I grew up in a small Indiana farm town where people are scarce and cornfields are abundant. Working hard and going to church on Sunday’s was the regular cadence of my childhood. Risk runs deep in my family: My dad started his first business when I was in 3rd grade, without a college degree and a house filled with 4 young kids. Vivid memories of him studying late at our kitchen table are still with me today.
Our lives were richly intertwined with family, grandparents and cousins. My mom is incredibly creative and was always working with us on new projects. Cooking, sewing and 4-H were the grounds on which we competed. Mom was the warm hugs, party-planner and steady supporter in our home.
My parents were very intentional about teaching financial literacy, so we started a business as kids. We sold mulch on the side of the highway, filling up pick-up trucks all spring and summer with a Bobcat. I was 13 when I filed my first tax return.
College was filled with the normal experiences of school work, friends, and internships. I held a job every semester of college - partially because I love to be busy - and also because I wanted a car. Scooping ice cream, working at the mall and finance internships filled my time as much as anything else. I wanted relevant experiences, and I learned I love making money.
After graduating, I worked 3 years in a corporate job, but I knew it wasn’t for me. I craved the real-time decision-making, experimentation and risk of small, private business I had seen from my childhood.
At 25, we purchased what today is Element Three. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to build a company, and knew very little about marketing. But I knew hard work. I knew how to ask questions. I knew how to surround myself with good people. And I had watched my dad take risks.
My husband, J.R. and I built our careers and our family on the exact same timeline. We had our four girls across three different decades. Aubrey at 29, Ainsley and Ivy in my 30’s and Quincy at 40. This has profoundly shaped my world. My husband and I are still very much raising babies and navigating the complexities of teenagers.
I wanted it all. An amazing marriage. A business that was successful. Personal growth and a big family. It’s because of these crazy dreams - that my journey to figuring out how to ‘make it all happen’ has been so acute. I want to have the space to be a mom. I want to cook for my family. I want to go to church. I want a lot of kids. I want to do work that has impact. I want to be fulfilled in my own growth. I want a full life.
It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to explore the many interests and passions I have. And today, I have many awesome roles I play in life: Wife, mom, CEO, entrepreneur, investor, mentor, owner, board member.
Fear wants us to believe that life is about Or. You can be a mom or an entrepreneur. You can be fit or successful. You can be A or B. Fear wants us to believe that life is about comfort and protection. That taking risks, loving hard and living loud is too much. Or at least, that’s what it was trying to tell me.
A heart that loves lots of people, lots of places, lots of experiences - with a dash of busy and a little crazy. A heart that wants to live so many different chapters of life that I can say I’ve lived a life of happy, fulfilled, vibrant exhaustion. That I fully expend my talents. Fully live each minute. Fully love each person in my life.
A Life of And is a decision that you can do both. That you will not accept Or’s in your life, but rather commit to the disciplines to achieve and claim your And’s. No, they don’t all happen overnight. But with a commitment to this way of thinking, you’ll be surprised at how many you can add to your life.
Today you’ll find me playing one of many amazing roles. I’m often the last to leave a party and always have a driveway full of cars at our home. I rest by using my hands to cook for my big, hungry family and will never turn down a taco run.