Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Sometimes I remember the strangest things.  How the sky looked that one day, last year during the snow storm.  All the words to a song that I haven't heard in over 20 years.  Simple things like....what did I eat for breakfast are not answered.  But ask me about what my car seat felt like when I was 3 yrs old.....sticky, brown plastic, tray over my lap.  Cold bar frames.  My mom used a high chair seat!

Sometimes I forget important things.

Things happen and I'm confused.

I watch blood pour out of my dearest friends nose.

He reminds me.  Cancer

I remember the first time I saw him.  Sitting on a stool, house right, up against the stage.  Large green shirt he kept tugging at.  His friend....who would soon become my friend, leaning over his shoulders to wrap him in a bear hug.  She wore a long red shirt.

My friend runs his fingers through his hair.  "So this is new." He holds out his hand & I watch a small clump of his reddish blond hair fall onto his lap.

But his hair never sheds...oh yes...cancer.

I forgot.

I can tell you, he has a freckle on his upper left eyelid.  A reminder he was born with flaming red hair.

But I forget my password to my work computer daily.

4 years ago in May, I remember how he walked over theater setting & hoisted  one long leg into the stage & with a push, his giant frame stood on the stage.  My mouth hung open at this display of agility for someone of his stature and age.

But how old am I?  I forget sometimes.  43? 45?  39?

Moments he looks me straight in the eye. No words.  His eyes droop slightly in the outer corners.  I wait for a joke.  None come.  Just his eyes studying me.

It's like he's trying to remember me. Not to forget me


the cancer takes him away.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The mantras

I've seen a few dead bodies in my time.

Family friends, a babysitter, a mother, close friends, a brother, acquaintances.  All waxy, all pale, all gone.

There are times I say "For this reason, I do not become attach.  Everyone leaves."

I have buried so many pets, broken so many special trinkets, lost meaningful things.  I keep telling myself, don't...get..attached.

I have close friends that sometime...I want to draw away from

Because everyone leaves.

I just watched a friend slowly die.  Leaving behind a life well lived.  The routine of death doesn't bother me.  I suppose I'm acquired to it.  I finally let myself cry of his untimely passing while driving to Walmart....realizing I hate Walmart and then pretending to cry over my hatred of Walmart.  But really, I cried over his death.

My beautiful friend became terribly sick once again & I watch as the sword of Damocles swings over her head. Her life marred by unrelenting hospitalizations, and yet...a life filled with happiness, creativity and joy.

I have a friend who put me
into a tail spin over their troubled soul.  Decided I was done and it was better to have never loved.  Period.  Never loved...then to give you little friendship heart away then lose it.  They of course argued, No...better to have loved then lost, then never loved at all.  I just stared, hot burning holes into their head.  Wanting to give up.  We both stared...they, with tears in their eyes afraid to lose me.  Tears in my eyes afraid to keep holding on to someone who I will inevitably lose.

Everyone leaves.

A few nights ago, that same friend, ended up nearly dying.  Seeing them hooked up to all the wires & iv's didn't panic me.  It was easy to joke about their bad luck, report the gossip of the day & just make fun of their predicament. Soon the minutes clicked by, the strain wore across their face....I made the investment again. Propped myself up against the arm railing of the hospital bed, ran my fingers through their hair.  Lulling them to sleep like I would my own child. Circle, circle, scratch, scratch..repeat...till mouth dropped open, breath became deep. I was fine...watching my friend fall asleep, until I saw their waxy, pale hand.  I saw that hand in the casket that one day they would rest in.  And all I could do was circle, circle, scratch, scratch...each breath out I uttered the mantra..."everyone leaves."

Something strange happened as I get older.  I have grown more compassionate.  In my youth, I was afraid of compassion.  Afraid of losing.  So in youth, I hung back, Afraid to become attached to people...who would only leave.  But now, It has become easier for me to physically reach out to others.  I squeeze a shoulder of a near stranger, and soon I become their therapist.  They come to me like a little wounded bird sitting on my knee spilling all their torn guts upon my lap...hoping what?  I listen?  Fix it?

 I do my best to sooth.  Sooth them with words I don't believe in for myself.  Advice that works for all, but not for me.

How do I tell them I have become empty?  How do I tell them I am the hollow box, wrapped in pretty lies and good advice?

Why do I even allow myself to reach out in kindness...knowing that kindness can turn to friendship.  Friendship turns to love.  Love can break your heart, weary your soul & grey your hair when that love leaves.

I think the only thing that keeps my buoyed is my mantra I uttered just a few years ago...

Life is too damn short.

My life has always been a battle between black and white.  Two vastly different voices clanging around in my head.

Everyone leaves.  Life is too short.

2 voices simultaneously screaming for attention. Two voices that make me want to crawl into my hollow box and swat everyone away like a rabid raccoon.

So here I stand, slinging my arm around a stranger, patting all the pretty birds on their heads, cooing sweet advice, handing my little heart to friends......

Uttering my mantra:

 Life is too short, everyone leaves.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I am that women

I am her...who rants and screams and curses at this religion of mine.

I am she who shakes her fists at God and Yells "Answer ME!"

I am the one who throws her temple recommend at her Bishop. "take it...I don't want it."

I am the women who approaches Bishops, a Stake Patriarch, Stake Presidents, a director of Leadership Development for the Church, a Mission President....and asks them hard questions.  "Why?  How? Tell me more. Am I alone?"

I am that women who questions my faith.

I am her that has given up.

I am the one that struggles.

I am that women who questions.

I am she who puts one foot in front of the other.

I am the one who makes the choice to stay.

I am her that falls time & time again.

And when I is them.... who catch me.

They are the ones who say

"I don't know"

"How can I help?"

"Can I offer a suggestion?"

"Well...this is the gospel according to me, so take it with a grain of salt, but I offer it up to see if it will help."

"I'm sorry."

"I truly care for you."

They are the ones that pray for me, and pray with me.

They are the ones that look me in the eye.

They are the ones who put their arms around me & squeeze... like I am their scared sister.

I am that women who is lucky.

For I am surrounded by those who love me. Who pull me out of the mud. They let me yell & question, and rant, and rage. They do not punish me for my questions.

Through all the struggle...they surround me. Safe.

I am that women that holds them.... to me.

I am the one who can NOT do it alone. Who does not WANT to do it alone.

They are men.

I am the women who holds the power of the Priesthood.

I hold these men close to my heart.  I am told, that will make me weak.  I am told that makes me less.  I am told I could do better.

How could I do better?  Not only am I covered by the hands of my sisters, with their tears, kindness, friendship & understanding.....but I am covered by the hands of those men.  My brothers who struggle just like me.  Who want to help. Who care.

I am that women who stands at the edge.

And in each of my hands, rest the hands of those who hold me grounded. One hand is the women's, the other...the mans. I pull and fight, but their hands hold fast.  I don't want them to let go. These men and women allow me to struggle...but they don't let go.  These men and women work together to save me from the edge.

I am that women who holds the power of the Priesthood.  And to those men who bless my life with that Priesthood, you are kind, you are good, and you are loved. Don't let anyone tell you, you are less. Don't let anyone tell you I don't need you.

I am that women who needs the Priesthood, and I am the lucky one that is surrounded by it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brian says Hi

Say hello to my brother Brian.

 You meet him back in this post. Pretty messed up fellow.  A man I loved, then hated, then loved again. Brian was 15 when I was born & at 15 he started down the path of drug use.

I was 15 years old when Mom died.  He staggered out of his hole to visit us & to say goodbye to mom. 

 After abusing drugs for 15 years, he died...alone, penniless, with just the clothes on his back, a duffle bag 

& a picture of me....his only sibling.

I joined my church & started the search for my brother who died & was buried quickly without a care by his "father".  We never saw his grave & we never cared enough to remember his death date.  We only cared that he died after we buried Mom.

All my searches came up empty.  I was told I would have to wait to baptize my brother after 101 years after his birth date.  I ended up thinking that was just fine.  One day he would be baptized, but not now.

Recently my son visited our Church's family history center.  He told the story of Brian to the professionals.  They had heard my story years ago, but this time....Sister Salt Lake decided to pull her weight & get this boy baptized.  

My son EZ pulled me towards the history center & said Sister Salt Lake wanted to ask me more questions about Brian.

I sat infront of the computer screen & up popped my family history.  I was asked

Are you the only one Brian has left?  I assured them I was.  His mother was dead.  His father had been a raging drunk all his life & I had no idea where he was.  It was just me...his sister...and a lost, probably dead father. 

I watched as Sister Salt Lake typed away at the key board.  She turned to me & said "You have permission to baptize him."

Wait....what?  What about the 101 year rule?!

"They don't call me Sister Salt Lake for nothing!  It's my are his only surviving relative, so he's in your care now."

It was a surreal moment to be handed his temple approval slip.  I didn't know whether to he happy (Yeah!  It's over!  All these years!)  or really pissed off (Wait...all these years of searching & now rules are throw out the door?! )

The look on my sons excited face sealed the deal.  He was pumped!

Today I took that slip of paper & drove 3 hours to the Temple.  The night before I gave Ethan a picture of Brian & reminded him that this man lived.  He was once living with me, annoying me, playing with me & begging me for forgiveness.  He slipped the picture of Brian into his book.  I slipped a picture of Brian into my purse...and off we went.

I battled with myself a little during the day.  My faith lacks.  I will forever question everything.  But I remembered the dream I had of Brian all those years ago...the same dream my husband had of Brian in white, asking forgiveness & saying he was happy. Besides....this baptism is just an offer.  If Brian wants it or not...whatever.  It's his choice.  If this church isn't true...whatever....we are remembering our dead & offering a hopeful gesture.

Today I mumble to Brian when got out of bed & again as I ate & again as I drove & again as I stood in the Temple,

Let yourself be known.  Just let me feel you if this is ok.  Maybe you are not there or maybe you don't care.  Just throw me a bone.  I'm tired of chasing you.  I hope you are happy.  Just know

 I remember you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Where am I?

A friend asked me

"Hey you....what's with your blog?  When are you going to write again?  Dance puppet dance!"

Let me explain something here for you.

It is very hard for me to write.  To write a post usually takes me around 2 hours on average.  Yeah....I know....right?!  I can't not start writing then walk away & finish it later.  It's something I have to finish...or I end up lying awake at night thinking.

Trust me....for someone who can't turn off the voices...the last thing I need is to be thinking about a stupid blog when I should be drooling on my pillow! 

It's been alllllmost a year since the last post & a few groupies have asked me

Well?!  Where are you now with your beliefs?!  Tell ME!

So here is goes......

My name is Jen Jen

I was willing baptized at 19 years old into the church knowing full well I had no testimony or knew even half of the history of the church.

I am now 40.

21 year later, I still do not have the answers.

I also believe YOU don't have the answers.  You struggle in your own little hell, just like me. Maybe your struggles are with faith, sadness, guilt, lack of understanding, anger, depression  & exhaustion.  And just like me....

     You question,
     You avoid,
     You go on.

I go on. I stay in this church because I have to. I stay because I choose to stay.

I stay because I CHOOSE to believe in this magical, mysterious God.  I CHOOSE to believe in Jesus Christ.  I choose to drag my sorry butt out of bed each Sunday because I have children that need stability.   

Onward and Upward I like to say.  Most days...those words come out in a long sigh.  

Some days I tip toe forward, scared of losing my religion completely.  I force my feet to walk on hot coals, doing my best not to stand up & scream during a church lesson "This is pure donkey POO! I'm outa here! Peace out!"

Days like those....Days of Abandonment, the only thing that anchors me is my family & my husband that opens my cage that I am flinging myself against & allows me to roam like an angry, hungry tiger looking for anything to sink my teeth into.  I grab my religion in my beastly teeth & shake it violently back and forth like it was a helpless animal.  Days like that, I destroy my religion.  I tear into it's flesh & snap it's bones.  I shred it to pieces.  

I saunter away, tired but satisfied at destroying the thing that give me so much grief.

"Why the heck would you stay with a religion that grieves you, angers you & most of the time torks you off?!"

  Good question?  I will answer your question...with a question....cuz I'm deep like that yo!

Have you ever worked at something that annoyed you, stressed you & drove you out of your mind?

Child rearing?
Parenting your parents?

We all have had to do things to better ourselves.  Now when I was in school, I hated it.  Some days I was a jerk because of the stress.  But I knew I had to stick with it.  I knew it was somehow good for me to stretch my mind.  It was good to struggle. I knew enough to know, that if I dropped out, I wouldn't be any happier.  It might of made my life easier for a bit.  But then the dust would settle and all that would be left would be a  wasted opportunity...and new stress...and new anger...and a new struggle.

Sometimes we have to do hard, annoying, maddening things to better ourselves.  Sometime we don't even know if we will be actually better off if we do these things.  But we press forward with a hope that at the end, we will gather up all these difficult things into our glass jar of life and mix all the experiences up to form a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors.  

I used to fear that I would never gain a testimony of my religion. what?  All the years of stressing over this...and for what?  How has that made me better?  It hasn't.  It just made me angrier & more inpatient!

I used to have anger at my God.  I did everything right.  For years I willing did what I was told, read, prayed, worked & hoped. All these things and yet, God never saw fit to take away my doubt or fear that all this was a lie.  I felt like the kid that wasn't picked for the baseball team.  Watching everyone else be high five'd & welcomed into that little club while I sat there scratching my head agonizing over where I went wrong & how to fix it.

Now, I'm 40 and I can say...whatever.  I have accepted I will probably always question God & the heavens.  It's just who I am at the moment.  I will still do my best to stand strong for my family.  I will press forward, onward & upward....and one day hope to join that elusive team and get my high 5.

Until then

"Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Truth be told

Many people think little O' Jen loves to confront.  Truth is...I hate it!  I hate it so bad that when I was in my 20's, I hated to return things to the store....even if the product was damaged before I even opened the box.  I had extreme anxiety over things like this.  I was so bad, my husband had to stage an intervention.  I had bought a curling iron.  I used it sucked.  The words "Just return it to the store Honey"  sent me into a corner rocking & mumbling, covering my ears. So like a good husband that my man is....he drove me to Walgreen's, held my hand & MADE me return that stupid curling iron.  I remember wanting to vomit as I handed the cashier my iron...without a receipt!  (Oh sweet mercy...she's going to yell at me!)  And ya know what this lady said..."Ok.  Do you want cash or put it back on your card?"

So through the years my husband helped me overcome my social fears like no therapist could.  And soon I was a "return junkie."  Man, the sky would change color, I would return something!

But this new confrontation.....well.....I felt bad for the guy.  I wasn't returning a crappy curling iron...I was on the verge of returning my religion I bought all those years ago...without a receipt!

It's amazing how anger & frustration can make a person jump out of the safety of their own skin & ask the hard questions.  I got over talking with my Bishop.  Now....on to my next faze.....

Open my mouth & ask the question...

"Do you ever ask yourself...why am I here?"

My question to Brother High was bold & gutsy.  It was Christmas time.  Brother High & his family were viewing all the Nativities our church had set out for public display.  Right there in front of 509 baby Jesus's, I asked this great man....." you.?

This man stared at me, then eased himself closer to my face....leaning on his cane he said


I didn't know what hit me harder.  The fact that a very prominent, "righteous" member of our church used the word damn in front of 509 baby Jesus's...or the fact that he questioned!

Wait.......he ....questioned?!

My face must have registered shock.  Brother High laughed & put his hand on my shoulder "Sister, I swear there were times this church would kill me.  It's exhausting & draining.  It's hard work to be here at times. Sometimes I want to run away.  It would be so easy to"

But why do you stay?

"I stay because I want to. I stay for the gospel, not the church."

Brother High pats my shoulder & shuffles off. 

I stood a long time in the gym.  I couldn't move.  I stood anchored in the spot where Brother High had nailed my jaw to the ground.  Surly he was just joking.  Surly he was teasing.  Could a man like that...a man in his last years, who had served for decades in this church.  A man who lead & taught & held generations of a family together....surly he really didn't question.  Did he?

The encounter with Brother High gave me the fuel to throw caution to the wind.  Soon I became a question junkie.  I started questioning everyone.  No one was safe.  Heaven forbid I found you sacked out on the couch, avoiding class.  Or washing your hands in the bathroom.  I cornered & I pounced.  Asking over & over again the question that plagued me.  "Why do you stay?  How do you stay?  Do you question?"

The answers shocked me.  Everyone I asked...every...single...person told me

Yes, they question.
Yes, it's hard.
Yes, sometimes they want to run screaming.

After all these years in this church...after all the "Oh...I KNOW this church is true because the Holy Ghost testified to me that it was true.  And if you pray hard enough....." (cue the Mormon Tabernacle choir) 

Years of "Oh golly, this church saved my life!  Makes me a better person!  I never question because God answered my prayers!"

Years of not seeing the truth. Years of listening to only one side of a persons story.  Only hearing the pretty sales pitch of the church.

Years of feeling too embarrassed & alone....I finally hear the truth.

To live my religion is very hard.  Some things that have been taught to us...are hard to swallow.  We struggle to believe, to have faith, to have knowledge.  Everyone person I spoke to...must have felt I was struggling.  For everyone opened up to me in ways I never expected.

I found that these people, all at different stages of life & belief....wanted to believe.  Some, even without a shadow of a doubt KNEW the Gospel was true.  KNEW that Jesus Christ WAS the Savior.  But even for those hard line believers, THEY even had moments of questioning.  Moments of teetering.  Moments of..."what if?"

We are human. We are not Jesus Christ.  We will never be perfect in this life. We do not have all knowledge.  We all struggle.  Some of us stay in this church because we were born in this church.  Some stay because they marry into it.  Some stay because the Holy Ghost was so strong & fierce in their heart, they could never deny.  Some stay because they are lonely.  Some stay because they like to be challenged.  Some are rock hard in their belief & some are wishy washy.  Some members of this church are pure evil. Some members are too good to be here in this tarnished world.  Some are raging liberals & some are apron wearing conservatives.

2 years have passed since I told my Bishop to take my temple membership card & shred it.  2 years of wonderful "wondering" out in the shadows.  2 years of too tired for crying.  2 years of questioning.

2 years of asking all the right questions.

2 years and a new questions have emerged

"What have I learned & where do I go from here?"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why do you stay?

Tell my Bishop I have no testimony...check.
Drink coffee on Sunday...........check
Let go of all guilt....check
Life goes on.....check
Breath a sigh of relief....check.


Now what?

So...I'm in the church, not of it?  Yeah, that sounded about right!

Let me tell you friends....I felt like a dog that had just been sprung from a bath.  I was running around, shaking my wet fur to & fro then rubbing my body all along the side of the couch.  Yeah baby!  Liberated!

Now that I was free from my church-ly cares....I felt more at ease to piss people off, say whatever the FUNK I wanted to say &

Listen people....I knew at that point the church had NO WAY made me bottle up my essence & shove it down the couch cushion.  That was all me...trying to live up to what I THOUGHT a good Christian girl should be.  Forming an illusion in my mind of what was a Godly women. 

This symbolic break from my religion was a way for me to breath.  To give up paranoia, pain, confusion & the desire to please everybody.

I was starting over.   Instead of being a scared, wondering 19 year old...I was now starting off as a thirty something women that shot 4 babies out of her vagina while yelling HELZ YEAH BABY!  Dude...I was an old, married, baby shoot'n women looking for the truth.  I was light years away from 19.

Being a lady of a certain age....I tempered the urge to snort Blow & steal crap.  No...I must go about finding truth in a mature thirty year old Lady way.

Ok YES...I did drink coffee...& break the Sabbath by buying a McDouble....but you have to was high time I did something cray-cray ya know?  Let lose a little.  Be badddddd.

After my bought of hooligan-ish behavior...I eased myself back into the real world.  The world of "Let's Pretend I'm Mature."

So now my quest began.  My quest of...."Am I alone?  Am I crazy? Should I stay or go." had now officially begun.

And for my first act of truth seeking.....I asked a very prominent, "high ranking" church man... "High Priest".... a question. A question I always wanted to ask but was to scared in my past life to ask it in fears someone would find out I was struggling.

"So Brother you ever ask yourself......"What the hell am I doing here?  Why do I stay?""

How he....and the others that I asked that question responded, threw me for a loop & brought me back down to Earth.