Owning My Truth: Why I Left the Mormon Church

Recently I decided I wanted to learn a little more about makeup, so I joined a course by Michelle Money - The Money Method. I didn't realize that the course was about more than just makeup, but it is. A huge part of the course is about learning more about who you are and becoming more confident in that person. I'll talk more about the course in another post, but a section of the course was called "Own Your Truth" and was ultimately what prompted me to finally sit down and write this post (which, truthfully, has been a long time coming).

First, I want to make it very clear that I am going to be completely honest with my feelings in this post, and not all of those feelings are going to be rainbows and butterflies. This post is going to be raw, real, completely authentic, and, yes, probably long. My journey out of the church was 100% my own, not prompted or encouraged by anyone else. It was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done. I think a lot of people believe that those who leave the church are doing it because they want to sin, have fun, or take the "easy" way out. They think that we are lost, troubled souls who need saving. In fact, none of that is true - at least not in my case. If you're looking for the short version of why I left, here it is.

TL;DR: I don't believe the Mormon church is the church of God. I don't believe that there are prophets on the earth today, and I believe that, while it does a lot of good for a lot of people, it was doing more harm than good in MY life. I set out to find true happiness and joy, and it turns out that, for me, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was not the answer. 

If, however, you are feeling a little nosy and want to know all the things, go ahead and read on.
Let's start at the beginning, for it is a very good place to start. I was raised LDS (short for Latter-Day Saint, AKA Mormon). Growing up, my family went to church for three hours every week. I attended primary, I was baptized into the church at age eight, and I learned all about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I was taught to serve my fellow man, to love my neighbors, and to be a good, moral person. The church provided me with an avenue to discover my talent in music, my leadership abilities, and my talent for teaching and public speaking. In addition to all of that, without the church, I never would have met my amazing husband and I wouldn't have my kids. The church did provide me with a lot of good - there is no doubt there.

In addition to the things listed above, though, I was taught that our church was the only true church, that any marriage not in the temple wasn't an "eternal" marriage and that people married outside the temple would be separated from their spouse and family at death, which is really incredibly sad. I was taught that coffee and tea were bad, that sex was not something to be discussed or even thought about until you were married, that people who had piercings and tattoos had committed a grave sin, and that modest clothing was super important, because, well, if a girl didn't dress modestly, then those darn boys would be tempted to sin. I was taught that a woman's greatest calling in life was motherhood, and that that's what every woman should aspire to - to an eternal marriage in which the woman stays home and raises the children. There are a lot of other things I was taught, which, looking back, never really quite sat right with me, but ultimately, it was the things I was not taught that made my shelf crumble (my "shelf" is where I stored all those somewhat annoying things that I didn't necessarily like or agree with, but weren't big enough issues for me to question my belief in the church's teachings), so let's start there. Before I delve into my main issues, I want to point out that, growing up in the church, it was made very clear that anything that portrayed the church in a less than perfect light was considered "anti-mormon" material - even if it was a scholarly article full of reliable sources. Because of that mindset, ALL of my primary research took place on LDS.org, and many of my issues stemmed from the historical essays that the church has recently provided to the public.

Let's talk about polygamy, because goodness knows that it was kind of a taboo subject when I was growing up. I was taught that polygamy occurred because there were widowed women who could not provide for themselves financially, and these selfless male members of the church were marrying these women purely to care for their financial and emotional well-being. Well, imagine my shock and surprise when I learned that good old Joseph Smith was not only marrying multiple women without Emma knowing, but he was marrying women WHO WERE STILL MARRIED TO OTHER MEN and girls as young as 14. I could go on and on about my disgust and issues with polygamy, but I'll spare you the details and encourage you to read the LDS.org essays on polygamy, then head over to mormonthink.com if you'd like to learn more. Basically what I learned from this essay was that I no longer believed Joseph Smith to be a godly man, let alone a prophet.

My research on polygamy led me down a sort of rabbit hole, and I discovered much more of the church's unsavory history. I cried, I prayed, I read everything I could, and I ultimately reached the conclusion that Joseph Smith was not a good man. I felt sick to think that I was part of a church who has hymns like "Praise to the Man." That was not a man to whom I could ever shout praises.

I pleaded with the Lord to help me find any reason to stay. I thought to myself, "Maybe I'll stay for the kids - surely the church could do good things for them?" I went to church the next week, and as I was preparing for my calling as primary chorister, I was flipping through the primary songbook and came across the song "I Love to See the Temple." I sat there for a second and realized that I had my answer -I needed to leave the church. I hate the temple. I hate it. I remember the first time I went into the temple, I was so excited. I thought to myself, "This is it - THIS is where I have waited my whole life to be." But as I went through the endowment ceremony, I felt anything but peace. I listened to the covenants and felt uneasy. I went to the temple a few more times, thinking that things would surely get better the more I went. In fact, the opposite was true. Every time I went to the temple, it was more uncomfortable than the last. I later realized after reading through the scripts that, as a woman, I wasn't covenanting with my Father at all, as the song said. In the LDS church, women can't get to the celestial kingdom unless they have a man to get them there. There are many other things about the temple ceremonies that made me uncomfortable, but because they are sacred to members of the LDS faith, I will not discuss them here.

After that day, when it dawned on me that I needed to leave the church, I didn't just let it go. I wanted so badly to find something that could justify a decision to stay. Why? If I didn't believe any of it anymore, why in the world would I want to stay? Because staying in the church is easier than leaving. When you leave the LDS church, you become a project and an object of discussion. Your name is brought up in church leadership meetings, and suddenly people who have never cared to talk to you pop up out of the woodwork because they are concerned about your eternal salvation. I've seen parents and families disown and shun their children. I've seen neighbors and friends talk behind "apostates'" backs. I've seen firsthand the judgment and speculation that happen when people leave the church. I've seen the disappointment, the subtle attempts to bring people back, and the outright disrespect that people have for those who have decided to leave. So, yeah... if I could have found any reason to stay, even one, I think I would have. Because sometimes it's easier to just not rock the boat.

When I realized there was nothing that could keep me in the church, I decided to stop wearing my garments, and secretly hoped that I'd have some sort of crazy prompting to put them back on and go back to church. That didn't happen, though - what did happen is that a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. As I got rid of them, I realized that I was living authentically for the first time in many, many years. I was unapologetically me. I felt an immense amount of peace with my decision to leave the church in that moment.

Over the next several months, I underwent the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance for those of you who need the refresher), spending a large amount of time going back and forth between anger and acceptance. Now, about nine months later, I feel that I'm in the "acceptance" stage about 95% of the time. There are certain things that trigger me (mostly topics regarding sexuality/motherhood/LGBTQ), but for the most part, I can think about the church without being consumed by anger and grief.

I want it to be known that I have never felt so truly happy, at peace with myself, and loved as I do at this time in my life. I am able to live authentically and be completely true to who I am as a person. This has led me to some of the most beautiful, honest, and genuine relationships I have ever had. I don't beat myself up over little things, I don't have a constant sense of shame or guilt hanging over me, and I am a better person for it. I find that, since leaving the church, I am much more open-minded, I am more empathetic, I am less judgmental, and I am ultimately more understanding of other people. I know now that truth is not universal, and neither are beliefs. Truth is not a one size fits all type of thing, and neither is joy. What brings one person joy will not bring everyone joy, and that is also true of religion.

You may be wondering what I do believe if I no longer believe the teachings of the LDS church. The truth is... I don't know. I believe in kindness, positive thinking and positive energy, respect, and love. I believe in authenticity, friendship, and honesty. I believe that religion and beliefs don't define a person, but actions do. <3 

How to Keep Store-Bought Flowers Alive

Hey guys!

The other day I posted a photo of my Costco flower bouquet that I bought almost two weeks ago on my Instagram and I had a few people ask me how I keep my store-bought flowers alive and healthy for 12-16 days. I'm no pro, but I can share what I do know! Hopefully it helps you, too, because there is just something so refreshing about having fresh flowers in the home! I will tell you that I owe almost all of my knowledge to my friend Laura - she is the one that gave me almost all of these pointers!

So, without further ado, here is how to keep your store-bought flowers fresh. 

1. Choose a vase/mason jar/container for your flowers. Fill it up with approx. 1- 1.5 inches of room-temperature water.

2. Add about 1/4 of the packet of flower food that came with your flowers to the water and swirl it around until it dissolves. DO NOT dump the entire packet of flower food into the water! That's a total waste. The ratio for the plant food is actually one packet to one liter of water, so a little bit goes a long way!
3. Take a sharp pair of scissors and trim about 1/4 inch from the bottom of your flowers. Make sure you trim at a diagonal. 

4. Arrange your flowers and enjoy! 

Things to note: 
You will notice that the flowers drink up the water fairly quickly. You should be doing the above 4 steps every 3-4 days, or as you notice the water is almost gone.

If you notice the water is getting low and forget to change it, it's okay! Your flowers will start to droop, but they can usually  be saved! Just do the above steps as soon as possible.

Every flower has a different "life-span." I've noticed that peonies and roses are exceptionally difficult to keep alive past 8-10 days. This method doesn't guarantee that every flower will stay alive for 2-3 weeks, but it does make your flowers last longer than they would otherwise.

Bay Area Hikes | Mori Point

Hey all!

I think it is pretty common knowledge at this point that I LOVE hiking, and my kids have grown to love it, as well. Elsie asks to go on a hike at least three times per week, and I have loved finding easy hikes in the bay area.

One of my favorite places to take the kids hiking is Mori Point in Pacifica. It's a family friendly hike, which is great for the kids and dog. 
The hike starts near Highway 1 and takes you to a cliff peak that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. If you hike Mori Point in July, you might be lucky enough to see blue whales as they are migrating. The total trail length if you start at the trailhead by the highway and do the complete loop is a little over 4 miles. Easy enough, but if you have kids, you may want to start at the path located at Mori Point Rd. and Bradford way. If you walk the path to the beach, then take the stairs on the left, you can still get a great view of the ocean, but only clock a distance of about 2.5 miles round trip.

Anyway, here are some photos of the area. It really is a gorgeous kid-friendly hike in the bay area. 

Real Product Reviews | Rodan and Fields Lash Boost

Hey there, people! Long time, no talk.

As most of you know, I love to support other women who are doing the MLM thing, because I know that it's not a get rich quick thing. It takes a lot of time and work, and I will support that. Plus, let's be real - I like to know if that crap actually works.

Enter Rodan and Fields. I have about a billion people on my Facebook friends list who sell Rodan and Fields, and I see the before and after pictures ALL the FREAKIN' TIME. I've always wondered about it, and finally decided to try it. I'm going to give some backstory, so if you're not interested in that part and just want the completely unbiased review of Rodan and Fields Lash Boost (I paid for my lash boost serum with my own money, I am not receiving any compensation for doing this review, and I am 100% honest in this review), feel free to scroll down to the divider line. 

Backstory: In August of 2016, I decided to invest in lash extensions. I say invest because that sh** is not cheap. I think after all was said and done, I spent $120ish on a full set that was supposed to last 2-3 weeks. I loved having extensions.... until they started falling out. In the sense of full disclosure, I am part of the problem. When the extensions started falling off my lashes and into my eyeballs, I rubbed, picked, and just couldn't leave my eyes alone. This caused my real lashes to fall off right along with the extensions. I WAS BALD - I HAD NO EYELASHES LEFT!!! 

I started wearing falsies while my lashes grew back, and the habit stuck. I wore false eyelashes every. damn. day. for eight months. I started seeing stuff about R+F Lash Boost going around Facebook, but knew how much the skincare regimens were, so I didn't even think about trying it. Eventually it got to the point where I was considering extensions again ($$$$$), but knew that they'd ruin my stubby little eyelashes, so I decided to reach out to a consultant. And... here we are.


 Rodan and Fields Lash Boost is simple to apply. It's pretty fool-proof, really. Just swipe it on your lash line like eyeliner.
- A small amount of the product goes a long way.
- The product works on eyebrows as well as eyelashes.
- The results. I'll post a picture of my 8 week results (sorry for the crap-tastic quality). I think they speak for themselves - worth every penny.
- The shipping is fast - in an Amazon Prime world, I think fast shipping from an MLM company is an incredibly desirable thing.
- The return policy. If I had not gotten the results that I wanted, Rodan and Fields has a great return policy. The return policy is actually the reason I decided to invest in this product. Speaking of investments... let's talk about the cons, okay? 

- Price. Holy friggin' price tag. We are talking $150 (PLUS tax and shipping) for 5 mL of product. That's $30 per mL. Now, I've already said that this is worth every penny, and I do believe that, but OUCH! The price makes my cheapskate heart hurt.
- You have to continue using the product to maintain your results. Which means spending $150 on your lashes every 3-4 months.

If you have short, stubby, thin lashes that need help, I highly recommend Rodan + Fields Lash Boost Serum. It really does work, and it works well. I started seeing results after just four weeks! And now, at 8 weeks, I feel like my lashes have doubled in length and increased in volume, also. So... go ahead and go get some!

Learning to Hand Letter

So... I've been pretty MIA, and honestly, I'm okay with that. It will happen occasionally - I'll have dry spells, and then I'll have weeks where I post almost daily. Anyway, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you have probably noticed that I am learning hand lettering. I am seriously addicted - it is so much fun!

So. I'm obviously a beginner (just started learning last week, hello!), but here are the resources that I have used and that I like.

1. Hand Lettering 101 This book is a great resource for the super beginner (like myself). It is very basic. Like super basic. It touches on faux calligraphy and teaches you a basic, lower case alphabet. It also has some projects and shows you options for a fun sans serif printed alphabet. Yes, I know it is sold out - order it anyway and it will ship as soon as it's available.

2. Tombow Brush Pens Writing with brush pens has a bit of a learning curve, but these were recommended by some pros, and the more I use them, the more I love them.

3. Creative Lettering and Beyond This book is so much more intensive than Hand Lettering 101, and I recommend it as a second book. This book talks about chalk lettering, calligraphy, faux calligraphy, and watercolor, and it shows multiple alphabets, flourishes, embellishments, and gives fun DIY project ideas. I am loving it!

4. Watercolors and brushes If you just want to hand letter, you don't really need watercolors and brushes, but I love the painted look, so I went ahead and got these. If you do watercolor, keep in mind that you'll probably want some good watercolor paper. I've been using cardstock on some of my practice sheets, and the watercolors smudge.

5. A good eraser I block and draft my pieces in pencil, and then trace over with pen or paint for the final project. Once the project is dry, I erase the pencil marks.

I'm sure as I learn more, I will have more recommendations, but this is what I've used so far as a beginner!

Our Ten Favorite Children's Books

If you know me or have been around here for a while, then you know that I love  to read. Being able to escape into a book is an amazing thing (a gift, even), and reading is one of those things that I truly believe everyone should learn to enjoy.

I have tried really, really hard over the past few years to make sure that my kids love books as much as I do. I got lucky, because my kids love books. Callum's favorite thing is to run into their room, grab a book off the bookshelf, bring it to me, and cuddle up with me while I read to him. Every night before bed, he and Elsie have to have at least two bedtime stories before they are satisfied.

Basically, we do a lot of reading in this house, so I thought I'd share some of our favorite children's books with you. 

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. This is Callum's all-time favorite book. I think, on an average day, we read it 5-6 times.

2. Harold's Purple Crayon Treasury by Crockett Johnson When Elsie was younger, we would read this book every day. She absolutely LOVES Harold and the purple crayon. This book is great because it is a compilation of five adventures.

3. I love you, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore I actually found this book at a garage sale when Elsie was a few months old. It quickly became one of our favorite stories, since I call my kids silly names like "Stinky Face" on a regular basis.

4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss This is on the list because it's my favorite story to read to the kids. I get really into it - voices, actions, the whole shebang. It's like Cat in the Hat dinner theatre at our house when this book gets read.

5. A Treasury of Classic Stories I love that this book is full of classics like Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, and Black Beauty. These were stories that I loved when I was younger, and ones that every child should know.

6. Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein This is a silly, fun book that I picked up at Target a while back. Callum loves to read it with me.

7. Mr. Brown can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss Callum and Elsie both love this book! It's so fun to go through and make all of the sounds with Mr. Brown.

8. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein This is a classic story, and one that I think every child should have in their collection.

9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault Elsie loves to read this book with me. Plus, it's great for helping kids learn their letters.

10. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney This was my absolute favorite book when I was little. I try to read it to my kids a couple times a week. 

What are your favorite children's books?

Living with Depression & Anxiety.

Some days are better than others. I suffered from PPD/PPA with both kids. I got over it with Callum pretty quickly, but then we moved a few months after he turned one, and depression and anxiety reared their ugly heads and made an appearance in my life again. 

With exercise, I was able to sort of moderate and things got a little bit better, but then my knee started acting up. I went and got an MRI, thinking something was torn, but it was just extreme chondromalacia, and the doctor's solution was to cut out any and all physical activity that caused pain. Well, since even taking my dog for a walk or going up and down stairs causes pretty intense pain, I've had to cut out all exercise. I swam for a while, but it's to the point where even swimming is painful, so that's out, as well. 

Not being able to exercise has basically thrown me into a downward spiral, and, I'm not going to lie - things have sucked. Here's the thing - I know I am so blessed. But when you are suffering from depression and anxiety, it's really, really hard to see that. You feel so alone and isolated, even when you have a ton of people who love you and care for you.

On the good days...

It isn't a struggle to get out of bed.
The thought of going out and being around other people doesn't completely paralyze me.
I am able to get dressed and get ready for the day by putting on makeup.
I actually play with my kids.
I am patient.
I enjoy talking to old friends.
Being a mom is enough.
I can be genuinely happy for others and their success.

But on the bad days...

I dread the moment my kids come to my room and drag me out of bed. 
It is a struggle to get dressed. 
Leaving the house is terrifying and just doesn't happen. 
I have a short fuse and am very impatient with my kids. 
I sit on the couch and just don't move until one of my kids forces me to. 
The smallest thing out of place makes my heart race and causes me to have a breakdown.
I avoid contact with anyone and everyone. I push people away. 
I feel lost.
I feel like a failure.
I look around and I feel stuck.
I see other people's success and I allow it to make me feel like a lesser person.
I feel like I've failed as a human being.
I feel like my intelligence is wasted on motherhood.
I feel like I'm not enough.

Now, I know that depression and anxiety can change a person so much, and I know that they are changing me, so please believe that I'm doing my best to not let them beat me. And really, this has all just been weighing on me for a while, and I needed to get it off my chest. I don't really want comments, so I've turned them off. <3