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Life Lessons: Elke Goversten

Elke

Life Lessons:
Elke Goversten

*Are you happy at the moment?

Yes… and no. I think I am a very positive person, but with a constant drive to do more, go bigger, push harder. My kids are doing great at the moment and honestly that trumps all.

In general though I tend to be very happy. One of my closest friends always asks me “What color is the sky in your world?” due to my relentless optimism.

*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

Lighten up. You are far too serious. This is the time in your life to be silly, have fun and let people take care of you. Good grades are a good thing, but not the best thing.

And don’t shave your legs–like ever. And wear more bikinis. Really, you should wear one every single day. And you should totally, totally ask Louie Flora out on a date.

And the guys that you are “too good of friends with to date” —well, honey.. you will regret those missed opportunities.

*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

This has been a big year. I think I have learned how to better care for myself independently of the circumstances of the others around me. I have learned how to breathe.

I also learned how to surf, which sounds silly, but was a huge deal for this terrified-
of-swimming gal. I had forgotten how amazing it can be to do something you are scared to do for FUN.

*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

Mamalode has a trademarked holiday called Mother’s Day Eve® that is going national and we are hoping to have women celebrating together in all 50 states. I want Mamalode to be a nationally known magazine. I have goals around analytics and margins and the like, but mostly I want more women to get to partake in this awesome community.

Personally, I want to get more exercise, see more friends, and have a garden. They are all quiet and simple things, but I need them to counter my noisy busy business.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

I can’t tell. It’s a secret.

And I don’t know. I seem to have to learn the same lessons over and over.

But a surefire way for me to be happy would include warm socks, guacamole, friends, Nutella and my family—in one combination or another.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

I am really committed to sleeping well. Earplugs, bite guard, humidifier. When I get run down, I shut down, so sleep is a really imperative commitment.

I also love to unplug every summer in Alaska for a couple of weeks with my kids.

The time, ocean and freedom are much needed.

*What’s your biggest regret?

Jeeze, that’s a tough one… I would have to say those days when my kids were babies and I was just getting through my days. I would like those back.

*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

To be honest people. Unflinching and kind at the same time.

To rock their messy hair like it is just the look you are going for.

That no one should be alone on Thanksgiving and there is ALWAYS room for more people at the table.

That being home rivals any adventure—both are important.

*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I am a terrible interrupter. Especially when I am excited so I wind up interrupting the people who mean the most to me.

*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

Mamalode has grown from an idea, to a party, to a national magazine. It has been a ton of work and fear and persevenece and creativity. I think people often want to attribute other’s successes to luck, but man, it is amazing the amount of work it takes to be lucky. I am really proud that Mamalode is where it is.

*When were you happiest?

Two delivery rooms. A boat in Alaska. A beach in Mexico. A sunbeam anywhere.

*What ten words best describe you?

Ideas, Relationships, Hopeful, Hungry, Hardworking, Cozy, Smart, Funny, Tired, Mama

Elke Govertsen has been a fighter, a lover and an inspired story-teller from a young age – all qualities that would eventually shape her into the epitome of a modern, young mother leading the charge for Mamalode.

Growing up, she was raised in poverty in a tiny town in Alaska. While her home had no electricity, plumbing or running water, Elke never thought of her family as poor when she was a child. Living this freely let her imagination run wild and, as a young kid, there was something magical about her mother giving her a dusty can of peaches as a treat. Her upbringing made her aware of the world around her and she grew up with a drive for exploration and discovery.

Elke’s first job was as a welder, and as a side job, she built hot tub stoves. After working with her hands for a while, she decided to pursue something with more heart. She began to work with terminally ill children and with facilities such as the Paul Newman camps. Her work touched her so much she decided it was important to visit more of the world to see how she could help, so she went on a volunteer trip to Peru to work with at-risk groups, including malnourished families, child prostitutes, and the remote Quechua tribes. While her trip was fulfilling and life-changing, it would also wind up being a harrowing experience. She came home with a vicious case of typhoid that ruptured her gall bladder, and then resulted in peritonitis the next day. For a year she fought to stay alive, to recover and to heal. The 10 inch scar on her belly is a constant reminder of her ability to survive and thrive.

At 26 years old, she became pregnant with her first child. But, after suffering from symptoms of the Typhoid illness only one year earlier, her unexpected pregnancy seemed like a miracle. She and her then boyfriend were young, not married, and still lived with roommates making less than $1,000/month combined. Her conflicting emotions that came with motherhood felt wrong somehow, and it wasn’t until she started talking honestly and authentically to other moms that her guilt eased and hard parts became fun.

Elke saw there was magic to this coming together with other moms not just for the kids, but for the mothers themselves. She launched Mother’s Day Eve® (MDE) as a night to celebrate each other in 2005 right after her second son was born. Ten years later, it has since grown into a national holiday. Mamalode Magazine sprang from MDE as a way for moms to connect and share. In six weeks she issued her first magazine and website as a free local print publication in 2009, but it was nothing grand until regional advertisers and readers began to support and share the magazine all over the country. Mamalode soon had subscribers in all 50 states and in 10 other countries. Elke loves starting things, naming things and executing ideas to their fullest. Her greatest business superpower is relationships the network supporting Mamalode has be instrumental to its growth and success. She is a problem solver. She has never met an obstacle she hasn’t liked, and they always turn out to be the catalysts for a revision or change that is needed. “There is always, always a way around, and if there isn’t, blow it up, or sell it. But never ever let it stop you.”

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