You Belong Here! with Michelle Torsak
Did you know that the inspiration for Magnify came from a scripture in Luke chapter 1 verse 46? Living as joyful and wholehearted followers of Jesus isn’t easy. We need the influence of each other to help us muster our courage. And that’s what you’ll find in the Magnify community: encouragement, strength, and inspiration to live differently and to make a difference as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
We don't always realize our power as women when we come together. We are mighty as individuals, but when we come together, we can do amazing things collectively.
The mission of Magnify is to use our influence as followers of the Savior to try to make a difference in the world. Our guest today is Michelle Torsak, the Director of Content and Communities for Deseret Book, and the creator and executive producer of the Magnify podcast. She has helped to shape this vision, and we are so excited to have her here to help us kick off the new year!
Top takeaways from this episode:
- Learn how Magnify came from a scripture, and turned into an entire community.
- Women are strong when we work together. Invite your community to join Magnify!
- We are women who live differently by being disciples of the Savior.
- In the new year, you can look forward to discussions about how we can find the wholeness of our souls as faithful women.
Small & Simple Challenge
Go to our website and download this new year's manifesto! Share it with other women in your life and join the Instagram to share your insights and feel strengthened together with women across the community.
Sister Patricia Holland's General Conference Talk "One Thing Is Needful"
Kathryn Davis 00:00
Did you know The inspiration for Magnify came from a scripture we studied last week in come follow me. Hi, and welcome to magnify, an LDS Living podcast where we cheer, inspire and embolden each other as women and followers of Christ. We hope to use our influence to make a difference in the world. I'm your host, Kathryn Davis, a mom, a seminary teacher, and a grilling enthusiast who loves God. Living as joyful and wholehearted followers of Jesus isn't easy. We need the influence of each other to help us muster our courage. And that's what you'll find in the Magnify community, encouragement, strength and inspiration to live differently, and to make a difference as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is the mission of magnify. And our guest today is a friend of mine and someone I admire and I have loved the chance to get to know and work closely with Michelle Torsak is the director of content and communities for Deseret Book, and the creator and executive producer of the Magnify podcast. And we are so excited that Michelle is here to help us kick off this New Year. Michelle, I'm so excited you're here.
Michelle Torsak 01:14
Well, I'm so excited to be here. I'm a huge fan of yours, Kathryn. So this is just like, the best part of my day.
Kathryn Davis 01:21
Mine too, Michelle. Mine too. So as you know, we like to ask a couple of rapid fire questions so that our listeners can get to know our guests a little bit better. So are you ready for some questions?
Michelle Torsak 01:35
Okay, let's do it.
Kathryn Davis 01:36
Okay, so I know you like to travel. You've just gotten back from a couple fabulous trips. But I want to know, where is the next place you want to visit on your travel list?
Unknown Speaker 01:48
Oh, the next place. This is where it's hard because my husband, he likes kind of just go into the same familiar places. And so he wants our next place to go to Kauai, because we love going to Kauai. I think I would love to go to New Zealand. I don't know there's a big distance between Hawaii and New Zealand so we'll see if we compromise.
Kathryn Davis 02:10
So fun and a long flight involved.
Michelle Torsak 02:13
and a really long flight, but people love New Zealand, it would be really fun.
Kathryn Davis 02:18
I would love that. Okay, my next question is you used to work in television for a number of years. And so what is the craziest story you have had working on a live set?
Michelle Torsak 02:30
Oh, okay. Probably one of the craziest stories. I was working. I won't use names here. But I was working with talent. So you call the person that's like in front of the camera. That's just what you say is talent. And this individual had a tooth that fell out on the air? No, yes. No joke. And immediately felt it. And so it was like pull them off. And yeah, fix that little issue. It was crazy.
Kathryn Davis 03:00
Okay, that's so funny. I'd be so nervous. I know. Isn't that crazy? What is the thing that you miss about working on television?
Unknown Speaker 03:10
Well, I miss... so I created a show called studio five. And I loved that show, because it was really an opportunity to focus on creating content that strengthened women. I mean, I get to do that now. But there was something about doing that in that live television environment. So So there's so much adrenaline in that. And so I think I missed that I miss the adrenaline rush of it.
Kathryn Davis 03:33
Are you a little bit of an adrenaline junkie?
Unknown Speaker 03:35
No, I'm not. That's what's so funny to do anything. I don't do anything crazy. I don't do anything. And so it's odd that I would like that. But I do. And the thing about TV is you do it and you make mistakes. And then it's just done like it's done. There's nothing you can do in life television. So you just have to move on the next day. There's something about that, but so exhilarating.
Kathryn Davis 03:57
You know what, that's also I think a great life lesson. Really, is that it really is right? We can mess up and it's okay. You just move on. Don't dwell on it.
Michelle Torsak 04:06
Yep. You just move on. Yep. I love that we can start over every day. I love that.
Kathryn Davis 04:11
Okay, so here's my last question. You and I are both Diet Coke drinkers.
Michelle Torsak 04:16
Yes, we are. We've got our diet coke. The least I do. I have my diet coke right here.
Kathryn Davis 04:21
So do I Is yours a McDonald's diet coke?
Michelle Torsak 04:26
McDonald's, you've got yours in the Stanley.
Kathryn Davis 04:29
So I have a question. What do you think is the longest amount of time that you could go without a Diet Coke?
Unknown Speaker 04:38
Oh, well, I've had to go a day before but like, like seriously? I don't go very long. Because even like when I do girls camp or something, like pack them up or I yeah, I mean, I would do it if I had to but like, I need a Diet Coke once a day.
Kathryn Davis 04:59
Yeah. Okay, I could probably go longer than that. Could you? Yeah, I could if I want.
Michelle Torsak 05:06
I think at this point, it's called addiction and I, I have a problem I need to work on.
Kathryn Davis 05:11
Okay. What's so funny is my daughter just got home from her mission. And she was serving in Lithuania where they don't have Diet Coke. And so yeah, so she got off the plane and the first thing, can we stop and get a Diet Coke? And that was it. That's what we did.
Michelle Torsak 05:29
How did it taste your at that point?
Kathryn Davis 05:31
She loved it. She just like held it in her hands. I filmed her because it was so Oh, funny. She like held in her hands and took that sip and closed her eyes and was just like, Oh, I've missed this.
Michelle Torsak 05:44
Oh, I love that. I love that.
Kathryn Davis 05:47
So funny. Well, I am so excited to talk with you today about magnify, and get the story behind your vision and your dream. And you and I have had lots of conversations about magnify. But I would love for you to share here a little bit about your inspiration.
Unknown Speaker 06:08
Well, I'll tell you a little bit about the name a couple of years ago, I decided to study the miracles of Jesus. And so I studied in the New Testament and I just started at the beginning in Luke one. This is probably a section that I probably don't know, I've probably read it a dozen times in my life. Yeah, I read it differently this time. And so this is actually what we read in Come follow me this past week. So it's kind of interesting timing. But just for context, this is the chapter where the angel visits Mary and I like to assume that he asked her if she would be willing to be the mother of Jesus. And she accepted the call. And then we read later in that chapter in verse 46. It says, Mary said, "my soul doth magnify the Lord." And that word magnify stood out to me. And I learned that magnify refers to Mary's efforts to praise the Lord and to help others see his greatness. And I fell in love with Mary in that moment, like, I think she is this amazing female role model. And I wanted to be a Mary. It's interesting in my work, one of the things that I do, I'm the director of content for the timeout for women, which is an event that we do at Deseret Book. I have the opportunity to travel all around the country to do these events. And so I meet women from all over and I have met Mary's. Mary-like women in all of these different places in Atlanta, and Denver and Seattle. So when this opportunity to develop something new for Deseret Book, I think the seed had been planted. And I just I was like, it's got to be called magnify. And so that's really the inspiration behind the name.
Kathryn Davis 07:54
And actually, as I read those verses this week, I never have read that that way. And I will never look at it the same. Right? Can I be one of those voices to praise the Lord? Yes. And to point people to the Savior. Isn't that what Mary did?
Michelle Torsak 08:12
Yeah, that is totally what she did. And like you I mean, I hadn't... I don't know, for whatever reason, it had never quite hit me that way.
Kathryn Davis 08:19
Michelle, I love that you are on that mission to point people towards the Savior and praising him because that's what I feel this is all about right.
Michelle Torsak 08:28
I hope so.
Kathryn Davis 08:29
So why did Deseret Book decide to launch magnify?
Michelle Torsak 08:33
You know, Sherri Dew said something that I think is absolutely stunning. She said if we could unleash the full influence of covenant keeping women, that the kingdom of God and the world would change overnight. And I remember, I think she said that at a, maybe a BYU Women's Conference. And that's always stuck in my head. It's so powerful. And I've thought a lot about that. How do we unleash our power is covenant keeping women? And I think that one of the ways that we can do that is by coming together and encouraging each other and supporting each other. And we do that in our local congregations. But technology makes it possible to come together on an even bigger scale. And here's what I've learned choosing to follow Jesus Christ is choosing to live differently. And it's hard to be different. And we need each other to muster the courage to be different and to to walk this path and walk it joyfully. I think that's why it's so important to us as we see this opportunity to gather women from all over the world.
Kathryn Davis 09:45
I believe that and I love that quote by Sherri Dew that the world would change overnight. And I don't think that's just something to say that sounds nice. I think there is such power and truth in that statement. That truly coming together, we can change the world. Right? Yeah, that empowers me. I love that idea of empowering women in all walks of life to change the world.
Michelle Torsak 10:12
Yeah, I don't think we always realize our power as women. And we are so much stronger when we come together. I mean, we're mighty as individuals. But I think when we come together, we can do amazing things collectively.
Kathryn Davis 10:24
So powerful. I often use this example of, you know, you can put a stick or a pencil or, or something on its own, and it breaks if you snap it, but you put them together, and no matter how strong you are, they won't break.
Unknown Speaker 10:37
See you're the best seminary teacher. What a great object lesson.
Kathryn Davis 10:40
So good. But that's what I hope we're doing is coming together. Yeah. So that we can strengthen each other and not break. So as you have started Magnify, and as you begin to see this vision unfold, what do you hope, magnify becomes?
Unknown Speaker 10:59
You know, one of my favorite things is when I get to go to lunch with girlfriends. I love to go to lunch with you. In fact, we did that a couple of weeks ago. And, you know, it seems like I'm always, and I think we all are, but I often feel spread thin, and I feel weary. And so I love those lunches, because it's a chance to like sort through the important things. And I always, I always leave strengthened and lifted. And so I like to think that Magnify is like lunch with friends, where we can get together on a much bigger scale at around a much bigger table and remind each other that we're doing okay, and that it's all going to work out because we've got Jesus. And that's what I hope magnify becomes, as I like to think of it as lunch with girlfriends.
Kathryn Davis 11:54
So have you experienced that as Magnify's begun to develop? Have you felt that strengthening? Have you felt that renewal?
Unknown Speaker 12:04
Yes, I have. In fact, just the other day, we did a post about what it means to embolden. And embolden is such an interesting word. And somebody commented, she said, let's all go out and be "emboldeners". And then she said, Is that even a word? But like, it's just a little comment like that. That's like the rallying cry that we need. And she made that one comment, and I gotta tell you, that has stuck in my head. I'm like, I'm gonna be an emboldener today. And it's that kind of thing that I think that we can use to benefit and like, lift each other.
Kathryn Davis 12:36
I think that's what I have been the most humbled about being involved with this, and that you asked me to be involved with this was, first of all, a little overwhelming, and a little out of the blue, and I didn't feel equipped or prepared. You know, this was definitely not in my comfort zone. But I think as I've just been able to rub shoulders with you, and so many amazing people, I am humbled, and I am in awe of how much goodness there is and how people in every walk of life are trying to draw closer to the Savior, and trying to share his light and love. And I think that's what I've loved as I've just had a few people reach out or, or tell me an experience they had of listening to the podcast and somebody had mentioned about, you know, expanding our circles or loving well, and then they went into a situation with that on their mind and in their heart. And they were able to handle that situation different because they had just been reminded of the power and the influence that they have. And as they turn to Jesus Christ that he can magnify our influence. And I love seeing that I love being a part of that.
Michelle Torsak 13:58
I do too. It's thrilling. It really is. Yeah.
Kathryn Davis 14:01
So what can we look forward to in the new year, Michelle?
Unknown Speaker 14:05
Well, in the new year, so I have been really inspired by this talk that Patricia Holland gave. And the name of the talk is "one thing needful: becoming women of greater faith in Jesus Christ." And this is a talk that she gave in 1987. So I did the math like 36 years ago. And this talk reads like it was written for today. And I just want to share something from this talk that sister Holland said she said, "I believe we can find our steady footing and stilling of the soul by turning away from physical preoccupations, Superwoman accomplishments and endless popularity contests, and returning the instead to the wholeness of our soul, that unity in our very being that balances the demanding and inevitable diversity of life." And I think that is women. That's the outcome we're looking for is wholeness of soul. And I think the way we find it is in strengthening faith in Jesus Christ. And so this is our theme for this year, wholeness of soul. And we're going to kind of unpack it and explore all throughout the year on the podcast, and on Instagram and in our newsletter. And I'm so excited about that about having the conversation and and dialoguing and exploring what this looks like to find wholeness of soul through Jesus Christ.
Michelle Torsak 14:05
And that he really is the only one who can provide a wholeness of soul. Absolutely. There is so much to talk about. Yeah, there's so much to talk about. It's so exciting. We're going to invite everybody to read this talk together. And we're going to do a podcast episode around it, because it's just, it's such a powerful talk.
Kathryn Davis 15:57
Yeah. And can we talk about the manifesto for a moment? Yes. I love that first line, where it says, Let us be women who dare to live differently. And I know we've talked about this before. Michelle, what do you think it means to live differently? What does that mean to you?
Unknown Speaker 16:17
So, first of all, let me just tell everybody the power of like, I love a good manifesto. Yes.
Kathryn Davis 16:22
Oh, please do.
Unknown Speaker 16:23
So if there's anybody that's listening. That's a Chip and Joanna Gaines fan like I am they at the end of their magazine have they call it the Magnolia manifesto. And it's really kind of just a vision document, like just something that inspires you in quick phrases. And so we created a manifesto for this year to go along with this new theme. And we have a beautiful writer on our magnify team, Julie Taylor, and she synthesized some of these thoughts that Sister Holland talked about. And then we have an equally amazing designer Holly Robinson, who put it together in this beautiful document. And so that's the manifesto. And to your point, the first line talks about having the courage to live differently. And to me, I think living differently means turning away from the things that the world presents as being valuable. Things like visibility, and affluence and this kind of extreme focus on ourselves and doing all the things and going all the places. And that's hard, because I think there's a little bit of FOMO in turning our back on that. Yeah, you know, I'm inspired. There's that famous talk by President Kimball from it comes that quote that maybe a lot of us are familiar with, where he talks about women being a significant force for good,
Kathryn Davis 17:45
The one that he had his wife read? Yeah, that he had his was at conference because he was sick in the hospital. And so Camilla came and read that.
Unknown Speaker 17:53
Yes. And it was so good. And one of the things that he says in that talk is he says the real heroines will be women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish, and heroines who will have true humility, placing a higher value on integrity than visibility. And in today's world, I think there's such a call to be visible. And so this is, to me an example of what it means to live differently. And it takes courage to turn our back on some of this stuff.
Kathryn Davis 18:25
Yeah, I agree. And I like that idea of how you were explaining a manifesto. To me, it kind of seems like a vision board. Right?
Michelle Torsak 18:34
It is like a vision board.
Kathryn Davis 18:36
Yeah, in January, everybody's putting together their vision boards or their words or their phrases, or whatever that may be, or maybe none. And that's okay, too. If that all is overwhelming.
Unknown Speaker 18:48
You know what, I love that that's exactly what it is. It's just a vision board with these phrases that can remind us of what we value and who we're becoming and what's important to us.
Kathryn Davis 18:59
And to dare to live differently, whether that's to turn our backs on attention, or the need for validation from others instead of just being validated from God. Yeah, I think it's also where we choose to find rest in a world that is ever more pushing us to go harder and stronger and faster and choose to be different to look to what is truly valuable and important and put our energy in those things. Sometimes that's to stop and to rest, I think to live differently means that it changes the focus of our lives. It's just that we're trying. Right, Michelle, we're just trying to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Unknown Speaker 19:48
Absolutely. Don't you feel like that's a little bit what President Nelson was really trying to invite us to think about at general conference is this idea of like of Rest. But in order to find that rest, like pushing back against the world, all those things that the world is telling us to your point that we have to run faster and do more and be more visible. And you know, it's pushing against all of those things and saying, No, we don't. And I do. I think there's rest in that.
Kathryn Davis 20:18
Yeah. Rest in the Lord. Yeah. And I think that is living differently. Not frantic. Yeah. Right.
Michelle Torsak 20:25
Yeah, I agree.
Kathryn Davis 20:26
There's so much to unpack. And there's so much good that we can do together. Yeah. And that's what's so exciting about this community is, can we come together as women to build support, strengthen, encourage, cheer, and be there for each other, and the power that can come in that. I love that you have this vision, Michelle, it is inspiring to me. It's exciting to be a part of.
Michelle Torsak 20:53
Let's do it!
Kathryn Davis 20:54
Let's do it. Let's do it. As you know, each episode, we like to close with a small and simple challenge, a challenge that can help us focus on Jesus Christ and something that is easy for us to do. So what is your small and simple invitation this week?
Unknown Speaker 21:14
Okay. So my small and simple invitation is to download the manifesto, print it, you can frame it, you can hang it on your fridge, or if you're not a print person, that's totally okay. You can put it as like the background on your phone. But just I think to have that visual reminder can really be powerful. And share it with another woman, share it with your ministering sister or share it with somebody and invite them to join with us. Because I think that's what we want. Here's the thing with magnify, it's not about any one person. It's about all of us. And so we need everybody, we need everybody to come together and share and inspire and comment. And when somebody has a story or an idea, like we want to hear it, let's figure out how to share all of the great things that that we're doing as women. And so that's my small and simple challenge is print the manifesto, maybe share it with someone else.
Kathryn Davis 22:16
And actually, it reminds me of one line from the manifesto that says this. Let us remember who we are, where we came from, and where we are going, right isn't that as we can come together, remember who we are, and encourage each other on that path and where we come from our identity, our purpose, our value of who we are as daughters of God, and how much he loves us and that together. We are not alone, even though I think so many of our listeners feel more isolated with whatever their circumstances are. For some they're more isolated and feeling alone. And can we reach out and support those who are feeling that way? And for those of us who just need more encouragement and more togetherness, and let's change the world.
Unknown Speaker 23:11
Yeah. Oh, my goodness, so fun to be with you, Kathryn. You're just a voice that I love. And I think you're the perfect person for this role and for having these conversations and pulling out these insights. And so thank you.
Kathryn Davis 23:25
Well, thank you for letting me be a part of it. I think that's what I love the most is. I honestly feel so excited every week about who I get to talk to because I had to learn. I have a little notebook that after every interview, I write down everything that I've learned and I just am along for the ride with everybody else because of the things I get to learn and who I can become. Michelle, it was so fun to have you here. Thank you. Thanks for being with us today. And don't forget to join us over on Instagram at magnify community. And of course, subscribe and listen to the magnify podcast wherever you get your shows. Let's do this together and let's meet up again next week.