This is an excerpt from To view the full article, please click here! Ashley Thompson is a MILSPO, entrepreneur, and creative branding genius. Not only did she and her team at Pressed create The MILSPO Project logo, we were lucky and honored to have her speak at the Embark 2014 business and career conference. Her enthusiasm and expertise is a valuable asset to The Milspo Project community! Visit Pressed for information on personal and professional branding, and their blog with entrepreneurial and lifestyle resources!

"Let’s take a short trip back to 2009.  I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison, I had a full-time job, and was launching my career in Marketing.  Then a couple years later I met my husband.  That’s when things changed.   When we met he was already signed up to leave for basic training and I quickly learned what I was getting myself into.  Before I knew it we were heading off to Fort Bragg, North Carolina! Some people thought I was crazy to leave my great job, drop everything I had going for myself and move wherever the military told us.  To be honest, I knew it was crazy.  That’s why I did it! I am always chasing my next dream, coming up with my next great idea, or just trying to have fun.  That is probably exactly the kind of thinking that got me here.

When my husband left for training I patiently waited for what would happen next.  5 months later, we were together again and excited to be headed to North Carolina.  Smooth sailing from there, right?  Wrong.  The emotional roller coaster was not near coming to a hault.  When my husband arrived in Fort Bragg a little before I did, he called me with some very unexpected news.  And keep in mind, by now I had already moved out of my apartment, left my job, and had all of our stuff in a UHaul at my parents’ house. All to move to a place where I knew nobody.  My husband called me to let me know that in only a few short weeks he would be deploying to Afghanistan.  So in just a few days I went from feeling excited, nervous, and happy to absolutely terrified.  I didn’t know what to expect, I had no idea what to do.  I was now looking at my situation through a different lens.  Instead of seeing myself packed up and ready for a fun new life, full of adventure, I saw that I was now unemployed, living at my parents’ house, with all my belongings in a trailer and soon to be geographically single.  These are the times I begin to second guess some of my less rational decisions.

I began to envy my newlywed friends who had been enjoying their new life together, spending time together, and building their careers.  I watched this all while my life seemed to be taking crazy turns all at the hands of something I had no control over.  I felt absolutely helpless.

This was my first big lesson as a military spouse.  There were so many things that I couldn’t control, but there were still a lot of things that I could control.  I could have made a million excuses for taking a break from my career, staying in my comfort zone, and playing it safe for a while. Instead I decided that this wasn’t something bad, this was a wonderful opportunity for me.  An opportunity for me to do something that I may have been too comfortable or afraid to do before.  Who would have thought that at the end of this chain of events laid a golden opportunity.  This was when I decided that I would never work another day in my life.

So we headed to North Carolina and spent every waking second together until he had to leave for Afghanistan.  I have to give a shout out for every spouse who has been through a deployment.  It was harder than I anticipated and honestly one of the hardest times I have ever been through. But I gained friendships that will last a lifetime.  I also learned that you can’t always see the strength of a military spouse, because behind the smiles,laughs, and new friendships there is always that dull pain that serves as a constant reminder of your fears, anxieties, and loneliness.

Here I was in a new state, no job, no husband, and kind of an emotional wreck.  I had already decided that I wasn’t going to work another day in my life.  This was my opportunity to do what I truly wanted to do.  First, I enrolled at Sessions School of Design.  I love learning and knew that my competitive edge would be my ability to stay ahead of the curve.  I also started attending various networking events to meet new people in my area.  I soon started meeting many entrepreneurs and saw a need for a new style of marketing and design. This was that little spark that soon lit the fire underneath me and I started working on my business with full force.

I threw myself into this 12-14 hours a day.  I found so many local resources to help me out.  I networked, read books, and took more classes.  I learned the business side of things and I also educated myself even more in what I wanted to do.  I read design books, marketing blogs, took social media webinars, and found every way to be the best at what I do.  I went all in.  Like I said before, that is what I do best, I make an irrational decision and I run with it!  Okay, not all of my decisions are that irrational anymore but I did have a track record for doing some pretty crazy things.

And the rest is history!  I became an entrepreneur and haven’t looked back since.  I have had so many amazing opportunities since I started my business and am amazed at where I am today.  Even my crazy self back then did not anticipate the journey I had ahead of me.  Some people say to me, “Ashley you are so lucky”, and I know they mean that in a good way.  But to everyone reading this who is chasing their own dreams, luck has nothing to do with it.  You can create your future, even if it means smashing down something you already created.  So this Valentine’s Day I want you to focus on your love for what you do and reach for your dreams.  Take everything in life and look for the opportunity in it.  Even when you think you are facing the absolute worst of circumstances, there is a glimmer of opportunity just waiting to be found."

Ashley Thompson, CEO of Pressed.