In pulling this issue together I kept coming back to this idea of filling up.

I was sitting in Wendy Lofthouse’s kitchen when she shared some hard truths with me that were sewn into her reasons for becoming a body builder. The first truth was about her sibling who had drown when she was a young girl. The second truth wasn’t when she learned that her son had cerebral palsy, it was when a nurse said to her, “most babies like him end up in institutions.” It was the sting of those words. Her choice to love hard and fearlessly—her vulnerability—had filled me up. 

While at Melissa Lafontaine’s Wild Rising Girls launch party I met a new friend, Jenny Zaso, who ironically shares the same alma mater as me 2,400 miles east. When I asked what led her to Montana I learned of her love and loss and the singed hearts that wildfires sometimes leave behind. She was a portrait of bravery and, in an instant, I’d felt like I’d known her all my life. Her radiance filled me. 

I’d seen photographs of Mariah Scheskie unloading dogs from planes, giving them another chance at a fair life here under the big sky, and I marveled with Asta at the ways in which technology has developed new avenues for our local businesses, graduates, and those returning to the workforce. Dr. Givler, who seems to carry with her a contagious joy, is guiding the women of our community into motherhood all the day long.

The work they do inspires me to learn more, do better, and help harder.

The women on the cover are new friends. They are the ever-lit light in our community, each one a representative of how we can be vastly different in our career or life paths yet mirrors for each other when we let our hearts show. In the face of tragedy or opportunity, they have run toward instead of away.

In reading the stories within this issue, I hope you are inspired to live your best life, unapologetically. They certainly inspire me. I am filled, my cup runneth over.

On the Cover

Meet the women who move & shake our Missoula: Dr. Givler, Wendy Lofthouse, Asta So, Melissa Lafontaine, Jenny Zaso, and Mariah Scheskie.

Photography Pamela Dunn-Parrish