In my pocket.

I was in a deep conversation with my roommates last night that somehow lead to the topic of death. I usually feel small when death creeps its way into my sentences. I often unconsciously take myself down a notch. I’m somehow a little less loud. But my ears are suddenly bigger. I’m always interested in what people have to say about death. I’m not always so vocal out it myself. (keep in my mind I’m still getting to know my roommates)

My roommate said she doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with death. She says it “freaks her out” and she gets uncomfortable at funerals or just at the thought of losing a loved one. I’m always a little more sensitive when people mention their parents. Whenever they talk about their parents positively or negatively. But especially their mothers. She said, “I would literally die without my mom.”

I was like that too.

Before death punched me in the stomach with no remorse.

I wanted to tell her that she wouldn’t literally die if her mother died. But who am I to tell her that? She wouldn’t believe me. I didn’t. Not until I woke up the next day after my mom died. And woke up the next day after that. And the next day, and every day after.

And even almost 11 years later I still have moments of disbelief where I freeze to catch my breath. I inhale the thought that she’s not here and exhale with the reassurance that she hasn’t been for years.

Sometimes I verbally have to remind myself. And I don’t know if that will ever go away.

There are nights where I look up into the vast clear sky and spot a sparkling star and think it’s her. Or I see a leaf floating in my path and I say “Hi” because I’ve convinced myself it’s my mother cheering me on. I sometimes listen to a song on repeat for an entire day because I picture the two of us singing it at the top of our lungs on the karaoke machine. I do these things without even noticing sometimes. It’s often second nature. It makes me feel a little less lonely. Sometimes I just like keeping her close by. In the sky. In a leaf. In music. I just like to pull her out of my pocket and feel her for a little while.

I know I’m not alone. And it’s not like I haven’t lived my life without her. If anything I’ve lived it even more in honor of her. I know she would want me to be the happiest I could be. But I think I do these things to somehow feel closer to her. Because the thought of completely losing her is unconscionable.

I always want to remember details about my mother that I can share with those I love the most in my future. I want to keep her memory alive. And I would be lying if I said I remember every detail. I’m doing my best to write everything down. I am trying to keep a record of how I feel about her. What I remember about her. Who she was to me. But mostly I’m just playing a guessing game. I mainly just remember how much she wanted to be my mom, forever. And I go off of that.

I remember crying in her arms at 12, begging her to stay. And she was sobbing telling me how much she wanted to.

I know she loved me. She told me in the way she yawned loudly in the morning to wake me up. In the way she rubbed my feet. In the way she allowed me to be myself. In the way she settled my anxieties. And did everything she could to be the best mother she knew how to be. And so on most days I wear pants with pockets so I can pull her out and be thankful for the wise words, acts of kindness and outpouring love she gave me.

And so the only thing I could tell my roommate was:

“Death isn’t scary. What’s scary is not living our life to the fullest in fear of losing the ones we love. Don’t let death scare you. Let it motivate you.”

 

 

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Inches to Miles: A Letter from 18 year old self.

About 5 years ago I wrote a letter for a Dr. Suess scholarship that was suppose to be inspired from the book “Oh The Place You’ll Go”. I entitled my letter: Inches to Miles. I just recently reread it and found that I really wrote that for myself, even though 5 years ago I wasn’t really thinking that way. It’s amazing how much I’ve conquered and grown. I thought I’d share it for those of you who haven’t read it or would like to reread it. Thanks.

INCHES TO MILES

Dear friend,

I’m not going to lie to you, because that’s not something I can easily do. I won’t tell you life is simple and kind, because the truth is I’d only make you blind. The moment I met you I knew you were meant for wondrous places. Nothing can stop you including the judgmental faces. I want you to know I’ve never given up on you, because that’s not something I can easily do. You’re not always going to have me by your side. I hope you know when to draw the line.

Jump off cliffs, stand up for yourself, take turns, be blunt, and enjoy the ride. This world will surprise you and the only thing certain is change. You were born to see the best part of the world come to life. You are meant to be an example with not only your worlds but your actions; no matter how tough the classes with all the vocabulary and fractions, you’re not done yet so don’t stop here.

My friend, mistakes have your name written all over them, but that’s okay. You’re courageous enough to learn from them. If only it were as easy to jump or crawl under your trials, but to be honest you must face them head on before they change from inches to miles. You will meet people you adore, and with some you’d rather just close the door. This part of life may be a blessing in disguise and yet another surprise.

My friend, I’d love to hold your hand today, but I know you’re already on your way. You may lose this battle, but I’m certain this is your war to win. If you find yourself crying please know it’s not a crime. We all fall down sometimes.

My friend, the beauty of it all is you have the strength inside to find the light. You’ll make the decision to get up and fight. Perfection is not in the books for you, my friend, but that’s not what’s going to get you through in the end. Your bold personality and endless curiosity will take you on paths of unknown. You’ll be thankful when you see how much you’ve conquered and grown.

Regardless of the struggles you are handed, I know you will handle them accordingly. You’ve got a talent; therefore, you must protect it ever so cautiously. People will want to bring you down. It’s only natural to want to frown. I see a sparkle in your eye though, and with great purpose you’ll find another tomorrow.

You’re only just beginning your journey. Take this letter as your road map and know I love you, because that is something I can easily do.

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.

The box we don’t fit in.

get-out-of-the-box

Conformity is a disease. It’s a viral explosion of social depravity. If you ever find yourself on social media or in public and notice familiar things and ideas that don’t shock you…you have encountered conformity. We like to use the world “majority” and tell ourselves it’s okay. That’s it’s popular. But it’s something that has attached itself into our society and is a living breathing thing that is constantly changing its mind.

We often see conformity as a way to “keep the peace”. But what we don’t want to see is how it’s slowly and surely destroying our sense of creativity and imagination. The fear to reach outside of conformity is literally killing mankind.

The idea of paving a new path is terrifying. The unknown is an ugly abyss of rejection. We don’t want to speak up about a new idea, propose a new direction or create a new color for the fear of being completely and utterly outcast.

We also don’t like to voice our opinion. We don’t vote. We don’t burst into song in the middle of the street. We suppress our emotions. God forbid we be genuinely excited or unfortunately sad about something.

We don’t color outside of the lines.

There is this box. It’s an extremely tiny box. And for the majority of the world. Our society. Our community. Our friends. Our family. We live inside of it. It is our zone. It’s the place where there is little to no room to make a mistake. Where we fit in. (barely) Where we can somewhat control our emotions. Where we can live “peacefully” but dangerously dull.

We are all guilty of conformity. And for most of us, we call ourselves “content” by doing so. But in all reality, we are limiting ourselves by what society tells us is acceptable. We are society. We are telling each other daily by our actions that we can and cannot do certain things. What we can and cannot wear. What we can and cannot eat. Who we can and cannot talk to. Where we can live. Who we love. Who we vote for. Who we judge. Who we praise. Who we shun. And what we are capable of. Can you imagine the kind of people we could be if we would allow ourselves to be different. To be disobedient. To laugh a little louder. To cry a little harder. To breathe and little longer. To support each other by not limiting one another.

I know I am not alone in this idea of rejecting society. It’s no much easier said than done. But the box we don’t fit in is getting smaller and smaller. And I’d love nothing more than to break the box and be apart of a world where I’m not afraid of myself.

I Am from You

-My sister and I wrote a poem in memory of our grandmother.-

I am from Christmas stockings made just for me.

From zucchini bread to pecan sandies.
I am from veggie trays and butter horn rolls.

From gathering around the piano singing Christmas carols.

I am from cross-stitching and card games.
From water babies and Barbie dolls.

I am from mismatched board games and secret closets.
From purses filled with “everything but the kitchen sink”.

I am from countless birthday cards written in familiar cursive writing.
From a perfectly made bed with a photo of Tom Selleck smiling back at me.

I am from shared hotel rooms with useless earplugs to drown out the snoring.
From carefully selected scriptures with my name engraved in gold.

I am from heartfelt prayers that always ran a little too long,
From knowing my Heavenly Father loves me by singing it in a song.

I am from strength and perseverance.
From kindness and acceptance.

I am from wise words of wisdom to humble acts of service.

I am from unconditional love that has no end.

I am from knowing your sweet spirit lives on.
God be with you ‘til we meet again.