You can do hard things.
First of all, you made it through 2020. Congratulations! That was a hard year. However, not only did you make it through 2020…you made it through as a milspouse. Double congrats to you because that is twice as hard.
My name is Jeannine Brady. I am a milspouse, mama, and mompreneur (founder of Ailana J. Nursing + Pumping Apparel) with a full time job. My husband has been a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy since 2014 and we have an 18-month old baby boy. I’m also a dog mom to a 5-year old German Shepherd mix pup. As you can imagine, our life is pretty dynamic and BUSY.
Somewhere in the midst of all that busyness and responsibility, I got lost. My identity got a bit muddled. Who am I outside of being a milspouse? The military defines so much of our lives, right? And, while I am BEYOND proud to be a milspouse, I knew I had another purpose in life too. I just couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. What is my CALLING?
I THOUGHT it was my career. I’ve worked for Nordstrom for 10 years and I believed I was meant to be a buyer. I deferred and ultimately declined acceptance to a USC graduate program because I had FAITH that my career with Nordstrom was going to take off. And it did for a few years…but then Navy life took us to San Diego, which took my career path back a couple steps. I wasn’t worried though – I had worked hard the previous few years and it paid off; I had faith that I could do it again. No problem.
The hard work wasn’t the obstacle. The company went through restructure after restructure. And, while I luckily survived every cut made, each restructure greatly impacted my career progression. Then the pandemic hit. If I wasn’t already questioning my purpose in life before, let me tell you that the COVID shut downs really made me think. My entire job transformed overnight into something I NEVER dreamed I would have been doing. I did it day in and day out for 3 months. When the stay-at-home order lifted, we went through yet ANOTHER restructure and my job turned into a monster responsibility that I should’ve been THANKFUL I was given, but I honestly did not want it.
Let me tell you why. Rewind to January 2020. I had been back to work for a month after my maternity leave ended. While I was on leave, I really struggled to find nursing clothing that was super functional, but also felt like ME –clothes that fit my style and reflected my identity. Being half naked in public wasn’t my jam. But I couldn’t find anything! When I went back to work and was regularly pumping, the desire for nursing clothing that was trendy, yet functional turned into a desperate need.
My husband knew what I should do honestly before I did. He had been telling me for years that I want to be my own boss…that I want to create something, leave my mark on the world in some way. He wasn’t wrong, but I’ve had multiple ideas over the years and they never panned out. The passion and purpose behind the ideas just weren’t there. Until now. I had found my purpose: I needed to make breastfeeding easier for busy moms like myself.
Whether you’re a working mom, a milspouse who PCSs all the time, or a stay-at-home mom who’s running your household…whatever your case may be, I knew I had to do this for YOU. I struggled so much and I wanted other women like myself to have an easier and more fabulous breastfeeding journey. So, a year ago, the idea was born, my purpose was found, and I started on this journey of entrepreneurship. Ailana J. Nursing + Pumping Apparel became my calling.
I got the ball rolling in January of 2020 and, by March, I had registered my business and was ready to really get moving, all while working my full time job and my husband getting underway all the time, leaving me solo on the parenting front. Then, the world shut down. I got cold feet and put my entire operation on pause. I then found myself back in the same identity rut that I had been in before. Except it was WORSE because I was working a job that I never had any intention of doing and I hated it…and that’s why I didn’t want that new job I should’ve been thankful for. That’s when I realized I couldn’t let the pandemic get in my way.
Starting a business in general is not for the faint of heart, and starting one in 2020…YIKES. I got hit with sourcing issues, delay after delay, shut downs due to COVID and civil unrest, many things not going according to plan, and the confidence killer of not knowing how to do all the things and needing to learn as I go.
Actually…does this sound familiar to you? Does it sound a lot like military life?!
Being a milspouse has prepared us for more than we could imagine. I would have NEVER thought that my experience as a milspouse would help me build a business. The two seem so unrelated, but they are NOT! Let me tell you how:
You can do hard things. As milspouses, we already do hard things ALL THE TIME. If you’ve gone through a deployment, you do hard things. If you’ve had your plans derailed by the military last minute, you do hard things. If you’ve had a baby by yourself because your husband was halfway across the world, you do hard things. If you’ve had 70 boxes lost on a PCS move, you do hard things. I tell my civilian friends some of our stories and they cannot even fathom how we do these things. So, just know, YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. Finding and following your purpose is HARD WORK, but you can do it.
We know the time is now. If being milspouses (and 2020) has taught us anything, it’s to live in the moment. You never know when the military is going to turn your life upside down. And we never knew when 2020 was going to turnall of our lives upside down. We live our lives when we can because military families don’t have the luxury of time with our spouses. So if there is something that is CALLING you…if you have something that you cannot stop thinking about…that is your PURPOSE and you need to pursue it RIGHT NOW. You wouldn’t wait and NOT do fun things when your spouse is on leave after a deployment, right? So, why would we wait to do the thing that we really want to do?
If there’s a voice in your head saying you can’t do something because of the military, I’m here to tell you it’s the OPPOSITE. Being a milspouse has EMPOWERED us to do it, not hindered us. Follow that calling and fulfill your PURPOSE. If I can do it, you can do it. You got this.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2021.
Jeannine Brady is the founder + designer of Ailana J. Nursing + Pumping Apparel. She is a Navy wife, boy mom, and dog mom. Jeannine started her business to make the lives of modern breastfeeding mamas easier and more fabulous. Her nursing + pumping clothing line offers trendy, stylish pieces that are versatile for work and play at an affordable price point. Every piece is designed by this milspouse mama and made in LA. But Ailana J. is more than just a brand – it’s a community and resource for breastfeeding mamas!
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