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NEW: Life Coaching

I am starting a new adventure of Life Coaching. I will only be doing it on a part-time basis but If you or anyone is interested in making things happen in your life please contact me. Click the "Life Coaching" tab above for more information.

Book Review: FORTIFY: A Step Towards Recovery

"...My favorite line in this book actually happens on page 5. "Our aim is to help you reclaim and become again who you are and always have been, even if you forgot that for awhile." At ANASAZI we believe every child has a seed of greatness within them. They just need to remember. Both philosophies mean that the strength to overcome negative behaviors lies within."

INSPIRE: music.service.hope

At INSPIRE we are determined to make our dreams come true! We want you to be a part of our success. Please take a moment to check out our website: www.inspiremusicservice.org, FB page, join us at our next service project, or come to one of our upcoming Musical Firesides in the Valley to learn more about us.

"Make It Happen"

"Make It Happen" is a collection of principles, blog entries, stories, and conversations had on couches, floors, kitchen tables, and at many single-adult gatherings. It is filled with practical ways to make changes in your life, find hope, increase faith, strengthen relationships, and build the kingdom."

I Am My Sister's Keeper

"I am my sister's keeper. It is my responsibility to hold her heart and be aware of her concerns. I may not understand why she decided to wear pants to church or why she wants to go to the Priesthood session, but I can certainly learn about her cause and concerns before I demonize her."

Friday, March 28, 2014

I Am My Sister's Keeper



I honestly don't know what to call myself.

I don't think I can actually call myself a Mormon Feminist because there are so many things that Mormon Feminists are passionate about and want to change that I don't feel the same drive towards. However, I am extremely passionate about people being heard and the opportunity for people to voice their opinions and concerns.

I guess you could say I'm a Mormon Feminist sympathizer.

I am also a Social Worker, an Adolescent Wilderness Therapist, a Co-Founder of a 501(c)3 non-profit, an Author, and the sister of a very prominent Radical Mormon Feminist. Through my sister I have met some of the most beautiful, brilliant, articulate, and passionate Mormon Feminists.  I have eaten with them, listened to them, read about them, and even done some research on many of them. I love each and every one of them. They are my sisters in the gospel.

It is important to note that I do not agree with everything they have to say and my heart and head are not as concerned about some of their deepest and impassioned causes. As I am sure they are not concerned with some of the things that consume my heart. However, because they are my sisters, their pains and their concerns, matter to me. This is part of my baptismal covenant.

I have been silent for too long on this matter. I am appalled at some of the things I have heard and read from Mormon women about Mormon Feminist women. I don't understand it. Don't get me wrong—not everyone needs to agree with or be a Mormon Feminist (remember how I stated earlier that I am not) but when is it ever okay to be so patronizing, vitriol, degrading, and divisive?

Today on FB a friend of mine asked about the "Mormon Feminist Protest" and in response I posted the link to Ordain Women—that was it on my part. I didn't comment about it, didn't remind people it wasn't a protest, didn't state my opinion—just posted the link. What followed after that link was embarrassing. One woman after another belittled, joked, made fun of, and villainized other women. Even better yet were the awful comments from some men. And, this FB thread was VERY mild compared to other things I've heard and read.

I understand having a difference of opinion (I have 5 fiercely opinionated sisters). I understand feeling content as a Mormon woman and not understanding why other Mormon women aren't. I understand being uncomfortable with what the Mormon Feminist women are feeling, doing, talking about, organizing, etc. What I don't understand is the hate.

I am my sister's keeper. It is my responsibility to hold her heart and be aware of her concerns. I may not understand why she decided to wear pants to church or why she wants to go to the Priesthood session, but I can certainly learn about her cause and concerns before I demonize her.

I can choose to find and build on common beliefs and things we can agree on rather than pick at things we disagree. I can educate myself on the issues, become aware of those in my ward who are longing for support, and I can love them. 

We are stronger as women and children of God when we stay in the church with all of our flaws, dreams, hopes, imperfections, passions, and provide each other support and opportunities to learn and grow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tinder Lovin' Care


As someone who despised the idea of Tinder when I first heard about it I just had to write a post not only about why I use it but why I endorse here. Here are 5 things I LOVE about Tinder:

Validation: At first when  I heard about Tinder I thought is was just another Hot or Not (and it is) and I wanted nothing to do with something so superficial but then I tried it out for a little bit. I was amazed at how validating it was for me. Here I was "liking" these really hot (to me) guys and they were "liking" me back. It was awesome.

In my regular life I am lacking (who can relate) aesthetic validation from men—and certainly from men I find very attractive. So, you can image how great it feels to have some attractive dude think I'm attractive (w/o any awkwardness or hassle—drama free!!)

Low Maintenance: The App is free. Download it. Create your Profile (from FB). Start using. It's that simple. Also, I can just Tinder whenever I have some downtime or I'm in the mood for a good laugh.

Simple Filters: I really like that the 2 main things you can see about someone (via FB) is your mutual friends and interests. Friends and interests tell a lot about a person. **Bonus for me is that if some guy has 116 mutual friends with me he is most likely Mormon so that helps if I'm looking for Mormon dudes (since there is not filter for that)**

Entertainment: There seems to be waves of what pictures go up on Tinder. Right now it's all about dudes and their dogs. A while back it was dudes and drinking. There was dudes and their shirts off. Oh, and don't forget dudes and their adventures (hiking, skiing, traveling, etc.). Some of the profile pictures are just hilarious!  It never fails to make me laugh out loud if I stay on long enough.


Potential Dates: I'm just barely entering this phase of Tinder. For the longest time I just "liked" people and got matched but I never "talked" to them. Once I did I got some pretty awesome/vulgar comments. So now I'm somewhere navigating the actual potential of going out with someone I "met" on Tinder. I here it is a great dating tool in other places.

Don't get me wrong there are plenty of things I don't like about Tinder but for what it's worth if you are lacking any of the above I say get the app already! The thing about Tinder is the more the merrier!

Tell me what you think about Tinder??

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's New With The INSPIRE: Youth (15-18) Performing Group??


After successful audition in January INSPIRE: Youth has been off to wicked awesome start! I am the Co-Music Director of the (15-18) year old group. Michael Sackett & I have a blast working with these kids. I thought I would share a few pictures of what we've been up to lately!

We rehearse in one of the rooms at the Dance Unlimited studios and we are grateful to have graduated from in a home to a bigger space. We look forward to having our OWN space to rehears in the near future!
Happy Birthday McKaylee!! INSPIRE Love You!!

For our first public performance this season we were invited by "Let's Do Something" (LDS) to sing at Leisure World. It was a little soon to perform publicly so the kids used their music and did a great job!
Let's Do Something (LDS) Invited INSPIRE: Youth to Perform at Leisure World

Hey Guys... You Look Nervous...

INSPIRE: Youth's (15-18) First Public Performance This Season  

Sometimes You Have to Get Creative to Amuse (Make Them Smile) Teenage Performers

Two Very Happy Musical Directors—Michael Sackett & Kylee Shields Doing What They Love


As part of INSPIRE: Youth we want to provide the kids with workshops that will help them become better singers, performers, and build character and discipline. We love having guests come and teach the kids about their skills, experience, and how they have used music to benefit their lives!
Raelynn Riggs Giving a "Disney Land Performer" Workshop

INSPIRE: Youth and INSPIRE: music.service.hope have some really exciting things coming up in the future so I hope you stay tuned and can attend our BIG BENEFIT CONCERT on May 3, 2014 7-9pm at Highland High School. It's only $10 and there are going to be some incredible performances!!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

FTND's New FORTIFY Program




“I am 18 and I struggle with porn. All my life I have struggled with it and looked it up and you know what happens next. But...my life is crap. I can’t look at my friends without thinking what I could do to them sexually. I know I’m not that kind of person. I struggle with it every hour of the day, everyday. I think I am getting erectile dysfunction and it’s not something I’m proud of. I know my life might not change and it might get worse. But whoever is reading this, just HEAR ME OUT: Porn will destroy your friendships, relationships, and your body. I'm living proof of it.” –Nathaniel, age 18

What is  the Fortify Program?

Fortify was specifically designed to help individuals (particularly young people) struggling with pornography eventually reach long-lasting freedom. It’s been three years in the making and it will be available on February 10th! Consider it our Valentine to the world as we fight for REAL LOVE! In this program you will find the tools, education, and resources necessary to help you or someone you love overcome this problem.

Fortify is a self-guided, education program that teaches users about how pornography harms their brains, emotions, and relationships and why it can be so hard at times to quit viewing porn. The program also helps users understand their porn viewing habits and teaches them to identify their triggers and change their patterns of use.  
“When I was 10 years old, I had access to computers that’s what we would do all day... just surf the web as we please...before you knew it I was watching porn on the daily. … [T]he more that time goes on the stronger the pull. It now feels that I am trapped. I've been a fighter for two years, but right now I'm losing the battle. I'm hoping this program will help me win<3.” –Female, 17
What made Fight the New Drug create the Fortify Program?

Fight the New Drug is a grassroots organization whose main goal is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography use. As we have traveled across the country spreading the movement, we have been overwhelmed with the sheer volume of students that approached us after assemblies, events, and reaching out to us through emails and social media telling us about their struggles with porn and they needed help stopping but had nowhere to turn. So… we made the Fortify Program!
“I have been exposed to pornography for almost a year now, every time I access the internet I am more than likely to access pornography, its not that type of situation which I can talk to someone with, I am 16 years old and currently residing in the U.K, this disease has changed my perception, my career and most of all my life.” – Mohammed, age 16
Why do you offer this amazing service for free for teens? How are you able to do this?

Fight the New Drug knows that pornography addiction is real and it is a problem that is growing among young people all over the world. We have even received emails from kids as young as 8 years old asking for help!!! Young people between the ages of 13-20 will have free access to the Fortify Program thanks to the generous donations of others. Anyone else 21 years of age or older can still get access to an adult version of the program through a minimum sponsorship of one teenager (value $39). Of course, for those who are able, we gladly accept additional sponsorships. Bottom line, it has to be free for teens. Most teens don’t have access to money, let alone a credit card. 

There also exists a feeling of shame and disconnection between young people and the adults around them. Overwhelmingly, we hear that there is no where to go, no one to turn to for help. Fortify will be the step that leads them to incorporating others into their recovery process. 
“Hello, I’m Chris since I was 13 (I’m 16 and a half now) [porn] has ruined my entire life to the max. I knew life wasn’t supposed to feel like this but didn’t know that pornography was making my life hell. It gave me severe social anxiety that I can’t bear anymore.” –Chris, age 16

Fortify Home Page Video from Fight the New Drug on Vimeo.
The Fortify Program at a glance:
  • 52 Video-Based Lessons
  • Personalized Battle Tracker Calendar
  • Personalized Battle Strategies
  • Prompted Journal Responses
  • Addiction Vulnerability Assessments
  • Numerous Strategies on How to Overcome an Addiction to Pornography
  • Encouragement Emails/Reminders


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex


*Warning there are going to be adult words/content in this post*


Recently, a male friend of mine asked, "Can I ask you a very personal question?" Because I trusted him and because I knew if I didn't want to answer that would be the end of that I said, "Yes."  He continued, "Can we have a conversation about how you deal with your sex drive as a 34 y.o single female?" That was the beginning of an incredible conversation.

About 3 weeks previous to that conversation I was sitting with a friend who had left the LDS church and we, among other things, ended up talking about sex. My friend, who was struggling with many things in the church, had "messed up" with his girlfriend and got his temple recommend taken. He talked with me about how hard he had struggled, as a guy, to not give into his sexual desires. How he tried to avoid pornography and masturbation. Sure, he struggled in those areas but he was really trying to be "a good man." He wanted to work with his Bishop and his girlfriend but he could no longer do his calling, take the sacrament, or attend the temple. He just felt like a failure and being in the church hurt more and brought on more shame than just leaving it.  So he left. The conversation broke my heart.

Rewind a few years earlier to a conversation I had with some girlfriends of mine, all of whom were divorced, previously sexually active, and now struggling with their sex drive. I remember each of them, during this open conversation, remarking how relieved they were to finally be able to talk out loud about their concerns.  They shared how difficult it was to be in their late 20's/early 30's, at their sexual prime, and not have anyone to really talk to concerning this topic. One of my friends mentioned that there seems to be really only two options to talk about this subject with: 1.  your Bishop, if you "made a mistake" or 2. A Therapist. Either way, it was as if thinking or being concerned about your sexuality, sex drive, etc. was a problem—rather than a natural occurrence.

In all these conversations I've learned a lot about myself,  my peers, how the LDS culture is viewed so differently from one person to the next. This topic has been percolating in my mind for some time but it is a sensitive topic. I have had parts of it in draft form for over a year. So here are some of my personal thoughts and I'd love to here what you think on the subject.

I made the choice to not have sex until I'm married. One thing that helps me in my situation (being a 34 y.o. virgin) is to remember that I made the choice to be as such. No one made me not have sex. the Church didn't make me choose to have self mastery. I know that if I really wanted I could most likely go out and have sex with someone somewhere. I know that sex is natural and good. I know these things and I also believe what I believe. I choose to put the responsibility and choice where it actually lies—in me.

I choose to love, listen, connect people to resources (when appropriate) instead of judge. There is too much shame, embarrassment, comparison with members of the Church about masturbation, pornography, sexual desires, etc. There is too much hyperawareness, especially in the LDS YSA/MSA scene, about lines being crossed in the law of chastity and not nearly enough focus on the power of the atonement, forgiveness, and love.

 I choose positive self talk, not shaming, when I'm struggling with my own sex drive. I choose to work out, do yoga, talk with peers that are open and willing, and to be mindful and present in my life. I choose to address the issue rather than stuff it down or not acknowledge it.

I choose to acknowledge and grieve the bad days. I strive to be active in my life, maintain healthy relationships, create, express my passions, and when I have really hard days—when I get depressed or think it's not fair—I choose to grieve, cry, and let myself feel disappointed. I don't know anybody around my age who doesn't want to be in a healthy sexual relationship. I find it very healing and cathartic to acknowledge what I lack.

Sex does not solve everything. Having sex, getting married, and having children has its own set of trials, struggles, and affect on libido. I know these things will not solve anything for me.  Really sitting in this reality for me, at times, is helpful. Having sex is not really what I want. Having sex in a meaningful relationship with someone I can trust, love, and be myself with—completely vulnerable, is what I want.

 Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, in her blog post "Let's Talk About Sex" wrote:
 Most of the women in my research were undermined in their relationship to their own sexuality as they had internalized a message that eroticism and desire are unfeminine and risky to their desirability—a trait essential to femininity...That is to say, women are taught that they are naturally less sexual than men—inherently lacking hedonistic desire, and even morally superior to the supposed depravity of male sexuality. While superficially approving of women’s nature, this cultural prescription leaves women little room to legitimately experience, express or integrate their own eroticism. To be feminine is to suppress or disconnect from sexual desire, or feel ashamed of its presence...In my experience, many if not most LDS women struggle pre-maritally and in marriage to integrate a sense of legitimate sexuality and desire.
On so many levels I think this is true. I have had many conversations, as a therapist & as a friend, with lots of  female friends/peers/clients who literally are afraid of their sexuality, their hormones, their desires. There is some kind of internal/external/Mormon Culture voice that tells them it is bad to get aroused or to have sexual desires. This is so damaging!

I choose to love my body.  I choose to accept my desires/passions. I think it is very important to be free to express myself sexually in the right times & places, and with the appropriate boundaries. I not only want to feel equally yoked in my relationships socially, spiritually, mentally, but also sexually.

So, what do you think? I would love to hear if others agree, disagree, or what other thoughts you have on the topic?