just make one difference a day, I can hold my head up, go to sleep feeling like I have accomplished something, which allows me to wake up and put in my best effort each day.
I write for an audience of one, myself, with the hope others will discover it and continue to read and enjoy it as I do re-reading my work. (If that sounds pretentious, it is, so be it. It took me a great deal of courage to publish my work, as there is a great deal of myself and my own experiences within my characters.)
I publish to provide an escape from everyday existence, to enlighten and entertain at the same time. A major theme in my serials is having that mindset to never give up despite the challenges and obstacles life throws at you. I will follow my advice and keep writing and publishing what I write.
Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate your support.

The Power of a Positive Greeting

“Welcome to American’s Joint Base, Ma’am!”

It is the standard greeting I receive every morning when I drive through the gates at Joint Base Lewis McChord on my way to my job at the Stone Education Center. I realize that it’s the soldier’s assignment to man the gates; turn around those who shouldn’t enter, refer those who have a need to be on base but need to check-in with the visitor’s center first to go in the proper direction, and provide a deterrent to those who may wish to do others harm, but this positive greeting sets the tone for a productive day for myself, and I’m certain, for others.

No matter the weather, and this past week it has been below freezing conditions, no matter how many are in the queue waiting to get through the gate, no matter how their scanning equipment is functioning, these soldiers put enthusiasm into their brief interactions with those funneling through on their way to their roles on base. My own “good morning” to them, as I present my identification, is returned with warm smiles in their eyes (yes, the mask mandate hides the ones on their lips). Their greetings, outgoing and professional, demonstrate their commitment and pride in their service. It provides an extra incentive to do my upmost to follow their leads, to greet those who approach the ACES counseling desk with matching positivity, while providing support in reaching their educational goals.

My challenge to you, is to put that same effort into your own initial interactions with others. Make your greetings the kind that encourages those you meet to have their best day possible. Positivity is contagious, and those soldiers on gate duty at JBLM prove it each and every day.