This article is a blog post

Upcoming Spouse Only Job Fairs

PCS season is coming. Are you planning to visit your new duty station to house hunt? Why not schedule your visit the same time as a local job fair?

The Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts job fairs around the nation every month that are open only to military members and their spouses. If you are shopping for a house ahead of your PCS move, why not shop for a job as well?

Visit the website listed below each date and be sure to register. Spots fill up quickly and many events do not take unregistered attendees at the door.

Good luck!                                                                                                                                                

May 9

El Paso, Texas

May 16

Dallas/ Forest Hill, Texas

Camp Pendleton, Calif.

May 18

Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico

May 23

Boston, Mass.      

Fort Belvoir, Va.

May 25

Pensacola, Fla.

June 2                                        

San Diego, Calif.


To see a full list of nationwide events for all of 2017, visit


Baby Steps

By Amy Nielsen

I am very proud of myself. I didn’t chicken out. I ran my first informational booth at our season opener, community vendor fair.

The monthly event allows anyone who pays $25 to host a booth. The spread included Mary Kay sales, the local insurance agent, wildlife rehabilitators and every Pinterest DIYer imaginable.

I had to work on a shoestring budget. To put it bluntly, I had literally no money to spend on this adventure. I scraped together enough to buy the second least expensive knock-off shade tent andbusiness cards that better reflect my current iteration. Everything else was what I already owned, or could find for free.

Luckily my husband works for an employer who doesn’t tally every single copy and we were able to print and copy my flyers and brochures for free. I knew I didn’t need tons of them so I bought a ream of paper and sent him to work to make copies.

I needed some sort of sign. Hey, I can do that. I’ve made how many homecoming signs in my life? I rifled through the kids’ sheets, found a suitably unstained, more or less white one. If you have kids of a certain age, you have a box of those little two ounce acrylic craft paints hanging around like I do, so those came out too. I went to town making a sign that matched my business cards as close as I could manage with my rudimentary skills. It turned out pretty well because I chose a very simple design for my cards.

Since it was Easter weekend, the event organizers asked the vendors to participate in the egg hunt. I agreed to fill one hundred eggs with – something. I found the fruit leathers we had just purchased for summer treats, added slips of paper with happy sayings on them and set the kids to stuffing. I decided to add a basket of eggs with sayings and chocolate kisses to my table to entice people to come talk to me.

The morning of the event came and insanity struck our house. The dog had gotten into the basket of eggs and eaten as many of the chocolates as he could. I still had to pack the car and get to the event site.

My husband came to the rescue. So much for his nice quiet morning. We swapped car seats, loaded my stuff up in my car, loaded the kids and puking dog in his car and headed off to opposite ends of the county.

I arrived at the event site, wrestled the shade tent into submission, set up my tables and was ready to greet the public well in advance of the opening time. Then, I remembered that my breakfast and lunch were sitting on the kitchen table, along with my water for the day.

My car was tucked way back in the outer reaches of vendor parking, and there is nothing within walking distance. This is a vendor fair, not a food fair, so there are no treats to go buy either. Whoops.

I am a new vendor so I didn’t get the front side of the row on the main strip. I am on the back side in the middle. My booth site is set between a fun pair of gals selling handmade beaded spiders and dream catchers, and a husband and wife team who seem to have gotten a great deal on a coupon match-up for shampoo and conditioner at the supermarket and is now reselling them at a profit.

Luckily, my back door neighbor never arrived, so we ended up with a little path between us, which brought me a little extra traffic.

Being the first event of the season and before most of the summer crowd arrived, the traffic was steady, but not heavy. Since I didn’t have anything to sell, my booth was more often passed by.

My little affirmation eggs were not quite interesting enough.

I have ideas to remedy my traffic flow for next month. The eggs I had on the table (the ones I was able to save from the dog) went over well once people realized they were free, so I am going to continue to have them with different things stuffed inside each month.

Cute as they are though, they are not enough.

For this kind of vendor fair, I feel like I need to have a theme. To that end I am planning to follow what I will be teaching in my monthly sessions. This month I taught about the space of being and of starting and beginnings. Next month is focused on doing and movement. I am researching hula hoops, jump ropes and ribbon wands to sell in order to foster movement.

I am also going to change what I have on my tables. Rather than the flyers for my classes, I am going to have take-aways with movement oriented activities on them, instructions for hop scotch, directions  to local short hikes and maps of local playgrounds and such.

I did have a chance to work out my language with people as they walked past. What words did I use when calling out to them that made them look twice? When someone did stop to talk to me how did I introduce myself? I tried all sorts of different ideas and those that rang true I will use again.

At the end of the day, after depositing the kids with me, the dog to home (not much worse for the chocolate), and before heading off to work, my husband’s observation was that I was the happiest he had seen me in ages. My biggest take away from this event was that it is the right place for me to start.

I have a few changes to make to get the kind of traffic I want into the booth. I need to make my space an active space not a passive space. Once I connect with a few more people on a more active level, then I think this will take off and bring in the class bookings I am looking for.

And when you are starting a business, this is what it is all about.

Search for Scholarships Before You Apply for those Loans

By Jenna Moede

Okay, we need to address the elephant in the room. Money!

No one can deny that for a college education, you’ll have to shell out some money or earn some scholarships. Now that you have finished registering for classes, you need to take this on next. 

Usually you will need to complete registration before your financial check-in because the number of credits you take will help determine the final cost for the semester.

Also, before you write that check, search all scholarship avenues.

When I started college, I had no idea that scholarships for military spouses even existed. I didn’t look for opportunities, and I don’t want you to make that mistake too. 

Scour the internet for scholarship opportunities and apply for everything you qualify for. You never know what you’ll earn. 

Also, if you plan to use federal student loans, make sure you complete your FAFSA with ample time.  That will come into play before you begin classes and before your financial check in. 

Don’t forget that you will have to fill the FAFSA out for each school year not each calendar year.  If you start, for example, in the summer of this year, you will have to fill out a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year, and then, come August, you will have to fill out another for the 2017-2018 school year.

I actually had friends who didn’t know that and really did miss the deadline. I saw some very unhappy parents because of it.  

Lastly, FAFSA will allow you to select several schools you’d like to send the information to so make sure you select your university when given the option.  Doing it this way will save you time in the long run. 

Now that that part is out of the way, let’s look at financial check-in. At many schools you may have to complete it every semester, but it really doesn’t take too long. 

I didn’t know about financial check-in when I first started online classes because while I was a student on campus I didn’t have to do it. I also didn’t check my email very often which kept me from finding out about it until the very last second. Huge mistake!

I found out about and completed my check-in on the last day I possibly could. I almost missed the deadline, and I would have missed my first online classes too. Not really the way I was looking to start out.

You should find your financial check-in on your school’s online platform and you may even receive an email with a link or directions to access it. I swear I never knew email could actually come in so handy until I finally checked mine!

As you check in, make sure any and all scholarships you have earned show up in the ledger. If you see a mistake, don’t continue with check-in, but reach out to a school representative who can help you straighten it out. 

After everything looks correct, you should see either a balance due, credit owed or a zero balance. You will most likely have the opportunity to deny excess loan amounts or you can choose where to send them. 

Make this decision wisely and remember that if you have a loan credit, have will still most likely have to pay them back, probably with interest. I have seen people treat this refund like free money and had to pay the piper, literally, when the loans came due.

Because of possible issues with scholarships and more, I recommend doing financial check-in as early as you possibly can. It allows excess time to correct any errors.

I had no idea what to do my first time around, but after you get the hang of it, and you will after the first semester, it really doesn’t take that much time or effort. I think you’ll find it pretty painless. 

Once you have completed your financial check-in, you will receive a confirmation and you can start preparing to ace your courses. You will only have a few final steps left before classes really begin.

Want to Work from Home? Work for Amazon

The online retail giant, Amazon, is hiring 5,000 at-home workers, and have specifically targeted military spouses as the kind of employees they want. Now.

The jobs are part of a larger plan to add 30,000 workers to the company’s ranks. The at-home positions are Virtual Customer Service employees.

In a statement last week, Tom Weiland, Amazon’s vice president for worldwide customer service specifically named military spouses as a group the company is focused on hiring from.

“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job – whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent – and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live,” he said.

This is just the latest growth in what has been a hiring surge for Amazon. In 2011 Amazon had just 56,000 employees. Five years later, Amazon ranks numbered 341,000.

To find out more about the available jobs, visit

On Being Your Authentic Self

By Amy Nielsen

This week my class focused on teaching students to learn who they are - how to find your personality type and own it.

For example, if you are type A, go for it and know that you might run over a few people, so learn the art of apology. If you are a wallflower, learn the art of letter writing and blogging to make your strong, well thought out opinions heard.

We learned that you will always be at cross purposes with yourself unless you understand what kind of person you are, what makes you tick, and how to use that to your best advantage.

In addition, we learned about being your authentic self. How to know what fuels your drive and what your drive is. What is our passion?

And, are you working within that passion? If not, why not? Do you need to realign? Rediscover your purpose?

I am still working through the last few weeks of school and honing my niche. Some days it feels like I am working above myself by attending community events as an independent practitioner. But, until I learn the, who, where, and how of my community, I won’t know exactly where to fit myself in to reach the most people with my new business.

Some parts of my the next step of my career path are clear, others are still pretty foggy. Taking this time to focus on myself, while I still have the luxury to do so, is important.

As I develop a solid foundation of ideas and convictions, based in facts, I will be better able to tailor my skills to different clients. I have attended numerous community meetings and listened to the needs and wants of many local organizations. I know I can serve many of them in my new business venture.

For example, the schools here have beautiful gardens but no chefs to teach the kids tasty ways to eat those beautiful veggies. Not only am I a chef, and I like to work with kids, but I also know a bunch of chefs who would love to volunteer a day each season to come in and teach. Now I need to figure out how to match the need with the solution.

In other meetings I have repeatedly heard the need than to reverse a current downward trend and stay competitive within our region for diminishing tourist dollars. I have also heard the business community call for more small scale workplace initiatives.

I have developed a business model that can offer those smaller classes and workshops. I can become part of the solution. I have a passion to follow and a concrete base of people I want to work with. I have found my authentic self.

Becoming your authentic self and living your purpose is hard. It takes a lot of thought and work. It means examining every core belief to make sure it resonates within you. It means working on those pieces of baggage we all carry to unpack them and understand what it means to you.

Notice I didn’t say you had to get rid of them, but you do have to acknowledge that you are carrying them and know what’s in them. Because knowing is half the battle and the battle is only with yourself.

What I have also come to understand is that it is ok to have that chapter of your life that you really don’t want to read aloud. That chapter, the one that is perhaps embarrassing, or painful, or uncomfortable is where you can find your greatest strength. Perhaps it was the ability to come back and try again another day. Maybe it was the grace to own and atone for rage. And just maybe it was the courage to hold your head up and say the shortest sentence in the universe, “No.”

For me that means understanding that my experiences in and of the world are overwhelming for a lot of people. I have been to and through a lot of different things. I have been very far up and very far down. I have a vast story.

What I have learned from understanding my story is that everyone else has just as vast a story and that I am genuinely interested in their story. I just have to make them genuinely interested in their story too. Interested enough to hear it again themselves and to be proud of or, at least accepting.

Building your internal strengths and understanding where you stand within yourself gives you the personal space to receive grace and gratitude. It gives you the ability to be truly thankful for your own contributions to the universe. Without knowing that you are really and truly good, and that you really and truly love yourself, you cannot receive the love of another. That’s a big statement.

Whatever it takes to understand your own personal, authentic self is where you need to spend your energy. When you focus on yourself you stoke your own fire until it burns bright enough that it cannot be contained. That is where you find your passion.


Ready to Register for Class

By Jenna Moede

You applied. You spoke with your academic adviser. You received your degree plan. Now what!?

Now, I hope you feel fired up and ready to take your next steps as a college student.

As I’ve mentioned before, you need to make friends with your degree plan, and I mean best friends. It will guide you through every course, every semester and every year. I think that by the time I graduated, I could have recited mine from memory.

Your degree plan will lay out the whole college shebang for you. Even if you opt to start as undeclared, I still recommend you look at the different degree plans for each major you are considering.

First, you should see the number of credits needed to graduate. Most bachelor’s degrees will require at least 120 credit hours, but that can change depending on your major and school.

I had friend who studied graphic design and needed around 180 credits, but, because of that, the university didn’t permit her or other graphic design students to pursue a minor.

Watch out for this kind of university regulation, as it may change your plans. Hopefully, however, you’ve already ironed any issues out with your adviser.

Your plan should further break down credits into general and core classes.

You should see your generals broken down by subject like humanities, English and more. Those categories are then broken down by class.

Pay close attention to each sub category because it will explain how many credits you need for each general field. From there you can decide what classes interest you and how many you need to complete to fulfill the requirements.

I recommend starting with generals and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with them. You can’t avoid generals so think of finishing them first as a win-win; you can put them behind you, and you can change your major if you decide to.

I wish I could go back to my first days of college and do it that way. So really think about your path.

You will see your core classes structured the same way as your generals so you can plan ahead. It should also list pre-requisites; however, you’ll find it worth your time to double check the listed prior requirements for each course.

At this point, form a plan. I highlighted the classes I wanted, and I planned a few back up courses as well, just in case my first choices had already filled up.

Now comes the exciting part of registering for your classes. The first time I registered on my own, I felt confident I would make a huge mess of it, but it turns out that beginners really can handle it without too much stress. That worked in my favor for sure!

You’ll want to locate the place in your online platform where it says register for courses. You will pick the semester, and from there you should dive right in.

You will see several ways to search for courses. You will probably see filters for field of study, level, starting date and course number. I always used the last option. It directed me right where I needed to go, and I liked the simplicity.

Now just select your courses and choose a starting date. Once you select your course, hit register, and you will see a list of all the classes you have registered for.

You usually will need to register one class at a time. If for any reason you don’t fit the required eligibility, the platform shouldn’t let you register.

That said, I once signed up for an upper level class on accident, and the system didn’t stop me. Luckily, I realized I hadn’t enrolled in the course I needed, and because I checked my own work, I avoided a huge headache right before classes started.

You shouldn’t find it too hard, but before you go overly register happy and put yourself in too many courses, consider what you want your course load to look like. Most times, six credits a semester means part-time and 12 or more equals full-time.

You need to discover the perfect balance for you between boring and overwhelming. A conservative course load always seems better for the first run out of the gate.

If you feel great after your first semester, you can always add classes next time around.

My first semester of college I completed 18 credits, but I found that I liked the classes and ended up taking 22 my next semester. You will learn what feels right; just give it a little time.

Once you finish registration, double check the dates of the classes and check your emails consistently until the classes start. Your university and professors will utilize email to communicate important class and registration information.

Take it all step by step and make a plan. Attacking college with a plan will help guide you through all the challenges ahead. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. My college road has seen a lot of bumps, but rather than call them mistakes, I prefer to refer to them as experience.

Barreling towards graduation

By Amy Nielsen

Is that a freight train or blue sky the end of the tunnel?

It feels odd to say that I have finished my graduation requirements for school, but there you have it. I have finished them. I still have three weeks of school and one test left, but all of my circles are green and the little cap is highlighted. Yeah go me!

So, now what?

I need to shift my focus and decide if the light at the end of the tunnel I have been living in for the last year is the blue sky or if it is the oncoming train.

Until now, the deadline of May and graduation wasn’t such a big deal, it was still winter. Graduation was in May, in the spring. Well, yesterday was April first, and it snowed, so I guess spring and May are not going to coincide this year. The light felt like blue sky awaiting me all cold, snowy, New York-winter, long.

Now that it is April, graduation suddenly feels like a very large freight train.

If I use the analogy of the freight train I can tackle one car at a time and clear the track for the luxury liner coming into the station. Maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the idea.

The first freight I have to unpack is the fuel for this monster, which is the rest of the school work I still have to complete for the other certificates I am working on. I am three, long lessons away from completion on my other major program.

I need to get this one out of the way first as it has a more pressing time deadline. It must be completed by the end of June. The smaller program has more work to be done on it but the assignments are easier for me to write, so, I feel like I can still complete that certificate in the time allotted.

Next is a passenger car. I need to decide if I am going to teach a class in May or wait until June when the summer crowd is upon us. I need to gather more resources and find a location where I can teach my classes. I also need to decide if I am going to continue to split my services north and south or if I am going to concentrate them in the southern town where I hope to be working with community organizers.

This sounds like a no brainer, but there are funding issues to be considered too. I also need to connect with local experts and set up meetings to discuss summer plans.

Onto the baggage car. Working through school in the health and wellness field means you get an automatic membership into the disease and cure of the month club. You can’t help it. Health students seem to either fall into feeling like they have every disease they study or that they have become the perfect practitioner of every art they learn.

I have found that I now have a lot of half habits I have picked up over the year, specifically the parts of practices that I like. I usually disregard the hard parts. Any beginning student does it. I need to choose the one thing in each area of learning I really feel the most drawn to and decide what I want to study deeper study and actually teaching. I need to unpack the skills I want to continue with and send the rest on to another station.

Woof that was hard. I hope the next car is lighter.

Drat, the next car is a heavier load for me, but perhaps it is the caboose and that is why. The caboose marks the choice of starting my business or finding employment.

I am working switches on both sides of the track, and giving myself time to push this car to the side track for the moment. That is not to say that I am not working through hard decisions of what kind of business to register, how to structure my billing, or crafting my exact title.

But if I am lucky enough to get hired by my county, as I hope to be, then I don’t want to have spent a whole lot of capital on filing fees or trademarking my business name and not use them. So I can do the research and work out the details and put them back in the train car neatly on its side track. Parked.

By tackling each car one step at a time, I can make sure I complete the remaining parts of this process done before my deadline in August, before the end of the tunnel appears. This tunnel has been long and hard, and at times, dark, twisty and windy.

But I am now ready to bring the last few cars into the station and walk out into the sun of a new career. Once you take the train out of the station and head into the tunnel, sometimes it is hard to remember you are the engineer. You have control of the breaks and the switches. You can direct your train to the blue sky that awaits at the end of the tunnel.

Talk to Your Academic Adviser, About Everything

By Jenna Moede

So you have received your acceptance email. Now what?

You should also have received your login and password to access your online classes. So, first things first, login and make sure everything works.

You should now have access to your school email account, your financial aid information, class registration, course path and tons of other resources. 

You should also have the contact information for your adviser. Most of the time you will be assigned to an adviser that has a specialty in your field, and this will really help you.

So you’ve logged in. Do you feel stuck? Overwhelmed? Don’t panic.

Receiving that acceptance letter feels great, but it will take a lot more work to earn your degree. 

Start by talking to your adviser, especially if you feel lost or overwhelmed. Trust me, they really know their stuff. 

I ask some of the most off-the-wall questions that tend to make no sense, and they still get me the exact information I need. 

Never worry about asking too many questions either. Use your adviser to your advantage!

At this point, you might not know what to ask your adviser about so here are some topics to help you get started. 

First, talk about your goals. If you’re unsure if you have chosen the right major, tell your adviser because they can steer you in the right direction.

I talked to mine about graduate school and found out that if I continued the college path I chose on my own, I would have a degree that wouldn’t help me. At all. 

Finding that out really surprised me since I had read and reread the descriptions of the majors. That wake-up call saved me a lot of money and tons of wasted effort.

Save yourself the headache, money and time and just have a quick chat with your adviser about your goal and find out what will get you there.

You might also want to ask your adviser about a certificate or a minor. If you don’t know whether or not a certificate could help you or what minor best fits your dream job, ask your adviser for the skinny.   

Avoid making these types of decisions by yourself because you could end up like I did and feel like you’re just spinning your wheels and not really getting anywhere. 

If I had done this when I started, I might have found my passion for education earlier and not wasted so much time and energy on something I only thought I wanted. 

After you get accepted, you might also have questions about your degree type. 

You may plan on starting with a certificate or associates degree but finding out about how those degree paths work together may help you down the road.

Asking your adviser about the best path and the differences between the degrees will really benefit you.  Plus, you could find out just how they all fit together so you can continue your education further than you thought.

Along those same lines, ask for a course path. Even if you haven’t committed to a degree yet, take a look at the paths for all of the programs that you have considered.

Course paths can help you not only take a look at your general education classes, but also the total number of credits, prerequisites and degree requirements. 

I found myself printing it out, marking it up, and following it to a T. My course path became my complete guide to college and helped me see graduation get closer and closer. Talk about motivation!

Lastly, and really, most importantly, ask about all licensing requirements. I seriously cannot stress this enough for military spouses. 

We all know that we move at the drop of a hat and we probably won’t stay in one area for a long time, so, knowing if your career will require state licenses or tests is crucial. It could also be a game changer for you.

If your job will have license requirements, it seems better to know that from the start rather than learn that after graduation. You may also want to research how you transfer that professional license from state to state.  

Your adviser may not be able to answer state specific questions, but they will help guide you in the right direction and help you contact the organizations that can really help you.

Like I mentioned, I had taken grad school courses towards something I really thought I knew I wanted to do, just to find out that with my undergrad degree in business, I wouldn’t have the right requirements and degrees to even test for a license in my state. 

Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t pursue it because I was still on school autopilot, but I felt like I had wasted my money just because I didn’t ask up front.

I guess what I’m saying is tell your adviser everything you think has relevance. I now think it is better to ask too many questions than to reach the end of your education and realize you’re not where you need to be.


New Report on the Health of Military Wives

By Christine Cioppa

A recent report’s introductory line says what every military family member already knows: “The families of military personnel are a resilient group of men, women, and children who endure many hardships for their country.”

What most people don’t know is how those hardships may harm the health of military children and spouses.

Thanks to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), now, we know, at least a little more.

The constant moving, along with the absence of a spouse on deployment, as well as other hardships, may influence wellness, researchers say. Now, though, more information on the extent of the increased risk is known.

In this first-time-ever report, produced by the SAMHSA, experts compared female military spouses (ages 18-49) and children (ages 12 to 17) to women and children from the general population. The report, released in November 2016, uses data from 2015 and involves 910,000 military spouses.

Here’s what researchers found:

Military wives were:

  • Less likely (by 3%) than all married women to use marijuana.
  • No more likely to use illicit drugs than married women in the general population.
  • No more likely than other married women to be receiving substance use treatment.
  • No more likely than women in the general population to receive mental health treatment.
  • More likely to use alcohol than all married women in the last 30 days (68% versus 54%) and more likely to binge drink (9% more likely) than married women in the general population (however, it is suggested the figures skew higher because of the younger population; more military wives were between 18 to 25).
  • More likely to experience any mental illness (29% versus 20%), however, no more likely to have major depressive episodes in the past year than women in the general population.

The report found military children ages 12 to 17 were no more likely than children in the general population to use substances or have mental health issues.

“It is vitally important that we do everything possible to meet the behavioral healthcare needs of people who have sacrificed so much for our nation,” said SAMHSA Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto, in a statement released by SAMHSA. “This report will help SAMHSA and others in the field offer programs better designed to address issues that affect military wives and children.”

SAMHSA specifically tells Salute to Spouses:

“The report demonstrates SAMHSA’s ongoing commitment to tracking and responding to the behavioral health needs of our nation’s military and veteran families.

“SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans and their Families Technical Assistance Center (SMVF TA) has been working to ensure that states and territories have the skills and support they need in creating culturally competent, behavioral health systems ready to address the unique experiences that our military and veteran families face by helping them to develop a behavioral health workforce that is ready to serve them. To date the strategic planning work the agency has been providing to the states has reached 49 states, 4 territories and the District of Columbia, with the final state joining this year. Much of the focus of the technical assistance is on meeting the needs of military and veteran families, addressing substance use and suicide risk.

“SAMHSA, alongside our partners at the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, have been working in conjunction to share federal resources aimed at reducing barriers to seeking care and increasing access to quality behavioral health services for these families. Together the three agencies offer a one stop location to learn about the resources that support our families.”

Students should also take note of SAMHSA’s report for other reasons. It’s important to know how hardships affect health since being on top of preventing and treating any health issues may make for more productive and successful learning.



Conferences and Comfort Zones

By Amy Nelson

This past weekend, I attended a midsize conference for the vocational training school I am currently enrolled in. I was not quite sure what to expect.

In the past, I have attended more than a few conferences, of various sizes, in many different industries. Since I have worked the logistical side of a conference before, that gave me the confidence to attend as a participant. But academic conferences can be a different ball of wax altogether. However, being a for-profit school, this wasn’t exactly an academic conference, as such.

This conference was billed as an academic and networking conference for currently enrolled students and recent graduates. There were about 1,500 participants, primarily female. Most were either mid-career switching or post-children, workforce re-entry age. The audience was vastly international with 50 countries represented. Of the participants from the United States, all but six states were represented.

This conference turned out to be, in part, extended lectures - filmed for future courses. Part of the conference was hands-on, peer-to-peer training, mostly in a large group setting, with partnered exercises and role playing. The last part of the conference was the inevitable sales pitch for advanced programs that the school offers.

The interesting part about this school is that it is vocational training, steeped in deep, current, peer-reviewed, evidence-based, scientific research. But, it is also, in part, an entrepreneurial business school. The topics on the agenda were very wide ranging. It made the conference feel a bit jarring to me. I had a hard time switching gears from deep science talk about herbal remedies and support for women’s health to working the side hustle and developing this business as a business not a hobby. We swayed from a blissful, high energy, meditation to hard core, in-depth, financial topics about investing and portfolio management. I wish they had planned an academic day and a business school day instead of jumbling the topics all together.

In all, I took away a lot from the conference because I let it be what it was going to be. Going to this conference was a big leap of faith. I was stepping out on my own, literally, as I went alone with only a few contacts I had met through our online class interactions. I was stepping up into this new career space and owning it as mine. It was a time to put a lot of my personal package to the test for those who are also working through this part of the process; to see if this new identity fits me and if not, what I need to change to make it fit well.

I chose to toss my practiced scripts aside to see what came out of my mouth every time I introduced myself to someone. I wanted to see how the other students presented themselves. I went to make connections and get inspired to bring my commitment back to my community. I had all of these things planned out and decided to let the flow go and try new iterations as I went along. What words fit in my mouth best when asked, “So what is your intention with this program?”

I found myself falling to several specific phrases and causes when answering that question. When I tried to interject a different one, it sounded fun, but rang hollow. Some of my answers didn’t engender the same vibration in my belly. I worked hard to feel the impact of my words and how they made me feel inside.

One of the presenters spoke about energy healing and how, in the Western world, we have something called the placebo effect and how it is summarily dismissed by most Western medicine as not helpful. His discussion held that in Eastern medicine the placebo effect doesn’t exist as a concept because it is understood that thought influences the physical being as much, or more so, than any substance one can ingest or absorb from the outside environment. The same thing follows with that spark of right intention, of joyful felt sense of emotion. Once that feeling can be intentionally recreated, one can then practice that intention and, eventually, fan that spark into a giant beacon of healing.

The most valuable thing I learned to understand was what a felt sense of an emotion means and how to capture that spark in myself. I learned what words I speak, that spark that warm physical sense of joyful and peaceful emotion. I can do anything with this new career, but I needed to find out what I have to do. Learning that physical, felt sense of emotion - that sense of energetic vibrational spark of joy and forward motion - when I said those specific words was invaluable. Now I know what I need to do, what spark to fan into that beacon of healing light for my community.

My main complaints about the conference itself are mostly logistical in nature. For example, the floor of the building we were meeting on is an internationally renowned concert hall. However it was labeled on the documents we were emailed prior to the event by the least common of all of its names. If the location had been labeled by the famous name it would have been much easier to find. As it was, there was absolutely no signage or ambassadors anywhere else in the building except the floor we were meeting on to indicate where we were supposed to go, and as it was listed by a different name, none of the building staff knew what we were asking for.

This conference has the potential to be so much more than it was for the participants and it frustrated the past event professional in me that there wasn’t more to it. I also know that my felt sense of joyful forward emotion says - let another event professional take the conference to the next level, my work is elsewhere. I’ll enjoy the fruits of their labor while celebrating my own at next years’ conference.



For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.