Category Archives: Featured

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”

I wrote this on Mother’s Day  2017 after reading a blogpost about some women and children from the FLDS  polygamous group being evicted for not paying their taxes.  (I don’t know the details of their story, but I do know what it is like to enjoy the illusions of a security that is not mine, have a home ripped away, and then be homeless.)  I was NOT going to post my story because the last thing I need right now are more problems: Will my new employer see this blogpost and think I am a whistle-blower or problem-maker?  Will my manager decide not to renew my lease this summer because of a curl right in the middle of my forehead that swings to the left?  It doesn’t matter.  I have decided that I cannot let fear rule me.  More important than losing my home, is losing my voice. 

At this time, I will not include the business name. However, I will upload documentation from this time period in hopes of helping others take a stand to end discrimination and abuse.  Use Yelp, social media, a blog, go to small claims, or do whatever you have to in order to equal the playing field.  We don’t have to put up with bullies. 

My teenage daughter called me after work saying she could not stop the chirping fire alarm, and that she and Paige, our partially deaf cocker-spaniel, were going crazy with the constant high-pitched chirp.  It was getting in the way of her homework.

I arrived home after buying a new 9-volt battery.  After slipping the battery in, the insidious chirp continued; syncing the other fire alarms in the apartment did not relieve the noise.  I finagled with the fire alarm for a while deciding to walk away rather than smacking it with a broom handle, or pulling the entire system down, stucco and all.  

It was after office hours, so I decided to call the emergency number provided on ————- website.  I knew it wasn’t the usual emergency; a fire or flood, which seldom, if ever, had occurred in the apartments. A chirp later, I decided that the torture of not getting sleep because of the noise might create an emergency.  I remembered that I had been given a business card, and the maintenance man had put his phone number on the back of it.

“Why else would he live on the property and give people his number, unless it was to help residents,” I thought. “Certainly, he would not want us to have a chirping fire alarm.”     

I received no response from either phone call, which in the corporate world means: “You don’t matter.”

Only a few weeks earlier we had been threatened with an eviction.  Five months before that another eviction notice.  I was walking on a tight rope, and didn’t want to trip myself up, or give my manager a reason to trip me out of a home.  Two more years and my daughter would be an adult, and could find a roommate.  Then I could leave.

It wasn’t the noisy fire alarm that was pushing me over the edge, it was everything leading up to the fire alarm, and my body jumping every thirty seconds, as if a gavel was coming down.  The fire alarm represented being pushed out of our home like vermin, or an unwanted criminal being driven out of his hiding place.  I wasn’t either of those.  

“This time I will not be so nice!” I said to myself.

I looked up ———- Management company to find out if there were any other self-help remedies online.  I read the Yelp comments.  I was tempted to write one, but considered the fall out since I was still a tenant.  

On the other hand.

“A complaint on Yelp is not good enough — this deserves a viral video with the fire alarm beeping in the background while I talk,” I said to myself.  So, I pulled out my phone and began videoing a complaint.  

As I looked over the video, years of aging had carved creases and lines into my forehead, my eyes were now sunken, and my once full-eye brows were sparse and crooked.  “God, I look ugly,” I said to myself.  I had lost the glow of my youth.  “No one wants to hear an aging woman rant about a first world problem, especially when she is still dependent on low-income housing,” I thought, as I imagined others scolding me, “It’s better to have a beeping roof over your head than no roof at all.”

As I looked further online, within minutes, I learned how to disconnect the fire alarm without much effort.  

The day after the chirping incident, as I was driving to work there were two contrasting images that appeared.  I remembered, as a child, my mother telling me the story of a little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very-very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.  I looked in the front view mirror at the crease between my brows wondering if that was a curl of indignance, an incorrigible woman.  Or, if my passive-aggressive emotions was me at my wits ends; continuing to place myself in a dependent role where those in authority could try and break me.     

Before the freeway, I turned towards my right, and along the grassy hidden trail next to the lake it appeared to be a wild horse running. As I looked closer, it was a cyclist wearing a brownish-colored shirt, unusual for a cyclist; his back laid flat to the pavement; he was so fast and swift.  I came home that evening and took a bike ride around the lake. This time, I didn’t care about the rusty chain and it’s loud clickety-clack.

 

 

Why I went MIA from my writing post

In 2016, I went missing in action when I deserted my Monday school blogposts.

This was not only due to PTSD (post-polygamy traumatic stress disorder), I was trying to find employment, and transition into the workforce.

The past year has been both interesting and insightfully challenging.

As my daughter recently wrote: “It is a wonderful time to reflect on all of our individual and shared accomplishments from 2016 . . .”

I AM.

After graduating from college, I tried several jobs trying to figure out how to make a sustainable living.  For a while, I was a delivery-person, Uber driver for a short period, tried being a service-provider to elderly, and then decided it would be best to create a band and sing at retirement homes. I recruited family members to help.  I never imagined, for a moment, that elderly folks with hearing aids could detect I was tone-deaf.  I had no clue that I was not on pitch, until my daughter told me. That venture only lasted one night.

By some strange fate or coincidence, at the beginning of last year, I was hired as a behavior interventionist working with autistic children. Something I never imagined doing.

The results: I absolutely love my job. I work with individuals who have difficulty verbally communicating learn to communicate. In many ways, this experience has been a life-changer for me.

To work with autistic children, I had to learn ABA (applied behavior analysis).  Although it was relatively easy to learn, so many changes were occurring during the same period. The first month I got shingles, most likely due from the stress.  It was tough.

I continued to work, and never gave up.

Most days I suffer from anxiety, and I don’t know if I can physically go to work or not, but I do. I never allow the tricks, dark force, temptation, negative energy, or what a behaviorist calls an “aversion” to control me.  Every work day, (yep, every one), I experience dread or a foreboding sensation in my gut, my heart races, and if I know my supervisors are going to be there watching me, I often hyper-ventilate before leaving my home.

Logically, I know if I do not work, I will lose. So, I simply put on my shoes, whether they match or not, and walk out the door.  When I get to work, I love it and wonder why I was ever anxious in the first place.  I wonder why I dislike my bosses watching me when I am happy to see them and receive their support. (It is the strangest phenomenon, and it could be related to knowing how much energy it takes to do my job right).

https://youtu.be/LkFDMVxFAv0

I don’t know why I brought all this up, except to explain that not only have I been busy making changes in my life—a change has occurred in me.  Not only have I touched the lives of others, and have truly participated in communication miracles, my clients and ABA have given me the gift of communication.

We are all unique

Nearly twenty years ago, after leaving polygamy, I was told by a psychologist for vocational rehab that I was intelligent enough to go to a University.  But, in the back of my mind, after leaving his office, I kept wondering if I was so intelligent then why did he help me put the puzzles together that tested my intelligence level.

After polygamy, I tried several times to go back to school, yet my path was never linear; it was a squiggly ride.  It took many more years than I anticipated before getting a degree in sociology and finding a career path.

There were times when taking cognitive psychology, I wondered why a class of over 200 students would see an image or concept one way, while I saw it the opposite way.  After talking to one professor, the only consolation I received was that my experiences validated the exact point she was trying to make — most often our brain and the way we process information is similar—again, most often.  All brains are unique.  No two are the same.

Our individual path

I am so grateful for the path that has been provided, the one I have helped create, so that I can share some recent experiences, and my wild (and brilliant) mind.  I believe in the gift of being healed because I am continually healing.

I was recently explaining to a loved one that my future writings might make some people uncomfortable, especially Mormons. But, nobody is forced to read them. My purpose is not to change or hurt people; it is to support people who believe differently.

I write for myself (the same way I sing to myself), and I post them because I know it helps validate others.

Monday School Blog: GPS to Heaven, please

Welcome to Monday School!  This is where you don’t have to dress up or get out of bed.

Besides being a self-ordained female teacher and believing that females can also lead, there are several other reasons I encourage Monday school.

My lessons will provide:

1) Reasons why you should never put your trust in a Sunday school lesson or any religion that purports to have all the answers—or anyone who says they have all the answers 2) Emphasis on the here and now with earthly rewards and 3) Free-thought.

If there is a heaven, I would like a GPS navigating me.  There are too many religions that believe they have the “true” “one and only” “perfect” map to heaven. I refuse to put my life on hold while I study every religion and set of scriptures out there.  Have you ever had a library of the Journal of Discourses? Read the entire Bible, Torah, Quran?  These scriptures are about men, men, men.  Where are the women?

lots_wife_pillar_of_salt

If I had not grown up in a Mormon family, I could have been a Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Scientologist, Christian, Islamic, or a member of any number of religions. I could have spent my life worshipping a false God and bickering with other people because I thought my religion was best.  Or, I could have remained silent and smug.

Although religion is not for me—it is for some people.  The truth is I get anxious making certain I get to work on time, let alone trying to get to heaven on time or navigating the right path to get there.

As I go through life, I choose and pick teachings from various sources that work for me (last week I picked Weight Watchers). Much of my ethics and lifestyle comes from my Mormon background, and much of my wisdom comes from experience.  Mistakes and all.

I remember as a kid in Sunday school learning the importance of scriptures, and how following the word of God was supposed to guide me to heaven.

My Sunday school teacher compared the scriptures and modern day teachings to a roadmap and signs, and asked her class, “Can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have a map or use stop lights?”

intersection2

All I could imagine was an intersection of colliding cars. I never considered that the stop signs and lights (hateful scriptures I was reading about minorities—including the subjugation of women) were old, and needed replacing.  I never considered that each driver was unique, and may have wanted to use a different route.

As a child, I never contemplated that individuals choose different places to visit and live, and it was perfectly okay to be different.

In early morning family scripture reading, I also remember reading about another journey using the Liahona. This story in the “Book of Mormon” was about Lehi’s family who traveled through the wilderness together with brass plates (important history), so they could reach the Promised Land. The Liahona was a compass given to Lehi from God, which if faithful and obedient guided his family. Some of the family members, the brothers Laman and Lemuel, often acted out and were disobedient. In this particular story, at least the part I remember, one bad apple or unfaithful family member spoiled the rest.  There were treacherous times at sea because when the brothers were rebellious the waters became thrashing waves, nearly drowning the family.  After being humbled and repenting, the sea became calm.  (Finally man was separated by skin color).

liahona

As a young child, the compass story helped reinforce family togetherness, and the importance of God’s chosen sticking together. At a tender age, I never considered that scripture stories could be made-up stories to produce a certain controlled behavior.  I never realized that someday many Mormons, including myself, would walk the plank for asking questions, and not sharing the same testimony.

I can understand—sometimes paths are not the same.  Sometimes forks are in the road, but the path you chose is the right path no matter how hard or difficult.  (I will write about free-agency later).  Regardless, we can still be kind and loving.

The straight and narrow path leading to the tree of life was another map story in the Book of Mormon.  As a child, I believed there was only one way to get to heaven.  I never thought about how my religious leaders, who were telling me how to get to heaven, had never been there themselves.  (Btw: Who hires a tour guide who hasn’t ever been to the spot they advertise?)

narrow path and tree of life

I had always trusted the person leading me. I never considered that the map my teachers were using, the scriptures, were older than a scene from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.  I never considered that my religious leaders, who were supposed to be an updated version of a map, were really caught between two worlds—the old and the new. Plus, they were men holding onto the same archaic ideologies they had been taught.

Though the world is filled with people committing horrific human rights violations—I believe we are not going backwards.  I believe we are continually evolving.

This week I watched this You Tube video from a father who composed a song for his daughters. I love this because it represents moving forwards—not only do we have technology to create music videos for the world to see, which can support cultural diversity and send positive messages to our children, it represents the power we each have to make a difference in this world.

Love Yourself

Youtube Video

Mormon Sunday school taught a message of loving your neighbor as yourself, yet the people we really need to love are often the non-neighbor – “those over there” (poor, homeless, needy,  people that are different, etc..).

There are many contradictions in life.

Last week I started Weight Watchers and I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey.  In fact, I believe she has been very irresponsible when it involves educating the public about polygamy.  No biggie— I will still go to my WW meetings, and look at the Oprah poster on the wall.  (Self-talk) I will separate my personal biases because I don’t have to believe or love everything about Oprah to go to Weight Watchers.  I know the program works.

Likewise, although I am not a Christian, many individuals and families find inspiration from attending church. I went to church a couple weeks ago to listen to some jazz music.  I was grateful for the religious leaders hosting an important event for children, and providing a beautiful venue.  Next month, I am working alongside a church that helps the homeless because I believe in volunteerism and clergy-community action.

There are so many options and choices.

Interesting articles & images this week (topics of future blogposts):

War Criminal

 

 

 

 

Adolf Eichmann

Psychic      Expensive Psychic

Militia

 

Choices and Consequences…..

                                              

 

 

I believe that direction and guidance are very important; part of our human nature is following others.  Unlike many of our non-human friends, we are able to use our cognitive abilities. That is what Monday School is about—learning to control our own life, and not be controlled by others.

M-1441 - MAY 11, 2002 - WALTHAM : Blissfully unaware of traffic, a Canada goose and her young cross busy Winter Street at the intersection of Route 128 , Tuesday afternoon, May 7, 2002 in Waltham, Mass. The very young siblings followed their mother's every move to and from nearby Totten Pond. AP/PTI

Have a nice week!

The Art of Communication: A Messy Work in Progress

Say what you mean and mean what you say, or maybe just keep your mouth and keyboard shut. That is what I have learned this week.

The meaning of words can often be misunderstood because of the gap between giver and receiver.  Sometimes we forget who are audience is, especially when we can’t see them in front of us.  Words can be hurtful, spiteful, manipulative, half-truths, educational, loving, insightful, and everything in-between.

I have a love-hate relationship with words.

This morning I woke up and opened my Facebook, and the first thing I saw was a post from one of my children with the words “Good! Kill those Mother Fuckers!”

I am not so keen on swear words or killing people.  Yet, his words paled in comparison to the shock of finding out the night before that my daughter was going to be baptized into the LDS Church this month.  I didn’t even know that she was interested in joining the LDS Church until this month.  Not even a week to brace myself after learning about the LDS Church, and their new policy to disallow membership for children of gay parents.  I had just been telling a friend there should be public policy created for ALL children of religious parents protecting them from baptism, and here I was changing my own law to include preventing adults from being baptized.

My daughter, and our conversation, went from several jokes back and forth to acceptance.  We realized  that in the end; we are both going to do what we want, so we might as well love each other in spite of our differences.

same bird

Earlier in the day, I had read a threatening e-mail, and watched a video full of lies about me from former polygamist husband #2.  The experience was a mixture of being slightly entertained by watching an actor perform, worrying about malicious intent and terroristic threats, and wondering how much I could win in a law-suit for slander.

To say the least, there have been many mixed emotions within the last 24 hours, and that is where my artwork at the top of this blog post entitled “Words” fits in.  It was created from pieces of earbuds that I found.  During the creation process of bending down on all fours, working with unruly wires, I was reflecting on the theories of B.F. Skinner, and Ivan Pavlov.  These scientists were behaviorists who claimed behavior was a result of negative and positive conditioning (not whisperings or promptings from the Holy Ghost, or Satan; real live human-beings conditioning through the use of actions or words).

This is what happened.

A couple nights ago, my family walked through the front door after a nice evening together.  I immediately noticed two different earphones, with wires completely ripped apart, it was like viewing severed body parts in a double homicide. Panicking, I told my youngest daughter, “Oh no, Misty got them again!”

I quickly hid the electrical appendages behind the television screen before my boyfriend saw them.  This was not the first time our cat had destroyed John’s earphones.  It started out very innocent with a young kitten chasing a string, which gradually resulted in every pair of earphones that were not put away to eventually be destroyed.  (As a mother, it made perfect sense).  Trying to re-train Misty by using feathers, instead of strings, didn’t work because of the prior conditioning.  In fact, if anything, we probably trained her to start chasing birds.  Besides the expense of buying new headphones, I also noticed my boyfriend’s anger escalating with each new chewed pair of ear buds, and gnawed cell phone cord.  So, I wasn’t certain how to deal with the situation.

Since 2007, I have had a boyfriend that has told me to say whatever is on my mind, and so I do.  It has been very therapeutic to be able to speak freely, and for him not to be offended.  Of course, in the public world, it is a different audience, so I use a slightly different communication style.  The not sharing the truth is what made the chewed ear buds situation so uncomfortable.  I didn’t tell him what happened because I feared he would threaten getting rid of our cat, and then I would have to get rid of him.

The worst part about this scenario is that my daughter watched me being intimidated by my boyfriend.  Why else would I hide the strings of air buds, besides waiting until better timing (which I did, the next day after he had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee).  I was concerned that there would be some sort of confrontation, and negative repercussion.

The next day, I opened my purse and pulled out all the wires—his only words were: “Those aren’t mine.”

Sometimes I make words become bigger than life.  I don’t recall my boyfriend and I ever expressing anger towards each other.  Yet, similar to Misty, my past experiences often intersect with the present, and I am easily affected by them.

For example, every time I see a white paper pinned to my door the first thing that pops into my mind is a “Three day Quit!”  Whenever I walk into the Dollar Store, especially during the holidays, it reminds me of a panicked time trying to stretch dollars for my children.  There are certain e-mail addresses that bring with them a sign of doom.

I can change some of my negative perceptions and behavior by creating positive ones.  Sometimes this means staying clear of negative situations altogether — delete buttons, trash, junk, unsubscribe.

Leaving negativity

Personally, I get along better with people who talk straight, and who don’t have hidden agendas.  I can’t stand being around control-freaks.  There are some people that are purposely unclear because their words, or lack of words, can be a form of manipulation. Often religious leaders, business people, public-relations persons, and advertising companies use the strategy of withholding information to close their sale.  Sometimes personal conversations go this route.

IMG_2783 (6)

Recently on a plane trip the lady in D23 said, “Ah-um, you might not be aware of it, but the open window shade is causing a glare.”

I really didn’t understand what she was saying.  I figured it was probably her way of saying, “Shut the window blind.”

“I can close it,” I said, half-way asking.

As I closed the rectangular window shade, I thought, “Why wasn’t I more direct?  Why did I use the same rhetoric?”

I could have easily been more explicit by asking her what she wanted, and I probably would have felt better about myself, if I had asked in a robotic voice, “Do. you. want. the. window shade. shut?”

What made this situation uncomfortable was the lull in conversation, the mixed messages, and the irritated “da” expression on the woman’s face.  I wasn’t aware that the open window shade was causing a glare because it wasn’t causing a glare for me.  (Our eyes are different, our perception is different, and it is impossible to read a person’s mind.)

So, here I am this week, like every week, perplexed with words realizing that communication is an important part of life, and there is no way around it.  Talking to my animals is not good enough.  Even if we are dead, words live on, and if we don’t tell our story, someone else will.  By the time it has passed on from person to person, it is no longer an authentic history, it is just hearsay.

 

 

 

Why a Personal Website Now? My Recent Experience with a Cyber-Bully in Utah

 

I Love My Body!

2nd Plural Marriage: Part One

This is a blog post introducing a new page I wrote for Vickie’s Grin that can be read here 2nd Plural Marriage : Part One This edited cover of “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman is symbolic of my l-o-n-g  d-r-a-w-n out identity crises involving Mormonism.

Have I finally found myself? Yes, I do believe I have!

It is backwards to tell my story beginning with the second spiritual husband first – yet, my past is backwards, and in the thick of all the backwardness, I keep hearing my former sister-wife #2 telling me wife #1 — “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

So, does it really matter where I start?

Here is one more reminder in case you forget that the only reason for this short blog post is that there is a longer, more informative, better writing if you click right here > 2nd Plural Marriage: Part One

Utah’s Past Lives On: The Wheels on the Bus go Round ‘n Round & I Got Off!

This is a rough draft for an English assignment I wrote 17 (!!) years ago, entitled Utah’s Past Lives On.  No wonder I need this website.  It’s time to post this junk in my trunk!

Although it is only a rough draft, it relates very much to the editorial I submitted this week to the Salt Lake Tribune (minus the current events). It is definitely a must read for anyone interested in early Mormon teachings about polygamy, and who isn’t turned off by all my MisStakes.  If you know where to find any of the missing references, please let me know.  I’d like to finish it one of these days.

A reply for NankerPhelge7, who commented on the op-ed that went to my e-mail:

I am not “throwing millions” of you who reside in Utah “under the bus.” There are wonderful people who live in Utah, yet, as a state — rampant abuses continue in polygamy, only certain individuals are sitting in the front of the bus, and only male drivers are driving the bus. I never said “everyone” in Utah is guilty of this scenerio — just those who are supporting it.  Oh, and that I get the willies going back to Utah.

Here are a few of the quotes from “Utah’s Past Lives On”  from my past life in Mormonism.  Wait! I can’t choose which quotes, they are all good!  Read more here Utah’s Past Lives On .

My Story “Flight From Polygamy” from 1996

This is first time my story was published in 1996, and the article that motivated 20/20 to travel to Utah and interview my former family members, and myself.

This article tells about how I got into polygamy, and how I got out.

Letter to Utah Attorney General Supporting Appeal of Decriminalization of Polygamy

In 2014, I wrote a letter to Utah Attorney Sean Reyes in support of appealing the Brown polygamy case which decriminalized the crime of polygamy.  I gave factual examples of the pervasive abuse and sent books with terrifying true accounts as well. These stories were not the exception – they were the norm.