A white-haired beauty

31 March 2015



I drove over to her apartment after work.  The traffic was horrible and my brain was less robust after a full day of work.  And even though I technically volunteered to do this, I really wanted to just go play outside tonight.

I arrived at the elderly independent care facility near downtown Salt Lake.  A single building, 4 stories high.  I grabbed my laptop and keys and headed inside.

It was dinnertime so all the elderly were sitting in the atrium together, but I headed for the elevator to go up to Pauline's room.  I'd only talked to her on the phone several times, and she seemed about like a 94 year-old women should - a bit cantankerous, entirely untrusting, but really not too bad.

The elevator opens on the 4th floor, and I maneuver through the group of elderly trying to get on.  I walk down the hallway, open to the atrium below, and note that this building really is not very big for the number of people living here.  I guess not much space is needed for one old person living alone, so they are really packed in.  And even the atmosphere feels old.  Outdated paisley carpet.  Yellowing walls.  Maybe it's intentionally antiquated for the comfort of the occupants, but it mostly just seems like a constant reminder to me, a beeping alarm clock.  Old.  Old.  Old.

I am dead-ended in the corner of the building, so I turn the other direction, finding Pauline's apartment just to the right.  The door is slightly ajar, so I knock gently, and hear a faint, "come in."

Pauline is sitting at the kitchen table in her white robe, an empty chair opposite of her, just waiting for me.  So I greet her, briefly observe her tiny apartment, and quickly sit down across from her and open my laptop.

Suddenly I'm nervous. 

I'm asking her how her day went.  "Not good," she says.  And she looks at me like I'm clearly missing something.  "I have heart failure, you know."

"eeeehhhh-huh."  Is the sound that comes from me.

I don't know how to approach chronical illness well.  Like, "Oh how terrible!"  As if they need that reminder.  But "oh okay" seems so uninterested.  So I sort of just fidget around while she tells me about it.  And then she begins a very rigorous round of questioning about whether or not I really know how to do taxes.  "You're too young to know how to do them."  "Not all CPA's know what they're doing."  "I don't trust anyone."  And no matter what I say, she replies, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!"

This is just great.

Our attention gradually turns to the tax documents on her kitchen table, and I try to connect to my tax software, but after calling the lobby downstairs, we quickly realize the building only offers wifi in the atrium, where everyone is eating dinner.  Pauline is sad that she didn't know because she doesn't feel suitable to go out.  "Look at me!" she exclaims.

"No, no, it's okay.  We can think of something else," I assure her.  And I tell her, tentatively, because I'm afraid of another round of interrogation, that I think it would be best if I just take the documents, and complete the work at my house.  Then I can bring them back and we can review them.  She continues for awhile on a grand spiel about every person who has ever done her taxes and the errors they made on them, and she's also pretty positive I'm going to get in a horrific crash on the drive home.  I assure her that I'm quite accurate, if I do say so myself, and I also drive just fine too.  Plus, I mean, taxes for the elderly is like.... we should seriously just train the 1st graders of America to do them.  "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!"

So I just bagged the tax agenda all together and asked her what she used to do for a profession.  And before I knew it, we were in a full-fledged conversation like two ladies over lunch.  Laughing ourselves silly.  Sharing about our personal lives.  It was so enjoyable for the both of us.  She is a really sharp-minded lady, and she found me impressive as well.  And she never once shouted again about how she couldn't hear me. 

At one point, she asked if I was dating someone, and I told her that I was.  She tells me to take my time and not let my hormones rush anything.  She tells me about how she was really a pretty thing, and all the boys wanted her.  In football season, she'd go with the football star, but then she'd drop him by spring, so she could go with the basketball star.  "You do that in high school, ya know, because you don't know what you're doing.  You just have hormones." 

After we talk for nearly two hours, I tell her I better get going, and she should get some rest.  As I stand up to leave she yells, "Don't let the hormones take over!!" I nod my head in agreement.  Because we can't have that.  Then I tell her I'll see her soon and head back out onto the blue paisley carpet.

New friends come in funny places.  And I am very very glad I met and spent the evening with that white-haired Pauline Allen.

Upward and onward,

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Sacred Saturday Time

23 March 2015

"Take it all back. Life is boring, except for flowers, sunshine, your perfect legs. A glass of cold water when you are really thirsty. The way bodies fit together. Fresh and young and sweet. Coffee in the morning. These are just moments. I struggle with the in-betweens. I just want to never stop loving like there is nothing else to do, because what else is there to do?"

~ Pablo Neruda

Every week, I take 2 hours on Saturday morning to work out and go for a run with no time constraints, no interruptions, no stress.  It's Sacred Time just for me.

After working out this morning, I ran up into the foothills, and while still plugged into my headphones, I danced up and down the streets.  I was in such a shameless and free mood, and the sun was shining, and the pink spring trees were blooming.  I felt so good.

I walked by all the gorgeous million dollar homes in the foothills.  I'd like to rummage through their things.  Because I feel like wealth polarizes you, attained either through an empty pursuit of money, or by very conscious refinement and wise focus.  I'm curious about those sorts of people.

Then, I thought about walks I used to take in my childhood, and how I'd collect everything I found in the streets, filling up my hands with as much as I could hold, and then bringing it home to put in an ice cream bucket in my garage.  All my little treasures.  Of which my favorite were these tiny, thin metal sticks that I believed were old magic wands.  Still not sure what they are, but they're in the streets everywhere.  Leave it to me to be the connoisseur of gutter crap.

Then I thought about how I used to think I could turn myself into a mermaid.  I believed this with my whole heart, and I would perform little routines in the bathtub that I believed so strongly would transform my legs into a beautiful tail.  Sing up into the faucet, and then turn on my bum three times.  Nope, still have legs.  Try another one.  Lay on my stomach and splash, and then stretch up my arms and hum.  Nope, still have legs.  Once I got tired of a succession of these mermaid rituals, I'd climb out of the tub, with still the same amount of vigor, and be on my way to my next busy body thing, until I came back and tried to transform again.

In the middle of my childhood daydreams, I got an email from my cousin Lisa.  She always makes me feel so alive and seen.

What's funny is I felt so discontent and unable to rest last night, until I wrote you. You are the most real person I know Chantel. You never tell me it's wrong to think or feel a certain way. When life is good, you encourage me with excitement.  When life is hard, you love and accept me.  When I come to you with difficult pieces of me.. You don't get scared and freeze up and then spout off "Sunday school answers".. You help me know that I'm understood. 

Then I thought about how emotional intelligence is one of my greatest strengths.  And I'm very proud of that.  My thoughts continued drifting until I arrived back home.

A most happy morning.  So happy for my Sacred Time each week.

Upward and onward,

The little busybody.   With evidence of said business on her legs.

Let my idols fall

Yesterday morning I had such a good study, reading outside on our back patio couch, extending my legs in the warm sun.  

Recently, I've been struggling to find purpose with the scriptures.  The stories have grown so familiar to me, so lately I check back in after blankly reading a couple pages.  And I can't seem to match the concepts to the themes happening in my life.  But after continually trying for some meaning to come, today I was filled with a more general insight that bridged the gap in my deficiency of purpose.

The scriptures are simply meant to keep me aligned daily with the most important things.  Reminding me that my ultimate quest is to elevate to Christ's level.  Becoming such a person as He.  Needing only to be relevant to things of eternal nature.  Widening the doorway of seeing through a spiritual understanding.  Washing away everything else.  Letting my idols fall.  My cares for things of no matter.  My time spent on things of no value.  And I feel better.  I am better.

So I'd like to study with a simple phrase in my mind as I read, reminding me of my great purpose in this little span of reading time:

Let my idols fall.

Upward and onward,

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An illumuniated mind

18 March 2015

Last night, I went to the temple, and it was one of the most powerful nights I've had there.  I'm still pulling my thoughts back to the evening and soaking in the lingering peace and joy.  I truly truly love this Gospel.

With the shift in my job, I feel so at rest, causing me to regain breath so deeply.  Especially spiritually
And last night through my whole temple session, my internal rest only seemed to swell.  My gratitude intensifying, growing teary-eyed each time heaven made sense to me in a new way, or my mind brushed across Ryan, my life, or my family.  Then I moved to the celestial room and poured out my thankful heart in one of the most joyfully concentrated prayers that has ever flowed from me.  My many thoughts of thank couldn't be spoken fast enough, and I tumbled through so many of them. My feelings towards everything and everyone was abundant.  No trying to wrestle a bad situation into a hopeful perspective or my next-step plan.  Everything was in such a state of completeness just as it was.  Everything was right and full and at rest.  My life and myself was fully consecrated.

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wildflower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour."

--William Blake

Upward and onward,

Also, another important thing to not. While I was drafting this post last night, I was eating popcorn in my bedroom. I noticed a little white speck on my carpet near me. Naturally, I assumed it was a piece of popcorn, so I ate it. 

On the contrary, it was a piece of my deodorant. 

As I was walking into the temple.

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A Miracle Morning Professional | & Tour of Oakwood

14 March 2015

This week in the land of workdom....

The CFO came to visit for a day.  I loved meeting her.  a HER.  I've never met a female CFO before.  Sure, they're out there by plenty.  But I went to lunch with her and had her tell me her entire career pathway.  She and I shared a lot of the same desires for the accounting pathway. And then I observed her demeanor in our 4 hour meeting.  She was direct, but calm.  Smart, but approachable.  I didn't take my eyes of her and watched her every move. and noted every question she asked.  It was the quickest 4-hour meeting I've ever sat through.

I also had to drive us to lunch, and as she was getting in my car, I quickly grabbed a paper off the ground.  My urine custody form that I had to take for background checks.  Here, lady.  That right there says I own my pee.  

By way of other non-secreting news, this was probably one of the most fulfilling weeks of my career.  I built SO many reports, showing our gross profit on every home sold, and then they were all put into a three inch binder, and then the CFO, President, Vice Presidents, Controller, and other important people, and myself sat around a table for 4 hours and talked about them.  And after this final review, they go on to the Board and our investors.  And I produced them.  Isn't that cool? 

And, listened to lots of podcasts while I work.  LOVED this one.  Realize I've been doing the morning miracle all on my own, as I've been getting up as early as 5 am to workout, meditate, and set my intentions for the day.

Also been walking the streets of Sugarhouse and talking with Rachel a lot.  I LOVE getting to know her and becoming a part of her family.  We've also discussed some really deep principles like order and focus. 

A good week!  Below, a tour of my work, including the CRAZY back hallway.  I seriously feel like I'm tripping each morning I walk up the stairs to my desk....

Upward and onward,


An update on another week in the neon-orange office chair

I finished my second week of work at the new job.

The first week sailed by on this cloud of novelty and awe, breezing between excitement and nerves.  And this week was still comparably bright and eager, as I settled in with some new friends, particularly a girl just older than me who works in marketing.  We spent a lot of time discussing her recent trip to Puerto Rico, breaking down this last season of The Bachelor, and sharing the mayhem of caddy old men at our last jobs, laughing at the irony that the office drama was produced from, in fact, the opposite stereotype expected.  I am actually more shy than I wish to be at this new job, as I mostly just offer friendly conversations in one-on-one settings, and merely observe in the crowds.  I guess that's pretty true to my character actually. All the many sales ladies have taken a liking to me, as well as a motherly lady at the office named Teresa.  Think she'd like it if I indeed called her Mother Teresa?

That's another thing about this job that I find fascinating - the women.  I counted and the total number of women working in our office far exceeds the number of men.  Which I am interested to see how I grow from the feminine professional influence.  To a smaller point, they are are so trendy and primed, and I quite enjoy observing the changes of their look and outfits each day. 

Some other notable pieces from this week:

Monday, my boss asked me to query some information for him right at the end of the day.  After quickly finishing the report, he thanked me for staying late and said that he thinks that I'm really good with pivot tables, so he pushes that part of his work onto me now.  I went home feeling on top of the world that at one aspect of my work, I'm already stronger than my boss.  I had two goals coming into this:  1) prove my value to the company as fast as possible.  2) find a personal bit of each co-worker to connect with.  I'm faring well with both so far.

Tuesday after work, I went to a Body Talk therapy session because I've been having many strained feelings towards my last job.  I walked out with an 80 lb. punching bag.  Sharla's husband kindly loaded it into my trunk, and Sharla hugged me and handed me a bag of pink boxing gloves to help me get out the frustration.  This is good.

Wednesday I wore a cute collared black blouse, and when I went to the bathroom at 5:00 before heading home, I realized the back was entirely sheer, and thus my garment top and bra strap had a full day to make acquaintance with my new office.

Shortly later, after I arrived home, carrying my heels as I walked down the street to my house, the VP who I've been working with everyday on a company project, screeched on his breaks right next to me.  The oddity of his child attending a catholic school right by my house. 

Thursday I was introduced to the CEO before our all-hands meeting, and despite researching all the executives on the internet before I joined this company, I failed to recognize him.  So, I responded, in front of other important people, "Are you a sales rep?"  Good thing he's good-natured and just laughed.  I texted Katie in Indiana to confess that I am basically coming to work naked and insulting the most important people here, SO HOW DO I BREAK THIS CURSE BECAUSE TOMORROW IS FRIDAY THE 13TH???  But Ryan told me not to worry about the CEO and think of it like making a memorable impression, rather than just a dry introduction. 

Later in the day, I sat in the conference room with The President, after James (the stalking VP) and I presented our business plan to him.  He was pleased.  Then he and I remained in the conference room longer after the meeting, as I inquired about the goals and differentiation of this company, and he told me all about his strategy and ways he's leading this company to be the best home-builder in Utah in the next 12 months, sharing all his methods  like "daily focus," "even flow."  I rigorously took notes and felt like I was soaring.  Very inspiring.  And then I realized we were wearing the same shirt - thin-blue-pinstripes. 

And finally, Friday the 13th.  My clothes were opaque, no one followed me home, I didn't insult anyone, and I didn't dress like The President.  Though, due to still being on training crutches, my lack of independence greatly exhausted me.  And I questioned whether I have the stamina and enthusiasm for a whole new career trajectory.  What if it's my due time to become a school librarian and read books aloud to mobs of children, using exaggerated voices for the characters, and turning the pages with suspense?  Because I so loved those librarians and that special reading time in my childhood and it's only a matter of time before I retire my vocation to be one.

Upward and onward,


Working tirelessly on the business plan with James - he left the room for a call.

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And in the words of Warsan Shire...

09 March 2015

“I belong deeply to myself”

“It's not my responsibility to be beautiful. I'm not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.”

“You want me to be a tragic backdrop so that you can appear to be illuminated, ... You think I’ll be the dark sky so you can be the star? I’ll swallow you whole.”

“and you tried to change didn't you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him traveling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can't make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.”

“the year of letting go, of understanding loss. grace.
the year of humanity/humility. when the whole world couldn’t get out of bed. 
the year i broke open and dug out all the rot with own hands. 
the year of sugar, everywhere. softness. sweetness. honey honey.
the year of being alone, and learning how much i like it. 

the year i made peace and love, right here.” 

“make love
like you have no
like you’ve
never been
never been
like the world
don’t owe you a

“later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?
it answered

“fit in here, in my palm, in my shadow, don’t be bigger than my idea of you, don’t be more beautiful than i can accept, don’t be more human than i am willing to allow you to be and be quiet, you’re too loud, even your un-belonging is loud. quiet your dreams, your voice, your hair, quiet your skin, quiet your displacement, quiet your longing, your colour, quiet your walk, your eyes. ... why aren’t you shrinking? i think of you often. you vibrate. you walk into a room and the temperature changes. i lean in and almost recognise you as human. but, no. we can’t have that.” 

“Not everyone is okay with living like an open wound. But the thing about open wounds is that, well, you aren’t ignoring it. You’re healing; the fresh air can get to it. It’s honest. You aren’t hiding who you are. You aren’t rotting. People can give you advice on how to heal without scarring badly. But on the other hand there are some people who’ll feel uncomfortable around you. Some will even point and laugh. But we all have wounds.”

“The sun is perfect and you woke this morning. You have enough language in your mouth to be understood. You have a name, and someone wants to call it. Five fingers on your hand and someone wants to hold it. If we just start there, every beautiful thing that has and will ever exist is possible. If we start there, everything, for a moment, is right in the world.”

“At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.” 

“If it’ll keep my heart soft, break my heart every day.”

“But sometimes your light attracts moths and your warmth attracts parasites. Protect your space and energy”

“Perhaps, the problem is not the intensity of your love, but the quality of the people you are loving.” 

Upward and onward,


Taking the new job in stride

04 March 2015


Today is my 3rd day of the new dig.  I got up at 5:45, worked out, chatted with Kersti in the kitchen, and then took my favorite, MOST BEAUTIFUL, drive to work.  Driving down into Cottonwood Canyon, right as the sun peaks over the mountains, driving past my favorite glowing business complex, seeing raised American flags in the wind.  Love. 

This job feels so right to me.  I don't want to get started on all the reasons I needed to get out of my last job or I fear I will consume the entire bandwidth of the internet.  But to capstone the gist -  my last job was increasingly chaotic.  Complicated and frantic and on demand 24/7, and the work was tedious and shallowly insistent, with no clear expectation or plan or future opportunity.  And management...  HAHAHA! So I became sporadic in search of something outside of work to fulfill me since my job wasn't doing the trick.

But THIS job is simple and concise.  I'm pulled in one clear direction, at one location, with tasks that I find exciting and advancing.  Getting my nerdy back on!  Also, I can already tell I'm good at the work, and I'm really liking this industry.  Love.  (The job switch reminds me of this article).

Other bits of my life at Oakwood - Since this is a custom home-building company, everything is pristinely decorated.  Even the bathrooms are luxurious!  EXCEPT, the back stairway. After snickering at it during my first-day tour, I was informed that the CEO in Denver has a friend who is a graffiti artist and she came out to paint this.  WHY???  It's like, Lisa Frank started a Stampin Up back alley gang.  (I'll give a photo tour someday). 

Also, the CEO is super into health, so all of our personal fitness expenses are half reimbursable and the kitchen is stocked daily with fresh fruit.  LOVE.   Also, we get "Oakwood Bucks" anytime we work out or volunteer in the community, and we can redeem them for vacation days or cash.  They are fake bills with an absurdly large image of our CEO's face right in the middle.   HA!!  It's so fantastic.  Double love.

Also, popular pop and country music play from the overhead speakers all day long.   Dance parties in my head to Beyonce and Justin Timerberlake while I calculate the costs of homes?  DON'T MIND IF I DO!

And finally, Ryan gave me a blessing the night before I started this job.  I've never done that before - the day-before blessings. But I felt like I needed one because the end of my last job left me slightly traumatized.  I was blessed with the ability to learn quickly, and I can really feel that!  This is my first time working in the home construction industry, but I understand things without even needing to be taught.  I just KNOW stuff miraculously and everything makes sense to me.  It's way cool!! The blessing also reassured me that this is a much better path for me, and I will be highly valued and grow a lot here in the next steps of my career.  :)

All in all, I'm so so SO happy with this new opportunity for me. 

Drinks on the house!  From your faucet in your own home.

Upward and onward,

Also, make sure to scroll down for old posts that I've finally published!

The view of my drive to work.
Because first day photos matter.

A little surprise I found when I pulled out my filing drawer.  I ate it.  

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