The Journey to Gils Loft

What feels like many years ago I sat in a classroom, pencil in hand poised to write the next algebra calculation from the board, noting the words spoken that flowed from the teacher’s mouth. Math was something I enjoyed, because you could usually only have one right answer, not usually room for ambiguity in interpreting the meanings or calculation of the answers. I liked school, the challenge of it, the stress of it, not to mention the fact that I had to be there.

It was not until my tenth grade year, my sophomore year of high school that I learned of an opportunity to further my education. This opportunity was known as Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, or going to a college the last two years of my high school to obtain the rest of my high school credits and at the same time earning college credits. I was skeptic about making it through the program, wondering if I would be “smart” enough to pass the class, earn a grade that I am proud of and most importantly would I have time to actually learn something?


Some days later I again sat in the math class, a few of my fellow classmates and I were talking about PSEO and that we were interested in the program and were giving it some serious consideration. The teacher became engaged in the conversation and was bold about his remarks. He told us that more than likely we would fail, and that we would not come back in time to get enough credits to graduate from high school. This group of students, including me were at the top of our class, we held over 4.0, enrolled in advanced Math and English classes, and we all worked really hard to get our grades. At the time I would say that the comments from this teacher made me furious, smashing our dream before we even had the chance to try it. Looking back now, I would say that this particular teacher and school is extremely disappointing, because they do not believe in the bigger picture, the happenings that take place after the life of K-12 is complete.

Needless to say I enrolled and was accepted into the program. College was hard, harder than high school. The expectations were higher and so were the standards. But there were so many opportunities to challenge my brain and it was a wonderful experience to be able to realize that there was world outside of my small town community. I was treated like an adult and expected to perform like an adult. Over the course of two years I hardly missed a single class, attending each, sitting down to take notes and most importantly trying to soak up as much information from the professor as I could.

I met many people from countries all over the world and worked with them on group projects, learning of new cultures and different ways to process and interpret information. I took the ROTC course or Reserve Officer Training Course which trains officers in the Army. We had physical training each Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6:00AM at the college, which required waking up at 4:00AM to make a 45 minute drive north to St Cloud, which many days in the cold Minnesota winter was a pain. One of the training exercises of this course was to jump blinded folded off the high dive (25 feet in the air), with an M4 a and to come up out of the water still holding it or we were required to do it again. This was terrifying for me, as swimming is definitely not my strong suit or even a semi-strong suit. I took Philosophy, something that I just had barely dipped into in high school. There were so many options and opportunities to learn more and to meet new people.

Despite being able to earn college credits, which proved to be an extremely awesome benefit, the experience as a whole changed so many previous visions that I had. I had to cut down on my hours at work to study longer, resulting in me managing money better so that I could still pay for my car insurance and put money in my tank to make it to school each day. I attended culture nights, eating food I had never heard of and watching fashion shoes from clothes worn across the world. I had to pay for parking!! I had a teacher that wore a rubber chicken around her neck each class session we met, for two whole hours. All of these little instances made the experience, and each one of them changed me.

I graduated with my Associates of Arts degree Magna Cum Laude, at age 18, about one month later I graduated from high school. Looking back on all the hours spent and all the change, the struggles I would say that if I did it all over again I would make the same decision. It was not until two years later when I stood on the stage at St Cloud State University holding that piece of paper in my hand that those words really hit me, YOU WILL FAIL. He was right in some instances, there were assignments I turned in with poor grades, I barely passed physics with a C, some days I nearly slept through lectures and other times I did not put in the time or effort. But if I would of stayed in High school, and got better grades because it was easier and put in all the time and effort on assignments because it was a fraction of what I did in college, I WOULD OF FAILED MYSELF. And each time I roll it around in my head, throwing the pros and cons at each other, I decided it was better to try and then to fail, then to fail myself. Only then did I realize that these comments of defeat had served as a motivator to look into my heart and see truly what I wanted out of life and to go after that.

I married my husband the summer after graduation and we moved the Thief River Falls for him to attend the Aviation Maintenance Technology program. Now, at this time my husband did not share my passion or vision for attending college, in fact he down right dreaded it because he barely made it through high school. I tried to reassure him that going to school and attending classes that you are actually interested in, is different than sitting in 5th period English watching the grass blowing outside the window as the teacher talks about a classic novel that is uninteresting to a teenage boy.


And he did love it, he loved working in the shop, taking apart the engines, putting them back together, and in the end becoming nearly a walking encyclopedia on airplanes (most of the time I am lost after the second word). But it was still a challenge for him, the biggest one was actually going and wrapping his head around it. I really admired him because to me at this point the concept was easy, start the class read the syllabus and learn what is due each week, be it reading, discussion quiz and you do the amount of work in order to get the grade you want. But the idea of college can be really intimidating for many, after being comfortable with it because of being in for two years, I forgot about that feeling.


In the Fall of 2015 I went back to school, for I knew that I wanted to finish my four year degree and I missed the stress and challenge of it. We welcomed a baby into the world in November of that fall and life became even more challenging. Sometimes looking back I do not know how we did. My husband did school full time as I also did and I was also working full time, after my three month maternity leave. It made me truly grow a new respect for single parents, as well as individuals who go to school with families. It truly was a struggle, but I am so glad that my husband and I struggled through it together.


I am currently in my senior year of the Business Administration Bachelors program, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I am constantly asked what I am going to do with my degree once I graduate and I have to tell people that I do not know, because I honestly don’t. For those of you who know me, this often is accompanied by surprise as I like to live my life six weeks in advance and I usually always have a plan.

This was the answer up until recently. My husband and I moved to Plato Minnesota, where he got a job working for the airlines. We moved into a huge house (compared to the one bedroom apartment we used to live in) that houses a commercial space on the bottom floor and a living space above. Many ideas, prayers and hours later we decided to open a store. We are opening Gils Loft, an occasional store selling handmade home décor, art, clothing and refurbished furniture. The process has harbored many challenges, doubts and reasons to quit along the way. But all in all I truly believe that from those words of defeat many years ago sitting in that classroom and through the whirlwind of an adventure I have been lead here to this place at this time.


Listen to those words of defeat, motivate yourself and follow your dreams.

Take Time

It still amazes me when certain aspects of our lives are suddenly revealed to us through events, people and small moments. It was not until I met my husband that I realized and began to value the meaning of time.


I have always been a goal setter and worked hard to achieve things in life. Not really focusing on the accomplishment of a goal or moments of life in between nor the journey. I have learned that is has to be one of my greatest mistakes I have made over the course of my lifetime. What really is the journey if it is not enjoyed, cherished and marveled over? When did I let go of the thought that all these small things, big things and somewhere in between things are miraculous in themselves.

Sometimes in order to appreciate the journey, we as people should embark on a goal, a big out of reach goal just to appreciate the journey, because even if we know that we will not make it there, at least we made the journey and had the experience.

When my husband came along he really tried to teach me the importance of letting go of work and school and the rat race to take a minute to breathe and focus on the blessings. Sadly, this did not receive a proper time in my day until the arrival of my son. What an unbelievably humbling experience he has been for me. For all these moments would have been lost without my acknowledgement.dsc_0822dsc_0756dsc_0743

In those first few weeks that he was here nothing seemed as important as rocking him to sleep nor the curling of his fingers around mine. As he grows older and less dependent on me, I remind myself that it is still important to take the time to read to him, build him blocks, go outside and pick apples and push him in his car, do silly things to make him giggle,cuddle him when he is sad, ask him for a hug, teach him new words, crawl and chase him on the floor and watch him with his dad.

These moments mean so much to him, but they mean so much more to me. They seem to renew the world, give it a better outlook and humble my heart into happiness and bring tears to my eyes. So simple it is.dsc_0903dsc_0727dsc_0720

Take Time. Today. Right now. Right here. Take time.

Building Block Towers

The past week has flow by in a chaotic and busyness of moving from my parents house into our rental house. School has been so busy already; this is only the second week, mind you. I am so utterly glad and thankful that my dear family was able to help us move. I have been trying to get homework done ahead of time, meaning a lot of reading books and writing discussion posts and taking quizzes.

This rental we moved into was built in the 70s, we have the sweetest landlords. The house is HUGE, I mean probably not that large, but when you live in a one bedroom apartment for two years with a husband and later a baby it feels MASSIVE. That being said, there is a lot of space, space that things do not need to clutter (mental note to self). Today baby G and I were in his room, sorting through some more bags and putting his too small clothes (which makes me sad) into a box and setting blankets, winter clothes and diapers in his closet.  He wasn’t having a lot of fun with the unpacking, mainly just crawling up my knees begging to do something else. So we sat down and dug into the cardboard moving box that held a lot of wooden blocks.

When I was a little girl we had this set of wooden colored blocks. The set was kept in this denim drawstring bag that was labeled BLOCKS in varying colors. Those blocks had so many purposes, food for when we played with the kitchen set, furniture when we played Polly Pockets and blocks for when we had contest to see who could balance one on top the other, to build the tallest tower. As far as I know my mother still has the set, in the same denim bag. The set that my son received came from my husband’s grandma, who recently passed away. Not only is it wooden (YAY for a kids toy that isn’t plastic), but we get to tell our little buddy its from his Great-Grandma.


When my son and I play blocks, I mostly spend the time building the blocks one on top the other and he comes around like a weed whipper and smacks it down with his hand or the block in his hand. Sometimes I will try to get his attention with one arm, while building a tower with the other arms in hopes of staying ahead. Let me tell you this does not last long.

Like so many instances of my day, my mind began to wonder while we were playing. I began to think of how we build our own block towers in life. We start a foundation, which begins the moment we are born and we continue to build. We are always building up, but not all of those blocks are steady and good for our tower. Sometimes it is hard to look at someone else’s tower because we are all unique, and no one builds their blocks the same way.

In order for the block tower to grow, two things have to happen. First, you must start with a strong foundation and second you must contribute to the pile. Your foundation in life begins with who you are. How do you treat and think of yourself?  What characteristics do you possess that make you, you?  What values are important to you? What do you cherish? What are you thankful for? What kind of an attitude on life do you have?


The foundation is affected by family, faith, friends, health and education. Some aspects of these have a negative or positive affect on you, or perhaps both at different circumstances. The choices in life we make determine whether we add another block or take one off. And the result of the block tower is a reflection of these choices.


The most amazing realization is that we get to build our own block tower. We can let someone into our hearts and help us build our block tower, but we can also let someone define who we are and knock our tower down. We can make poor decision, which can add a small block to the tower and weaker our frame, but we can also make a choice to build our foundation stronger, making the block tower tougher. We can add on as many blocks as we want, or we can stabilize and debate decisions.



What does your block tower look like?


Do you like the way it looks? If not, what are you going to do about it?



Portage Pass: A must see


When I was a young girl my summers where spent with dirt stained feet, walking through the cornfields with my first summer job and running out through the grass during a family game of kickball. The Minnesota landscape is flat for as far as the eye can see in my hometown. Upon my recent trip to Alaska I was in awe with the height of the mountain peaks that were interrupted by the flimsy, seemingly transparent clouds.


I stayed in the town of Wasilla during my time in Alaska. The mornings came early with my baby boy not used to the four hour difference from Central Minnesota to the far off land of Alaska. We awoke to a quiet house, playing hide and go seek in the covers until the girls awoke and left for work. We then went upstairs, to brew coffee and for him to start the day pulling oats, sugar and anything else he could find out of the cupboards.

On this Thursday the girls offered to take us down to Whittier, a town that is located two hours south of Anchorage, a drive that took you along the river and through a two and a half mile tunnel. We wanted to hike Portage Pass, a trail that started at sea level and approached 800 feet.


Arriving at the trail head I filled my backpack with a diaper, wipes, water bottle and snacks. Baby G fought his way to stay on the ground, while I tried to buckle him into the backpack. The trail was 800 feet, seemed simple right? The three women I was hiking with were all experience hikers, something that reminded I was not, but also proved to be inspiring.

100 feet: Holy, we made it to 100 feet already that seemed short and easy. I loved the moody, foggy clouds that blanketed the hills and mountains ahead.



200 feet: The Girls suggest that we should make a lot of noise to scare bears. Good luck with the Moose they will come find you anyways. After that tidbit of information I gabbed back and forth with Baby G, making sure to make plenty of noise.


300 feet: Feeling the burn throughout my hips, calf muscles, arms and heart. Cousin Kristi is relaying the story of her Belize trip, I am doing my best to keep up and using all my energy to respond to her.


400 feet: Is it to late to turn around?!


500 feet: One. Step. At. A. Time.


600 feet: Stopping for a breather and fresh water.



700 feet: Almost there, turning around to see stunning views and I am in fear of falling of this cliff because my mouth is hanging wide open, in awe.


800 feet: WE MADE IT. The first words out of my mouth “Wow, this was SO worth it.”




When we reached a flat head I set my pack down and took out Baby G. He immediately climbed over to the rock pile to pick up a rock in each of his hands, shoving it into his mouth to grind his teeth. I had my camera out, turning 365 degrees, snapping photos, thinking in my head that pictures will not do this place justice.







After half and hour the fog lifted and William Sound Bay was open for all eyes to see. It robbed my breath and made my heart thudder with an ever increasing beat that went faster and faster. It was alluring, frightening, fascinating, graceful and wild all at the same time.



The straight, uphill battle of a hike cleared my head and breathed mountain air into my soul and left me with a peaceful, calming feeling. The view gave me a sense of energy, yet begged me to stay for the afternoon and maybe into late evening.



As I began the walk down all I could of think of is that I could not of spent my day and better or more memorable.

Adventuring to the Coast

A while ago your grandma grew up in a town in southern Washington. Longview rests one hour shy of the west coast, nestled on the Columbia River. They lived on Songbird Lane, where the kids took turns milking the cow and climbing the pear, plum and apple trees to pick fruit. Your great grandma was always bustling around the kitchen, canning the fruit and vegetables to fill the cellar.


Years later grandma married a Minnesotan, moved here and has lived ihere ever since. Since I have been a young girl I have frequently gone on trips to the west. Upon the first few trips, I do not remember the smell of the river mills nor the waviness of the Lewis and Clarke Bridge on a windy day. It was sometime later when I began to differentiate one place from the next that I realized how different the west was from inland.


Our trips would begin early at 4 am on Saturday morning. My sisters and I would wander half-awake to the table to eat. We excitedly shoveled in our cereal, but wearily rubbed the sleep from our half open eyelids. We filled our arms with blankets and pillows for the long, seemingly arduous car ride. Once settled into the car, sleep overtook us for hours of the day and when we awoke we ate grapes and cherries and cheered with excitement that we had crossed over into the state of Montana. Not many hours later we groaned from the length of the car ride and asked half a million times if we were almost there.

My very fondest memory of a trip west was one that was accompanied to the coast. Grandma brought us to the beach to meet our cousins for a camping trip. Despite the day being warm, the breeze floating off the coast was cool, causing us running through the sand back to the campsite to dawn on our sweatshirts. The ocean was loud slapping against the shore, pulling sand. The sound crashed through my mind, captivating me and interrupted my thoughts but brought a soothing feeling inside. That weekend we slept out under the stars and when the sun got warm we leaped over waves in the ocean. We roasted hot dogs and gulped fruit by the bowlfuls. We watched the sunset cuddled in blankets with the temperatures dipping, but the sand still warm from the golden rays of sunshine.

From then on my dear son, every trip west I have made, I fill at least one of my days with the Ocean. Each time I go I fall in love all over again with the feel, the sound, the presence, the taste and idea of the Ocean. But most of all I love how I feel when I leave it, the longing to return, but also the comfort of knowing that it will still be there the next time I get there. In time my love, you will find how comforting and beautiful certainty is, in the continuous life of change.


And so the time came that I was bringing you my dear little one on this trip. One of the most beautiful and amazing duties of motherhood is adventuring the world and teaching you all the beauty that belongs to it. The awe from your eyes of the exploration of the world is something I wish I could bottle and take out every so often to enjoy. When I watch you watch the world it is as though everything is new and steals the breath right from every inch of your body. I had a feeling that you would love the coast.


When we arrived you fought to be out of my arms. From the minute I put you down you speedily crawled every direction, as there was so much to see you couldn’t decide where to go first. You plowed your chubby fingers into the sand, which resulted in the sand flying up into the air. You giggled and squealed with delight and the boogers that fell from your nose were soon littered with sand displaying a sand mustache.


Just as in so many other instances, your small little being taught me that sometimes the most important and best part of your day is to be in awe over the absolute beauty of nature. As the day waned I picked you up and for a few precious moments as I told you of the power of the ocean and the little that I know about it, my mind wanders back to the time I was first brought here. And with all of my heart I hope that your darling little soul was just as captivated as my youthful soul was.