Don't quit your daydream.

I think it’s kind of natural for us humans to focus on the things we don’t have in life instead of the things we do. If the opposite were true, the self-help world would be bankrupt and this blog wouldn’t exist.

I admit, I’m one of those people from time to time—things can be going great, life can be just fine, and then I’ll hop on social media and see how much ‘better’ someone else has it and start feeling dissatisfied with my own circumstances, accomplishments, relationships, yada yada. And then I find that others say the same when they look at my instagram or facebook. It’s this weird world of smoke and mirrors. 

And what a shame that we let it take over sometimes. We wish for more, wonder why others are so blessed, or even doubt our own abilities. It’s an awful headspace to be in. Ew.

Last summer I met a guy who seemed to defy this trend. His name is Greg Vaughan, and he’s an incredibly talented, successful, Brooklyn-based fashion photographer. He also only has one arm.

Now, being a photographer/filmmaker, my mind was blown when I first heard about him. Sometimes I feel like I can barely get a good shot off with two hands—I couldn’t imagine how he got by with just one. At the time I was going through a creative slump and needed someone to remind me how to claw my way out, so I decided I had to meet him.

A mutual friend connected us and I showed up on his doorstep, camera in hand, ready to interview my way into his potentially incredible outlook. I was not disappointed. You can see the result here.

Before I walked in there, I was feeling bored, boring, and seemingly irrelevant in the creative world. I left with the renewed perspective that there are opportunities constantly being poured upon us, we just have to recognize and seize them.

Quite frankly, most of us don’t. The people who ‘make it’ in life just move on the chances they’re given--too often we’re too lazy, tired, scared or skeptical to reach out and grab them. I was inspired by how Greg ran with what he had—incredible talent and a belief in himself. That was enough. And you better believe he wasn’t sitting around looking online at how great other people had it or worrying about what others thought about his handicap. Nope. He just started kicking ass and taking names.

I interviewed him a year ago, and it’s taken me this long to finally sit down and cut it together. And I really owe him a big thank you, because I was yet again in a little creative slump and it reminded me real fast that I need to quit waiting for hand outs, a “management position”, the right time, courage, money, help—whatever the hold up is, I gotta let go of it and just go for it. 

To see Greg's amazing work, visit


So this past August I went up to Montana for my annual off-the-grid escape and stayed with a friend. As usual, she opened her home to many, and we had a bonfire to catch up with old friends and get to know new ones.

One of her friends was very nice, but a little strange. He began talking about how much he loved animals, so much so that he couldn't bear to feed live rats to his pet snakes. He eventually sold his snakes after one escaped and 'murdered' one of the now 'pet' rats.

You know what they say—when the snake’s away, the rats will play/procreate! And so they did.

Before he knew it, his basement was crawling with 'pets'. He had more than a hundred at one time, and knew them all by name. But sadly, they only had a life span of three years, and it was heartbreaking for him to watch them die.


All I could picture was this. 

Willard, the heartwarming film about hundreds of unlikely friends finding common ground and murdering people.

Willard, the heartwarming film about hundreds of unlikely friends finding common ground and murdering people.

I knew that if I looked up at that moment, I would undoubtedly stare right into the eyes of the one person I knew thought this guy was as nuts as I did. And if that happened, I would burst into laughter and would look like a total I just stared into the fire trying to keep a neutral facial expression as I muttered niceties like, "Oh, nice," or "Huh, wow."

But as he talked further, I heard about his battle with drug addiction, and how several painful back surgeries had led to his abuse of oxycodone. His 'rat king' phase happened during the height of this addiction, and then things became a little more clear.

The more I listened to him, the more I realized what a kind soul he was and that more than anything, he needed understanding. I felt a little bad for branding him a weirdo right off the bat. Granted, the rat fetish was a little creepy, but turns out he actually wasn't.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I view people, and how I ought to view them. Some people are just easier to be kind and understanding with than others, but that doesn't mean I should choose who gets the best side of me. 

I thought back to another Montana moment from a few years back (apparently Montana is the mothership of life lessons). We were up at our family ranch when Sunday rolled around. We all piled in the ranch van (the kind that’s like a sofa on wheels) and made our way to Church.

Montana, where big skies, amazing people watching and valuable life lessons are plentiful.  

Montana, where big skies, amazing people watching and valuable life lessons are plentiful.  

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Mormon church, the first Sunday of every month is called Fast and Testimony meeting. It’s where people are invited to get up in front of everyone and share their testimony about God, Christ, the gospel, or whatever spiritually-minded thoughts they feel merit sharing. Occasionally (usually) this leads to over-sharing, uncontrollable sobbing, or really dumb stories that have nothing to do with religion or spirituality in any way.

I'm sure this guy had great things to say, but all I could think was, "Yay! The David Bowie lookalike is in our ward!" And then I snapped this photo, mid-sacrament meeting, like an idiot.

I'm sure this guy had great things to say, but all I could think was, "Yay! The David Bowie lookalike is in our ward!" And then I snapped this photo, mid-sacrament meeting, like an idiot.

But sometimes you have a gem of a Sunday where people offer true, sincere , lovely thoughts that make you ponder the greater things in life. This particular Sunday was no exception.

As we settled into the pew, one by one people filed up to share their thoughts. Soon an older gentleman got up to share his.

He started by announcing it had been years since he’d been to church, and that it felt good to be back. He called people out in the audience and told them how good it was to see them. This soon, however, morphed into calling people out on a more personal level.

The bishop (the head of the congregation) was the town attorney, who this guy apparently had beef with, because he suddenly started ranting about how he’d been cheated by the bishop over alimony money.

Things got real weird, real fast.

Soon he pulled a tape recorder out of his pocket and declared he had their whole conversation on tape, where he insisted the bishop had lied to and cheated him.

Men from the congregation got up and asked him to sit down if he didn’t have a testimony of spiritual matters to share, as this was not the time or place to try and defame the bishop.

He argued that he WAS sharing his testimony of Christ, and also his testimony that “that man is a LIAR!” as he firmly pointed in the Bishop’s direction.

Several men surrounded the podium, and one gently grabbed his arm to escort him back down to the seats. This threw him into a rage of f-bombs and flailing.

The men panicked and grabbed him, so he grabbed the podium mic and continued screaming. He refused to let go of the mic, and instead ripped it right out of the podium. That’s when they tackled him to the ground, and as he screamed profanities, dragged him out into the hall and then outside, his screams fading as the distance grew.


I looked around in shock, not knowing how to feel, looking to others in hopes their reactions would offer some direction. I heard snickers from some of my siblings, and in attempt to ease the awkwardness, I joined in (I tend to laugh in general when things get uncomfortable).

I turned to my dad mid-snicker assuming he’d be doing the same, but was shocked to find him wiping away tears. My condescending chuckles came to an abrupt halt.

Insta-shame washed over me. While I’d sat there mocking this man, my dad had felt pure empathy for him and his pain, his feelings of betrayal and abandonment, and his desire to be understood and heard. He saw past the ‘crazy’ and into the heart of this man, and felt love for him.

I was incredibly moved by this, and never forgot that quiet, powerful lesson my dad taught me that day, that in spite of what we see on the surface, people are always worthy of our love, concern and understanding.

So maybe we all just take a second to remember that this holiday season. After all, it’s a time of year when people feel either totally and completely surrounded by love or utterly ostracized by it. So I vote that we put aside our fear of rejection, disappointment, worries about appearance or whatever and just love first, think later. Who knows how what positive change it could bring about.

Now that's a kind face. Thanks Dad for always reminding me how to be better to those around me.

Now that's a kind face. Thanks Dad for always reminding me how to be better to those around me.


In 2009, one of my best friends Jentry and I were able to join my brother, Trent, and tour Southeast Asia together for 3 months. It was an incredible trip full of unexpected twists and turns and more fun than I could have imagined.

The three of us floating around in Borneo. 

The three of us floating around in Borneo. 

Throughout the trek, we were constantly weeding out the people trying to scam us. At times it was exhausting, and it made me a little callous to anyone trying to sell me stuff. I hated the idea of paying more than the locals did (this goes back to my obsession with finding the absolute best deals on things) and at points I found myself acting appalled when street vendors requested two dollars for fake Ray Bans when there was no way I would pay a penny over a buck fifty.

Here's us saving money in Thailand by copying the locals and cramming all of us onto a tiny scooter for the day. 

Here's us saving money in Thailand by copying the locals and cramming all of us onto a tiny scooter for the day. 

This cheapskate attitude was perfectly exemplified on a side trip to Laos. Trent needed to stay in Bangkok, so Jentry and I hopped on a bus to Luang Prabang for a little escape. It was 12 hours but we didn't care.

Until about 4 hours in, when I realized the seat I'd chosen was right above the exhaust, which was somehow spewing heat (and exhaust) back into the bus, under my seat. It was already hot out and there definitely wasn't AC on the bus. So 12 hours like that was, well, less than dreamy.

In addition, the headrests were white and covered with some pretty gnarly stains. So I just looked out the window and figured, well, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches to get someplace good. That was after a few round of dry heaving.

We finally arrived, tired, hot, and hungry. The tuk tuks were waiting, and locals swarmed us with brochures for their hotels. One of them looked pretty fancy, and the guy assured us it was only 80,000 Kip/night (about $10). I clarified with him a couple times, knowing well that there was a 95% chance he was full of crap.

We arrived at the hotel and began checking in. The front desk person asked us for 100,000 Kip.

“Hold on,” I said. “The driver guy told us it was only 80,000.”

“No, I'm sorry, it's 100,000.”

I argued with her a little longer, and then I threw in the towel, threw on my backpack, turned to Jentry, and said, “We're walkin'!”

Now, this is Jentry's favorite part of the story. He loves telling it, because when he impersonates me during this part, he does it in such a way that makes me seem 100% insane. Please observe:

Apparently he remembers it in slow-mo.

Anyway, the level-headed Jentry quickly reminded me that the difference was only about two U.S. dollars, and that it was a screamin' deal for how incredible the place was. So I collected myself and reluctantly obliged, scowling at the woman all the while.

About 30 minutes later, after checking into our amazing room, we were sitting in a restaurant drinking mango lassis, eating amazing cuisine, and looking out over the most spectacular view of rivers, valleys and mountains I'd ever seen. And all for only two dollars more than I thought it would be (by then we were also cracking up about how I'd reacted to the hotel lady).


I loved how Jentry never lost site of the big picture—a trait he's always had and I admire. It made me want to be better about not over-reacting when things get tough, stressful, or hard. And I, of course, still struggle with that.

So often I lose touch with that bigger picture, and the line between things that do and don't matter becomes blurred. I frequently make calls in the heat of the moment, and later realize it was a knee-jerk reaction to fear, stress or anxiety. It's then that I have to try and remember what's worth worrying or stressing about, and usually whatever it is I'm concerned about really isn't worth fretting over.

Because lets be honest, stress is a real lady-dog (trying to get creative with my attempts to swear less, sorry!). It ages you, exhausts you, makes you sick, causes anxiety and basically eats away at your soul. But we can choose out of it a lot of the time.

Look at it this way. Is the thing you're stressing about life or death? Will it drastically affect the course of your life? If so, then ya, you have full permission to stress until it's resolved.

But if it's neither of those things, and you won't lose your job, a loved one, or yourself, then take a second to put that into perspective and just remember, things will work out. They always do.


A couple months ago, a friend and I had the good fortune to tour and film with Phantogram for about a week. Since the bunks on the bus were full, we were given a rental car and like groupies, followed them from city to city, filming to our hearts delight.

Since some days allowed for us to drive at a leisurely pace, we tried to stop for lunch at local spots in an attempt to soak up a bit of Texas culture. On one particular day, I noticed we were passing right through Waco, and I insisted we stop there (It just felt like there was a good joke in there somewhere. One that was probably only funny to me.)

So I Yelped good places, and an adorable-sounding spot called the Gospel Cafe popped up. No reviews, but it was right around the corner. So we cruised on by, to find the line was out the door.

“This place is legit! Lets's Go!” I exclaimed.

The fact that we were in the worst part of town only seemed to solidify the idea in my brain that it was the most authentic place around.

So while Erich parked the car, I made friends with a guy in line. Everyone was staring at me, and I quickly realized I was the minority in several ways. I was thrilled, because while living in Utah has it's perks, diversity is not one of them.

“So this place must be good!” I chirped.

“Oh ya!” he said. “The best place in town! All kinds of casseroles. Any kind of casserole you want.”

Jackpot! A Southern casserole mecca. My excitement grew when I pictured all the sampling to be had.

Erich walked up and looked a bit uncomfortable. I attempted to lighten him up with my new-found friend's information—best place in town, casserole for days, totally legit. We had a culinary victory awaiting us.

We waited in line for a bout 30 minutes, and we finally got inside. It was a cute, quaint old house, with quilted Gospel-themed tapestries adorning the walls. It was nothing fancy, but then again the best places never are. I loved it.

Finally, we were two people away from paying, and my new best friend turned to me and said,

“The best part is, it's totally free!”

My heart stopped. I looked around again. It all set in.

Bad part of town. Line out the door. Poverty-stricken people. Uplifting gospel messages.

Yep. We were in line for a soup kitchen.

It was too late to turn back. I swore several times internally but kept my cool on the outside.

“Oh, free huh? That's cool. Do they take donations?”

There was no way in hell the two white upper-middle class people in line were not going to donate. I had no cash on me so I quietly turned to Erich and asked for his. He still had no idea what was going on.

We grabbed our macaroni 'casserole', bag-lettuce salad and Little Debbie desserts and sat down. I casually mentioned the reality of the situation. Then we ate and laughed about it (at least I did—a lot) and went on our way.

So if I were to translate this to a metaphor for life, it would be this: Always know what it is you want, and what it is you need to get there.

Granted, I wanted an authentic Waco experience, and I got it. So really this was a victory in my book.

However, I feel like so often in life we 'wait in line' for the things we want, only to find out that when we reach the front of the line, it's not actually what we wanted. Which isn't a waste of time--I think we have to have those experiences to figure out what it is we do want.

Sometimes we wait in the lines people tell us are worth waiting in, or that seem popular. We buy into the hype about certain lines and the promises that lie at the front of them (aka my Waco best friend getting me all jazzed about the 'casserole extravaganza' that turned out to be Hamburger Helper).

But once we know, and we're solid in our ideas of what we want out of life, it just doesn't make sense to wait in the wrong line anymore. Dead-end-job-you-don't-care-about line? Pass. Volatile-relationship-that-makes-you-feel-insecure line? I'm good. Playing-dumb-so-others-can-feel-like-they're-in-charge line? No thanks.

So muddle through whatever 'life-lines' (see what I did there?) you need to muddle through. We all have to do that, and I'm sure I have many more I'll wait in. But eventually, I hope we all find the right lines and reach the front and think, “Yep. Worth the wait.”

Be Bold. Be You. And Avoid Sex Parlors.

I heard the greatest sound byte from designer George Lois the other day. It went as follows:

"If you're a cautious creative, your'e dead in the water."

I liked this so much that maybe I took it a little too far in New York last week, when I threw caution to the wind and decided a massage in China Town sounded like a good idea.

As I walked down the astro-turf alley to the entrance of the place, I heard a customer complaining at the counter.

Customer: “Those weren't the kind of noises I heard.”

Massage Parlor Lady: “Oh yes, we've had other complaints, but you see, the person getting the massage was ticklish, and those were the noises you were hearing.”

Customer: “Those were NOT tickle noises.”

A normal person would have turned around and walked out.

I, however, decided that these complaints meant I was in for a legit, therapeutic, Chinese massage, during which my 'massage therapist' would hopefully not offer the 'happy ending' option. Also, it was only $40/hour, and those who know me know I cannot turn down a bargain. It's literally impossible.

During the first 30 minutes of my massage, it became apparent that the person over the half-wall was either incredibly ticklish or having sex.

Every time a 'tickle noise' would arise, I jerked my head up to look at my portly little therapist (Tony, as he liked to be called), who was conducting reflexology on my feet. He would smile, shrug his shoulders as if to say, “Kids! Am I right?!” Then go back to work.

As he continued to dig into my feet, the pain increased so much that I squealed at one point. Hoping others wouldn't assume I, too, was making 'tickle noises,' I quickly asked, “What is that connected to?” (Supposedly every part of the foot is connected to different parts of the body.)

“Shoulder,” he said.

I got excited because I had indeed experienced extreme shoulder pain on my left side, on and off for years. It made sense that the 'shoulder' part of my foot would be so painful. I decided then that this was in fact legit, and it was worth sitting through some tickle noises, which had since died off anyway.

Pretty soon, he was working on a different part of the foot that hurt even worse than the shoulder part.

“What's that connected to?”

He thought for a moment, using hand gestures as if to coax the broken English from his mouth.

“Baby house,” he said.

My brow furrowed as I pointed to my ovaries.


He nodded with a smile.

“Does that mean there's something wrong with them?” I asked.

Still smiling, he nodded and said, “Yes,” as calmly and enthusiastically as though I'd asked him if he liked ice cream.

I couldn't help but burst into laughter, which then made Tony laugh. It's always nice to share a laugh with a stranger over your probable inability to have children.

Anyway, my point is, the massage adventure turned out to be the most therapeutic of my life (at one point i'm pretty sure he sucked bad juju out of my body through a portal in my stomach) and made for an afternoon of laughs. Wouldn't have changed a thing about it.

I know it's a stretch to compare Lois's amazing creative advice to a sketchy jaunt through China town, but the whole theme of my New York stint seemed to be this: Take Risks.

And often times, doing the thing that feels most true to you seems like the biggest risk. That's usually when you start to second guess yourself, your talent, or wonder if anyone besides you will like the idea. But upon catching up with my good friend, NYC-Based Photographer Jeff Bark, I was reminded that the only person I need approval from is myself.

As you can see from the photos I snapped at his latest NYC show, Jeff is one of the most creative people I know. But like any truly talented artist, he's had his share of ups and downs with his work. For a long time, not many were interested in what he had to offer—they wanted a tamed-down version of it. But he stuck to his guns, and now people can't get enough. His work adorns the covers of magazines, and he's sought out by many high-end fashion brands. In a nutshell, he finally made it, and he did it his way.

So naturally I respect the hell out of this man, and he said something that fell in line with the George Lois quote—JUST ASK. Meaning, whatever your ideas are, it never hurts to seek out the people, artists, bands, etc. you admire and just ask—can we collaborate? Here's an idea, what do you think? Can we work together and make this happen?

And really, what's the worse that could happen? They say no? Big deal. At least you tried.

I liked this advice, and that night, I took it to heart and just asked. A couple hours later I was shooting with a new band in an NYC venue. Boom.

I met with several other photographers while in the city, all of whom I'd never met. I reached out, asked if I could pick their brain, and they all said yes. In return I got so many valuable insights, ideas, and tons of inspiration.

So for any creatives out there floundering the way I sometimes do, take Jeff's advice and JUST ASK / APPROACH / INSTIGATE / PURSUE whatever it is you want. A little talent and a lot of proactivity goes a very, very long way.  


Some days, everything scares me.

I find myself falling into 'worst-case-scenario' mode, where I envision situations in which I fail, embarrass myself, or fall into a creek full of crocodiles and fresh-water sharks that pray upon those who ignored the 'Beware of Crocodiles and Fresh-Water Sharks' sign. Suddenly I'm jerked back to reality and find my shoulders tense, my heart racing and my face contorted into some 'unique' expression (think fugly).

Sometimes these stem from real-life events that I later rehash and embellish what might have been—like that one time Lynze Lenio and I actually did cross a shallow body of brackish water in Costa Rica that had a sign saying, 'Beware of Crocodiles' (look we really, really wanted to see the national park on the other side...which turned out to be closed).

The point is, sometimes we get wayyyyyyyy too heady about it all (and I don't mean crocodile ponds--please think hard bout those). Some days I spend so much time thinking about what could have gone wrong, what could potentially go wrong, or what people might think, that it's completely debilitating.

I had one of these bouts on a recent work trip. I was stressed about the job, and wanted to make a good impression. I'm used to jumping on board with a crew of strangers and making it work, but this time, I got heady. I started worrying that a certain person didn't take me seriously or thought I wasn't up for the job. I voiced this to my mentor (who also happens to be one of my best friends), and she blurted out, “Who the f$&! cares what she thinks!”

It took me a second to process what she said (mostly because it made me laugh), but then I realized how perfectly put that statement was. Who the f-bomb cares what other people think I'm capable of, and why the f-word would I let it dictate what I can or can't do?

So I'm calling today 'Think-Less Thursday.' This is not an excuse to stop using my brain--rather an exercise in fighting off any fears, negativity or counter-productive thoughts for a solid 24 hours. If they pop up, I will pep-talk them away. I will just act and do and move forward and give fear the bird. Care to join me?

Here's a little ditty by Pink Floyd that might offer some inspiration on this fine, fear-free Thursday.

Take it From Twain: You Need a Vacation

I grew up in an average, blue-collar family. Fancy clothes weren’t in the budget (sorry, no Girbauds here), and cable TV was something we’d heard about but never actually seen. Even when money was tight, though, we always traveled. Nothing fancy, just the four of us piling into our 20-year old motor home for a weekend of fishing or exploring. Travel was a critical part of my parents’ lives, and eventually, it became essential for me, too. 

Today, I can always tell when a bout of wanderlust is creeping up on me. My daily routine of going to work, walking the dog, cleaning the house, repeat, repeat, goes from tolerable – even pleasant – to depressing.  I find myself Instagram-stalking friends’ vacation pictures. Before I know it, I’ve busted out the credit card and booked a trip to some new point on the map.

I’ve made some ill-advised purchases in my life (if anyone wants a slightly-used spray tanning gun, just give me a call) but I’ve never regretted buying a plane ticket. After a vacation, I feel healthier, and most of all, happier and more at peace with the world around me. I don’t think it’s just the after-effects of a hearty dose of Vitamin D, either. There’s actual scientific proof to show that travel is good for our mind and body. 

Women who travel at least twice a year have a lower risk of heart attacks than those who vacation every six years or less. (This study did take other factors, like income and preexisting health conditions, into account.) For 89 percent of people, just two days of vacation is enough to help them unwind and de-stress. 

It might be a little harder to quantify, but I’m a firm believer that travel is good for our souls, too. Being forced outside of my comfort zone to experience things I never would have encountered at home has taught me a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been inspired by the kindness of strangers I meet, like a café owner in London who fed my husband and I breakfast for free when our credit card wouldn’t work. I return home feeling like even though the world is huge, we’re all essentially the same people, sharing the same experiences and feelings. 

I could go on and on about the reasons why I feel like every penny I spend on travel is an investment in my mental and physical health, but instead I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 

Don't get mad, get fake!

They say laughter is the best medicine, but what if you don't feel like laughing? Or even smiling, for that matter? Turns out fake laughs are the real best medicine.

According to Dr. Madan Kataria,  the founder of Laughter Yoga (yes that's really a thing), it's just the act of laughing that gets endorphins going. In other words, even if you feel crappy, just going through the motions will naturally bring feel-good vibes.

I gotta say, there's no way I could do what these people do and not actually laugh. If not just from sheer embarrassment alone. Check out this short piece CNN did on the increasingly popular fad, and you'll see what I mean:

Honestly, I think they're on to something. And while I don't plan on making an idiot of myself in public like these people any time soon, it occurred to me that I have an entire collection of fake-laugh photos with my friends. So really, I do make an idiot of myself in public--regularly. Why? Because every time we pose for these, it makes us laugh. A lot.  Every single time. And then when you look back on them, it makes you laugh even more.

Here are some gems from fake laughs of yesteryear:

So laugh it up, people. Maybe give it a try today at work. I seriously want to know how it goes when you walk up to your co-worker and start fake-laughing in her face. Better yet, document it and post it below.

Happy (fake laugh) Hump Day!

You've never seen moves like these

If watching this doesn’t make your Friday, I don’t know what will. This is a new favorite band of mine, Future Islands, performing the song ‘Seasons’ off their new album ‘Singles'. I promise you three things: you’ve never seen a more animated front man than Samuel Herring; you will definitely crack up; and you will love their new tunes. 

When these guys opened for Phantogram in SLC last fall, I got the chance to joke around with them (and my camera) post-show in the creepy basement of the Depot. Not only are they the nicest guys, but they are freakin’ hilarious. The photos kind of speak for themselves I think...

Click below to give the new album a'll be a great way to kick off your weekend!

And just for good measure, he's my all time favorite Future Islands song, and it's guaranteed to make you feel good.

"Being desperate is part of the process."

At the young age of 19, Lisa Diaz makes up half of the music sensation that is Ibeyi. Together with her twin sister Naomi, these little Cuban-born-Parisians are rapidly approaching the international limelight with their upcoming album, which will be released by the same label Adele is signed with. But in spite of all the fan-fare and attention, these girls remain true to themselves, each other, and their music. Lisa chats about the things that bring her joy, the reason it’s ok to lock yourself in a room and cry when you’re sad, and the best way to recover when you do.

THE FAB FIVE: Baby Steps to Phone Rehab

There are times when I leave the house, and five minutes into my drive I realize my cell phone is still at home. Like an addict separated from crack, the heart palpitations set in. 

It’s absurd, but true. And you can likely relate. I constantly wonder what I would do without that thing. It’s almost debilitating to be without it. And frankly, I think we’re all getting so attached that we're losing the one thing we truly value the most--a connection to the living, breathing world around us.

When’s the last time you took a walk, went to dinner, went to the grocery store, went to the living room, waited in line, filled up a tank of gas, went to the bathroom or laid in bed without checking your phone? Heck I don’t even take a bath without it standing by. Here’s a short video that illustrates the point pretty well and really hit home with me.

Think about it: if someone followed you around every second of every day to tell you what’s happening each moment, to spill their thoughts on everything, and to constantly entertain you and affirm that you’re loved and important--you’d file a restraining order. 

But we love our little cellular sidekicks that essentially do the same thing, and truthfully, I’d like to start separating myself from it a bit more. So the other day when I was working in Miami, I decided to try it out, and I left my phone in the car when I ran into Kinkos. 

On my way in, I saw the most amazing lizard I’ve ever seen, right on the sidewalk. Seriously! It had this crazy curled up tail, huge eyes--something you could only see in a zoo in Utah. So I walked up to it, and crouched down to get a better look. As I did, an old man was getting out of his car by the lizard, also in awe of the little guy. Together we sat and admired it, then looked at each other and smiled.

“Cool lizard,” I said.

“Sure is,” he chuckled.

I know it was a small thing, but it felt so good to connect with a perfect stranger over one of nature’s little gifts. I realized that it had been a while since i’d done that, because my phone has become the center of my attention. That realization made me sad, but it also motivated me to come up with five things I can do to try and change that. Perhaps you’ll find these 'phone rehab' ideas helpful, too.


1.) Get out of the house, sans cell.

Go for a walk and leave your phone at home. You don’t need to snap photos of everything you see, and people can wait a whole 30 minutes to hear back from you. You can say hello to people you pass, perhaps make eye contact--you might even find yourself making small talk! Imagine the possibilities!!! You never know who you’ll meet.

2.) Try going phone-free an hour a day. 

My best ideas come when I’m on an airplane. I can’t use my phone, and I don’t have any distractions, so I think, and I write, and I come up with great projects and concepts. If we had to switch to airplane mode for just an hour each day, think of what we could do. Try it. Perhaps in the morning or evening, when it’s not needed for work. You could meditate, write, exercise, create art, read, study, clean, play with your kids--the possibilities are endless, and your brain will thank you for the break. 

 3.) Don’t make yourself too available.

I know better than anyone that when it comes to work, sometimes you have to be attached to your cell phone. If you miss an email or a call, people will wonder why you’re not more on top of it. I get that. However, you are allowed to set boundaries. If it’s  before 8am or after 5 or 6 pm, don’t respond. Let people know that you’re not available 24/7--if you do that, they will have healthy expectations of you. Also, if you’re going on vacation (or just taking a day-cation), put an automatic email reply that says so, and state that you will be without cell or email access. Do the same for your voicemail. Then turn your phone off. If you stick to the ‘i’m on vacation, so don’t even bother’ mentality, people won’t have expectations of hearing back from you until your designated return date. However, if you cave and start checking in on things and responding to people, it’s a slippery slope. You get reeled back in. And before you know it, vacation is really just working from a pretty place. 

4.) Turn off unnecessary notifications.

It seems like we could focus a lot more on the things we need to if we weren’t constantly bombarded with alerts from every program on our phone. Why not try turning off notifications from apps like Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Tinder, Pinterest, Snapchat, Spotify, LinkedIn, etc.? While those apps can be utilized for work, most of us use them just for fun. 

5) No-phone Friday.

This is an idea I suggested to some friends a few weeks ago (we have yet to try it). I asked if they would be interested in getting together on a Friday night where we plan in advance when and where we will meet, and leave our phones at home. As in, we go old school. They all agreed it would be a fun ‘experiment’, but one friend joked, “Well how will we Instagram about our night without our phones?” I think it would be even more fun if you did something like a progressive dinner, where you pick a place and time to start out, then ride bikes to different places for different courses of the meal. If you’re late, you miss out--just like the old days. It would be interesting to see if people become more punctual and present trying something like this. 

So there they are, five things you can do to withdraw from your phone a bit. And if you have 15 minutes, you should check out Joe Kraus’s presentation on this issue titled ‘Slow Tech’, where he talks about the benefits of gap time and offers insight into the distracted culture we are creating.

All in all, it’s not an easy task to back off from our phone addictions. But little by little, I think we can get back to a place where it feels like the good ol’ days of being present, even if just for moments here and there.

This is the first of the Fab Five series, which will include write-ups from all kinds of people. The idea is to offer five tips for excelling or trying new things in various areas of life, which will ideally increase one's quality of life. Stay tuned for upcoming Fab Five’s on everything from dealing with loss, using flowers to improve your life, food that makes you happy, and more.


Cuddle Monger: Does a Body Good

So, here’s a mind-blowing fact for you. I heard on the radio the other day that, according to science, cuddling triggers the chemical release of oxytocin in the brain, which in turn reduces depression. 

Ok, doi. Who doesn’t know that. What person isn’t happier when they’re physically wrapped up in someone else? Cold nights warm up; mornings are brighter; and sitting through a Michael Bay movie seems almost tolerable.

Naturally I started thinking about all the people in the world who perhaps, had they just been cuddled more, could have done right. 

Could it be that Hitler just needed a nuzzle? Perhaps Al Capone just wanted some hair play? If Miley had just been spooned more, would she have gone off the deep end (and scarred us all in the process)? Is it possible the Jazz would stop choking in the last, vital moments of games if players exchanged back tickles instead of butt slaps before each face off?

Beats me. But here’s the thing--there’s actually a massive, cuddle-hungry subculture growing among us. In fact, there are so many people craving cuddles that professional cuddling services have popped up everywhere from Portland to London. That’s right, people who don’t have a cuddle buddy are paying for one. 

Legal? Totally. And a couple of said professional cuddlers comment on the ins and outs of their newly-developed trade here in a recent Huffington Post interview.

A pro snuggler makes upwards of $80/hr.

A pro snuggler makes upwards of $80/hr.

But for those who can’t afford regular cuddle sessions with a live person, here are several disturbing alternatives. First up, The Boyfriend Pillow.


Sad, but apparently a hot item on Amazon. It even comes in a ‘roided-out version:


And don’t worry, it's available in both his and hers. 


Lets take this bizarre pillow fetish to the next level, with what I like to call, ‘The Lady Lap’--emphasis on the word ‘lap’ because it’s reminiscent of a stripper, and that mini skirt is definitely screamin’ lap dance. Perfect for the creepier, older gentleman.  

And then there’s this.


Thought we'd already crossed the inanimate-object-cuddling line? Think again. I call this one ‘bad dream,’ because it’s what nightmares are made of. Can you imagine waking up to this thing in the middle of the night? Also, good luck explaining it to visitors. I'm pretty sure every demographic would rate this as a 9 on the creepy scale, second only to that guy in Silence of the Lambs who wears lady skins for fun.

Thankfully, most people I know don’t have to resort to flesh-colored people pillows. And to those people I say, cuddle what you got! Take advantage of those health benefits, and bond with your person while you’re at it. It’s a win win! I bet if you committed to cuddling for a good half hour with your significant other at least 3 times a week, you’d see some great things happen. Why not give it a whirl?

For those like me who don’t have a special someone to cuddle with, I say this: Netflix is the new cuddling, guys! It relaxes, entertains, and lulls you to sleep. Problem solved! 

JK people! (Sort of!) There’s no real substitute for physical touch. And in an effort to make up for putting the terrifying images of stuffed boyfriends in your head, I present to you the cutest baby-animal snuggle collage in existence. 

Happy Spring Snuggling!

All the Single Ladies

As I sat in church, listening to a young, newly-wed girl proclaiming her world views from the pulpit, I was suddenly jolted out of my post-daylight-saving’s-time-daze when she announced that Satan had been tempting her to get a job. 

As a working, 30-something, professional woman actively involved in the LDS religion, this was close to blasphemy for me. But I decided to hear her out, in hopes I was mistaken by her intent.


She went on to clarify that Satan kept at it, suggesting that if she’d just get a job, she’d have more money, more friends, and wouldn’t be so lonely stuck in the house all day. And in spite of the fact that she didn’t have children (or any on the way), she knew God wanted her to be in the home, where she belonged, so she could build zion. 

Hey lady, the 1830s called! They want their weird, sexist viewpoints back!

For a moment, I expected her to whip out a bonnet and carry on about how women shouldn’t vote, leave the house, or wear shoes. And then I pictured an uprising from the women in the congregation, complete with pitchforks and torches, potentially making it the most interesting sacrament meeting in the history of the church.

But I digress. The point is, times have changed. And it’s no newsflash, but women like me are becoming more common--stuck between the ideals and life-formula of the old school Mormon/Christian/American way, where women focus their energy early on toward having a family and raising children--and the new idea that women can get married and have children later in life, have strong voices and success in the workplace (and see the world doing it), all while maintaining their religious convictions. 

In reality, it’s kind of a win win. Both options work, and women have found so much satisfaction and happiness with each. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. The only difference is, the time of feeling like an oddball for being over 30 with no husband or kids to show for it, is over. 

I’ll be the first to admit, I would love to find a partner to go through life and build a family with. It truly is a life goal of mine. But I realized, in the last few years, it’s the one thing I can’t control in life, so why try? Sure I proactively date, but sifting through weirdos became exhausting. Have you ever been on a blind date with an FBI agent who thought his child porn cases would make for great dinner conversation? Or sat in complete silence for 2 hours because the guy never stopped talking about himself? Or had someone ask what you liked least about yourself, both physically and personality-wise? Welcome to my dating life--proof that God has a sense of humor.

I knew it was time to shift my focus, and not because I didn’t think there were any good guys left. There are plenty. But I finally decided to stop being so scared of the ‘what ifs’ and leave that portion of my life up to God. 

Once I did that, I began moving full steam ahead on new paths I never thought I’d have the chance to explore. In the last year alone, I’ve been lucky enough to see five new countries (including the Congo), started taking on responsibilities with work that at one point terrified me to think of, and traveled the North American continent doing so. It was as if God said, “Finally! You get it. It’s my timing, not yours. Now go have some fun.” 

So this goes out to all the single ladies, no matter your age, circumstance, or history. If you’re scared you’re too old, too set in your ways, too shy, too poor, too inexperienced, too sheltered, too much of a cat lady, too whatever--I have a simple solution for you to shift you’re thinking.

Step 1: Slap yourself across the face, because you need to be jolted back to reality.

Step 2: Recover from the shock of having just slapped yourself. Because it probably hurt a little. Sorry.

Step 3: Make a list of all the things you REALLY want to do in life. And yes, marriage/family can and should be part of that list if it’s truly one of your goals.

Step 4: Once your list is complete, separate them into two new categories of lists, titled, ‘Things I can control’ and ‘Things I can’t control’.

Step 5: Slap yourself across the face again.

Step 6: Just kidding! Don’t do that. Just checking to see if you’re still with me.

Step 7: Once you’ve got your two new lists, pick your top three from the ‘things you can control’. Make these your priorities for the next week/month/year, or however long you think you should allow yourself. When you’re well on your way with those, pick a new top 3. And so on. The list can grow and change whenever you want. There are no limits.

Surprise yourself. Set goals you’ve never set, do things you’ve never done, and start feeling fulfilled as you are, not as you believe you should be. Because not everyone fits inside the same box, thankfully. How boring would that be?

This time is yours, and yours alone. Once you have a husband and family, you’ll probably be stoked out of your mind but you won’t have this kind of freedom. So take advantage while you can!

Operation: Online Dating Status: Fail

Being 32, Mormon and single in Utah is a predicament.

I'm happy, I have a good life, I laugh a lot, I'm independent...but in many people's minds, I'm pretty much menopausal. 

So of course, people set me up, make dating suggestions, and try their best to help me find that special someone, which I get and I actually really appreciate. I think it's sweet that people want the best for me and want to help me find a great guy.

One repeated suggestion has been online dating, which I have resisted even more than I resisted stir fry as a child. But I finally decided to give it a go. I committed to trying it for a month, just to give it a fair shot, and to see if all my preconceived notions about it were wrong.

They weren't.

I'd heard so many success stories, but apparently the universe knew I needed fodder for my blog and offered up some terrifying options . 

Two days in, I was ready to call it quits, but I'd made a commitment so I stuck with it. Luckily, this provided myriad opportunities to grab hilarious screen shots of real life emails, photos and propositions I received whilst experiencing this trendy-but-weird dating option.

Please enjoy the following scientific proof that online dating is a horrible idea 75% (but realistically, 95%) of the time.

I just threw up in my mouth again after re-reading this. First of all, interesting8012 should consider changing his screen name to something more honest--like 'scaryfootguy86' or simply, 'be_afraid'. And for men round the world taking notes, know this: don't use the word 'fetish' when you first approach a woman. Or ever. Lets just say never.


This one is weird on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. Either this guy is on a major coke binge or a cult leader. I mean, this doesn't even make sense. Is the reason I wouldn't work because you don't ever wear shirts? I'm confused.

Here's part of his bio page.

Is 'shamanic crystal healer' code for 'meth dealer'? Why am I even asking, the answer is definitely yes. 

Moving on to art. Some people keep it simple with photos, others like to show their more creative side. Take this guy, for example. In spite of what you may think, these are not the drawings of a tween. They are indeed those of a grown ass man.

Disturbingly sad stuffed animal in corner? Check. Teenage Mutant Ninja Awesome? Check Check.

And in true hipster form, this next guy gets the award for trying WAYYYYYYYY too hard. Well done, furry hat.

Next up, women. Yep. You heard me. 

On two separate occasions, in spite of my profile proclaiming that I'm straight and into MEN, I was contacted by women. It's my first time being invited to swing. I'll be honest, it creeped me out. A lot. But apparently OK Cupid thought we were a 20% match so...maybe this matchmaking-robot knows something I don't?

And last but not least, here are some classic screen shots that don't really need an explanation, but I offered up some thoughts anyway: 

"Orange is the new white."

"Orange is the new white."

I don't know why, but I get the feeling this guy has not only a puppy, but also a chip on his shoulder.

I don't know why, but I get the feeling this guy has not only a puppy, but also a chip on his shoulder.

Looks like kitty called a personal foul on this guy. (Can't take credit for that tag line--that's the genius of kim frost coming into play, people...)

Looks like kitty called a personal foul on this guy. (Can't take credit for that tag line--that's the genius of kim frost coming into play, people...)



Clearly this guy knows what he's doing.

Clearly this guy knows what he's doing.

Nothing warms the heart like a mugshot.

Nothing warms the heart like a mugshot.

Who ya gonna call?! THIS GUY! (no? nothing?)

Who ya gonna call?! THIS GUY! (no? nothing?)

Call me crazy, but this 'children of the corn' shot has serial killer written all over it.  

Call me crazy, but this 'children of the corn' shot has serial killer written all over it.


All your wildest dreams are about to take flight...

All your wildest dreams are about to take flight...

This could be you!!!

This could be you!!!

All in all, I'm glad I tried it. And I love that it's worked for so many people. But for me, I think the old-fashioned, in-person route is my best bet. Unless I decide to have a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. Then I'm calling the orc.