Norwegian Sea - Can a Sailor have cake and eat it too? This is an age-old question many may have pondered while sailing the seas. When your job is defending freedom, what place do hobbies and personal interests have while executing the mission? Such concerns seem insignificant and trivial when compared to the big picture, but they are, in fact, very important to the wellbeing of Sailors – especially those deployed.
Among the crew of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), there are Sailors who wholeheartedly pursue personal talents and skills. Lt. Jessica Sheffield, a successful artist both in business and recreation, is one of those Sailors.
“When I was really young, I thought I wanted to do it professionally,” said Sheffield. “But, as I grew older, I realized that I didn’t want to be a starving artist, professionally. It’s lot more fun to keep it as hobby.”
From a young age, Sheffield aimed to incorporate her artistic virtuosity in her life, but has since learned some valuable lessons.
“I grew up in a Navy family,” said Sheffield. “My dad was submariner for, I think, 32 years, so there’s a long history of service in my family. And, I always knew I wanted to pursue my creative interests. Being in the Navy has really helped me achieve a balance in my life.”
Sheffield’s “hobby” has brought no small amount of satisfaction. A published comic book artist, Sheffield is now undertaking the inspired task of writing a novel.
“It’s a retelling of the classic The Nutcracker,” said Sheffield. “I’m about 233 pages in, and I really want to pay respectful homage to the original.”
Sheffield knows projecting the right attitude, towards her work and her hobby, she can show Sailors just how much the Navy enables a person. Even among shipmates, Sheffield’s passion for a good story has drawn in some well-deserved admiration.
“She has embraced something she has loved to do since she was young,” said Lt. Diana Cowling, a friend and coworker. “Becoming friends with her has been an interesting experience, and getting to know her has greatly increased my own interests as well.”
Writing a novel while underway is no small task. Even while out to sea, Sheffield conceives complex narratives while illustrating her imagination’s whims, adding to what is already a rewarding experience in the Navy.
“The way I look at it, I’m living an adventure,” said Sheffield. “The Navy really enables me to pursue my writing and all my art. I’m having a great time, and I have the opportunity do something really meaningful here.”
The seas can be tumultuous and the tasks laborious for every Sailor, a fact of which Sheffield is well aware. Sheffield wants to reassure each Sailor that they don’t have to leave their individual interests back at the pier be successful in the mission.
“I’m living proof you can do it,” Sheffield said boldly. “If you properly budget your time you can pursue whatever your interests are on a ship. Don’t think you can’t do it. You can.”
When asked for some final words of encouragement, Sheffield declared a simple quote every Sailor should consider and act on.
“Go! Create! Have fun!”
Currently operating in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, Harry S. Truman will continue to foster cooperation with regional allies and partners, strengthen regional stability, and remain vigilant, agile and dynamic.