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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:, 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."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ask For What You Need

I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately. What makes friendship work, how siblings communicate love, why people fall and grow in love, and much more. There is a lot of information out there but lately I've been specifically thinking about the idea of asking for what you need in relationships.

I work in a job, as a therapist, that is entirely relationship based. It is pertinent to have a good therapeutic alliance with my clients. I can't do my job if my clients don't trust me. As a human being I think the same thing is important. To be in a healthy relationships means that you take care of yourself and the needs of others--two whole people that learn to trust each other and become vulnerable.

I love studying *positive psychology, The Arbinger Institute, and recently listening to my friend Nate Bagley's "Loveumentary" podcasts. All of these people teach about a principle of self care, serving others, asking for what you need,  healthy communication, treating people as people not objects, etc. It got me thinking...

At my current job I am required to used a research based outcome measure tool called My Outcomes before and after every individual session I do with my adolescent students. There are 4 questions my clients rate on me and how the session went at the end of each of their individual sessions. It works on a sliding scale sort of like 0-10.

  • I felt hear, understood, and respected.
  • We worked on and talked about what I wanted to work on and talk about.
  • The therapist's approach is a good fit for me.
  • Overall today's session was right for me.
I've had to be accountable to these 4 important questions for the last 18 months. It has created opportunities to talk about my therapeutic relationship with my clients. Some of these conversations have been uncomfortable and hard to hear where I wasn't meeting their needs.  In each of the 4 above questions I get to check in with my clients and adjust to what helps them feel more heard, respected, focused on what they want to get out of their sessions, and so forth. We are consistently adjusting the way we communicate with each other. They ask for what they need and so do I. 

Having to adjust my communication,  the way I go about approaching hard conversations, and so forth has made my relationships much more intentional.  A thing of which I think is vital to healthy relationships. Asking for what you need isn't selfish-it actually means you may get what you want and a better, stronger, healthier relationship.

* To be more intentional when it comes to love check out my friend Nate Bagleys's Loveumentary & Unboxed Love and tune into his podcast: Loveumentary.

To learn more about self betrayal, treating people like people not objects, and great leadership skills check out, "The Anatomy of Peace" by The Arbinger Institute.

To look into Positive Psychology I recommend you check out these books: "Quiet" by Susan Cain, "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor, and  "Authentic Happiness"by Martin E. P. Seligman to begin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Middle Mormon Voice

Recently there were 2 opposing articles that were published about opinions on women and equality in the Mormon church. In reading both I felt there was a large group of Mormon women left out of the discussion. 

One of the articles,"This Fearless Mormon Feminist is Doing Something Very Brave and Very Dangerous" publish in Tech Insider quoted Chelsea Shields, "I gave my religion a free pass because I loved it, "Shields said. "Until I stopped. And I realized I had been allowing myself to be treated as the support staff to the real work of men." The other article  "In Response to The Mormon Feminist" published in LDS Smile quoted Kera Birkland, "Now when it comes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have always been treated equal." Both articles state opinions of women's equality in the LDS church. Is it possible that both women are right?

I know there are many women in the church that feel sidestepped, marginalized, and suppressed. I also know there are many women in the church who feel supported, honored, and that they have different, yet important roles, than men. How do I KNOW both of these kinds of women exist? They are my mother, my sisters, my roommates, my cousins, and my friends. So it is true that one woman can feel she is "support staff" while another feels "I have always been treated equal."

It seems that in our society  the outlier voices are much louder than the middle voices. The dichotomy of, things being great just the way they are in the LDS church when it comes to women and, the voices shouting that women should have the priesthood, is not representative of the majority of women in the LDS church. I want to go out on a limb and say that the middle voice, or those who can see that there are still some equality issues in the church yet women, in general feel good about their place, is under represented.

I long for a discussion of how we can as women (and men too) start working together for the common good instead of seemingly working against each other. Telling women to leave the church if they aren't happy just isn't the solution. Also, making women, who don't desire to hold the priesthood, feel like they are stupid  or brainwashed, doesn't help either. I believe the power lies in the middle ground.

And while we're on the topic of black-and-white-thinking let's take the Planned Parenthood situation as another example. You can read articles, blogs, videos, charts etc. about the outlying sides of whether Planned Parenthood should be funded or defunded. Depending on which article or which side you choose to believe there is a LOT of seemingly great evidence to support your feelings.  One side is shouting that we should close it all down and the other side is screaming about the greatness in all the services Planned Parenthood provides. To me this isn't an all or nothing situation. 

Like most things in life there is a grey space between these voices or sides.  I think the middle voice is closer to the idea that there are a lot of great services at Planned Parenthood that help a lot of people AND there are some huge moral issues, such as abortion, when it comes to life and death. It isn't as clear as the media or the loud voices seem to portray. There are parts and pieces of good just like there are parts and pieces of bad in many polarized topics.

I don't get too involved publicly or personally with the issues above or others, not because I don't have an opinion or because I don't care--most of the time it's because I tend to be somewhere in the middle of the conflict (and there's no fun in that argument, haha). 

People  are complicated, passionate, opinionated, vulnerable, and so much more. We bleed, we cry, we love, and we all die. We live most of our lives in the grey, not in the black-and-white, and yet the middle or grey never seems to be splashed across any media, blogs, or articles youtube, etc.

 I  feel like the middle voices needs to be heard in the middle of all the conflict! 

What do you think?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

5 Real Reasons for the Mormon Dating "Crisis"

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the responses/comments on my FB wall when I shared this article, "Are Single Mormon Women "Screwed"? the other day. I truly believe these words, as I commented, "I don't put much stock in any one reason why we, as Mormon Singles, are in a dating "crisis".  All you need is one person and I see it happening all the time. #istillbelieve." The truth, however is that while I still believe in love and marriage it does seem difficult to date these days.

 I get asked all the time why I am still single and feel instantly caught by the question. If I tell this truth, that I hardly date at all, then the person asking feels sorry for me or the need to validate me and then say something trite like, "you're so great it will happen for you." If I tell the other truth, that I'm pretty happy single, then they usually choose one of two responses. "That's right just live your life, be happy, and it'll happen when it does." or "Maybe you just need to put yourself out there more and be less picky."

I would just prefer that no one ask me why 
I'm single and avoid all of the above

So here are five of the real reasons why I think Mormon singles are struggling in this dating "crisis". These are from my experiences and opinions and in no way an exhaustive list.

1. We Are Picky
Watching the people you love the most go through terrible divorces, awful abusive relationships, and lowering their standards to feel loved and not lonely is incredibly heartbreaking. It's not wonder we, as singles, are picky!  Many of us want Temple marriages and along with that comes worthiness, commitment, obedience, and much more. This mean we are looking for someone with specific qualities--thus being picky.

We want someone that not only makes us feel safe and happy but that we are attracted to as well. This makes it hard to just line us all up and match us together.  We can see couples that are miserable together and don't want anything to do with this kind of love. We know marriage isn't perfect but we'd like to at least start off believing we got a catch.

2. We Compare & Compete Instead of Working Together
I don't really understand why we, as singles don't protect and care about each other more. Why we aren't looking out for each other--trying to work together for love. Instead, it seems we compare ourselves to others, we call "dibs" or "territory" on people that aren't ours to own. We're competitive instead kind. There seems to be a scarcity of good Mormon singles left so instead of working together we trample each other on our quest to not be so lonely.

I keep waiting for some kind of Mormon Dating App that is basically singles setting up other singles with their friends that are single. Like nominating your top favorite girlfriends with your guy friends' top favorite dudes. We know our great single friends but rarely think, he/she would be awesome for you-know-who b/c we are actively looking for people to date ourselves. I think maybe we'd have more success this way. Someone figure this out please...

3. We are Tired
Seriously though, I have been actively "dating" now for 19 years--ugh just the sight of that number makes me want to take a nap! We are tired of "putting ourselves out there", getting rejected, spending money, coming up with great date ideas, and the list goes on and on. We are still doing all these things b/c no one has come up with a better idea but let's be honest--we mostly hate it.

Most of us singles have full-time jobs, part-time jobs, work for non-profits, volunteer at incredible organizations, own homes (that need work), take care of children (or nieces/nephews),working on hobbies/talents, go shopping, get groceries, etc. We have full lives and then we are expected to "put ourselves out there" by being social. It just is hard to find the time/energy sometimes.

4. We Want to be in a Healthy Relationship
Mostly Mormon singles I know don't believe in soul mates or even finding the "right" person. They are wanting what everyone basically wants in a companion. We want to be with someone who is healthy mentally and spiritually. I can't tell you how many people have told me to just "settle" or "lower my standards" in order to get married. This is how I feel about those two options:

It's hard enough nowadays to navigate life, religion/spirituality, health/fitness, jobs, responsibilities, family, etc. while being single it makes sense that adding another person (or more if they have children) into the mix is going to complicate things. This doesn't mean we aren't up for the challenge but it needs to make sense and feel right.

5. We Can't Seem to Get on The Same Page
I remember a time when dating was just getting to know each other and have a good time (just lunch kinda thing). Then it got all complicated by what appeared to be needy people who put too much thought into why people asked out certain people. Then dating become a sort of game where you had to chase or balance the "I like you" with "I don't like you too much". Then we went through that "Close you cupboards" stage.  You can imagine that dating would complicated when the roles or who does what gets all jumbled.

For ever person that tells me that I should start asking guys I'm interested out there is another person who says that is a terrible idea.  Some people say I am intimidating and others say I don't get out socially enough. It's a sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't sort of world. All that second guessing, over analyzing, self deprecating, and so forth causes a lot of noise and confusion in the dating world.

Next time you want to ask me why I'm still single--stop. 
Instead just tell me how awesome I am for still be in the dating scene and believing in love!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lions, and Horses, and Babies....Oh My!

I  keep seeing posts about how people should worry about "more important things" than #cecilthelion and #wildhorses in the Tonto National Forest. People are saying that everyone should be more in an uproar about starving children, babies being aborted, and human trafficking.

I am a freaking social worker/therapist who has a special interest in incredible groups like Fight the New Drug​ and Operation Underground Railroad​. I am very interested and passionate about diverse subject. I also happened to be a Wilderness Programs​ Therapist in the Tonto National Forest for 3 years and I LOVED every moment I got to see the wild horses run free. So I posted about how I think they should remain where they are and free.

The great thing about life and the big world wide web is that everyone can raise a voice to whatever cause they want to with as much passion as they can muster. If you are outraged by the killing of a lion or how a certain organization is treating unborn fetus' then you get rant & rave all over social media about it.

"Comparison is the thief of joy"

Comparing one cause or event over the other--and condemning people for not choosing your cause it just stupid. There are  plenty of grievous things happening in our society to go around. So let those who are grieving Cecil-grieve. Let those who worried about what is happening at Planned Parenthood do their thing and let me be worried about the wild horses I love so much in Arizona.

If you want more people to raise money for human trafficking then get out there and raise your awareness, raise money, and be a voice that will be heard. If you are appalled at what is happening at Planned Parenting then stop blaming people who are concerned about other things and get out there and vote, sign the petitions, etc. There is a lot of good to be done and change that needs to happen.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Grant: If I Died Today

Today is the death anniversary of my brother Grant. I decided to write him a letter about my life if I died today.  This is for you Granty

Dear Grant,

If I died today the thing I would be most excited about is seeing your face and giving you the biggest hug. I would have lots of questions but just being with you would be more than enough for a while.  Then I would take turns hugging Grandpa Shields, Grandpa & Grandma Brinkerhoff, Aunt Lisa, and all those I love and had the honor of hearing about their stories. I think I would be sure to spend some time with Holly Cottle and Lucy Jackson and tell them their families miss them greatly and still celebrate their birthdays with balloons and pink ribbons.

If I died today little brother I want you to know that I have lived a life filled with love, adventures, heartache, passion, and so much joy. Your death helped me to, at an early age, understand that there is not much in life that matters more than that the people you love KNOW that you love them. I call this my "Grant's Gift". I have spent my life since you died trying my best to communicate to others how much I love them and how grateful I am for them.

If I died today I want you to know that I have no regrets--that has been my biggest fear- to have regret. So I have tried to be honest, real, present, and to soak in all the moments I can. I have tried to be fearless, brave, and go big or go home. I have swung and missed plenty of times but I am so much stronger for all that swinging!

If I died today I'd want you to know that your big sister spends most of her day time working with teenagers who struggle in life. Once in a while I see you in the face of a struggling young man and  I pray that somehow I can help them to feel love, that they matter, and that their life can change. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do for a career in my life but in the end I think I always knew I would be doing this.

If I died today I would tell you about your best friend, dad, and also about how incredible mom has been through the years. I think you would want to know that dad tries to go to all the motorcycle trips, still LOVES BYU, and built a house with his bare hands. I would tell you that your mom is one of the most amazing women I know. She has been raising 8 kids for most of her life and she is rocking it! In addition she was the General Contractor on the new house, has made a ton of amazing dresses for us girls, and has been the greatest support ever. Dad continue teach the gospel and changing lives but these days he watches a little more TV. He has traded in his running shoes for a bike and loves riding outside these days.

Then, I would tell you all about your brother and sisters and how they have grown into such amazing people. Your sister Chelsea is a mom and she adores her little Eden. I think you and Eden would have had a blast together. Chels is a rock star in her life. She does Ted Talks, travels around the world for work/school, and has a gazillion followers in social media when it comes to her ideas on feminism and equality.  Your sister Dani is seriously the funniest person I know and she is the mom of 2 little munchkins.  She is incredibly talented with design and she looks like a model in all her pictures. Your sisters Kate & Ali are popcorn in life. They just got back from a stint together in Hawaii and no matter what happens they seem to weather the storms together. Kate is loving life in Colorado and Ali is finally ready to start a music career. Your brother Clay is living the life out in Ohio selling home security systems. He's already won cruises, been the top seller, and he's having a blast with his team of guys. Clay is getting ready to start college and he is best friends with dad (so you don't have to worry so much about dad).  Your baby sister Camryn or "lizzie" as mom used to call her has grown in a beautiful young women. She loves to be with friends, serve others, and basically lives on sugar. Once upon a time she broke almost all the bones in her body but now she good as new. We all still talk about you, watch family home videos, and wonder how life would be different if you were around.

If I died today I would tell you that there is huge beautiful tree on the side of the road in Orem, Ut that is yours. It started off scrawny and small and has weathered every storm to become a beacon of hope for many. I visit your tree often and find comfort and solace there. It is a constant reminder to me of grace--line upon line.

Every day I wake up and breathe and lay down at night to close my eyes I am grateful. I know what it feels like to have someone in my life one moment and then gone the next.  I am so grateful for the moments I got to love you and be loved by you. I am not afraid to die for many reasons but one of the biggest is I know I get to see you again. I miss you brother and today I celebrate your life and death and hope that I can make you proud.

Love Always & Forever,