2018 in Review

I haven’t posted here in ages, but I believe in second (OK, and fourth and twentieth) chances. Besides, I can’t think of a better way to dust off my old blog than with a slideshow that took hours to create. I’m pretty impressed with myself for whittling down an epic year into 8 minutes, complete with music and captions. (If you see any typos, feel free to notify me. It’s almost midnight, and I’m living in a world where “done is better than perfect” these days.) I hope you enjoy!

Lindsay Joins the 40 Club

Photos of Lindsay’s growing-up years that I couldn’t resist capturing when I was staying with her parents in Niagara Falls

Today my dear friend Lindsay Rapp turns 40! I happen to know that the mood in her home isn’t particularly celebratory today, so I hope this little post brightens her 40th birthday.

Lindsay was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York. As a child, she wanted to become a lawyer or business woman when she grew up. Now at age 40, Lindsay is a Wellness Advocate for dōTERRA essential oils, which means she teaches people how to use essential oils for their therapeutic benefits. She is also a wife, homemaker, and mother of two great kids, an 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

She didn’t know a soul in Greensboro, North Carolina when she moved there at age 22 to take the first job she was offered out of college as a software trainer for Reynolds & Reynolds. It was hardly her dream job, but the salary was close to $30K and came with both a company car and a fresh start in a new state. She met her husband, Mark, at work, and they married when she was 23. They relocated to Mark’s hometown in the St. Louis area in late 2010.

This is the stage I remember from when Lindsay and I first met at MOPS in 2006.

Now with two kids in elementary school, Mark and Lindsay spend weekdays keeping up with their kids’ schedules, including after-school activities. She also volunteers in her son’s class. The kids each have one evening activity, so they do not consider themselves over-scheduled (and prefer to keep it that way).

She works on her dōTERRA business while the kids are in school, with housework and exercise squeezed in as well. Evenings are spent teaching dōTERRA classes, although they almost always eat dinner as a family. Occasionally she or Mark may work out of town for a few nights at a time. Weekends are spent mostly at home, but they do attend church on Sunday.  She also plays volleyball on Sunday nights when possible.

Lindsay says, “For the most part I feel good about turning 40. We aren’t wildly successful, but we have a very good life and so much to be thankful for. I feel like I have accomplished a lot so far, and the future is very promising.”

She says that the worst things about turning 40 are all “all physical stuff that isn’t very important at all,” such as the fact that her body doesn’t recover as quickly anymore, she is starting to feel more aches and pains, is losing flexibility, and is seeing more wrinkles and maybe even a gray hair or two.

Lindsay with her husband, Mark

More important about this milestone, she added, is the wisdom she has gained. “Confidence. Being comfortable in my own skin. Knowing I have something to offer the world. I am more compassionate, empathetic, patient and understand than I was in my 20s and early 30s.”

In 20 years, Lindsay hopes to be retired somewhere in the Carolinas. “I refuse to live in cold climates when I am old!” In 20 years, her kids will be about the age she was when she had them, and she says with a smile that she hopes she’ll have a few grandchildren by then.

Happy birthday, Lindsay, and welcome to the club! #weare1977


We are 1977!

Welcome to my “We are 1977” series of blog posts! This is the month that I turn 40, and about five months ago I had the idea to start a group of posts on people who were born in 1977 — sort of a “where we are now” profile series. I had planned to launch this in January, but life happens when you’re almost 40, doesn’t it? So here we are in my birthday month, and that seems like a great time to introduce this concept and start releasing profiles on about 20 people who responded to my survey. (Perhaps that number will grow throughout the year; we’ll just see together how this takes shape.)

Baby me in 1977

For frame of reference, the following are the simple fields I included on my survey:
Birth date:
Where were you born (city and state)?
Where did you grow up? (Include multiple places and an explanation if needed.)
When you were a child, what did you think you’d be doing when you grew up?
By the time you were 25, what were you actually doing with your life?
What do you do now?
What are one or two of the more significant changes you’ve seen in society or culture in your lifetime?
How does it feel to be turning 40?
What’s the worst thing about getting older?
What’s the best thing about getting older?
Where do you think you’ll be in another 10, 20, or even 40 years?
Would you like to say anything else about the monumental milestone of 40, the year 2017, or yourself?

2-year-old me in 1979

I realize not everyone is as reflective and contemplative as I tend to be, although from observation I gather that many people take the opportunity to ponder life at this milestone age. By way of introduction, I will start with myself and my own answers to the survey.

My name is Crystal Garvin, and I was born in Boise, Idaho on April 18, 1977. I grew up in Fort Benton, Montana. When I was 6 years old, I declared that I would become a writer. I loved to document what was going on around me with drawings, photos, captions, and written details. During my emotionally dramatic early teen years, I also took to writing a lot of poetry — something I can still do pretty easily when I put my mind to it, but I don’t attempt it much anymore.

On my 5th birthday in April 1982

By the time I was 25, I had been married for 5 years and had graduated with an undergraduate college degree in English with double minor in Professional Writing and Spanish. I had worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine copy editor, grant writer for a non-profit theater, technical editor, print shop graphics designer,  and publications designer and editor for another non-profit agency. I guess you could say I had run the gamut of what was available to someone with an English degree. I enjoyed my career, but I wanted with all my heart to be a stay-at-home mom, and freelance editing wasn’t about to pay my bills. I never thought I would be in sales or even marketing, but I began my career in network marketing with a skin care company in 2005 and had my first child in 2006. In 2013 I transitioned into natural health with an essential oils and supplement company, and all my years in network marketing paid off quickly with this new opportunity. I had found the perfect fit for me, and thanks to my business, my husband was able to quit his job and we began traveling with our three sons in an RV all around the country, an adventure that lasted two years (and just ended a month ago when we began settling back into a house).

On the farm in Montana

In my lifetime, technology has changed so quickly that I sometimes can hardly believe I grew up in a time when we didn’t have Internet or cell phones. Culturally, I have witnessed a shift from a right/wrong mindset to an “anything goes” worldview that has permeated the majority. I personally feel this has resulted in quite a bit of moral confusion as well as some volatile interactions between people who believe in moral absolutes and those who claim they don’t (although when pressed even they can think of situations they would view as always good/bad or right/wrong.)

Another farm pic with the Missouri River in the background

Turning 40 feels surreal. I can remember being 10, 20, and 30 so clearly and couldn’t have imagined myself at 40 then. It’s true that you can feel young mentally, not have all the answers like you thought you would, but be dealing with a physical body that is aging increasingly quickly. Young people tend to look at you and expect either sage wisdom that comes with age or a complete inability to understand the current times (in typical “old fogey” fashion).

The worst thing about getting older is probably recognizing that my body isn’t always as cooperative or capable as it once was, which I certainly took for granted. However, I am finding that healthy dietary choices, exercise, vitamins and supplements, and essential oils greatly ease the difficulties of aging.

39-year-old me

To me, the best thing about getting older has got to be finally letting go of being a people-pleaser. Life is simply too short for me to try to please all of the people all of the time. I value my time too much to participate in more drama than I must address, and I have no problem separating myself from things that waste my time or energy. I suppose that’s some “sage wisdom” showing through in spite of myself.

In 10 years, my children will be 17, almost 19, and 21. I imagine it will be a fun, busy, and bittersweet time as I try to release them into their lives and callings while grasping in vain at their fleeting childhoods. In another 10 years, I should be a grandparent who has seen a lot more of the world, and maybe by 60 I’ll finally write that book I thought I’d have written by the time I was 30. At age 70, I hope to be vastly content and peaceful, impressively active both mentally and physically, and fully ready for whatever the Lord may have for me next, be that a grand adventure across the world or preparation for eternity with Him.

Here’s to turning 40 next week!

The year 2017 can be the best year of our lives. Often that just comes down to attitude, habits, and choices. The only thing I can think to add is that wherever you are in life, I encourage you to be all there. Live your moments. Love the now — the little things that comprise your one life story — and stay as present as you can. Distraction is deceptive and can steal and destroy a life. These are lessons I’m learning now, and whether you’re 25 or 75, I encourage you to be mindful of focus vs. distraction.

That’s it for me. Soon I’ll start introducing my friends and friends-of-friends who responded to the survey. We are 1977, and I think we’re pretty amazing. I hope you enjoy our stories!

Hello Out There

Well, hello there! For multiple reasons, I haven’t written on my personal blog since shortly after the devastating death of a dear friend and pastor figure in our lives. Every time I log into my blog, I see the picture of his beautiful family and start thinking about all of the ways their lives have changed and how hard it has been, and that’s about as far as I get.

I tell myself that he would want me to keep writing. I read through old posts (some quite old now!) and smile a little at my musings and wonder at my own insights. Such a reflective, contemplative thinker I can be at times — but only when I’m not too busy being, well, busy. I thrive on doing and going and working and serving, and yet if I don’t take time to think and write and ponder and plan, things don’t go well in my heart and mind. “So think and write,” I tell myself.

I started another blog, one all about essential oils and my business, and that’s been mostly fun and easy — in large part due to my wonderful assistant who keeps me on track. That’s writing, right? Of course it is. Yet this blog, my personal writing space, keeps calling to me, too. I had many subscribers at one time. I feel bad that I’ve neglected them, and yet I didn’t start this blog to gather subscribers. I started it for me because I love to write and felt compelled to share some of my writing.

Late in 2016, I decided to relaunch my personal blog. I had been considering ideas about turning 40 and all of my friends who were born in 1977 and thought it would be fun to start a “We are 1977” series beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Alas, it turned out my long-neglected blog had been infiltrated and hacked to pieces. I couldn’t log in and wasn’t sure any of my past writings could ever be found again. Super Brandon the Web Guy came to my rescue and restored my blog, and we decided to start fresh here at crystalgarvin.com rather than resurrecting my old blog site.

Here I am, without excuse, and now that I’m making myself sit down to write, I’m excited. This really will be fun — whether for anyone else, I don’t know, but certainly for me. If you’re along for the ride, thank you. Losing a friend who was only 42 and preparing to turn 40 myself has made me realize more than ever how precious time is and how short life is. My sincere hope is that since you’re here I can somehow add value to your life, and I hope you’ll interact with me here and reciprocate. (I believe we all have God-given worth and value that we can cultivate and add to each other.)

Surely you and I have many blogs from which to choose if we simply want to be amused or find someone who agrees with all of our opinions. I don’t know if you’re interested in the thoughts and lives of a bunch of people who are turning 40 this year or in the ideas of a work-from-home, Jesus-loving, homeschooling wife and mom, but if you’re an old follower of Crystal Clear as Mud who has found me here, you already know that these posts could go in any direction — deep thoughts, silly things, and even poetry will probably find their way here. I hope to see you on a weekly basis. Please feel free to hold me accountable to that. (Accountability does me a world of good.) Well, with that, there’s no time like the present … so here we go!

Next up …

Like Mike

The Shroyer Family
The Shroyer Family

Some friends may remember a blog I wrote two years ago about why we were doing something called “Cre8” instead of going to a “regular church.” I named several things I felt drawn to about Cre8, but it was awkward and messy, too. What it really boiled down to, the reason we were a part of Cre8 for 3 ½ years, is simple: We saw that Mike and Ami Shroyer were the real deal. Genuine, honest, Jesus-loving, people-serving, others-minded, selfless, world-changing, visionary leaders — although still human, too, of course. We didn’t exactly know how far we would go, but we decided to tag along for the ride. Fast forward … Continue reading Like Mike

The Art of Purging

anne-quote1For about the past week and a half, we have been decluttering and purging to the extreme. I so badly want to reflect on how good this has been for my soul, how the process can be simultaneously liberating and joyful although overwhelming and painful, too. I haven’t much time, however, as I’m on a schedule and have a purging deadline. Continue reading The Art of Purging

Beautiful Woman

Just when you think I may never blog again, I post something almost completely unrelated to anything else on my blog. I have high aspirations to blog more frequently, and we have adventures on the horizon that will provide some once-in-a-lifetime writing material. However, for today, I just want to share some thoughts on being a woman. Continue reading Beautiful Woman