I met Heather Ryan initially through a mutual friend, and we planned to meet for coffee one day so I could welcome her to the area after her move to my city from out of state. She was completely new to the area, and had just left a 14 year career as a Special Agent for NCIS. I was happy to help with suggestions for all the basics- doctors, dentists, where to go with kids on the weekends, best restaurants, hair stylists, gyms, you name it. I had also heard about her new company, Safe in the City, and wanted to find out more about it. And, of course, I was dying to ask her a million questions about her amazingly cool NCIS job! We instantly hit it off and become fast friends.
Completely fascinated with the world that had become ‘all in a day’s work’ to her, I pelted her with questions like a kid who wants to be a Special Agent when she grows up. (Never mind the fact I’ve watched every single Law & Order SVU episode and live vicariously through Olivia Benson.) It was one of those “serendipitous collisions” as one of my business associates calls it, and we decided to put Heather’s story in writing.
As we’ve worked over the past several months on our book project focused on Heather’s journey through her career as a Special Agent who ultimately decides to turn in her badge to focus on her family and start a company of her own- I’ve laughed, cried, picked my jaw up off the floor (regularly) and exclaimed “WOW” at least a million times as I listened in awe. (I am now even a little squeamish about the new high powered hand dryers in public bathrooms.)
Outside of the allure and sexy title of Special Agent, Heather is a mom who has learned to embrace this new season in her life after an intense decade and a half that defined her identity. She looks at motherhood and her own life experiences through very different lenses than most of us. Her experiences have shaped her in a way most of ours never will.
Here is a sneak peak at a tiny excerpt from the preface of the new book, Special Agent Mom, which will be released later this year.
Letter to myself…
Dear Special Agent Ryan,
Put down your badge and quit staring at it for a few minutes to read about what I wish you would have known when you started this journey.
You are about to embark on a wilder roller coaster ride of a career that 99% of the world’s population will ever experience other than through a television screen. Be easy on yourself. You won’t win all of your cases, and you won’t put the bad guys behind bars sometimes- and especially not within an hour while millions of viewers watch and admire your bravery. You’ll find it takes a little more than an hour for the caliber of criminals you’ll be hunting. But you will meet some remarkable, brave, funny, loving and brilliant human beings who will become like brothers and sisters. You will learn from, share with, and lean on these people for the rest of your life because it is they who understand to the core of their being what a “day’s work” as a Special Agent is really like. These are people who will get it when you have to cry and when you have to second-guess yourself and when you have to recount a horrific scene that is simply too much for one human mind to bear. You will share many glasses of wine and late nights with them.
Understand that you will also encounter evil. While most criminals are flat out dumb (hence why they get caught), there are some that will make your every hair stand on end and your throat go dry in the interrogation room.
Most of all, new Special Agent, keep your mind wide open. Be ok with marrying someone who hoards shoes, and don’t allow yourself to become so swallowed by your career that it becomes you. There is more to you than this career (and closet space for your own shoes). Be prepared for the change in mindset when you become a mother. Poopy diapers will actually smell better than some of the people you will interrogate. Embrace the fact that the seasons in your life will change as you grow, and be okay with where they take you. Be proud of yourself and who you are as a woman even if you don’t wear a badge and carry a gun someday. Allow your life to be a beautiful journey- don’t fight it.