An Invitation to Fiercely Belong: Meet Aj Smit

Community has many meanings depending on which ones you are a part of. Neighborhoods, churches, sports groups, political parties, charitable organizations, civilian committees, and military communities are all designed to provide a sense of commonship. Yet, more than ever, we are growing further apart as humans.

Aj is a Rent Tent Leader, a part-time mermaid, and a full time encourager.

Rather than just cohabiting in this world, while people feel isolated despite the millions around them, Aj is trail blazing the pathway of what it means to practice intimate ownership in the communities around us. When you see and hear Aj speak about her passion for the cultivation of becoming who truly are, you are embraced with joy, magnetic energy, and encouragement that real change is possible.

But what does this mean in the heart and work of Aj?

This is where I had the honor and privilege of digging in deeper with Aj during our interview. While most see the colorful and healing exterior that she brings to the table, Aj is fighting a battle, standing as a voice for those who feel unheard and disesteemed.

She is taking back lost ground by creating a safe place where the hard conversations and questions can be explored and honored. She serves as an access point where learning about the truth of our value can begin to fill the void so that our sense of purpose can be restored. A merger where the willingness to move beyond using community as a gathering point but rather as a place of growth through intentional friendships. This space not only provides the opportunity to rewrite the scripts of our own narratives but shows us that trauma work does not have to be painful or done alone.

Unknowingly, her message and hard work of building community Red Tents - where women are offered the safe space to share stories, learn, and intentionally grow together - has captivated the hearts of many, earning her the nomination for the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year for Lackland Air Force Base. After the initial round of voting, she was awarded the title of the 2020 Lackland Air Force Base AFI Military Spouse of they Year, and has been selected to represent the Air Force in the overall branch vote, featuring the top 18 spouses from all branches.

She openly shares that she was awestruck because of the amazing women who have also been nominated alongside, her finding it encouraging to know more about the world changing work the program is recognizing. While it has been fast moving since her initial nominations, her gratitude for the recognition and consideration continues to grow immeasurably igniting hope that her work can reach more.

Her unbridled passion for change in the communities she serves has taken on a vision of global service. Knowing that if given the opportunity and platform to expand upon what she is doing, generational healing has a real chance in overcoming the relational and emotional disparities we are currently facing.

For her, this is an opportunity to gain critical partnerships and resources to continue her vision of empowering women to become permission givers of their own lives and of those around them. Partnering with the USO (@the_USO), Military Influencer Conference (#micdc), and other organizations to provide embodiment workshops, Red Tent evenings, and continued exposure of how a lack of community continues to put us at growing risks would be her hope in gaining the Military Spouse of the Year title.

I know the title of Military Spouse of the Year speaks to the military community, but her heart and work extends way beyond. Our world needs more people like her who can and will hold space for those around them while encouraging others to be their unique true selves.

In a world that tells us who and what we should be, her invitation to be unapologetically authentic is refreshing. Every step of her journey and every table she has been invited to she is offering a seat along side of her with an open invitation to fiercely belong, just as you are.

Aj has the opportunity to stand brightly in a community that desperately needs light, and she needs your support.

The next step for nominees, like Aj, who advanced to the top 18 level are now eligible for their Branch round of voting. Voting will be held on March 3rd and 4th. Please know that you can vote once each day, per email address and every vote helps! Click here to find her Military Spouse of the Year profile, more about the Military Spouse of the Year program, and where you can vote. Together we can continue to give our support to Aj through this incredible journey by helping her get to the next step with our votes!

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