Monday, September 21, 2015

practicing the here and now

i've been practicing mindfulness and being present in the here and now. i've been reading and studying a book by buddhist monk, thich nhat hanh, about the practice of being present through mindful breathing and walking, which are very simple ways to meditate. you simply say, "breathing in, i know that i am breathing in. breathing out, i know that i am breathing out." that very simple act brings the body and mind together which allows you to be present in the here and now. which allows you to fully experience your life. which in turn allows you to be really and truly "there" for those you love. isn't that beautiful?

i'm so grateful for the ability to feel, to "be here" now. because now is all we will ever have. the past is in the past, the future is in the future, and the present moment is our divine appointment. we are here, we are home. this practice has been supremely important for me since i've been struggling to reconnect to the present. i spent so long yearning for when life will be different. i think i made such a habit of it while attending college that i really detached myself from my present moment. being detached sort of became my new normal. i found a way to enjoy and live in the present moment even while being detached from fully enjoying it. does this sound familiar to anyone else?

i let myself hold out on experiencing full joy and happiness since i knew something "better" would be coming along soon enough. but do you know what? we are pretty bad judges of when we will experience joy. how often do we look forward to something and it just doesn't feel the way we hoped? and how often do moments of joy unexpectedly hit us out of nowhere? and we are often so detached from our present moment that we hardly experience it, we hardly take note of it. we don't let ourselves fully taste it because we are so busy waiting for when life will really be good. and we don't realize it's right here, right now. we think we have to wait until we have enough money or the right job or house or vacation or when it's the right season or decade. but the truth is that happiness, peace, and joy can only be experienced in the here and now.

additionally--i've realized, what if i get all the things i long for? what if at some point i arrive with the career i want, the house i want, the life i want? how sad would it be if i didn't fully enjoy and experience the magnitude of joy and pain and fulfillment life offered each day leading up to those achievements? i do long for specific life achievements, like a dream home and career and PERHAPS parenthood (still ironing out some thoughts there), but i desire deeply to enjoy, respect, and thoroughly value each day of my life, no matter the facts of my life, no matter my achievements, no matter what.

so there's that. and since i don't update here very often i'm going to dive into something not totally unrelated, but somewhat rather unrelated. i got really excited one day last week thinking i was going to train for a half marathon. for some time, i've had it in my head as a task i have no choice but to do when i graduate. so i picked a race eight weeks from now and put it on my calendar. i reviewed the half marathon training schedule and was ready to dive in.

and then i went on my first run. it was three miles. no biggie. it's something i do on occasion. i run a mile a day most days. but i miss days, too. sometimes i put on my jogging shoes and walk out the front door and end up in the foothills above our home. i love to run for miles and push myself right in that very moment. i love the feeling when i know i NEED a good run just to get my heart pumping and feel that surge of endorphins. i love it because that feeling comes from my body as a craving and an urge and not from my mind as a task and a burden. as it stands right now, i have a beautiful and very healthy relationship with exercise. i run. when i feel the urge. and for how long my body desires. which happens to be most days for about a mile or so. to me, running is the most primitive form of exercise there is. rooted in our hunter and gatherer ancestors. running meant life to our ancestors. and for whatever reason, it feels like death for most people. but i've always felt so alive when running and so alive in the rest of my life when i'm running consistently.

all this to say that, i'm not doing a half marathon. that night while i was running the three miles, i realized i was completing a task and not fulfilling a bodily urge. i didn't like it. it felt the way restricting calories feels to me, wrong. i'm not saying it's wrong for everyone, it's just not for me and my life. i'm not saying i don't need to be challenged when it comes to exercise, i do. i just might need a different challenge than race training. after that night last week i didn't run until tonight. i just needed to sort out how i felt about it. but tonight i found myself running through the trees in the mountains and feeling so alive and in sync with perfect early autumn breeze and all the life around me and suddenly so much about my life and my love of running became crystal clear.

i feel most present (and alive) when i'm running, and/or in nature (that big deep breath of fresh, clean air is everything to me), or with people (those i deeply, truly adore and identify with, especially). i am here now. this moment is home.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

grieving heart connections

you don't realize how much you need community, until you have none.

we needs social connections that are beyond appellation.

we need heart connections with people in our lives.

we need our hearts to be known, and we need them to not only be accepted, but understood. genuinely understood.

we need to be seen and heard on a deeply authentic level in a way that cannot be fabricated by desire, but only through life experiences that lead us to say, "i've been there. i get you. i know how you're feeling right now."

i'm so lucky to have that in a few important people in my life.

but i've lost a LOT of heart connections in recent years, largely due to my leaving the church. and it's been reeeally hard.

i'd like to declare here that it's been REALLY hard.

there have lots of tearful car rides and long, quiet, anxious days and heavy-hearted days. thinking about people i love, and loved, and wish i could continue to love, with whom things are just not and never will be the same.

jared and i were at the grocery store the other day when we ran into a couple from the ward we lived in TWO years ago and they had NO idea who we were. we were wearing clothes that showed we weren't wearing garments and perhaps they saw jared's tattoo and just couldn't connect who we were? the wife taught gospel doctrine right after i taught relief society and we always talked about each other's lessons together. the husband was a linguist researcher (i believe) and always had the coolest insight from the historical languages used in the scriptures.

it was an isolated event but i've marveled at how representative it was about how i feel in many other relationships.

why can't you guys see me?

do i look that different?

i'm still here! i'm still me!

no matter how strong the social ties, the heart ties struggle to stay alive without authentic mutual understanding. and authentic mutual understanding disappears when you're mormon and all your people are mormon and then suddenly, you're no longer, in your heart, and then in your life, mormon.

and it's REALLY hard.

and the funny thing is, i don't have many heart connections with other people who have left the church, because it's so different for everyone. and i'm just such a unique person that it's hard to find strong, authentic heart connections.

some people leave the church and feel that they suddenly understand what it's like to have a community, because they finally fit in, and never felt at home in the church community. that is not me. i felt at home. i felt right at home in the church. until one day i didn't. and it was a lot like what i imagine becoming homeless feels like, when you always had a home.

i've lost this huge sense of community i had no idea i had. and it's been like the death of a close family member.

i've lost that along with losing actual relationships that previously meant so much to me.

i've sat back and watched them slowly wilt, then crumble, and now as they begin to rot and decay. but i'm reading a book about zen buddhism and that from garbage, when tended properly and with enough time, comes compost. and so perhaps this decomposition will bring some fresh, spongy, earthy-smelling compost heart connections into my life. i really hope so.

i'm learning about grief in a new way i've never experienced. and many days are heavy-hearted, while others are okay. but i just wrote this up because right now, i don't have many people who i can tell my story to whom will genuinely, authentically be able to respond and say, "hey. i get it. i know exactly how you feel."'

and i just know i'm not alone. because of the numbers of people who have reached out to me to say, "thank you for talking about this, i have no one to talk to about this."

so please, if you don't understand, please have compassion for anyone going through a faith crisis, anyone who is or has recently or at any point left their church, their community and basically their family of origin.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015


i've been writing here for seven years. i've written some dumb shit. and i've written some stuff that i'm proud of. not that it was written phenomenally or that any of it is stuff i could show a potential employer or that i could sell. no. but i'm proud of my thoughts. the stuff i've written here has been the real, raw, honest thoughts i've had the last seven years and this blog documents how they've evolved. not that i or anyone would sit down and read it all. but i sure have grown up, and this blog has documented plenty of it. i'm not who i was when i started this blog, and i'm proud of that. i'm not who i was two years ago.

i've been revamping my online presence. i've really, really needed to clean up my "look" online and transition from "this is me, bitches. deal with it." to "hello, i'm a professional whom you should take seriously and here's why." but i can't get myself to delete my twitter account and i can't get myself to delete all the old posts on here that are full of words that no longer represent me. and i just like having this place to set down my raw, real, honest thoughts and occasionally complain about tonsil stones and weighing the risks of tonsillectomy.

so i'm sending this blog to private, at least for a little while.

much love.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

finding my tribe

it's been well over a year since i casually but still pretty officially walked away from the church. it's been SUCH a good year in regards to my mental and emotional health and well being. and my spirituality, more than anything else. i've grown so much into the person i really am, the person i never knew existed through all my years of mormondom. i feel so free and relieved and authentic and whole. i have no regrets.

i hadn't realized until last week that i've been wandering in search of community. community is a special, wonderful thing the church provides it's members. a worldwide community. i knew when i walked away that i was giving up the church community. but i had a contrived idea in my head of what that might mean. i thought that meant i would miss meeting new women in relief society each week and having visiting teachers over. i loved that part of church activity. and i do miss those parts.

but rather than missing the actual church community, i more so miss the sense of community. and that's something you can't control with behavior, only with belief. you just don't get to fully experience the sense of community when you flat out don't believe what the church teaches. even if you do attend and are actively involved, that sense of community is gone when you just don't sincerely share the common beliefs.

that doesn't mean i don't love to death my friends and family who are involved with the church. i can love individuals no matter what they believe. but. the sense of community, the feeling that you belong to a network of people larger than you, most of whom you don't even know, where you all share this common, general set of beliefs, is really such a grand thing.

and it is no longer part of my life. but that's really okay. that aspect of community didn't disappear from my life all at once, rather it faded with my belief. the church community isn't supposed to be part of my future, because it's no longer who i am. it's not specifically the church's sense of community one needs in their life so much as any sense of community, with people whom you sincerely connect and identify, despite what you might hear in general conference.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

i've been searching for "home" rather intensely this last year, but it's actually been on my mind quite a bit since jared and i got married. before jared, i just wanted to travel, not necessarily looking for a landing destination. but now that he's part of my life, for which i am eternally grateful, i'm on this search for home, and i'm very much ready to find it soon. i will look back and remember 2011-2016 or 2017 or 2018 or 2019 or however long it takes as my "finding home" years.

and i will remember 2014 through however long it takes as my "finding my tribe" years. and although i hope to eventually find a tribe, a community of people whom i share beliefs and ideals and views, whom i work and play and live among, i plan to always be searching for my tribe. as i discover more parts of myself, and parts of the world, and communities and peoples and lifestyles, i hope to be ever expanding my tribe.

because although Mormon will always be an ethnicity to which i identify, it is not my tribe. not at all.

and although utah will always be my home state, the place i grew up, the place i met my husband, the place where i experienced the majority of the first 27 years of my life, it isn't my Home. it isn't my landing destination. my friends and loved ones must be so sick of hearing about this, but utah just isn't my place. although it feels familiar, it has never felt like Home. logically, i count all the ways and reasons that utah is a terrific place to live, a wonderful place, really. but logic can't make the heart agree, it can't make a place feel like home.

i think about this all too much and will be the first to admit that it is verifiably exhausting. but the alternative would be much worse. i consider different locales around the world and hold various places in my mind and heart for several days or weeks, wondering if they might be home. sometimes i think it might be a climate and weather situation that will make a place feel like home. sometimes i think home might be a place i would never ever choose myself, or perhaps it is a homestead on nantucket island, or a villa outside milan, or a cottage on an english hillside.

but i think i've figured it out in the last few weeks. people feel at home when that place is where their people are. where their family and community may be found. but jared and i don't feel tethered to this place. i've realized that for jared and i to find home, it will have to be a place we make together. we're never going to find a perfect place, we have to create it. as i've been unraveling who i was supposed to be and so many aspects of my life and communities and social circles that were handed to me, i've been finding who i am. and who i want in my life. i feel a bit lost right now, at least socially and communally, but i know this won't last forever. this is part of the process of my life. and i'm striving to enjoy the process. and one day, i will find myself in a home i love, involved in a community i love, working and playing and living with people i love and connect with. and for now, i'm enjoying each day, each present moment i have, with people i'm lucky enough to already have.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

luckiest summer

Luckiest Summer from Kelli Anderson on Vimeo.

jared isn't much for photos or videos. he doesn't get excited for a photoshoot and he's happiest when we leave the camera at home. unfortunately for him, i whip out my iphone every two seconds to photograph basically everything, whether we bring the dslr or not. i usually try to tone it down when he's had enough photos, because i think it's understandable and i love the guy.

he took last saturday off work to celebrate our anniversary. this is a big deal because he works every single saturday. he works a lot. we are so tight on money right now because i'm very low on work. i'm transitioning out of school and looking for jobs. that's another blog post. anyways. as a "free" gift to me, jared offered to spend the day making a video. i didn't really have anything in mind, we just wanted to spend some time in the mountains. so we packed up our bags and headed up there. i was inspired by this picture, and wanted a lovely vintage feel to the video. but other than that, i didn't know what would turn out.

i must admit. it was hot that day. super hot. like summmmmmmer hot. which is unusual for june in utah. june is usually a string of those perfect 79 degree days. not this year. but that's okay. i love summer. the back of jared's neck turned cherry red because we failed to apply sunscreen, but interestingly enough, i didn't get any color. hmm. anywho. enjoy the video (:

Friday, June 5, 2015

I must be honest. I'm going through such a transitional phase of my life right now. Actually. My life has been non-stop evolving and change for the last decade with lots of transitions. But it's especially transitional right now as I wrap up school and move on to what's next. I'm all but done with my bachelor's degree and now Jared and I are trying to figure out what's next. Where to live. How to live. What we want. Where we're willing to compromise to help each other's pursuits. How to make both our goals into reality. My disposition is already that I'm rather preoccupied with the future, but this transition is much exacerbating it and my husband is handling it wonderfully, I might add.

Some people don't seem too troubled by devoting their entire life to only one or two big goals. Actually, I think that's most people. Sure, they might casually wonder about what their life would be like if things hadn't gone in such a way, but most people, I think, want only a few things. Precisely because I am not one of those people, I'm realizing I must be quite choosy about to what I devote myself, and to where I spend my time and money. But that is difficult when my wants and my desires are so polarized, so mutually exclusive.

Wanting a home, wanting to be a wandering nomad, wanting to invest in a community and set down roots, wanting to move across the world, wanting to live by my mom, wanting my husband to be able to go to school, wanting to spend my life with my husband, wanting to travel, wanting to travel solo for years at a time, wanting to be a grandparent one day, not wanting kids really, sometimes wanting kids kind of, wanting to start a business, wanting to spend my days in nature and back to the land, wanting to spend my days working hard in a studio, wanting so many conflicting things. I realize I have only one life, only 24 hours each day, and only so much money, and sometimes I feel it is imperative that I find out what will truly make me the happiest and go after only those specified results.

BUT sometimes you just can't theorize and quantify everything, and the truth about the universe we live in is that no one can predict the future accurately every time. Sometimes I wonder if the life that will make me the happiest is one I will never live, with people I would never deliberately build relationships with, doing things I would never choose to do. I think sometimes you just have to pick a pursuit, unsure it will grant you the most happiness and the least regrets, and pursue it with everything you got. Sometimes you just have to get started doing something, because doing something is better than nothing at all. Because we live in the third dimension, and sometimes my thoughts and fears and concerns and desires may only come to pass in another.

Here are just a few of the questions I've been asking myself, pondering, brainstorming, and journaling over: Where do I want to be a year from now? In ten years, what do I want to look back and say, "I built that."? If I were on vacation right now, where would I wish I could come home to--where do I wish was home? When I'm old, what do I want the story of my life to have been? Even with all the evolving and transformative changes in the last few years, who have I always been? What hasn't changed? In the last ten years, what have I always loved? What in my childhood sparked flutters in my stomach? Which of those things still spark flutters today? These are just a few questions, there are of course many more questions and ideas and lists and long, drawn out hand written journal entries.

I remind myself this is a phase that will last only a season, and one day I will miss this free time, I will miss this freshness, this feeling of new opportunities and the endless horizon, and maybe even the stress, the frantic planning, and the quiet quiet quiet of my home. But for now, I'm standing tall, confident, and courageous, and I'm looking straight into the future.

And this post, and all that it entails, will be but a moment, and I will look back endearingly, at all my growth, and hopefully continual nonstop change, with hearts in my eyes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

hello. so tonight i was frustrated because this summer semester feels like quite the joke. it feels rather superfluous to the overall progression of my life and i feel more than, so much more than, ready to be done with this whole college phase of my life. i graduated high school almost a decade ago and since then i have been in the "college student" phase of life, with greater and lesser degrees of intensity.

i walked and received a diploma a few weeks ago. my school does it once a year so even if you have a few more classes to finish you walk with everybody else in the spring. it really cemented in my brain that i'm done. and i knooow i'm in the final home stretch, but it's really getting in the way of living how i really want to live and being able to fully devote myself to meaningful long term projects. it's unarguably annoying and just my reality. but.

but jared stopped me in the midst of my wallowing and frustration this evening and hilariously pointed out that he finally understands that cheesy quote. "that life is not about something-something-something, it's about dancing in the rain." i clarified, "the quote goes, 'life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain'".

something clicked while we were talking and it really cemented for me that i need to appreciate my life, each moment i am living it. i know nothing about this is groundbreaking. but that's okay, i'm not expecting this old blog to go viral (: in fact, i always hope people will just stop reading this since i enjoy using this space to journal the occasional words i need to set down here, and i enjoy writing without censoring myself.

anyways. i'm just putting it out there with words, since words always make things much more official, that i'm feeling more positive in my life. and it's good. i'm feeling like life is good, it's really good. even the parts that suck, still suck, but that doesn't mean i have a sucky life. i have a good life. and i'm working on balanced perspective. today is here, so i'm going to enjoy it the best i can, and remember that when today just plain sucks, there's always tomorrow.