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Conversations with the Inspiring Marie Gray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Gray.

Marie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a thirty-something-year-old military spouse and stay-at-home mom to four incredible kids. I graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a Bachelors in Creative Writing, where I wrote most of the novel for my thesis and then abandoned it after graduation to “take a break.” And I’ve just started taking the first steps towards using that degree to literally follow my dreams of becoming a published author – (don’t get too excited, I’m in the *very* early stages). There are two parts to my story.

I was born in San Diego when my parents were stationed here with the Coast Guard. Since then I’ve traveled and moved all over the United States, visited Iceland, Canada, and Mexico, and was lucky enough to attend a study abroad program in Europe during college. Now, I’m married to a military officer and the adventures continue!

The first part of my story is my everyday life, in which my husband and I have been so blessed with the opportunity to travel, both while we dated and now with our kids. It’s our goal to see and explore as much of our current home town as we can, making hikes, camping, visits to museums, the zoo, or beaches a part of our weekend routine. Some parts of the military lifestyle are difficult, like uprooting and leaving a home and friends after just a few years. But the opportunities it provides us with for learning about and falling in love with new places and cultures within our country is phenomenal.

Meanwhile, I’m also a homemaker for my family. This was probably my first dream, to be honest. I grew up watching my mom create a beautiful home for us, a place that was lovely and comfortable and happy to come back to. I knew I wanted to do that for a family of my own someday. It’s a beautiful thing; it’s hard, yet I love it, and I think that’s the sign that it’s *right.*

The second part of my story is more obscure and complex. I’ve been searching ever since graduating from college for something that I wanted to do, that I loved. I like to write, so I tried blogging. So many blogs! I wouldn’t write in them, so I’d change the name, redesign it, try to get excited, and just never have any interest. I’ve also always loved photography, so I picked up that hobby and ran with it, becoming mildly successful as a family and event photographer. But there are many facets to that that don’t always align well with the stay-at-home mom and military spouse gigs I’m also balancing, and the stressors often outweighed the satisfaction I got from it. However, photography is something that I love and enjoy, and that I continue to pursue in this gorgeous city.

Finally, a few months ago, I was inspired to write again. Not a blog, not a how-to-be-a-mom lesson plan, but something I loved and enjoyed, both to write and to read: a novel, and a fantasy/fiction novel, at that. The type I told myself I should have outgrown already, shouldn’t be interested in, that the world had enough of. And while it still sounds a little silly to say I’m writing a book and following my dreams, both of those things are true. It’s been hard, and I haven’t even gotten to the hard parts yet, but it’s an enterprise I *want* to put the work into, even when it feels impossibly overwhelming. It’s a venture that makes me feel fulfilled in the same way being a mom and wife does. In short, it’s my vocation.

It’s been ten years since I graduated, intent on but overwhelmed by the process of becoming another great published author. Yet, I don’t feel like those years have at all been wasted. For one thing, I’ve been married to the coolest, most hilarious guy and raising the four best kids on the planet for all that time. But I know that I couldn’t have written what I’m writing now before. I had to live a little before I could write, and I had to develop the self-discipline.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My life has been easy and happy. But it has been difficult to find *my* passion because I let it get buried. It took me a long time to accept that what I liked and wanted to do was worth doing, and to stop looking for the easy way to do it. The internet was full of promising jobs that can be done from home, and I know and admire so many people who run successful blogs and businesses from their homes. None of that was for me, but I was being blinded by it. In some ways, I felt like I *should* be doing something like that, or like I was “unsuccessful” because I wasn’t.

To anyone just starting their journey, or anyone still unsure of what that journey even is, I want to assure you that your time is not being wasted. Live your life fully and keep your eyes and heart open. Everyone has a passion, a real vocation for something that will change the world, whether it be a big or a small way. Owning it and pursuing it are not only going to make you deeply happy but are also going to open doors for you in some of the most unexpected ways.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Most of my work is in my home and I believe it always will be. I’m also excited to be working on a novel that I hope to submit to the appropriate parties in the next few months. And I continue to pursue photography, showcasing my work and connecting with people through my Facebook page, Marie Gray Photography.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Great question, as I think right now, fantasy writing and photography are both dominated by females! Generally speaking, I think a problem women run into the most while pursuing a career isn’t so much the expenses of childcare or scorn for their skills or capabilities – which I am by no means dismissing. But I believe a lack of community could solve many problems that women currently face, particularly mothers.

Oftentimes, especially while running a private business, a mom doesn’t need thousands of dollars worth of childcare for her children every day. What she needs is the occasional help with school picks up, or a few hours on a Saturday to work with a client even if her husband is out of town. This is where a network of good, trusted friends is so, so helpful. Were it not for several amazing women in my own circle, I could not have pursued photography the way I was able to.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Natalie J Murray (my photo), Marie Gray (additional photos)

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