Humor · Mental Health · Uncategorized

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a fair young maiden. Well, maybe not so young, but she wasn’t old really. In fact, she was more “mid-single” as her religious culture might deem her. She was a strong woman, who had gone through many trials, not unlike any other normal human being. But alas, she was blessed with a sensitive soul and her trials affected her deeply. Her sensitivity was a gift and a curse at the same time. Her big heart was a great comfort to her friends and family, sometimes it got her into trouble, but mostly it helped her grow and become stronger than she ever imagined possible.

Alas, the trouble she got into would leave her heart broken from time to time, but she persevered. Each time the fair maiden fell, she got back up again. With every incident she became a little stronger and wiser. One day the woman realized that through the course of her trials, she had gained a lot of wisdom and perspective that others found comforting. Her advice was sometimes sought and the wisdom she had gained, not only gave her her own sense of comfort, it helped those in her life. Some people even deigned to call her witty, as her ways of telling her  tales with a flare of humor often left people in stitches.

Aside from this ability to entertain with words and wit, there was a desire in her heart to express the ideas and trinkets of wisdom gained throughout her various life lessons. On her journey through life and on her quest to value her own self worth, she realized she had a lot to offer and even more to say. She could see humor in her daily life. Her life was filled with adventures and funny yarns about her crazy nieces and nephews, and her occasional attempts at cutting carbs out of her diet. And it is with this knowledge, that she had something to offer and something of value to say, that this blog has been created.

So stay tuned for the adventures of the fair young maiden whose Fairy Tale in Progress is sure to elicit all of the feels and possibly all of the giggles one can muster.

Mental Health

Five Sure Steps to Becoming More Brave

Every step towards growth is a step that matters. But sometimes taking those steps is uncomfortable…and scary. Uncomfortableness can lead to some pretty intense anxiety. Figuring out how to manage the stress and anxiety, is to combat it with every weapon you can brandish. Here are just a few things that helped me get through another week of being brave.

1. Invest in some fantastic waterproof makeup. Because sometimes being brave hurts a little. Because being honest and authentic is hard. Saying those honest things is harder. And if you’re sensitive, there may be days filled with intermittent crying sessions. But if you have waterproof makeup, you can have a tiny cry when the moment arises and then you can still look like the new confident rockstar you actually are.

2. Keep a tight schedule. For me, being brave is hard. And it means being completely open and honest with how I’m feeling. Which in turn has meant that I’ve had to be more vocal about my feelings. Confronting and voicing those feelings can be uncomfortable. I am not advocating keeping yourself so busy that you don’t take care of yourself, because that doesn’t make sense. But in line with keeping goals, spend your time working towards them. Chase those dreams as you move through the uncomfortableness. It will help ground you and keep you focused.

3. Don’t neglect your self care. Because if you are going to tirelessly chase your dreams and improve your life, you will burn out if you go full stop. At least in my case. So schedule downtime and honor it. (I hope you all know, I’m saying this because this list is more for me than anything). Watch a movie with your friend or by yourself. Listen to Justin Timberlake and dance around in your underthings. Just make sure you are honoring whatever it is that feels right to you.

4. Exercise is important! If you are prone to anxiety attacks this might be especially important. When you go about doing brave things that shake you out of your comfort zone, the moments before you do it and even for a bit after can rattle you a bit. In order to move through this, breathing becomes especially important. And what better way to do it than to get your yoga or swimming or hiking exercise on. So get out your mat and do some sun salutations and strike some warrior poses. Your body and your calm mind will thank you.

5. Prayer! Keep on talking with Heavenly Father. He will help sustain you and direct you to more opportunities in which to be brave. If you don’t believe in a higher power, I say meditate. I do that too. Slowing down and being mindful of where you are and checking in with how you feel is a great way to figure out if there are any adjustments you need to make to your new brave routine so you can keep fighting the good fight.

And with that, I will leave you with this quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

*photo credit to Catherine McMahon

My First Novel

An Introduction to Grace’s Mom

Brianne: Christmas 1990

The rumble of the MAX shook the abandoned building Brianne was sleeping in. She shivered as she woke. Fumbling for the dirty canvas tarp she was using as a blanket as she wondered how long she had been out. Her stomach growled loudly and simultaneously she felt nauseous. Her head was pounding from lack of food. Pulling the ragged purple beanie further down over her ears, she realized she was sweating. A tremulous shiver ran down her spine and she closed her eyes willing her body to warm itself and hopefully drift off to sleep.

After a few minutes she had to get up. Brianne paced agitatedly the length of the makeshift bed she had fashioned. Pulling at her hair and itching her arms under her thermal shirt. Sifting through her scattered thoughts, she attempted to construct some kind of game plan for the day. But she didn’t even know what day it was. “Was the shelter full? Is today the day Jaxson was back from the coast?” she thought as she tugged her sweaty and oily hair under her beanie. “My hair used to be so beautiful and healthy,” she thought dismissively and switched back to wondering what day it was.

The rain on the roof was thundering and only intensifying her anxiety. She grabbed her dirty red jansport backpack with all her belongings, pulled an old scarf out and threw it on. She donned her backpack, shoved her sleeping tarp and makeshift cardboard box pillows under some random garbage on the side of the room and set off to check out the shelter scene.

The icy Oregon winter rain penetrated her thermals almost immediately. Brianne couldn’t feel her toes in the holey boots she was wearing. The rain seemed to penetrate into her very bones. Her beanie was good protection from the rain, but not from the intense sweating she was doing underneath it. Brianne’s thoughts were jumbled and she couldn’t quite remember where she was going. If only Jaxson were back; maybe she could then shake this nauseated feeling and maybe she could be warm again.

By the time she reached the shelter her teeth were chattering and she was shaking so badly she couldn’t see straight. She felt a tremendous urge to vomit, but she wasn’t sure when the last time there was even any food in her stomach. “How long was I out?” she thought listlessly. She hadn’t reached the doors, but a nearby garbage can provided a place for her to dry heave in. Trying to stand up straight proved to be impossible as the world around her began to spin. Brianne suddenly felt the only thing she could do was lay down, and so she did. She fell in a heap to the wet and icy ground

Mental Health · Uncategorized

And So She Was Brave

Photo cred: Dmitry Bayer instagram.com/d__bayer

I always try to avoid saying I am making New Year’s resolutions. I feel that I am constantly having to reevaluate where I am in life. I have to sit down every so often and check in with myself and my goals often or I might wander…in fact it happens constantly. So usually I make a big deal about how how we don’t need to make resolutions once a year we need to keep making goals and aiming for things throughout the year.

This year was a tad different for me. I found after this holiday season of constantly focusing on EVERYONE else, that I desperately needed to reset and refocus. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed making all of my gifts. It was fun and worth all of the seconds spent on it. But when the mood of giving shifted more towards the new year and making goals, I was excited to get back on track with the things that have come so important to me. My writing had been slipping during the holidays, but I also rediscovered how much I love to paint. I knew I wanted to find a balance there.

So I decided to create a vision board. And that was just the tipping point. I listed out a few things I wanted to focus on this year: Getting my finances in better order, work on my writing and painting, travelling, my health (particularly I want to hike and do more yoga this year), and become closer to the Savior. So I found all the pictures and some scriptures that went along with my goals and I printed them out. I didn’t get it put together until this last Tuesday, but it’s done. And I am super excited about the motivation I have right now. As the year progresses, I know I will have to revisit and recommit to the goals I have set, but that’s life.

One thing I am super excited about is a goal that I didn’t even mean to make a resolution this year. It just happened, and it’s actually the one I am MOST excited for! And I am going to tell it to you in fair maiden fashion:

It happened a couple weeks ago when there was a job posting the fair young maiden was not going to apply for because she was TERRIFIED. In fact she let the deadline pass, thinking she wasn’t even remotely good enough for it. She could tell us every reason she  shouldn’t have been even considered. The deadline for the application went by and the following day the maiden’s employers opened it up again asking for more candidates. All morning she agonized over whether or not she should go for it. She constantly asked her peers and friends if they thought she should do it; for it wasn’t a question of whether or not she COULD do it, but whether or not she was BRAVE enough to try.

The more she thought about it, the more she realized she could do it. More than that, she realized she needed to show her employers she had self confidence and drive to make more of herself. Manda sought her dear friend and coworker’s advice. Her honorary life coach advised her to go for it. And how lucky was it that the maiden had just updated her resume not even a week prior.

With anxiety and fear making her shake, the fair maiden went to her computer and printed out the application. With a trembling hand she filled it out. Her stomach was in a knot, because all she could hear were the ten thousand reasons they might NOT give it to her. Then something amazing happened; as she began to tell them why they should consider her, she began to realize she was ACTUALLY worth considering. There were weaknesses, sure, but in that moment she KNEW she could overcome them. Manda knew she could overcome anything. So she finished the application, had her manager approve it, and anxiously awaited the interview invite.

Much to her surprise, the interview was set for the NEXT morning. Her nerves settled slightly and she began to plot her interview outfit. With her hair straightened and her makeup on, she set off to work filled with confidence. The interview went well. She went in relaxed and was her complete self. At the end of the interview she looked the manager right in the eye and said, “I can do this.” To which the manager emphatically agreed.

This was such a confidence booster! Even if she didn’t get the job, she killed the interview and that was a huge feat. To celebrate, her best friend urged her to commemorate the event by only spending 5 dollars. Manda didn’t know how she was going to do this, but as her carriage she fondly referred to as Charlotte, took her past the nearest Barnes and Noble. After she got some grub, the maiden wandered into the glorious bookstore, perfectly willing to splurge and spend more than $5. However, it being the new year, she found a beautiful little day planner for only FIVE DOLLARS.

She suddenly felt inspired and knew how she would commemorate this day of overcoming her fears and pushing herself out of her comfort zone. It is to be her bravery book! She determined that every time she did something brave or something that stretched her outside her comfort zone, she would document this in the planner. Readers!!! This was so amazing! Little did she know just how much this would spur on a new outlook and a new resolution. One can’t simply buy a planner with this intent and NOT endeavor to fill it out. Suddenly she wondered, “what will my life look like if I just make a commitment to be MORE BRAVE?”

Now, Manda did not get the position, but what a glorious revolution. There was a whole new world sitting right in front of her because she chose to do something that terrified her. And it made her question things. Like, what else in her life was holding her back because she was scared? She decided to let her stomach guide her a little more. If it felt scary, she vowed to seriously analyze where that fear was coming from and act on it if it was something that could only improve her circumstances. Her book has been getting filled with little things, but also some REALLY BIG things. There comes a time in every fair young maidens life where she realizes that being stagnant is part of complacence. Not acting, is being complacent. Not acting on something because of a fear, could be the very thing holding a person back from accomplishing anything their heart desires. And friends, let me tell you, the fair maiden did some strong things. She said things she thought she could never say and did things that were good for her even though it terrified her. She knows it’s going to work out, because she is taking control of her destiny. And how cool is it that this resolution to be more brave just came about? Her other goals are honorable and worth her time, but this new little goal just might change her life forever.

Humor · My First Novel · The Fair Young Maiden · writing

I’m back

Hello all! Just wanted to apologize for my long absence. Nanowrimo took a lot out of me…which is funny, because I didn’t finish my book! I did, however, discover a whole new plot line for Grace. I decided to make it about Grace AND her mom. It will be a piece that is more about growth and forgiveness… and I am so excited about it. I just need to schedule more time to do the actual writing. I’ll pick a sample this week and introduce you to her mom. I think you will want to know her story, just as much as Grace’s.

I have another blogpost I just wrote up tonight, but since I am exhausted, I plan on editing it with fresh eyes tomorrow. The blog topics will range from Oprah’s Golden Globes speech, my religion, and the fresh outlook I have for 2018 with new ways I intend on challenging myself. Thank you to any of you who have continued to follow me in my absence! I look forward to getting back into the swing of things.

Mental Health

Me Too

I wasn’t going to post Me Too on my wall. I didn’t want people to make assumptions or to think I was throwing a pity party. I was ashamed because I didn’t want people to think about my past and think, “well that’ll teach you.” Then I saw someone completely unexpected post it on her wall and it gave me the courage to speak up. Before I knew it, post after post of women and men who I am friends with on Facebook and Twitter started opening up about their Me Too stories. My heart began to ache. There is so much that some people don’t understand. Rape culture IS a thing. You can’t look at your social media pages today and think otherwise. I am certain it is not just my newsfeed that is flooded with women and men who have been either sexually harassed or assaulted standing together; trying to show that this issue is way too common.

Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplas

I have been overwhelmed with simultaneous feelings of grief and fury at the outpouring of admissions of someone else’s Me Too story. My heart breaks to see that so many people  have experienced the same loss of power and the sense of shame and embarrassment that I have been through. In some ways I feel like I should not be surprised. I am part of a support group that deals with this. I know women and men who have suffered sexual harassment and assault; and yet, the magnitude of just how many people have dealt with this kind of trauma breaks my heart. There is so much I want to say about this subject, and all I can do is cry. And then, just when I begin to think I am going to close the laptop because this is triggering a lot of emotions, I distract myself by pulling up Facebook and I see more posts from family and friends posting the heartbreaking words, “Me Too,” and I decide it is something I can write about.

 

So I sit here in a puddle of tears trying to articulate this deep sense of loss I feel not only for myself, but for so many other people, men and women who have lost a part of themselves because someone hurt them. And whether it was harassment or assault, both come with loss. Loss of power, loss of confidence, loss of self-esteem…so many things. I heard somewhere recently that the more you tell your story, the power it has over you lessens.Two dear friend’s gave me permission to write about their stories that they shared with me because of this movement. Both of these women deserve to heal, and I think opening up about it can be empowering.

 

One friend shared a story about having something slipped into her drink. She blacked out and she can’t remember all of the night. What she does remember is that she had to concentrate on trying to yell. Despite the effect of the drug she managed to make enough noise that he stopped. She spoke of the shame she felt and how painful it has been keeping that in.

She blamed herself!? Guys!! How is she to blame!? Consent is consent. If it’s not there, it IS rape. I am so glad she spoke out. She told her story and she expressed awe and love for each woman who she saw posting. I want to thank her too.

 

My other dear friend did not share her story publicly, but gave me permission to post it anonymously through my blog. A kid in her class years ago would grab her butt constantly when she was up in front of the class. Because everyone laughed, other guys started doing it too. She was humiliated and kept it a secret for 25 years. Only recently did she even tell her therapist. I am so proud of her. People, if someone does not give you consent to touch their body, DON’T do it. It really isn’t so hard to keep your darn hands to yourself. My sweet friend shared with me that it is what she believes cause her to start gaining weight. It has caused feelings of disgust with her own body and shame at having allowed it…because she was too embarrassed to tell the teacher or her parents. I am so proud of her for finally saying something. I really do believe that there is power in telling your story.

 

I don’t feel like it is necessary to share your specific Me Too story in order to convey that so many people are affected. In fact, I am not going to share my story. For me it is still traumatic. Which is why I really had to push through the beginning of this post. I am not ready to share that part of me publicly and I think that is ok too. There are people, places, and times to share when I need to. I can tell you with certainty that I am going to group tomorrow for the first time in a month and a half. This has definitely triggered all the emotions and I know it is time to start working again. Specifics of each person’s story does not matter in the context of being open about how many of us have been either assaulted or harassed. What is important is that we find someway to not only weaken its power over us, but to also bring awareness to those who do not realize that this is such an underserved issue. And if you were ever hurt there are people who can help you. Contact the Rape Recovery Center if you are in Utah. If you are out of state check out www.rainn.org

 

Thank you to all who may read this. And thank you to all the brave souls who are speaking out.

Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Dad

Today my dad turns…old…at least another year older. I can never remember his exact age and I hate math, so there you have it. I wanted to take a minute and acknowledge my daddy and wish him the biggest happy birthday ever!. From the minute I was born (so they tell me) I was a daddy’s girl. We just clicked…isn’t that the way it goes with little girls and their dads? Especially since I was his first girl…which obviously means I am his favorite.

 

So I want to say cheers to this man. He is the reason I love Shakespeare, the outdoors, and music like Led Zepplin, James, Taylor, Paul Simon, and Vivaldi. When I was five years old there was a picture taken of me holding five fish I caught “all by myself.” I have always been proud of that picture, thinking it was so neat that I could fish like a pro at age five. Of course, now I realize, my papa san must have been the one doing the heavy lifting. As any good father would, he let me take the credit. Credit I willingly took until probably today as I thought of the memory.

 

When I was a baby my dad owned a skunk. I don’t remember the skunk obviously, but there is a picture, somewhere in the universe, of me in one of those walkers and a little skunk nearby. I am sure I knew then that my daddy was super legit. If the lore I recall is correct, I believe the skunk had had its scent glands deactivated somehow, possibly removed. At least that is how I choose to remember the stories told to me about sharing a living space with a skunk.

 

My dad has taught me to crave adventures. When I was little I received a set of cross country skis. We only went one time. And even though it was bitterly cold, I hold it as one of my fondest memories. One of those Arctic winds had blown in. And my grandpa drove us up to Brighton ski resort and then picked us up at Solitude a couple miles down…the order of the resorts may be backwards or entirely incorrect. However the fact remains, we cross country skied for what seemed like a freezing eternity. When my grandpa picked us up at the lower ski resort, I don’t think I could move my face because it was so cold. But grandpa had chili and hot chocolate waiting for us in his mauve-ish tan Oldsmobile (that may have been my favorite part of the adventure). I think dad felt bad for it being so cold, but thanks to him I have a pretty cool story to tell and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

 

I have so many memories of him trying to instill a desire to experience life through the outdoors. When I was 12 my dad paid for me to take scuba diving lessons. I never got certified because I had asthma, but I did scuba dive in Murray High School’s swimming pool. I was younger then that when he put me on a horse. I fell off on my first ride with my sister, but he taught me to get back up again. We were in Cedar City that weekend visiting the Shakespeare festival. The outfit I was wearing when I rode was stolen from my mom and I had to sit through Julius Caesar with a cold cloth on my face to ease the sting of the scratches from the sagebrush. He gives me so many stories of adventure to tell even now with trips to Moab, instilling a newfound love of Opera, and encouraging me to chase my dreams.

 

Without my dad, my sisters and I probably wouldn’t be as competitive as we are (or as stubborn for that matter). This makes for some really entertaining game nights. All of us trying to win sure makes life interesting. And sad for them, because they always lose, because I am a champion; thanks dad. I have memories of playing games like Monopoly, where the competitive man would move his piece about the board only to knock yours over intentionally if he passed it. A tradition I happily noticed he is demonstrating when he plays games with my nieces and nephews.

 

When I was a teenager, well into adulthood, he and I butt heads like no other. Getting along was difficult since we were both always right. I am so grateful for the relationship we have today. I have two amazing sisters who are twins and they are so close. We all love each other and my envy for their closeness is easing with each year that I get older. Last Christmas I was lamenting that I did not have Joshua, a younger brother close to my age, whom we lost when he was only an hour and a half old. I told my dad that I wished I had a friend like my sisters had for each other. My dad sweetly told me he IS my friend. And it is so true. Papa San, you are my dearest friend and I love you so much. Happy Birthday! I hope your day is filled with nothing but happiness and love. I miss you and wish you lived closer. XOXOXO