Is That a New Skin Doodle?

ACS_0026I honestly thought that no one was going to notice that I got a new tattoo.

But they did.

A lot of people have asked me about it and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to talk about it. This past weekend, Golden Spike Tattoo in Ogden had a charity event to raise funds for Planned Parenthood. So why did I get a tattoo in support of Planned Parenthood and why is it important for me to talk about?

I’m glad that you asked.

When I was 20, I had no health insurance due to a preexisting kidney condition. I was a broke college student who waited tables. I had no real job, no insurance, no money. But what I DID have was a lump in my left breast. Doctor after doctor turned me away, refusing to screen me for cancer…much less treat me. I was scared, in pain, and alone with nowhere to turn.

As I walked into Planned Parenthood for my screening, crying and shaking with fear, a man spit on me and told me that I was going to Hell.

I ended up having a non-cancerous cyst, but still one that was so large and painful that it needed removal.

When I was 24, I spent five months wrecked by excruciating pain, vomiting, and almost nonstop bleeding. Doctor after doctor told me I was “overreacting” and that I was “too young” to be spending so much time at the doctors’ office.

Defeated, I turned to the one place I knew that someone would believe me when I said that something was wrong with my body.

The nurse practitioner that I saw at Planned Parenthood wrote me a referral to a specialist since I hadn’t been able to see one without a referral, and I had three cysts removed from my ovaries before being placed on hormonal therapy that has kept me from having any cysts since.

I stand with Planned Parenthood because I fully believe in a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, but that’s not my personal story.

I choose to support Planned Parenthood for more than that. I stand with Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood has always stood by me.


Why Do Women Put Other Women Down?

       In a world where women are starting to feel more vocal about their desire for inequality, one of the biggest problems that we still face is each other. Girls, we can fight the patriarchy until we are blue in the face, but until we can start getting along we aren’t going very far. A lot of it isn’t intentional, but women are still just flat out mean to other women. But why? We all know how we do it, but why are we doing it? Here’s three main causes (lame excuses) that I’ve seen at the root of girl vs. girl bullying.

  1. Blending In

From day one, women are ingrained with this ideology that to succeed, you have to be one of the boys. What do the boys do? They put girls down. This starts on the playground and continues to the board room. You see it in girls who are “tomboys”. In order to gain acceptance for the things that they do like, they continuously have to go out of their way to shun and put down things that they don’t like, and the girls who do like these things. These women grow up to continue to criticize and critique the actions of other women. Look, if you don’t like something, that’s cool. But it’s hard enough being a woman in this world without you going out of your way to convince men that they’re right about all of the ridiculous ideas that they have about women. And it’s only hurting you. Because no matter how much you try to say how bad women are, you’re still a woman. And everyone knows it. You’re putting other people down so that you climb your way up. That’s just poor manners.

        2. Competition.

In the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We raise girls to see each other as competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.” It’s true. It’s sad and it’s sorry and worst of all, it is true. Even as toddlers, little girls hear messages of “well a boy is never going to like you if ____.” Instead of teaching girls not to be loud so that boys will like them, we need to be emphasizing the fact that studying and doing well in school will prepare them to get into good colleges or otherwise prepare them for success in the world. I’m not going to say that I have never been guilty of this. It took a lot of conscious decision to stop falling into this ugly cycle. Because sometimes it is just a subconscious thing. But we have to stop. Pointing out that a girl could stand to lose a few pounds doesn’t make you look slimmer. Telling a naturally thin girl to go eat a hamburger doesn’t suddenly make your curves more tantalizing. Pointing out how many people someone has slept with doesn’t make you any more chaste than you are. Ladies, say it with me, “making her look worse doesn’t make me look better, it just makes me mean.” I know that there’s only a few seats at the table, and I know that sucks. But the answer isn’t to keep other women from getting that seat that you have your eyes on. Team up and bring your ladies with you. Bring more chairs to the table if there aren’t enough.

        3.  The “V” Word

We indoctrinate our girls with this obscure idea that their virginity is the most valuable thing they have. It’s not. Stop. A person is more than their worst mistake, nobody is going to remember what you did your book report on in third grade, and you, young woman, you are so much more than the first person that you have sex with. Or how many people you choose to have sex with. Stop buying into this insane notion and stop feeding it to others. Nobody glorifies this purity in men, in fact, it is mocked and ridiculed. So the message that we send to young people is that sex is for males and not for females. Yet another way men get autonomy and women are supposed to be ashamed of their bodies. And guess what? Instead of rebelling against this notion, women just use it as another way to put one another down. You are more than your sex life, and so is every other person that you know.

What are some of the other ways that you’ve seen girl on girl bullying, where do you think this nonsense comes from, and what do we need to do to stop it?

Living Proof: Perfect Hair Day

I woke up today with a bit of a cough. I don’t really think that I am getting sick or anything, but my body always struggles to adjust when the weather starts to change. Believe me when I say that it is really starting to get cold out. It was only 34 degrees (1 degree Celsius) when I took the dogs for their walk this morning.

Not only was I not feeling well, but time just felt like it was whizzing by. Activities that normally take me 5-10 minutes to complete now seemed to take 30 minutes! Maybe that’s just part of having a little bit of a cold. When I hopped into the shower, I simply didn’t have the time or the energy to wash my hair. I have A LOT of hair, y’all. It isn’t exactly long, but it is pretty thick. Washing my hair is an entire event in and of itself.

Luckily, I didn’t to worry about washing my hair in the shower thanks to Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo. I recently started using this dry shampoo and it has totally changed how I think of dry shampoo as a product. I have always been a big fan of Batiste dry shampoo or Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo in a pinch. Living Proof had me intrigued, however, with it’s promise of actually cleaning my hair. I had previously avoided this dry shampoo due to its hefty price tag when compared to other brands, but decided to give it a try.

Y’all. I don’t know if I can go back.

First off, I used a lot less product than I do with others. Sure, I paid more up front…but if it lasts longer and goes further, isn’t it the same price or cheaper in the end? Normally, I cannot run my fingers through my hair or touch my scalp without a weird chalky feeling after using a dry shampoo. Not with this one. It actually feels clean. On top of that, it smells really good. It smells clean and slightly floral. .

Granted, I still need to brush my hair, but check out the before and after pictures below.





As you can see, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo pulled the oil from my hair without leaving any residue. My hair also isn’t left with a dull color like it can be with some other shampoos. No white spots giving away my “I haven’t washed my hair in a week because I am using dry shampoo” secret.

I honestly went into this thinking that there was no way that I would be convinced that this was worth the money. BUT. IT. IS. I have decided that this is going to be a new must-have item in my gym bag. Even when I have recently washed my hair, it tends to get a bit greasy after a trip to the gym…especially when I am doing a lot of running. Not anymore.

A Lunch Co-Op Changed My Lunch Life

Y’all. Eating healthy and bringing your lunch to work every day is hard work. It’s a lot easier to eat out and not have to worry about it. But it’s also a lot more expensive and a lot less healthy. So how do you find that middle ground? Well I am only an expert in what works for me, but here is what did work: I joined a co-op.

More like I created a co-op because one didn’t exist at my workplace. I found four other people who also wanted to eat healthier, cheaper lunches every day. And it wasn’t as hard to find four other vegans (or at least people willing to eat vegan lunches every day) as I thought that it would be.

We assigned each person a day and on your designated day you are to bring five servings of whatever it is that you prepare for lunch. And then you don’t have to make lunch for the rest of the week.


Brilliant, right?

You get all of the benefits of bulk meal prepping but without having to eat the same thing every day. You also get to try a lot of things that you may not have thought of trying before.

It’s been two weeks in our Lunch Bunch, and I’d say things are going pretty well. What have we been eating? I was hoping that you would ask!


Day One: Stir Fry Veggies with Tofu Over Rice


I figured this would eventually be one of our meals so I kind of laughed when it was the first one. I love stir fry. Love love love. But I’m not very good at pressing my tofu to get the firm texture that this dish had. I was super thankful that we had this dish because I was able to get some advice on press, press, press again.




Day Two: Kung Pao Cauliflower and Chickpeas



Day two was my day. I had a head of cauliflower that I


had bought at the grocery store but almost forgot about when I was able to whip up this


yummy dish. I absolutely love chickpeas, so I added those as well. This dish was super easy and even the non

vegetarian in our group was

impressed. I used a super simple breading, roasted the cauliflower, then tossed the cauliflower and some chickpeas in a kung pao sauce that I made. I felt like the


portion was a little small, but it seemed to be fine with everyone. We’re all learning a lot about portion control lately.


Day Three: Vegan Quiche

Oh. My. Goodness. I still cannot get over how delicious this was! I’ve seen recipes for vegan quiche for YEARS but could never convince myself to try it. Now I am absolutely kicking myself. The non-vegetarian in our group whipped this up and you would swear that she’s been a die hard vegan and master chef her whole life if you had tasted this. If you want to try it for yourself, you can use this recipe from Minimalist Baker.

Day Four: Soy Chorizo and Sweet Potato Wraps 


Sweet Potatoes are probably my favorite food. Or maybe avocados. I can’t decide. Who cares? This dish had both! There was a little bit of assembly required but it was well worth it. A warm tortilla with spinach, a tasty mixture of sweet potato and vegan chorizo, topped with avocado. Say no more. My taste buds were happy all day long. This is a combo that I had never really thought about making but will be sure to whip up for myself in the future.


Day Five: Spaghetti with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes

Remember what I said about us learning portion control? It’s hard. And it’s hard to control yourself when the food is so yummy. I don’t eat pasta very often so this was a nice change of pace for me, and I was tickled to see that there were roasted Brussels sprouts as a side.


Day Six: Congee

I had never even heard of congee before but it may be one of my new favorite dishes.

Congee is a savory rice porridge that is popular in many Asian countries. It’s often paired with meat and/or veggies and served to people who are ill. It’s healthy comfort food! Oddly enough, I was having a really bad day the day that we had congee so it was perfect. Our congee was topped with kale, tofu, mushrooms, and green onions.


Day Seven: Zoodles with Homemade Sauce



I’m not sure what dish I was planning to prepare for my second week, but this was not it. That being said, I am a sucker for a good deal. Any time that I go to the grocery store, I always check for produce that has been marked down to sell before it goes bad. Monday evening I was at the store when I found zucchini marked down to 4 for 99 cents and could not just let it sit there. I also scooped up a bag of tomatoes for 99 cents. I already had plenty of garlic and basil at home, so Zoodles it was! If you haven’t tried making vegetable noodles yet, I strongly suggest it. I also scored an organic personal sized watermelon for only 99 cents so I added some fresh fruit to our lunch.


Day Eight: Zucchini Hummus Wraps

I DIDN’T GET TO EAT TODAY! I was so busy running around with meetings that I didn’t realize until I got home that I had forgotten to eat. Today’s lunch was a whole wheat tortilla with hummus, vegan cheese, kale, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.



Day Nine: Barbecue Carrot Sandwiches 


Yum! This is another dish that I wouldn’t have made for myself. I love carrots and I love barbecue sauce, but I had never thought about using carrots in a dupe of a pulled pork sandwich. The sandwiches were topped with guacamole so of course my avocado loving soul was thrilled.

Day Ten: Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Mushroom Gravy


Remember that day that I was so busy that I forgot to eat lunch? I was NOT about to let

that happen again. Which explains why I am standing up in this picture, holding my food. I had to eat on the go, but I’m so glad that I took the time to heat my lunch up. I am not a huge potato person so having the mixture of potatoes and cauliflower mixed things up in an unexpected way. I definitely went into this meal thinking “mashed potatoes and gravy is a side dish, not a meal” but I was pleasantly surprised.

There were lots of hearty mushrooms in this dish and it gave it a really meaty texture. I am ceasing to pass judgement on food because I haven’t had a single meal that I wasn’t head over heels for this week.

So there you have it. I’ve eaten healthier, saved money, saved time, and helped my friends do the same. You could easily implement this in your own workplace or friend group as well!

Click the thumbnails below for full size pictures of each of the meals that I posted above:

A little snow can be fun, but a lot of snow can be dangerous

Whenever a situation is not too my liking, my brain often flashes back to a completely different time. Things moving too slow? I’ll daydream about an exciting whirlwind time in my life. Things seeming too hectic and can’t slow down? I’ll reminisce about a relaxing vacation where I somehow managed to turn my cell phone off.

As I write this, it is 101 degrees outside. No, I’m not exaggerating, I just looked it up. I’m craving chilly mountain air instead of this unforgiving desert sun. If there was snow, I would stick my face in right now. Enough with the snowcones, bring on the hot cocoa weather already!

There’s a photo on my desk of my boyfriend and his son playing in the snow last December. The scorching heat outside of my office makes this day feel like ages ago, but my mind takes me back to frolicking through snowy fields and snowflakes on my eyelashes. I’m pretty sure that all kids love snow, but kids who live somewhere where it doesn’t snow often and doesn’t manage to stick for long seem to love it the most.

As we were walking to the park for a snowball fight, my boyfriend’s little boy looked up at me and said, “you know, a thing I learned is that a little snow can be fun, but a lot of snow can be dangerous.”

At first, this struck me as an odd thing to say. There was so much snow here all winter long, and it was still fun and not dangerous at all. He went on to tell me all of the things that he had been learning at school about weather, specifically about blizzards and avalanches.

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking about all of the tasks that I take on. Owning a house, cooking dinner every night, a full time job, nonprofit board positions, running for the board of my Home Owner’s Association, yoga, contributing to political campaigns, side projects at work, volunteer projects, taking care of two dogs, going to the gym, family time, tackling my to be read list, fostering friendships, professional development…oof! The list really does go on and on. The problem is that I really, truly enjoy doing all of these things. I never have a moment where I wish that I didn’t have so many commitments, I just wish that I had more time.

But I don’t. And I never will. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. I don’t have any more or any less time than anyone else out there, and that is a fact that is simply never going to change.

A little snow can be fun, but a lot of snow can be dangerous.

I can do a lot, but I can’t do it all. Sure, I may be really great at some of these tasks that I take on, but does it always have to be me?

I have two huge problems when it comes to time management and stress management. Delegating and saying no. It’s not that I am a control freak, I just have serious fear of missing out. But no matter how hard I try to balance it all, it always ends up snowballing when I least expect it. How many avalanches can one girl take?

A little snow can be fun, but a lot of snow can be dangerous.

Such wise words from such a young person.


So I am trying. I narrowed down a list of causes that I am really passionate about, hobbies that I truly love, and things that I really must do. Everything else, I bowed out. When I see others who care about those things, I use my networking abilities to help make those connections. By showing others how to get involved, I have more time to devote to keeping my sanity.

I’m trying to wait longer before saying yes. This is hard for me because I am such an enthusiastic person. But I am learning to say “let me get back to you” and “let me see what my schedule looks like” before committing myself to anything. It’s really helped. Glancing at a visual of my commitments and telling myself that I cannot do more than what will fit into the boxes on my planner has worked wonders for me. It’s so easy now to say “I literally cannot fit that in.”

Lastly, I’ve stopped giving excuses. I used to always revert back to, “I don’t have the time” or “I’m not sure if I am the right person for that job” and every single time I would get wrapped up into doing the thing I was trying so hard to not commit myself to. People are always quick to respond with “aren’t we all?” or “it won’t take very long” or “oh you’ll be so great for this” without realizing the damage that they are causing. People who don’t suffer from Over Committal Syndrome or People Pleasing-itis (both things that I completely just made up, no need to WebMD the symptoms…I’m sure you know someone with these conditions) don’t see how hard it was for someone to muster the strength to say “no” in the first place. But too much snow can be dangerous, and I know that now. So when I say “thank you, but I can’t…thank you for thinking to ask me”, that’s it. No reason, no excuses. And if they ask why I just say “I can’t at this time, maybe in the future I can do this”.

Looking at this picture on my desk has reminded me to recommit myself to these three practices. I want to make people happy, but I have to start with me. I want to do all of the things, but I need to be able to do them well…and that requires time to rest. Memory lane sure has been a necessary trip for me this afternoon.

Perhaps we all have something to learn from the little people in our lives. So pay attention. You’ll never know what childlike wisdom you really need to hear.

Morning Meltdown – Crisis Averted

I woke up in a bad mood this morning. Not necessarily a grumpy or irritable kind of bad mood, more like the overwhelmed, crying into my steering wheel kind of bad mood. Most days, especially recently, I would have just let this attitude guide the rest of my day. I am sad and anxious today and that’s just how it is. Not today. I looked down at my watch (which isn’t actually a watch, it’s a Fitbit, I don’t have a watch…but if I said I looked down at my Fitbit, wouldn’t that have been a little weird? No? Not any weirder than this weird rambling I’m doing right now to clarify what I meant? Ok.) and realized that it was only 8 AM.

It’s only 8 AM and I have the whole day ahead of me. I have the whole day to decide whether I am going to have a good day or a bad day. And I am determined that I’m not having a bad day. Because I don’t want to.

Having that mindset is all good and great and is definitely a great start, but how exactly was I supposed to go about having a great day when the universe CLEARLY didn’t want me to? I took several deep breaths (do you know how much breathing you can do in just two minutes?!) and then set about doing four simple things that made a huge impact.

Start with an attitude of gratitude. I suffer from anxiety and have for quite some time. I know good and well that the majority of the time that I spend feeling overwhelmed is because anxiety causes my brain to hyper focus on what is going wrong, which means that I lose sight of all of the things that are going right. So this morning on my walk from my car to my desk, I challenged myself to list off ten genuine gratitudes before I sat down in front of my computer. I’m doing a much better job of exercising daily and I am already feeling better. That was easy. I have a job that I love and that I make enough money at that I have started to make huge strides in being completely debt free and have actual savings. Spring has sprung and I have plans to be outside all three days of the weekend, and I have been walking my dogs every evening at sunset. That’s three and I hadn’t even left the parking deck. I tried to focus on “I know that ____, and I also know that _____” type of statements. An example that I have had to work with personally in the past is “I know that people expect me to be married and have children already because of my age, and I also know that other people’s ideas of success shouldn’t dictate how I set my goals and priorities.” This allows me to think about things that I actually value and am grateful for, like community involvement, travelling, and personal time. I completed my list of ten well before I reached my desk and the grateful thoughts just kept coming!

Treat yourself. I don’t necessarily mean in the style of Tom and Donna, a la massages and fine leather goods. But do something nice for yourself. Do you enjoy painting your nails or toenails? Maybe it’s hard to do at your desk if you’re at work, but make a commitment to yourself that you’ll paint those toenails tonight at home. I personally love stationary and will occasionally treat myself to a new pack of thank you cards or sticky notes from the dollar section at Target. This morning? I found a compleyed punch pass in my wallet to Parlour Coffee Bar and my heart instantly soared. I treated myself to a free mocha, enjoyed a nice stroll in the beautiful weather, and got to have a lovely chat with my favorite barista – who happens to be an incredible woman that I also consider a friend! Win-win-win-win!

Get to steppin’. – It’s no secret that exercise and bloodflow are not just good for your physical health, but also for your mental health. I’m not about to tell you some awesome super secret that only I know about. Sorry. But I can give you some insight into how I sneak in some movement into my day, even though I have a desk job. Use the water cooler that is a little further than the one closest to your desk. I use the one downstairs instead of the one that is on my floor. Gives me a little extra time away from staring at my computer screen and gets me moving. Need an excuse to walk away from your desk more often? Start drinking more water! I also like to use my breaks at work to take a walk around the block. I use reminders on my Fitbit to remind me to get 250 steps in each hour. I can draft emails, create to-do lists, brainstorm, read industry related articles, or catch up on webinars while walking around the building. And anytime that I find myself wanting to facepalm, roll my eyes, or any other act of frustration, I instead put my arms over my head and reach high while wiggling my fingers. Stretching is much more effective at calming you down than complaining or letting yourself get agitated.

Be nice. – When I am in a bad mood, being overly nice to people is typically the last thing I want to do. Usually it isn’t a conscious decision. That’s exactly the point. You have to be conscious about how you treat others, especially when you’re already down, grumpy, or stressed. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love to compliment people. I like to refer to people as “friend,” and I love to tell them when their hair looks great or that the shade of blue they are wearing that day looks fantastic on them. People always love to hear nice things about themselves. And it’s contagious. I know what it’s like to be having a horrible time and hear someone say something nice to me that helps me, even if only a little bit. So why not put more of that out there into the universe? It’s hard to stay in a funk when you are spending all of your time smiling and being friendly!

Sometimes it’s hard to take control over your mindset, especially when you deal with anxiety or depression on a regular basis. But I’ve learned that the earlier I can start doing little things to counteract my funky moods, the easier it is on me. Doing these things really helps me to keep my thoughts in check instead of getting swept up in a whirlwind of irrational thoughts. Because that’s exactly what anxiety is. It’s not easy, and it’s taken me a lot of time to be in a place where I can actually pause and remember to do these things. I’m not going to lie to you, there are still plenty of times when I forget everything I just talked about and spiral into a meltdown. That’s ok. It’s going to happen. Don’t beat yourself up over having a bad day, that’s the last thing you need. You just leave yourself little reminders and you try again next time.

High tide, low tide, Roll Tide.

Six years ago today my life changed forever. It wasn’t because it was my first tornado or anything. I may have lived all over the country, but I’m southern born and southern bred….I know a thing or two about weather.
Thanks, James Spann.
I know the rumbling and roaring of a train when you’re nowhere near tracks. I know the chilling silence that comes mere seconds after a tornado takes out your neighbor’s freshly planted azaleas. And their birdbath. And their swing set which is now somehow in your front yard. I know what it’s like to wake up in the hospital because 250 mph winds send you headfirst into a wall.
April 27, 2011 was not the first time I had dealt with tornados.
But it definitely wasn’t what I was used to.
348 people were killed across the South on April 27, 2011. 252 of those people were killed in Alabama alone.
What I hadn’t expected was to get stranded 45 miles from my house without power for a week. I hadn’t planned on having my friends and family scattered across the state, yet still somehow all in the line of danger. I wasn’t prepared for the phone call I received that night to tell me how a girl I had spoken with almost every day for the last three years died because her ribs punctured her lung when her house collapsed on her. I called and texted literally everyone I knew after that. And even though there were three friends who didn’t respond to my roll call, nothing prepared me for the day that I got internet back more than a week later, and I found them all on a list of storm related deaths.
I didn’t recognize large portions of my state anymore because all the trees were gone, the buildings were crumbled, restaurants I’d eaten at since childhood nowhere to be seen. What was this, what had happened, and how in the hell were we ever going to be okay ever again?
But we were. And we are. There’s still so many people trying to put back their lives six years later. I’m still dealing with a lot of what I saw. But all the disaster and distruction I saw pales in comparison to the outpouring of love, compassion, and community that followed it.
I’m filled with a roller coaster of emotions today.
There are waves of sadness for the things and the people I lost. Feelings of anxiety when my brain flashes back to those moments when I didn’t know what would happen, when I couldn’t reach my family on the phone. The sinking feeling in my stomach when just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse, they projected yet another tornado headed straight for Tuscaloosa. I cry when I think about watching the sky crack open that morning with a flash of green light right before I watched a tornado touch down three blocks up the road from where I was standing.
But there’s so many feelings of joy when I think about hanging out by a fire or playing catch with my friends outside for a week straight because there was no electricity, no gas for our cars, and nothing else to do but worry. Feelings of pride as I saw my state rebuild itself. Feelings of gratitude that even though I lost so much, I managed to walk out not only alive but with my house still standing, my family members alive, and not a single scratch upon me.
It makes me proud of the place I call home to say we’ve come so far since that day took so much away. It’s really hard to be so far from home on days like today, it makes my heart yearn for red dirt.
But it’s a spirit I always keep with me.
High tide, low tide, Roll Tide.