August begins in love

30 August 2014


(These aren't real diary entries.  Just creating a heart-smitten girl persona).

Dear Diary - There is a man sitting to my right.  And he is pretty dashing, but I'm trying not to look.  We're driving to my new house in Salt Lake City - just finished packing up the remains of our old townhome.  And this man insisted he ride with me even though my car was packed in every crack.  But I'm not really surprised he wanted to squeeze in here with me because Julie said he was interested in me and he'd probably try to get to know me today.  And I only know who he is because he was Julie's friend, and when I got back from Africa, they tried earnestly to get me to come hang out with them, but I was Miss Africa Pouty Pants and only wanted to sit in the basement and draw zebras on the wall with a sharpie.  But I came across him on Instagram a couple weeks ago, and he looked interesting.  Lots of adventures.  So I followed.  Whatever.  Then Julie, Kersti, Cici, and I went out for dinner one night and as we sat in the lounge of the restaurant, they told me to date him.  "YOU DATE HIM," I said, "Also, food now please."  And little did I realize that by me following him, he'd search me out and find my blog, reading every post in just days, developing a deep intrigue and interest for me.  So, while I was packing tupperware in my kitchen this morning, and he was talking to me across the counter, I only knew him as someone who lived up the road, but he knew about the entire world churning inside of me.  Observing a deeper me than I realized he knew.  That's a little bit magical.  And now, here he we are alone in my car, sailing down the freeway, and he's telling me about the pumpkin selling business he started when he was seven.  Cute.  Anyway, we're here at my new home, and I have to unload my 70 pillows.  Goodbye.

Dear Diary, some time has gone by, and I've been seeing more of this man.  One night we were laying on his couch, and he pulled me close and asked if there was anything he could do for me.  If he could do anything that would help me be more comfortable in this new journey.  Or if I ever need him to change for the better, he's good with constructive criticism.  I didn't really say anything.  But I found it peculiar, as if he knew security and trust was particularly important to me.  Tonight I laid my first card in this game. 

Dear Diary, I found out he does know.  He already knows of my past; my divorce; my really fearful heart.  He found it on the video I filmed for Jacy.  He held me so tightly and said how sorry he was.  Where do you put love and fear when they come together?

Dear Diary, I'm wearing his flannel shirt and grilling chicken on the patio at Bear Lake.  We are staying here for the weekend with a house full of friends.  The patio overlooks all of the water, and he has gone down to the lake to pull in his boat and bring our friends up for dinner.  When I woke up this morning and groggily found him in the next room on the couch, I crawled underneath the blanket with him and he pulled me close while the sun brightened the whole house.  Then we spent a perfect day out on the water.  Anyway, now the chicken is finished cooking, and I'll serve all our friends, but I'll wait for him to come back so we can eat together.

Dear Diary, last night at Bear Lake, in the house of all those people, I felt my burrow of sadness start to surface - the one I hold so deeply.  I had talked to a woman who was also divorced.  And though I don't doubt the intensity of other people's personal experiences, my divorce seems to have latched onto such a tender spot that I can't set free the way others have.  So I retreated to the bedroom upstairs.  He came to my side and read me a C.S. Lewis quote about the obstruction and expansion of a house.  Then shared a scripture about greater blessings then we can even imagine are to come.  And then held me tight while playing "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes.  He still texts me the link for that song when he thinks I need to hear it. 

More memories to come.

Upward and onward,

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Learning to come alive

27 August 2014

Kersti said something to me this Sunday that really hit me, as she held her tea mug, and Julie, she, and I sat in our living room nature incubator, talking about our undercurrents.  When I finally opened up about my own and softly cried, Kersti tells me -

"You are more human than most people are even capable of being.  You are one of the most human people I know."

Hours later, she is sitting next to me in the Mother's Lounge at church, with her hand on my back, and allowing me to be just that - a human.  And I don't have to say anything to her, because she understands - I'm just a human purging far too much fear than its finite frame is equipped to hold, as I allow the surge of fright to flood through me, and still find my pulse.  I let my body tremble, go frail and terrified, quivering.  Stories I don't want to talk about, but embedded trauma all the same.  Because what we don't allow our body to release will never be removed.  And Kersti just sits by my side while I do.

Then we finish our meetings, head back to the car, and laugh about the day.

Humans need human friends.  The kind that just allow us to be, exactly as we are, and hold our body while it goes under and comes out more alive.  I'm so happy to have her.  One of the best I know.  Also, it's interesting to be a Spirit connected to such greater Light, aware of a greater existence than this, but still on a corporeal path.  I guess that's the whole learning journey God intended for us-

to learn to come alive by being human.

"Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight into hell, just to keep getting your fix."

Karen Marie Moning, Shadowfever

Upward and onward,

The world lost me while I lost my mind

26 August 2014

Well, it's noon and I finally have a chance to sit down and eat breakfast.

Because, work.  I'm killing it this week.  I'll have racial domination and bureaucratic arrogance solved by five.  (Though only one of those actually relates to my job).  However, my alertness today is only because....

That move, man.

I mean, I never lose things, and I'm usually pretty grounded on my game, buuuuuut, WHAT IN THE FREAK JUST HAPPENED?? 

I've never gotten so lost in a coo-coo canoe before!

I was getting lost on all my runs, and on the drive to every store, and trying to get to work and ending up on the freeway heading the opposite direction, and leaving my car keys in Julie's car twice, and leaving my toothbrush at one house but sleeping at another, and jumping over the breadmaker that was in the center of my bedroom for weeks, and eating oatmeal for two meals a day because that was the only food I had, and yet still eating out far too much, and going to the wrong ward and making new friends for NOTHING, and planning a lunch date with Leslie and going to the completely wrong restaurant in a different town, and suffering from straight up apathy and severe job dissatisfaction related to all my projects at work, being completely useless when people would talk to me, wondering how I ever managed to even get a job in my lifetime, and having to reconfigure all my work parking and studio transit, and not understanding the new underground parking garage and coming out of doors that land me in someone's backyard, and still driving constantly between towns trying to manage 4,000 job responsibilities that I feel royally retarded at doing anyways, and saying really weird things that I thought were normal sentences until Kersti thought I was legitimately trying to rap, and starting a volunteer program where I was dumped as a financial coach on the first day, and trying to help another women's nonprofit group set up their legal and financial standing as a 501(c) but really I have no clue what I'm doing, and being so tired all the freaking time from running twice a day because of an upcoming race, and calling every hotel and car rental in the area to get my team situated until I somehow ended up on the phone with some guy in India, and deciding to hire my brother as my race manager so he can basically take over my life by signing me up for races and then telling where I need to be and when and how far I'm going, and not replying to hardly any texts or phone calls until weeks later, and having a complete breakdown at church because the story of Job hits me way too close for comfort, and planning a pancake party for our Provo friend group and finding the next day at work that chunky pancake dough is still streaked through my hair, and top all of THAT off with getting my face colored blue by a little girl on a marker frenzy, and then forgetting and wandering all around town, and finally coming home to my new roommate asking me after we'd been talking for a good ten minutes, "Why do you have a blue mustache?"  I DON'T KNOW.  I'VE LOST MY MIND.

But I'm finally home.  Home in the membrane. I think it's because I finally organized my bedroom.

So, anyway, hello again.  I'm back.  I somehow still have a job, my house is not burned down, and I haven't been reported for any nudity.  Can I still be your friend?

Upward and onward,

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Gold Medal Moments

23 August 2014

This weekend has been superb.

Called my dad on the way home from work, as I followed Lizzie to our nail appointment.  Ryan secured me a manicure/pedicure deal.  Never in my life have I done this before.  So Lizzie and I made a date out of it by going to get sushi afterwards.  Of course, .00002 seconds after leaving the salon, I ruined the perfect red toe nail polish on my big toe.  So this morning I sat down to fix it, adding a couple coats of my different colors trying to get the right hue, and it came out ridiculously gloopy and globby and horrible-looking.  Yep, nailed it.  Nailed.  .... ha. ha.  And since I have a big weekend boating trip coming up with 30 other single people.... I decided to just leave it.  Everyone likes to have one really dumb painted toenail.  Plus I just don't care.

Then I sat on my bed and talked to Kersti for hours and hours.  I love knowing people.  Like, really knowing them.  

Then this morning, I woke up and ran 22 miles.  Which might sound like a really heroic thing or something but it was far from glamorous.  And now I have rashes IN MY ARMPITS!

Then I sat on the floor of my bedroom and talked to my new roommate Mary for more hours and hours.  Already we are great friends, as she was texting me during my run and bumping into Jef (Bachelor) at the gym so I told her she must get a pic.

Then I spent a long time playing home salon and shaving my entire legs.

Upward and onward,

A rocky adventure, with a flip and a pow

22 August 2014

I had my first mountain biking experience this week.

Not to be confused with bountain miking, which I keep saying.  Which also sounds very fun, and I need to figure out what that is so I can do it. 

Actually, I think I'm being increasingly overtaken by a disease called Spoonerism Dyslexia.  Though people with my problem probably call it Doonerism Spylexia.  But the fact that people are still talking to me makes me think I'm okay for a little longer, as long as it doesn't mess up my face.  Like one time, I was trying to tell a friend about my favorite childhood toy - a Barbie dolphin - but it came out barfin Dolbie.  Which sounds like I'm obsessed with playing with a puking Harry Potter elf.

ANYWAY, so I went boutain miking with my barfin Dolbie. 

And okay, I expected mountain biking to be a bit of a leg-burning activity.  I mean, you're riding straight up a mountain.  But what I didn't realize is that mountain bikes have brains.  Which technically they really do, because my friend told me there's a "brain" piece in super nice mountain bikes.  And I am absolutely certain that means that the bike could read my thoughts, so wherever I wanted to steer, the bike would make sure to go the opposite way.  Which is why the bike tried to drive me off a cliff 48 times, and also hit every single rock on the entire mountain.  And THEN, on the way back, as we were flying down the mountain, the bike ejected me right off the seat, and then flipped completely back-tire-over-front!

Which would have been way cooler if I had blood and gashes to prove it.  Because I told Ryan that a scar is an adventurous Mormon tattoo, and I NEED MORE!!  But the thing is, I somehow flew off and landed on my feet walking.  Then I turned around and watched the bike flip straight towards me.  Then it just fell over on the ground, and I quickly jumped back on shouting, "I KILLED THE BRAIN!"  And then I started barreling down the mountain again to catch up to my friend.


He had pulled over on the side of a bridge, and when I pulled up to him frantically spewing my story everywhere, he patiently waited for me to finish and then nonchalantly said, "so, I was just riding so fast that a bat hit me in the face."  WHAT?

And that ended that.

Upward and onward,

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Honesty Box - synonymous solutions

I've been listening to a book on tape the last couple weeks that was recommended to me by my friend Ryan.  It's called Delivering Happiness - the story of Zappos and the dude behind it.  INCREDIBLE BOOK!  When he told me he'd read it over 10 times, I thought it must contain a secret treasure map to Gilligan's Island or something, because I don't think I even read the book Everybody Poops that many times and that has some lifelong information in it.  Anyways, no it's really that good.  IT'S THAT GOOD!

However, I won't be talking about all the goodness, or even give away if there is indeed a hidden map to Gilligan's Island, but I DO want to talk about the audio voices.  Because at different points in the tape, they pull in excerpts of other people's spoken thoughts on the business, and this one lady has a lisp that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Truly, I have to pause the CD every time she comes on deck, so I can laugh it out before I resume listening.  But the thing is, I have no idea what she really even talks about it because I'm just waiting in excited anticipation for the next time she says an S.  I mean an Eth. 

And okay, honesty box, I feel like if I had that bad of a lisp, I would be incredibly hypersensitive to every word with an S in it, and I would rework my entire vocabulary to use synonyms.   Por ejemplo:

Lady on the tape:  I work for Zthappoth - a buthineth that thipth thoeth to your houthe.

Me:  I work for a company that will deliver footgear to your home.

Ignore that no one actually uses the word footgear.  But SEE?  I would save that woman's tongue.

Synonymous Solutions.  I mean, thynonymouth tholutionth.

Upward and onward,

A life I'm happy to be in

20 August 2014

My parents and kid brother came down last weekend to visit.  Which was about the most exciting thing in the world for me, other than Beyonce coming over to paint my toenails or something.  BUT, I got to experience Lagoon from the mind of a 12 year old.  Because I realized, after going on my first crazy ride with him where I immediately felt light-headed and very aware my non-12 year old body, that it was less about the thrill of the theme park that provided the experience for me, and more about how the experience was being processed through this little person's mind.

Someday, birthing little person's and watching them interpret the world is going to be SO FUNNY!  And also sweet and tender and heart-flappy yada yada.

So, I tried to type out specific conversations with my bro, but the more I did, the more I realized how offensive this post would become because it was mostly about my brother's impersonations of an old person dying on every single ride we stood in line for.  Like his thoughts on old people using the ferris wheel as their final ride of life, because it's so boring and long, and then they just let their dead body fall from the sky, as we both turn around to look at the ferris wheel just in case dead bodies happened to be falling in that moment.   (Aaaand, now I can see even more that I should not have shared the private conversations between me and my Lil B).

But oh my gosh, that kid makes me laugh so hard.  Like the time he, myself, and my dad were wedged into the Scrambler, and as we're flying around in rapid circles, and my hair is batting them in the face, Brennan starts doing doll hands. Or the time, we ran to the Haunted House ride, first wondering why all the people coming out of the ride looked completely apathetic or nearly angry, but then as soon as we enter the ride, Brennan's hands immediately go up to his face and he starts shrieking, rapidly looking back and forth at all the things jumping out.  I'm laughing so hard - "Are you just messing around or are you really scared?"  Then a skeleton drops from the ceiling and we grab hands screaming.  Then the ride bursts through the final doors, and we are both bellowing from laughter, not even concerned with the 80 people in line dead-locked watching us.

And after a full day of forcing our bodies into extreme vertigo, he and I tromped back to our blanket in the black of night, feet throbbing, and plopped down while my parents finished their show somewhere else in the park.  I asked him about his favorite movies, and candy bars, and friends.  Because every person who ever talks to a child just asks them incessantly what their favorite things in life are.  Oh wait, I think I'm confused with college dating...

Anyway, my Lil B tells me all the time that I'm his best friend.  And I used to egg him on quite like a puppy doing a trick, "c'mon, who's your favorite, little guy, who is it?"  And he'd say everyone else's name while I tickled him until he'd finally say, "YOU ARE!"  And I just thought it was because I always made him laugh so much.  Which is my favorite thing because it's so easy to get him giggling.  But as he's gotten older, he's started to ask more serious questions about why people at school do weird things, or why people are mean the way they are, or just wanting to confide in me.  And then he'd always say, "I just want to be fun like you.  You're my best friend.  That's all."

So I ask my mom when he's not around what all this means.  Sure, falling dead bodies from a ferris wheel seems like a normal 12 year old thought.  Maybe.  But what of this "best friend" stuff? 

My mom tells me, "Chantel, you play with him and connect with him in a way no one else does. You have always been one of our most.... entertaining children, and you make sure he knows you love him by giving him all your attention and listening to him.  Since you were just 3 years old, you built the same relationship with Devin for the same reasons.  Your brothers just love the fun and kind person that you are!" 

And then my mom and I had this real conversation, as we rode the gondola repeatedly overtop the park, about how my perception of myself is not always that clear because I experienced someone very close to me putting me in front of a very distorted mirror long ago.  It's refreshing to be around people who place me in front of a true reflecion.

And it's refreshing to ride roller coasters until you are scared to even look in a mirror.

Here's to the love of a family!  To true mirrors.  To a life I'm happy to be in.  And to Beyonce.

Upward and onward,

And if you want to see what a roller coaster ride looks like through the lens of my iPhone... Well, now's your chance:

Oh, and I grew a unibrow.  Been working on it for awhile.

Oh wait.  Don't leave yet.  I have more crappy iPhone photos that I HAVE TO SHOW YOU.

My Instagram recap of the weekend, focused on the Lagoon moments with my pops:

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Standing tall and believing we're allowed to

19 August 2014


I just finished sitting through a work meeting with some managers of another department, as we continue to negotiate through a project I'm working on - with my bloody palm because I fell flat-face down on my run this morning.

Anyway, it's been me against these Big Named dudes for months now, in this giant conference room with twelve times as many chairs as we need.  And the whole time I try to figure out how to position my body and my face to appear approachable and open, but also meaning business.  How tall to sit, how wide to smile, how high to lift my eyebrows, how firm to speak. Because as a woman, I have to worry about this balance.  Women can't be too soft or we're disregarded, but we can't be too firm or we're backhanded.  I'm certain most men have never had to be so conscious in order to maintain a respected voice.  And this year, I've never experienced it so badly.

Months ago, I was entirely shoved out of the way in one of my positions (see here).  So I just stepped back.  Yeah, sorry, oops, my bad, who am I to have a mouth and thoughts?   ha. ha.

As children, we hold no question to our self-worth.  Until life starts to bend us in far directions that make us doubt.  And more often than not, women are the ones trained to go silent, to not trust ourselves.  We're smashed for our softer qualities, and we're shamed for our boundary lines.  So we shift uncomfortably in our chairs, trying to figure out how to boldly, but kindly, place our eyebrows.

Becoming a woman includes learning to stand taller and believe you're allowed to.  I'm learning for myself.

"Women live lives of continual apology. They are born and raised to take the blame for other people’s behavior. If they are treated without respect, they tell themselves that they have failed to earn respect."
Germaine Greer

"When you start seeing your worth, you’ll find it harder to stay around people who don’t."
Emily S. P. Worth

Upward and onward,

As long as you're not afraid to feel

11 August 2014

It's not what's in front of the curtain that really speaks to me, but what's going on behind.

I shared the upper-side of my weekend story here.  But want to know some of the underside?  Because isn't that the reality of human living?  We have our matte finish.  But then we have our soul.  And I'm certainly not afraid to feel the undercurrents of my deepest self.

Soooo, back to my weekend.  The Underside Tale.

Moving to Salt Lake. My soul has wanted this for a long, long time.  I guess I imagined a bigger city where the people on the street seem to have more acceptance between each other because life has been more real to them.  Because life has been pretty real to me too.  So, I need this.  Or at least believe in it.  I need to be in a community where every part of me is comfortable, because I still have low-burning embers from my betrayal and abandonment and it really hurts.

On Sunday, I sat down in the Sacrament Meeting pew with Julie and our girlfriend Amy.  I hadn't offered Heavenly Father any deeper information or sincere requests lately, well, except help me carry boxes twice my size and be somewhat useful while moving.  But apparently He knew the actual message I needed to hear, because suddenly it was flooding through me.  Love.  

The speaker girl talked about Jean Valjean in Les Mis and how he stole silver from a man, and the man covered for him and give him more silver.  And Heavenly Father loves us in quite the same way, by loving us through our weakness and giving us more.  And the best way to show someone you love them is to trust them.  And it went straight through me to the bone, and I felt Heavenly Father's immense love for me.  But sometimes, because of the trauma I have about fraudulent love, I don't know where to place such a Big Love, because that's the exact place that I was violated the deepest.  So I try to find a place for it inside myself, but instead I come across low-burning ashes that hurt too bad for me to move.

On a tearful ride home from church, I spewed to Julie about that time I was completely dehumanized by another person, and even with all my healing, it still stings so sharply sometimes.  And then my spew continued on about how so many people can justify dehumanizing others weakly standing in front of them.  And suddenly I was talking about the Jews, and the blacks, and women, and children, and all the horrible banishment in the world, "AND SOMEDAY THE BLACK-EYED PEAS WON'T BE AROUND TO SING WHERE IS THE LOVE!!"  But mostly it all stemmed from just feeling so personally heartbroken.

So I place God's love as a blanket over all of that.  I need to keep my vision with Him, trusting that all wrong will turn out right, and all hurt will heal to happiness.  Then I am motivated on working harder for my purpose here - sharing His Love. 

Soul, welcome to Salt Lake. 

"Deepen and broaden your awareness of yourself and all the blessings will flow. You need not seek anything, all will come to you most naturally and effortlessly."

Now I flip my life back to the upper-side.  Off to Provo to have a pizza party with my girls, clean my old house, and do my favorite half-marathon run in all of Provo!  MORE ADVENTURES! 

Upward and onward,


The tale of a new land northward

This weekend, it became official. 

I moved to the big city of Salt Lake in a darling little 1950's home with an apple tree, raspberry bushes, and a rose garden. 

And then I didn't sit down for a single second for the rest of the weekend, because I was exploring every canyon I could find with a newly-formed friend crew, going to concerts, eating heaven hamburgers at bars, crying through all of Sacrament Meeting in my new ward because it pegged my deepest heart strings, pretending not to know a past Tinder date until he called me out and then I "suddenly remembered" him, picnicking in the woods, trying not to get trampled by a moose, hearing all about a drunk woman's first-time fishing experience, and finally falling asleep on my basement floor to Pirates of the Caribbean surrounded by that same group of friends.

So by the time Monday morning hit like a ton of bricks, I woke up in my new bedroom in a happy-drunk state, and rolled over to see the apple-tree in my backyard shining lightray beams through it's branches at me, and I LOVED EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD!  

Until I couldn't find my deodorant on the way out the door.

I actually sort-of moved up here on Wednesday when Mace single-handedly packed up and carried everything I own to the new house.  But when I spent the night all alone on the floor, and woke up screaming because of a nightmare, and then was too tired to give any real concern to the eerie sniffling I heard in the kitchen, I decided I'd spend my last days down in Provo with my wonderful human friends.  And also, internet.   (Because I can't go longer than 5 hours without an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker.  Guys.  This show is the real dating deal).

Anyway, so Saturday came, and 8 million people showed up at our house to help us move.  I mean, our 6 friends we had told would have been sufficient, but OKAY, LET'S DO THIS!  However, we couldn't produce enough boxes for that many people, because we didn't have that much stuff, so thousands of random people that I'd never seen before just wondered all over our house asking us for things to do, while lots of boys with big muscles tossed around our dressers and mattresses, and I just got really overwhelmed and hid in the closet.  Oh wait, that's what I did last year when we moved.  

But in no time, we were loaded up and ready to haul out.  Most everyone left because they probably hated our payment of Krispie Kremes and needed to go puke them up.  But a small crew remained to make the journey north with Julie and I.  We all scrunched together in a few vehicles and headed out. 


We arrived at our new house and unloaded all the furniture and remaining boxes.  Then all eight of us headed off together to the U-haul drop-off.  I rode on the back of Julie's bike with my buddy, Jonny.  Our friend Mike is always really particular about me wearing a helmet on the bike.  Yes, safety first!  But then I found out it's because he was hit when he was 14 and it severely broke his back, and doctors told him he wouldn't be able to do much of anything for the rest of his life, but later he was on the BYU Football and Track team, and he published a book about it all, as he tells me this story holding our entire couch with one arm.  So, then helmet it is.

After dropping off the U-haul, because that takes 8 people to do, the whole crew went back to Provo, while Stephanie, Travis, and I went in search of food.  Travis and I went through the accounting program together, and he recently became my neighbor in Provo.  Stephanie was a really close friend from my ward.  Craving Mexican food, and being horribly misled by Google Maps, we finally found these taco trucks all on our own, like the big kids we are.  As we melted in the sun, I told Travis this was a cultural experience, and it's all part of the adventure.  And then he ordered for us (love when men do that), and we indulged ourselves in the most delicious and drippy $3.00 burritos with spiciness perspiring out of our foreheads, until we were fully convinced that we were on the streets of Mexico, not a Sears parking lot. 

Then we all shed our co-dependency on each other so some individual showering could happen.  A couple hours later, we all gathered again, plus some extra folk, up the canyon at Snowbird for a Joshua James concert.  

My new buddy, Ryan, and I people-watched with great intent.  Laughing at The Incredible Hulk steroid man, snickering at a penny stuck on the butt of some guys shorts in front of us, and spotting all the bikers on the mountain.  

Then we drove down the mountain to meet the rest of the crew at Lucky 13 for dinner.  On the way, Ryan told me the most intense story of a time he worked for an evil company that did a whole bunch of unscrupulous things that I'm not allowed to mention, and they sabotaged the entire business inside-out, and when Ryan left, they went up against him in a fiery lawsuit, and he had to hire the best lawyer in town to get a fair settlement, and then Ryan tried to apologize for the length of his story - "NOOO, CORPORATE DRAMA!  MUST CONTINUE!!"  and I didn't let him finish talking until long after we had finally met up with everyone at the bar, and I felt like I had just watched the best Hollywood film of my life.  I think Ryan is John Grisham.

Then we ordered our heaven sent burgers, all squished together on these little tables.  And even though the ratio of dudes to ladies was 7 to 3, Julie, Steph, and I still went to the back of the bar to play some strange game with drunk gay Belgium dudes because they were the laughiest people I'd ever seen.  I told Travis again this was a cultural experience, and it's all part of an adventure. 

I believe every story becomes an adventure if you allow it with no inhibition.

Then we all somehow made it to some beds and crashed for the night.  

Sunday, Julie and I realized we failed to buy groceries the night before, so we tried to see how a day without food would feel, but then we ended up at her parent's house by noon, eating peaches and shortbread cookies.  YES, MORE PLEASE!

Then we went to our new ward with our girl Amy, WHO LIVES JUST DOWN THE STREET.  Somehow it was not mentioned to me before that she lives so close, but boy was I excited when I figured it out. 

After church, our same Saturday crew drove back up to Salt Lake so we could have a picnic up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Julie and I are trying to manipulate them into being our friends for as long as possible until they realize one day how expensive we are to their gas bill, and they ditch us.  But at least that buys us some time to manipulate some SL people into being our new friends.  

Anyway, we found a nice little spot in the woods near Solitude Ski Resort.  We made some sandwiches in a confusing assembly line, and watched YouTube videos - because that's why you leave the hustle and bustle of society, so you can finally gorge on all your technology in PEACE!  

Then we formed an exclusive club with an entrance fee of drinking pickle juice.  We aren't sure what to do with our club yet, but what matters is that we all rightfully and tart-facedly paid the price of membership.  And also, Ryan is a river raft guide, so I'm sure that will mean something to the club shortly.

Then, walking down from our picnic and back to Solitude Resort, a moose was standing in the middle of the swamp.  People were gathered all around the hairy beast, and when he started throwing a temper tantrum and prepping for charge, I thought someone for sure was going to die.  But then the moose walked with us all for awhile, and then went on his placated way back into the woods.  Um, hello Moosen, where's the show?

So we continued on a walk around the lake, a bit paranoid of being mauled by Moosen.  Which reminded me immensely of my walk around the hippo pond in Swasiland, and the same paranoia of being surprise eaten by those fat gray things.  And I missed them, and also Heather.  Because she and I had such a great conversation on that walk.

But instead, on this walk, we came across this drunken man and woman, sloppily fighting through the bushes, up from the lake.  The woman was barefoot, covered head to toe in mud, a small amount of clothing draping over where it needed to, and make-up smeared all the way up to her hairline.  Guys, she just had her FIRST FISHING EXPERIENCE EVER!  Which she told to us at quite the volume in full slurred, repeated detail.  And we all sat down on the bench and listened, while she veered right and left, nearly falling into our laps several times, and screaming, "I SHOULD BE IN THE CARIBBEAN!"  And also, she didn't keep any of the fish because she "threw them back in the ocean."  Yep, she sure did.  Then on her way out she flashed a gang sign at us and yelled, "CATCH SOME FISH YOU MUTHA EFFERS!!!!!"  Then slowly staggered side-to-side down the path.  She loved us, and we loved her.

A girl was sitting down the bench from us trying to peacefully read her book through all of this.  We all inquired about the book, and I think it might be my holy grail - Loving What Is.  I've already put in an order.  I asked that girl many questions, mostly because I desperately wanted to be her friend.  But there's no right way to ask that question to a lone woman out in the woods, and when I told Ryan this as we walked away, he thought I meant the crazy drunk lady.  Sure, her too. 

After a bit of Laughing Yoga in the parking lot, we all went back to our new house.  After 30 minutes of all eight of us trying to play interior designer and figure out how to arrange ONE couch and ONE TV in a GIANT basement room, we decided that we should all keep our current day-jobs and settled down for 20 minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean.  I had to jump on Ryan's hotspot and do some quick emergency work.  And then sleep called.

And thus begins my life in Salt Lake City, Utah.  And a membership in The Pickle Gang.  Holy hi, I love it!

Upward and onward,

I came home not sorry

06 August 2014

In the airport of Johannesburg, South Africa, we had a couple of hours until our flight was to depart and take us home to America.  In order to save my legs from a full day of being curled in an airplane seat, I told all the other volunteers waiting by the gate that I'd be back in an hour or two - I was off to go dancing.

"Dancing!  Where??"

"Right here.  I'm going to plug in my headphones and dance around the airport."

They say quietly:  "You're just going to dance... in front of people??" 

"Yeah.  Who am I ever going to see again?  And even if I were, WHO CARES??"  And then I sauntered off with my iPod, while all the volunteers' little eyes peered over their seats to see if I was really serious.

Serious I was.

I put on a loud krump song to Busta Rhymes, and I danced all around, gathering every single eye.  But I closed my eyes, and I was all alone.  Just me and my music.

20 minutes later.....  five of the girls and one of the guys had come out to join me, all plugged in with their own headphones.  And for the next 40 minutes, we had a silent dance party, each going hard to the beat of our own song,  eyes open or closed, it didn't matter.  Strangers gawked all around us.

And then boarding call came and when I approached the gate, all the flight attendants asked what song I was listening to because it looked like a lot of fun.  Later Josh told me that when he came around the corner and saw our entire team dancing in the center of the terminal, he said, "This is Chantel's doing.  Only she could start something like this."

And the coolest part - not the music, the exercise, the connection and energy - was that I completely owned it, and I didn't care.

Does anyone else feel like life as a woman, maybe just as a person, is constantly worth an apology? 

Or maybe I'm just the girl who overuses "sorry."  I remember in the Philippines, Mace and I decided my catch phrase should be SORRYNOTSORRY, because I have nothing to feel bad about.  Sorry I'm talking so much.  Oh wait, except what I'm saying is super interesting.  Sorry I'm so restless.  Oh wait, except my passion and enthusiasm is super captivating. 

I came back from Africa feeling solid ownership for myself, and nothing even came close to something I should be sorry for.  I apologize for waaaay too much.  As if I'm in people's way just by being here.  But laying as flat as possible so as not to cause any stir isn't really possible for a girl like me.  I'm too big and beamy on the inside.  And living like that allows everyone else to hold my power.

I am a human having my human experience, and I'm not sorry for that.  Including every emotion and fear and triumph and setback that comes with it.


Women live lives of continual apology. They are born and raised to take the blame for other people’s behavior. If they are treated without respect, they tell themselves that they have failed to earn respect. If their husbands do not fancy them, it is because they are unattractive.
—  Germaine Greer

"You're just going to dance??.... People will see you."


You are allowed to
Take up space and
Show emotion and
Finish your plate and
Forget your weight and
Smile your brightest and
Cry your hardest.


Upward and onward,

My Instagram post when I got back from Africa and My Peace was coming in so strong.


Opening the airways

I believe everything in the world emits an energy.

And we are drawn to things that positively synergize with our energy.  And we are repelled by things that throw off our energy.  Things that make us feel free and empowered, versus things that make us feel halted or apathetic.  Sources can be thoughts, people, work, hobbies, even furniture and bathroom soap.  So I calibrate by always pursuing healthy energy, and healthy emotions are always the outcome.

However, when we lack clear purpose or desires, other people and things naturally step in and soak up our energy, leaving us feeling demanded and dissatisfied.  But we always hold the power to re-direct ourselves.

And I strongly don't believe in blame, deflection, and most importantly, defeat, because that means one isn't claiming the responsibility for their own energy, or they're trying to manage their emotions, which is stifling to a human body and will not change the actual source.

Weeeell, the last little couple days, my energy flow has been stuffy.  Mostly from my energy giving exploration down the wrong path and stagnantly cycloning from lack of clear future.  So I tried to unclog with a handful of extremely stale Oreos and a pile of discouragement.  I can't even remember the last time I ate an Oreo, but stuffing myself with creme density that can withstand even carbon dating, I surprisingly did not feel more light and flowy.

So this morning, I set out to more properly open my airways - unafraid to lay down boundary lines, pull plugs, give myself permission to flow in MY choice direction, and resume radiating energy back into the universe for MY desires.  I know what I need and what I want - just have to replant myself sometimes.

First, I selected the sources that give me the most nourishing daily energy flow.  And then I selected a couple things that I want to emit positive energy out into the universe to help bring to fruition.

Behold my Vision / Energy Board that I've printed 2 million copies of to scatter around my house, car, and offices.  

1.  Energy to always live with my Free Spirit.  Don't believe in stifling myself with outside definition.  Emit curiosity and playfulness.
2.  Energy to Running.  My unifier of body, mind, and soul.  Emit empowerment and strength.
3.  Energy to My Savior.  The one relationship that balms, glorifies, and truly understands me.  Emit peace.
4.  Energy to Dancing.  No inhibitions.  Emit confidence.
5.  Energy to someday have a darling little Home & Family.  Emit safety and acceptance.
6.  Energy to someday get my Business off the ground.  Emit ingenuity and intelligence.
7.  Energy to Health Eating.  Emit healthiness and clarity.
8.  Energy to Writing.  Emit my creativity and bravery, and connection with others honesty.
9.  Energy to Mentors.  Emit boldness and compassion.
10.  Energy to find the right Love for me.  Emit vulnerability and affection.

And just like that, I can already feel myself faaaaaar more open and available to the world.  And also more hopeful about the things I desire.

Upward and onward,

Image Source


04 August 2014

I need a moment to just be real.

The little children in Africa would sing, "I'm feeling sumthin!"  That's how I should start the majority of my posts.

Anyway, I went out to lunch with a girlfriend today who shared her recent realization that she may have bipolar disorder and will find out the results tonight.  I listened intently to her whole story, and she never spoke out of fear or shame, but out of peace.  A human in acceptance of her human experience.  I loved it.  Because I felt more space open up inside of me to accept my own inner cracks, and for the rest of the day, she and I were able to spread the energy with others in opening more self-accepting space inside of themselves.  No shame, no guilt.   

I’m all about encouraging acceptance of the human experience.  The messy, the unsure, the labeled, the alone.  It’s all a part of the Earth path, and it serves very well to see the beauty in the underside.

Now I juxtapose.  

Because hours later, I read an article written by that man in my past.  It was all about some aggressive prosecution he’s received for preaching “The Truth” - his high and mighty knowledge and golden ticket to heaven.  And he chastised all the people reacting against him by saying that their negative reaction was evident that they just don’t know this religious stuff as much as he does.  And then he called out to “his people,” saying - "we must keep preaching – don’t waste time trying to explain to these people what they will not understand – it won’t work.  These people won’t come to their senses until Jesus comes again, and then they will see.And then a list of Church articles and links. 

...  Because that's how I'm persuaded.  And also it makes perfect sense that we save all that hard work for Jesus to do when He comes.

What in THE HELL???

What are these hoighty-toighty benches of Truth where we just shove people off if they don’t “get it,” and then point at them and say someday God will show you your errors!  Stomping their face in the dirt because they don’t SEE.  See what, exactly?  YOUR high, supreme Truths and ways of thinking?  People aren’t grasping for these grandiose laws of the universe when they have very personal pain and questions that need to be cared for first.  The Gospel to me is not dropping really high-level doctrine from a holy skyscraper onto people’s heads, and then shaming them for still feeling lost and choking.  It's connecting with them down in the dust - first being aware that we are all making sense of this journey together.  A loving work that we should be helping Jesus perform today.

And I’m aware this hits me more close to home because I was pushed off the holy bench by these very people.  Shoved right out of the way on their forceful quest for Godhood and then trampled over and over again, because I wasn't "righteous enough."  Their view of the Gospel was all about self-attainment and how The Truth serves them, and anyone stepping in their way was dehumanized and cast out.  Those are the ways of "God's chosen people"??  It was so horrible. 

But man, when I lifted my face out of the mud and saw the world from that ground level – “The Gospel” took on a whole new meaning.  By God’s great hand, luckily I was no longer living in a world of pretentious bench sitters, I was now in the muck with every other freaking human wrestling through the brutality of Earth life.  And they were the best, most compassionate, most beautiful people I’d ever known.   People trudging and scraping and trying to find their truth and deal with their demons, as much as I was trying to understand mine.  Mormon, non-Mormon, male, female.  Just human souls trying to find some anchor.  I learned of their specific trials and journey’s.  And we did not sit in a circle and shove scriptures up each other’s noses.   We locked arms and said “let’s find our way together.  Your story, my story – I think God will be a good companion for both of us.  Let’s try to find Him and understand Him in our own way.”  And Light came to each of us through each other.  Through helping each other clean off the grime and trying to find joy within it.  With the forgotten, the friendless, the mistreated, the unspoken.  And little fires between us, inside of us, kept the path lit enough for us to keep moving on.  It was lowly love.

That's the Gospel to me.

Connection by sharing your meager little match with another person.  Not blowing your grandiose, perfectly white blow torch in their face.  

Light is love.  Let's start there.

Upward and onward,

Last time I stepped on this soap box - here.  Email me for access.