The National Anthem gets me every time, in the best star spangled, brass band, fireworks kind of way. I put my hand on my heart and cry gloppy grateful tears, but never more so than the day Teri Christensen put on her dress blues and knocked our country’s theme song right out of the park at Miller Stadium. Today being July 4th, I’m honored to introduce her to you. A Soldier with seventeen years of service, she’s deployed to Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iraq as a Medical Instructor and Chinook, Blackhawk, and Huey Mechanic and Crew Chief. Passionate about a purpose-filled life, she is a Registered Nurse working in hematology, oncology, and palliative care. And in her spare time, she’s a philanthropic Stormtrooper. Yup. As in Star Wars. How could we not have stars in our eyes over Teri? Read on…
What made you say “Hmm…maybe I’ll be a…”
…well now that I think about it, you do so much! Soldier, Stormtrooper, Nurse. I’m inclined to call you All-American Girl! What inspires you to take on these incredible roles?
“The Army made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. At seventeen, getting ready to graduate from high school, I had no idea who I was, let alone who I wanted to be. A scared, insecure kid; not ready to go to college. With my family’s strong military background, the Army seemed like a logical choice. It was the best decision I ever made.
While I was in Iraq, my cousin shared a photo of his Stormtrooper uniform, and I was hooked. I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan; the 501st Legion is the coolest hobby ever. The feeling you get when a little kid runs up to you, gives you a hug or a high-five and tells you you’re their hero, it’s incredible.
Nursing is a calling. I needed something with purpose, and taking care of other people gives me pleasure. We all have an expiration date; time is limited, and it makes our interactions precious.”
Who are the folks who’ve helped you along the way?
“First and foremost, my parents. My friends, of course. And oddly enough, Facebook! When I was in Iraq, Facebook provided a daily tether to life back here. No matter how stressful or scary, I could connect. One update a day, a joke or the description of what I ate in the chow hall, and people knew I was okay.
People give credit to Soldiers for going overseas, for running head-on into danger. But I think hard part is being at home worrying about those going into harm’s way. I don’t think I could be the one to sit back and watch. We wouldn’t be who we are without our friends and family and loved ones to support us.”
How do you keep your motivation in motion?
“Being in uplifting community can turn reality around. It’s like staying in shape; motivation requires constant upkeep and vigilance. You don’t just reach enlightenment and never feel sad again, you have to wake up every day and look at the positive. Turn it outward, that’s pay-it-forward in action! I believe those forces are tangible, the power of positive vibes. When I’m having a tough day, I’ll post something on social media and it comes back to me in remarkable ways.”
You’ve got gumption! Where do you go from here?
“I want my life to mean something. To be the best Nurse I can be. The best Soldier, daughter, sister, friend, Stormtrooper. That’s what keeps me from getting stagnant or complacent.”
One more thing…what quote do you love?
“For me, the essence of being in balance comes from the Prayer of Saint Francis – in giving we receive. Doing things for others gives more joy than anything. The best way to pick myself up is to help someone else.”
Thanks Teri! Thank you for everything you do. (And if all that ain’t enough, she’s a Packers fan too!)