I'm With You

31 January 2014

I knocked quietly on the door, while opening it just a peak - "Can I join?" 

"Girl, get in here!  We're going to want an update!"  Winks all around.

I climbed onto Julie's bed with her, while Kersti and Anna sat on the other.  It was already past midnight, and my eyelids were so droopy that I had to prop one open with my finger.  But when Anna comes to stay the night, not even severe-work-week fatigue can overturn talking so freely by lamp light with these women.

Anna is something of a muse, because she can enter one's inner world in seconds and offer the most beautiful insight.  We chatted about all things hearty, and when the attention turned to me, I attempted to explain how I'm just not a plunger, not like a bathroom plunger, though I'm not one of those either.  I mean with the heart.  I refuse to plunge in with two feet.  As a matter of fact, I think an image of a pool party is a perfect depiction of varying dating behaviors.  Oh wait, let's just watch The Bachelor.  I'm the girl with arm floaties.

Then Anna said, "Chantel, ya know, you're really something.  Your life could have gone this direction... [picture singing trees and flowers blossoming from my hair].  But it didn't, and you have this incredible ability to understand people.  Really understand them, from whatever place they are coming from.  And that won't ever go away.  Not many people have that gift.  But you can say 'I've been there!  And I can tell you not just what I think, but what I know.'  You are going to be this incredible spiritual inspiration."

"She already is!"  chimed Julie.

And my whole body got all goosebumpy.  I felt incredibly reconnected to My Center - this giant glowing ball of compassion, which is exactly what God and I decided is my Life PurposeConsciousness to the wholeness of other people.  Not promoting this standard of happy, perfect robots.  But adoring and encouraging the entirety of another, whatever is happening on their insides that is making them a human that day.  Whatever demons haunt them.  Genuine and unconditional understanding.  And I do have an ability to say, "You can tell me.  Because I can go there with you."  Giving ONE person my undivided and full support for as long as they need me in their life.  Compassion.

And I admittedly had lost sight of that, because I'm too busy winning ugly face SnapChat contests.  Which are important.  Sort-of.  So, Satan may keep this world at bay with media distraction and thoughtless interaction.  But not me.  Get me to that deep end.  Maybe I have floaties on my heart, but when someone needs me to plunge, I'll be there.

My heart is very open today.

Thinking of Kersti saying "Bow-chicka-wow-wow" when Anna took off her shirt.  A prego lady, three flatter-chested women, and 2 am.  Laughing ourselves to sleep and then eating homemade sweet pork salads for breakfast the next morning.

Bedhead perfection,

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A Child in Adult Skin

29 January 2014

Sometimes I feel so grown-up that I want to jump up and down.

Which is about the least grown-up thing one could do.  When was the last time you saw a grown-up jumping and down.  Sporting events don't count because that's structured time for grown-ups to puncture their brains and act without them for a few hours.  All in good fun, of course.

But really, grown-ups jumping up and down at the grocery store?  "Ketchup is on sale! OH MY GOSH!!!"  At the doctor's office?  "Free toothbrushes?  OH MY GOSH!!"  No.

So you see how it poses an incredible paradox for me to want to jump up and down when I feel like a grown-up?

Well, today I had an appointment with an investment broker.  Remember how earlier in the month I met with my own insurance agent?  Well, now I have my own investment broker.  And if I was in a contest for "Adulthood" and didn't win from this month alone, I would throw everything I could find at the judge's heads.  Which is really mature, if you just don't think about it.

So I went into the investment office 20 minutes early.  20 minutes early?  Yep!  And the extremely overzealous man at the front desk ushered me to the waiting area and offered me some free drinks and cookies.  I just stared at the plate of free cookies.  Part of me wanted to dump the plate into my purse, but then I had to remind myself that the sugar-stealing-child within cannot exist anymore.

So I sat back in my chair and read a magazine article about Carl Icahn, who apparently has beat out George Soros as the richest investor in the country, topping out at $26.2 billion.  I remember George Soros only because I once had this boyfriend who loved Glenn Beck SO much, and we would watch his show late at night, and there was this one show about how George Soros was the demon of the universe and murdered bunnies with baby teeth and so many other dramatic things that only Glenn Beck could come up with.  Well I broke up with that boy shortly thereafter, and maybe or maybe not it had something to do with him liking Glenn Beck.

Anyway, Glenn Beck isn't as rich as Carl Icahn, so I don't care about him.

So after I felt like Carl and I were best friends, only because the magazine used an entire page to display an unnecessarily large picture of his face, I was finally approached by my investment broker.

"Hi Chantel.  I'm Bobby," as he stuck out his hand to greet me.

"Hi Bobby.  I'm Chantel."  eeh, wait, you already gave evidence to knowing my name, so I just repeated you.  I jumped up and started talking about the world and peace and other dumb things to try and hide my dumbness.

We went back to the office of one of his co-workers, because that was the only vacant room.  There was a side desk lined with pictures of children.  Like 4,000 children heads.  Or 6.  It's hard to count so fast.  I commented on all the children, and Bobby said the dude was out on maternity leave.  Oh is he now?  A man who has babies.  Let's put him on Glenn Beck.  

Then Bobby just stared at me.  And I stared back.  And then I started talking about investments.  Sir, will I be conducting this whole meeting?  And I pulled out my notebook of all the funds I had already researched, as well as my risk model, as well as my proposal for my portfolio.  Then Bobby told me some information that only made me irritated.  Sir, tell me something I DON'T already know.  It's like going to a doctor when you have a sore throat and he says, "Well, looks like you have a sore throat."  I just paid you $200 for that.  I'll kick you in the shins.  I prefer people to be two steps ahead of me if they are in an expert position that claims they will be.  So I told him I have a pretty advanced understanding of investments.  Move along buddy.

Then he jumped to the more juicy stuff.  Like a biotech fund that grew 66% last year.  Get me some of that.  And I actually ended up learning a lot!

After we narrowed my stock/bond allocation, Bobby called some super important guy who would buy into Wall Street that very moment with my monies.  Can I run around the desk and take a selfie with you really quick, sir?  This must be recorded!   So while Wall Street Man and Bobby were confirming my hard-earned dollars, I stared off at a painting on the wall.  It was some beach in Boston.  The top half was really pretty.  But then the bottom half looked like the painter puked on it.  Sometimes I wonder how some art gets so famous.  Like one time I went to a museum with a different boyfriend.  We came across a painting of an old man who's hand was curled up in front of his face.  The whole man was really well-done, but then his hand was a smooshed blob of color.  My friend said that's when the oven timer went off -  "Oh, the lasagna is ready!"  And that was the end of that.

I'm going to sneeze all over a piece of paper and sell it.

"Chantel..... Chantel?  Your funds are complete."

Oh, right.  GREAT.  Because I'm starving.

And then I went outside to a rainy afternoon and walked the downtown streets trying to step on every worm with the point of my heels.  

I'm such a paradoxical adult.

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To Be Resilient

This weekend, I told a man that I had no fears.

That was after we went out for frozen yogurt, and I suggested we wear birthday caps, and then I told the cashier we were celebrating my birthday, and she gave us an unexpected discount, and I felt so guilty for lying that I made us go outside.

And a month ago, I went on a spontaneous roadtrip to Vegas, where I told all my friends the same thing.  I have no fears.  Eyes got wide and people responded, "Really??  None?"

And yet, at one point in my life, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  You know, that one thing that war veterans get when they've been so exposed to extreme danger that their brain electrocutes with FEAR and thereafter triggers at even the memory of the experience.  Fear.  So much fear that it causes mental paralysis.

And now, that girl is saying she has no fears?

Well, I do lie sometimes.  On accident.  Purposefully.

But really, I don't know.  Fears exist, sure.  But I feel more control, I suppose.  One who is standing on the edge of the shore, observing the crashing waves and the endless darkness would certainly fear it.  But one who has fought through the waves and darkness and made it back to shore would no longer have any reason to.  Fear is a perception of threatening darkness in the distance.  But if the darkness has torn its way through you, there is no threat left.  Only the trust in one's capabilities.  So the source of the fear doesn't cease to exist, but the feeling now attached is


A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking,
because her trust is not in the branch breaking, but in her wings.

Upward and onward,

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A Personal Credence

Once I read a book about a man.  His name I will forego because I want his identity to only be connected to his vulnerability as a human, not the authority of his role.

At 34, this man wrote a "Personal Creed" for himself, comprised of eleven ideals that he wanted to live by, independent of outlined religious or social standard, but what he felt were the most important virtues for himself.

I greatly admire those who think beyond a standard dictation.  Those who develop original convictions that are influenced by their own higher spiritual cadence within.  Those who have even just tapped in to their own spiritual cadence at all!  That is so respectable to me.  And what's even more commendable is that this man didn't just speak it, he lived it, evident by a quote about him.  It hung over my stove for two years:

His religion is not doctrine in cold storage. It is not theory. It means more to him than a beautiful plan to be admired. It is more than a philosophy of life. To one of his practical turn of mind, religion is the spirit in which a man lives, in which he does things, if it be only to say a kind word or give a cup of cold water. His religion must find expression in deeds. It must carry over into the details of daily life.

Here is my own Personal Credence.

  1. I will not let the opinions of man interfere with the directions and understanding given to me by God.
  2. I will keep myself aligned daily to God above, so that I may confidently know my thoughts and impulses are divine.
  3. I will work harder to show courage by speaking what I know and diffusing judgments and cynicism with my personal assurance.
  4. I will maintain my open-mind, never prodding people into doing what is right, but loving them in at whatever level they may be.  My only guidance will be my unspoken example, unless they seek my counsel.
  5. I will pay heed to the direction of my energy, always working upward and forward.  Not complaining about the old, but actively building the new.  Not ignitedly fighting against Satan, but calmly fighting for Christ.
  6. I will balance my desire to love and show compassion to every person, with a right to personally surround myself with only the most loyal and supportive.
  7. I will be the heroine of my life, not the victim.  I will stand, deal, and move forward.
  8. I will be close with the friendless and protective of the hopeless, placing myself as a light in unpopular and forgotten places.
  9. I will maintain my value on authenticity, avoiding the publicity of high positions, the pretension of knowledge, and discourage such thoughtless attainment without a character of sincerity.
  10. I will always keep my knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Savior as the strongest principle I know, always allowing His atoning power to balm and augment my life.

Upward and onward,

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Hey Good Life

28 January 2014

Sometimes I can't believe this life I have.  When I was eighteen, I imagined my career looking just as it is now.  Sitting high up in a downtown building, overlooking the city while I discuss business things with suited men.  And flushing the toilet with my heels.  I'm awesome.

2014, get over here so I can hug you.

Also, three girls, a carton of eggs, and the top of a mountain.  Speak to the darkness, chuck the egg, wait for the splat, and let it all go.  And now we know that we live two "Let It Go's" from the mountain top.

Then, staying up late to talk about the unspoken bits of each other.  Knowing the hard parts of people make them so much braver to me.

I love my ladies.

Ain't No Thang Like a Buzzing Bee

27 January 2014

Yesterday, I received a nomination that I am the "weirdest" person in the family, everyone else ranked successively beneath me.  The rankings came from the mouth of an 11-year-old who equates weird to fun, so I am the FUNNEST person in the family.  Mom validated, saying I am certainly the most free-spirited and so full of joy and life.

Thanks, baby bro. 

Yesterday was my friend's birthday so I prepared a very creative birthday dessert plate.  I approached him, while he was standing in a group of friends who are all hearing impaired (is that politically correct?) and handed him the goodies while signing:  Happy.  Birth.  Day.   I signed the literal sign for birth, which looks something like one hand being birthed beneath the other.  And using that sign seemed sensible until everyone started laughing.  Turns out I signed:  Happy Giving Birth.

Birth hands.

I spent yesterday splicing and editing music because I'm the "Ward Choreographer."  Then I leaped around my living room doing ho-down moves to my created mash-up, while Julie, Kersti, and Cici laughed and laughed at me.  Tonight is our first practice!

Beat baby.

I wore a little black dress and 3 inch heels today because it seemed like a really sexy idea until I had to walk a mile to my new office.  When I conducted a morning meeting to the team I oversee of 20+ people, I kicked off my heels and sat cross-legged at the head of the conference table.  They love me.  I'd have to agree that I'm really approachable and easy-going, seeing as how we ended this super professional meeting talking about the government someday injecting chips into the backs of our necks right after our umbilical chord is snipped.  Moving away from the topic of birthing.  Again.

Bare feet.

I had two meetings with Boss Man today.  One a year-end performance review, and the other was a check-in on an initiative project I'm heading.  To the former, he said I am his exemplary employee because of how I take leadership and excel beyond all others in the same role.  He is so impressed with the way I listen to feedback and execute, saying it's a "rare thing."  And I am one of the few people who never skirts around challenges, but I plow through them head on.  Sir, if you knew my personal life....  He said I am so easy to work with, and everyone loves me.  Well, gee... [blush].  To the latter meeting, I offered all my research and proposals, and he sat with his mouth dropped.  "You are literally the first person to launch out of the barrel on these new-year changes, and I am so impressed!"  Eeee, grin face!  I'm going to kill this proposal to the Managing Directors next Wednesday. 

Boost of confidence.

Off to a meeting with Boss Man II.

Upwards and onwards,

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Vegan & Paleo

20 January 2014

A Nutrition Story

A few days ago, I posted on Instagram that I was very content with my current health diet - paleo.  I'm known for always researching food and discovering the most nutrient dense and healthy diet I can find.  Which is a bit of a headache for my mother when then holidays come around, and she has no idea what I can and cannot eat.  Or the family reunions where people gloat over their best-uber-fattening recipe, and I'm solely hovering over the vegetable tray.  Or overnight family reunions?  Yes, I did pack my own small cooler of food and made all my meals separately.  

Well, after I posted the above picture - along with an announcement I am going to attempt to run as an Ultra in a Ragnar, which means about 33 miles in 36 hours with no sleep - I then received an email from a buddy I danced with in college:

Chantel, saw your insta. Curious why you feel healthier on paleo than vegan. Love to hear your input. Been on and off vegan since the summer. Haven't tried paleo. Miss ya. 

So I promised a reply by the end of the weekend, sending it off just before 10 pm.  I'm also known for keeping my word ;)   I'm posting my response here for any other curious health fans.  Though, like all my other "Essays," I leave it open to continual modifications, edits, and updates, so check back if this interests you!

Also, despite my beliefs about nutrition, I believe even more that every body and every human is different so foods affect people differently.  This is simply a piece of my health journey, and yours will catered to your own body.  I am also known for converting talk into action.  I'm not much a fan of puffy people - those that stick out their chests and declare a lot without actually doing anything.  So if you want to become healthier, cut the talk and just DO it, even if you have to bounce all over the board like I did.  :)

Here we go:

Hi Nick! 

I hope you had an awesome weekend!  Here are some of my ideas about food diets.  (After I typed this all out, I realized how long it was, and I hope it's more helpful than overwhelming! Also, don't feel obligated to reply. This is simply for your nutritional benefit! )

So the basis for all my food experimentation is health-based, not principle-based.  I’m not really a save-the-animals person, as are a lot of vegans.  

So let's start there - veganism.  

My inspiration to go vegan (or complexly called - "Plant-Based/Whole Foods") happened about a year ago when I started dappling in books like the China Study, and documentaries like Forks Over Knives, which all hold a basis that the vast majority of our meat is chemically altered and pumped with hormones.  And because of these chemicals and hormones in conventional meat and other animal by-products, the estrogenic hormones and dioxin and chlorine chemicals can throw our bodies out of whack and cause a lot of serious health problems over time.  So I started talking to people who had gone vegan and heard story after story of people being relieved of anxiety, or mood swings, or even respiratory problems.  By eliminating these toxins, their bodies were able to go back in balance and their physical and emotional well-being improved.  Which all seemed so fascinating, so I thought why not try it! 

So I researched some more, trying to figure out how to shift my diet from meat and animal by-products but still receive the right amount of nutrients.  Obviously protein was a big issue, so I researched soy, tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, tempeh, almond milk, and even spirulina.  I’ve always been really big on fruits and vegetables so that wasn’t a huge shift, but I went straight up vegan and started eating every meal with an alternate protein source listed above, and lots of fruits and veggies.  During the first month of going vegan, my hair fell out in chunks!  It was gross, and for someone who is very protective of her hair… not good.  So I researched some more.  I learned that vegans are prone to Iron and Vitamin B12 deficiencies, so I took supplements for these vitamins and my hair was saved! 

However, overtime I noticed that I was getting bloated, even gaining weight, and gassy (TMI?), which has never been a problem for me.  And also, I was putting a considerable amount of time into meal preparation because making dishes with quinoa and beans wasn’t as easy as just slapping together a turkey sandwich.  In the beginning I felt really great, but overtime, I felt more sluggish, and sometimes, I really just craved a piece of chicken.  As far as physical and emotional imbalance, well I’m already a very healthy, happy, and balanced person, so I didn’t notice much difference. 

So let’s flip sides.  Paleo

I went to the Philippines last fall, which really prohibited me from eating on any sort of vegan or plant-based, whole-foods diet.  I just ate what I was given, which was always a hunk of meat and rice.  When I got back, I was getting ready to phase out meat again, when I ran into a friend who had gone paleo.  (He works out at Crossfit, which I’m learning many people who do Crossfit are also paleo).  He told me a bit about his diet, which is basically opposite of veganism.  Paleos eat like caveman, so just meat, nuts, fruits, and veggies. 

I was interested, so I researched more about paleo.  It posed a lot of counter arguments to veganism.  For example, it claimed soy-processed foods, like tofu, are really not healthy for you, and neither are beans, surprisingly.  Which were formerly the base of all my meals.  Additionally, beans are high in carbs, as are quinoa, millet, other grain-protein bases.  So then I realized that the reason I felt so bloated and sluggish is because I was pumping myself with carbs!  And a lot of general nutrition activists argue how grains and carbs are really not good for your body because our stomachs are unable to digest them efficiently, which can also cause a lot of serious health problems over time.  (Hence why we have so many gluten-free / celiac people these days).

The more I researched, the more I realized every food has an argued benefit and an argued detriment.  And all this research was coming from MD’s and licensed nutrients.  Like eggs and milk, beans and meat, soy and grains.  Some swore by them and others swore against them.  Even certain fruits were deemed bad because of the high amount of glucose, which prevents your body from reaching ketosis – a natural fat burning state that is hindered by peaks of sugar.  So I thought, what in the heck are we supposed to freaking eat for maximum health?

My Decision - I agree with components of veganism – like organic and grass-fed meat is healthier than conventional and mechanically-processed meat.  And I do believe that cutting animal products from one’s diet can balance out hormones, but I don’t have any physical or emotional/mental conditions that need to be balanced, so I’m not really concerned about that.  Additionally, I am a high-performance runner, so the high amount of carbs from veganism could be beneficial.  One of my favorite books is still Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier who is a professional Ironman Triathlete.

However, I decided to try going paleo, just to see.  So my diet became a lot of fruit, frozen veggies, nuts, and a piece of chicken with a kale/spinach salad every night.  And I LOVE it.  I haven’t worked out as much as I did over the summer when I was vegan, but I’ve slimmed up a ton and look more toned than I ever have just because my diet is so much lighter!  Additionally, meals are SO easy and quick to prepare.  It’s cheaper (veganism is a huge investment!), and it’s way easier for me to eat out at restaurants!  (Vegans basically can’t eat out, because everything has chicken broth or cooked in meat grease).  My body feels really healthy!  I don’t feel sluggish or bloated.  And I still have a ton of energy to operate as a high-performance athlete even though I’m not carb-loading.  

And finally, this is a weird reason, but it still had a minor impact.  Paleo feels so much more "no-strings-attached."  Veganism is very much a diet, as well as a community, because of the animal beliefs attached to it.  So people have an ardency about veganism that makes you feel guilty if you betray it.  By announcing I was vegan, and then eating a piece of cheese, I really would get evil eyes from people.  What the?!  People, seriously!  But paleo doesn't have this sense of guilt or overlooking community attached.  By announcing you're paleo, most people just figure you're health conscious and salute you.  Which is a much preferable response.

However, I also believe the title of any diet isn't as important as the actual items being consumed.  I know plenty of "plant-based, whole-foods" people or "whatever other title" who swear by their claims, as they shove their mouths with cheesecake and oreos.  The preach of information is always easier than the application of it. Mostly I just live by "no-sugar, high-greens."

Anyway, thank you for asking me about all this.  I know it was one simple question, and I wrote TWO freaking pages.  But it really helped me conceptualize it.  I’m a health/nutrition fanatic, so ask anything else or bounce off your own ideas.  I always love them!

You’re a great man, Nicholas.  Happy to know you.

And happy eating to all!

Reversing the Empathy

19 January 2014

I was sitting on the backporch this morning before church, after spending way too long wandering around our townhome trying to figure out what to do with myself.  It's like right before a group photo, when you are suddenly very aware of your hands and have no idea what to do with them.  In your lap, too submissive.  On your knees, too posed.  On your neighbor's shoulder, too awkward.  On your neighbor's face ... oh the picture was just snapped.

This morning I just couldn't find an activity to hold my attention.  Finally I grabbed my roommate's book on the countertop, "The God Who Weeps," and headed out the back door into the sun.  I sat down in a chair on the patio, facing the wall of mountains looming far above the back of our home.  Birds were chirping, and the sun was so warm.  What the winter?

I began to read.

Truly, I don't have a good taste in my mouth for church books that just shuffle around doctrine.  It really doesn't connect me to any sort of humanity, as citing somewhere else's thoughts is just an ingenuine duplicity.  If people want to inspire me spiritually, I prefer they stretch their finger into their own soul and pull out their own raw story of testimony.  I suppose I've had too many encounters with people who are full of church facts yet have such small personal characters to back them.

However, within moments, this book had me absorbed.  It shined light on God's incredible amount of compassion, and being all alone, with only the sunlight, birds, and mountains, I felt my mind lifted from the daily world and into a higher frame of thought and emotion.  I bounced between reading and just staring off in awe.  I was so moved with appreciation for the nature around me.  I was so moved with appreciation at Heavenly Father's presence and concern for this world, even when mortal pain is too strong to see it.  I was so moved with appreciation for Him willingly being available to me at any time.

Then I read on to the author's perception of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I was hit straight in the heart.  The experience of a man, who felt such betrayal and loneliness, who plummeted into such sadness that His weakest and final energy was a plea to Heavenly Father for release.  What other option did He have?  I just nodded my head, as tears unexpectedly flowed down my cheeks.

I've been there.

I've been through an experience that dragged me through all of that.  To such an extent that no mortal source could even come close to satiating me with a release.  So I did the same thing as Christ - used my weakest and final energy to give a heavenly plea.  And were it not for that experience, would I ever have been able to develop such a connection to Christ's Atonement?  Would I ever have been able to grasp His emotions if I hadn't experienced them to my own extent?  No.  I really don't think so.

Do many know the Atonement as anything more than an event or idea?  I mean, we all have the facts so memorized that we use the same words and phrases to describe the Atonement.  But to feel it, where I no longer just say, "Christ understands how I feel because of His Atonement."  But I can also say, "I understand how Christ felt."  Where I can understand the pain behind betrayal and isolation.  Where I am saddened by His experience as much as He was saddened by mine.  Where the power of empathy is reversed....

And having such personal and real common ground with Christ is....  incredible.  The thought of not having this empathetic connection makes my life on earth seem so cheap and empty.  Like the sticky note on my desk that says not having an intimate connection with God is like living life in a 2nd rate motel.

Well if intense hardship has gotten into the Marriott, then I am grateful.  I'm keeping this room key.

To have an endless empathy, He would have to know a terror and abandonment and hopelessness beyond human conceiving, such that no mortal tongue can say, you don't know what I have know, you haven't been where I have been.

At the close of His life, He hung on the cross to die, with no angels to sing Him home, no light shining at the far end of the tunnel.  Who can imagine the oblivion into which He peered, the suffocating gloom, the infinite void?  He who was present on Creation's morn, the Light of the World, now faced a darkness beyond any night.  And then, at the acme of His agony.  He was sundered from the only solace in His pain-racked life, the only constant in His suffering - His Father's presence.  The shock and horror of that final, insupportable abandonment is heard in His cry of despair, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Happy to be called His.

Upward and onward,

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Home Base

16 January 2014

A guy recently asked me if I am the same at home with my family as I am in the day-to-day of my life.  I thought that was a very good question, considering it's psychologically proven that when you return to your place of upbringing, you revert to old tendencies and your old familial role.  So of course you'd want to know what someone's home personality is like.  Alright dude, if you'd really like to know: