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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rising Star and Meeting Becky Douglas

Traveling to Utah last week was very special, even transforming.  Although I served a full-time mission in Salt Lake City, I don’t know Salt Lake and Utah very well.  

You see, Temple Square is just 10 acres of land and I was a tour guide.  

Ask me anything about that 10 acres, and we’ll have a nice conversation, but the land of Utah is still quite foreign to me.

On Tuesday, June 21, I drove up Provo Canyon to Heber.  While traveling among the mountains and streams, roaring rivers and waterfalls, I peered at the snow-capped mountain tops and thought “What is this place?”  

Pure perfection, crisp mountain air, lakes, big sky, puffy clouds, meadows of flowers, quaking aspen, I mean, it was out of a picture book. 
Why didn’t I live here?
I arrived at the Rising Star Presidential Brunch and immediately met with Amy Humphrey, the director of Rising Star.  We’ve only known each other for a few months, but we’d spent so much time on the phone together, we hugged and visited like life-long friends.  She introduced me to various wonderful people and I was able to meet the volunteers that really make Rising Star so successful.  
Authors Richard and Linda Eyre

Brunch was amazing and after I filled my plate with fresh peaches, spinach salad and strawberries, I sat down and listened to Gentri sing their new song about India, reaching out to others and making a difference in the world.  

They are traveling to India next week to produce a video for Rising Star.  Here is a sample of their beautiful music.

Becky Douglas spoke and the stories she told of such extreme poverty in India really drew a picture in my mind of what these people suffered, but these weren’t just sad stories because Becky does something about it.  It seems every time she faces a hopeless situation, she counters it with something beautiful.  She doesn’t let poverty or leprosy get the last word because she get’s to work and confronts it head on. I’m not sure how she does it, only she’s on God’s errand to help, heal and inspire the people of India.   

I was able to give Becky a painting that represented to me her story as a humanitarian, her love for her daughter Amber and her love for the people of India. I may or may not have been crying my eyes out, but the love that radiates from Becky is undeniable.  In the scriptures it says:

Matthew 25:37–40: “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Becky says she’s not a hero, but she’s certainly one of mine.

I was able to share the poem behind my project My 100 Daughters and had printed off a coloring book with up-to-date pictures I’ve drawn of the girls of India

So far, I’ve drawn over 40 girls and will have all 100 girls drawn by September 2017.  The book and coloring book will be released on October 11, 2017, to celebrate and bring attention to the international Day of the Girl.

To read more about My 100 Daughters, you can click here.  I am also working with a very talented videographer and making a short documentary about the project. 

The next day, I was able to meet with the incredible ladies of Big Ocean and share the story of Becky Douglas, Rising Star and how my experience with intermittent fasting and prayer led me to want to help the poor and hungry.  

Big Ocean did video our evening together, so I will post that as soon as it’s available.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

God Doesn't Forget Anyone - Project:USED

When we were in California, I brought some used dresses that I’d found weeks earlier at the thrift store. I wanted to have a project:USED fashion shot at the beach. 

These dresses range in price from $1.00 to $5.00.  New, some of these would be over $100.

Why a used dress?

Used is an interesting word.  It can mean worn-out, discarded and thrown away. It can mean old, no longer of value or trash. That’s how I felt at the age of 18 after I was sexually abused by my boss.  I lost much of my self-worth and didn’t see value in myself anymore.  Many of the choices I made in my life were influenced by my low self esteem.  I didn’t realize what had happened to me other then I was broken and there was no way out.

But, God doesn’t forget anyone.  He certainly didn’t forget me.

Little by little, drip by drip love came into my life. It took years, but slowly, the blinders came off my eyes and I started to see how sexual abuse had stripped me of so much of my identity.

So what does a vintage dress have to do with sexual abuse?

When I was 14, my mom took me to the Child Crisis Thrift Store in Mesa.  This was my first time at a thrift store and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  Mainly, I would purchase dolls, Barbie’s and toys for my little brothers and sisters.  While in college, I started thrifting for clothes, mainly anything vintage.  I would wear bell-bottoms, turtle necks and A-line skirts. The first time Derek saw me at the ASU ward church service, I was wearing a 1960’s used pencil dress I’d found at Salvation Army.  I felt like a million bucks in that dress and that was the day he asked for my phone number.  With a borrowed pen, I wrote my phone number on the palm of his hand. He says it was love at first sight. I say it was the dress.

When I started selling clothing I found at thrift stores on eBay, I found used dresses sold the best.  I might find an Ann Taylor or Eileen Fisher dress for $1.00 and later it would sell for $50.  
Here are a few dresses I sold.

Aren't they all gorgeous, unique and wanted.

On dollar day at Goodwill, I would first search through the dress section because a used dress sold even better than a used pair of designer jeans.  

I discovered designer dresses I’d never heard of before and because of the beautiful fabric, the feel of quality, the impeccable design, I would know immediately it was valuable.

Then, my friend Jenn showed me how much a vintage dress costs on ETSY - hundreds of dollars and I could see why.  A vintage dress isn’t just a dress; it’s a piece of time, made before companies cut corners, made when fashion was born.  These dresses are etched in movie history and worn by celebrity goddesses.  A vintage dress was a statement!

Used, beautiful, priceless – not just a dress, but that was me too!!

At times, my healing from sexual abuse felt like I was riding a roller coaster.  I would speed into such awareness of how much I’m loved, that I am a daughter of God and because of that, I’m priceless.  This is what happened the day I thought of project:USED. (You can read about that here). 

If you want to support project:USED, get to your thrift store, raid your mom’s closet or look on-line and find yourself a gorgeous used dress.  USED doesn’t need to be less-then, old and garbage, it can mean beautiful, restored and priceless. #projectused 

Eden and I have been wearing used dresses for a while now.  It started with Dressember. Dressember asks women during the month of December to wear a dress everyday (it doesn't have to be a vintage or used dress, that's just my take on it) to raise awareness, to celebrate the female spirit and to raise awareness and funds for those who are being sold into sex-trafficking.

All these dresses are used.  Dresses have really helped me reclaim myself, my femininity and to love my body again.

I remember on time I was in New York at a Writer's Conference and I wanted to bring Eden back something beautiful.  I stopped at a boutique and found a used dress priced $90.  "Forget it," I thought and found a Goodwill. I bought her a used dress for $5.00, even cuter then the dress I'd found at the boutique.  Sometimes, I even find French little girl dresses.  A beautiful dress does not need to be expensive.

$2.99 dresses from Goodwill.

I celebrate these dresses because of what they represent to me.

If you’ve been hurt or abused, if you’ve wondered if you’re valuable, please know you are. You are a one of a kind, made by the greatest designer of all, created to shine, to be beautiful and because of you, the world is a better place.  Let’s raise awareness.  Sexual abuse is a plague and we protect those around us, especially the younger generation.  Did you know 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually abused in her lifetime?  

Click here to watch it full-screen on youtube.  Please share this video.
My memoir Starving Girl shares my story of overcoming sexual abuse, food addiction and emotional eating.
Click here to watch it on full-screen.
Follow project:USED on facebook by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaching Creative Writing, Helping the Girls of India and Working With Incredible Non-Profits

Summer is underway and we are busy.  Our trip to California was so relaxing.  

I love writing and all my artistic outlets, but I’m learning it’s important to take a break and just sit and relax.  My mom has actually lectured me on “slowing down” and says the word “recreation” allows mind, body and spirit to "re-create."  As a creative person, this got my attention and I’m now willing to take small breaks from my creative ideas.  The result?  I’m relaxed, highly-motivated, re-focused and ready to start back up again.

I was featured in The Beehive, a local Arizona newspaper.  The article is on my fasting experience and how it helped me to let go of negativity, live more in the present and lose weight. I pray it will help others who know that if they feel trapped or overwhelmed, God can and will put them on their own path to healing, feeling empowered and living their dreams.

I’m headed up to Utah next week for a Rising Star benefit.  I look forward to meeting with founder Becky Douglas and being inspired by all the good she does for the people of India.  I’m working with Rising Star on a special project – My 100 Daughters.  

I’m drawing 100 girls from India in hopes to help sponsor 100 girls and also to get me and my family onto the path of adopting a little girl.  The illustrations from  My 100 Daughters will be published in a coloring book and a children’s book.

While in Utah, I’ll be meeting with Ann Webb of Global Life Vision. She travels to India and Africa, taking mentors and helping those in need.  There mission is to empower those in developing countries by helping them to recognize their vibrant worth and magnify their influence, to explore and clearly identify goals, instill a healthy mindset, learn valuable life skills and live the pulse and passion of the dreams within their heart.  There goal is to create and ignite a change from within each person inviting them to live an abundant life with clarity, vision and confidence and to support and nourish them as they experience success as creators of their own life transcending above and breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse, or limits.  I can’t wait to learn about what I can do to help children in India.

Next, I’ll be meeting with Big Ocean – an organization based on faith, family and motherhood.  Big Ocean Women was founded by Carolina Allen of Provo, Utah. She sees the powerful role that women can have as we influence our families, communities, and the world. As she attended a meeting at the United Nations, she saw a small group of liberal feminists making international decisions to move away from faith and family, and speaking as if for all women. As the majority of women on planet Earth are women of faith, Carolina wanted to create a massive grassroots movement of women who believe in faith, family, and motherhood. Big Ocean believes that every woman is a wave in the ocean of humanity, and together we have astounding impact for good in the world. She shares the term “maternal feminism”, that all women are born with inherent powerful and unique characteristics which greatly contribute to our families and communities, both locally and internationally. Big Ocean seeks to represent these maternal strengths and contributions at all levels of politics, economy, and society.

Big Ocean has asked I share what I’ve learned about girls of India, what Rising Star Outreach and Global Life Vision are doing and how we can make a difference now.  Those of you in the Utah area, all are welcome.  You do not need to be a member of any of these organizations to attend.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Those of you who know me, know I have a horrible fear of flying.  Agh!  But, I’m really doing this.  I’m taking my two littles, Eden and Canyon as parting from them would leave me practically paralyzed.  I’m hoping to overcome this fear and learn to trust in God more.  I’m staying with a friend in American Fork and will be visiting Heber, Layton, Salt Lake City and Provo

Also, I’ve been asked if I’ll be teaching creative writing this summer.  Yes, I’ve set the dates for LEARN TO BE A CREATIVE WRITER. I’ll be teaching at New Horizon June 27, 28, 29 (Tues-Thurs)from 1:00 to 3:00.  This is open to all 3rd grade and up school-aged children and teens.  I’ll be focusing on visualization, poetry, graphic art, short story, journal writing and more.  We will also be learning about today’s best-selling children’s and YA authors.  What does it take to be an author?  Let your children be empowered in their own world of stories, dreams and ideas. Please bring your own notebook, journal or composition book and pen and pencil.  Your child will also receive a free coloring book from My 100 Daughters. Class is free, but seating is limited to 20 seats. If interested, please email me at with your child’s name, age, area of interest and their favorite book, author and illustrator.   

When I started fasting in January 2016, I was told six distinct things would happen.  One of them was I would be adopting a little girl from India.  I'm witnessing in incredible ways how God has put me on that path.  Another, is I would be teaching children how to write. Teaching has opened my heart to our children's incredible imaginations, that they have something to say and most importantly,  we as adults needs to listen.

About the teacher: Laura Lofgreen is a blogger, writer and illustrator.  Her blog My Dear Trash has had over a million hits.  She has published four books including The Memory Catcher, Starving Girl, and What Has Your Sister Done?  The Stolen Bible is her first book in the exciting new young adult series S.H.I.N.E. - retelling historical events in a way it could have happened if those forgotten by time could have shared their story. She has been featured on ABC 15 News, Mesa Tribune, Arizona Republic and The Beehive.  Seeing the Everyday Magazine has published her stories. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Communication.  While at ASU, she served in the student government. As a full-time missionary on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, she was the mission historian and newsletter editor. Her six beautiful children patiently support her goals to tell stories about others overcoming great obstacles, discovering their worth and living out their dreams.  In her spare time, she loves making chocolate chip cookies and taking long walks, but not at the same time, of course. She’s been married to her husband Derek, a marriage and family counselor, for 18 years.