For 26 years, I worked as a professional within the federal government. I began my career as a college trainee. I rose through the corporate ranks, attaining a different level management tag on my experience ring, year after year. I held entry level manager jobs and I held senior level manager jobs. I retired from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) in 2011 after 26 years of service as a Vice President. I loved that company and I loved the mission; it was the most commendable mission and I felt what we did mattered. We supported the United States military. Who else would have such a wonderful calling?
I was introduced to AAFES several years before I actually came on board as a manager. I was traveling Europe, ran out of money and went to this American base with a friend to find a job. I met my husband along the way (that may have been fate). He was a military man. We fell in love, got married, had a child and the life of travel and fun had come to an end. A couple years into our marriage, we moved to Florida and into a little apartment. Life was good and my family was satisfied with our life. I, on the other hand, was never designed to just settle.
When I got married, I didn’t even think that I would not be able to travel the world, see exciting things, experience new cultures or stop doing anything I had dreamed of doing. Those things did stop for a while but I never stopped dreaming of my ideal life. One day, as I was living my normal life, I thought to apply to this international company I knew back in England. I did apply without telling my husband, who was happy and satisfied and had just retired to Florida. I applied and got the job and had to tell my husband that we were moving from Florida to Texas. I told him after I had accepted the job! Thank God he understood my immaturity back then.
AAFES was the best job one could ever imagine. Working with an organization that had a mission that I loved was great. Being able to travel the world, see exciting things, experience new cultures and not live in a tiny apartment was better.
I tell you about my time with AAFES because it helped shaped me. It also gave me an opportunity to learn and grow and to do the things I had always dreamed of. The only thing that was different is that I had a husband and son in tow. Don’t allow excuses to keep you from living your ideal life. Live it in spite of detours in your life. Just because things are not as you had hoped does not mean that they can’t be.