Hedge School
How to be Human Series
How to be Human with Laura Gibbons

How to be Human with Laura Gibbons

Our How to be Human interviews begins with my friend Laura Hatch, Ables, GIBBONS!!! Yes, I have known her through each of these name changes and still call her one or all three. I met Laura in Salt Lake City, Utah when I was about 15. She was in her twenties and seemed “so much older”. Her laugh is one of my absolute favorite things and she’s a wrangler of other humans. She can bring oddball groups of folks together who would never hang out otherwise and make them feel like they’re at a 6th grade birthday party with all of their best friends.

In August 2021 I got to go hiking with Laura through the foothills of Salt Lake City overlooking the northern part of the valley. During our conversations I learned something new about her, she loves mountain biking! And as she put it, “I’m a beginner. I’ve been a beginner for the last eight years.”

The humility she displayed in this simple sentence made my jaw drop. And, now I know I really want to go mountain biking with her!

We sat down together for our How to be Human chat over a month ago.

“I fly by the seat of my pants Lara, you should know that.”


Question 1: How to be human? What is the best integration of humanness?

“You know, that’s a good question actually, because I really I think you know me, I feel like you’re always evolving as a human. And I think you learn from other people. Just the different experiences you have with people and the relationships you form. Or even the experience of doing things like riding a bike or learning how to cook. Just all those fundamentals and I don’t think there’s any set things of “how” to be a human, but I just think that someone who learns along the way is better for it.

“I think you’re always evaluating yourself as a human and you can either evaluate negatively or positively or neutral! And I think as you get older you either get wiser, you learn from your mistakes, you learn from other people as you’re trying to be human. Or you take the example of people that are human in your life and try to be like that person.

“At this point in my life I think about, “What have I done in my life to impact my surroundings or the environment or the world, just people in general, I look to my parents who are really old now, they’re like in their 70’s and 80’s and I think about all the things that they have done.”

Question 2: How can we intentionally engage all humans to be more human?

“I think to engage, well it’s kind of funny, because my friends always say that my job in this world is to connect people. You know I guess I do that very well, that’s why I’m a recruiter. I think that anytime that you’re with people, is to engage people, to make them feel more human. To make them feel like they matter. To make them feel, hey someone cares about you.

Its quite interesting because someone told me, I randomly texted someone and I said to him, ‘Do you feel like I’m annoying you when I text?’ And he said to me, ‘No, I feel like when you text me it’s you saying ‘Hey I’m glad you’re my friend! I want to be your friend!’ And that really hit home to me. I was like oh, ok so that makes sense.

My son Michael just took Cotillion. It’s where you learn manners and how to have conversations. So, I said, ‘Oh with Covid now, how do you greet someone?’ And he said, ‘Well you don’t shake hands anymore because people have germs.’ So I said, ‘Ok well what do you do?’ And he said, ‘Well you smile with your eyes and you put your hand on your heart, like Hi!’ And I was like hmmm that’s really interesting. And it’s interesting when you look at people with masks on that the people who smile do light up! And the people who don’t smile you can tell when they’re not smiling, you know?”

I totally resonated with this sentiment from Laura saying, “That IS interesting! There is a gentleman that I walk by in my neighborhood and he always walks with a mask on. And if he’s on the same side of the road I make sure I cross the road so he has the space. He’s elderly, maybe 70 something. And every time that I pass by him, he puts his hand on his heart and does a little bow… And I feel it! Every time! And I feel, not like welcomed, but grateful like thank you to him for thanking me. You know?” We both himmed and hawed at the beauty of this gesture.

Next I asked Laura, Who inspires you in your life?

“Throughout my life I have been blessed with people that have been good mentors for me. Have picked me up when I think life is a struggle and saying ‘You can dot it!’ Or ‘This is what you need to learn.’ Like that. One example would be your father, Lonnie Foster.  He was one of the mentors that I could go to him and ask for advice.

I think me as a human, with my background, you know being adopted twice, in the foster system, and having so many people at a young age be a part of my life, as I’ve evolved I feel like the people that really inspired me I started borrowing from them, like I wanna be like this person.”

“You know one thing that my father always told me is, ‘You know people say they don’t have choices, and every day you do have a choice. You have a choice whether you can be happy, you can be sad, you have a choice of whether to work harder’ Or whatever it might be he would just be like, ‘Always know that you have a choice.’ And my father is, my adopted father right now, is one of the people that really has helped me to be a good human.

“When I think of human, I think of personal touch, personal relationships”

- Laura

I remember when I was little and my parents were, I went from a Catholic family to a Mormon family, and I remember having a hard time with my life at that time. I was in middle school. And I just remember a church leader that took me under their wing , and I’d be like I just don’t know who I am, what I need to be.. And, she just really helped me.”

“One time I said to my therapist, ‘I don’t want to be a mom.’ I never wanted to be a mom. I never thought to be a mom. And she was like why? And I said well, because I’m terrified to be a mom. I’ve had this experience, I’ve had this experience and this experience. And she said to me, ‘What if you could take all the positives, the things you like about those experiences and you can create to be your own mom? The way you wanna be a mom?’ and I was like hmmm… that definitely made sense.

I am blessed to have Peyton, my daughter who’s in college now, she would also be another one that’s very inspiring to me. I think she taught me a lot to be an adult. I have a very childlike personality. I don’t always know what the reality is. And I think my husband is another good one. Jim is someone that I’m like I wish I could be a little stronger like that. I wish I could be more realistic.

And I just think that’s the one thing I try to do is integrate myself with people that have really inspired me or that I look up to.

Everybody has shit in their life, things that they have to go through. Everybody has challenges and one thing I’ve learned through the years of growing up is that your shit is no better than someone else’s shit, or your shit is not worse than anyone else’s shit. Everybody deals with their shit in their own way. Sorry to keep saying shit. J But you can’t compare yourself to other people.”

Question 3 continued: What are the practices of these humans that inspire you?

“I hear this a lot from people. You should always think good intentions of people instead of thinking the worst about people. To always think good intentions, that they’re trying to make good intentions. I also believe that you should be selfless and helping people. There’re two rules at our house that we follow with our kids, we’re not very strict. And one is respect. And one is honesty. And those are the two rules that we have. It’s really important to respect other people. And be kind. People don’t like people that are mean. That’s something that I strive to be kind even if people are mean.

Question 4: What are easy reminders to be more human, when some around us are walking (and talking) a little less human? Perhaps more “programmed/conditioned”?

I went on to continue my interpretation of this question, “To me being more human is being able to have your own perspective and being able to listen and empathize with another perspective regardless of whether it’s toward the same view point as yours.”

Laura added, “Whenever I see something that is like people are just more robotic, or really negative, I try really hard not to get sucked into that. And it’s kind of hard sometimes. I have to remind myself why I’m doing something and why I like it. My husband is a good reminder actually, to be honest. Other people remind me.”

Her words reminded me of Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why, “Oh I see, so really getting grounded into your Why…”

“Yes! And You can use books! You can use music!  Some downtime, I’ll even listen to classical music or I’ll listen to Christian music. Those are things that kind of pep me up. My children remind me. Michael, I have this 12-year-old that I’m responsible for and I have to be a good example. And if I’m negative all the time he’s going to be negative all the time. And if I’m positive he’ll be positive. And that saying of show by example and not teach by words, it’s true!” Laura exclaimed.

Question 5: How do I reconcile where I am with where I want to be with grace and ease?

“I think it’s important that you figure out what you want. What’s the outcome that you want? And how are you going to get there? And getting there you have to do it in a positive way. You have to do it so you’re not demeaning yourself. You’re not demeaning anybody else. You also value who you are and not letting people walk all over you. Or whatever it might be.

Something that’s helped me is that I have a goal in mind. One time I went through a period where I wasn’t happy. And I was like I want to be happy. And I had to figure out how to be happy on m own. So, I would write notes actually and I would put sticky notes on my wall. And my daughter does the same thing it’s kind of funny and I never told her. She writes notes to herself and it says, “You are worth it” “You are worthy” “You matter” “People like you.” And, that really helped me I think to get me through that period.

I also think that you rely on other people. People that have gone through it. Like teach me about forgiveness. You’re really good at forgiveness. Teach me that. Or how are you able to forgive so easily?

Write down what do you want to do? What do you want the outcome to be? What are the things you can take steps on? That you’re capable of now? You can’t tell someone the steps they have to take. They have to kind of figure that out in a way of their own in a sense. You can guide them and say, ‘This is what I would do,’ but it’s not so much like that, it’s important to ask, ‘Is this something you would do?’ And a lot of times when people are making decisions I always tell them. Make a list. Write down the positives. Write down the negatives of it. And write down the things that you want out of it. Because I think people forget about what they truly want. You can always write down the positive and negative, but I don’t think they always write down internally what they want or how to get there.

And you need to know you’re not going to get there immediately. You have to be patient with yourself. It’s an evolving thing. It’s not something you’re going to do overnight. And you have to do it as a habit. Like forgiveness, or whatever it might be. So that’s what I would recommend to people.

And I’ve always had this belief, go to people who are professionals at what you’re trying to do in life. Whatever it may be. Because maybe they can give you an insight that nobody can.”

I wrapped up our conversation sharing my takeaway from what Laura just said, “Know what you want. Treat yourself well along the way. And ask for help from the experts. Boom!” We had another final giggle together after this.

Sitting with Laura helped me remember to anchor into my Why… who or what is my Why. Directly after we spoke I felt so solid about who I am and where I’m at in my life. This sense of leaning on the Why stayed with me for days after our chat.

Huge thanks to Laura for being a part of the How to be Human Interviews. Stay tuned tomorrow where we share our next deep dive with Dave Seljestad. Until then, stay cool Hedge Schoolers!

Hedge School
How to be Human Series
Charted explorations of humanness by a collective of humans walking their own path in life