Tell us a little bit about yourself.
HEY! I’m Lindsey Marie Soulsby. I’m 33 years old and seriously feel like I’m finally finding myself. Feeling comfortable to show the world who I am and what I have to offer. It’s been a long road as I’m sure any human can relate.
Here we go! I was born in Great Falls, Montana, moved to Phoenix, Arizona when I was five after my father committed suicide. My mother wanted to start a new life without the constant reminders of him and became a travel agent- telling of the times huh!? I left the Valley of the Sun after I enlisted in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic on the F-16. I say I had to loop around the world to realize I wanted to try being near my REAL family instead of my Air Force family. I was stationed in South Carolina, Japan and Arizona. Never deployed but did a couple of trips to Vegas as a mechanic and was the announcer for the Pacific Air Forces Demonstration team, think the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels with only one jet. I called all of the moves and traveled with the team to Singapore for the third largest air show in the world. Crazy town.
Got married while I was in Japan, bad match, away from my family and lost myself in Asia. After tearing my ACL playing intramural volleyball in Phoenix, tired of burning my bra at every jet telling each person ‘YES, this chick is going to fix your engine’, I got divorced, moved to Great Falls and into my aunt’s basement and shipping wine on the internet for a friend. I’m a scrapbooker and met a gal while scrapbooking, she asked if I was seeing someone, I asked how tall is he? She said 6…. I was like I’ll meet him. I was recently divorced, new in town and ready to mix it up.
My friend had just got married and he was in her wedding, I looked at the pictures and said he looks like a Beatle. She gave me a look of disgust about my rude comment thinking I said beetle. HA! I wanted a public ‘event’ type meeting where there wouldn’t be pressure of having to small talk if we were just not into each other. We met at Brews and Blues or Blues and Brews in Great Falls in September of 2008. Josh, #spoileralert he’s now my huz, is a beer snob, and enjoys a good craft beer. I am not a fan. So I was just hanging out while everyone was tasting the offerings. I’m a spicy gal and at one point flipped him off, he said ‘later’. HA! A man of few words, but they’re salty and FUUUNNNNY. I can get on board with that. After a few beers he tripped and grabbed my butt, what can I say it’s my best asset. Alright, that was corny, but so me in a nutshell. Annnnnd HE was hooked. Pee-hee. We joked about him touching my butt, and today we are still joking.
So really that was it, we dated for a while, driving back and forth, me in Great Falls and he in Stanford. At one point I told him he would be perfect but he was 60 miles away. He replied ‘I think the same thing about you!’ We ended up having our son, Eli at 23 weeks on March 29, 2010. This guy came into the world as a one pound ripple and is making tidal waves today. I kept a blog of each day and many of the folks in Stanford followed Eli’s journey out of the NICUs and into the real world. Stanford was waiting for us with open arms and full of love. I was introduced to a small town in the best way- where they band together and support, love, calve out your herd so your new lil family can be together, it was awesome.
Fast forward to today. I don’t have a 9-5 job but as many people I wear many hats. I’m a ranch wife, preemie momma, photo-journalist for the Montana Air National Guard (I hung up my wrenches, FINALLY) and paper artist.
So, ranch life. You can’t get more iconic Montana than that! Tell us about your ranching adventure.
I have a hard time accepting this role. I grew up in Phoenix, I’m a city girl. I had this preconceived idea that a ranch wife was on the tractor all day with three babies on her hips, a casserole in the oven made with root vegis from her own garden and could pull a calf whilst cross-stitching the Mona Lisa for the county fair ends the day in an apron she made herself gives the boss a foot rub and a lil how ya doin and starts it all the next day. If you are this woman, I raise my glass to you. I now know that NO ONE is this woman, nor do I want to be. I get to define what a ranch wife is to me.
Jessi wanted a photo of me next to the cows. I immediately thought, FRAUD. You’ve only been out with the cows 3 times this year. I’m not a rancher, I’m a transplant. A city girl that fell in love with a rancher, sound familiar? I’m very Pioneer Woman without the cooking skills. It’s been a struggle for me to feel I fit. I didn’t know the difference between cows and bulls. If I were to help my husband, a third generation rancher and his father would have to tell me every little step in detail.
A ranch is a LIFETIME of work. A friend once told me that, and yes, yes it is. It takes an entire family and then some to get everything done. I explain what we do like this, we are a birthing center, we keep the females and let the bulls breed them. On Cinco de Mayo- the boys get to play- OLE! We keep the baby girls and sell the boys off to become whatever the buyer wants.
I was pregnant when I was introduced to the herd and really related to all of the bovine ladies. He’d laugh at my interpretations, he’d get frustrated with my questions about EVERYTHING. His father gave me the nickname greenhorn.
Folks love to follow me on social media during calving season because I have a fresh and different perspective on this way of life because I haven’t been doing this forever. I have A LOT of time to think out here on the long nights. #adventuresofagreenhorn
For a few years I was taking the night shifts to check the herd. I don’t have much involvement in the ranch these past few years since my brother in law has been helping. This helps me get up in the morning to take the most important bull on the ranch to school. Eli attends the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind for the low vision pre-school and the Stanford school each twice a week.
It’s hard to admit that I can’t do it all and that I can’t do it all THE BEST. I’ve found myself chasing an invisible trophy for years and finally gave up the race. What’s important to me? What’s best for our family? Asking for help has been hard, but it’s opened us up for oh so much good!
I think the band The Ringling 5, describes my experience best. I’ve never laughed so hard about sorting cows with my husband than when they sang about it. That was the moment I realized I was a ranch wife. I’m laughing about ranching songs, I get it, I live it, it’s me. I’ve embraced this simple life and know that is what makes it grand. Being able to see Josh all day long, for Eli to learn about hard work, life and death, he’s a free range kid I like to say, free to run about and be himself.
What is your favorite time of day and why?
Oh I’m a major night owl. I’ve joked for years that I’d love for my son to attend night preschool. Weird, no one has picked up on it. I’m not an early riser but due to the boys’ schedule I have to be up but I’m not really up if that makes sense. I’m going through the motions. Lunchtime is when I wake up and I’d say that’s my ‘morning’. When I was a mechanic I worked 3pm-11pm and loved it, after midnight was my time I got into my creative jam.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
I LOOOOOOVE quotes. And words. Man, how to narrow this down. I’ll think on it and come back to this one.
Did you miss me? I snap screenshots of quotes, I write them down while waiting if I hear something good, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to them, the number is too high to even count how many are within arms reach at this very moment.
For my art:
“Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone decide if it’s good or bad, if they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” –Andy Warhol.
For my mistakes:
“My strength did not come from lifting weights. My strength came from lifting myself up when I was knocked down.” –Bob Moore
“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” –Plato
I’ll stop there. You’re welcome.
What was the last movie, TV show or book that really impacted you and why?
I love movies, but with a small child I rarely find myself in a theater or sitting enjoying a movie. Growing up in AZ it was so hot in the summer we would watch EVERY movie out. I’m so out of that world now, it’s alright, it’s a season. I see the first theater visit for E in our future. Not sure what he will see but front row, popcorn, candy and a big soda will delight.
TV show impacted me, man I watch Castle, Suits and Big Bang Theory. I really could use some suggestions in this area, obviously I use TV for entertainment thus far.
Books. The one that sticks out, that started me on my personal growth journey was Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. If you don’t know this woman (I act as though we are personal friends, don’t worry no need for a restraining order) GO, go NOW and check her out. Her TED talks, her books, her fantastic workshops any part of her work will move you. She cracked open my heart and showed me what strength is. Before I believed that holding it in, never breaking makes us stronger. With the honor of raising a son I want him to be a strong man and thanks to Brene, I will be raising him to be just that, not my messed up definition where anger is the only emotion accepted. Daring Greatly changed my life, and she has come into her own with newest book Rising Strong. I am currently rereading Daring Greatly and will follow it up with Rising Strong once again. I’m not sure if she is aware of the many lives she changes with her work. I am forever grateful.
Tell us about a favorite hobby that you can’t get enough of.
I call myself a paper whore. I love anything paper, cards, books, prints. Recently I’ve been using a gelli plate to create mono prints in my work and loving the serendipitous part of the process.
If you had more time during the week, what’s something new you’d like to try?
I’m a start something new to procrastinate something I should be doing type of gal. Last year I did all sorts of new things, spent 5 months training in DC where I said yes to all sorts of opportunities. I took up pole fitness to find my sexy, explored the museums and monuments, tried my hand at bookbinding, met hundreds of people, was baptized, went salsa dancing, caught a concert, I DID IT UP. Each year I choose a word that guides me, no resolutions here, my word keeps me on track so many resolutions can fit into it. Much more efficient and my gold personality likes that. Last year my word was PUSH (and thank you whatever advertising company brought back Salt and Peppa’s song Push it Real Good for my theme song). This year I chose the word GROUNDED. So I’m not taking on anything new, I’m rooting into what’s important. Building a foundation to keep me sturdy in my beliefs. Asking for help in the places that I’m not interested in putting my time. We brought in a maid so I could focus on building my card lines and see if I can give that a go! I’m coaching in a program that I care deeply about called Choices Seminars that helps folks, and me last year to find out what they want out of life. So I stepped down from my position on the family advisory council for the Great Falls NICU. I’m taking care of my boys, my art and most importantly myself. I’m saying a lot of no’s so that I may say yes to the things that make me feel connected, loved and alive.
Is there someone in your life who inspires you that you’d like to tell us about?
I slept on this one, I know you were wondering where I went. There are a ton of incredible women in my life; from my Mom to an artist I met for a few months while back in DC this summer. The more I thought about it, I am going to say my 32-year-old self. Just even typing that makes me want to immediately delete it. I think, selfish, what a slap in the face to ALL of the awesome women who have made me who I am today, but the deal is I don’t ever give myself the credit for the work. A year ago 100 women could pass me on the street and tell me how beautiful I am, how impressive my ranchin’, motherin’, creative mind is and I’d blow them off. I think about why women are so hard on each other, so many judgments. Really, I was judging myself. Not giving myself credit for what I brought to the world. I find myself trying to capture this invisible trophy for best mom, wife, daughter, artist, photo journalist and on and on. So I nominate my 32 year old self that took a chance to change myself. While at Choices I owned a bunch of things, I learned to get out of my own way. My unhappiness was due to no one else, no other circumstance. I learned to pull the happiness out of myself. Smile for me. CREATE it in all situations. That woman that does that reaches outside of her comfort zone, that Dares Greatly, that leans into the discomfort is ME. I’m inspired by the woman who wakes up every morning to say yes, Jessi, I will fill out this interview and get all blotchy in typing it up (my body physically reacts to emotions, I turn red on my neck and face when things get emotional for me). I’m inspired by the woman who doesn’t turn on a vacuum and acknowledges that and courageously hires it out, I’m inspired by the woman who tries to control her anxiety and blood pressure by drinking more water, getting rest, doing some sort of physical activity and if she doesn’t say we’ll try it again tomorrow. I’m inspired by knowing and dealing with the dark spots of myself so that I may shine my light on the world.
Tell us about one of your happiest memories.
This is a toughy. It makes me sad to think I don’t have 700 memories from this morning to flood the page with, but again, this is not a competition, this is life and it’s full of everything. I find happiness in crossing off an item on a list, hearing a familiar voice and any shade of yellow. A BIG moment that pops out is pushing my son on the swing in the backyard, this was a big accomplishment in itself as he wasn’t a big movement kid due to being born so early. He also struggles with Apraxia (similar to after stroke speech) so wasn’t very verbal either. He must have been 3 or 4 before he said ‘I love you mama’. I didn’t believe my ears. I crumbled into a pile in the grass. I was bawling, not because of the thistles poking my legs but because I had waited so long to hear ANYthing, but this, this was the BEST! My happy moments involve a lot of patience, which I have minimal supply of and crying. Never thought I was a happy crier until now, whoa. This interview has been enlightening!
How would your friends describe you?
Funny, loyal, chatty, open, gives the best gifts, I know, I know, you want to be my friend now, get in line folks. I take friendship seriously. For many years growing up being away from family my friends were my family. I’m that friend that keeps it going. Love it when I find another that keeps it going with me. It’s hard for me to let people go. I am starting to understand that some folks are just in my life for a bit and that was their purpose. Hello Marie Kondo method.
What do you value most in a friendship?
Vulnerability. For me to share my story and a friend to say- ME TOO! Or man, I struggle with feeding my son a healthy breakfast, and they reply oh tell me about it I was just at the store trying to figure that out. Being truly happy for a friend and celebrating that she made a big business deal that has the potential to launch her into the mondo beyond. The stories of our struggles and our victories connect us.
Coffee or tea?
Don’t need either, but might have 3 mocha breves a year. I’d rather have a cherry coke, a passion tea lemonade sweetened, a sweet tea, wait maybe I am a tea person. Who knew? I’m not a sit down with my legs crossed at the ankles, a doily and pinky out type of tea girl.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate, dark, with nuts or mint or caramel or sea salt or slathered on my arm. Please wait a moment while I go grab myself a piece of chocolate. My mother in law makes the best chocolate sauce that I drink by the mason jar.
Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert until I’m comfortable but then watch out, I’m an extrovert. In this small town I feel like an extrovert most of the time because I know most folks. I channel Bob from the movie What About Bob in the scene where he’s wearing the shirt that says ‘don’t hassle me I’m a local’. He’s not gone- HE’S NEVER GONE! Man I love that movie. I’ve really felt accepted here to let my freak flag fly and find I’m doing it more and more out in other parts of the world. The Myers Briggs test said I was an ENFP, the E is for extrovert which shocked me because in a big group I’m a wallflower then think what the heck am I doing, these are just people just like me! Broken, cracked and perfectly imperfect and that gets me out to meet them.
Rural or urban?
Both. I want my cake and to eat it too, and for it to be delivered. Ahhhh, big city delivery. Where I can create past dinner making time and be rescued by food delivery. I’ll pass my address onto any of you that deliver meals to greenhorns of the kitchen. I adore this country life and many in my family laugh that I’m the gal throwing on a pair of muck boots in the middle of the night. I am laughing too, Grandma!
Dress up or dress down?
I’m pretty low maintenance but LOVE the chance to get some big hair going on, a dress and a skirt and fun shoes. Now I call this ‘going to town’ attire. I’m such a country girl now. I’m a big thrifter and love to find funky combos. My wardrobe is from all over and almost always under ten bucks.
Cats or dogs?
I haven’t ever been much of an animal person because I become too attached and could you imagine me sleeping with the herd!? Oh the hooves up my nose would be worse than Eli’s feet. We have 2 dogs, Timid and Pi, they are the best. I’ve become quite a cat person too because man, I am SOOOOOO not a mouse person. Let me tell you if I even see a rolled up piece of black lint that resembles a mouse turd I’m on the trap and bleach frenzy.
Sunrise or sunset?
Either! I love the clouds, the colors, but no one does it like Arizona. If it’s the pollution down there that creates it like they say, it’s worth it for those vibrant skies.
Detailed or abstract?
I love the details. The little things that you find when you pay attention. I listen and I seek them out. I keep tons of notes on my phone, in books, on the back of receipts of the little things. I’m a documenter and adore the lil nuggets that makes us different and the same.
Classic or modern?
I lean towards classic but a lil modern detail can be fun. I’m relating classic to old and modern to new, classic to traditional and modern to trendy. I like a classic foundation with modern elements. My art is leaning more modern these days, maybe to create a sense of balance. I’ll be thinking on this one for a few weeks!
Call or text?
I’m a talker, surprise huh?! My longest phone convo is 14 hours. It was with a friend, I was in South Carolina and I was homesick. My love language is words of affirmation so I’d say texts, cards with a message, words in any form are a gift to me.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Non-fiction for me, I love a good self-improvement book and just finished the audio book Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin from the library. Eye opening, I’m an obliger. Everything I’ve read/listened to has been non-fiction but finished a book with the huz by Brad Thor, I’ve got him into audio books. I’m more of a Nelson DeMille fan if I go fiction.
Salty or Sweet?
Sweet. Then salty. Then sweet. Then sweet with salty. Air popped popcorn dripping in butter and ranch seasoning chased with a cherry coke, chocolate frozen yogurt with almonds, seriously now I need to go get a snack again.
What do you love most about Montana?
That it doesn’t change. By that I mean that it slowly changes, especially around the ranch. Cows moo, people are friendly, drivers wave at each other, we are connected by this big beautiful state and run into each other on the opposite side of the country and say HELLO! The whole state is a small town and that’s a loveable quality.
What’s a lesson you are currently learning?
I can’t do it all and I definitely can’t do it all well. I’m a woman and hear me ROAR! Well, not in all areas. Grounding myself to saying that’s not really my thing has been huge. We hired a maid, brought in reinforcements for calving. I can clean a house but I’m terrible at keeping up at it. Narrowing down what I want to do and lights my fire and letting others help me in areas where I don’t flourish.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
How to narrow this down? I get to start new everyday by the grace of God. I have the honor of being Eli’s mother. I have a husband who just shakes his head at me while I tease my hair into a bouffant and pose with the herd, or whatever other wild dream I have he’s there to support it. The list is endless and life is darn GOOD.