Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Holly and I’m 36 years old. I spent my first 12 years in Minnesota, my next 10 years in North Carolina, and I’ve now lived in Montana longer than anywhere else, which is kind of amazing to me. It’s starting to feel like home! I’m a mom of three – Charles (11), James (9) and Maren (7), and a wife to Pat, an attorney and general enthusiast of all things.
I have a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) and I’ve spent most of my working life in jobs that involve writing and planning events.
Someday I hope to be an author, but these days I’m first and foremost a mom – the feeding and general care and corralling of my kids is how I spend most of my time. When they’re all in school, I’m also a student. I’m studying to be a court reporter and I work at that quite a bit. I’ve also gotten into teaching a course on desktop publishing at Carroll College. I enjoy helping out at my church. I guess I like to be busy.
In trying to keep up with my husband and kids, I’ve also gotten a bit addicted to skiing. I’ve been working hard improving my downhill skills, and I really enjoy cross country skiing. Learning to skate ski was a personal goal for this winter, and I’m making some progress on that. These are things I probably never would have done without my family and the (mostly) positive peer pressure they apply.
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day would definitely involve spending the time with my family and friends on the water – a lake or ocean. Lots of swimming, laughing, playing, relaxing, eating good food, soaking up sun. Staying past sundown. Maybe a bonfire. Maybe camping out. But then a long, hot shower.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
It’s always hard to know what people know about you, in order to know what would be surprising. I guess people who know me now might be surprised to know that I once was a TERRIBLE driver with a serious need for speed. People who knew me then might be surprised to know that it all turned out okay. I’m quite a safe driver now. My kids aren’t even a little afraid to ride in the car with me. The fact that I can joke about any of this now is truly a minor miracle.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
I don’t really have a favorite inspirational quote. Some of the things I say all the time are things my mom said when I was growing up – all in fun, of course. Things like “Presentation is everything,” or “Beauty is a bitch.” That second one is mostly funny and meaningful to me because it’s very true, and also because it’s one of three times I can ever remember my mom saying a cuss word.
When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
Candy Crush. Just kidding. I love to read. Love, love, love to read. But if I only have 30 minutes, it’s dangerous for me to pick up a book. I kind of dive right in and suddenly it’s the next day and my book is done, but nobody in the house has eaten or gotten where they need to go. Sometimes it’s worth the risk! I’ve been known to leave my books home from family vacations because I have a hard time interacting with humans if there’s a book I’m excited about.
What is one (or two or three) of your favorite books?
My favorite book is whatever I’m currently reading. I honestly can’t pick a favorite book. I can say that I love Garrison Keillor; the books he writes feel like home to me – so much Midwestern sensibility and humor. I love C.S. Lewis. I also like reading suspense and thrillers. Or a good espionage, military-type story; think Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, etc. The other thing I love to read is the Best American Nonrequired Reading and Best American Short Stories every year. It’s nice to have a compilation of really interesting writing on a huge variety of topics handy for those 30 minutes of free time.
What was the last movie, TV show or book that really impacted you and why?
I can’t think of a movie, TV show or book that’s really impacted me lately, but I am really impacted by music. Right now, I’m really obsessed with the latest For King and Country album. I really enjoy the music, and the lyrics to every song are inspiring. I unilaterally declared “Fix My Eyes” our family motto for 2016 – if we can live those lyrics to some degree, we’ll be on the right track.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Ahhhh… travel. I want to go everywhere, but haven’t been. I guess I’d most like to start with Spain. I have a minor in Spanish, but have never been anywhere to speak it. I’d also love to go to Sweden or Switzerland or Germany or… you get the idea. Travel is my main plan for later in life.
Describe one of your happiest memories.
Pat and I took the kids to Arizona last summer – we had a few days in Phoenix, a few in Sedona, and a few at the Grand Canyon. One of my happiest memories was the time we spent in Sedona. It is so much more beautiful than I expected. We did an easy hike to Red Rock Crossing, where a creek cuts through the red rocks. We were only going to check it out, but everyone was having the best time exploring and playing in the water and we had no schedule, so we stayed all day. It was so relaxing and beautiful and we were together having so much fun. One of the best days ever.
Tell me about a woman you admire.
I have great women in my family – I really admire my mom and my two younger sisters. My mom is somebody who goes all in no matter what she does. My sisters are both so strong and funny, in very different ways. I think what I admire most about all three of them is that they continually pursue growth – in their faith and in their relationships with others. It’s inspiring to have people that are close to me that are always willing to change how they do things, how they view others and themselves.
How would your friends describe you?
More than anything, I would hope that my friends would describe me as authentic, a good listener, and as someone they can depend on. My friends and I laugh a lot, so somebody’s got to be pretty funny.
What do you value most in a friendship?
I value honesty and trustworthiness most in friendships. It takes me a long time to feel like I can be myself around people, and I really value friends who tell the truth and who I can trust to hang in through hard times.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. But also Diet Coke. (I know, I know.)
Chocolate or vanilla?
Introvert or extrovert?
I’m an introvert that really enjoys running down my battery by being with people.
Rural or urban?
Rural with frequent trips to urban.
Dress up or dress down?
Cats or dogs?
Dogs. But mostly dogs that don’t shed. Or smell. Maybe I just like the idea of dogs?
Sunrise or sunset?
Detailed or abstract?
Classic or modern?
Call or text?
Call me! But it you must text, use lots of emojis.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Salty or Sweet?
What do you love most about Montana?
It’s beautiful here! It’s easy to take it for granted with all the access I have to so much amazing scenery and outdoor adventure. There’s still so much I haven’t seen or done here, but I love that there’s all the possibility. And I love that there’s so many opportunities to do fun stuff outside with my kids all year long. I also love Montanans — the laidback, down-to-earth attitude of people here.
I’ll be honest, it took a few years for me to see what all the fuss was about in Montana. Oh, what wasted years! I realize now that I can visit the shopping and restaurants and pro sports I love in other cities, but these wide open spaces and quality of life in general are something I can’t find anywhere else.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Life is full of hard things, right? Moving in middle school and then again after I got married was really hard. It’s hard to be lonely.
The most recent hardest thing I’ve done is try to be a court reporter. I was sure I’d be a natural, but it’s way harder than it looks, and my progress has been much slower than I expected. It’s been the definition of frustration, but somehow I’m still enjoying it.
The most enduring hard thing I’ve done, and will continue to do, is to try to truly know and love my family in the ways they need it. Everyone’s different and changing all the time, including me, and just when I think I’ve got it down, someone changes again. It’s fascinating and challenging and frustrating.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m, of course, grateful for my family. They are incredible people and it’s an honor to be part of their lives.
I’m also grateful for the hard things in life. It’s been very true in my life that I learn by doing; usually it means I have to make the mistake to get the lesson, which is unfortunate for me.
Through my hard experiences, and by going through hard things with my friends and family, I’ve learned the importance of family. I’ve learned that contentment comes from inside, not from my physical circumstances. I’m learning to worry about my own stuff before the problems I see in others. I’ve learned that I can do hard things because of Christ. Thank goodness for that, because learning life lessons is really hard. I am grateful that God loves me and forgives me, because it gives me a model for loving and forgiving others.