Every woman has her own specific strengths, and the “My Mountain Girl” series aims to capture them. Capture why she loves living in the Rocky Mountain West, and how she uses those strengths to do, and be, her best. We are all so similar, but our differences provoke a sense of wonder and awe for each other. And by telling each other’s stories, perhaps it will motivate or spark something inside of another to reach beyond our own comfort zone. To try something new. To see things in a new light.
It is with our great pleasure to introduce you to our newest Mountain Girl – Jansen. Jansen hails from Casper, Wyo., right in the heart of our state. And heart is what you will find from this Mountain Girl. Heart with a side of realness, served up on her own blog, The Tall Mom. A native Wyoming girl, she lives her life as a mom, a daughter, a wife, a writer, and so much more. We are so pleased to peek into your life, Jansen. Thank you for being a truer than true Mountain Girl.
Tell us about you. Casper is home. I’m primarily a stay-at-home-mom, but I moonlight as a writer and community volunteer. I’m married to my high school sweetheart who also happens to be one of the best men I know. We have three kids—two daughters and a son. I attended the University of Wyoming where I was a member of the Cowgirl volleyball team and earned a degree in Health Science. I loved my time at UW, and continue to love supporting the school and being a part of the greater Wyoming community. I was born and raised here—it’s in my blood. I’m grateful to raise my three kids in this incredible state, and as of last year all three of my brothers and my parents are living in Casper. It’s pretty special. When I’m not reading or writing I like to be outside as much as weather permits. In the summer that means hiking and running…or more accurately—wogging (walk-jogging), and horseback riding every single opportunity I get. In the winter I love to snowshoe and hike. I’m hoping to learn nordic skiing this winter too.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Rocky Mountain West? I love the people most of all. Our isolation makes us hearty and gives us grit, but it also encourages us to take care of one another. It’s a beautiful kind of bond we have. I have an adopted son. He is biracial. His physical features are predominately African American. I can’t know what the experience of growing up a minority will be like for him—it wasn’t my experience. But I can tell you, I’m confident most of the people he will be surrounded by as he grows up will see him for who he is, and not define him solely by his skin color. I know this because this place, Wyoming—the Rocky Mountain West, it isn’t perfect, but it’s special. There are so few people, it’s likely you know at least one person who defies the stereotype—any stereotype. The richest person in town might be an orthopedic surgeon, or he or SHE might be a high school drop out who earned millions building a business in the oil patch. That’s just one example. People here are often taken one at a time—as they should be, because we can. I’m not sure if after living over three decades in such a place I could handle a city/town…culture that didn’t have time to get to know the real me.
What is your favorite place to visit in the region? The mountains have my heart. My dad introduced me to the Grays River area several years ago. It’s in the western part of the state, south and east of Alpine, situated between the Wyoming and Salt River Ranges. We began making it an annual father-daughter event to spend a few days horseback riding in the area. It has become my happy place. In the mountains, on top of a horse, is as close as I can get to Heaven on Earth. There is a connection that happens when I trek to the top of a mountain on a horse and look out at the world below. I’m not sure I can explain it, but I wish I could bottle up the feeling and hand it out. I think if I could dish out that feeling like a warm bowl of soup, it would heal what ails many.
What is something your family loves to do together? Travel—see the wonders this world has for us to explore, big and small. Even when our kids were tiny we took them with us on our travel adventures. That included everything from multi-leg plane trips abroad to tent-camping at Vedauwoo. I love sharing the experience of a new place with my kids. I want them to know the world is big and full of adventures, but I also want them to understand that despite our differences, the people who make up this life are more alike than they are different. And I want them to appreciate the beauty of what makes home special—and the best way to do that is to be able to come home.
Who or what motivates you? I love to read. I’ve “met” so many inspirational people through the medium of written words. Some of the most inspirational and motivational are complete fabrications of some writer’s imagination, but that doesn’t seem to bother me. I think to myself, I want to be like that…open, loving, accepting, true, authentic, unapologetic, strong, steadfast, brave, etc. I try to be motivated by my own passions—the things that speak to my heart. It’s not always easy, sometimes I get caught up in what I think other people would like me do/be. But if I’m quiet and really listening, there is a still quiet voice that urges me in the direction I should be headed.
Do you have daily rituals? I start most mornings with a workout. I have a small group of girlfriends who get together Monday through Friday. I’ve found I enjoy this arrangement so much more than going to the gym. We go outside as many mornings as possible. If the weather doesn’t allow, we meet in someone’s basement and create our own workout or do a video. I don’t always want to get up at 5:30am, but I can honestly say, I’ve never regretted a single workout I made it to with that crew. It’s a marriage of accountability an support that works for me. I also love that it creates more freedom for those hours when my youngest is at preschool. I’m not spending any of that precious “alone time” on a workout, I’ve already completed it! My other daily ritual is music. Most days, I find time to listen to music. Depending on my mood, the season, or my objective—writing, cleaning, exercising—I pick music that is going to best assist my goal. It’s actually one of my big beefs with God that I was gifted a deep love of music and not a single musically talented bone in my body. I’ve been trying to learn the guitar for more than fifteen years. I still can’t play more than two chords—and those with no rhythm. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from belting out tone-deaf renditions within the confines of my home and car…(and at few cruelly documented *intoxicated* karaoke performances—but we’re going to pretend those didn’t happen).
Tell us about your style. Like my personality, my style is no-frills for the most part. I’m basic—straight forward. I’m perfectly comfortable in public in yoga pants, a ball cap, and no make-up. But, I’m a bit of a chameleon too. I’m a touch country at times, a little bit bo-ho-hippie at others. On occasion, I’ll pull-off a touch funky or even a smattering of edgy. I’ve worn my hair every style, length and (natural) color throughout the years. When I shaved my head in honor of my buddy Chase who was fighting AML (a rare form of leukemia), I was apprehensive about how I would handle the lack of femininity a shaved head might create. At a solidly built six-feet, I’ve struggled with feeling feminine. Much to my surprise, I loved having a shaved head. It was liberating in a way. When people looked at me, they looked right at my face first. Not at my height, not at my clothes—at my eyes. I like to be undefinable when it comes to “my style”. I feel like it gives me the right to change as often or as seldom as I choose.
Any beauty essentials? No. Not really. I’ve had periods of time when I’ve gone weeks without wearing makeup. Other times, I get creative and paint on dramatic cat-eyes and bright red lipstick. I don’t really follow any rules when it comes to beauty. I bore easily, so I like to mix it up. And…I’m lazy. I don’t want to follow five steps every night to ward off wrinkles. Bring em on. I’m all for more laugh lines.
What do you do to feel your best? I feel my best when I’m surrounded by positive people—friends who love life and aren’t afraid to be genuine. And I feel my best when I’m doing the same—loving life and choosing to be unafraid of being my genuine self. I’ve found writing to be a great outlet to practice being authentic. I’ve learned so much about myself in the hours I’ve spent at the keyboard hashing out my thoughts and feelings. And I’ve connected with so many amazing people through my blog—people I don’t know and people I’ve come to know in a new way through a mutual understanding of whatever it is I’ve written about. Writing emotional (emotional for me) pieces like, Hunting the Head Wench, She Let Herself Go, and Dear Wyoming: A Love Letter, have allowed me to feel connected to others, and that makes me feel that I’m on the path that is meant for me—and that feels the best.
And, finally, a new addition to our Mountain Girl feature – Jansen completes the speed round! Eleven more quick questions to satiate our appetite to know more about this fabulous woman:
1. Tent or Camper? Cabin
2. #1 Beauty Product? Cetaphil Skin Cleanser and lotion
3. Favorite Book? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. Current favorite song? Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
5. If your friends used a word to describe you, what would it be? Honest
6. Comfort food? Authentic Mexican
7. Exercise of choice? Hiking/Walking
8. Trip you want to take? Scotland/Ireland
9. Guilty pleasure? Wearing my PJs all day
10. Favorite spot in your house? Bed – Fireplace Turned on – Book in hand
11. Beach or Mountains? Mountains
If you want to know more, Jansen can be found here:
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thetallmom,
Instagram at https://instagram.com/the.tall.mom,