Welcome to Women Crush Wednesday! This is a new feature where I will interview friends and colleagues I admire. On these Wednesdays, it will be an effort to channel some Wilferd Peterson when he said-
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”
My friend Tory is indeed all of the above. I’m so grateful to have her influence in my life. She embodies positivity in the face of major setbacks, and she is somebody who doesn’t let fear hold her back from taking action. She bought a house from across the country without even seeing it in person and had a baby through surrogacy! I’ve learned so much from her and have been inspired to make changes in my life just through this interview, and I know you will too. Welcome Tory!
Can you tell us your secret for how to take life by the horns and just go for what you want?
There is so much to unpack here – where to begin? My mom always called me, “Tory, the Tiger” and for good reason. I was scrappy! I had a brother who was 6 feet 6 inches tall and my twin sister was 6 feet tall. I was the runt at 5 foot 5. If I was mad at my brother I would launch myself off the banister and jump on his back. In basketball I would hang onto the ball so tight the kids would pick it up with me still holding on. Tory the tiger!
If you don’t fight for what you want, who is going to?
I was the kid writing Bill Clinton demanding he save the rainforest after watching Fern Gully. My dad was in politics, and I grew up in DC – I am sure that contributed!
That is so amazing! Also Fern Gully was probably the most memorable cartoon I watched as a kid. Speaking of growing up, I’d love to know what you learned about beauty from your mother. What do you want to teach your own daughter Teagan about beauty?
That being beautiful is about loving yourself. It’s about dressing in a way that makes you feel your best not for someone else.
And that true beauty is who you are as a person, how you treat others, and what you contribute to this world. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
And don’t just be smart – work hard. I don’t care how smart you are – the ability to work hard is a million times more important.
I had a teacher in kindergarten who made me feel so dumb. To this day it still affects my confidence, but I learned to work hard from it. And even though I started out elementary school behind my peers, I graduated college a year early with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Another time that you made a stumbling block into a stepping stone! Impressive. I’m curious, do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Beauty is for you. It’s not for anyone else.
If you feel good and it makes you feel proud and stand up tall then you nailed it!
Yassss! Any style or beauty related splurges you treat yourself to?
I live in Minnesota – so my style is cute winter chic haha! I love Columbia winter coats with a tunic top, Fabletics leggings, and a cute Sorel bootie. I also love the Patagonia Better Sweater (size up!) and the Nano Puff are the best. I also love the UGG Waterproof Snow Boot and Old Navy Rockstar Jeans with an elastic waist.
You totally rock cute winter chic! Do you have any odd/funny beauty or fashion tricks you swear by?
Auden No Show Panties for the win with leggings! You can get them at Target.
Omg I know what I’m getting during my next Target retail therapy trip! Ok, how about your game changing beauty or style product?
My skin used to be so dry with living in such a cold climate! I found The Ordinary skincare line last year and adore it. My skin is so soft and moisturized!
I LOVE the Ordinary line as well! I swear by their Squalane Cleanser. It’s like Cetaphil for acne prone skin and super gentle. I once got all my girlfriends the Marula Oil for Christmas one year. It’s budget friendly enough that I was able to do that! Ok, what part of your appearance do you love most? How do you play up that feature?
I love my green eyes and hair. I love the L’ange electronic round brush hair dryer all in one and for my eyes a good eye shadow stick is my best friend! I also love NYX Doll Eye Mascara and their That’s the Point Eyeliner. For face I love Wet and Wild’s Photo Focus Foundation.
I do love a good round brush dryer. I have to say I LOVE your pandemic family photos! So funny and so timely. Since we’re all going through tough times right now, I’d love to pick your brain- any rituals/habits that help you feel your best?
Even though my kids don’t always nap anymore – I have mandatory quiet time. I turned a guest room into a playroom and put a camera in there. Now mommy can have a mid day break and recharge while the kids are in a safe, contained area of the house! To help keep it fun, I only let them play in it for quiet time mostly and I rotate out toys.
Genius mom hack! What are some things you do for self care? Any daily, weekly, monthly, or annual rituals?
During summers I always make sure to hire a sitter at least once a week to give me a break. Also, 1:1 dates with each of the kids and dates with my hubby. Spending time 1:1 with each person in my family is important to me. We also still travel even with kids. We NEED a sense of adventure.
Staying at home and just waiting for them to be older is too suffocating. It’s hard work, but it would be worse not being able to dream.
We bought a travel trailer with bunk beds this summer and made so many memories!
Yes! You inspired me to hire a babysitter for three hours a week! I love how you prioritize your needs too. Do you have any activities that make you feel great? Or any secret little tricks when you need a burst of energy?
I love doing anything creative. I love writing – I have two blogs.
I love design – walking through a store or looking at design blogs is something that gets me so excited.
There is no better feeling then walking into a room that makes you feel happy. Space is so impactful on my mood.
I also love planning adventures and dreaming! Since we have the travel trailer, I am already planning out all of our trip itineraries for next summer! These three things excite me!
It’s no wonder we are friends! Any life hacks that make you feel productive/accomplished?
Put an Alexa in every room in your house haha! Make lists and set alarms – it helps me run my household and is like having an assistant.
What about foods or drinks? What makes you feel healthy and glowing?
I do intermittent fasting. I eat from 12-8. It helps me stay at a good weight and helps me feel my best. But you better believe at 12:01 I am sipping my cold brew for the day! I love coffee.
I do intermittent fasting too, and I started doing my coffee at noon after this interview so I could have it creamy and sweet. I love your influence in my life! Speaking of influences, who has most influenced your style or ideas about what is beautiful?
Joanna Gains – everything about her. I love her style – how it is so natural and effortless. I love that she prioritizes her family time, and her spaces reflect that. She embraces everything home, not house, but home.
I love that differentiation. I know you and your husband Travis have been together a long time since you met when you were 16. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about relationships?
That it’s okay to go to bed angry with your spouse.
I realize this is not the typical advice – but I find this so freeing. My husband and I are opposites. And if you are in an opposites attract marriage like I am you know they are a lot of work! Problems do not need to be solved overnight. You are two very different people! One of you probably wants to work it out right then and there. And the other one needs time and space. What IS important is that you come together when you are both in the right headspace and compromise so that both of your needs are being met. The 5 love languages have helped us greatly! One area that was always a huge issue was weekends. My husband wanted to crash and relax. I wanted to go on all the adventures. So now one day is about relaxing and one day is about doing an adventure.
What great advice. I feel like I am always trying to settle things in the heat of emotion and it doesn’t hurt to wait until everyone is calm. Speaking of emotion, was there ever a movie you kept thinking about for days after seeing it? You know we are always looking for good media recommendations being at home all the time.
A Walk to Remember. I remember watching it as a teenager over winter break like 3 dozen times. It is tragic. I am a hopeless romantic so there is that. But what I think got me more than anything else was just life is so short, and you have to enjoy it. I married my high school sweetheart. We got engaged at 19. Married after college at 23. I felt SO judged at the time. But now that I am in my 30s I don’t care whatever people think, and living my truth sits well with me. My now husband of almost 9 years and I knew. And we lived life to the fullest and went for it. We didn’t waste precious time. We got to grow up together in the process.
You have always been a trail blazer, carving your own path in the world, which leads me to surrogacy. Will you tell us more about this journey?
I struggled with horrible infertility issues. I had severe pre eclamisa after delivering my daughter. I went on to miscarry our second after having hyperemesis gravidarum (what Kate Middleton suffered from during her pregnancies). I couldn’t carry more kids – it was too dangerous. And it was devastating- like diagnosed with PTSD earth shattering. Being a twin myself – not being able to give my daughter a sibling was heart wrenching. It was the darkest chapter of my life. I wallowed for months in my grief.
But I got to a point where I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. And so I started looking into surrogacy. I had seen a show on E! News – Guiliana and Bill. They had had a son via surrogacy and chronicled their journey on their reality show.
I knew it was a long shot, but I joined a Facebook page about surrogacy to learn more. A few weeks later I posted a picture of my daughter saying she needed her sibling and asked if anyone could help. This was on a national Facebook page. A woman 30 minutes away from my home town responded.
Long story short, 18 months later that woman birthed our biological son (we did IVF and put our biological embryo into Brandi’s uterus), Tommy. Tommy is now a thriving two year old and Teagan has been in love with her little brother from the beginning. Auntie Brandi, his surrogate, is still in our lives. Our son is loved by so many people.
It takes a village to raise a child and sometimes it takes a village to make a child.
You only have one life to live – fight, try, work hard! Try not to have regrets. If you don’t try the answer will always be no. Be brave.
What an amazing story! I can tell family is so important to you. What great thing did you learn from your parents?
The world is SO BIG – GO OUT AND SEE IT.
My parents were basically nomadic and having kids did not slow them down. By the time I was 6 months old, I had been to 23 states! We would drive all across the country in the summer and were almost never home. So far I have been to 48 states and a couple dozen countries. The road literally calls to me – like I need to see what is on the other side of that hill. You know the saying, “The Mountains are calling – I Must Go”. That’s me. Travis and I honeymooned in Central America, my sister and I went to Thailand on a whim, I spent a month touring Europe in college, and I tried not to throw up on a boat at the Cliffs of Moore in Ireland at 6 weeks pregnant with my first child.
Part of getting a travel trailer this summer was so that even with two young kids, we could still travel.
Is it hard? – oh hell yes. But is it possible. Yes. And is it worth it – YES.
What an amazing upbringing! Are there any family traditions you want to incorporate into your family now- new ones or one’s handed down from your childhood?
Every year growing up we would drive to Chicago and spend Christmas with my cousins. 30 years later and now we are going with our kids. The first night is to make your own pizza night. On Christmas Eve, we all go to the movies and come home to fancy dinner. Christmas day is spent opening gifts with mimosas and playing pickleball in the park. Its just the best tradition, and I am so grateful it lives on for my kids since it was such a big tradition for me growing up. My aunt just bought a cabin in Northern Wisconsin so we all meet up every summer for a weekend of pontooning and swimming now! Lake life!
Tory, you’ve inspired me to think of more traditions for my family! It has been such a pleasure interviewing you! Even though we Marco Polo every week, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you more than I ever could have any other way.
Will you let everyone know where they can find you?
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