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My fairytale began with a pair of combat boots. While many of my brothers and sisters were on the ground, I drank my coffee from the missile deck of a Navy destroyer. I was surrounded by cold, gray steel, tons of firepower, and way too much testosterone. I had to be hard, or I’d be defeated. Adversity was inherent to the environment, but on that tin can, in the ranks of the logical, testosterone-driven man-brains, I found magic.

Their logic intrigued me; it was black or white. I left the gray area where I lived for 22 years, and I started to process things differently. I found honor and integrity in their logic; it was easy. Before long, the uninformed sailors began to teach me to be tolerant; the idle, to be patient; the victims, to empathize and to lead, and the stoic taught me how to live with integrity. I gained control over what I could control and I focused upon that, and only that. It was efficient, simple logic, and to me, it was pure magic.

The gray area, the feelings, never cease to exist, we just choose to attend to it, or to ignore it; whichever is adaptive. The first time I grasped this concept involved a hostage situation on board an oiler, and pirates who were threatening to blow it up while we were too close. For four days, we went about our daily routine at high alert. It was a practiced and conditioned state, and it was comfortable. There was peace onboard the ship that week that I never experienced, and it came about in the midst of a nightmare. We could have just as easily lost control, but that would have undermined our conditioning.

When I separated from the Navy in 2010, I had the lean musculature of a 19-year-old boy, and I hadn’t cried in over ten years. I canned a short reason for leaving to avoid drawn-out interrogation: I wanted to wear skirts and heels and to paint my nails red. Honestly, I wanted to be a woman, and by that, I meant that I wanted to feel comfortable with feeling it all; I yearned to be vulnerable. But in the end, it was everything that I learned in my boots that became the foundation for my devotion.

I am devoted to sharing what I’ve learned. The black, the white, and the gray; the ways in which we can condition our minds to master experience in any given circumstance, and to gain prosperity and peace from every moment; the importance of true acceptance, awareness, and imagination in goal-setting; the vitality founded upon meeting our own unique ideals, then living with integrity with those ideals in mind. Wholeheartedly, I want to nourish the belief that your extraordinary life lies within the ordinary. Guarded or vulnerable, we are all capable of living our fairytale.

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