30 things to be thankful for.

From a distance the world seems to be falling apart. Bombings and shootings. Tsunami’s and earthquakes. People are dying. And it’s easy to get consumed in the darkness. And it’s hard to try and pick up the pieces. And start new. And move forward. But if I’ve learned anything at all in this life…it’s that the world keeps spinning madly on…even if you’re not ready to spin along with it.

I’ve been inspired to make a list. It helps to put things into perspective whenever I’m feeling lonely or like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. And it’s weighed heavy these past fews days. So here I go. Taking a minute to reflect on the light in my life.

1. I am thankful for the rare but life saving human connections I’ve made throughout my “almost” 23 years. If not for those handful of special souls I wouldn’t be here.

2. I am thankful for my dog. She has provided me with so much joy. She has taught me patience and has pushed my buttons to the point of such irritation at times, but I’ve learned how to love through it. And maybe someday I’ll understand the whole parenting thing because of her.

3. I am thankful for my beautifully unique family. For all our skeletons hanging out of our closets, our open minds, and our full hearts. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

4. I am thankful for the 12 years I shared with my mother. She taught me more in a year about life than most learn in 60 years. I’m thankful she taught me to embrace our black sheep selves, root for the underdog, and serve others without asking or promising. By just doing. And showing up at someone’s door ready to cook them a meal, rub their feet, or listen to their worries.

5. I am thankful for school. As much as I’ve struggled to finally figure out exactly what I want to do, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to at least try and learn from my mistakes.

6. I am thankful for my freedoms provided mostly by brave men and women who protect my freedom to go to school, walk the streets, enter a store, post on social media, voice my opinion, vote, etc. Thank you.

7. I am thankful for my talents that I’ve grown to allow myself to share. It’s not easy for me to put myself out there with my musical and writing abilities, but I do it because I don’t want to lose it.

8. I am thankful for friends who accept me for all my weird moments of singing out loud, political opinions, and advice. I hope they know how much I enjoy simply being in their presence.

9. I am thankful for water. The access of fresh drinking water and clean hot water to clean myself with.

10. I am thankful for a roof over my head. At the moment it’s not the great kind of place to be in, but it’s a roof. And it’s more than most have.

11. I am thankful for my car. It took me a lot of convincing and responsibility to make the decision to buy a car. And I haven’t regretted it. It gives me a sense of security. I know I could live without it, but I’m glad I don’t have to.

12. I am thankful for children. They are fascinating and easy to talk to. They  are so happy about the simplest things. Take me back to my childhood, where everything looks so big and beautiful.

13. I am thankful for my relationship with myself and God. I am thankful I have a sense of who I am, and who I am to my Heavenly Father. I am thankful I know I am loved. At the end of the day I have myself to be thankful for. And a God who had given me the strength to make decisions and live a purposeful life.

14. I am thankful for my trials. Gosh they’ve been hard. I’ve been at some very low lows where I didn’t believe I was going to move past it. I am thankful that I did. And that I know I have it in me to face the future trials of my life. I know they will only make me stronger and humble.

15. I am thankful for “things to look forward to”. If it weren’t for planned events, even if they don’t go the way we want them to, that they are at least there to motivate me and excite me.

16. I am thankful for travel. I’m glad I have the ability to visit other places with a variety of people and seek out the goodness in all the beautiful things in this life.

17. I am thankful for warm coats, hot chocolate and heaters. I tend to get cold to the point I feel my bones are ice. I like to be warm. I love it when the sun beats down on me. I’m glad I can bundle up. And yes, I’ll wear a sweatshirt at 80 degrees. Get over it 😉

18. I am thankful for music. It has healed me in ways only music can say.

19. I am thankful for technology. I’m glad I can keep in contact with those I love in such an instant way.

20. I am thankful for medicine and home remedies. Both helped my mother live longer. And both have helped the ones I love. I’m glad we have an understanding of how our bodies work and we can use what we know to live healthy happy lives.

21. I am thankful for movies books and other forms of entertainment. They are a great distraction sometimes, but I especially love the kind that don’t always end in the fairytale, but help us realize that we are all human.

22. I am thankful for animals. They are so innocent. And you can’t really ever be mad at them.

23. I am thankful for shoes. I used to hate wearing them. But life would be a lot harder without them.

24. I’m thankful for charities and organizations that support important causes that make the world a better place.

25. I am thankful for people who dedicate their time to spreading love and kindness.

26. I am thankful to be an American citizen. It has it’s perks. But so much more than anything, I have the ability to share my voice, be apart of a united community, and live in such a privileged world.

27. I am thankful for the piano. I’m pretty sure my piano has heard all my fears, madness, and sadness. Thanks for letting me pound away until I feel like I can breathe again.

28. I am thankful for lint rollers. I’d have so much hair on my clothes without them.

29. I am thankful for humor. It’s basically the best kind of high.

30. I am thankful for photography. It tells some of the greatest stories.

My Revoked LDS Memebership.

I have read and re-read the latest policy of the LDS-Mormon Church regarding same-sex couples and their children. And no matter how hard I try I cannot fathom it’s existence.jesus

Facebook has exploded with opinions in support and opposition of this policy from both members and non-members of the LDS religion. And what I have to say cannot easily fit into a status. So please bear with me.

I was raised in a LDS community. My mother and father were both baptized and raised in the church as well. It wasn’t until I was about 16 years old that I recognized this particular church was not meant for me. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized that church just wasn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t remember what I learned as a child/young adult. That doesn’t mean I disagree with every policy or teaching of the LDS religion. It just means I don’t find church/religion to be my spiritual up-lifter. I’ve found other profound ways of connecting and building a relationship with God.

I’ve been supportive of my friends and family who are active members of the LDS church. I find their dedication inspiring. I see people everyday who have testimonies that are beautiful and meaningful. I respect them regardless of their faith.

I know what the LDS church has done and will continue to do for people in need. It’s amazing how much they have accomplished by extending their arms and helping thy neighbor. I know what it’s like to have 25 casseroles, after my mother died, brought by the Relief Society so we wouldn’t forget to eat. I remember primary songs I would sing at the top of my lungs. I remember reverent prayers. I remember Fast Sundays in which I would bear my testimony about how much the Savior loves me. I remember girls camp where we once got lost on a hike and we were running out of water and low on energy…and we prayed and somebody found us and led us back to our campsite. I remember quiet still moments in which I could feel my Heavenly Father beside me in my darkest hours.

I haven’t forgotten all the good things that have come from being a member of the LDS religion. I technically still am a member. However, with this new policy, my membership is revoked. Because I have been a long time supportive for gay rights/marriage. And Because I cannot be expected to deny my father’s “lifestyle” in order to continue being a member. Which doesn’t really both me all that much at this point. But it may have bothered my mother and my grandmother. And quite possibly my father, who still believes in the teachings of the LDS church, regardless of his sexuality. But I cannot speak for other families who did not fit into a traditional family box. So you see, it hurts. It hurts tremendously to feel like an outcast. For a church who has so diligently sent it’s missionaries out to spread the word of God and convert people…it’s strange to see it “banning” children from membership until they turn 18. But by that time I’m almost certain that growing up with same-sex couples will make it extremely difficult for them to continue in the church. And so the only thing this policy really does is create tension and push people away.

Yes, other religions have had these kind of policies put into place for decades, but that’s what I thought was different for the LDS religion. This clearly excludes people. Maybe not intentionally, but it’s pushing people away every time they more backward instead of forward. And although I do not expect the church to ever change their stance on homosexuality, I do not understand why innocent children need to be humiliated because of who their parents are. This only teaches children that there are limits to love. That only certain people are allowed to join this membership. Only certain people can find peace and happiness in this church. This is a political move. It is not a move I can ever imagine God doing. And Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I’ve never understood how a book or “doctrine” could mean so much more to a person than another human being. We don’t know everything. But in my own faith I believe that I’m a good person who may not have a “traditional family” but I love my dad and his husband. I love my mother. I love my sister. I love my family. And I’d choose them over anything any day.

And no amount of sugar coating or clarification from the LDS church is going to make this pain go away for the families directly affected by it.

And all I can do is try and remember the most important thing I ever learned from religion. “Love one another. As I have loved you.” -John 13:34

And hopefully that will be enough.

Thanks for hearing me out.

the life of shame.

It’s so unbearably sad that we spend most of our lives trying to cater to other people’s needs. Trying to force people to accept us. Caring what others think. Instead of listening to ourselves for a change.

We are all guilty of sitting in a room or walking down a hall trying to read the minds of strangers. Trying to know what they’re thinking of us. Our clothes. Our hair. The way we walk. The way we talk.

But will we see them again? Will it matter 5 days from now? 5 years?

We are insecure.

And I think that’s why when we see someone who is so outrageously different we think to ourselves, “Wow, they are brave to dare and walk out looking and acting like that.” We can become jealous. Or curious.

Some of us embrace the weird. And become the weird.

Others try to tame the weird. And hate the weird.

It’s a never ending battle. And it’s eating us alive.

The last thing I ever want to do is tell someone what they can and cannot do. I’m a hippie-loving -pro choice -save the elephants -respect your peers/elders -support the troops/veterans -jump in the pool with all your clothes on -try to be spontaneous -loud laughing kind of person. And I’ve battled family, friends and strangers on the matter. Because I don’t fit into a box or have a certain label. And at the end of the day I learned I cannot and will not lead a life of shame.

I know so many who hide away. Who pretend to themselves and others that they lead an oh-so-perfect life. Who are ashamed of their past. And by doing so they are constantly paranoid and awaiting the next breakdown in their future.

But if I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that when we go through something that we consider to be shameful, we come out of it stronger and far more humble than we could ever have imagined. So I encourage you to air out your dirty laundry. To release your skeletons. To leave your shame at the door. Because we are all imperfect. And luckily in this world we can find people who still love us regardless. So please, don’t spend so much time on the hateful and hurtful side of life. Spend more time on the loving and supportive side. There’s no real time to wallow in self pity. It’s easier said than done.

But start today.