Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Gay Mormon Policy Post

I've been reeling the past few days trying to process my feelings about the church's policy change for gay families. I realized I have two messages: one for those directly hurt by the new policy and one for those defensive of the church due to this policy. Read one or both. My heart is filled with love and respect for both parties and everyone else lying somewhere in between. It's because of that love and respect that I've got somewhat of a stern talking-to for the latter group.

A message to those directly hurt by this policy,
To my gay Mormon friends, I love you. No one should have to hide, or try to change, the core of who they are. If you are struggling to find hope, love, support, or understanding, my doors are always open. I will be your friend. If you haven't come out yet, know that there are people waiting to embrace the real you with open arms.

Perhaps no one has told you, so I will tell you: It's okay to reject church teachings that diminish you as a person or fail to honor the whole of your soul. Honor your own intellect. Respect the part of yourself that doesn't fit the given mold of who you are supposed to be. Trust the voice inside of you that says you deserve happiness, fulfillment, and romantic love. Walt Whitman wrote, "Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul."

You are worthwhile. You are worthy. Exactly as you are right now, in all your brokenness and shame--you are enough. You may feel the need to hide or change who you are from your family and community, but that's not your fault and it's not a reflection of your worth. You are immersed in a culture that seeks to regulate behavior through shame. This new policy blatantly contradicts the words of Christ (here) and ostracizes children of gay people. The policy is NOT divine, YOU are divine. The fact that you think and hurt and feel is incredible. You are needed on this planet. The real you, all of you is needed. Please know that this new policy is a regrettable response by the church to the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage across the United States. The church will rue this day. History tells us so. Please know that.

National Suicide Prevention Line: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

My message to those who feel defensive of the church due to this policy,
If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, right now, spiritually, you're entitled to be there for a suffering sibling in Christ or be silent until you can. Please stop defending the church and instead show up for someone who is hurting. Listen to a gay Mormon or anyone who considers themselves part of the gay community in any way. Hear their story and their experience and truly mourn with them. No matter how deep your convictions that this policy change comes from God, this change is not a celebration for anyone. It has and will continue to cause pain for millions of individuals and hundreds of thousands of families.

The church is not in danger here. In the dynamic between the church and all the gay individuals and families whom this policy directly affects, the church has all the power. Realize that. This should ring especially true for you if you believe the church cannot fall or be defeated, as many faithful members do. The church as a body isn't at risk of suicide or feelings of rejection, isolation, or being outcasted. The church isn't a human being capable of being crushed and doesn't have the capacity to be vulnerable, experience deeply painful shame, or the desire to stop existing. Stop defending the church when leaders chose to issue a policy that blatantly ostracizes an already vulnerable demographic. Please instead show up for a living, breathing person in pain due to this change.

If you don't battle crippling self-hatred and shame, if you believe God loves you, if you believe you are worthwhile and have value, you enjoy huge privilege that many LGBT Mormons do not. If you feel accepted enough by your family, community, and culture to live your authentic, true self, you are privileged. That means the game is rigged just a little bit (or a lot) in your favor. Think about that. In the church's crusade against homosexuality, you are protected from self-hatred and excruciatingly painful shame (which degree cannot be overstated)You need to understand if you don't already how much that position privileges you above people who weren't born fitting the Mormon mold. And how it strips from you the spiritual entitlement to ignore people who are truly vulnerable and suffering under the guise of righteousness.

***If you're Mormon and part of a Mormon community and you think you don't know any gay Mormons, what that really means is you haven't positioned yourself as compassionate and safe enough for the gay Mormons in your life to trust you. Build a track record of love and support for your gay brothers and sisters and watch as people already in your life open up to you.***

NOTE: Sexual orientation and gender identity are not black and white, but rather gray. While those who identify as LGBT are in the minority in society, many people in reality land somewhere on a spectrum between two polars. There are as many sexual orientations and gender identities as there are people. Just as skin tone varies from person to person, so does sexual orientation and gender identity. If you look at a collective view of humanity, the skin colors you see are a myriad of beautiful tones, so it is with sexual orientation and gender identity. While the church has a black or white stance on homosexuality, people are not.

Just some background on me, if you don't already know. I grew up in a heterosexual Mormon household with my dad and stepmom and part-time in my lesbian mom's home. She has been with her partner/wife since I was 8 year's old in a committed, "marital" relationship. I was baptized at 8, served a mission, and married in the temple. I left the church over a year ago after experiencing a crisis of faith.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

systems of power that govern everything

Power dynamics govern every human interaction that has or will ever happen. Less sophisticated dynamics exist among other living species. It is a part of life. Player blindness is integral to the power system. By player I mean, an individual engaged in a power dynamic; and by blindness I mean, being unaware of the power dynamics at play. Player awareness results in systemic upheaval, retaliation, protest, and often further abuse. Player awareness is rare. By awareness I mean, when a player becomes directly aware of either their own power privilege or under-privilege, or both.

Our society favors straight, white, middle to upper class, financially-stable, able-bodied, cis-gender males. Intersectionality is when systems of power intersect in a person's identity. For example, a straight white black man, a lower class white female, or a wealthy asian transgender man.

The root of ALL human fear is under-privilege. Because privilege and power dynamics exist in every human interaction, beyond our interactions with society at large. People are afraid of is not having control over ourselves or our destiny. People become crippled with fear and anxiety when tending to their basic needs is not within their control. There is a system of privilege and power in every marriage, between every parent and child, and in every weird, messed up relationship that ever existed.

In a marriage where one partner works, builds a career, and is highly employable, while the other partner stays home with children and doesn't work, neglects a career, and is not highly employable, there is a power dynamic within the marriage where the non-working partner depends upon the other for financial stability. Not only is there an out-of-balance system of power in the normal state of the marriage, if and when the marriage status changes, the non-working partner is in financial ruin. For some, the solution to this conundrum is life insurance with divorce as a non-option. Unfortunately, that solution still highly under-privileges the non-working partner because the working partner always has the ability to leave the marriage with an upper hand; that capacity alone is a power dynamic.

While most people are directly blind to the power dynamics that govern their lives, everyone is acutely indirectly aware. Power dynamics are indispensable to our identities. Power dynamics are slow and difficult to change precisely because they are tethered so tightly to our identities. We are absolutely defined by our positions in the power dynamics that govern every human interaction, every human relationship, and every human system, organization, and government.

The systems that enforce power privilege in our society do not exist on merit. That every president of the United States has been a man is not because men are better leaders. That the incarceration rate for people of color is quadruple that for white people is not because white people are more peaceful or commit less crimes. That transgender people have a 50% chance of being sexually assaulted is not because transgender people are more promiscuous.

Just sharing a few thoughts I've had lately about power, privilege, and individual identity. I haven't written a paper in a while and well, these thoughts just bubble in me all day. I see that most people are totally clueless to the power dynamics that govern their lives and the lives of people around them. It doesn't have to be this way. Becoming educated about power dynamics is one of the most important things that's ever happened to me. Next time, might I dive into corporate power, consumer power, consumer pushover ism (highly sophisticated term coined by me), corporate truth-telling, consumer education, and consumer awareness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

realizations brought to me by stitches

my fingers are taped together and i have a feeling typing anything may be somewhat difficult. i spliced my finger open at work today and had to have four stitches. i was standing outside in the cold and there must not have been much circulation in my hands when it happened because the skin flapped open and i saw right into my hand. and there was very little blood. i saw the tendons hanging out there and i saw basically an empty space where no bone or skin or cartilage or tendons exist. just nothing. just an empty space running right through my hand between my ring and pinky fingers. or "4th and 5th digits", as the nurse referred to them at the instacare.

i'm relaxing on our sofa sitting next to pure beeswax tapers burning and gilmore girls running in the background. that show is so fall and so cozy and just feels like coming home. i'm torn between the need to go for a run and the need to relax since my body is almost audibly unhappy about the 4th and 5th digit incident. i haven't had stitches since i was a kid. i can't even remember the last time. but in the middle of the day i was totally wiped out with nausea so badly that i had to lay down and the kid i nanny played doctor and brought me cups of water and blankets for thirty minutes straight. so i'm respecting my body and letting myself rest.

but on the other hand i really need to go running. it's been five days since i last ran. and before that it had been a month. this is really bad for my body, for my mental and emotional health, for basically everything for me. but i'm also a big believer in taking it easy when you have a wound or are afflicted with an illness. so rather than giving in to the cravings for a jog, i'm allowing myself to enjoy the rest.

stay with me here, i'm going somewhere with this. we can have two different, conflicting needs and wants at the same time. we are complex enough beings for that. i simultaneously have needed human connection and needed to recluse from people the last year or so. this juxtaposition of my physical needs highlighted the same fact for emotional and social and mental needs, too. sometimes we can have two different, conflicting needs and wants at the same time. we are complex enough beings for that. huh.

resting because stitches. yet dreaming of jogging endorphins (& a hot bath & to sleep in with brunch & a long hike & a day spent with my honey). i will run tomorrow, but i learned a lesson today.

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.