When my mother was eight years old, she broke her arm.
With her five siblings and her best friend Carolyn, she ran dusty and wild and relatively unsupervised in the baking heat of their southern Utah town.
My mom is now 76, and that childhood has produced a treasure chest of stories that I have always loved. Her teenage grandkids ask her to tell those same stories at our family reunions.
These big teenagers, who are normally attached to their phones and their friends, on these nights are content to listen to their Grammy Alice instead. They pile on top of sleeping bags and gather around her, and she says: Let me see…which ones haven’t I told you?
Her stories describe a life that most of us only read about in memoirs or see in movies. And they describe a girl who had an independent, unafraid quality to her.
She told us the story of how, as a little girl, she rode to school each day on the handlebars of her big brother Morrill’s bike while he pedaled. She told us how one day she flew off those handlebars face-first onto the gravel path as they sped down a hill, and her brother was mad because they were going to be late so he made her wipe the blood and dust off her face and get back on the handlebars so they could get to school. When the teacher saw my mom’s battered face and bloody clothes, she was so mad at Morrill, she sent him to the principal’s office.
My mom also told us the story of the bull. I remember hearing this story as a girl, and for years this bull took on a frightening life of its own in my mind. She and her sisters used to pass his orchard on the way to my great-grandmother’s house and were terrified of him because he would always pace alongside them on the other side of the fence, snorting and angry.
One day, my mom walked to her grandmother’s house alone.
At the orchard someone had left the gate unlatched, and as she passed, the bull was suddenly behind her. He started after her and she took off like a rocket, screaming at the top of her lungs for someone to help her.
She saw her Aunt Cleora’s house and tore down the long driveway making all kinds of noise. Cleora came out to see what was wrong and was standing at the front door with a hand on each hip looking down the driveway as my mom ran through the front yard, flew up the steps, and dove right under Cleora’s legs onto the polished entryway.
She told us about how she and her brothers and sisters loved to stand on their toes and reach into the big barrel of honey in their grandpa’s basement, picking out the pissants (I didn’t know these were real) with their fingers, and prying off the chunks of crystallized honey that were stuck to the sides of the barrel, chewing on them until honey ran down their chins.
I love watching those big grandkids listen to her, their attention never straying. I think they listen because for those minutes their own time stands still, because their Grammy knows how to touch a teenager’s heart, and because we are never too old for the magic spell cast by a good story.
But the one that stands out to me the most is the story of her broken arm: It captures the legacy she has provided for her children, and in it, I hear a life lesson.
My grandma took my mom to the doctor, and he put a cast on her arm. The day after she got her cast off, she broke her arm again. When she went in for cast number two, the doctor looked at her and said, Alice, you need to start drinking milk so your bones get the nutrition they need.
She didn’t like milk; she hated it. Said it made her sick. So the doctor thought a minute and decided he knew how to get her to change her mind.
He said, Well, you need calcium. But if you don’t want to drink milk, you can chew up eggshells and swallow them. She sat with that for a minute and then thought to herself, I can do that. And that 8-year-old girl did.
She chose eggshells.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that my mother raised head-strong children. I have known this about the six of us for as long as I can remember. It is a trait that is part of the thread of our family, and I’m grateful for it.
Hearing the eggshell story has always made me laugh. There is a kind of majesty in thinking of the grit of my little-girl mom sitting there in front of the doctor who thought he’d figured her out. At that moment she asked herself what she wanted and then she made her choice. Then as you might expect, she followed through.
She chewed up eggshells and swallowed them.
Sometimes before swallowing them, she would push the pasty mess to the front of her mouth so it coated her teeth and made a chalky, white smile she could taunt her big brother with while she chased him. As it turns out, choosing eggshells ironically may have saved her life. I’ll tell you the rest of her story in a second.
I have come to learn that grit protects us. It helps us find the heartwood inside us and shape who we become.
Grit is important mostly, I think, because it involves a personal choice to lean into discomfort rather than away from it: to devote your energy to the hope that there is something better on the other side of adversity instead of staying with what is easy?….that is beautiful.
Two years ago, I was heading toward divorce after 21 years of marriage and four kids. I had spent most of those years as a full-time mom. I have always been pretty strong, and some might say driven. But at that moment, I was just scared — scared, unbelievably lonely, and sad.
I had created a script for my life and had become used to it. For a few reasons, I felt I always knew what the next steps in my life and the lives of my kids would be. And I thought this was a good thing.
But this new chapter was a jolt — and I realized I wasn’t ready.
The end of my marriage was my choice, but that choice turned my script on its end at an iffy time in my life. When people reach their 40s, many are already starting to take a hard look at their life and ask themselves who they are and what in the heck they’re doing. For me, divorce put this process into overdrive. I had lost all my bearings. I was full of doubt and fear. I felt like Sandra Bullock in Interstellar just floating through the void of dark space with nothing to bump up against.
I am a person who likes to have answers — I crave them. I love to figure things out, solve the puzzle, fix the problem as creatively as possible. Without the surety of my previous life plan, I was panicking at this terrifying nothingness that stretched out into forever. I have a lot of life left to live, but at that moment I felt lost.
Deep down, I knew I needed to decide who this new “me” was going to be. Would she lie down and give up?
For the first time in more than 20 years, my script was gone, and I was standing alone on a big, empty stage under a single spot light. I wanted to escape to safety, but instead, I began to ask myself questions:
Who am I really?
Am I sufficient to answer these huge questions I’m terrified of?
Am I enough to take center stage in my own life? To decide how the scenes play out?
What brings me joy?
Do I have something to say?
What might I contribute to this world, to the beautiful people who are here, to my kids?
Here’s what I found out: Yes. My answer to all of my questions was yes. Center stage in our own lives is where we were meant to be, and we don’t need to apologize for it. Just get going, girl.
Center stage can be a scary place. But staying there in the spotlight makes me think of girl Alice. It is the chance all of us have to stand up and find our personal grit and then follow through.
On this journey of asking questions and creating my own path, I made discoveries. I got curious, I dug in deep, and I scooped up every bit of knowledge that ran by me. I met so many people and noticed in each one the spark of genius as we worked together. That was maybe my greatest discovery, that no matter what, each of us carries a spark. Our sparks are different, but we all have one, and if we have nothing else that single thing unites us. We can see each other’s sparks if we just take a second to look.
When my first instinct was to escape the spotlight, I stayed there and instead chose eggshells. And truly, it made all the difference.
This was the beginning of EVVOBODY. When I started EVVOBODY, I intended for it to be more than just an essential way to nourish our bodies, but a vehicle for all of us to find our spark in the ways that we most need. I believe strongly in that inner spark.
EVVOBODY was born to celebrate you and me and to uncover the beauty that is already there. To celebrate the stories that illustrate our lives. To celebrate the power of nature. And to nourish ourselves, our minds, and our souls.
This company was created for women by women. It exists to create a beautiful community by sharing smart products that are formulated using the best that the Earth has. The way I see it, each one was created from the Earth’s own spark. We are dedicated to the simple clarity of what real health is, real beauty, and sharing our sparks with each other.
We have loved our journey so far. We are so glad you are here. Believe in you. ou are enough, and you are beautiful. Welcome.
And as for Alice…
The fallout from nuclear testing in Nevada in the 1940s and 50s was carried by the winds to fall over southern Utah and found its way into the grass among other things. The grass fed the cows, the cows produced milk, and people drank the milk. Cancer sprouted in people many years later. Many of my mom’s friends and even one of her sisters have died from various forms of cancer: prostate, breast, and more.
So far, my mom has escaped cancer.
We can’t know for sure that it’s because she chose eggshells—but maybe.