Saturday, April 11, 2015

dream home

i dream of having a home. i try not to be too tempted by the idea of having our own washer and dryer or our own backyard, because i don't want to make a rash decision about a home. we are willing to wait out several more years of apartment living with our eyes on the prize of that dream home. in fact, i want to have a home, but the actual decision will be informed, educated, thoughtful, and calculated. retrospectively, i'm now realizing the amount of time i've spent thinking and dreaming about this perfect home through out my life.

but before i detail it all, i have to interject about privilege. i'm aware that my life has been extremely privileged, for which i am grateful. the fact that i will probably have this home one day and not just dream about it, is evidence that i am very privileged. this post just discusses my dream home, which is only one part of a whole life i want to live. sure, i would love to live in this perfect, dream home of mine. but it will just be that, a home. i hope to use my home to help others. i hope to have a home so that it can act as a temporary or surrogate home for others, too. i hope to use the mental clarity, the recharge, and the safety of my home to go out and help people every day. that it may be my home base which allows me to do good work, the best work i can for the world every day of my life.

i remember the resolutions i set even from a young age that my grown up home would not be mass-produced and boring. it would not be a brand new, cookie cutter home. i would not have boring furniture and decor. even from a young age, i knew that i wanted my home to be filled with items i had collected from around the world, one of a kind items that didn't come from a big corporation and that wouldn't also be found in my neighbor's home. i remember being inspired by some homes i saw on tv and movies, but rarely by the homes in the area where i grew up. here is how i envisage my future home:

i dream of a smaller home, perhaps three bedrooms, two baths. but the rooms are large and spacious. there will be tall ceilings and unusually wide hallways, as though the place was built for giants. the rooms may feature french doorways, circular windows, large sinks and pipe faucets. the whole place will just kill you dead with old world charm. but calm you with minimal simplicity. when you look out the large windows you'll be met with green, either palms or pines--depending on where we end up. either way, the views will be stunning.

for balance, there will be bright, sunny rooms for productivity, like the living room, and dark, calming rooms for rest and reflection, like a den or reading nook. the bright rooms will have white painted floors and walls and ceilings with giant nearly floor to ceiling windows--while the dark rooms will have dark walnut stained wood and strategically placed, warm lighting. the master bedroom will be spacious with an all-white king sized bed. somewhere there will be a set of three or four wiiiiiiiide steps. the kitchen could be very similar to the kitchen we've got in this apartment and hey, i'd be happy. the master bathroom will have a giant tub for two and duel shower heads.

the backyard. the backyard will be similar to the backyard i grew up in. it will have tall trees and the feeling that you could get lost back there. it will have dreamy, plant covered wooden or concrete steps. it will have a treehouse with a rope bridge connecting to our back deck. there will be space for social gathering, a swing, a vegetable garden, and a chicken coop. there will be ample flowers, ground cover, stone paths and a hidden hammock. there will be an outdoor shower for zen moments and childlike summertime play. and before you think i'm over gnomes, there will be a few gnomes and a little fairy garden corner. i will always love gnomes. there will be grassy space for outdoor movies. you might find details like bird feeders, a sundial, and solar lights. it will smell fresh, birds will be chirping, and it will be very shaded. but most of all, i want the garden and backyard to be useable spaces that are inviting for adults to relax, for kids to play, and for gatherings to happen.

i love the idea of incorporating permaculture into my home and garden, and maybe we could have a green roof one day. i love the idea of alternative home builds such as straw-bale construction and cob houses. but realistically, i see jared and i buying an old home or industrial space.

but seriously here's the deal on the treehouse: it's a real deal. it's the realest deal that's really happening. jared and i decided somewhere along the twelve hour drive home from california that we are most definitely building a treehouse once we have a home and a backyard that will be insulated like a home as a bonus living space. if by the time we make this dream happen, airbnb it still a thing, we would definitely airbnb the treehouse.

jared's few requests include, are you ready for this madness? -- a garage workspace, a basketball area, and a grill for barbecues. so demanding.

it is important to me to have a home that's filled with people i love. the space will be welcoming for people to lounge and enjoy themselves. we will always have open hearts and doors to friends and loved ones and even strangers.

it will take time, duh, but this space will be a reality one day.

and last but not least, a fluffy, teddy bear-like dog.

i don't usually share photos that aren't mine, but it makes sense for this post. i don't know who owns the photos and i'm stating clearly here that none of these photos are mine, i just found them around the web.


love the space. dream nightstands
rusticwide open stepshallwayMight need to run more plumbing, but this is AMAZING and I think we would have enough room. Love the subway tile and double rainshower heads. Tree houseA hideaway for me n the bootiles
black stained wood stairs

Inside outside


It's Good to Be Here - Candy Chang, New Orleans, public art series

Friday, March 27, 2015

Redefining the meaning of a successful, fulfilling life.

I've been left wondering why some women can hardly wait for the birth of their fifth child, some women yearn with heartbreak over infertility, some women take deep pleasure in motherhood on top of busy careers and responsibilities, some women recall wanting kids since childhood, while I regularly try to talk myself into the idea of one or two children, while I secretly wouldn't mind infertility all that much, while I constantly wonder and fear what motherhood would do for my future career, partner relationship, friendships, sanity, and life, while I vividly remember wondering about my future as a child and asking if kids really had to be a part of it. Why? What do they have of which I wasn't hard wired? What is the right thing for me to do? I have frequently felt that time is ticking, not to have children, but to know if I would ever want them. I want to know for sure either way, I want to be decided about how my future looks and what it will and won't include.

I am reminded of times in the past when I believed women were most fulfilled in motherhood and nothing else came close, not other relationships, not other projects or accomplishments, and certainly not a career. When I believed people who chose not to be parents were making a selfish decision. Yes, I did believe those things. Now I have a more well-rounded and egalitarian understanding of what makes a fulfilling life. But that doesn't mean I know what's in store for me when it comes to the question of parenthood.

Perhaps one day I will have children of my own to care for, and if so, hopefully as a co-parent with Jared. But perhaps one day I won't choose that path, and that will be okay, too.

Because whether I have children or not, and whether I ever become confident in a deliberate decision either way, my life will be full. The picture is the same whether I take on the role of a parent or not:

I will lead a successful, personally fulfilling and meaningful career. I will work tirelessly on important projects that meaningfully improve people's lives in tangible ways. I will not retire until I'm a hundred or more. I will have a beautiful home that will provide me with the security of traveling far and wide. I will have friendships that enrich the quality of my life and give me the opportunity to do the same for theirs. I will constantly be reading and learning, to understand the world and others. I will always be caught up on important news and involved with politics I believe are important. I will develop skills outside my career that improve me, such as cooking, handy work, gardening, musical instruments, and learning new languages. I will spend personal, alone time exercising, watching the clouds pass, doing yoga, being in nature, and creating art. I will empower the underprivileged and give voice to the voiceless. I will give patience for those who are slow, offer understanding for those who are difficult, and share positivity with all as often as I am able.

If I become a parent one day and even if I don't, I will lead a happy, fulfilling, loving, selfless, successful life. So I guess I don't really need to know or decide about parenthood right this minute, because either way, my life can be fulfilling, my life can be wonderful, my life can be filled with good work and special memories. And that works for me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

re-evaluating the struggle.

it's definitely two in the morning, i have a weird case of the hiccups, and i'm super tired. but late at night is absolutely the time when a creative part of my brain awakens while the rest shuts down. it's like my functioning brain has permission to stop functioning and my wild, creative brain gets to have it's time in the sun. or moonlight, i should say.

we've been making an effort to turn off the tv and all the lights and just be quieter earlier in the evening. if we don't do this deliberately, we find ourselves turning off netflix at midnight and collapsing into bed. i love laying in my bed in the dark, perhaps with some magical music streaming into my brain from a pair of headphones, and just letting the ideas flow. the best, most brilliant ideas come to me at that time. i feel this sense of fulfillment in my human existence as i quietly spend time with only my imagination. i remember doing this when i was young. i would head into my bedroom, turn off all the lights, turn on a relaxation cd and stare out the window in my bedroom at the valley below.

i'm inspired to take more photos. i'm inspired to deeply explore the beautiful and wonderful opportunities of life. i'm inspired to be more grateful.

i know i just posted about how i'm dreaming of a warm climate. and i am. i mean, the tropics are indisputably divine. a tropical paradise feels like a scene from a sci-fi movie to me at this moment in my life. however. i'm also feeling deeply grateful for my life, and where i live, today. i woke up and jogged around memory grove. then i came home and joined jared just as he was going out for a mountain bike ride. then we went for a walk to the grocery store. i just felt like, you know, this life isn't too bad. it's soo good. and salt lake city, in particular, has it's perks. i'm not saying i'm buying a house here or anything too crazy. but i cannot complain about this mild winter, the terrific cost of living in this city, the fact that my mom lives ten minutes away, and that we both have no commute.

but it's not just those thing. my gratitude is deeper than those somewhat superficial reasons. my heart is feeling changed. i feel grateful for my life, even if it wasn't so dandy. i feel grateful for the obstacles and the less dreamy parts.

i guess there is a certain beauty in our real, imperfect lives. what would life be without the struggle? where would we obtain our satisfaction if everything was easy? would the ease just be that awesome? or would there be an emptiness? is the struggle a necessary and important part of life? or can humans really be fulfilled without it? i'm not sure people can. what does that mean? i'm thinking i need to re-evaluate my entire attitude towards "the struggle". and by the struggle i people with extreme struggles who are severely disadvantaged. and then dumb things in my life, like the fact that i can't travel the world TODAY or buy what i want EVERY TIME or easily obtain the career i want or wave a magic wand and know exactly what i want or what the future holds...

i'm wondering if the clicking of the keyboard is bothering jared who is sleeping in the next room, or most likely he's sleeping like a log straight through it. either way, i should probably shut my eyes soon. i just wanted to write some thoughts tonight, since my heart is feeling particularly softer than usual and i'm not entirely sure why. it's cliche to say i want to write here more often, but i want to write here more often. not just to get out thoughts i know are swishing around in my brain, but to discover unknown thoughts that may not have existed without the keyboard.

so here's to tomorrow, a day where i can hopefully more fully appreciate my whole, complete life. the good and the bad, the warmly accepted and the begrudgingly put-up-with. here's to finding beauty in it all, the whole picture, and a few less complaints. because, man, am i lucky.

measuring sticks.

the marker of success is in the measuring stick you use. i had companions on my mission who constantly felt like giant failures. many women frequently feel like this. the feeling of being a failure is something that affects all of humanity, not just women and not just missionaries.

i'm human, i know the feeling of failure. but i also know that whether we are considered successful or not is determined by the measuring stick used.

people may feel like failures as parents when they measure their children's success off of milestones and achievements unreached, rather than their existence as a human being and their sense of wellbeing. people use the same measuring sticks to evaluate their own success status.

i've decided that i'm successful when i try my hardest to be my best. i'm successful when i forgive others. when i ask for forgiveness. when my heart is sorry. i'm successful when i outdo myself. when i bite my tongue. when i am thoughtful. when i am gentle (i'm not naturally gentle). i am successful when my heart is flooded with love and i do my best to share it.

i look for the best in people i like. i suppose i look for the best in myself because i really like myself. i'm a winner. and guess what? you are too. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

surviving february BARELY

it's february. i'm dreaming of summer and beaches and the tropics SO HARD. today i had ten minutes in the middle of the day to kill and so of course i listened to ocean sounds and looked at pictures of palm trees and oceans and exotic fruit on instagram. this pic is from our honeymoon in aruba. we were sitting in the restaurant and i was wearing a bikini top under a romper. what a dreeeeeeeeeeeeam!

it's been ridiculously warm this winter and for that i cannot complain. but! winter, utah, pollution, i'm so over you. i'm not just looking forward to a utah summer, i'm fantasizing about actually living in a beachy locale. a place where i can wear tank tops, sandals and bikinis YEAR ROUND. and i will never ever take it for granted.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Free The Nipple!

My first guess was that I was three. But I checked the dates and realized I was actually only two years old, still a few months from being three. I was rough housing around the living room with my older brothers. We all pulled off our shirts and were beating our chests like warriors.

I was pulled aside and told I had to put my shirt back on or I couldn't play. That moment marked me. I remember what shirt I was supposed to be wearing, the dim light coming from the lamps by the sofa, and the position of the furniture in the room. But mostly I remember my confusion. I've accepted and gone along with the shame of society at times through my life but the confusion has never left. Shame is very real. It can be so confusing to sift through to find clarity.

It was this time of year. I put on a new pajama set I had received for Christmas a few weeks prior. I walked from my bedroom into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I didn't like the way the tank top showed my developing hips. My older brother's joked on occasion that I had love handles, which felt like a term for someone much older than me. I felt like I wasn't skinny enough. I had been feeling this way about my body for about a year. In a moment of childlike self-love, I decided my body was good enough just the way it was, especially around my family at home. I walked out of the bathroom and down the stairs to watch a movie in the living room.

I didn't get two feet into the kitchen before I was chastised for wearing the shirt. It did not hide the shape of my body, but the specific offense was my developing, barely-there boobs. The words still echo in my mind. "Kelli. I. Can. See. Your. Breasts. Go upstairs and put on a bra." I was mortified and absolutely objectified in that moment, but because I was just a child I did not have the words to describe let alone understand what happened to me and how it made me feel. I turned around and ran upstairs to my bedroom and had a good cry like any twelve year would do.

One blessing of adulthood is that you can recluse from people who project their own shame to find understanding, clarity, and peace about yourself in a way you couldn't as a child. It's taken me a while but I have sifted through quite a bit. I now cling to what I've learned about my true self, which gives me the happiest, healthiest life possible.

I recently posted a photo of my bare chest on Instagram with only my nipple censored. The picture obviously made lots of people uncomfortable. I lost a lot of followers, but I gained about as many as  I lost. Many people reached out letting me know they appreciated my voice and told me their own stories.

I believe that censoring the female nipple does not respect and empower women or their bodies. I believe censoring female nipples shames and oppresses women. Nipples--male and female alike--are not genitals and should not be censored as though they are. The fact that female nipples have an evolutionary purpose should only make their visibility all the more appropriate than a man's. But today, society in general is still completely comfortable viewing a male nipple and absolutely offended at the sight of a female nipple.

Nipples are both a useful and necessary body part (feeding children) and may be sexual as well. However, the same could be said of legs. And I don't support the unnecessary censoring and covering up of female legs either. It is a way in which women are systematically disadvantaged from men. Can you believe there are legal and illegal nipples?

Saying that a woman's nipple must be covered up but a man's doesn't is saying that there is something inherently more sexual about a woman's nipple (and her entire body) than a man's. This is like when people try to say that men are naturally more sexual creatures than women. Both statements are not only false, but they both deny and force upon women and girls a sexual identity (and I suppose upon boys and men as well!). My unclothed body was sexualized and stigmatized before I could dress myself. And in my church, pornography is a problem that "only the menfolk struggle with." It is as though sexuality is a male only characteristic, and that, biologically, women aren't sexual at all. Especially in my church, but in society at large, women are denied the dignity of a sexual identity at all. Heaven forbid she has a healthy sexual appetite.

Guess what? Women and men are not that different. Men love sex, women love sex, men love food and naps, women love food and naps. Sexuality is a human trait, not a gender trait.

And then, since this is my blog, I'm going to address a comment that I received on my Instagram post. The message came from several commenters who suggested that the photo was pornographic. Here, take a look and decide for yourself.

While I respect everyone who commented and their right to their own opinion, I deeply disagree with that sentiment. And just to briefly revisit the definition of pornography, it is any explicit image of genitals OR an image intended to elicit sexual arousal. So first, the image was of my chest, not genitals.  As both the person in the image and the creator of the image, there was nothing about the image that was intended to elicit erotic feelings. None.

This is important to me: The naked female body is not objectively porn. Porn is porn.

Anyone could look at literally any photograph, or any real person, wearing any varying amount of clothing and either be aroused or not. I find people sexually attractive all the time, all day, with varying amounts of clothing on. I'm not looking at porn and I'm not a monster, I'm a human being. I shrug my shoulders and go on with my day.

There are plenty of worse or greater forms of oppression for many other groups, but I believe that there's no freedom til we're all equal. All oppression is one. All freedom is one. I'm not so concerned with the oppression I face, because I live a ridiculously privileged life.

I believe in free the nipple because people still think that short skirts are asking for it and that the unclothed, uncovered female body is inherently sexual. Rape culture is still contested by society at large and females are still slut-shaming even themselves.

And although I don't intend to devote my life to freeing the nipple, it's definitely something I believe in.

If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below. You can email, text, or call me. I am open to chatting with anyone about this. If you'd like, let's go to lunch and have an open conversation about censorship.


PS, here is a blog post I LOVE that talks about Mormons, boob jobs, and modesty.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

on becoming organic and healing myself

have you ever had a particular moment or experience that instantly and permanently changed your soul? a few weeks ago i was laying in bed at two am writhing in pain from a horrible flu virus which had been made worse after taking a shot of nyquil. now let me stop here and apologize for chronicling every time i get sick. i don't know why i do this, but i'm aware that i do. i think i become extremely reflective while i'm sick and it's one of the rare times i am forced to actually slow down, think, and write.

so i got up and stumbled to the bathroom and i will just say it wasn't pretty. i barfed up the nyquil and felt instantly better. i then stumbled into the kitchen and grabbed a banana. i brought it into the bedroom and laid down on my back in a blurry haze. i peeled it open and ate each bite slowly but still without hardly tasting it.

my stomach was settled. my body was thanking me. i fell asleep instantly and when i woke up the next morning i was a new person. not just my body, but my spirit, heart, and mind. that banana was medicine. i don't know why, it was a rather insignificant moment unexamined, but there was something about that moment that shifted my body and mind into a heightened state of awareness regarding my health and it's relation to the things i put inside of it.

i have considered the idea of food as medicine before. i have walked the produce section of the grocery store selecting the items that called to me many a time, i have, over the last two years, been slowly removing unhealthy foods from my diet, and i have long valued fresh over packaged foods.

but until that night, my soul and body together did not yearn for earth's untampered organisms. something about that banana was extremely healing to both my body and mind. the next day i began researching the power of organic food. i never really understood why organic food is all that important. i knew gmo's were to be avoided but had never researched exactly why. i spent the next few days ravenously devouring everything i could read about organic foods. my mind suddenly wanted to be straight with the earth, the moon, and the stars. it's all cosmic and delicious and very good feelings.

here's what i've learned about why organic food is important: organic food is grown without the use of pesticides. most people know that. i had previously believed, based on some things i'd read, that produce with thick peels, like bananas, did not need to be organic because the pesticides could not penetrate their peels or shells. but organic food actually goes beyond ensuring people do not consume pesticides.

human beings exist thanks to a delicate ecosystem on earth and their role in the whole system. in fact, each individual is either a thriving and healthy ecosystem, within themselves, with a micro-biome made up of bacteria, viruses, and parasites, or an unhealthy and disturbed ecosystem that is out of balance and laden with disease.

pesticides disturb both the delicate ecosystem of earth as well as the delicate ecosystem within individuals. pesticides and herbicides destroy the microorganisms that feed on and enrich soil, which then transfer nutrients like vitamins and minerals to the food we eat. non-organic food, even fresh fruits and vegetables, are rather empty, and do not compare at all in quality or nutritional value to organic food. not only that, but genetically modified foods can transfer harmful viruses and bacteria to our guts that disrupt our delicate ecosystems.

i absolutely believe organic food is much better for the body than non-organic food. any organic unprocessed food is a superfood. any non-organic food can not be. have you ever tried to eat only fruits and vegetables for even a day? i had tried that plenty of times in the past, of course only with non-organic produce. it never worked out. i was always starving and empty within a few hours. the last few weeks i have been eating large amounts of organic fruits and vegetables. small salads stuff me to the point that i can't eat another bite. i'm satiated for hours.

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

i have suffered a health issue the last few years that i haven't talked about much on my blog. i now know it was a food additive allergy, but i didn't know it for a long time. it came on some time during my mission (2010) and got increasingly worse the next few years. there were horrific symptoms. i will call them hangry symptoms. i would be feeling good at one moment and then suddenly ravenously hungry within minutes. it felt like bugs were crawling under my skin all over my entire body. i would experience flu-like symptoms from dizziness, nausea, delirium, confusion, and anger. oh, the anger. i would be deliriously angry, hangry, as if i hadn't eaten for days, sometimes seeing red with road rage because i couldn't get to a restaurant fast enough. but most restaurant foods didn't cure it. weirdly, the only restaurants that made it feel better were ute-mex restaurants like cafe rio or costa vida or large home cooked meals. fast food only exacerbated the symptoms. and once the symptoms had already set in, small healthy snacks like eating a piece of fruit or a larabar did next to nothing. if it came on late at night, there was no sleeping it off. it was like i had the flu all night until i finally ate a solid meal. the only cure was a giant, hearty meal loaded with carbs, protein, fats, and some fresh produce. basically, cafe rio.

i would experience these episodes at least once a day for about three years. jared and i both just thought i was extremely sensitive to hunger. bless jared's heart suffering my presence through it all. he drove to cafe rio many times because i was truly not capable of driving. i just thought i was weak because basically everyone else could go hours before eating from the time they first felt hunger. i knew something was wrong because life hadn't always been this way and i could go hours and hours without experiencing these symptoms if i hadn't eaten anything that day. but because the issue came on slowly i didn't immediately recognize that something was really, truly "wrong".

about a year and a half after the symptoms had been present, i began eating a tad bit less packaged food. for example, i would eat plain oatmeal with natural peanut butter and local honey for breakfast instead of an instant oatmeal package. i was still eating plenty of packaged foods, but at least some part of my daily meals had less packaged food. i began eating larabars between meals. i began snacking on hard boiled eggs a few hours after a meal before i felt hungry or any hangry symptoms. this helped immensely, but it was impossible to always be prepared with a healthy snack prior to symptoms setting in, so i still had attacks multiple times a week.

during this time i saw an endocrinologist because i was certain i was hypoglycemic. i was devastated when i found out i had absolutely perfect, healthy blood sugar levels (after lab tests on my blood and thrice daily monitoring of my blood sugar levels). i know that sounds silly and backwards, and of course now i appreciate i am not hypoglycemic. but at the time i just felt invalidated in my experience and silly for having such a strong reaction to something everyone experienced daily: hunger. it felt like i was just broken and weak and there was no way to really get a handle on this part of my life.

i explored "eating healthier" in a general way as time went on, rather untethered to these hangry symptoms. i figured cafe rio is healthier than mcdonalds, right? so why don't i feel great? i figured that dark chocolate is better than gummy worms so i should feel good, no? but that was wrong. on top of that, i still regularly ate out, occasionally had fast food, would munch on jared's potato chips, and would eat a bar of chocolate at least once a week or more. but with an allergy, any exposure to the allergen is enough to trigger a response, so even that handful of chips in the middle of an otherwise healthy eating day could send me into an episode later in the day.

it's been about a month since i have been strictly eating only organic, non-gmo food. i have been preparing my meals at home, shopping at farmer's markets, eating mostly produce, eating some raw produce at every meal, and eating only grass-fed, organic, humanely raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free meats and dairy products. this hasn't been a difficult change, partly because i was already eating fairly healthy, and partly because that banana flu experience altered my soul into craving and yearning organic food.

last week it dawned on me that i was hungry, and had been hungry for at least four hours. no hangry symptoms had set in. do you know how thrilling that moment was? i had conquered my demon, doctors hadn't helped me at all, drugs or pills hadn't helped, the only thing that changed was me. my body was doing it's thing just the way it was supposed to. i almost started crying. never would i ever have imagined being so thrilled to feel hunger.

my stomach was hungry with minor hunger pangs. but my body was fine. no abnormal symptoms. no panic. no delirium. no nausea, no bugs swimming in my blood, and no red hot anger. i was hungry and i was level headed. finally it was proven: i was not extremely sensitive to hunger, i was having an allergic reaction to a food additive. i was not a weakling or a spoiled baby, i was simply having an abnormal allergic reaction to a food additive. i was normal.

the reason i have pinpointed my allergy to a food additive is because the symptoms only totally went away once i completely eliminated all packaged foods from my diet for more than two weeks. if i had journaled more specifically what i ate and kept all the labels and ingredients, i'm sure i could have determined what specific food additive was triggering my symptoms. but i don't need to.

eating organic food is a lifestyle that i crave and deeply enjoy, one that improves the environment, the economy, and our future. it has greatly improved my life. i love this new life. since eating organic is coming so easily to me, my new year's resolutions are: one green smoothie a day and jog one mile per day. so far, so good!