The 'Voice' coach opens up in PEOPLE's latest cover story about marriage, raising three boys and staying inspired in her peaceful new chapter
Gwen Stefani can't quite believe it: She's turned into her parents.
"When I was young, I'd walk home from school and see my mom in her shorts doing her gardening, and my dad would be cutting the trees and make me pick up the branches. I'd be like, 'I'm never having a tree at my house,'" she recalls.
They have sunflowers. Zinnias. Even plots of corn. "I just had the most incredible dahlias ever," says Stefani, 53, beaming as she describes herself as a "garden flower nerd" after her PEOPLE cover shoot in Los Angeles. "When we get to Oklahoma, we're constantly working — and it's a different kind of work. It's probably what my mom was doing back in the day, and now I get it!"
Stefani — who wed Shelton in 2021 — still feels surprised by the decidedly un-Hollywood turn her life has taken in the past decade.
"I didn't see any of this coming with Blake. This was just a big old 'What?' It was an amazing gift to experience love like that for the first time," she says of falling for the country superstar, 47, and his down-home life after meeting in 2014 on the set of The Voice.
"He's changed my life ... when I [started dating] Blake, that's when I felt home, like, 'Oh, this is where I'm supposed to be, with this guy."
A doting stepdad, Shelton introduced Stefani and her boys (their dad is the rocker's ex-husband Gavin Rossdale) — Kingston, 17, Zuma, 15, and Apollo, 9 — to a more adventurous world outside the glare of Hollywood.
"I am not really a dirt person, a bug person, I don't like that much humidity," jokes Stefani. "But it's so beautiful [in Oklahoma], and you kind of feel like you're going into this vortex. Nature — and God — is all right there."
The peace she's found has reinvigorated her passion for music and creation. Throughout her 20s and 30s the singer hustled nonstop in music, fronting the rock band No Doubt before going solo and embarking on multiple international tours while raising her boys.
Looking back, she feels protective of her younger self. "I took Kingston on a world tour [when he was 9 months old]. I would have to nurse him, then get onstage, come off, and he would twirl my ponytail," she recalls. "That's when things got really hard for me emotionally. That time is so precious, and you don't want to miss anything."
At the time, Stefani says she powered through with a personal goal in mind: "When my kids were teenagers, I really wanted to make sure that I was home for them — and here we are," she says.
Shelton announced he was stepping away from The Voice after 23 consecutive seasons last fall, and it "was a huge family choice," says Stefani. "I am happy for him because he has space to do all these other hobbies and things he wants to do."
"I was really weirded out like, 'What's it going to be like without Blake?' But we are having so much fun," she says. "At the end of the day, coaching these humans who are so gifted ... I love it."
Aside from working on NBC's singing competition show, Stefani is also writing and recording new music. "I'm never going to write anything that's not just completely reflective of what's going on in my life," she says. "Before I wrote my first song, I was this dyslexic girl who didn't know how I fit in. Then I was like, 'Oh, this is my magic power.' I'm so honored that I got the gift to be able to write music, and I take it super seriously."
"Everybody pretty much knows that at one point my life fell apart. It was terrible, and there's so many people out there that have gone through the same thing. When that happened, I had to literally start over again. It was a reset of my life," she says of conceiving the brand while navigating her divorce from Rossdale in 2016.
"There are so many people that are around my age that want to still feel pretty and feel good when they wake up in the morning. It gets harder," she adds. "I think with makeup, it doesn't matter what age you are. It gives you that confidence, that feeling of creativity."
She's feeling more fulfilled than ever these days, but after decades of juggling a packed schedule Stefani acknowledges life can still feel "chaotic."
"It's literally schedule, schedule, schedule. [But] there is a balance," she says. "For me the only way that I've gotten this far is with my spiritual faith and being able to take time out to pray. You see the miracles, and that's inspiration and fuel to keep it going."
For all the details on Gwen Stefani's return to The Voice and her life in Oklahoma with husband Blake Shelton and her sons, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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Read the original article on People.