Note: I originally wrote this on Feb 28 and sent it out to my email newsletter list that day, but since we are leaving Kansas tomorrow to begin the next chapter of our lives in Seattle, it felt like the right time to share this here on my blog.
Today was Gabe’s last official flight as an active duty pilot in Army Aviation.
He finished up his Army flight career over Germany, where he spent much of his career and we lived for 8 years. It marks the end of one piece of life, and the beginning of a new one—for both of us.
I didn’t mean to write or send this email, by the way—I had a totally different one planned (which will go out soon), but while I was writing about Gabe’s last flight in a FB post, I was struck by the significance of his accomplishment.
Specifically, I’m talking about making his dream of being a helicopter pilot come true.
When we first met, over 18 years ago in a loud and dark Seattle nightclub on Veteran’s Day (of all days), one of the first things I learned about Gabe was that he wanted to fly helicopters. His uncle had been a pilot in the Navy, and flying was a dream of his.
Gabe was a lower-ranking enlisted soldier at the time, so becoming a pilot was nowhere near a reality for him.
Years passed, he served a tour on the ground in OIF in 2003, and eventually he ended up in a job at Fort Polk where he was an aviation liaison.
After a bit of ‘Do I/Don’t I’ hemming and hawing (basically having nerves over a possible rejection), Gabe submitted his flight packet and was picked up (accepted to flight school).
He’d been an infantry solider for 10 years at this point.
Gabe loved it all and got the aircraft of his choice—the CH-47 Chinook. He thrived and grew into a skilled, smart, knowledgeable, and very well-respected pilot over the past 11+ years. Which, in and of itself, isn’t that significant. Lots of people do that.
But Gabe, unlike many others, followed his dream through detours and naysayers, until he could make it into a reality.
It was a deep and nagging desire he could never quite shake, and so he chased it down and made it happen.
Yes, he had support, but it never would have happened if he hadn’t held on to that dream—believed in it enough to take a chance and make it happen after so many years.
Dreams don’t work unless we do.
Gabe was in his late 20s when he started making his dream a reality. That’s actually pretty early for many of us.
I’m going to be 45 this summer, and I’m just beginning to make my own dreams a reality.
I always wanted to raise my family in Seattle. I’m getting a little later start on that than I’d intended when I married Gabe 17 years ago, but it’s becoming a reality this summer.
I didn’t have a ton of other big dreams, though, not until the past few years anyway. I did have one nagging little one, though.
Back in 2001, my late friend and trainer, Katherine, said she thought I’d make a good personal trainer.
We’d worked together for 2 years at this point, and it had been an incredible and transformative experience for me, so I was flattered. I was 3rdgrade teacher at the time, so it was something I just kept in the back of my head for a while.
I married Gabe in 2002, and left Seattle that summer. I ordered the ACE Certified Personal Trainer manual in the spring of 2003, while Gabe was in Iraq, taking part in OIF. I opened it, read the first chapter, liked what I was learning. I signed up for a Boot Camp class at the Army post in Weisbaden that summer, excited to share my desire to become a personal trainer with the Boot Camp instructor, who was also an army spouse.
Her reception was a little less than supportive. I remember the ‘you’ve got to be joking me’ look on her face, and her quip that a PT cert gave you “Just enough knowledge to be dangerous.”
To be fair, I was overweight and soft at the time…and she was one of those elitist trainers who gives other trainers and instructors a bad name.
I buried my PT ambitions for a while after that.
A few years passed, including 2 more teaching gigs, a PCS move and a baby. I’d buried that dream pretty deep at this point and was in the midst of trying to lose the baby weight and extra body fat when I fell off my friend’s cranky barrel racer and landed hard on the furrows in a Louisiana field. I broke two ribs, and really messed up my low back. Sitting and walking were painful for weeks afterwards, and it was difficult to care for my active 11 month old.
To heal, I had to strength train. I had to seek the help of a physical therapist and a personal trainer.
Vicki helped me put my body back together, learn to be more aware of what I was putting in my mouth and the effect it had on me physically, and to believe in the power of transformation.
Moreover, when I confessed that I’d wanted to be a personal trainer, too, she said she thought I’d be great at it. That was in early 2007.
I didn’t commit to studying for the ACE certified personal trainer cert until 2011.
In between, we moved twice, I had another baby, adjusted to life in Germany while raising two small kids mostly on my own while Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan for a year.
My dream, which felt a lot like just a silly idea, got shelved and ignored while I took care of ‘bigger priorities.’
Since marrying Gabe in 2002, I’d just been ‘along for the ride,’ I just didn’t realize it. I’d done the things a ‘good Army wife’ should do, and been there for my husband, my kids, my army community at every duty station.
Then life handed me a perfect storm of events in 2010 which stripped all my fantasies away, forcing me to CHOOSE how I was going to live my life.
It was so painful.
I passed the CPT test in November of 2011, and started work as a personal trainer in February of 2012. I loved my work immediately. I loved learning new things every day, feeling like I had the ability to make a positive impact in the life of other women, women who were walking in the same shoes I had.
I’ve never stopped loving my work.
There’ve been plenty of twists and turns since then, dead ends that led to better paths, tests and trials, and plenty of times when I’ve questioned my choices.
It’s not like this is a glamorous job. It’s not like the majority of us who are in this line of work make a fortune doing it. But it’s so fundamentally satisfying, it’s a dream I haven’t been able to surrender or ignore.
I still wake up and feel the calling to make a positive difference in the lives of others every single day.
I’m going to be 45 this summer. I’m also going to be working as an interning coach at the gym of my dreams, CrossFit Hinge, alongside some of the best teachers and coaches I’ve ever been exposed to in a community of diverse and amazing people.
This was something I fantasized about being able to do for a couple of years, and it’s incredible that it’s becoming a reality.
I’ve just struck out on my own, too, building my own 1:1 health and fitness coaching business—pretty much from scratch. You could say I’m ‘all in.’
It’s exciting, and scary, and fun, and nerve-wracking all at the same time.
There are no guarantees in pursuing these dreams of thriving both as a coach at Hinge and running my own successful coaching business at the same time—other than the guarantee that it will require tons of heart and faith and, most of all, work.
But the siren call of the dream is too loud to ignore.
If you have a dream that you just can’t shake, pursue it.
If it’s that feeling, that idea, that gnawing thing that just won’t leave you alone, that you can’t silence, that’s an itch under your skin that’s begging to be scratched, it’s there for a reason.
It doesn’t matter how old you are.
It doesn’t matter where you’re at in life.
It matters that you give yourself the chance to see what could be.
See, dreams don’t have an expiration date, but we do.
Some of us forget that, and continue to put things off for much too long, thinking we have endless tomorrows in which to do ‘those things,’ or just trying to suppress those inconvenient dreams and feelings.
Not sure if this is the right time, or if you’re really ready and/or prepared?
I highly recommend reading When to Jump, by Michael Lewis.
I also highly recommend listening to Marie Forleo, who has a beautiful way of blending dreams and realistic expectations in her life/business coaching.
If you’re a woman who has entrepreneurial dreams, check out Maryalice Goldsmith. She is EXACTLY what you need.
And if you’ve dreamed of being your fittest, strongest most confident self, but maybe have put it off while taking care of others and all those practical responsibilities that can push aside our own dreams, let’s talk.
I know what it’s like to want to look, feel, move and live a different way.
I know what it’s like to be a more self-confident version of yourself, to feel really at home in your body, to trust yourself around food and be able to make better food choices without a struggle, to become a more powerful version of yourself.
I know what that’s like—and I know what it feels like to get on the other side and live there.
I’d love to help you do it, too.
If you’re ready to say yes to YOU, and stop saying no to your deeper dreams and desires to be healthier, stronger, more confident and more self-actualized, let’s talk.
Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on FB.
We can set up a time to talk about your dreams and how we can help you navigate the realities and challenges of your everyday life so you can realize those dreams.
The bottom line is that dreams don’t work unless we do.
But when we show up and do the work, faithfully, consistently…that’s when the magic happens.
I’m ready to do this when you are.