Monday, August 31, 2015

Spa Ha Moment: Weekend Warrior

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The weekend started with a haircut. 

My frazzled ends were begging to go, their texture turning bush-like each day. I held off on an appointment hoping I could make it six months between cuts, but finally succumbed to their ardent begging for attention.

"Just a slight trim," I told Erica (sometimes called Hairica). I've never reached that "I have long hair" moment in my entire life, and I want to get there before I turn 40. In the meantime I dream of shoulder-length waves and showering without the masses of clumps left-over in the basin.

Before she cuts my hair Erica gives me a proper head-and-neck massage with oils. As she did so I closed my eyes and said to myself, How will we get through this weekend? And that's when I had a vision of me, Sunday night, my feet on the jets of my hot tub vibrating and correcting the inevitable pain, the full moon spilling out into the silvery water. That's how I am going to get through this weekend, that moment.

After the hair cut I buzzed over the Rec Center for our first annual Mayor's Night at the Rec Center. We had planned a huge party to celebrate the community's raising of funds for the homeless. We have a considerable population of people who have steady incomes and stable lives but cannot afford first and last month's rent and therefore live in motels. With the money we raised we would give them the security deposits for affordable housing and get them into their own place.

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photo Justin Hackworth
It was a beautiful evening. The pools were glowing in the night, DJ Skratchmo was phenomenal, the VIPs loved the food at the catered dinner, the food trucks made things festive, the United Way continued to receive donations as the guest poured in. We met some of the people we were helping and celebrated together at midnight when the mayor wrote a check for $40,129 and balloons with LEDs dropped from the ceiling to a large cheer and applause.

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I crawled into bed at about one o'clock. Christopher patted me on the back, "Great party!" he mumbled.

"Great party," I returned.

The next morning Christopher was off helping a neighbor with his deteriorating front porch, the kids congregated in my bed until I was kicked out. I went downstairs to start a simple syrup with peaches I retrieved from my friend Joy's peach tree collection. The idea was to make peach lemonade for my niece's Lindsay's bridal shower, but it proved harder than I thought. When Christopher came home I sent him back out for mint and lemons, asking him to hurry because I was out of time.

While he was out Ever and I got ready for the occasion (she doesn't leave the house without lipstick these days) and I picked out something that could hide the sweat I was dripping. When the entire drink was made I realized I couldn't heft the container without it spilling all over me. Christopher hauled it out to the car and taped it closed with masking tape. I was starting to worry that we were going to be embarrassingly late. When we pulled up there were no cars around.

We were an hour early.

I hoisted the container in myself with nothing but a prayer. So we helped set things up, frosted cookies (which also ended up on my dress) and advised on the decor. By the time the party started I was covered in frosting and peach lemonade and the drink container had jammed and no one could use it anyway.

The shower was nice. I love hanging out with my nieces. I always tell them to wait to get married until 27. They laugh. But I am serious. (That number keeps going up by-the-way.)

Mid-way through the party Ever started complaining her feet hurt and I looked down to see her black party shoes digging into her heels. I ran her home thinking I'd come right back but instead I sat down for a second and fell asleep. When I woke up the party was over. I rushed back and tried to pretend I had been in the bathroom or something. Nobody noticed I was gone anyway. That's the beauty of being a middle child.

After the shower my SIL Lisa and her friend Jake came over to shoot a little promo for her movie ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE for my new Instagram series called IN HOT WATER WITH C. JANE. Getting in the water reminded me of my vision--and I remembered Sunday night was not so far off.

Christopher's family came down that night and we had dinner together at our house. I was slightly embarrassed because 1.) there was a mix up and we thought they were coming Sunday evening and 2.) our carpets had just been cleaned so there was furniture in the kitchen and everywhere and the house looked like it had been raided by pirates. We cleaned off a few spaces so we could put plates down.

By Saturday night was in a foul mood. I think because I didn't get a nap. Introverts gotta have those naps. I fell asleep on the couch. That's the worst.

Sunday morning I was determined to set everything straight again. I started cleaning and organizing. I left the kids to the TV and I resolved not to feel an ounce of guilt about it. I had planned to go to church but I was making so much progress I couldn't be stopped. We divided and half of us went to church and the other half of us watched tv/pulled couches and rugs all morning long. I won't bore you with the dozens of hazards and personal injuries I endured that morning, but my house is completely redone. So the bruises are medals of domestic honor, I guess.

We finished the main level just as our guests were coming for dinner. I pulled out everything in my fridge and made salads and dips right by Christopher who made his mashed potatoes and three kinds of meat. The girls helped me set tables and pick lavender for center pieces. At the last minute I ran upstairs and threw on a bra. One thing Martha Stewart will never tell you is this: putting on a bra is the actual final touch. (Wink!)

By that moment my body hurt so badly I could hardly move. My feet were not having it. I miscalculated by two how many guests we were going to have and so Christopher and I ate on the lounge couch in the Green Room. It was fortunate. I ate with my feet up.

"In a couple hours we're going to be in the hot tub," my husband whispered to me. Not only did he make most of the dinner, he also worked as a laborer in my field (so to speak) for most of the day. He was feeling it too.

We had apple pie and ample discussion. We talked about Idaho, BYU and the people you avoid when you go to church (the nosy neighbor, for one). Our kids played in and out of the house dodging rain showers. The newly returned missionary did the dishes. That's what I am talking about.

When everyone was packing up to go home our kids melted down one-by-one. We tucked them into bed with haste, I'll admit. Ever couldn't sleep with excitement about finally starting school. When everyone was asleep and the house was dark Christopher and I slipped out into the hot tub just as the full moon was climbing over Y Mountain.

And just as I promised myself, I put my feet on those jets and just sat there listening to the hum of the motor make bubbles on my skin. Silence. Relax. THE MOMENT I HAD BEEN WAITING FOR!

The light of the moon illuminated everything in a blue glow and I sat there like I was lunar tanning for awhile until my mind clicked back on.

REMEMBER it said: Ever starts kindergarten tomorrow, the mayor's speech is due first thing, items for the staff meeting in the morning, the Rooftop meeting at 1pm, coordinate details with Carina for her campaign, pack the kids for the weekend in Midway at the Sheepdog Championship, choose something to wear for the wedding, write something for the StartFest panel on Tuesday, touch back with hair and make up team because OH YES you're throwing a concert for thousands of people with one of the biggest DJ's in the world Kaskade on Friday.

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"I gotta get out," I said to Christopher abruptly. "I need to get to sleep."

But we'll always have that fifteen minutes in the hot tub with the full moon and the jets buzzing at my feet and nothing but silence and a healthy head of fresh cut hair.

Until next weekend...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday at Josie's

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First draft.
In the red, dusty belly of Dinosaur National Monument underneath expansive cottonwoods, surrounded by echo chambered box canyons and swampy lizard pits, sits the homestead of frontierswoman Josie Bassett Morris. A wood cabin with windows and floors made of powdery dirt rests in the shade next to a lawn of feeble grass and a remnant of a chicken coop. We made ourselves at home in the cove, pulled out a picnic blanket, made a spread of snacks, pausing to read the warning signs left there by the Park Service: BEWARE OF BEARS. THEY WILL EAT YOUR FOOD.

My girls in particular are inspired by this spot. They pretend to be Josie going in an out of the cabin, tending to the once-viable vegetable garden and following the rocky trails leading out to where the cattle would be. Their imagination mingles with the plaques we read about how Josie, living alone after having married five times and divorcing four, spent her seasons, eating canned food in the winter and decorating her cabin with wildflowers in the summer.

The sky turns dark and Erin looks up to the tops of the shaky trees, "We should stay in the cabin. It looks like it's going to rain." 

Christopher is napping on the blanket. The baby is buzzing around like the dragonflies we see by the pond. Anson wants to go back to the car and play on his phone. I feel a desire to hike into a box canyon and when I go out to explore a trail Ever and Erin follow me with bare feet.

"Where did you put your shoes?" I asked them.

But before they answer it starts to rain. We take cover underneath some trees but the rain turns into a downpour. It wakes Christopher up and he responds by scooping up the baby, the snacks and the blanket in one swoop and retreats to the car.

"Like I said," Erin says with her pointy finger in the air, "we should've stayed in Josie's cabin."

In seconds the sun returns behind steel-colored rainclouds and shines a light on the heavy, plopping rain drops. "This is a sun shower." I say to my girls who follow me back up the mud trail to the cabin.  Everything is bright and wet. 

Across gravel road is a trailhead leading through a patch of trees. I can't see where it leads but I rally my family and after a change of socks and shoes and a promise to Anson that we would leave after exploring for a bit, we all head single file up the path. The baby is shuffling right along with us, her toddler bow makes her gait a bit more like the dinosaurs we saw back in the museum than a two-legged human. Christopher spots a long-eared rabbit and tries to catch a scuttling lizard. We see more dragonflies and swat at bugs swirling around our heads and feet. Pretty soon the trees give way to a majestic orange canyon, walled in by eighty foot walls of white rock. My kids take off before me to boulder and rock climb. The rocky trail turns into soft sand and we find a spot to sit in this desert paradise.
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This is home to me. The canyon walls stained by water run-off during flash floods and spring thaw look as much like my origins as my gabled room on Fir Avenue. I think about Josie's practical and genius idea to corral her cattle in these box canyons--saving time and money by eschewing fences. I think about her resolution to live a decidedly non-traditional lifestyle. I think about all that time she had to work and be alone here with her horses and cows and wildflowers.

Being alone is such a hot commodity to me, it always has been, but lately with growing children and a lifestyle full of human interactions I find myself daydreaming of canyons of silence, a cabin of quiet. Not forever, but just for an afternoon, or a lunch break, or an hour before I fall asleep at night.

Anson is unhappy and let's me know. I sling the baby onto my shoulders and tell the others we'll meet them back at the car. We run down some of the way and end up at the bottom reading another posting about mountain lions: BEWARE OF MOUNTAIN LIONS. THEY WILL ATTACK YOU.

As we drive away I think about how I can teach my children to be like Josie. I want them to live a life  of self-sustainability, certainly, but also a life void of fear: of being alone, of transcending gender expectations, of abandoning hurtful traditions, of following their hearts, of bears, mountain lions, bare feet and the occasional sunshower.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spa Ha Moment: Romance in the Rain

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This month Christopher and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage. Marriage is a funny thing, you can't expect that the person you married will be the same as the person you wake up to thirteen years later. You're constantly getting to know your spouse because they're constantly changing/growing/learning new things.  I feel like we're both pretty different than we were thirteen years ago. And for the record I'd just like to say we're better. BUT WHO KNOWS.

One thing that really works for me in our marriage is that we somehow continue to up the ante on the romance. If we didn't do this sort of thing I believe four kids, two careers, a dozen side projects and Netflix would probably suck the life out of our marriage.

For our ten year anniversary we flew to NYC and did a food tour vacation. The only reason we could afford to do that is because Christopher is rich in Marriott and Delta frequent flier miles. When we were staying in the Marriott Marquee I thought about all those nights I bathed and put four little children to bed all by myself while Chup was in Orlando (or somewhere) working and let me tell you something, I really enjoyed that stay in NYC.

But I don't think upping the ante in marriage has to be a fancy trip somewhere. Christopher and I are always looking for something new to try. I'll spare you the details (UNLESS YOU WANT THEM?). A couple months ago we left our kids with my inlaws and drove out into the Idaho desert late at night to go dip in some hot springs under a full moon. That kind of stuff is good. It's goooood.

So the other night as we were celebrating out thirteen years together it started to pouring outside. There was also a magnificent distant lightning storm like a giant brigade of paparazzi in the sky. (You loved that sentence.)(So did I.) The kids were all in bed and we watched the spectacle from our front room for a while until I said to Chup, "Let's go get in the hot tub in the rain!" And he said, "I'll get my giant umbrella."

And so for about two hours we sat in our warm hot tub under a giant umbrella listening to the rain pound our nylon roof as we watched the sky make electric cracks in the clouds. If life can get more romantic than that night please don't tell me because I am not ready for that information right now. The whole night I kept thinking, "Am I swooning? I think I am swooning right now. I think I feel so romanced I am going to pass out. Is that the hot water or is that swoon? I think it's swoon. I AM SWOONING."

So even though Christopher and I are only mere teenagers when it comes to our marriage lifespan, I have to say spontaneity and adventure have never failed us when it comes to the health of our romance. (Also yesterday I was in playing barbies with my daughters when my husband walked by in jeans and sandals, and may I just say jeans and sandals also do quite nicely?)

Dear Chup, here's to thirteen more!

Thanks Bullfrog Spas!
Photo by Justin Hackworth

Monday, June 29, 2015

God Bless America!

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This weekend I judged the Battle of the Bands at Provo's most renowned music venue Velour. In between sets a man came up to me and told me this story:

"Eight years ago I left Provo angry and insulted. I felt like I didn't fit in and I would never fit in. After a few years in California, I started to notice things changing in Provo. I decided I'd come back and visit and I went to my first Rooftop Concert Series and saw Joshua James. Joshua James wasn't what I expected at all from a concert in Provo. I was amazed that someone like him--a seemingly "outsider" in Provo's culture would be given space on stage. If anyone had done that when I lived in Provo they wouldn't have lasted very long in the concert business. This opened my eyes and I realized that maybe Provo was finally a safe place for someone like me to move back."

This was an important moment for me. Our goal with the concert series was to bring people to downtown Provo to experience art and culture. Our intention has always been to first and foremost put on a great show, regardless of the performer. I mean, we never discuss the performers belief structure or sexuality before we let them on our stage. We do spend a lot of time contemplating concert dynamics and line ups. But it has been a pretty amazing thing to see that something we never intended to happen is happening: Provo is becoming safer for everyone.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a group in Highland with the spiritual spitfire Fiona Givens about faith when someone asked brought up the high teenage suicide rate in North Utah County. I asked the people in the room--mostly all white, Mormon, conservative parents--what they were doing to show range in their community. In our massive monoculture in Utah County we unintentionally make people feel there is only one way to live a life. We don't cater to those outside the cultural confines of what we deem acceptable and in doing so we suffocate any little diversity we have. I think our teenagers feel like their lives will be useless if there are hints of fringe inside their souls.

I felt that way growing up here. I know what it's like to be an angry teenager in Utah County.

I've been a church youth leader many times. I've gone to Young Women's camps and youth conferences and hundreds of youth activities. I've spent hours listening to young women talk about their lives and their complications. But I feel like I am doing more for the youth of my community when I get up on that Rooftop stage and introduce people and music to them that conveys that everyone is ok in Utah County. The gay pop star, the atheist rapper, the mom indie folk chanteuse, the bishop drummer, the non-binary bass player, the returned missionary at the keyboards, the former Mormon songwriter, the gospel singer who questions her faith, they all fit on our stage and they should all fit in our community as well.

(And every single time I get up to host these concerts I have to call my friend/therapist Janna and have her remind me that's it's also ok for these youth to see a woman (me) who doesn't fit into accepted body standards get up on stage and be confident. And she always reminds me that we need to stand up and let the youth see women of all sizes on our stage. Thankfully the more I see women in my life confident with their bodies the easier it is for me to host this concert series.)

So this weekend when we were celebrating the Supreme Court decision with rainbows and tears I was also keenly aware that while we have A LOT of work to do to help everyone--from sexuality to race--feel accepted in our community, culture, county and country (alliteration not intended) things are getting better and it was nice to celebrate the progress.

Last night before I went to bed I saw a Facebook update of a friend who grew up understanding the complications of not being mainstream. She posted a picture of her two kids who will inevitably feel the same way. But her words were hopeful: I'm grateful that these two are growing up in a world that is getting more accepting of differences.

Amen and amen.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Down on the Rooftop

It's crazy to me that a couple years ago, thanks to this cute blog here, we started a concert series downtown Provo and it grew and grew and grew so much we had to move it off our rooftop location on the street below.

Who knew blogs could start a concert series and change communities?

Well now you know.

If you're going to be around for the biggest night in Provo--July 3rd--please come! This might be our biggest show ever. We'd love to have you there too. And plus my favorite band is playing. I love them. I've never been shy about that.

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