Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spa Ha Moment: Romance in the Rain

 photo 20150604_7889_zpsbylwafsk.jpg
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!

 photo 20150605_8552_zpssyycwawd.jpgWarning this might be a diatribe post but I want to say it.

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.

 photo unnamed_zpsolfrplrq.jpg

Monday, June 22, 2015

Spa Ha Moment: How I Got A Hot Tub

 photo 5a4ff356-61fe-441b-ac2b-f246498642c1_zps63xgvnxe.jpg

So I got a hot tub--a spa they call it.

It started earlier this year with some silly tweets about me wanting a hot tub. I pledged I could be a better writer if I had a place to sit and think. Also, I just really wanted a hot tub and I won't be able to afford that kind of luxury for a LONG time. Maybe ever.

Some of my friends on twitter started to get in on the conversation with clever responses and before I knew it there was a hashtag and an inside joke.

But then one morning I woke up to find that my friend Scott had actually tweeted @bullfrogspas and said "You should give C Jane a hot tub" AND THEY HAD RESPONDED. Bullfrog Spas is a local company here in Utah that ships luxury, energy-efficient hot tubs all over the world. I have loved their company for many many MANY years.

Suddenly my dream of having a hot tub was in reach! I couldn't believe it. I ran throughout my house squealing. Like a pig. Like a pig who was maybe going to get a hot tub.

After a few attempts at proving I would be a great candidate for a spa, Jake (my new best friend) from Bullfrog contacted me and said he had read my blog and thought we could work something out. The best part is that he wanted to give me a spa so I could be inspired to write more. (Two things activate the writing center in my brain: walking and sitting in a tub.)

I promised I would write once a month for a year in a series I will call (are you ready?) SPA HA MOMENT (get it?). The series purpose is to use this amazing gift as a means to becoming more relaxed and thoughtful in a lifestyle that is overwhelming and mind-melting (literally, I think I can prove it).

I feel a little embarrassed at my luck here. I keep saying to myself, For ten years I cultivated a blog and wrote my guts out! It's ok to have a hot tub to self-congratulate! And I pledge to be a responsible spa writer and write about the issues that are meaningful and relevant!

But I wasn't exactly convinced of my worthiness until the morning after it was delivered and we filled it up and let it heat over night. I woke up early, slipped out of my bedroom door outside and jumped in to my spa to watch the sun crawl over the mountain in my backyard.

I've never felt more luxurious in my life. And I thought, I am just going to live this up.

But in total disclosure the hot tub has taken on a life of its own in our family. It's like we got a dog. It gets petted and groomed and fed. The kids do all their morning jobs just for the reward of getting in and splashing around (we keep it on the cool side for summer). Right after we got it Chup did something wretched to his back and now every night he soaks for an hour or so putting the jet technology to good use. I made him get a water case for his iPhone so I could check on him from my bedroom on the other side of the wall. He cares for it like an aquatic lover and I suppose there has been some jealousy on my behalf (okay?). Cousins, neighbors, friends all pile in for special social hours. We've never been so popular.

 photo 6a257022-9f14-4315-a5e3-e7b0b15f7867_zpsqni8xejv.jpg
I don't think I've been in it by myself for more than ten minutes. But that's ok. That's my life right now. You do what you can.

Let's just hope I start writing some masterpieces here or I am in trouble. It won't be the first time I've oversold myself (to be honest).

Thanks Jake and team from Bullfrog Spas. I love you. I seriously mean that.

 photo 2DBC9305-EA18-4351-8CF4-FAF99CC1D6C6_zpssxtutuwh.jpg

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ode to Chup

This is Christopher Erin Kendrick:

 photo 20150604_7995_zpspj8fo8ma.jpg

I am his wife: photo 20150604_7901_zpsdjd91vfd.jpg
 photo 20150604_7854_zps1nbffgvg.jpg

These are our children: photo 20150604_7734_zpsptgnhmdu.jpg

And because Sunday is Father's Day we want to salute him:

I had anticipated a life of domesticity and tradition--Chup would head to work each morning with a kiss and a hug from the ranks of our posterity, and from me. I would spend the day corralling and cleaning up after babies who morph into children and teenagers. The lines were so clear for me growing up. I married my husband pledging to procreate for the benefit of our future.
But five years of infertility curtailed our plans and our relationship was greatly shaped by our empty nest. I realized I had some aspirations that I didn't suspect--namely writing and I was somewhat surprised to see that my husband was excited by my output.
By the time our bodies had somehow worked out a fertile solution (it just took practice?) we had a solid understanding that Chup wasn't intent on necessarily following cultural expectations of marriage. Instead, I felt he was willing to try new ways of living for the sake of our development.
After a few attempts to trust him, we finally worked out a system where he would work part of the time and stay home with the children part of the time. I worried incessantly that it would drive him crazy to be at home. I worried for everyone involved. I just didn't have an open enough mind to believe that men could care for the home and hearth with happiness and patience.
I am sorry for my ignorance. Men are capable of nurturing with the best of women.
Chup has become more than just a figure who passes in and out of our home on his way to and from work. He is integral in our patterns and schedules. He shuttles the children to day camps and doctors appointments. He's the designated family medic and medicine man. The baby calls for him from her crib every morning for a routine snuggle in the crook of his arms. He seeks out the one who cries in the night with a flashlight next to his bed and sympathy in his heart. On the days I go to work I kiss him goodbye knowing my children will be cared for with earnest intent for the entire day. This is an incredible privilege I know, one I try very hard not to take for granted.
His dedication to my happiness is phenomenal. He makes space in our family for me to be me-he fiercely guards my creative and quiet time. He encourages me to take care of myself. He realizes my endeavors--from writing and work, to community involvement and the slight sociality I have in me--make me a better wife and mother and he defends the time I need for it all.
Our life here in our mid-century modern home on the east bench isn't all rose-colored and perfect. Chup and I pretty much constantly discuss all the ways we fall short as parents. Our lifestyle is constantly in flux according to our jobs and money-making opportunities.  We yell sometimes on the fourth reminder to "pick up your shoes" or "stop making your sister cry" or "why is the toilet overflowing?!" and we've been known to go hiding up in our room for a ten minute lock of the door and regrouping. Our mantra is: this work is harder than we thought it would be.
But at night when the children are sleeping and the fans are blowing the hot air off their crumpled bodies, we meet on the couch downstairs for Netflix and maybe some sort of chocolate decision. He usually rubs my back while I knead his feet and we sign up for a full check out. Together. Sometimes we fall asleep side by side and usually he's the first to wake up and softly encourage us both to get into our proper bed.
And when the sun pops up over Y Mountain into our bedroom we start again--the baby with her bedhead of blonde curls leaps to Chup's side and Anson declares his early insistence on breakfast. We brace ourselves for another day of work meetings and messes, diapers and dinner, frustration and reconciliation.
What I suspected in my youth about marriage and parenthood has been greatly improved. I've found a system of beneficial consequences, made possible because I married a man who cares not only for our family but for each of us individually. And he cares deeply and long. This life is made possible by his hard work and devotion to our safety, comfort and opportunity.
We are the luckiest.
 photo 20150604_7658_zpshqqpikuo.jpg

Photos by Justin Hackworth