Realizing a Life Well-Lived

Valerie Ormond ready to fly off the  USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) ,in the ES-3A Shadow , Indian Ocean, 1995

Valerie Ormond ready to fly off the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) ,in the ES-3A Shadow , Indian Ocean, 1995

I looked out the window and knew if I died that day, I still lived a full life.

It surprised me how calm that thought made me – almost peaceful. After grasping the severity of the situation, my body and brain filled with warm thoughts, and I understood how blessed my short life had been compared with the longer lives of others. I had no regrets.

When assigned as an intelligence officer to a naval aviation squadron, I had the opportunity to earn my passenger flight qualifications. That meant if I needed to, I could fly in the back seat of our squadron’s jets. I attended naval aviation physiology training and didn’t drown, so months later I found myself launched off the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean experiencing a triple flight emergency. With my limited aviation knowledge, I knew from the visible and audible signs that things weren’t looking up.

“Skids…we’re going to have to bring you in very straight and slow…did you hear me? Veeerrryyy straight and slow,” cracked the voice from the Air Boss on the ship. I knew this stoic man, and had never heard this voice.

“Roger, Boss,” replied the pilot. No quiver in his voice, but pure tension.

The naval flight officer turned to me, his voice reverberating in my helmet, “You remember the ejection sequence, right?”

I tried to say yes, but nodded instead conveying the same. While I didn’t have a great technical understanding of our squadron’s ES-3A aircraft, I did remember the low odds of surviving an ejection from this plane while on approach to an aircraft carrier.

But as I scanned the horizon, listening to nervous chatter on the box, I knew if I survived I would have a totally different perspective on life. I thought about the things that had been bothering me and stressing me out, and realized their trivial nature. I gained a fast sense of prioritization and a deep appreciation of the important aspects of life. It took ten minutes to sort out a lifetime of experiences and learning.

Following a harrowing carrier landing, I breathed deep, enjoyed life, and recognized my good fortune of having the chance to appreciate this new outlook. Once I gained an understanding of my well-lived life, I saw every additional day as a bonus, and a day to make it count and make a difference.

Small Business Resources – You Are Not Alone

Veteran Writing Services, LLC logo In March of 2014, I founded and became Chief Executive Officer of my own business, Veteran Writing Services, LLC. I was fortunate to attend a program for women veterans within Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. The Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program gave me the tools, training, and guidance to transform what I had been doing part-time into a full-time successful woman, veteran-owned small business.

Recently, several people have asked me advice about starting and managing a small business. So, I decided to share some resources I’ve used over the past year. I know there are many more out there, but I’ll stick to those with which I have personal experience. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my first year in business is this: you are not alone, if you know where to look.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

SBA covers the gamut from those first starting in business and developing business plans to those wishing to grow their businesses through loan programs and other initiatives. SBA’s vast resources including specialized training programs such as the “Encore Entrepreneurship for Women,” for women over 50 interested in starting their own businesses. I signed up to receive SBA e-mail updates (top right of site), and attended numerous free SBA-affiliated programs, a few of which led me to learn more about programs listed below. [Read more…]

The Man – or Woman – in the Arena

Motivational speaker and business leader Mary Kelly asked, “What is the best coaching advice you remember? In sports, business, life?”

I answered, “My Navy dad used to remind me of ‘The Man in the Arena’ quote. In other words, it’s easy for others to criticize when they are not in the thick of it. It has always stuck with me.”

Earlier in the week, I had also referred to this same quote by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in response to a different question.

Then last night, looking through some old memorabilia, I came across a piece of paper my father sent me when I was stationed in Korea in the late 1980’s. [Read more…]

My Rock from Bali

Eddy Ormond in Bali


Today I feature a guest post from my brother, Eddy Ormond, from his recent trip to Indonesia. Eddy assisted me in writing my two books, and I’ve been encouraging him to write for the past few years. And he’s doing it! I hope you enjoy his story, and his storytelling ability.

My Rock from Bali

By Edward Ormond

One time I thought I was going to die was when I was bodysurfing in Bali. The water looked calm enough with just a few small breaking waves, so with each wave I tried to ride, I swam out further to find a wave with more power. Soon I was further out than I had planned. [Read more…]

Stronger Writing Skills = Higher Pay

Today I bring you a post and infographic courtesy of Interesting research that shows the importance of attention to detail in writing. [Read more…]

Thank You, Local Supporters

031315_2304_ThankYouLoc1.jpgI wanted to take a moment and thank some of the wonderful local supporters who have helped me in my writing journey.
I’ll start with Maryland Senator Edward R. Reilly who celebrated the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day by donating copies of my latest book, “Believing In Horses, Too,” to Anne Arundel County Public Schools last week. [Read more…]