An organization dedicated to helping longtime military spouses is once again offering a two-day spring retreat designed just for that unique population.
Now in its sophomore season, Evolve 2022 will take place both in-person near Washington, D.C. and online on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. Pride & Grit will host five speakers touching on topics like managing burnout cycles, discovering personal strengths and defining one’s identity amidst the crush of military life.
“This is about people investing in themselves and affirming that they’re worth these growth and personal development opportunities,” said Jen Pasquale, Pride & Grit’s founder. “I hope these military spouses leave feeling like that was time well-spent and that they’re better for it.”
Evolve was born after Pasquale, who calls herself a “seasoned” Army wife, began talking with her peers a couple of years ago. What were their struggle points? What would help? The answer soon became clear: connection time with other spouses who walked the same road.
The inaugural Evolve happened about one year later, in 2021. Pasquale already worked with experienced military spouses through Pride & Grit’s mission, and she wanted to stick with that demographic for retreats.
“My observation is that there are a lot of folks in the military community who didn’t necessarily feel like there was someone supporting and providing them the space to talk about what they were struggling with,” Pasquale said. Evolve aims to fill that void for approximately 150 military spouses, both wives and husbands.
Speakers include Dr. Patrice Carter, Jenn Whitmer, Tammy Meyer, Leah Brown and Pasquale. All are military wives or children and certified in life coaching or related offshoots, including Enneagram and CliftonStrengths. The in-person option will be a “watch party” in Tyson’s Park, Virginia and capped at 50 participants. Retreat attendees can attend Saturday, Sunday or both, and prices range from $97 to $167 (early bird discounts are available).
Given the distanced reality of the last two years, Pasquale is thrilled to physically meet with retreat attendees. The first Evolve was entirely online. There were still valuable connections taking place, she said, but this year’s face-to-face encounters will be heartily welcomed.
“People need that right now,” Pasquale said.
It’s a truth that Pasquale, an experienced corporate trainer and facilitator, knows from experience. She started Pride & Grit in 2018 after experiencing a devastating miscarriage. While grieving her baby, she did so in silence and by herself ― the exact opposite, she said, of what is healthy.
“I didn’t know to take myself out of a leadership role, like I was taking from others, and my role was to be a giver,” Pasquale shared. “I started seeing other people also not talking about what was hard, and I realized that I had done it wrong.” There was a better way, and she was determined to find it.
Sponsored by USAA, Evolve 2022 is part of that better way. Participants will not only hear from speakers and connect with others, but have opportunities to take strengths assessments, win prizes, receive personalized coaching and access private Facebook groups afterward.
“This retreat was tailor-made for you if you feel like you’ve given so much to each military-directed pivot that you’ve lost yourself,” Evolve’s website reads. That description doesn’t apply to new military spouses, Pasquale said. She truly wants to fill the cups of those who have given so much for so long with little to no attention.
When it comes to Evolve 2022, what will Pasquale consider a successful event?
“People leaving feeling supported, feeling like they’ve learned something about themselves,” she said. “I want them to have a sense of how they want to invest in themselves next.”