For the past year or so, I have been struggling to figure out the best way to utilize my abilities outside of the home. Having been a stay-home mom for the past six years, I am ready to reenter the workforce but am not sure how employers will view this large career gap on my resume. Furthermore, my dreams now are much broader than what they used to be and I am determined to use my talents towards something that will fulfill my passions. But where, exactly, do I start? How do I go from being a stay-home mom for so long to being someone an employer will desire to have on their team? Will I ever find the perfect job which will pay me to fulfill my dreams?
When presented with the opportunity to review the book, Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities and Live your Dreams, by Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer, I jumped on it. The title alone was enough to make me think this book was exactly what I needed to read. I was right. Together, Hightower and Scherer show their readers how they can overcome obstacles and get what they truly want. They use their own experiences as military spouses and examples of how they overcame their own barriers to eventually reach their dreams.
Hightower and Scherer understand the difficulties that military spouses face while following their dreams. Their service members may be stationed at a location that seems to present little opportunity for a spouse to find a job or make connections with others. Deployments may hinder a spouse from working because he or she has to give more attention to the children and home life. Even a spouse’s particular personality can inhibit him or her from having the confidence to find opportunities. But this book clearly describes ways in which each of these hurdles can be overcome. Through utilizing on-base or online resources, volunteering, networking, and simple exercises which can be done at home to hone in on one’s strengths.
A common theme throughout the book is the importance of taking action rather than simply sitting back waiting for something to happen. With each move, a military spouse should make every attempt to be engaged in whatever he or she wants to do, even if it doesn’t lead to the perfect job. They should ask themselves what is possible where they are. Hightower and Scherer stress the importance of volunteering. It allows military spouses to be involved, which in and of itself is beneficial to the human spirit. Volunteering gives them experience and connections they can use towards pursuing their dreams.
In my own attempts to figure out what exactly I should do to pursue my dreams, I have found that I often think negatively about what I have done over the past few years. I tell myself, “I’m just a stay-home mom while all these other spouses are doing so much more,” or “I don’t have the experience this job requires so I’m not even going to apply.” But Hightower and Scherer explain that it is not one’s weaknesses but one’s strengths which should be the main focus. According to their research, studies have shown that people grow more when they focus on developing their strengths rather than correcting their deficiencies.
Overall, this book has completely changed my way of thinking about my goals and dreams. I have more confidence that the things I have been doing truly are beneficial in my pursuit and that I truly do have a lot to offer. I have learned that even though the path to my dreams may not be as straight as I had once thought, taking the back roads could actually benefit me more in the long run. Since I began reading, I have taken the time to finally complete my LinkedIn profile and have already made many pertinent connections. I took the time to attend a health fair on base to connect with people in the health promotion field and make my face known should opportunities arise. I am in the process of learning about a volunteer opportunity in my husband’s unit that would allow me to work with other spouses representing their voice. And because of this book, I now know that the possibilities I have really are endless.
Hightower, K. and Scherer, H. 2013. Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities and Live your Dreams. St. Paul, MN: Elva Resa Publishing.