Dawn Armstrong girls camp

The day I cheated on beauty

In honor of the General Relief Society Meeting taking place this weekend…I am sharing this message of beauty. My very first vlog! Ahh! I am very much an amateur at videos. However, after this life changing experience at the mall, I had to share it. Any of you that have attended my speaking engagements know exactly what I teach about beauty, self love and being true to who we are.  Those things that I teach, that is truly what I believe and it is how I live my life.

Until today, I never realized how much I could offend my soul by stepping away from who I am, even just a little bit. Watch the video, and hear all about my “makeover”.

After you watch the video, please take the time to look at the pictures I posted below. These were taken at Camp Cumorah last summer. (more…)

Ethan Armstrong Dance Ask

Where’s Waldo?

Today Ethan and I had so much fun together while he asked Kiri to Homecoming! He is finally enjoying some of the benefits of being sixteen…woot woot! I am looking forward to watching him enjoy the dating life, and boy is he off to an incredible start. I had such a proud parent moment when we went to Kiri’s house and talked with her mom LiLing. She was surprised at the amount of effort he was going to for her daughter. She asked, “Do you go to this much work every time?” Ethan was so quick to say, ” Yeah. It’s important to make girls feel special, and that takes some effort on the guy’s part.” In my mind I was like….”YES!”

And so the student becomes the teacher, lol!

Dear Ethan –

My sweet boy, real men make effort, baby! Don’t ever forget or lose that! ALWAYS make being thoughtful a part of your growth strategy. It will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Anyway, today was awesome. It was a great date with mom (while getting you a date to homecoming, lol!) It was fun taking pics and running around like crazy with you while we planned and plotted. Always keep that incredible heart.

Love,
Mom

Heck YES! #worthy
Heck YES! #worthy
The hidden answer on back of the "worthy" sign
The hidden answer on back of the “worthy” sign
Ethan admiring his work
Ethan admiring his work
Ethan finds himself #deep
Ethan finds himself #deep
Here I am, send me!
Here I am, send me!
Cutest ask ever
Cutest ask ever
My Masterpiece (Ethan's mom has skillzzz)
My Masterpiece (Ethan’s mom has skillzzz….) I have had so many people ask me to do this for their kids dance ask. I can make a custom one, just click the “contact” tab above and send me a message with “Where’s Waldo” in the subject line. Happy Dancing friends!

fsframemovie

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election

I lost the election…and yet still remembered my worth.

Tonight was AWESOME! Drew turned 18 three days ago and for the first time in his life, he got to participate in tonight’s caucus!! He also got watch his mother lose her first election…lol! (hilarious story about that below)

Our family typically doesn’t align with any party until we have heard all we can from both sides. People really have to work for my (our) vote. When we have enough information to make an informed decision, we register with the party that has the candidate that most aligns with our particular interests and concerns. Family values and balanced budget are a major driving force in that decision. I can say that this has been the toughest election EVER. So many of the candidates have major character concerns. We are sure to include our children in every discussion. That’s one thing that is taught very young in our family, there are no forbidden subjects. In fact, my last three plane rides home from speaking engagements were spent talking with strangers (turned friends) about religion and politics. They were amazing conversations! Something very beautiful happens when you seek to understand someone’s position, rather than only being heard. It’s called constructive dialog. And I LOVE me some constructive dialogue! At any rate, tonight we voted as close to our conscience as our choices allowed. I respect and value ALL voters, regardless of where they align politically, it’s what makes America GREAT!

I had no intention of running for State Delegate when I got to the caucus meeting tonight. However, when the raised hands were scarce, I threw my hat into the ring to volunteer. I wanted Drew to have that example of stepping up and being involved in civic duties. By the time I saw that there was six delegates when only four were needed, it was too late to back out. I was on the stage. Messy bun, stretchy pants and all. Representin.

At this point, we were each instructed to give a thirty second speech on why we were running for State Delegate. OK…WHAT???!!! I never intended to run for office. I was just volunteering! Seriously, with my 30 seconds I pretty much only got out how I failed at a lot of things. Which is a completely TRUE STORY!

In front of everyone, I told them I spent part of my life as a young single mother, who lived in a homeless shelter and for the beginning season of my life, was a welfare mom. As soon as I got that out, times was up. Can you imagine, giving a sad little speech like this? At the Republican Caucus of all places! IT WAS SO AWESOME! ROFL! I am sure they were all thinking, “You are in the wrong room, sister!” The irony… I still can’t stop laughing! Needless to say I didn’t get elected, even after my compelling argument. It was such a relief, because the delegate convention is on my boys Prom night, which also happens to be my birthday this year. 😉

But guess what…honestly I don’t even care how I was viewed in that moment, especially off a 30 second sound bite. None of them stood up. In a room of close to 200, only six hands were willing. So I guess I kind of feel like unless you’re willing to stand in that arena with me  you don’t get to have an opinion of me that I’mactually going to worry about. I’m fine being the welfare queen in the room. I’ll wear that badge, no problem. We all need that reminder that struggle has a face.

In all seriousness, the most beautiful thing about failing so much in the beginning of my life, is that it made me hungry. The thing about being poor and just barely having enough to survive, is that I STAYED hungry. And when you go hungry for long enough, you become desperate for change. And that my friends, is the most valuable currency there is. That type of currency was more powerful than any of the welfare checks I cashed. It is amazing what you can do when you have to. When you look down at your child and know that the only way that he is going to eat is if you find a way to feed him, it strikes a fear in your heart that is bigger than failure.

I learned to never turned my nose up at a job. As a young person, I worked at McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Jonesy’s Taco House, at a little cafe in a small country town, at a slaughter house, and I worked cleaning toilets for a telephone company. I worked three jobs as a single mother. After being homeless from 14-18, I wanted to prove to myself and to my son that I could take care of us. I began taking risks, and putting myself out there until someone gave me a chance. I worked HARD. Nothing was beneath me to do, and I was not ashamed as people watched me do it.  I took pride in what I did, and in who I was while I was doing it. The most important thing I learned was to NEVER look my nose down at a person who does those jobs. Those people work their fingers to the bone. I have heard so many people, both youth and adults make comments like, “I would never work at a fast food place.” as if it is beneath them to do. That isn’t impressive to me my friends. Those people are my tribe. I respect the heck out of them.

Throughout my life, so many well meaning people have said to me, “You are so lucky that Craig came along, married you and saved you from your life. He is like your knight in shining armor!”

I am always quick to correct that. Craig is not, and has never been my “Knight in Shining Armour.” He is my Prince Charming. I couldn’t have asked for a better man. However, make no mistake, he did not come in and rescue me from my miserable life. God saved me and I saved myself. I pulled myself out of poverty way before Craig was even in the picture.

I tell you this because I don’t want some young girl in a similar situation that I was, or any single mother for that matter thinking that they need rescued. That the only way to escape their situation, is to have someone swoop in and save you. It’s a lie. If I had a chance to talk to anyone of them, I would look them in the face and say…..

“Sister, you DO NOT need to be rescued. A heroine doesn’t need a hero. You wear your own cape girl! That’s right, you are already the hero in your own story…by virtue of the fact you stayed even when he ran. You held yourself accountable. You didn’t abandon your responsibilities, you embraced them. In fact, you embrace them every morning and night with a kiss and a hug. There isn’t a higher calling than the one you are doing. Own IT. You can do ANYTHING. You can be ANYTHING. All you need to do is decide what you want and go after it. Will it be hard? Yes. It is going to be hard, but no harder than the life you are living right now. You don’t have to be afraid of doing hard things, because HARD is your reality. Some days the tears will fall. Let them. Let those blood, sweat and tears fertilize the very ground you walk on. You are growing a beautiful life, and it’s not for the weak. God built you to last, and you can seek comfort in your Creator. BUT DON’T YOU DARE give up on your dreams! Live your life, develop your gifts and the rest will fall into place.”

When Craig met me, I was just fine on my own. I was completely debt free, had an apartment full of furniture and owned my own car. It wasn’t an extravagant life, but we where thriving. I never spent more than I earned. If I didn’t have the money for something, we went without.

The thing is, I never wanted someone to have to save me, and I didn’t want to have to save anyone either. I wanted to be fine on my own and I wanted him to be fine on his own. My complete independence insured that I could make the right choice in a spouse, and it was not going to be a decision I made out of desperation. I wanted to make sure he was the perfect fit for Anthony. He needed to be amazing, because my son DESERVED amazing, and I deserved AMAZING. In turn, I wanted to be able to give AMAZING right back.

By the time Craig came into the picture, I was well on my way to an amazing career, and after we got married…I continued to move up the ladder. In fact, for the first 13 years of our marriage while Craig was young in his career and furthering his education, I was the breadwinner of our family.

At the point I chose to stay home with the twins, I was a Director at a Hospital. My program was the first in the state to earn several National Center of Excellence Awards. I was then recruited as a private consultant for several other facilities that needed my expertise to start programs of similar quality. I was earning a six figure salary. I never talk about this, because I hate how people put so much value in earthly titles. As if the labels “doctor, lawyer or janitor” mean you hold more or less value to this world. I can’t stomach how people size each other up in this manner. I mean, we all realize that we check these earthly titles at the door in heaven, right? Then the only titles that are going to matter are “friend”, “servant” and “lover of all people”.  I hardly ever ask what people do for a living. I would rather get to know who they are by knowing who and what they love.

Anyway, as far as the career path I chose…none of this could have happened if I wasn’t desperate for change. With that desperation came perseverance and resilience. With that desperation came GRIT. The more I achieved, the more I wasn’t afraid of failing anymore. I had carved my path to success, and through that I had developed a new type of hunger. Now I was hungry for success because I saw the power within myself to change my circumstances. I appreciated that government money getting me through a very tough spot, and I was so grateful for it. However to be honest after a very short time, I started to resent what that money meant. Poverty was a prison, and I wanted OUT. So I worked at it until I didn’t need it anymore. There was never so much pride in my life as the day I was able to say, “Thank you, but I’ve got it from here.” It was most liberating feeling of my life.
I want others to have this kind of liberation and pride. I wholeheartedly believe in helping people help themselves. The gifts meant for this world, only come through people. We can’t afford to rob people of developing their gifts, yet it happens every day. Our country desperately needs their innovation and their gifted hands. When someone sits idle for too long, they become comfortable. They start to fear failure. The words, “What if I can’t do it?” permeates their thoughts. They become complacent. They start to look at poverty like, “This isn’t so bad.” or “Having little is better than having nothing.”  That kind of fear is crippling. Let me tell you something, we should be ashamed!! The best thing we can do for someone is show them that they CAN do this.  Part of our help should be showing people their God given potential. Providing them the help and the support they need to escape poverty. Some just need a little investment, or a chance. If you are ever in a position to bless someones life like that, you better! Their gifts are far too precious, and too important to be wasted.

I have spent my last 19 years paying back into the system so that I  too could help provide that leg up to those who need it, just as I needed it all those years ago. People fall on hard times, and there’s no shame in walking through a door that someone has opened for you. We just can’t ever forget to get up, and start opening doors for the next person.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein, to which he said, “I am grateful to all of those who told me no, because of them I did it myself.”

That’s all for tonight friends. Lesson for today…..Risk being seen in all your glory. <3

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