Unmute yourself: A message from your white friend

This is a blog post I wrote on my new blog, These Mountains We Climb. But since I feel so strongly about it and still have blog followers on this blog I started out with, I wanted to post it here as well. Please follow my new blog for more frequent and recent updates. Love to you!

I’ve been scared to write.

I used to blog at least once a month. I’ve been blogging since 2011. I’m known for being mouthy on my blogs, tackling sensitive issues, and being quite opinionated. I came from a Mormon conservative blogger background to a political, hands-in-all-pots, I’ve-got-something-to-say, Most-liberal-republican-you’ll-ever-meet blogger.

But then BLM happened.

The trend of police brutality.

Masks versus no masks.

Women versus men.

The economy crashed and drew the line in the sand of leftists versus the far right.

And phrases like this happened too:

Mute white people.

If you’re white, you’re privileged.

Dear White People: bla bla bla

All Cops Are Bastards

Rethugs and Libtards

I won’t go on, but you get the point. Everyone is so triggered, so cruel, so ready to swoop in and tell you to shut up if you don’t share the same opinion or come from the same group. Just like the Nazi’s used to say about the Jews, “If you know one Jew you know them all”–that’s what I’m hearing from all camps now.

And for a few months now it has frozen me. How could I write anything and not be persecuted? I mean, look at my track record–despite my heritage that I’ve deeply researched and have strong bonds to (Hawaiian), I’m white to everyone who passes me. I’m a female. I’m on the younger side. I’m middle class. I have a job and I have a business.  I was never bullied that bad. I’ve been pulled over maybe three times in my life and have never had an issue with it. I got good grades in school. I have a degree. Two little white boys. A good husband.

my fam

I don’t have a story that reeks of oppression, despite struggles I’ve had and things I’ve gone through. I get it. But I’ve literally been told that because of these factors, I need to shut up. So I have shut up–until now.

I realized today the real and only reason behind why people are behaving the way they are is the same reason I stopped writing.


Why do some people call all cops bastards? Because they’re scared of what’s happening within their own race. They are scared of the injustice. They’re scared of being pulled over, being killed, and being another statistic. Instead of combing through good cops versus bad, it’s easier and safer to stay away from them all and to paint them over with one stroke.

Why do some people tell white people to shut up and that they don’t matter or count? It’s because they’re scared. Scared of racism. Scared of injustice. Scared of being judged, being discounted, being told how they should view their own history. Instead of judging each individual over their character and recognizing the good populations within the Caucasian demographic, it’s easier and safer to group them all together as the people who know nothing, do nothing, and make life harder for people of color.

Why do some people tear others down because of simple statements like “All Lives Matter”, even when they believe it too? It’s because Fear is fueling a huge majority of the Black Lives Matter movement, All Cops are Bastards movement, and dozens of others. At the heart of each of these movements is goodness and sincerity, but the thousands to millions of people within the movement often move and act within fear and take it to an unhealthy level of propaganda, shame, fear-based followers, and extremism.

We’re so terrified of one another–we’re so nervous about saying the wrong thing and also scared of being mistreated because of the narratives, the horror stories, the thoughts passed down from generations and the images we see on the news and in our Facebook feeds and even in our own lineage. Fear is the opposite of love. So when we aren’t loving each other it isn’t because we are necessarily hating one another. It’s because we’re scared. And I don’t want to be scared anymore.

It’s ok if you don’t agree with me, and it’s ok if you are so unlike me that it couldn’t get more opposite–maybe you are black, liberal, living in a rough part of town, and the brother of a man who was shot by a corrupt cop. Maybe you are gay and have been terribly abused and harassed or shunned by your own family. Maybe you are the leader of ACAB. Maybe you have trolled someone on social media who you deemed as “racist”. Or maybe you are a republican wearing an American flag and going off about the national anthem debacle.

I don’t care about the differences. But I am starting to care deeply about the fear that leads us to hate.

As a white person, I have a lot to say about black lives. Sorry, but it’s true. I won’t virtue signal and talk about all my black friends or all the ways I’ve helped. I’ll save my breath on that. But I WILL say that I feel strongly about equality, about taking the time to listen to the stories and find solutions. I feel strongly that those affected by brutality or trauma need to be heard, seen, and helped beyond a black box on Instagram or a hash tag. I can sit in silence like I have been, because I’m white–but I GUARANTEE that if one of my black friends were getting harassed right in front of me, they’d want me to say something. If one of my gay friends had a slur hurled his way, he’d want me to step in. If a family member of mine who is a cop was called a pig while I was standing right there–you bet he’d want me to care about it.

So why can’t I speak out on this forum too?

We live in the age of outrage which stems from the era of fear, and we have to crawl out of our dark primitive holes and face the light, as well as each other. We have to stop cancelling out what one another says and we have to take more time than the three nano seconds it takes to type out heated replies. More understanding and less fear will lead to a decline in racism, intolerance, hate groups, and generations of scarred children who would never have been traumatized without our biases and judgments and fear-based ideologies.

Our fear is literally damaging our children.

The other day my family and I visited the memorial of Officer Jonathan Shoop, a young officer that was shot in the head while sitting in the driver’s seat of his police cruiser by a young BLM activist that called him a pig before taking the deadly shot. The responses to his death was disgusting. Some said he deserved it, and others responded by saying he was one of many who is part of a broken system that deserves to be weeded out. It wasn’t until a beautiful friend of mine who happens to be African-American AND liberal-leaning AND active within the BLM movement made a statement against the horrific statements about Officer Shoop that I realized she used her voice to erase the line in the sand and to prove that she can speak for black voices and reform while also speaking out about police lives and how they matter and deserve justice as well. I was proud of her when I read the post, and proud to know her. And it was a teaching moment for me that I cannot stay silent, just as she chose not to. She is part of a community that may often speak against cops, but she didn’t care. Just as I have to stop caring. We need to stop living in fear and start leading in love.

blue life

Use your voice. Get louder. Don’t mute yourself and pretty it up by acting like that’s the only way you’re being accepting or tolerant or fair. You aren’t doing people of color any favors by being quiet or reserving your opinions. Don’t black yourself out in order to shine a light on someone else. A candle doesn’t lose anything by lighting another candle, and we all deserve to be lit.

My “white” voice can stand for black voices, and I should hope they stand for me. Despite corruption in the system, we can speak out for the officers who pledged themselves to doing good and protecting and serving and not be so fearful that we can’t even discern anymore what’s a humane reaction to an unwarranted death.

I am sorry for muting myself. I’m sorry to readers of my blog and to my boys, who watch Mom and who want Mom to be brave and who will someday pattern their own voices after the one who taught them to speak up. I want to continue to speak out and speak up, even if I’m not part of a certain class of people. I’d march with Martin Luther King as a white girl and I’ll lay flowers at a police memorial without a badge. I’ll shoot gay weddings as a straight photographer and gush over their love. I’ll donate to campaigns that I didn’t create and I’ll stand for platforms I have nothing to do with. I’ll stand for a woman’s right in the workplace to fair wages and equal treatment while also raising young men at home of virtue and love. Because my voice matters too on many different levels. And when black lives are in danger or blue lives or any other life along the way, my voice will matter in the fight.

It takes all of us in order to change any of us.

One of my favorite biblical stories is a story we’ve all heard countless times of the Good Samaritan, but rarely do we dig deeper into the story to see what it’s really telling us. The man in need laying in the road had two people of his own race and his own country pass him by. It wasn’t until a Samaritan came upon the man in need that any help was given. Samaritans were known as the “bad guys” of the story. They were often cast out by the Levites and had a bad reputation at the time. But the Samaritan didn’t see anything except for a man in need. So he helped anyway. He stopped in his tracks to help someone in need regardless of what that man or any of the passersby would think. In this story we often think of it as a simple parable of one man helping another. What we fail to conceptualize though is that it was the “bad” guy helping the “good” guy and neither of them caring about the color of skin or the reputation or the nationality because in the end, right is right and good is good.


So in all my “whiteness” (as I’ve heard multiple times now) I’ve decided to stop and lend a hand when it’s needed, even if dozens of people shout at me from the sidelines that help is needed–but not from me. I’ve decided to keep talking. Keep writing. Keep loving. Keep showing support and keep condemning the same patterns and routines that the KKK and Nazi regime fell into all in the name of “progressiveness”. Hate and fear aren’t progressive, and until we can fight for the human race above anything else, we aren’t going to be part of a group that’s different than the hate groups we condemn.

So, judge me in all my white-girl glory and tell me I don’t understand and my griefs are not yours. Tell me to shut up. Tell me I’m privileged. Tell me that no one cares what I have to say. But I’ll keep talking, because I’m not scared of you or anyone else.

If I was scared of you, I’d hate you.

And I never will.








Dying naturally is NOT undignified: What we can learn from Brittany Maynard

This is one of those blog posts where I’ve written the first sentence about thirteen different times and I’ve deleted it just as many times. Here goes sentence number fourteen.

I think it’s because deep down inside I dread talking about something that bothers me, even when the rest of the country stands as advocates. I sometimes worry about hurting families or saying something that will be misconstrued as, “Well, that blogger is insensitive.”

Because, in all honesty, this is a sensitive subject. In all honesty, it broke my heart just as much as those who agreed with her decision. Brittany Maynard has been the topic of debate for some time, and just last weekend she decided to go through with her decision to take her own life after she was given the grim diagnosis of a rare form of brain cancer. Death would be slow and painful, doctors said, so she packed up and moved to Oregon and decided to use the “Death with Dignity” law.


Her story is a painful one. And it brings me back to just last year. Around this time last year my Dad had just begun hospice. His diagnosis was just as grim as Brittany’s. I will never EVER forget the sound of his voice. The way it had changed. The coolness of his veiny hands and the sunken dips of his eyes. I won’t forget the doctors telling us it would be slow and painful. And I won’t forget dad nodding as they said it, telling us with confidence that’d it all be ok.

Towards the end, just like Brittany feared with her own death, my Dad lost touch of the world. The things we saw and the way we’d muffle our tears as we assured him we were close was anything BUT the character of my Dad. But even then–my Dad was never undignified.

And that’s what brings me to the point of why I’m writing. “Death with Dignity” implies that dying by the hand of cancer or another fatal disease lacks honor. It implies that people like my dad–who get to the point where clothes bother them and memories of fishing when they were twelve become “reality” and their children do what they can to clean up the mess in the bed sheets–suddenly rid themselves of the dignity they once had. And that infuriates me. Death is not undignified. And neither is suffering.

hospital bed with dad

I sometimes lay awake at night thinking of the fear that my Dad must have had during those moments when we were asleep around his bed but he just watched the hands of a dying clock. I can’t imagine the finality he must’ve felt. The terror of what it might feel like when his heart decides to stop. And with Brittany, I can’t imagine it either. It’s a subject that I’ll never grasp unless it’s my turn.

But even still. There are thousands–millions–of people who live out each second every day. Millions of people who suffer and still thank God for every day that they wake up and see the faces of their children. There are countless souls who get handed a fate that would make anyone’s heart weak, but they face it with dignity and grace. Not one of them is undignified. Not for a second.


I feel uncomfortable saying that Brittany chose wrong. Even though my religious background and my discomfort with “suicide worship” makes me want to say that, I sift through the pictures of this beautiful girl and can’t help but swallow my blunt opinion because I realize that it wasn’t an easy decision. And I realize that her family is hurting. Her husband is a widower. Her travel plans are no more. And that is enough to keep me quiet about her particular case and whether she chose right or wrong, regardless of everything.

But within a country that cries out for everything to be on our own terms, I can’t help but stand apart. It’s my body we hear during abortion debates …it’s my own life to take we hear with Death with Dignity…it’s my life to live and my choice who I love we hear with civil rights cases. And despite my opinions on any of these things, I can’t help but notice a common thread. We want to take the reins. We’re tired of life–or God for that matter–dictating what happens to us or what turns in the road will be up ahead. We want to set the terms. We want our dignity.

death with dignity

And I feel like we’re forgetting where true dignity comes from. Dignity isn’t maintaining a beautiful face and living a life free of pain and free of shame. Dignity is trudging through the muck of life, dirt smeared on your face and sins heaped like piles at your feet, and still carrying on and looking up. Dignity is facing it all head on and deciding it’s still a beautiful life. It’s still worth living. Dignity is having the respect for yourself, and for others, that it takes to carry on despite the fear or the embarrassment or the lack of control.

And looking back, seeing my Dad’s blue eyes shoot up to the corner of the ceiling as he took his final breath, I can say without a doubt that I’ve never seen a man with more dignity.

Life is hard. Cancer sucks. Mourning is—well, there might not be a word to describe it. But we face it every day because that’s what we’re here to do. The Savior never said it’d be easy. In fact, he felt it all for us long before we were here and he bled and cried and begged for relief. We are not exempt.

I pray for Brittany’s family and I have cried over her story. Such a beautiful girl with a trial that would overwhelm anyone. I pray for comfort and love and peace in that home.


But I also pray for our country–and for our world even–to reevaluate.

In the moments beyond our control we learn about endurance. Love. Bravery in the face of fear. And faith. We learn that death is a moment beyond our choosing, but the eternity afterwards has everything to do with what we choose while we’re here.

That choice is a life well lived.

That choice is dignified.

What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge really says about you

As I write this, I’m assuming that you know exactly what the ice bucket challenge for ALS is. If you don’t, then–well, you may or may not be living under a rock. *Not to judge, or anything*. But if you’re of the majority and have either had your newsfeed choked with videos of drenched facebook friends or you’ve taken part in it yourself, you’ve also probably heard the debates.

The challenge, some argue, wastes valuable water that people in Africa are literally dying to drink. Hmm. It doesn’t make sense to me because the same people who are saying that are also going to waterparks where tons of water on a daily basis is splashing on to concrete and serving little purpose. These same people also run through the sprinklers in the summer time, keep the water running as they brush, and take too-long of showers. So that argument just doesn’t do it for me.


Then there’s the side that aruges the challenge is dangerous. Some people have gotten hurt while taking the challenge and some buckets have fallen on some heads. Well–I’m not going to touch that one.

The argument though that has gained the most momentum has even gained the attention of the media. The ALS challenge is a fraud, some are saying. The money is landing in the wrong hands. And that was almost enough to sway me.

But then I met Donna.

And she had the best argument yet–if you could call it that.

Donna was a client of mine at work yesterday, and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with a heavier heart. Her husband is dying, I learned. And he only has a couple more weeks left, at best.

ALS is killing him. “Have you heard of it?” she instantly asked.

And just like a social media dweeb I mentioned the ice bucket challenge and I immediately regretted it. Why would she care about the nation pouring water over their heads when her husband can barely breathe while stuck in bed? So I quickly apologized. But she stopped me.

She told me the ice bucket challenge is one of the greatest miracles that could happen. The disease is a lonely one, but because of the challenge–even her husband feels a little bit less alone.


The reason ice water is used, she taught me, is because ALS causes muscles and tendons to tense, spasm, and eventually paralyze, ultimately freezing the whole body and all of its functions. Her husband was diagnosed ten years ago, almost to the day, and he told her that ice water is a good way to get a good feel for what it feels like every second of every day. The empathy, in an indirect way, has been healing for him.

This challenge taken on by people all over won’t heal him–of course not. But spreading the word will lead to understanding, understanding will lead to enthusiasm to end it, and eventually, Donna hopes, there will be a cure.

“What better bandwagon to jump on then the bandwagon that lets people know they’re not alone?” Donna said to me. “Despite the money raised, people are learning what this disease is. People are telling my husband, without even realizing it, we see you.”


ALS isn’t the disease that kills the most people each year–but it does kill. 5,600 people are diagnosed every year and the majority of those only lives two to five years after catching it. It deserves the same attention anything else does. Just as cancer stole my dad last year, I know the feeling of wanting people to just know and to just care that it takes the people we love for good.

I know what it’s like–and you probably do too–to fight a lonely battle and to just wish everyone knew what it’s like. When you dump that water on your head it’s saying a lot about you. To people like Donna and her husband it’s saying, “I know you’re suffering. And I want it to stop.”

I’m not one to use this blog as a bandwagon blog. In fact, if you follow me even semi-closely you’ll notice that a common theme is to stand apart and be individualistic. But I’ve learned that we live in a world of mirrors. Everywhere we look we see ourselves. We see our struggles, our turmoils, our bills, our chaos. And rarely do we have the chance to see someone fighting a battle that has nothing to do with us. Rarely do we get to unite as a WORLD and say “I see you”.

Don’t jump on every bandwagon.

But do me a favor. Jump on this one.





My Doubtfire face: And why social media challenges matter

I was tagged by a friend on Facebook to do the Doubtfire Face For Suicide Prevention challenge. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s simple as this: Make your face look like Mrs. Doubtfire and say hello to suicide prevention. It is helping to spread awareness about suicide prevention and mental health and then nominate your friends to do the same. Challenges like this are spreading like wildfire–the ice bucket challenge to spread awareness about finding a cure for ALS, the #IPrayWhen challenge several months ago where people posed with signs that stated the times that they go to God in prayer. People–one by by one–are taking a stand.


After Robin Williams died I wrote the blog “In defense of Robin Williams: Suicide wasn’t his choice” and had an outpouring of stories, messages, emails, and notes from people all over who suffer from mental illness or know someone who struggles. And I realized more than ever the need to bring the issue to light, to take away the taboo nature of it all, and to do something about it.

So here it goes:


I’ve heard it said that these challenges are annoying. That they don’t do anything.

But 15 million dollars has already poured into the ALS foundation, thousands of people have decided to get help, and hundreds of thousands of people sifting through their news feeds and seeing the photos, videos, and attention of people all over the world is enough to stir a change. And YOU can be part of it. How is that annoying?

Social media has made the world small–it has taught us about each other, it has strengthened our understanding of the world and cultures and lifestyles, and it has given us the unique opportunity to be part of something that will be much more far reaching than anything we could have ever done on our own.

Robin Williams

Want to be part of it?

I sure do.

So now–I nominate YOU.

Go to my Facebook page and post your Doubtfire face with the reason why you’re spreading awareness for suicide prevention. I’ll post all of your pictures on my next blog and highlight your stories right here!

Now let’s see those faces! Ready, set, go!