Navigating the Uncharted Course Ahead: A US Navy Captain's Journey of Service, Sacrifice, Renewal, and Gratitude.

March 28, 2024

Navigating the Uncharted Course Ahead: A US Navy Captain's Journey of Service, Sacrifice, Renewal, and Gratitude.

May 29, 2023

Chip’s Note: Jeanie was one of the runners-up in the “Life Begins @ 50” essay contest. I think you’ll find her story full of character and reflection. We still have a few spaces for our “Life Begins @ 50: Embracing Your Second Adulthood” (https://www.meawisdom.com/workshop/life-begins-at-50-embracing-your-second-adulthood-with-jeff-hamaoui) April 29-May 4 workshop in Baja with my co-founder Jeff Hamaoui leading it. The workshop is for anyone 45-55 years old.

Five months into my six-month deployment as a Captain in the U.S. Naval reserves, I navigate an austere environment, residing in a container—an existence starkly contrasting with luxury. This odyssey, further intensified by the recent loss of my dear brother mere weeks before deploying, has proven far from facile. My mobilization to operation Atlantic Resolve is to support Ukraine alongside the Army converges with personal challenges and significant milestones, including the recent celebration of my 50th birthday.

Prior to this deployment, the moment required my making and accepting a life-altering decision—to vacate my corporate position held for 18 years. To do this was to allow others to rise into leadership positions and the business to move forward without me. Life required that deliberate and bold act, as it was the right thing to do by my company and those who deserved a chance that were left behind.  This allowed me to fully support and focus  my time and attention on the mission and needs of our country. 

Departing from the pursuit of material and professional success to the austerity of a military operation, marked a journey into uncharted territory, guided solely by faith. In doing this, it was to close one chapter in my life, open another, and have no idea of what was to follow upon returning. This past year has unfolded as a profound revelation: life is fragile, and its true value resides not in possessions but in the impact we make on others. My 50th birthday became more than a mere milestone; it became an inflection point—a shift from mere belief to a deep knowing that fulfillment springs not just from titles or possessions but from continuous acts of giving.

Amidst this deployment, I've formed a tribe—a dedicated team, individuals around the age of 50, or approaching it, who have shown up for me in countless ways. Their support has been a lifeline, especially during times of uncertainty and loss. Reflecting on this experience, I'm compelled to extend my gratitude by providing them with a haven—a space for solace and contemplation. Each faces their own crucible on this deployment, having experienced loss or standing at their unique inflection points. This journey has taught me the genuine meaning of gratitude, a lesson learned amidst the fragility of life.

Divine timing prompted me to depart my civilian position, rising to the mantle of leadership for our country, taking a leap of faith to create space upon my return, trusting the universe to guide my talents and believing that God would pave the way to a new position - opportunity. Turning 50 marked the realization that I've lived a life of learning and dedication yet acknowledging that this journey has only truly begun.

The turn of this half-decade is not merely a numeric change; it's an inflection point for a more meaningful impact on myself and others. The contest's course holds the promise of knowledge and discernment crucial for assessing my next chapter.

Maya Angelou's wisdom, "If you have, give; if you know, teach," resonates deeply. The teachings I gain won't be confined to personal growth; they'll ripple beyond my sphere, paying forward lessons learned, contributing to positive change, and leaving a lasting impact on the broader community.

The uncertain journey ahead is embraced with gratitude, rooted in the transformative power of service and education. Life at 50 is absolutely better, it’s a reminder each day should be a celebration.  It also should be a commitment to create a life worth living—an inspired life, and inspiring others along the way. I appreciate the opportunity to have this be a part of the ongoing journey with my tribe. Regardless of the contest's outcome, I extend my heartfelt gratitude for the generosity of offering this opportunity to the world.

-Jeanie

Jeanie Knowles is a Captain in the US Navy Reserves residing in Tampa, Florida, and also Vice President at Applied Fluid Power, who was recalled to  an active duty mobilization to support the Security Assistance Group - Ukraine and Operation Atlantic Resolve in Europe.  Her essay was written while on her mobilization and more information about her and other life lessons learned from her mobilization can be found at LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanknowles

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