Catching up with Nerissa Alford

Family Christmas in Strasbourg France, 2021

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since my interview. In military family life, it’s been a lifetime with lots of life changes. Summer of 2022 we moved back to the states. Among family and friends, it was no secret how much I was dreading leaving Europe. It was my personal playground for artistic inspiration.

I started scribbling the places I visited in my notebook in 2020 just so I could remember all the places I’ve visited. Anytime one of my friends wanted suggestions, I’d send a photo of the list.


  • My friend started a group of professional military spouse creatives at Ramstein. I got through the lockdown during the COVID epidemic in part because of this group. We would share advice & resources via zoom. I was challenged, but supported. It was months before I actually met them in person. I am forever grateful to be able to call these spouses my friends. 
  • At some point I was hired as an art instructor at the Arts & Crafts center on base. It was almost a year before we could teach in person. It was so good to share art with others. 

I taught a beginners watercolor class. This was my version of the Porta Nigra in Trier.

  • I continued my volunteer work with USO EMEA & the Kaiserslautern/Ramstein area. What I loved was that I contributed using my talents and I was given the opportunity to soar. (That’s my artwork on the back of the volunteer t-shirts pictured below.)


  • I probably have enough photos of my travels to last me the rest of my life. Once 2022 started, I began traveling to other countries and taking long weekend trips. I did overnights in Paris and Lille, France; Bruges, Belgium; and Haarlem and Amsterdam, Netherlands. 


Bruges, Belgium

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • I had 2 big items on my bucket list, number 1 was to visit Paris. Before we left I had the opportunity to visit 3 times. I visited the Louvre, went up the Eiffel Tower and later watched it twinkle with my family. The second trip, I went on a retreat with the military spouse creative group. We visited Versailles and attended Lido. My final trip I went for my birthday. I took a bookmaking class, visited Giverny and wandered aimlessly through several Paris neighborhoods. 


  • I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge 2 very important events that happened while we were stationed at Ramstein; OAR Operation Allies Refuge and the invasion of Ukraine. This was what I wrote at the time of OAR, “I’m not going to lie. I’ve shed countless tears over the last week. Lately it’s been tears of pride. It has been amazing to see people from so many agencies working tirelessly toward this mission.”
  • My older son graduated high school & is currently in college. It was tough knowing we were moving my younger son his Senior year but I am happy to report he has settled in with his friends from 8th grade like no time has passed. And after living abroad for most of their teen years, both have learner’s permits for driving!
  • My husband is looking at retiring from active duty life in the next few years. 
  • I started taking tap lessons after we moved back to the states. I’m not far from turning 50 and as I’m getting older, I am doing all the things. While I took dance lessons as a kid, I never took tap. I am having a ball.
  • Number 2 on the bucket list – didn’t think it was going to happen! The Backstreet Boys were playing Virginia a few days before we arrived back to the states. It was postponed due to lightning. I bought my ticket a week after we arrived. I lived my best fangirl life!

What’s Next:

After we moved to the DC area, I started running full steam ahead. I started networking with fellow military spouse business owners and creatives locally. I joined a mixed media creative community. I got matched up with an entrepreneur mentor. I have a group of creatives in the surface pattern realm that I chat with and I still keep in touch with my creative group from Ramstein. I’ve even started travel writing. 

My ultimate goal is to get my travel inspired artwork licensed on stationery, giftware and homeware. Now that I am not living in constant go mode trying to squeeze in every little European town and city, I’m going through my photographs and letting the artwork flow. 

I’ve started collage boards for each of the cities I’m interested in illustrating. It’s going to take a while to go through my list of cities, but I’m so thankful to have all my photos for inspiration.





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