throwing it all in the lake

The year I turned 15, my family went on vacation to Lake Powell.

You’ve seen some of my photos of Lake Powell: the endless blue sky, the red Cliffs, the gorgeous beaches, the miles of glassy water and all those golden happy vacation days.

That was the sort of image we had in mind when my family packed up the boat and the tent; the sleeping bags and the food; swimsuits and sunscreen and went to Lake Powell.

Before the trip, we asked neighbors for advice. We listened to all the tips and packed ALL THE THINGS. When we arrived at the lake we put all of the gear in the boat and went to find a camping place just as we’d been instructed.

After some driving and searching and debating, found a giant stretch of golden beach and we couldn’t figure out why no one else was camping there. Feeling a little lucky and extremely smart, we set up the tent, created a little makeshift kitchen, set up the bucket toilet and rolled out our sleeping bags.

As the day progressed, we started to understand why no one else was camping on the beach– the sun was relentless and tiny sand flies gathered on every surface. We thought it might get better in the evening but a sandstorm kicked up and we retreated to the tent to finds bats clinging to the center pole.

The next morning, sleep deprived, sunburnt, covered with sand and flies and discouragement, my dad said, “Let’s just get a tarp, put all the camping gear in it, go out to the middle the lake and dump all this gear and never come back again.”

He was joking. But we all felt it.

And I bet you felt something like that at some point in your life.  You have a golden happy dream end it turns out to be the worst camping spot on the lake. You’ve listened to the advice, invest money and time and yet nothing seems to work. It’s tempting to throw it all in the lake.

Right now I’m kind of feeling that way about Build Your Teenager. We’ve listened to all the advice, we’ve invested the money we just revised and re-launched the course and we have amazing reviews and testimonials and ALL THE THINGS.

I know how to be a great parent; I know how to create an incredible course. I don’t know how to market. It’s all scary and hard and I’m out of my element. I kind of feel like taking the whole thing and throwing in in the lake.

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. But I can tell you, right?

And here’s the truth– there’s always a solution. There’s always another way. We did take down the tent and all the camping supplies and then we drove to the ranger station where they told us about ‘car camping’ (no more bucket toilet!) and found the perfect camping spot and had an incredible golden vacation.

Sometimes what you need is just around the corner. You just need a little more advice, a little more help. There’s always a way.

I’ll find me way. Keep cheering for me, K? And maybe praying too.


p.s. I’ve committed to my friend Sophia to write on this blog every day for 30 days I’ve missed it here and it’s not going to be beautiful or profound. There might be days when I can’t find a photo to illustrate it but it will be something and maybe it will help me find my voice again. I’m not quite ready to throw it all in the lake.

September 29, 2019
November 8, 2019



  1. Sophia

    November 7, 2019

    Way to go, Michelle! This insight is so wise and you tell the Lake Powell story so well. We are cheering for you and praying for you. Looking forward to more of your voice – we need it! Xo.

  2. Leah

    November 9, 2019

    Hi Michelle! I don’t know if you remember me, but you did mine and Mike’s wedding photos in 2010. I actually teach marketing (got my PhD in it) at the University of Oregon and would love to help, if you’d like. Or I could offer the services of my students, if you’d like for them to develop plans for you. I can’t say I’ll have all the answers, but I’m happy to help if you need it. -Leah


      November 10, 2019

      Of course I remember you! And I’d love some help! You’re so kind. <3


        November 11, 2019

        Alright! Are you able to see my email (@uoregon one) from my comment? Let’s start the conversation through that and we can go from there. I’ll start it off with…”so what seems to be the marketing trouble?” 🙂


          November 17, 2019

          I’ll email you this week. Thank you!

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