Ashley is an award winning author and speaker. Her novel Always coming back home is an emotional tale of love, adventure, tragedy and hope. She has recently written a children’s book called A Hui Hou, Until We Meet Again. To share their story with a younger audience. These books are extra special too the Bugge family because they are based on their own husband and father. A naval officer Brian who was in a tragic accident and died. Ashley was 6 months pregnant with their third child at the time. Ashley is now a Gold Star Spouse and uses her grief and experiences to inspire others. They were stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii when the accident took place. Ashley and the three kids have moved off the island and now reside near Portland, Oregon.
We want to take a second to pause and honor Brian and his family for their service to our country.
What made you decide this career path? I was six months pregnant with our third child when my husband died in a tragic scuba diving accident. Our other children were one and three at the time, and I was inconsolable. I never set out to be an author or a public speaker, but the sadness that consumed me during this time led to me using my voice as an outlet to work through some of the grief I was experiencing, and now I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through these times if I didn’t write or speak about them.
Where have you lived and what has been your favorite base so far? I have lived and traveled all over the world, but not as a military spouse. My husband, Brian, was stationed at Bangor, Washington for most of his career, which we loved, but when he made LDO and Pearl Harbor appeared as an opportunity for us, we knew that would be our dream duty station. We weren’t wrong, the nine months we lived there before he passed away were some of the happiest of our entire lives. Even though I couldn’t bring myself to stay on the island and bring our baby home to the house we’d lived in together, I still take all three of my children back at least twice a year to visit so they know Oahu will forever be a special place to our family, and let my youngest connect with the memory of her dad who will forever occupy a place there.
What is the biggest challenge of being a military spouse and pursuing your career? Time management. I’ve always worked full time – through deployments, pregnancies, raising babies while my husband was sent to far stretches of the world, it was difficult at times, but I knew I needed that sense of personal identity that comes with maintaining a career. Finding the time to balance family, work, personal fulfillment and time for your relationship, whether your spouse is stateside or not, is a struggle, and one specifically unique to military spouses, as we know we’re never in one place for very long. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Military spouses are hands down the most resilient creatures out there, and where there’s a will, there’s a way, we just have to want it.
What are your other hobbies? Even though my husband passed away in a scuba diving accident, diving has always been a part of our relationship and a shared passion of ours, so after a year hiatus, I’ve decided to return to the sport. I love life under the water and getting to see a part of the world not many do. I also love sailing, kayaking, traveling, hiking, playing the ukulele, laughing with my three beautiful children, and building businesses to see what I’m capable of. I also just re-enrolled in grad school to finish off my masters in Human Behavior. This isn’t necessarily a “hobby” but something that takes up a good amount of my time.
What are some benefits of being a military spouse as a business owner? I think the biggest thing I learned as a military spouse that has carried over into the business world, is that sometimes you just have to get creative. We wear so many various hats as a military spouse, and business life is no different. Life as a military spouse looks different every day, but as long as you’re able to adapt to constant changes and recognize how resilient you are, these skills will translate into entrepreneurship.
If you could, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your business? Say yes to everything. Don’t be afraid, because the worst thing that could happen is you fail, and you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t started. At least you tried. Dream big, go for it, see how far you can take it. The hardest part is that first step, you’ve got this.
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