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Welcome to episode fourteen of the Real Life, Real Passion podcast. Today our guest is one of Evolve’s contributors Miss Lori Jackson! I hope you enjoy getting to know her better.
Lori is also a blogger. She is the creator of Choosing Wisdom. I am thrilled to have Lori as one of our contributors, she is a fabulous writer, and shares messages that are helpful, inspiring, and full of wisdom. See all of Lori’s articles on Evolve here.
Our interview for today’s podcast is full of great insights. We talk about how life doesn’t always go as planned, and why it’s important to embrace the detours. We also talk about great books! My two favorite pieces of advice Lori shares is to “Choose to be Happy” and to “Find the Joy.”
Click the link above to listen to the podcast.
Lori is a Colorado native. Her family moved to Colorado when she was five years old she stayed there until she left for college. Lori attended Ricks College in Idaho, where she dabbled with a lot of different majors.
Lori’s roommate wanted to go to Israel to study abroad. Lori grabbed onto her dream and planned to go herself. Interestingly enough, Lori went, and her friend did not.
Right before she left, Lori met her husband. They knew they wanted to be married, but she had saved up money to go on her study abroad trip. He decided that he would regret it for the rest of his life if she didn’t go. So, she went and spent five months in Israel. Two months after she returned, they were married.
Both Lori and her husband finished their Associates Degrees at Ricks College. Her husband then transferred to Weber State in Ogden, UT where he completed his bachelor’s degree. While the couple was in Ogden, they had their first child, a son.
After school, the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for three years and then came back to Colorado. They have now been there for 22 years. All three of Lori’s daughters have been born in Colorado. Lori loves it.
Colorado is a very outdoorsy kind of state, and the family loves to be outside. They go to the mountains, they bike ride, climb, hike, and enjoy pretty much anything they can do outdoors.
Lori is also an avid reader, it is one of her passions. She loves reading above just about anything else. Her perfect day is to be curled up with the book.
Lori completed her Associates in General Studies, because she kept switching her major around. She switched from journalism to communications, to family studies and then to English. She liked so many different things that she had a hard time narrowing it down to one particular major. It was hard for her to pick just one thing.
After finishing her degree, she decided to work and put her husband through school. He actually wanted her to continue going to school with him so they could finish their Bachelor’s degree together, but she couldn’t narrow down what she wanted to work towards.
Back to School
Lori did eventually go back to school in 2009. She was at a point in life where her oldest was getting ready to graduate high school and she didn’t have her Bachelor’s degree yet. She wanted to remedy this.
So, she started looking into different programs at different schools and came across the pilot program that BYU Idaho was getting ready to start for their online studies. She had 72 credit hours at that point. They looked at all of her previous coursework, and through all of her credits and helped determine that the quickest way and most direct path for her to graduate would be a General Studies major with an English minor and an emphasis in family studies and communications. She ended up getting the best of all worlds. She was able to fit everything that she loved so much all in one package. She finished up her coursework in two years.
In 2011, Lori went to Idaho where she actually walked. Her whole family was there to cheer her on. They were so proud of what she had finally accomplished.
Looking back, she felt this was the way she was supposed to finish her education. There were people she never would have met had she gotten her degree earlier. One of the things she loved most about finishing her degree online is all that she learned about what resources are available digitally for publishing. They gave her the confidence to go on.
Back to work
Lori went back to work about four years ago, well, back to work outside of the home. Her kids were starting to leave home, and she was wondering what she was going to do with herself. She had some connections and was able to get a job working in the insurance industry as an executive assistant.
Everything just fell into place for her to take on that kind of role. Before, she would not have had the confidence nor the technical savvy to be able to apply for this type of job. It’s interesting how life works out sometimes.
You may think life is supposed to go in one direction but then it tells you something else. You just have to go with it and let it take you along for the ride.
Embrace the detours.
Lori doesn’t particularly like the idea of a bucket list, but she does have one. There’s only about twelve things on it, and she’s pretty sure most of them have already been done.
She doesn’t really like bucket lists because the items on the list can feel either too unobtainable, or too limiting.
There is one thing on her bucket list she would really like to do—to write a book. She always thought it would be a fiction book, but at this point she thinks it’s probably going to be more of a memoir. She feels that a memoir is a good starting point because it would be a life history she could leave for her family and it would be something that they could appreciate, especially after she’s gone.
In Lori’s family room, she has a picture with all of her kids. Above the picture in vinyl lettering is a scripture from John.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” – 3 John 1:4
Of all the things she’s done in her life, her children have brought her the greatest joy. They have been her greatest heartache, but also joy. And when they make choices that are in line with what God wants them to do, that truly brings her the greatest joy.
Lori always has a narrative going on in her head. Her life is kind of like a play, and her mind is always thinking about what role she would be playing. Of course you want to be the starring role in your own play, but Lori feels that her role or calling in life, is to be a supporter.
She is the most comfortable as a supporter and it is where she thrives. Lori is a great organizer, and she is a great encourager for her kids and her husband. Even when she went to work for those few years, she was in a supporting role. She was the person behind the scenes helping the one getting it all done. She made sure they were where they needed to be when they needed to be there and that everything they needed was ready.
This role is something Lori feels like she excels at, and it brings purpose to her life. She feels like she can help others accomplish great things. She is laser focused and is able to look at what needs to be done right here right now. She gets everything organized, and makes it happen. That’s her purpose and calling, she is a doer.
Gifts and Talents
Lori feels like she is still discovering her gifts and talents. She feels like it’s a continual process. There are so many things that she loves to do and is passionate about. One thing that has helped her uncover her gifts and talents is to keep trying new things and to seek out those things that work out well and that feel right.
Lori is curious and always looking for new things. And although she doesn’t like to step too far outside of her comfort zone, she does like to try new things even though it may feel a little uncomfortable. She likes to learn, to grow, and to be challenged.
“I think when you push yourself to do those kinds of things, you discover things about yourself you didn’t know before and in the process, you discover what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and learn how to be okay with it. You’re able to move and look to see what else you might be blessed with.”
While Lori was working, she liked her job, but she just didn’t feel like it was where she needed to be. She kept telling her husband she needed to quit, she really felt strongly that she needed to quit. He didn’t want her to spiral into depression, because she is the kind of person always needing to have something to working toward. He wasn’t against it, but he wanted her to come up with a plan before she quit.
Lori was working with the youth at church and while she was searching for some things on the internet, she came across a digital publication that was looking for contributors. They wanted a weekly column and had a list of topic ideas, one of them was wisdom. The site had a process for what you needed to do to apply for the position: they wanted a pitch, the name for the column, what ideas you had, and 15 topics for your first 15 articles.
Lori feels like the whole situation was a spiritual experience. She had been prompted to quit her job, and had been praying to understand and know what direction Heavenly Father wanted her to go in. When she came across this website looking for contributors, it was a powerful confirmation that this was the direction she needed to go in.
She told her husband, and he was supportive. He told her to, “go for it.” So, she got to work, wrote up her proposal and the first two or three articles. She did everything on the list that was required to apply for the contributor position and sent it in. Then heard nothing.
Later, she was talking with a friend about how frustrated she was, because she truly felt like the Lord had guided her to this and it was what she was supposed to do, but it wasn’t working out. Her friend suggested she should use her writing to create a portfolio. She encouraged Lori to keep writing and to keep applying to other places and not be dead set on this one idea.
Lori followed her friend’s advice and created her blog Choosing Wisdom as a portfolio. This way she would have writing examples to show when she applied for other positions she came across. This was August of last year and it’s evolved from there.
She now has a thriving blog with a wonderful community. Lori is a regular contributor here on Evolve, and has written for other blogs as well. The Lord guided her to start writing, and Choosing Wisdom has evolved into what it is today.
Lori never would have just started a blog thinking that this is what she was going to do. When she was in college, she wanted to write but was limited in her options. Now, it brings joy being able to pursue something that still allows her to be home with her children (which was her number one priority) and write full time. That option just didn’t exist then.
Life happens, and even when things don’t work out the way you think they they should, you just need to have faith that the Lord knows what he’s doing and that he is directing you to what’s best for you.
Lori started writing as soon as she can hold a pencil. She has memories of writing stories at a very young age. As soon as she knew how to spell words she was forming sentences and writing stories.
She remembers that her third grade teacher had the class write a story every week. He would put the top five stories up on the wall, and every week he put her work up. She felt pretty proud of herself, and loved that she had a regular position in the favorites. One week her story wasn’t up, she was upset and wondered why he didn’t like her story this time. He pulled her aside and said, “I have to let the other kids have a chance too. Lori, you can’t be up on the wall all the time.”
Many teachers told her that she expressed herself well in words. Knowing that coupled with people telling her she did things well encouraged her to try harder. It gave her the confidence to pursue writing.
Lori really enjoys writing, and it is something she feels passionate about doing. “That’s what it takes to be able to pursue anything, you gotta feel passionate about it.”
Having started a blog not really thinking it was going to be a blog, Lori feels she went about it the wrong way. She didn’t start out self-hosted, she used a freebie. And looking back, she wishes she would’ve planned more. She wishes she would’ve had the forethought to see into the future and realize that there was a better way to go about things. That being said, everything has worked out fine and she’s learned a lot. She just wishes she would have spent more time in planning and preparing.
When Lori tells people that she’s a blogger, she often gets responses like, “that’s not a real job,” or “that’s a hobby.” People don’t realize she works eight hours a day every day, and that it is a full-time job. For some reason, it’s hard for people to understand. Maybe it’s because they don’t see what happens behind-the-scenes and they don’t realize it’s a lot of work. Blogging is a lot of planning and preparing, and a lot of not giving up.
“You just gotta keep on trying.” If something doesn’t work one week, then she knows next week to try something else. A blog, like life is a lot of trial and error.
You can’t run before you walk. It takes practice and patience and perseverance. You progress as you go along. There are always new things to learn along the way.
Philosophy of Self-Expression
For Lori, being able to express what’s going on in her head through writing brings clarity. It helps her understand what’s going on in her life, and helps give her perspective. It also gives her the motivation to just keep trying.
Lori is an introvert at heart, she feels deeply but she keeps a lot of those feelings inside. She’s not one to talk to anybody about just anything, so writing is her outlet. An artist has an outlet on canvas, Lori, a writer has an outlet with her words.
It’s so important to find whatever medium helps you to be able to let the feelings come out. And it is just a matter of trying new things until you find it. You don’t know until you try, just keep trying.
Try New Things
As Lori’s mom would introduce her to new foods, she would always say, “you always have to taste everything on your plate whether you like it or not.” In learning to express ourselves, it’s very much the same thing. We just have to try things, the more we try expressing ourselves the easier it becomes. And as we try different things we will find those types of mediums that work as the best outlets.
The more we try the easier it becomes to step outside of our comfort zones. But it really can depend on what it is. Lori gives the example of being afraid of heights. She doesn’t think she will ever go bungee jumping no matter how much fun somebody says that it is. It’s okay to know our own personal limitations, but don’t let fear stop you from doing everything.
Lori’s husband is the person that she admires the most. He is patient and dedicated. He is always looking for ways to learn from her, even though she is not always looking for ways to learn from him.
He is a great example to her of a good Christlike man. He wants to do the right thing in any situation and she really admires him for that.
Lori remembers going to girls camp when she was about 12 or 13 years old. During the day they had a variety of different activities, and in the evenings they had motivational speakers come in. One particular speaker stood out in Lori’s mind. The theme of the talk was on positive thinking. She still remembers a specific quote from that speaker:
“If I am to be happy, it’s up to me. I cannot let moods or circumstances rule me.”
The speaker had that saying printed out on a card for all the girls came home with. Lori put hers up on her mirror at home. As a teenager, this concept was really impactful. The notion of happiness as a choice was life-changing.
She learned that, “I am not at the will of what gets thrown at me to be happy. I can make choices in my life that will make me happy… We can choose to be happy no matter what the situation might be.”
Choose to Be Happy
That concept, that you can choose to be happy, is something that has always stuck with her. When she has times when she is feeling down or feeling overwhelmed, those words come back to her even though she doesn’t have them up on her mirror anymore. When she is having a bad day, she still thinks “I can be happy, but it’s up to me. I have a choice to make here and I choose to be happy.”
It’s not always easy, but to know you do have a choice is important. “Sometimes I choose to be grumpy, but it doesn’t always make me happy.” But it is empowering to know the power is there, and ultimately, we have the choice of what we will focus on and what our actions will be.
Success is the Feeling of Joy
“I don’t think anybody wakes up one morning and says I’m successful.” Like Lori, I agree that success is a process, and often you have to look at the little moments.
Lori measures success by whether she feels joy. “I feel that success is very closely tied to joy and whether this moment brings me joy. If I feel joy, I think it’s a success. If the moment doesn’t, then I move on and try not to dwell on it.”
There are opportunities for moments of joy every day, thousands of them throughout your life. We can choose whether or not to be motivated to pursue our passions or to get lost in the despair that can be there in life’s moments too.
Sometimes Lori has a hard time seeing the big picture. We talked earlier about how one of her talents is to be laser focused. However, because she gets laser focused, everything else around her can fade away. Sometimes she is not aware of things because she is so task oriented and has a hard time seeing the big picture and how everything fits together and works together.
Seeing the big picture is important because it helps you be more present. Lori shares an example of being so focused on her writing when her daughter comes home that she may miss when her daughter had a bad day. It’s important for her to be there in those moments. It can be a hard thing to make yourself step back so you don’t miss everything going on around you, but it is worth it.
There are things pulling us in a million different directions. We need to be mindful to remember what is really important and to keep our “to dos” in perspective. Certain tasks might feel overwhelming because of deadlines or whatever else, it’s important to keep what’s most important to you the priority and in the forefront of your mind.
Advice for others
Recently Lori read a book called Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. SHapiro talks about writing and about finding whatever you’re passionate about, but the book really focuses on the value of practice. Whatever your passion is, you have to keep practicing, every day.
Every day you have to get up and make yourself do it. It kind of sounds awful to make yourself do what you feel passionate about, but “it’s our human nature to find things or to allow distractions to come in and keep us from working hard and making it happen.”
Don’t get discouraged when everything seems to be going wrong because tomorrow everything will go right. Don’t give up on yourself. Believe in yourself. Practice. Keep practicing.
“What gets scheduled gets done.” – Michael Hyatt
Practicing isn’t always fun, but you need to schedule it. Block out the time and do it no matter what. Just because it’s not fun today, doesn’t mean it won’t be fun tomorrow. With practice, over time we get better and better. As you see your improvement, it brings more joy.
It’s a great cycle. Even though practicing has its highs and its low’s, when you are consistent with your schedule, and consistent with your practice and you keep trying and don’t give up, you will see results. Sometimes it’s really easy to feel like you just need to give up, but you need to put a little book mark on all of those wins that you have and remember those when you are going through the hard times.
Celebrate your wins. Enjoy the accomplishment and reward your hard work.
“In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
This quote by Gordon B. Hinckley was given in a conference talk, Stand True and Faithful in April 1996. Lori loved it when he said it, and it has stuck with her all of these years. It’s the truth. It’s all about finding the joy.
This quote is a great reminder for Lori to look at the big picture. “I get into the enduring and checking the things off my list, and my husband is really great at reminding me to enjoy life. To not be just so task driven, but to stop to take a moment and to do something fun.”
We deserve a reward for hard work, and life is a whole lot more fun when we find the joy along the way.
Tools and Resources for Life and Happiness
Lori suggests her blog Choosing Wisdom, as a great resource for happiness. “That is where I am finding joy.” It’s rewarding it’s fulfilling. When Lori comes across people that are struggling with some aspect of their life, she loves to be able to say that there is a blog post addressing that problem or that gives some great insights.
The community that has evolved on choosing wisdom is a blessing. Lori is very grateful for it. The comments and discussions that happen are supportive and insightful. About a month ago she wrote about her son who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, when the blog post went up she was overwhelmed with the support she felt from her community. Here she was writing, thinking she was there to support other people, but it goes both ways.
The support she felt from her community of readers came back full circle. They showed their concern for her son and for his situation. It’s important to have a good support group like that. Whether you find it online, within your family, or the people around you. Community is a valuable tool and resource that we don’t always use to its full capacity. We take them for granted.
Don’t Walk Alone
Sometimes the pride within us makes us feel like we have to do everything alone, but there are many benefits of letting other people help. The giver benefits, the receiver benefits, and the receiver has an opportunity to repay the kindness shown by the giver in the future. It’s a win-win for everyone. “We’re not supposed to do everything on our own, were supposed to depend on our family and on our support system.”
Be True to Your Values
The other thing is just to be true to your values and what you hold to be the most important. Life is hard, and there’s great wisdom in the Scriptures. The Lord helps us so much if we will just open our heart and minds to the messages contained in the Scriptures. This relates back to your values, because if what you value and hold as most important are kept in the forefront of your mind, they can be used to find happiness.
Lori recommends different books depending on who it is and what books they’re looking for, and she is known for her great taste. Every time she gets together with a group of her friends they ask what’s the latest “Lori Read.”
Lori is drawn to historical fiction and the Regency era. “There’s just something so happy about the mindlessness of reading something like a true innocent love story.”
She also loves the historical part of the historical fictions. She never enjoyed reading history textbooks because they’re so dry, but she loves it when authors are able to take bits of history and weave it into the story so that you can learn something as you are being entertained.
One of Lori’s favorite authors is Jane Austen, Lori used Austen’s works a lot when she was in college, and wrote many papers about her different works.
As far as contemporary works, Lori likes Lynn Austin., who has written several books. Her Candle in the Darkness series has three books that take place during the Civil War. All of which are really great reads.
Pam Jenoff has some fabulous World War II books, a popular one is The Kommandant’s Girl. Lori recently discovered Julianne Donaldson. She is light read and fun to share with her girls. Lori and her girls read them together and get happy, “it’s like watching pride and prejudice all over again.”
Lori also likes to read self-help books. Her favorite is Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s a great look at introverts and the way the introverts think as well as the great things they have to offer society. We tend to have a mindset that everybody should be an extrovert and if you’re introverted you need to change and become like an extrovert, instead of embracing the value an introvert has to offer. Lori says this is a great book if you haven’t read it.
Favorite parenting book is by Marrilee Browne Boyack called The Parenting Breakthrough. It’s all about teaching your kids to be independent. Our home is a training place to be able to raise children that are responsible and wise adults. “I absolutely love her whole philosophy. I heard her speak long before she ever wrote a book and was inspired by her ideas, so when she wrote that book, The Parenting Breakthrough, I was excited to pick it up. It’s a great book.”
Lori loves books, so if you are looking for more suggestions, connect with her and she’d be happy to share.
Reading is a Great Family Activity
Lori and her girls love reading together. They have their own little book club, and it’s one of those things that they bond over. They all read the same book and they come back and talk about it. It’s a fun thing they enjoy doing together.
It’s important to have something you do together as family. And some great memories are made reading as a family. Lori used to read chapter books to the kids at night before they went to bed and remembers how fun it was. They would read classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Reading those books every night was the highlight of the day for her kids. There is something fun about being able to lay in bed with mom and read.
Some of Lori’s happiest memories is when her kids were all piled in bed reading a story together. “We all get to go on this adventure together.”
I love having Lori as one of Evolve’s regular contributors. Lori says, “I think we are knit from the same cloth. We are both looking for that way to provide encouragement, motivation, and support to our readers, to our community.”
Jennifer Wise invited Lori to come and check out the website, and the timing of everything was perfect. Lori was still looking for a place to contribute her writing, our niche’s seemed to line up with one another and “I just feel like you offer something motivating and powerful to your readers, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I admire you and what you’ve been able to accomplish. And I love the podcast… blogs you have to sit down and read, but with the podcast, you can take it with you and be listening to it in the car while you’re running errands. You can be cleaning the kitchen or whatever while you are listening. I love the flexibility that the podcast offers.”
I appreciate Lori’s kind words, but I don’t do it alone, it is the community and the contributors that make it wonderful. It’s what we offer together that makes Evolve far more valuable than what I could ever do alone.
Lori’s first single bike race is what she is most excited for in a not so excited kind of way.
Lori and her husband have been tandem biking for about three years. He’s been riding for a long time and they were looking for a hobby that they could do together. Lori’s physical stamina was nowhere near his, so tandem biking was perfect. She could sit on the back of the bike, he could make up where she lacked, and she got to ride along.
Her husband has been riding for about ten years and he purchased a new road bike last fall. His old bike was still in great shape so she took it in and had it fit for her. She’s been working on riding single, which is really hard. In fact, the morning of our interview she rode 20 miles!
She has signed up for the Tour de Ladies. The ride is in the middle of July, and it benefits a woman crisis center in town. It’s a great cause because it helps women that are in bad situations and gives them a place to go, get back on their feet, and create a new life. In addition to riding for a good cause, it’s also helping Lori reach outside her comfort zone and is pushing her to do hard things.
She’s done several organized rides on the tandem, but this will be her first race as a single rider. It’s a totally different experience to be dependent on your own strength and your own stamina and not being able to slack off when you get tired.
She’s excited about the race, or at least she keeps telling herself that she’s excited about it. It’s another one of those things on her bucket list to be able to finish an organized ride as a single. “I just want to finish, that’s all.”
Lori finished the race in just over two hours!
- Choosing Wisdom. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.choosingwisdom.org
- Hinckley, Gordon B. (1996). LDS.org. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/04/stand-true-and-faithful?lang=eng
- LDS.org. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/3-jn/1?lang=eng
- Tour de Ladies. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.tourdeladies.com/
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