One of our newest members of the Big Ocean Women communications team is a wonderfully insightful author, Emily Layton.
She grew up in Tempe, Arizona and is “the middle of five children.” She shared the following experience from her childhood: “Every summer growing up we went for a week or two to a cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona in a little town called Greer. That was my happy place and will always be a little piece of heaven. I can even smell the ponderosa pines and see the wildflowers now, as if I were there. I learned about the plants and animals all around there from field guides and hands-on lessons from my dad. I could hike all around those mountains exploring, and there was always something new to discover–from a field of wild raspberries to a lumbering porcupine (which are far bigger in real life than I imagined from cartoons). We would hike out to a particular place on the mountain where a plane crash, decades earlier, had burned away all the tall trees. From there you could see millions of stars and the stripe of the Milky Way across the night sky. I remember feeling so small compared to that majesty, and yet so known and loved by God at the same time.”
These experiences from her childhood helped to form her, and she wants to share the lessons she learned with women everywhere. She said, “Tragedy can lead to us seeing things we couldn’t otherwise, and the beauty and majesty of this amazing earth remind us that we are part of something far bigger than ourselves.”
She described her “opportunity to continue [her] education after high school” as “a great gift” because she has “an insatiable desire to learn and grow.” She received her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Human Development. Then she “worked with adults with disabilities in the community until the birth of her first of four children. While she had children at home, she taught preschool for many years, until she went back to BYU for her master’s degree. She said, “I did qualitative research in Marriage, Family, and Human Development and published a handful of scholarly articles.” Then she made the choice to become a homeschooling mother.
Today she lives with her husband, Todd, in Springboro, Ohio. She shared, “Our four oldest children are continuing their own educations in college and trade school, and I am enjoying my last year of homeschooling our youngest son before he begins attending a STEM school.”
When I asked what her biggest challenge in life has been, she said, “My biggest challenge in life has been dealing with a malformation of blood vessels in my midbrain. A series of bleeds over the years has led to a body that doesn’t function and feel like I wish it did.” The first symptoms started when she was 17, and she had an official diagnosis when she was 24. She continued, “It has progressed since then, most significantly in the past 8 years. Last March I had a bleeding episode while in Hawaii for a 25th anniversary trip. I have struggled most this past year with the consequences of that event.” With courage, she knows, “It’s a daily journey.” She types “with one hand because a tremor and altered sensation on the right side of my body limit me in many ways.” Continuing, she explained, “While I have tried to face my new reality with adaptability and tenacity, like with learning to write left-handed when I couldn’t hold a pencil in my right hand anymore, I also openly admit there is also grief and sadness mixed in there too. I have a much greater understanding of people who struggle with challenges that others don’t understand or even see. I am also growing to understand more deeply the reality of the mental and emotional struggles and illnesses that accompany chronic and progressive physical illnesses.”
Emily connected with Big Ocean Women through her “dear friend NiCole Hale,” our board secretary, “who is a wonderful example of a woman who engages fully with life to love and bless those around her.” When asked which tenet most resonates with her, Emily said, “I love and resonate with all the tenets so much!” Then she added that her favorite tenet is “probably #2 about recognizing and following our intuitive internal compass to speak and act with integrity.” She also said it is “closely followed by #3 about the importance of agency and accountability in our lives.”
Emily has accomplished a great deal in her life, especially overcoming and working through the obstacles she has faced and continues to deal with. She said, “Some days I have more courage than others. That’s why it’s great to be involved with an organization like this that helps me see the needs and struggles of others around the world that are far greater than my own struggles. We all need that reminder! I am grateful to associate with so many wonderful women.” We are grateful for her sharing her time, talents, and insights with us through her wonderful articles and association.
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