To Believe or Not to Believe

I had a harsh wake up call recently. I realized that some people will never look at me the same because I am no longer Mormon. I suppose I always knew this would be the case for many people and for the most part I think I am able to let it go.  However for other people this is a much tougher pill to swallow. I realize that to some people I will never be as good as I used to be. To some people because I am not religious, my opinions will no longer hold the validity they once did. I've had some time to chew on this and truthfully it makes me sad.

Leaving the church was a process that took the better part of 8 years for me.  It wasn't something that I did on a whim.  Leaving the Mormon faith isn't something that you are able to just wake up and do - especially if you believed it as fully as I once did.  It wasn't because I was lazy. It wasn't because I wanted to drink or have sex. It wasn't because I got tired of going to church on Sundays. It wasn't because on a specific situation or idea. It was many things.  Things I honestly don't want to go into right now.  Why I left the church isn't the topic of this blog.  I will say though that leaving the church was tough. It was hard because being Mormon isn't just about going to church every Sunday. It's everything. It's your community.  It's your upbringing. It's your entire belief system.  It's your family and your friends.  I had to question every belief that I had and decide if I was going to be able to look the other way on certain issues.  And I tried to.  It took 8 years to fully decide that some of the issues I had with the church were not going to go away. It took 8 years to let it go.  It took 8 years to not feel guilty when I drive by a church on a Sunday morning.  It took a long time to not worry about what would happen when I died. (would I really still be married to Jason instead of Seth in heaven!?)  It took a long time to not feel guilty to have a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine with dinner. It took a long time to sleep in on Sundays and do whatever I wanted to do without feeling guilty. It took a long time to figure out how to believe in God without being Mormon. It took a long time to learn how to pray again. It was very difficult but I can honestly say that I am very happy where I am now. It took a long time but I am finally at peace.

The thing that has been eating away at me was this thought: why are we asked to respect people's faith and religion when it's often not reciprocated to those that choose not to believe? I find that we tiptoe around religion a lot and yet as a society we tend to look down on those that don't have a religion they are attached to.  It's easy to get defensive when people insult your religion - but how often do we turn the tables?  How often do we look down on those that don't believe and see them as less of a person?I realize that this is just me being sensitive and that those of you reading this that are religious probably think I look down on your for your beliefs.  But I don't.

Honestly I think religion can be a beautiful and wonderful thing.  And for the majority of my life it was a wonderful thing for me. I loved being a Mormon for many many years.  There are still many things about the church that I love and miss. But it's no longer what I want or need.  I see countless people that are close to me find who peace and happiness in religion. I think that is wonderful. Religion should make you happy. It should make you want to be the best person you can be.  If this is what you know and love then I have no ill feelings toward you. I honestly don't.

All religion is is an avenue to grow closer to God right?  If so then why do we judge people for choosing a different road than we do?  Why do we have to believe that there is "one true church"?  Why can't we just accept that different people have different truths?  Your truth may be going to a service every Sunday.  While another may find God while hiking or doing Yoga.  Others may feel close to God by reading the words of great writers and philosophers.  Some may feel closest to God through meditation.  Why does it matter HOW we get there as long as we get there?

Some of my dearest friends have no belief in a higher power.  And that's ok too.  They are still wonderful people that I cherish. I don't judge them by their lack of belief in a God.  I have seen more love and acceptance radiating from some of these friends than I have seen in some of the most Christian people I know.  To each his own.

So here's my plea - let it go.  Let it go that some people don't believe in the same things that you do.  Trust people to make their own choices - religion or no religion - God or no God.  I know that my choice to not be involved in organized religion was a harrowing journey.  I don't take the decision lightly.  I am a big girl, I have made a choice and I ask that you please try and accept it.  I'm going to be ok.  I'm still a good person. I have the same heart.  I have the same light. I just have a different perspective than I used to. I am happy, just as I believe that you are happy too - no matter what you believe.

December 12th

Oh hey December 12th.  I forgot about you.  Well, I didn't forget about you. For one thing, you sucked.  You were one of the worst days of the year for me.  For another thing, it's Christmas and I haven't had time to adequately blog about how much you sucked.

In fact you sucked so much that I only took 6 of the 12 pictures I was supposed to take. I considered cheating and taking more on the 13th of December.  But then you got the best of me.  You sucked and I shall document your crapiness.

1. It looks like Christmas threw up in my office.  Yep, that is 1000 Holiday Cards signed by the staff of KUER.  Guess who gets to make sure they all get sent?  This girl!

2. I have an addiction to nose spray. I am not proud of this.  I was clean for several months and then I got the cold from hell and after 2 sleepless nights, gave in and bought more.  That stuff is bad news.  I was so congested from taking it too much that I had to stage an intervention. The other nose spray I bought is just a sugar spray.  It helps.

3. I was miserably unhappy today. I won't go into details - family stuff - but it all worked itself out.  I was just incredibly down.  Clearly.

4. I took a break mid-day to go to get my eyebrows waxed at my sister-in-law's salon. It's not really painful.  And I know how much Kathryne hates getting her picture taken so I just decided to take a picture of a tiny bit of solace in this shitty day.

5. I was invited to a cookie exchange but I needed to do a trial run before making 10 dozen (yes 10 dozen) cookies.  These are peppermint crinkle cookies. My sister needed to bake cookies for a church activity that night. Nice to kill two birds with one stone.

6. I finally got home.  Took care of the baby since Seth was working late and crawled into bed at this exact time (after taking 2 Benadryls). I didn't eat dinner.  This never happens.  That's when you know I have had a crap day.

So there you have it.  I figured this was the most authentic way to document December 12th.  Not every day is full of sunshine and giggle.  Some days are just hard.  But you move on.  You wake up the next day and hope that things will be better.  And this time, it was.

November 12th

November 12th fell on a Monday this month - which is the day a week I work from home.  Millie is busy busy busy!  And so much fun!

1. Good morning outside.  This is a daily tradition.  Every morning we go open the curtains together and say "Good morning outside! Good morning trees.  Good morning school.  Good morning cars. Good morning deck."  You get the idea.  We also do the same thing in the evening.

2.  Millie is quite the early riser, usually between 6:15-6:45 she is ready to rock and roll.  Seth usually gets up with her first and then brings her into bed with me at 7:00 when he needs to get ready for work.  Now it's no longer just making my bed. It's cleaning up the toys and making the bed.

3.  Working at home means I have to keep Millie preoccupied while I work.  Operation "lets play with the diaper bag" worked quite well for about 20 minutes.

4.  We took a break to fold some laundry.  Millie helped.  Kind of.

5. Finally dressed after her morning nap. It's just like dressing a doll.  How cute is this outfit!?

6. Today was her 9 month appointment at the doctor.  All is well!  She's still pretty tiny but she happily performed all of her animal noises for the doctor.  That mean nurse gave her a flu shot though and that was tragic.  I actually almost cried I was so sad for her.

7. After her nap I decided to take her swimming with Grandpa Youkstetter.  Here we are in our suits.

8. She loves being part of the Youkstetter Fraternity.  The boys adore her.

9. At home it was time for her bath.  We are lucky that she fits in the kitchen sink.  She has yet to take a bath in our tub.  This is the perfect size for her.

10. And of course she has to stand up no matter where she is.

11. Story time with Daddy.  This girl loves books more than anything! It's the only time we can get her to sit still.

12.  Dinner tonight was a new recipe experiment: roasted pork chop with creamy polenta and crispy green beans.  It was delicious!

Blaming Parenthood

Last night at about 11:30 I was crawling into bed with the question, "When did you become this mean person?"  Seth and I had just finished watching a movie and I was tired.  Keep in mind we usually crawl into bed around 9:30-10:00 each night so this was late for us.  Before coming upstairs Seth said he wanted to take a shower and shave off his beard.  This set me off.  Why?  Why right now?  It might wake up Millie! I just want to go to bed and I won't be able to sleep if he's showering and shaving in the bathroom!  Can't he just do it in the morning?  Argh!!

I was so frustrated with him and he just seemed flabbergasted that something like that would set me off.  Sadly this seems to be a regular occurrence these days.  When did I become this mean person?

I came to the conclusion that it must have been when I became a mother.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all mean to Millie. I think I have raised my voice two times to her.  I'm mean to Seth and it makes me feel terrible. The stress and exhaustion of being a parent has led me to be mean to my spouse. I take out all of my frustration on him.  He's my easy target and it's unfortunate.

So as I tried to nestle myself to sleep I thought back to our early days as a couple.

To remember the times where we were crazy happy together - and not just well - crazy together.

When we were first dating Seth used to have to travel for a week at a time every month or less.  After being in Maine for nearly 9 days I offered to pick him up from the airport.  I remembered him seeing my car, running to me and picking me up and swinging me around (all while kissing me over and over again).  Now I realize that sometimes a whole day goes by when we don't even kiss. In the first years of our relationship we couldn't keep our hands off each other.  Now nights go by where we don't even touch in bed.

I remembered the day he got his grandmother's baby grand piano and how I secretly taped him playing and singing on my phone so I could watch it whenever I wasn't with him.  Now I find myself getting annoyed when he is singing too much, or whistling too much.

I've stared to nit-pick all of his actions. I had assumed that everything he was doing to annoy me was his fault, when in fact it is my fault.  All of the little quirks that I used to find so charming I have found a way to be irritated by them.

So how do I change that? How do I go back to loving him, quirks and all?

Being a mother changes everything.  The other night after a particularly hard day with Millie I complained to Seth, "Millie has taken everything from me.  She's taken my free time, my sleep, my career, my relationship with you and even my body.  She's taken it all."  As a mom I wasn't prepared for the emotional toll of the hard days. I hate feeling this way.  I do believe that this is true, but most days I find this taking to be a beautiful thing. Being a mom is the most unselfish act.  You truly do give all you have for this new little creature in your home.  Yet on this particular day I felt resentful. Resentful for my beautiful baby girl who didn't ask to come here.  We brought her into this world.  We made the choice to have a child and I have the gall to resent her for that!? How messed up is that?

Much of this I am realizing is just a state of mind.  I can choose to be frustrated with Millie when she doesn't nap like she should, or I can just let it go and play with her.  I can choose to be angry with Seth for the messes he makes or just relax and not worry about having a perfectly clean house.

It's easy to blame parenthood for our faults.  When in reality it's just our inability to adjust to all of the changes that being a parent brings.  So I'm going to work on it. I'm going to work on being more kind to my husband.  I'm going to work on loving him because he's wonderful and he deserves to be loved.  I know that if I show more affection to him that he will happily reciprocate it.  I'm going to work on letting things go. I can no longer be the control freak that I have always been. I need to realize that life is going to be messy and that I can actually enjoy the mess if I just let it.

I am so in love with my daughter.  She is the funniest, cutest and most quirky little baby I know.

I can't get enough of her.  Being parents was the best decision we have ever made.

I'm so in love with my husband. He's a wonderful father, husband and provider. He's sensitive and understanding.  And handsome.

I'm lucky.

I just need to remember that - even on the hardest days.

October 12th

October is the best month of the year. I love it so much.  I am so happy I can document a day in October 2012.

 1.  Good morning Millie!  She is so much fun early in the morning.  Seth is lucky to get a few minutes of hugs from our girl  before heading off to work by 7:30am.

2. When Millie went down for her morning nap I FINALLY had time to finish my 1000 page Ken Follett book on WWI.  Now onto "Never Let Me Go" - which I have one week to finish before I host book club.  See what's also on my bookshelf?  That's right - the new JK Rowling.  Damn you book club for making me post-pone her new book for a week!

3. Millie is all dressed up and ready to head outside for a cold run with momma.  How cute is she!?

4.  We decided to go visit Seth at the hospital. I haven't seen where he works yet, or met any of his coworkers.  Plus he's been putting in long hours this week and hasn't had the chance to see Millie much.  It was a good visit.  And his stethoscope sure tasted good. 

5. We didn't have a ton of time for lunch so we stopped at Einsteins for a sandwich.  Millie takes after her mom and dad and ate her pickle.  

6.  I love this girl.  And whoa - I'm a brunette!

7. Grandma Patty came over to babysit for us.  They had a little story time.  Millie LOVES reading.  Note her pumpkin PJs.  

8. The drive up to Snowbird tonight was stunning.  It was a cold, rainy and foggy evening.  I made Seth pull over so I could take some pictures.

9.  Tonight was KUER's annual Brewmixer.  It was a 5 course meal/beer pairing.  Yum!  This was a pumpkin soup....

10. That's a lot of beer.  There were a lot of tipsy people there that night.  

11.  As we walked outside we discovered it was snowing. First snow of the season!

12.  Us. 

The Day I Became A Democrat

Election season is upon us.  Actually it seems like we are in a constant election season doesn't it?  But here we are 3 weeks until election day and I'm not sure I can take much more politics. Ok, that's a lie.  It's annoying but I love it.  

The last few months I have been thinking a lot about why I am a Democrat.  I realized that I can pinpoint the day - actually the hour I became a Democrat.  Before I can mention that moment we need a little background.  

I used to be a conservative.

I know.... I still can't believe it.  People that didn't know me in 2004 but know me now are shocked to hear I used to be a conservative.  

It's true though.  I considered myself Republican my whole life.  Even in junior high school when my teacher made us take a test that then told us where we were on the political spectrum and I was the MOST liberal person in the class - I still considered myself a Republican.  If you were to ask me I wouldn't have been able to answer other than "well that's what my parents are" or "Mormons are Republican."

Looking back on that time I feel embarrassed.  Not embarrassed for being Republican but embarrassed that I couldn't come to that conclusion on my own.  Embarrassed that I didn't understand more about it.  It took until I was 23 years old to understand.

I remember the night of the 2000 election. 

I remember sitting on the couch until the wee hours of election night with my boyfriend Jason and watching Fox News (OMG I used to watch Fox News!!!). At the time I had no idea that Fox News was the "conservative network".  I thought Bill O'Reilly was funny when he was mean to his guests.  Now I cringe when I watch him. I remember being excited and laughing maliciously when they announced Bush had won.  Ha, little did we know that night that it would take a couple of months before  Bush was officially declared winner. 

Fast forward now to 2003.  I was working at The Christmas Box House and went to my first conference.  I went to Washington DC to attend the Child Welfare League of America conference.  This is a huge conference every year for social workers, policy makers, etc.  It dealt with topics such as child abuse, foster care, etc.  The keynote speaker for the big morning breakfast session was none other than Hillary Clinton.  I am actually ashamed to admit this but at the time I had nothing good to say about the Clintons.  Don't ask me why - I couldn't have given you a firm answer.  I just knew that as a Republican that I was supposed to hate them.  So I did.  I actually said to my coworker, "Well I have to wake up early for that. I have to hear what SHE has to say." 

I went and took my seat among what had to be 800-1000 people.  And I listened.  And she blew me away.  She blew me away because she was talking about a new bill she was proposing as Senator regarding "kinship placements" for kids that were removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.  She blew me away because I felt like she got it.  She understood us. She said, "Right now, it is often easier for an abused and neglected child to live in a stranger's house in foster care than with a relative.  Too often, grandparents and other relatives want to intervene, but cannot afford to do so. In other instances, these individuals reluctantly raise the children in foster care so that they can receive compensation to cover a fraction of their expenses. My legislation will allow these relatives to become formal guardians of these children while still receiving a little financial help." 

This was the moment I became a Democrat.  It was this moment that my eyes were opened to another possibility of a political party.  It was this moment that I realized I didn't need to hate a woman who was actually trying to do something good for the children that I was working with every day.  This was the moment that I realized I didn't know why I believed I was a Republican if it was a Democratic senator that was introducing this bill. 

How bad ass is that?  Hillary Freaking Clinton swayed me.  She's a damn smart woman and I love that she turned the tables for me.

From then on I started to pay more attention to my political beliefs.  I started to realize that what I really believed tended to side more with the Democrats. I didn't become a flaming liberal at that moment.  Trust me, that has developed over time.  The important thing is that I have become this way through my own thoughts, research and discussions. I am not a Democrat because someone told me to be.  I am not a Democrat because I feel like that is what I have been told I had to be.  I am because I am and because I believe in it.  Also, working in various social service nonprofits added a lot to this reasoning. It's hard to be a Republican when so many of the services that the kids I served were threatened to be cut by the Republican party (programs such as CHIP, medicaid, etc.).  

I started to pay attention to more than just Fox News or KSL. I started listening to NPR. I started watching CNN and reading the New York Times and Newsweek Magazine.  I tried to broaden my understanding of the world. I am so glad that I did. 

And here I am today. Just over 8 years later and I am a full on Dem.  I'm a Democrat because I believe they are the party that fights more for abused children, low income families, and families that have lost all they have because their children get sick.  I'm a Democrat because I believe that stem cell research is vital to help us find the cure for horrible diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. I'm a Democrat because I believe that all citizens deserve to be treated equally, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. I'm a Democrat because I believe we need to take care of our environment. I'm a Democrat because I'm ok paying more taxes to improve our roads and to ensure that hungry families have food on their table.  I'm a Democrat because I believe all people deserve the chance to get a good education and be able to pay for that education. I'm a Democrat because I hate war. I hate how much money our country spends on defense. I'm a Democrat because I hate that one of my best friend's husband is in Afghanistan and has spent one week with his baby girl. This and many other reasons is why I choose to be a Democrat. 

This is why I proudly sport this sign in my yard.

This sign was yanked out of my yard one day and pulled apart, and bent and the pieces were thrown onto my lawn.  Sometimes it's hard being a Democrat in Utah.  I did leave a warning sign for the vandals however.

I have a hunch this won't be standing in 3 weeks - no matter the outcome.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that only Democrats have sought their own truth. I'm not saying Republicans are Republican because they have been "raised that way." This is actually becoming a regular topic in my blog.  Believe what you will.  But know WHY you believe it.  Don't listen to your talking heads. Don't listen to your religious leader, your parents, or your spouse. Seek it out for yourself so that you can know for yourself.    

And then get ready to debate me. 

Don't you just LOVE politics!?

September 12th

Today was a great day.  September 12th in 12 pictures.  Sorry I am too lazy to write more blogs right now.  Trust me, many of them are brewing.  I just need some time to frame my thoughts in a "non-pissed-off" manner.

1. I have the most amazing family support.  Wednesdays my sister Heather takes care of Millie.  I normally drive her out to her house in Sandy but today because of Fund Drive Heather not only came to me - but she came at 7:45am.  That way I could be to work early and get home late if needed.  My sister is the best.  And Millie adores her Auntie.

2.  First thing this morning I was in charge of "shift-coordinating" for several hours.  Basically I am in the phone room to help answer questions for my volunteers that take pledges.  They were good sports today. It was a bit stressful with a huge VIP on RadioWest and stress running high.  Plus it was the first day of the drive which always has some kinks to iron out.  Good people our volunteers.  Good people.

3. The RadioWest producers were afraid of Doug being too distracted by having the volunteers on the other side of the window.  So they decided to put up some construction paper in-between the two studios.  Our volunteers felt a bit bummed out but decided to start leaving us messages on the paper to make light of the situation.  I love them.

4. I wish I had a better story for this picture of THE Doug Fabrizio.  It looks like he is stressed or upset - truthfully he was just trying to think of a specific word. I just loved that he was sitting right under the KUER clock so I took the opportunity to snap a shot.  

5. One of the best (and worst) things about Fund Drive is the food.  We get A LOT of good food.  And A LOT of snack food.  You can find chocolate, candy, chips, drinks, nuts, etc. anytime you want.  They don't call our weight gain the "fund drive 5" for nothing.  Oh hell, I'm in for it. 

6. Time to pitch (or ask people to donate on-air).  I love pitching.  It feels natural to me to be on-air.  This is a good compromise for my career.  I mean I REALLY wanted to be Katie Couric when I was a kid.  Now I can be on radio (not TV) and yet still work for a nonprofit.  Best of both worlds.

7. No matter how many times you say the phone numbers each fund drive you STILL find yourself looking at these damn signs over and over again.  

8.  One of our thank-you gifts is this awesome NPR shirt. I must get one.  And I had to model it with the ugliest face ever.

9. While at work my sister informed me that Millie had 2 more teeth!  No wonder she has been a grumpy pants the last few nights.  Her little teeth hurt.  I kept feeling her gums for them and today they made an appearance! Look closely. 

10.  Man I love this girl.  I loved this beautiful autumn evening outside with her. I love her in her first "hoodie" but mainly I just love her personality and her hilarious face!

11. When Seth got home he was excited to play with her. I swear she is going to skip crawling all together and start walking...

12. My two favorite people on the planet.  Man I love these guys!