September Blogger Spotlight

Welcome to my series in which I spotlight one of my followers. I’ve always had a deep fascination with people: how they became who they are, the struggles they won, and the hard lessons they learned over time. All of these scars and stories make up a person’s life. While I think it’s important to reflect on your own journey, it is also equally important to hear other voices and see diverse perspectives. In this series, the spotlighted blogger will be able to tell their story through curated questions I’ve asked of them.

You meet a ton of bloggers in this sphere, but a small few stand out. The blogger that I chose to spotlight in September is one of them. Everyone has their own reasons for writing or sharing their life story. She is no different. Her passion for sharing her stories and photography with the world is inspiring and contagious. If you ask her, she will say she’s living her dream but I would argue that she’s probably living a lot of other people’s dreams of picking up, leaving the city, and living that quaint life on a farm! She’ll also be the first to tell you it wasn’t without a ton of work and elbow grease, but it is equally rewarding in the end.

This is probably the longest of these features in this series thus far and truthfully, it was much longer than this. I found all of her answers so thoughtful and intriguing so I did my best to cut it down into a digestible post. This was the final product, I hope I did her life story justice (but all the more reason to check her out for yourself)!

Without further ado, I introduce you to LaShelle of The Everpine Forest & Farm blog.

A Little About LaShelle…

When you were a preteen and someone asked you, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” how did you answer that and why?
I wanted to be a photographer. I went to the Chicago Art Institute and I fell in love with the fact that people could make an income photographing beautiful things and I decided right then that I wanted to do that too. I spent the rest of my life doing just that.

Tell us a quirky fact about yourself.
I live without Wifi! My followers know this about me already but it’s something that most people are shocked to learn. There is no Wifi at my house. I plan my Wifi time carefully by scheduling to hit up the town coffee shop once or twice a week so I can work on my blog and return emails.

What is a common misconception that people have about you?
I’ve battled health problems since I was eighteen (and some even before then). I can’t tell you how many people have looked at me and written off the seriousness of the things I have experienced based on my appearance. From severely underweight to overweight to somewhere in between. Nothing is more detrimental than assuming you know what someone is going through and minimizing their struggles and triumphs.

What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
I hate the word ‘alls’ and ‘axe’ being used in a sentence. For example, ‘Alls you have to do is go to the store. I axe you to do it last week.’ I grew up in Chicago and people use slang words like this a lot. It drives me up the wall.

What is one thing you do now that you didn’t do 5 years ago?
I’m a Farmer! I am building a cut flower business, and I have my own farm.

What is one thing you do now that you didn’t do 10 years ago?
I’m a mom. Ten years ago I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get that opportunity and now my miracle baby is turning eight!

Who do you look up to and why?
I look up to anyone who’s ever published a book. I don’t have a deep desire to write a best seller. I just want to tell stories about our farm and make at least one person feel as if they can reach their goals and dreams too. I also want something tangible for my son to hold onto and read to his kids one day.

Do you get embarrassed easily? What was the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
I don’t get embarrassed easily but my wonderful husband changed the name my iPhone called me to Crazy Wench as a joke. In the middle of a very full and silent waiting room at a doctor’s office, I accidentally sat on the home button. Very loudly my phone said “I didn’t catch that, can you repeat that Crazy Wench?” and as I was rushing and fumbling to stop the horror, “Who do you want to send a text to Crazy Wench?” Everyone was staring and laughing. I had to call my husband later to thank him for the embarrassing encounter and he died laughing.

If you weren’t working in the profession you’re in now, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be a photojournalist. In high school, I dreamed of living a life where I could tell stories and take pictures.

On Life So Far…

What would your younger self not believe about your life today?
I would be elated to know that I have a farm of my own and a beautiful family.

What has been your earliest recollection of happiness?
Traveling with my mom and my grandparents. Seeing nature with such respect and reverence is a theme that has carried on throughout my life.

What was/has been a barrier in your life so far?
My health. It’s a constant battle but it’s not who I am and it doesn’t stop me from doing things I want to do. It just slows me down like a speed bump!

What were you scared of when you were younger but have since gotten over?
I was afraid of something grabbing my legs from underneath my bed. One day my cat reached out from under my bed and wrapped her paws around my ankle. Scared me half to death!

What is a dream you let go of?
Owning my own photography studio. This current economy is horrible and I can work anywhere.

Have you lived anywhere else in the world other than where you live now?
I’ve lived in Germany and South Korea. I’d love to see Scotland and Ireland but I’m happy coming home to my farm in North Georgia.

What is still on your bucket list?
I want my son to see all 50 states and I’d like to finish my list by going to Alaska and Hawaii.

What is something in your life that didn’t go according to plan? Explain. 
Buying our farm wasn’t a walk in the park. There were so many moments when I wondered if we had made a huge mistake. Yet it worked out in the end by rolling up our sleeves and putting the work in.

What was your biggest fear growing up, did you overcome it, and if so, how? 
I was afraid of my stepfather. I thought he might kill my mom. He once took my brother away from us and said we would never see him again. I had to learn how to forgive him. It took a really long time to realize that he had a lot of problems he needed to overcome. Forgiveness and forgetting are two very different things. I was able to hold him accountable as an adult and I was able to have a relationship with him on my terms later on in life.

What was a pivotal turning point in your life? Why would you say so?
The day I got married to my husband changed the direction of my life. I planned on going to college and instead I traveled the world with my best friend.

What lesson took you the longest to unlearn?
Less is more. The big expensive house isn’t necessary, as long as your needs are met, that’s all you need.

What title would you give this chapter of your life right now?
Getting Old… just kidding! I think the post I made called “A Life Fulfilled” sums up the perfect title for this chapter in my life.

Thoughts/Advice On…

On career: Do you believe it’s important to work at a job you love or is it just a means to an end?
As my husband says, “You spend most of your life at work and a much smaller percentage of your time is spent with family. It’s more important to love what you do than it is to be rich.” I believe that’s true with all my heart.

On your life: What’s one thing you would tell your younger self?
Don’t give up.

On confidence: Where do you get your confidence from? Were you always this way?
I was bullied in high school, and I learned to like myself even if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I learned that going to dinner alone and spending time with myself was a gift. Writing is a lot about spending time within.

On parenting: What is one parenting advice you would give to a new parent?
It’s easy to get sucked into moments and phases that are frustrating. Just remember that’s all they are: moments and phases. They will pass and you will miss them so soak up the things about it that bring you joy.

From others: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
My grandfather saw my photography and read things I wrote and he told me before he died that I should never give it up. It was the best advice. I had a photography teacher in school tell me I wasn’t very good at it and I should pick a different hobby. I’d love to show her my work now! Passion is everything.

On Writing…

Why do you write?
I write to document stories about our farm and our lives because I want something that my son can read to his family later on. He won’t remember all of them and he may remember some of them from a different perspective than mine. Documenting moments for him is something that means a lot to me.

Do you consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure, in some moments I might say “absolutely!” and in other moments I’d say that I’m an amateur just figuring out how to write better on a daily basis.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Since I learned to write, I carried a journal with me everywhere I went. My little brother read some of them and he learned a lot about the things we went through that he blocked out. It helped me find myself and it helped my brother too. I always wrote as if someone might read it someday. I think it’s in my veins.

What’s better, finishing a terrific blog post you’re proud of or reading an engulfing novel?
love books but the feeling I get out of writing is something I can hardly describe. Almost like jumping off a diving board into your emotions and losing yourself while taking others with you. In the act of doing so, you discover who you actually are.

Do you have a favourite word?
Pluviophile: “A lover of rain; Someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.” It’s what my son calls a nonsense word but I love it because it describes me so well.

On Blogging…

When did you begin your blogging journey and why did you start?
Technically I started blogging in July of 2013. I ran a support group with over ten thousand members, who asked a lot of questions about how to eat with a stomach illness, ways to manage abdominal pain, how to maintain a positive attitude mentally, and how to hold on to hope. It was easier to send them a link than to relay the same information so many times. I started the blog out of convenience but it helped a lot of people and to this day it has over 120K views. I don’t use that blog anymore. I handed the support group over to a friend to focus more on my own life and I stopped blogging for many years. The one-year anniversary of my current blog is December 9th of this year. I just reached my 10,000 views milestone and I started blogging again in hopes of expanding our farm.

What was your first post about?
My first post was called “An Everpine Christmas” and I wrote it the day before my son’s birthday. We were staying at a hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to expand our farm and start a cut flower business. I had no idea what would happen. I put the cart before the horse by re-branding the name of our farm, buying a website, and starting a blog long before the land deal was signed. I wrote my way through being turned down by the bank to finally signing the paperwork at the lawyer’s office.

Who was the first blogger that you followed that still posts today?
Mark Bierman was one of the first bloggers that I followed. Mark is a Canadian author who enjoys writing as much as I do. His ability to tell stories is unbelievably moving.

Who was the first blogger that followed you that still posts/follows you today?
Funny enough, the first blogger who followed me was Jen from the Bosssybabe blog. I have enjoyed keeping up with her blog every week and I try not to miss a single post. She’s incredibly insightful and she has been so encouraging.

How would you describe your blog to someone who’s never read your content?
I don’t stick to only telling farm stories or talking about gardening, I talk about life lessons and I enjoy storytelling too. Some posts are descriptive, some are inspiring, some might make you emotional, and some (like the ones I’ve written about my goose, donkey, and my bizarre list of things that have chased me) are pretty funny.

Goose: The Most Unlikely Friendship 
Donkey: A Taste of Ass 
Bizarre List: Tiny Terrors 

What keeps you blogging after all this time?
My son loves when I read him the stories I write about our farm. He asks me to sit and read them to him as soon as I finish another one. He calls them magical and encourages me to write even during moments when I don’t feel like writing.

Which of your posts are you most proud of?
Every week the post I’m most proud of changes but for the time being, I’m thankful that so many people resonated with The Zebra FarmerI think there are a lot of people out there who struggle with achieving their dreams despite obstacles in their way. 

What’s your favourite topic to write about?
I love to write life stories that surprise people and (I hope) leave them thinking about them throughout their day. The topics change but the emotional value remains the same.

Has your blogging schedule always been the same?
I have played with my schedule to see what works best for me and occasionally when having a stressful week on the farm, I will move my scheduled day to a Friday. However, I aim to post every week on Tuesdays and I’ve found that 10:00 AM is the sweet spot for me. I try to be quite religious about it.

What was one of your recent posts about?
My most recent post was called The Great Race and it’s about an amazing adventure that I had with my son and included one of my favorite photography pictures that I’ve ever taken. Keep in mind that all the images on my blog were taken by me.

Who was the first blogger that commented on that post? Please tell us a bit about them/their blog/how you came to know them/why others should follow them.
My amazing friend Wynne was the first to comment on my most recent post. Her blog, called Surprised by Joy, is one of my favorites. She writes stories about her kids, parenting, and life in general. She has a series she writes on Sundays, it’s called Sunday Funnies which usually involves something her dad said or wrote about. They are wonderfully uplifting and her posts are always insightful.

How have your thoughts on blogging changed over the months/years you’ve been blogging (if it has)?
I started sharing stories because I thought it would make my life easier but now I share stories because I want to bring joy to others and make their lives better (my son, people who struggle to reach their goals, and people who just need to read something uplifting). Almost like a marriage, my relationship with blogging has changed for the better. I don’t just write for myself anymore and that changes the way I write and my passion for writing as well. It’s a much more beautiful relationship!

Thank you so much for sharing, LaShelle!

Liked this post? Check out other popular posts on my blog:

Read previous Blogger Spotlights below:


43 thoughts on “September Blogger Spotlight

  1. What a great interview! I love the fact that your Grandfather supported you, even when others didn’t always. We all need that person to cheer us on. I’m flattered that mine was one of the first blogs you started to follow. And FYI, I still (sometimes) won’t let my feet hang off the bed because something may grab them. 🙂 Thank you, Jen, for taking the time to share LaShelle’s story. It was great getting to know more about her.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, I love this spotlight on one of my favorite bloggers and people, LaShelle! It was so fun to get to know her a little bit better through your amazing questions, Jen!

    And LaShelle, you are amazing. I’m still laughing at your pet peeve, ” For example, ‘Alls you have to do is go to the store. I axe you to do it last week.’ ” Hilarious!

    Your talent, your strength, your resilience are such an inspiration! Sending lots of love!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi LaShelle! Great to see you featured here. I’m with you about “axe” and would add “lie-berry” [library]. How difficult can it be to pronounce words properly? So glad we met along the way, your way with photos and words is wonderful. And you’re another Tuesday blogger, we are a special group. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Scribbles and Doodles – Everpine Forest & Farm

  5. I think I met LaShelle through your blog, Jen. She quickly became one of my favorites with her exquisite sensory writing and ability to connect with her readers. (this reader, anyway) I got what I expected—thought-provoking and sometimes funny answers to your questions. Mostly, I got substance because I recognize a personality who doesn’t do anything half-assed.

    Is she a writer? Come on! Is there water in the ocean? I’d encourage her to follow her heart and find a way to combine writing and photography. We feel best about ourselves when we’re fulfilling our dreams while contributing something meaningful to the world. I don’t have everything figured out, but that’s something I know for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. LaShelle and I have been following one another for a few months now – I believe we clicked here on your blog Jen when you spotlighted me and we hijacked your blog while we commented back and forth on cutting gardens and other topics. I too was bullied in school – I was ten years old for goodness sake and had some teachers who should not have been teachers. Thank goodness you still pursued photography despite the lack of enthusiasm for your work. Sorry for the late response – I am perpetually behind in Reader these days.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s