Like so many moms when it comes to describing myself, I start with mom of two amazing boys – Wyatt and Cody. I absolutely identify myself as a mom first …. a mom that struggles with a constant juggling act of mom, wife, business owner, breeder of rabbits (okay that’s weird but I will explain later) and in general the girl that does whatever it takes to keep all of those balls floating in the air at the same time.
Since I have worn the “wife” hat the longest, I will start here. This is probably the most challenging of my tasks. I married an Army Ranger when I was 23 years old. We met at a bar (I know, I know … VERY classy), and he asked if he could call me the next day. I thought this would never work out because he seemed way too anxious to see me again. Come to find out, he wanted to meet up the next day because he would be jumping out of an airplane into Saudi Arabia in the next 48 hours. We did meet up that next day for breakfast, a round of putt-putt golf and to watch a movie. He told me he was leaving, and I would hear from him when he returned stateside. I didn’t hear a word from Joe for over two months, and so I assumed he forgot all about me.
I was wrong. Around 70 days later, he called, and I was smitten with “Ranger Joe.” In retrospect, I should have taken a hard look at the life that I was signing up for because it is not an easy one. He has deployed more times than I could ever count and spends roughly 220 days out of the year deployed. He is dedicated to the mission of eliminating terrorism. It’s a good thing that we have American soldiers that are dedicated to this mission; but man, it makes for a challenging marriage.
The craziest part of this story is that Joe has three purple hearts. The second one was by far the worst. In 2006, Joe was hit by an enemy grenade while working in Iraq. As a result of this incident, Joe became a below the knee amputee. If there is one word that describes Joe it would be driven – no stubborn – maybe dedicated? Any way you say it, when he has his mind set on something, he stays the course. Joe was determined to continue to serve his country, no matter what. He did just that and became the first amputee in the Ranger Regiment to return to the front lines of combat … and he is still doing that today. Literally today ... as I write this – he is out combating terrorism in some country that I cannot even pronounce.
My biggest life accomplishment to date is my boys. Wyatt and Cody are my whole world. Wyatt is the spitting image of me – fair skin, reddish blonde hair, freckles and a heart as big as Texas. Wyatt has had to grow up very fast as he is often “the man of the house,” and he is a best friend to his younger brother. Cody doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He is the kindest child and is a friend to everyone.
When Cody was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism. This was a hard pill for me to swallow, but it is something that we are continuously learning what is best for him to be a happy, functioning young person. He has come so far and has overcome a mountain of obstacles.
Cody is the reason that I started social media marketing.
I am a “fixer.” I want to fix things and once I realized that I could not “fix” autism, I wanted answers. Why did my child have a disability? Did I do something to cause this? Would he ever talk? The questions are endless.
I decided to jump in with both feet to support the leading organization for autism research, Autism Speaks. I set out to put on a fun run to raise money for research. Since I had never put on a run, I met with a local run company that specializes in these types of events and I will never forget what they told me – you will be doing really well if you break even.
I walked out of that meeting with a burning fire inside of me to blow this thing out of the water. Along with a great team of women, we put on a run and autism awareness event called Light Up Columbus that raised over $30,000.
One of the major contributing factors to the success of the event was social media marketing. I used my degree in communications and lots of research to utilize Facebook to reach a large audience.
After Light Up Columbus, I realized if I continued to work in social media I could make my own hours and I would be available for my boys since Joe is deployed most of the time.
Nine years later, social media has changed so much and has been a successful career choice for me. I even met the Busy Beauties original owners through a Facebook post!
To be continued ……