9.30.14

transformation.

mother|daughter hands, seejaneblog

I was raised by a mother who had been raised Methodist, temporarily Presbyterian, and later converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Washington state when I was four years old. I’m not sure what church or religion my Dad grew-up participating in, but he was an extremely liberal christian also converted to the LDS church by the time I was five. I share this with you to give you a peek into my personal religious/spiritual history — raised Mormon by parents who were converts to the religion — I grew-up by all the standards considered normal by mormon terms: I attended primary as a child, young women’s once I was twelve – earned my young women’s medallion, went to girls camp, graduated from seminary, married a return missionary and was sealed in the temple for all eternity.

Yet, through all of those years — my soul greatly struggled with one major commitment (and a few other things) with the LDS faith. I did not believe it was the only true church on earth. In a nutshell: I did not have a testimony of Joseph Smith, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I struggled to believe in organized religion.

Over the years, I tried so hard — minus a few hiccups through my teenage years I fully committed to the gospel, it’s standards, and attempted to live just as I should by mormon values. I attended church regularly, I participated actively in my religion and helped whenever possible or whenever I was needed, I read my scriptures diligently, I attended the temple — and yet, whenever I was expected to share my testimony or acknowledge that mormonism is the only true church, or that Joseph Smith among others was a prophet of god — instead of feeling a warm confirming spirit that this was true — a serious case of nausea would sweep over me, and I’d get dizzy and sick just thinking the words. A mental battle would break out. It was constantly the opposite experience that I had learned growing up was supposed to happen.

When I was twenty-seven years old, I had just had our third child – our son KJ. My husband and I lived in Provo, Utah – we were completely submersed in the mormon culture in the area. My husband was the elder’s quorum president in our ward – this is a male leader holding the Melchizedek priesthood in the office of an elder over the men in the area, I was a counselor in our primary presidency (primary includes the children 12 and younger) and one Sunday when I was finishing a sharing time with the primary kids, I knew I needed {and was expected} to close the lesson with my testimony confirming that I believed what I had just taught the children. And with all the mental strength I could conjure up, I couldn’t do it. I had finally reached a point where my “fake it till you make it” religious attitude wasn’t going to hold up any longer. I could not be dishonest with myself anymore. I couldn’t tell these kids {mine included in the group} that what I taught them was true, and that I believed it, when I didn’t. Not a fiber of my being believed it. that was the truth.

This is when I learned courage. REAL COURAGE. I had to tell my husband how I felt. I had to be honest.

Being raised LDS (or any religion), you know the intense emotion involved with remaining true to that way of life. You KNOW the heart ache that families go through when a member of the family chooses a different way. You know what they are going to think of you. You already know the judgements that are going to be made about you. You know the disappointment you are going to cause. You know that this doesn’t just affect your family, but also your extended family – your neighborhood – your friends – your children – especially living in Utah – where so many saints live, diversity is not commonly celebrated.

My husband and I were driving around one Saturday afternoon running errands, around this same time, he and I in the front seat of his truck and all the kids in the back seat —– when it hit me —- I had to tell him now.

It was very intense, and because it was so emotional, I don’t remember exactly how it all went down, but it was something like this, “you know how other people are just as committed and devout to their religions as mormons are – i.e. baptists, catholics, muslims, etc. etc” and yet the LDS church strongly believes that we are still the only true church…..”

Yeah.

“I don’t believe it.”

Right then, as my tears were forming and I could see his anger and frustration in his eyes — my husband told me to not talk about this in front of the kids. So, I stopped talking about it. And I knew. I knew I had upset the first person I was going to upset. There would be more. There would always be more…

Now I had to be brave. I had to find inner strength to not cave when all the people I loved chose to question my integrity, question my lack of belief, they would doubt my every inner quality as a person, as a mother.

My husband and I continued our conversation in private, after the kids were in bed. Me: explaining all my inner-most feelings with the religion I had grown-up with, with religions in general – explaining my views about spirituality as I see it. Him: listening. Very intently. So intently that he actually agreed with my perspective, and over the course of the time to follow he abandoned his testimony and childhood religion quicker than I did.

Here’s what followed immediately: I finally had the spiritual experiences and feelings I had been waiting for my entire life. For the first time after all those years, I felt peace. Truly, beautiful peace. My heart and every inner cell of my being felt right. I had confirmation after confirmation within our family and in the life around me, that I had made the correct decision. I felt this amazing inner strength that it was hard to tell those around me how I felt, but that it was right, and would all be ok.

This is one point that I think members of the church don’t always understand: I feel more in tune, and accurate now about my beliefs and inner moral compass than I ever did as an involved member of the gospel. However, with that said, I adore the “church” and greatly miss it at times. If only there was a forum for non-believers who love the philanthropy and social aspects of the church! I often wish there was a room for us at the temples, because who doesn’t want to escape the world more often to a place of peace, and calmness?!?

This time in my life was over eleven years ago – and this is the first time I’ve written about it anywhere. I’ve been writing THIS POST for over a year. It’s odd to me, that as adults, we still struggle to share our honest opinions about such matters. I have dozens of friends who feel the same way – apprehensive to discuss their thoughts. I have friends who passionately don’t believe, but are willing to keep pretending in order to not upset those around them. Religious pressure.

I’d like to mention one more thing: I don’t usually freely offer how I feel about religion because (one) it didn’t relate to my blog. and (two) I feel my personal views, when discussed in finer detail, can be very compelling to other members of the church who may have never questioned their LDS religion. For some dysfunctional reason, I carry a sense of guilt with the idea that someone would leave their religion after hearing how I feel. Everyone should be exploring religion, and spirituality on their own. Yes, our kids all know how we feel and as one of their parents I strongly support them and encourage them in finding and knowing their own individual opinions about such matters.

To be a real seeker of truth,
one must challenge the veracity of EVERYTHING-
truly challenge it without bias.

For the past couple of years I’ve had this growing urge to share my thoughts on the topic on my blog. And each time I attend a bloggers conference I keep hearing the echo – Find your voice. Be genuine. Share how you feel. Others will appreciate the honesty. So, once again, I will likely upset people. But I will also find a community that understands me and/or agrees with me, and maybe, they need to hear my story.

And I realize, this topic is big, the journey doesn’t end here. How do I feel eleven years later? About religion? About the LDS church? What do I believe? How does my family feel about living in the heart of Utah? How are my kids treated at school, in our neighborhood? (maybe future posts. Especially now with the popularity of Mormon intellectual discussions like those by John Dehlin, etc)

So – readers, have you ever had such an experience? Have you abandoned a belief system, a culture, something dear to you?

I have to add one funny story here – in the early years of my blog (c. 2007-09) I had posted about one of our annual trips to Mexico. I think I was wearing a bikini in a couple of the images. If you are unfamiliar with the LDS beliefs – modesty is encouraged and two piece swimsuits are somewhat discouraged, but I think most modern day saints would agree that this teaching is also an individuals choice. I had already not been involved with the church for years at this point of my life and if you knew me personally, you already knew this. Someone anonymous added a comment to the post saying, “It looks like when you go on vacation, your values go on vacation too!” I about died, I thought it was so hilariously judgmental. HUMANS! If that person is still reading this blog and/or anyone else has ever been curious as to what is going on with religion and/or values in our home… hopefully, your questions have been somewhat answered. xoxo.

Photo by: Mindy Johnson – mine & my daughter Kiana’s hands.

9.29.14

fall style.

black sneakers|black jeans, seejaneblog

hello friends! First and foremost – thank you, thank you, thank you for the warm welcome back! I have loved and appreciated all of your sweet comments and virtual hugs! I wish I could respond to each and every one of you, but please realize besides blogging, I am still raising four kiddos and going to school. Blogging is a passion of mine and I ADORE my community but at times I still have to balance it with other events in my life – please be patient with me.

With my return to blogging, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite fashion finds. By no means am I a fashion blogger, oh my, I don’t know if there is anyone who feels more awkward in front of a camera than me… however, I do like fashion and would like to share little tips now and again… starting today!

Above: I have ALWAYS had a fondness for neutrals, almost my entire closet is grey, white, black, and camel. Seeing as black is a hot ticket this season, I am happy!

check out: New Balance 420 sneakers, Old Navy Rockstar denim – this fit has been my favorite for months – i can’t recommend them enough – go try on a pair today! they are stretchy-comfy, plain (I really like unmarked denim), fit so good, and usually Old Navy has so many sales you can get them 15-40% off regular price! I am always a fan of feminine neutral nail polish – check out Julep’s pretty hues. My bracelet was handmade by a cousin in Laguna Beach, she makes beautiful-simple custom jewelry, you can find her on instagram @moanasjewelry.

Do you notice trends in your closet?

photo via my instagram acct. xo.

9.22.14

laguna beach, california

This past July our family took a road trip to one of our favorite places on earth – Laguna Beach, California. My husband has family there, and each time we visit we dream of living there one day. If our future plans go as we hope they will – we’d like to move there in about four years – after Kiana and Myla have graduated from high school in Utah. Until then, I’ll just keep watching this video and dream of the day to come!

This is the first video I have ever created, so be easy on me. It’s a new hobby still in it’s early stages. But I’m so obsessed! I want to make videos all the time!!!

9.21.14

seejaneblog fave pinterest words

With my break from blogging, I also stepped away from pinterest. I would pop in every once in a while and take a look around, but for almost two years I didn’t pin very often. My love for pinterest sways because as much as it is packed with good, amazing images – all hail Ben Silbermann!!! It also frustrates a lot of “creatives” who want to have and admire original ideas.

Maybe you have seen this happen: someone posts a creative/uniquely artsy idea or image on instagram. Within the first handful of comments a follower will say, so cool! i saw something like that on pinterest. Instant emotional deflation. In the art world, “all is copy” is a common phrase alluding to the idea that everything we create is copy due to the fact that our supplies and/or medium are already in existence. We have simply re-arranged the matter to view it in a different way. Or, the idea that so much art has been created over the course of thousands of years, there’s almost no way to have an original idea. Depressing, right? ESPECIALLY if you are a creature who yearns for authenticity. I haven’t received this typical pinterest comparison-comment too many times, but I see it and read it all the time, and it’s so frustrating!!!

Analogy:  If you make homemade chocolate chip cookies, OR your friend or neighbor does, is your first thought, “oh my gosh! I saw chocolate chip cookies on pinterest!” nooooooo.  your first thought is, “yay! yum!  your house smells so good!  I want one!” right?  so, please…. celebrate others ideas. what they are creating. baking. decorating. DOING.  because that’s it.  they are DOING IT, and that is awesome, regardless of where they found the recipe, etc. If they know they need to give credit – where credit is due – they usually do.

This leads me to another point – my volatile relationship with pinterest. When I have an idea, sometimes I will do a quick google and pinterest search to see if anything like it has been done. Other times I avoid searches like the plague because I don’t want to have any prior knowledge if someone has created something like what I want to do before I get started. Anyone ever feel this way?

Then. With my return to blogging, I decided to get back on the pinterest bandwagon in the past few weeks. I was instantly re-addicted. Pinterest is the best way to be inspired and waste time – it’s a mindfully delicious combo. which leads me to the image above – it’s four quotes and/or “words” I’ve pinned lately. I love reading quotes and having them stuck in my head for days – you know they are thought worthy if they linger.

A couple of the quotes above remind me of another set of words that have stuck in my head all year by Alison, of the Alison show – she did a video titled, “invest in people who invest in you.” It’s been a philosophy I’ve been really trying to adhere to this past year. Crazy that as an adult, that can be a challenging philosophy to live by at times. But so wise.

What is your favorite way to use pinterest? see jane on pinterest >>> here.

images: one, two, three, four.

9.19.14

letterpress

I have always been drawn to letterpress. I love the detailed, traditional process involved with the craft. When I see a letterpress design that I admire, I instinctively find myself running my fingers over the indentions of the print to thoroughly experience it’s beauty. If you don’t have this fondness for paper, you may think I’m nuts – I’m guessing most people never understand or they are well into their adult life till they have an idea of how much work is involved in this method of printing. Hard work and dedication goes into every letterpress piece.

All of this lead me to this idea: with Sela’s birthday approaching, I wanted to use letterpress invitations for her birthday party – created locally. And, I thought it would be so cool if my kids and I could experience the process of the cards being created. With this idea, I turned to a local letterpress studio – Paper Bandit Press. I shared with them my idea, and they warmly welcomed us into their studio last weekend.

letterpress lessons, seejaneblog

letter press lessons, seejaneblog

letter press up close, seejaneblog

sela letter press, seejaneblog

sela learning letter press, seejaneblog

sela at paper bandit press, seejaneblog

By visiting this studio, Kim and Brett Borup, the owners, allowed us to peek into their life filled with works of art. They were so kind, and patient explaining the meticulous attention to detail that is required with each step of the process.

Sela and KJ ran from one step to the next they were so interested and amused with helping.

letter press equipment, seejaneblog

letter press lesson, seejaneblog

paper bandit press letterpress, seejaneblog

fall style, seejaneblog

letter press student, seejaneblog

kj learning letter press, seejaneblog

The simple and complex tools of letterpress are an equal beauty to the works of art they create —

letter press tools, seejaneblog

heidelberg, seejaneblog

siblings together, seejaneblog

family letterpress lesson, seejaneblog

I was thrilled that my kids were able to experience first-hand the work that went into creating the invitations. Paper Bandit Press was so generous to allow us into their world. And KJ now believes he was meant to grow up and become a letterpress printer.

lets flamingle letter press, seejaneblog

selabration letter press, seejaneblog

Photos by: the talented Mindy Johnson.

9.15.14

unplugging to sleep.

Raise your hand if you have a small panic attack if you accidentally leave your cell phone at home or misplaced for a few minutes? Are you raising your hand? I am. We have moments at our house when someone says, “I can’t find my phone!” and everyone drops what they are doing to 1) use the Find iPhone app and 2) help the person who lost their phone find their missing appendage. Myla, our fourteen year old, mis-placed her phone this past Saturday some time between golfing with girlfriends that evening and coming home and has been in an all-out funk since doing so. Which, we all understand, right? Do you spend a LOT of waking hours in front of a computer, tablet or television than outside or with friends and family? My hand is still raised. It seems these habits are becoming second nature with all the advancements, improvements and even marketing techniques for the latest technologies. KJ, our son, has been watching the live Apple launch recording of the latest iPhone 6 for days – he’s waiting for it to arrive at our local AT&T store as if Elvis was in the building. I’ve come to think of my smart phone as a lifeline. I always have it with me to stay connected with family {TEENAGERS}, friends and for emergency situations. It’s challenging to remember how I survived without it just ten-fifteen years ago… It’s challenging to imagine if I’d ever get to communicate with my teenagers if I didn’t have it.

see jane blog - one

This obsessive technology insanity is what led my husband and I to take-away our kids’ technology (not just smart phones, but ANY form of technology) from bedtime to ready-for-school-time. Because you know what? Our kids weren’t sleeping if anything related to technology was available in their bedrooms! I have a twitter account, and 90% of the reason I do is because that is where I observe the life of the teenagers around me on a daily basis. (side note: they like it – they think it’s hilarious that i “like” photos of them doing silly things during school hours, etc. and they follow me. try it!) However, our family would all say good night to each other, go to bed, and the next day when I checked twitter I would see that my oldest daughter was posting tweets at all hours of the night – 1am, 2am… when I assumed she’s sleeping. Do you witness this situation in your homes? It affects our teenagers the most, who really need sleep in their busy-over-scheduled-still-growing lives, but our younger kids were also in the same tech-addicted-rut. just not on twitter. they were playing minecraft or watching videos of minecraft from under their sheets.

see jane blog - two

see jane blog - three

We have been applying this tactic for months now, and heaven knows our children would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water, or shelter. At ages almost-eight, eleven, fourteen, and sixteen, my daughters and my son don’t use media. They inhabit media. And they do so exactly as fish inhabits a pond. Gracefully. Unblinkingly. And utterly without consciousness or curiosity as to how they got there. They don’t remember a time before group texts, IG, snap chat, twitter, youtube, Google, audio books, or x-box.

My kids — like yours, I’m guessing — are part of a generation that cut its teeth, literally and figuratively, on a keyboard, learning to say “’puter” along with “Momma,” “juice,” and “Now!” They’re kids who’ve had cell phones and wireless Internet longer than they’ve had molars. Who multitask their schoolwork alongside five or six other electronic inputs, to the syncopated beat of Facebook messaging pulsing insistently like some distant tribal tom-tom.

Wait a minute. Did I say they do their schoolwork like that? Correction. They do their life like that. And to be honest, so do I.

see jane blog - seven

see jane blog - four

see jane blog - five

I passionately feel like my kids and I are pretty balanced regardless of this media-driven age. Besides summer months, they are each in school an average of thirty hours/week. In addition to that they each spend a small portion of time practicing the piano each day, going to dance classes, tennis practice, work, they have fun social lives, and family activities. I’ve always felt that if they are doing well at school, managing their extra-curricular activities, then I didn’t over-obsess about how much time they spent using electronics, especially since two of my kids seem focused on careers in technology. This was all fine until they were choosing not to sleep.

Do you stay on your computer or phone until right up until you hit the sheets? I’m guilty again. I read that the light emitted from the smart phone screens actually trick your brain into thinking it needs to stay awake and alert. This reduces your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Do you have challenges sleeping well? Who doesn’t want 8-10 hours of sleep a night? (note: no one is raising their hands now.)

see jane blog - six

The bonus of taking our kids’ phones, tablets, computers, etc away at night, is that it also gives us the opportunity to monitor what they are doing on them. (GASP!) With teenagers, it allows us time to peek into their text messages, downloaded apps, etc and make sure nothing is going on that shouldn’t be. My kids all know this is going to happen, and they also know they aren’t going to have tech-privacy till they are 18 and move out. so far, this has been a very good thing with some fierce consequences a couple of times.

Some helpful steps to unplug kids, teens, and yourself at night:

1} Disconnect before your bedtime routine. Parents must unplug too. Set the example for your children.
2} I added a little fabric lined tray I found at Target next to my husbands side of the bed, that is where all the hand-held techy gadgets sit and get re-charged at night. That way, when we are going to bed – we can check and see who has turned in their phones and who hasn’t. It is their job to bring them to us, we don’t go gathering at night. If they don’t turn them in by about 9pm, they don’t get their phone the next day. Also, having their phones right next to our bed allows us to know they can’t sneak and get them during the night if they were located somewhere else in the house, like the kitchen.
3} Find alternatives to technology. make sure the kids – and yourself – have new reading material for bedtime.

any other ideas, friends? Thoughts? I’d LOVE to hear!

I found this article to be interesting. We consume twelve hours of digital media on average? holy smokes! I think we can all improve. Even if it’s only an extra hour or two, maybe more, of sleep!

photos by Mindy Johnson, taken at the Rose Est. in SLC, hair braids by Rubi Jones – watch her video – “she lets her hair down”!

© 2014 jane rhodes.