Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just Bloom

I have been thinking a lot about comparison lately. It seems to be like a sickness sweeping over women everywhere. Last year, I wrote down some of my thoughts about it HERE. I still feel the same as I did then and it makes me ache when I hear my friends and family talk about how they aren’t good enough because they don’t do ________ or ________. 

We just don’t seem to get it, do we?

I stumbled upon an article by MOM EXPLORES MICHIGAN that I really enjoyed. This part really hit right on how I feel…

 

We teach our kids that different is good, that life would be boring if everyone were the same. But when people are different than we are, or, more pointedly, better than we are at something, it makes us feel insecure...like them being great all of a sudden makes us less good. That feeling makes us scramble or insult or dismiss or excuse just to put ourselves back on higher ground. 

But instead we sink, and we bring other women down with us. 

I don't want people to dial things down so I can feel secure. My friends don't need to hide their talents so I can feel better about myself.  I want to live in a community where women can showcase their strengths and pursue their talents at home and in the workforce without the fear of being or looking "too good."

via Mom Explores Michigan

 

I also loved the part where she talks about real feminism. Totally true. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

As these thoughts have rolled around in my mind the past month or so, I have to admit, I do it too. When I see other people’s 4 year olds shredding down the mountain I am reminded that my 9 year old can barely ride a bike and my 1st grader isn’t even close to tying her shoes. When I cheer on my little cousin as she beautifully dances and twirls or as I watch a video of a friend’s child who is rocking her gymnastics meet, I let myself feel like a failure as a mother because my child just wants to sit in the sunshine and read. When I see the beautiful photos of fantastic places being visited and adventures being had, I feel that little twinge deep down that says being a stay at home mom isn’t enough. To some extent comparison is human nature. It isn’t anything new. It has always been and most likely will always be. Should we wish someone else not shine because we feel less? No. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can change. We have that power.

There are so many things I would like to share on this blog that I don’t.

As my baby girl continues to grow, I would like to turn this little hobby journal into something bigger. I love writing, but even more, I love to create, and yet I’m scared to share what I do. It feels like every time I share, someone says how perfect the project is, or I am, or my life is, or how untalented they are, or something along those lines, and then I feel bad. I shrink back because I don’t want to look like I’m perfect, trying too hard, or worse, bragging. The thing is, I’m not perfect. Surprise! Some days my life plain stinks. My husband travels all the time and I get crazy overwhelmed and lonely. I have a terrible time sticking to task and staying focused. I LOVE to cook yet I burn dinner 1/3 of the time because I get distracted. I have 7,000 unfinished projects and 14 balls in the air at any given time not because I want to show off, but because I am horrible at sitting still and finishing something. I am friendly and outgoing to a fault. I make mistakes, I say the wrong thing, I drop the ball, and I fail, a lot. But, you know what I’m realizing? That it’s ok. Because it’s real, authentic, and who I am.

I’m not going to be ashamed to talk about my successes and my failures on here anymore. I chose to be true to who I am. Because, after all…

{Gypsy Magpie}

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

DIY Bead Bookmarks

My sister-in-law had a birthday last week and I wanted to make her something fun. She loves bright blue, reading, and horses. I can’t do anything about the horses, but figured I could come up with a little something that combined her love of books and the color blue. What better for a booklover than a quirky fun bookmark?

I apologize ahead of time for the pics, I swear I’ll make one of those fancy light box thingys soon. But, for now you get my sewing table for an awesomely distracting back drop. You’re welcome.

Back to the bookmarks…

Gypsy Magpie

For this project you will need:

  • Ribbon or Cording- I tried using baker’s twine but it kept unraveling so I gave up on that. You could use DMC floss, very thin ribbon, or even a little bit thicker ribbon depending on the size of your beads and your level of patience.
  • Beads and charms of assorted styles and sizes- You’ll want to make sure the hole through your bead is large enough to thread your ribbon through. Small sea shells would also be fun.
  • Lighter- You’ll use this to seal the ends of the ribbon when your bookmarks are complete. This keeps the cut edges from fraying. You could also use a tube of Fray Stop or even hot glue.
  • Scissors
  • Book or Ruler

Gypsy Magpie

Directions:

First, measure your ribbon.

I started by sticking my ribbon in a book and guesstimating how much I would want hanging out on both ends. After trial and error, I’d say go with 18-20” of ribbon. Then you will have extra in case you mess up, the end frays, or whatever. I wish I had left a little extra ribbon on this blue one, but it was my first and I was making it up as I went.

Cut Ribbon on an Angle

Next, cut the end of the ribbon on an angle so you can feed it through the beads easier. If your ribbon is wider you will want an even greater angle so you have a point to feed through. Keep in mind that the wider the ribbon the more limited you will be on what beads you can string on it.

Gypsy Magpie

Now tie a knot in the end and start threading on beads.

Once you get your beads on how you like them, use your book to decide how much ribbon space you need between each beaded end of the bookmark. The open space in between the bead sections is what will go inside the book. That way the book can close flat and the pages won’t be damaged by the beads.

After you’ve decided how much space you need you will add any extra beads that you’d like, then knot off the end.

Lastly, you will seal the cut edges of your ribbon with the lighter.

Gypsy Magpie

I loved the bright blue with the clear crystal beads! Blue and bling, this one totally had my sister’s name on it!

My girls were so excited to give it to her.

Gypsy Magpie

After I made the blue one above, I decided to try a few more out since they went so quickly.

Here are the results…

Gypsy Magpie

My 6 year old picked out this aqua and purple mix.

Gypsy Magpie

Here’s what they look like in a book.

Simple, easy, and completely customizable!

By the way, my great-great-great…grandmother is in that book. Random trivia.

Gypsy Magpie

This orange and wood combination was by far my favorite of the three. I love the look and feel of the wood beads and the pop of orange is unexpected and fun.

With this thinner cording, I tied knots on both sides of the beads so they wouldn’t roam around but you don’t have to do that. You could let the beads free form along the bookmark if you wanted, it’s completely up to you. Just a side note, the knot and hole in these beads were really close in size which made me a little worried that they might eventually slip off. So, I grabbed my hot glue gun and dabbed a little bit of glue on the outside beads near the knot to secure them just in case.

Gypsy Magpie

Yep, definitely my favorite.

Here they all are together.

Gypsy Magpie

There are so many different options for making these simple little bookmarks! My girls loved them and already have plans to use their pony and plastic letter beads to make their cousin some to take to her birthday party this weekend. I’m thinking a bookmark would be cute all packaged up with a new copy of one of their favorite books.

These DIY Bead Bookmarks would make a fun Girls Camp craft, Activity Day girls project, or a quick girlfriend gift. Just make sure to save one for yourself! I totally forgot to make one to keep and now I’m wishing I did. Those wood beads are calling my name.

 

 

   Thanks for being my bookmark guinea pig, Amanda!

*Happy Birthday!*

We love you!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Food Storage Lessons: Pickle Fail

When I was growing up I learned the value of a garden and how to preserve food. It was just an every day way of life. I enjoyed going to my grandparents’ home each fall to pick grapes and make juice and jelly. Peeling peaches became mom and me time. I loved seeing the plants grow in the garden, even if I hated weeding them. We kids looked forward to seeing the apricot tree in the backyard full of blossoms in the spring and, even more, the dried fruit come winter. My family went hunting. We drove by the dairy farm on the way church and talked about where milk and beef came from. We occasionally filled assignments as volunteers on the church pig farm down the road. We worked together at home and at the shop.

I grew up knowing where food came from, that it didn’t just appear on the grocery store shelves or on my plate. I never realized how rare a childhood like that really was until I had children myself.

As a young mother of tiny kids, I was asked to teach a canning class in my church. I had originally been a little embarrassed when they told me I would be teaching on freezer jam. “Why? Everybody knows how to do that! They’ll think I’m talking down to them.” were the thoughts that came to my mind. But, I said yes anyway. Class started and the ladies showed up. There I was glossing over the basics and whipping on through because I assumed that it was information everyone already knew. It wasn’t until 1/3 through the class that a woman spoke up, asking me to slow down and thoroughly explain why I did each step. As we got talking I was shocked at how little some of these fantastic ladies actually knew. It was all so natural and basic to me. I was so confused. I took a deep breath and then started from scratch. It ended up being an amazing experience for me.

I taught several more classes after that, but I will never forget that first one, or the look on a sweet friend’s face when she showed up to my door a few days later with her very first jar of jam that she had proudly made all by herself.

That class gave me food for thought. Why did my family teach me the things they did? Why on earth in this day and age did we still do this stuff? Was it really more cost effective to bottle food? Wasn’t it easier just to buy a can at the store? Why was it so deep down innately important to me to have my own little plot of land and put away food? So many questions and I didn’t really have the answers.

A couple months later I found myself working by my dad’s side cleaning out his food storage. There on a back shelf I found my answers in the form of a few dusty old quart jars full of venison. The second I saw those jars I was a little girl again and there was a deer hanging in our garage. My mama would send me out to grab things for her because the smell made her queasy. I remember helping my parents to put the chunks of meat in the bottles. Even more vividly, I remember having to eat it.

And, eat it… and… eat it…

It was the 80’s, Utah was in the middle of a recession, and our family flooring business had been hit hard. My parents were young with a growing brood and bills to pay. My mom tried her hand at sewing and made my brothers MC Hammer “boogie” pants that to this day the mere mention of still gets a round of giggles. We grew a garden in the back yard. We harvested fruit from the trees from which we filled mason jars, dried fruit, and made homemade fruit roll ups. We would go down to my grandparents’ house and splash in the water as dad would help grandpa irrigate the back lot. I will never forget how beautiful that little orchard and garden was. My cousin, Jonathan, and I would sneak under the grape vines and hunt snakes to scare our grandma with. Rotten kids! We went camping and hunting. We were taught how to use a knife and shoot a bow. We ate venison, lots of potatoes, and crazy amounts of squash. {Hmmm, maybe that’s why Jer hates squash? Haha!}

My parents taught us to work hard and to play hard, too.

Life was so rich that I never knew that money was scarce.

All those years later, as I dumped out jars of stinky old meat and talked about how bottled venison still made me gag, my dad told the story that I was too unaware to see. He talked about how hard it had been to keep things going. Of how incredibly proud he was of my mother for doing so much with so little. You see, my parents had prayed long and hard and that deer had been a blessing. Those jars of nasty venison were like gold to my dad. I’ll never forget the testimony he shared that day of self reliance, working together, and trusting in God.

Hard times will come.

Recently I found myself relearning that same lesson, but this time it involved a shelf of pickles. Three years ago, I had worked so hard to put to use a giant crop of cucumbers. We ate them until we couldn’t eat any more and then after a lot of researching recipes and techniques, I turned the rest into pickles. For the first few months my kids devoured jars and jars of the homemade treat. They loved them! But, as time went on, the pickles grew soft and were no longer appetizing. There they sat gathering dust in the back of the bottom shelf of the fruit room until a few weeks ago when our basement flooded. As I cleaned out wet cardboard and ruined bags of grout, my eyes fell on that shelf of ruined pickles. It made me angry just looking at them!

What a waste… or was it?

 

Gypsy Magpie

 

This week I got up the courage to face the inevitable. As I hastily started dumping nasty soft pickles down the drain, disgusting jars of old meat filled my mind, and I started to bawl.

In January and February, we were hit with medical bills. Who knew a tiny little unnecessary organ could be so expensive to remove? My husband asked me to trust him, then cleaned out our entire savings plus all the extra from his paycheck and paid off the bills. He had faith that it would all work out. We relied almost solely on our food storage to help us get by. I don’t know why it scared me so bad. It wasn’t the first time in our 13 years together that things have been tight. I guess as we’ve made more money and have gotten accustomed to more and more extras it’s made it harder to let things go than when we were young, as poor as church mice, and didn’t have a clue? Had that little taste of financial sweetness spoiled me? This would not do.

I guess the Lord saw fit to humble me and He did it with a flood and some dusty jars of pickles.

What I had seen as hard work and time getting washed down the drain along with my pickles slowly turned into precious memories of the day I had made them. I imagined my children helping me wash those very jars. I remembered my daughters using the dried dill weed as funny little umbrellas and singing silly songs. I was reminded that I had sliced my finger while cutting the cucumbers and a certain spunky child had then repeated my cuss word for the next ten minutes. Next came me begging her to stop so her daddy wouldn’t know I had unintentionally taught it to her! {Like somehow he wouldn’t know where she heard it? My husband doesn’t swear. *face palm*}

I lost that batch of pickles, but that really isn’t the point.

What matters is, I made them.

The lesson of the venison had been instilled in my soul. I was teaching my children where their food came from. How to prepare for a day in the future when we might struggle. By spending time with me in the garden and sitting with me as we bottled the harvest, they were learning how to work. And, hopefully they were learning to appreciate the numerous blessings they each have been given.

Even though it’s an old fashioned tradition, I will continue to pass it on.

 

Gypsy Magpie

 

I want my children to know where their food comes from. I want them to appreciate the eggs their chickens lay and the first peas they pluck from the pod. I want them to find joy in watching the neighbor’s bees as they pollinate each child’s own little row of veggies. I want them to be proud of their friend’s dad out working hard in the fields and realize the incredible power in what he is doing.

I want them to have a little root in the old as they spread their wings into the new.

I hope they grow up to feel confident in themselves as they provide for their families, knowing that if they put their skills to work and rely on our Savior that they can make it through the rough patches, because hard times will surely come.

Even though it sounds a little odd, I wish for them their own little jar full of humble, in whatever form it may come.

But, when it does, I hope they remember the venison… and the pickles.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spontaneous Mudroom Update

A couple weeks ago, my sweet June had a terrible case of the stomach flu. I didn’t leave the house for days and was getting cabin fever in a big, big way. If you can’t leave the house and you’ve sanitized ALL the things plus spent hours on Pinterest, checked Facebook 37 times, done all the laundry, read all the books, and made 14 different treats, you get bored… and desperate. During this time, the basement flooded and I had to move my entire wood/trim pile to higher ground. In the process, I found a random piece of leftover crown molding from the FIREPLACE PROJECT and that got the wheels turning.

A few hours later, I had a knife and a crowbar in hand headed towards our mudroom.

Gypsy Magpie

{First off, let’s just have a little giggle at my tiny old photo. Thank you online photography and blogging tutorials for helping me become a little more proficient than I was! Kind of embarrassing!}

I had never totally loved our ORIGINAL MUDROOM DESIGN. I had compromised with the hubby on how many hooks and keeping it inexpensive. Our youngest was just a little one when we did the build, so she had a Command Hook placed down at her level on the adjacent wall for her tiny coat and I had a beautiful plant that I was given when my grandpa passed away that I wanted to live on top of the cubbies. Since that time, our not quite so little one has turned four and that beautiful plant has completed the “Circle of Life” as Rafiki would say. I was also getting really annoyed by the piles of homework and papers EVERYWHERE and with that, the constant feeling like I had forgotten something when I sent them to school. Then, the trim on the bench started to come loose.

I took it as a sign.

It was time to make the old design work for our new life.

Gypsy Magpie

Because this was a spontaneous little update, I forgot to take pictures. Bad blogger. Oopsies.
So, hold tight and use your imaginations while I describe what I changed.

I began by re-nailing the trim back onto the bench. So simple. My reno’s usually start like that then spontaneously snowball into something bigger and more complicated. Hmm, wonder who I got that from? Next, I removed the 2 hooks on the right side of the piece. {This is where my husband walked in, shook his head, then walked out.}

Next, I scored the caulking on the trim up on the cubbies and pulled it right off. Tip: If you ever need to remove old trim, always score the old caulking first. To do this, you simply take a sharp knife, or razor blade, and cut the caulking between the trim and the main piece you are working on. Trust me, it’ll give you the least amount of damage to fix later, which is always a good thing.

After removing the trim, came mass quantities of sanding. When I had originally done the project, I had added a top coat of finish for protection. That was stupid. The better option would have been to leave it painted for easy to touch ups! Duh. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, right?

Gypsy Magpie

After sanding, hubby and I cut and attached the random piece of crown molding that I had found in the basement then adhered it to the cubbies with our brad nailer. Unless you are Wonder Woman, hanging crown requires 2 people. Crown is my DIY nemesis. But, oh is it worth it!

Next, I spackled all the holes and got to work caulking. Make sure to cut your tube of caulk small, have a wet rag to wipe your hands, and for the love! WORK SLOWLY! It is so much better to do it right the first time then to slap on a bunch of caulk and have it dry all wonky. Wonky is a word, I swear.

After the spackle had dried, I hit the holes with a fine grit sandpaper then wiped down the whole piece and started painting. I applied several coats of paint, letting it dry between coats. When I had my last coat complete, I let it dry overnight.

The next day, I measured the the right side of the piece for 3 hooks. It isn’t perfectly even because that middle corbel wasn’t originally centered. Looking back, we probably went a little overboard reinforcing that top cubby section. We really could have not worried so much about that corbel being attached to a stud, but it’s all good. At least we know that when our kids go ape and hang on the thing, that they are safe from it all crashing down on them.

So, there’s that.

Gypsy Magpie

I screwed in the 3 hooks and let out a little squeal!
It was starting to come together.

Bench

Here’s the bench with the trim reattached and a shiny new coat of paint…oh, and Miss June’s fancy red boots just for fun.

Gypsy Magpie

They say that little girls are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice. I think Miss June is made of sunshine, giggles, and muddy red boots.
Ain’t nothing better to be made of, folks!

Gypsy Magpie

To corral the mass of papers, I found this cute little paper sorter at Home Goods. It fits the little adjacent wall perfectly and was only $20.00!

Gypsy Magpie

Baby Girl is feeling very proud these days. Her coat now has a place up on the “diamond” hooks with the family.

She is a big girl now!

Dang babies grow too fast.

But, I’m not bitter.

Gypsy Magpie

The crown molding makes me happy! I still don’t know what I want to stick on top, but I’m sure one day something will jump out at me.

Gypsy Magpie

Here it is all together.
I am absolutely loving the whole thing and wish I had done it this way from the beginning.
Maybe I should get stuck in the house and do a little more of this spontaneous update business more often! Or, for the sake of my husband… maybe not.
Oh, one more thing.

Gypsy Magpie

Just keeping it real y’all.



**What spontaneous rad-ness have you tackled lately?**

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In Honor of National Eating Disorder Week and Elle… This is My Story

On Monday, my darling cousin posted this to Facebook along with a link to the NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION:

“Hey everyone guess what?! It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!!! *Throws confetti* About 6 years ago I started my battle with anorexia nervosa, an extremely dangerous eating disorder. In those 6 years I've had ups and downs, countless attempts at recovery and countless falls back into relapsing. But like anything in life, the only way you're going to succeed is if you never give up trying. Last spring I quit ballet and moved back home to focus on recovery, after cluing into the fact that ballet was only feeding my disease. Recovery is a long process, one that I'm no where near finished with yet. Everyday is a struggle but everyday that struggle gets easier.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please don't hesitate to ask for help. There are so many resources out there to provide you with the tools necessary to start your journey to recovery.
Did you know?
-20 million women and 10 million men in the US alone suffer from severe eating disorders
-Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disease.
-Only 1 in 10 men and women diagnosed with an eating disorder receive treatment, and only 35% of those who do receive it at a facility specializing in eating disorders.
-20% of women diagnosed with anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to their eating disorder.
Everybody knows somebody with and eating disorder. Spread awareness. Spread concern. Spread your love for those suffering.”

Grandma had told me a while ago a little about her struggles and it cemented in me an even deeper love for this sweet girl. Why? Because in a way, I’ve been where she is. When I read her post, my heart swelled with pride. Elle was speaking out on something that is very common and yet rarely talked about. She was not only educating others, but empowering herself in the process. I thought about that post for the rest of the day, and on into the days following. I started to feel a twinge of guilt. If my cousin was brave enough to stand up and tell the world, I should be too.

So, in honor of you, Elle, I share my story.

 
As a 16 year old girl, I found myself losing control. Due to several unhealthy relationships and consequent choices that I had created and chosen in my life, I started to lose a piece of myself. As with most things, it wasn’t right away, it happened gradually. I won’t share details, there are two sides to every story. But, every coarse word, every snide remark, every lie, every put down, every little whisper of gossip spread, began to take it’s toll and my light started to fade. I knew who I was on the inside and yet it seemed as though very few could see that on the outside. I felt as though I was in constant battle, fighting for who I could be against the version of myself others thought I must be. I started taking risks because it gave me a high. I jumped snowmobiles, dove off high cliffs, stood on the very edge of the mountain top, whatever the boys were doing I was going to make it look small.


…I should have asked for help.

Some people turn to alcohol. Some turn to sex. Others to drugs. My drug of choice was a little different.

At 17, things hit an all time low. The people I surrounded myself with, though good people, were bad for ME. It wasn’t healthy, I know that now. As my friends started partying and making choices I was against (see, I really wasn’t that naughty girl from the rumors) the further we grew apart. The more I was pushed into situations I wasn’t comfortable in, the angrier and more moody I became. In my 17 year old head I was alone. I was in battle, all by myself, fighting a war that I didn’t even know if I could win. I dropped friends, became extremely sarcastic and cold, isolating myself as I spent hours somewhere with my guitar.


…I should have asked for help.

Enter Drug #1: Food. I love food. I love to cook it and even more, I love to eat it! I ate when I was lonely. I ate when I felt guilty, angry, sad, hurt, happy, excited, or scared…emotional eating at it’s finest. After eating I’d feel sick, but I mentally could not make myself throw up. I hate puking with a passion. I refused. Enter Drug #2: Exercise. I started running as a sophomore on the cheer squad. We had to do a certain amount of laps every day for training. Running felt good. I would run those laps plus some, then I’d hit the stadium stairs. On bad days, I ran for miles. The track coach noticed and asked me to come out for the team. Silly man thought that I ran for fun, he had no clue.
The worse I felt about myself the more the cycle continued and the more intense it became. The more I ate…or now, didn’t eat…the more I exercised. Sessions in the weight room became completely torturous as I pushed my muscles to the breaking point. If the lineman could leg press that, then I thought I should. If somebody did 10 reps, I did 20.

On the outside I was the pinnacle of teenage fitness, but on the inside I had never been more frail.

…I should have asked for help.

Gypsy Magpie

That’s when I hit bottom.


5’9” and 109 pounds. My eyelashes started falling out. My hair was dry and brittle. My menstrual cycles were completely out of whack and my body hurt all the time. I was passing out at football games. I was an emotional wreck. I flew off the handle at my family at the drop of a hat and I cried constantly. It was ugly and it literally ate at me.


It was all too much and I couldn’t do it any longer. I needed to change. I desperately wanted freedom…and peace.


…I should have asked for help.

I thought if I changed things up at school that it would make it all better. I tried out for the volleyball team. I didn’t make it. I tried out for the softball team. I didn’t make it. I tried out for the dance team. I didn’t make it. I loved music, it was a safe place for me, so I tried out for the choir.

Again, I did not make it.

I was broken hearted and humiliated.

 
Late one night I found myself on my knees for hours, begging my Father in Heaven for help.
Through my tears, I noticed a painting my mother had lovingly place on my windowsill. The painting depicted a young woman embraced in our Savior’s arms. A peace I can’t begin to describe enveloped my body and for the first time in a long time, I understood that I was not alone. My Savior had suffered all. He had felt the pain that I was holding. He had given everything… for me. 
He KNEW who and what I was and he loved me still.
  


As the days passed, my eyes and heart were opened to the people who loved me and were cheering me on. I realized that my dad had started taking more time off so that we could go camping and explore God’s creations, sing by the campfire, and be away from the world. How did he know?

My mother was staying up late to talk to me even though it was obvious that she was exhausted. She would check me out from school and take me to breakfast. She would take me for drives to see Christmas lights. My mother was constantly at the crossroads. How did she know?

My brother was speaking out about his disapproval of my boyfriend. He was standing up for me when someone spoke ill. Even though he was fighting a terrible health battle of his own, he repeatedly had my back. How did he know?

My sweet uncle in California was sending me random postcards from his trips and beautiful bouquets of flowers. Every time I saw him he would hold me tight, not letting me go until he had whispered in my ear the same words every single time… I was beautiful. It was an honor to be my uncle. He loved me… I tear up even now as I think of how inspired his words were. How did he know?

My friend’s dad, Big John, would sit high in the bleachers at the basketball games and motion for me to join him. There he would put his strong arm around me and ask me about my day. He would ask me who I was and what I wanted to become. He’d say, if those were my dreams to “get after it”. Then, his eyes would twinkle as only his eyes could, and he’d send me on my way. In his quiet and gentle way he was building up a broken soul. How did he know?

My grandpa took me on odd jobs and made me his right hand girl as our family built our cabin. He taught me how to use tools, how to cut down a tree, and how to heat seam together two pieces of carpet. He made me feel useful. How did he know?

Our family friends would write me notes, hug me in public, and tell the world loud and proud how much they cared. How did they know?

My cousin would write and call from Nevada. He was bending over backward to make me laugh and let me know he was there. How did he know?

There were people who saw me for me.

There they were reaching out to me!

…I should have asked for help.



It would take a lot of time and many more people along the way to get me where I needed to be. I needed to change my friends. I needed to put an end to unhealthy relationships and develop love for myself.

It was hard and unbelievably painful.

Little did I know that a cocky wide receiver on the football team had been watching me. He had the courage to come right out and say that I was short selling myself and I deserved more. He became my best friend. And when I think of my story, he is a bright spot in it. He changed my course and I will be forever grateful. I hope someday my son will understand the impact for good or bad that a boy can have on a girl. I hope he choses to see the good, just like Brian saw in me. Because of him, I was able to make new choices and new friends. He encouraged me. He expected more. But most of all, he helped me find the fun, which is just what I so desperately needed.

I turned 18, graduation came, summer, then college. I’m sad to say that I hurt a lot of people then. It was my big break and I needed to go it alone. I had to find out who I was all by myself. I moved to a little town and started school. I could be anyone I wanted to. There was no reputation, no judging, no gossip. It was a clean slate and it felt life-altering. The only problem was, finding myself proved harder than I had ever imagined and I wasn’t very good at being alone.

                                                                                                                  …I should have asked for help.

After growing up in a family of boys, I didn’t know how to live with girls. I had been made tough and I didn’t know how to be soft and tender. Even though I constantly pushed them away, those girls forgave me. I am so grateful for them.

I foolishly thought I had to have a man to be happy. I found them. They were good men, most with humongous hearts, but almost every one was even more broken than me. Each time another relationship ended, and I was alone, I found myself running the dirt roads of Sanpete. Sadly, it became a pattern again. The runs became longer and the weight started slipping off. And each time, God would send another person into my life to convey his message of love. Bishop Bolli, Jimmy Trythall, Marlene Black, my cousin Adam, Zeke Stevens and his crazy redneck gang.

Sweet Tara.

She was ever patient with me. She taught me what it meant to be tender and pure.

Gypsy Magpie

I’d like to say it ended there, that everything was better. But, it took a few more years, an unintended degree in Health Education, a giant of a husband, and an incredibly chubby blue eyed baby boy before I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. And, even then, I had to make many mental decisions to help me through. I gave up running, it was too big a temptation for me. I studied nutrition and alternative health. I read every self help, empowering, “you can do it” book out there. Slowly I learned how to channel my emotions. I started writing. I started building and creating. I developed a love for healthy exercise like yoga. I filled my life with supportive, loving, amazing people. I wiped sticky hands and kissed drooly faces. I learned to serve. I studied the scriptures and invited our Father in Heaven into our home and most importantly, into my heart…and I asked for help.

When I look back, I wish I had realized the toll that my struggle would have on my future self. I have a hard time controlling my blood sugar, my hormones have taken years and years to regulate, I get dizzy, my eyesight is horrific, I don’t have the best body image (but I’m working on it!), I have a poor immune system, I get headaches, and my joints hurt like I am an old lady! But, the most difficult to deal with is the realization that I cannot have anymore children, because my health goes down with every child that grows in my womb.

You don’t think of those things when you are 16 and in pain.

Gypsy Magpie

You know what?

I am running again, but now, I’m free.

Exercise makes me feel good, in a beautiful, healthy way. Food isn’t my friend or my enemy. I don’t need to log 15 miles. It is not a race and I’m not seeking adrenaline. My body is not constantly on my mind. I have found many glorious mental and emotional releases that help me instead of hurt. My body is strong and capable and I am no longer broken. I don’t fear the monster inside me because I gave that monster to the Lord.

After all these years, I won the war.

I am victorious and it is peaceful.

Gypsy Magpie         
If you are facing this demon, please know that it gets better.

Ask for help.

You need not do it alone. Let them in, my friend.

You are a child of a loving God and you are powerful beyond all measure. Armed with knowledge, the right tools, and a supportive, loving army beside you, you can win this war.

Life is an amazing gift and there is so much to see and experience just waiting for you.

Be brave, have faith, and… “Get after it.”