Cocktails With - Major Tanya Spence

Sunday, July 08, 2012    

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For the first woman aide-de-camp to the Chief of Defence Staff, Major Tanya Spence, command is easy. It's cooking that has her stumped.

What are you sipping?

Classic ginger ale — every girl's best friend.

What kind of week are you having?

Very hectic. I am currently suffering from PSTD (Post Tattoo Stress Disorder). Packing up, doing debriefs and after-action reports on the heels of the Jamaica Military Tattoo for which I was the legal coordinator, as well as commander for the event's all-female drill team, Femme Fatales.

Socialite or homebody?

Definitely homebody, but when I do get out I always have great fun.

TV or good book?

For mindless relaxation, it's TV. On the nerd side of life, a good personal development book to maintain focus and motivation at times. My weekly ritual is to read excerpts from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I also enjoy Serve to Lead, a compilation of military speeches and writings about leadership, discipline, integrity, loyalty, morals and honour. It's a gentle yet effective reminder about the fundamentals of military leadership.

Describe your personal style.

Liberation chic (laughs). Funky sun dresses, hippie tops and jeans. Comfort is key when chasing after my four-year-old son, Joshua.

Who is your style inspiration?

The tuxedo-wearing Janelle Monae, who's defined a uniform for herself. She's taken the classic gentleman's dress and made it all her own, proving that you can be stylish in uniform. And I love her music too.

What perfume are you spraying?

Almond Cookie by Carol's Daughter.

What's in your handbag? Do you even carry a handbag or is it a military pouch?

Why, of course I carry a handbag...isn't that every woman's security blanket? In my handbag I have my iPad, Bobbi Brown lip gloss, card holder, Clean and Clear oil absorbing sheets — a must-have, and lots of Ziploc bags for "stuff". The handbag is placed in my military rucksack where I also keep a waterproof jacket, a bottle of water and mints.

Describe a typical workday.

Every day in the JDF is different but it's always interesting and sometimes exciting. From drafting correspondence, to delivering presentations and lectures, to visiting bases, hosting other militaries, physical training, project management, lots of meetings, and accompanying the Chief of Defence Staff to military events and other official functions. A typical day can be eight hours or it can be 18 hours.

You're an attorney-at-law. Which came first, the military or the bar?

I joined the JDF first, and then went on to law.

How do you maintain your femininity in combat boots?

Femininity and combat boots are not mutually exclusive. Femininity lives within and I have always strived to be an officer and a lady. Still, I enjoy regular pedicures and I love to wear light make-up and dresses when I am not in combats.

What's your favourite military tradition?

Men's Dinner — a dinner hosted for the junior servicemen and women each December where they are served by the officers and senior ranks of the Force. I enjoy it because I get the opportunity to show my gratitude to the soldiers whom I command and who work very hard to support me throughout the year.

What projects are you working on?

With Tattoo over, my next major project will be writing a Military Law training manual.

Where's the best place to find you?

At Up Park Camp... working and working out.

What's your idea of the perfect man?

It's not an idea, he exists! My husband Dolan and all the qualities I admire in him: kind, loving and an excellent cook. Tanya does not cook!

What's your latest obsession?

Collecting charms for my Pandora bracelet.

What's in your car stereo?

Enya, mento and my soca and dancehall mixes — something to satisfy the many moods of Tanya.

What expression do you most overuse?

"Very well, Sir!" my response to all instructions issued by my superior officers.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

Selfishness and a lack of integrity.

What talent would you most like to have?

The ability to dance.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

Not given to me personally, but to every woman in the world by Oprah: "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."

What advice would you give a 10-year-old Tanya Spence?

Do not be disheartened by the fact that you are wearing size 10 shoes at age 10. It is an indication of the huge strides you will take in life.



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