How House of Colour Helped me Find My Flow After Uniformed Service
My late husband had often said that I had changed and was no longer the person he had married.......
I guess he was right.
I entered the United States Naval Academy at the age of 17. My dad, a Navy Veteran who had left the service before I was born, had suggested that the military might be a good fit, but in the knowing way of teenagers, I rejected such a suggestion. Then the summer before my senior year, I was invited to the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar, a recruiting platform for promising candidates. I went for a jolly and ended up being seduced by the history, structure, prestige and the free education that was on offer. This non-athletic, band-geek, valedictorian from a small town in Tennessee decided that USNA was the place for her.
It was 1992.
The first class with women had only graduated 12 years earlier and combat exclusion still existed. First Class: Women Join the Ranks at the Naval Academy by Sharon Hanley Disher is a look inside the issues faced by those pioneers. It is a story of prejudice, abuse, struggle and triumph and the psychological isolation of being a woman in a man’s world. A story beyond the time and the place, still resonating today in all walks of life.
I learned a lot about leadership and life in the following 4 years at USNA. I learned how to wear a uniform, understand the structure of the service, how rank, privilege and responsibility were indelibly linked, personal accountability, initiative, giving and receiving orders, working as a team towards the mission, how being female can make you stand out (both good and bad), physical prowess trumps intellect (certainly as a Midshipman), failure is shameful, pain is weakness leaving the body, the more you can be LESS like a girl (but not too much like a man) the better.
The Navy was the making of me in many ways. It gave me a way of being that was ordered, unemotional, black and white. If what I was doing was not serving the mission of the command, then it was unnecessary. I could wear my armour and be excellent at my job. I could rely solely on my intellect and the framework in which I operated, and most of those I worked for and with were the same. We understood where we each fit in the pecking order and how we were to relate
with each other.
AT EASE? NOT QUITE!
I left the Navy at the age of 31 to emigrate to the UK to be with my husband, who was serving in the Royal Navy. I was also pregnant with my elder daughter. The 2 frameworks within which I had operated for the past three decades (United States and then the US Navy) was gone in a flash.
I threw myself wholeheartedly into being a full time mother and housewife. It was what I had always wanted at some level but in the end it was not exactly as I had imagined. At the age
of 40, with two daughters, a husband with considerable health issues, and a marriage that was not all that happy or successful, I desperately needed something of my own, having been denied the opportunity to interview a part-time job as a research assistant because it wasn’t deemed
I took some money gifted by my mother and booked a Colour Consultation.
THE REAL ME
I cannot say that it was instantly life-changing, but that one step has led me to where I am today.
I found it utterly fascinating that one could know with certainty what colours worked for you instead of against, even without any makeup. It was a revelation that once you only wore items from your palette you at your worst would look good and at your best, totally radiant. It was simple, scientific and demonstrated beautifully in that session. I knew I needed to go further and
refine my personal style, because again, I could know!
It was the ability to always be able to wear the right thing for me regardless of the occasion, just like knowing when to wear Service Dress Blues, Summer Whites, Wash Khakis but with the added benefit that the clothes no longer described the organisation that I belonged to, but they exemplified who I was deep inside.
In the last years before I was widowed, my husband often said that I had changed and was no longer the person he had married. The reality is that I was always there, but he couldn’t see the real me as I had spent most of our time together trying to be who he wanted me to be.
Developing the external messages through colour and style meant I had begun to accept the real me and stop locking her away. I could be seen as an individual rather than the servant in the background who is unnoticed except when things go wrong.
The knowledge and skills gained from House of Colour consultations unlocked the ill-fitting armour i was wearing and I started becoming who I was always meant to be.
AT EASE- FINDING MY TEAM
Kate Brassington is ex- British Army, who is a Trauma Informed Coach and owner of Zest Coaching (find out more about her here). We have discovered a mutual shared experience in developing the inner and outer versions of ourselves AFTER leaving uniformed service. Together we hit on the idea to help women become at ease with finding their flow as a civilian after life in uniformed service of any kind. We expressly welcome trans and non-binary people who want this too. After all, the impact of misogyny is not just against cis women, but (imo) against anything that is other than “men”.
Until things change, men are in the ascendancy. Life in uniform is geared towards them. Moving to civvie street is also harder for women as (in my own experience) people don’t know what to make of you! This article in the Military Times talks about a lot of the challenges that face women service leavers specifically as well as some support programmes . But we realised that we can help you too.
HELP US TO HELP YOU
Our program, At Ease, will be launching soon. Its a 3-month intensive group and 1:1 programme.
I will be helping you discover and understand the styles and colours that you look and feel best in, the new non-uniform version of you. The knowledge of how to communicate clearly from the outside will allow others to "know" the real you, even in the first glance. This makes it far easier to communicate your message, whether it is at a job interview, building your brand, or simply spending a lot less effort being seen, heard and understood.
Kate will be coaching you towards the confidence to know yourself, to navigate this phase of your life. Visibility can bring a surge of vulnerability. After so long hidden in a uniform, she will help you reconnect with yourself, get clarity on what matters to you, and help you build your self-confidence towards expressing yourself clearly across all areas of your life. Between us we aim to help you leave the Service At Ease with yourself, knowing how to clearly communicate through how you dress, act, and think – on YOUR terms!
Between us, we aim to help you leave the Service, At Ease with yourself, knowing how to clearly communicate through how you dress, act and think- on YOUR terms. Please note- we are not offering careers advice as there is plenty of that. This is how to be At Ease and self-confident, no matter where your life takes you next.
PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
We’ve had lifetimes of being told by others what is good for us. We aren’t going to do that to you! So before anything begins, we want to hear from you. If you are a woman (cis, trans, non-binary) due to leave, soon to leave, or who has left uniformed service in recent years please take 4 mins to complete the confidential questionnaire here. For your time, we’d like to thank you by offering a 10% early bird discount.