Monday, January 13, 2014

An Open Letter to My Mormon (and no longer) Friends

Dear Mormon (and no longer) Friends,
I have been thinking a lot about our friendships lately. I think it should be pretty obvious by now that we are NOT friends simply because you are or once were Mormon. We're friends because we have something in common, our hearts spoke to each other, we have shared experiences that bonded us, we served each other, and many other reasons. I just need to make it perfectly clear, that in all reality, it really isn't because we happen to both be Mormon. I just love you for you.

 To my BYU, EFY, Mission, Jerusalem Study Abroad, and friends I've met at other various prominent Mormon meeting venues. I don't expect you to be the same person TODAY as you were back then. Heaven knows I have changed. I would hope you would offer me the same growth. So, if you have gotten married, stayed single, got divorced, left the church, came out as gay, or any other number of life-altering things have happened to you--most likely I love you even more! I find that enduring/overcoming life's challenges make us strong and strengthens friendships. I DON'T love you because we met at EFY or we went to BYU together or even because you are/were Mormon. I just love you for you.

 To my Mormon Mommy Friends. I grew up in a home with 6 ADHD siblings and a father who is a teachers (we were poor). So I know what a busy schedule and a messy house feel and look like. So don't worry so much about all your excuses about how your house looks when I come over. I didn't come to judge you. Also, yes I am a writer/blogger but you don't need to apologize to me about how terrible you blog is or how you wish you were better at making your life look impeccable online. Those blogs stress me out. Actually, the fact that you can wake up early, feed multiple mouths multiple times a day, get a million (and one) things done, and then do it again the next day is MIRACULOUS! I am still working on taking care of this party-of-one. I don't love you because you are a good cook, keep a clean house, write and awesome blog or because you are the baby whisperer. I don't love you because you are married or because you are Mormon. I might even roll my eyes a bit at your Betty Crocker, Mr. Clean, Super Nanny all rolled up into one persona, but that is NOT why I love you. I just love you for you.

 To my Gay or SSA/SGA Friends. Whether you have come out already or are still in the process I commend your bravery. I have shed and shared many tears with you and my heart aches for you. I can't tell you have many times you have helped me better understand the Atonement and what it means to truly love. Because being Mormon ISN'T the reason I love you--you can rest assured that when you leave the church I will STILL LOVE YOU. If you find the love of you life and you get married I will put on my fancy red heels and shwishy skirt and dance the night away at your wedding. I love weddings. I go to non-Mormon weddings so why would your wedding be any different. I DON'T love you because you are gay or because at one point you didn't identify as gay and now you do. I don't love you because you were Mormon or are struggling with your sexuality and are still striving to live an LDS life. These are NOT the reasons we are friends or that I love you. I just love you for you. If you find the love of your life and get married I will put on my fancy red heels and swishy skirt and dance the night away at your wedding. I love weddings! I go to non-Mormon weddings so why would your weddingbe any different. I don't love you because you are gay or because at one pointyou didn't identify as gay and now you are. I don't love you because you were Mormon or are struggling with your sexuality and are still striving to live an LDS life. These are not the reasons we are friends or that I love you. I justlove you for you.

 To my Friends Who Once Were Mormon—it's a good thing I didn't love you because you were. I am sure that you have a great reason for leaving the church and I am sure you didn't make that decision lightly. I am grateful for those of you who have shared your story with me—thank you. Whether you left out of your feminist beliefs, church history issues, because someone treated you poorly, you just stopped believing, God stopped answering your prayers, or any other number of various reasons—I still love you. You being Mormon is NOT why we are friends so you not being Mormon really doesn't matter much to me. I just love you for you.

 To All My Other Friends. If you somehow come across this letter then all I really wanted to say is that I LOVE YOU FOR YOU. You are enough--just the way you are. You are beautiful, even in your mess. You have a safe place with me. You have given my life so much color, music, and meaning. I hope we get to do a lot more dancing in the rain, intellectual conversations on countertops, tears streaming down faces while drinking tea or hot cocoa, swapping travel stories, starting businesses, exchanging Christmas cards with entertaining pictures of your growing family, and so much more. I hope you know, and if you don't, this is the reason for this open letter--that I LOVE YOU JUST SIMPLY FOR BEING YOU!

       Kylee Shields

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Hey friends. I am migrating over to a one stop shop sort of place for all my goings on and writings. So please come check things out at

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Book Review of FORTIFY: A Step Toward Recovery

Title: FORTIFY:A Step Toward Recovery
Author: Fight The New Drug
Release Date: 2013
Publisher: Owl Publishing
Genre: Addiction Recovery

For those of you who know about ANASAZI it shouldn't surprise you at all the my favorite line in this book actually happens on page 5. "Our aim is to help you reclaim and become again who you are and always have been, even if you forgot that for awhile." At ANASAZI we believe every child has a seed of greatness within them. They just need to remember. Both philosophies mean that the strength to overcome negative behaviors lies within. 

I really like how easy it was to read through this book. It is set up very logical but there's enough pictures, flipping to the back of the book, stories, and so forth to keep a teenager entertained and turning the pages. The other thing I REALLY like is that it is not dumbed/watered down.

If there is one thing I've learned as an adolescent therapist is that teenagers do NOT want to be treated as children. If you set high expectations with love and respect, they will strive to reach them. At their core they want to be seen as good. This is why I love how FTND sets the bar high from the very beginning. There is an understanding and strength that flows through the pages that I am going to find hope and become a fighter even before I finish the last page.

I am a big fan of anecdotal stories to help drive a principle so I enjoyed the parts about Twinkies, salt water vs. pump water, Medusa, a sledgehammer, anchors, and many more.

As a visual learner I really appreciated the diagrams, pictures,  the pop-out "quick questions" that made me think,  the "Action Items," and of course "The Battle Strategies". All of the questions and flipping to the back of the book serve such an amazing purpose besides entertainment. After one finishes the book they haven't just read a good book—they've made a PLAN. I LOVE THAT!

Working with many teenagers who struggle with pornography has led me to do my own research. I've read a lot of scholarly articles and listened to professionals speak on the topic. At times it can get complicated and depressing. FORTIFY is simple and easy to understand. All along the way there are power statements like this, "Remember, getting out of your addiction isn't simply a matter of trying harder. Instead, it's a matter of fighting smart." (p. 63) And then they teach you how.

No matter what the addiction, be it video games, substance abuse, pornography, etc, when I'm working with a teenager I ALWAYS emphasize accountability and its importance. So this line stuck out to me, "...when it comes to recovery, one of the most important things good relationships afford us is someone to whom we can be held accountable." (p. 83) And then the importance of accountability was talked about at least 2 more times—awesome!

While there is much more I could say about FORTIFY I hope you will go READ THIS BOOK and learn more about the power it has to change, heal, and offer hope to those in the shadows.

Kylee Shields, MSW

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Red Fred Project

Every once in a while you come across something remarkable—something that JUST MAKES SENSE. Today, for me, that is the Red Fred Project. First let me introduce you to how Red Fred came to be...

Once Red Fred and his friends The Jolly Troop came to be they couldn't help but make the world a better place! And so with that in mind Dallas Graham, creator and visionary, set about on a magical journey of creativity and love.

Dallas Graham started the Red Fred Project and explains a little more about how it just keeps on giving. "Each child is the creative boss; I'm just there to bring the story to life through photography, design, and a likable group of birds called The Jolly Troop. That book then becomes so many magical things: A lasting voice for these children's beautiful stories. A Tangible achievement for each child. A Way to help parents pay steep medical bills; all proceeds go straight to them. And the magic multiples, lives on forever—readers are inspired by the wisdom and imagination of these children."

You can imagine my joy when two of my loves—children and books collided into one wicked awesome life changing project. From the moment I learned about Red Fred Project I was hooked!

Please donate to the Red Fred Kickstarter Campaign and help Dallas and the Jolly Troop create lasting miracles!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fight The New Drug Challenge

A few weeks ago I came across this WICKED AWESOME organization called Fight The New Drug and I became an instant groupie/fan/supporter! I LOVE everything they are doing in the fight against pornography. So I donated, bought a shirt, bracelets, stickers, and instagramed my swag. Still, I feel like there is more I can do. 
This is where YOU come in...

Click on the picture above for more information
FTND has 5 ways you get involved on their website but I wanted to add a few more ways you can help in this WICKED AWESOME fight!!

BUY FTND swag and then post it on social media such as Twitter, FB, & Instagram

DONATE to FTND so they can give FORTIFY to those in need for FREE!

Enter my Rafflecopter to win FREE FTND STICKERS and support the cause
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Am My Sister's Keeper

I honestly don't know what to call myself.

I don't think I can actually call myself a Mormon Feminist because there are so many things that Mormon Feminists are passionate about and want to change that I don't feel the same drive towards. However, I am extremely passionate about people being heard and the opportunity for people to voice their opinions and concerns.

I guess you could say I'm a Mormon Feminist sympathizer.

I am also a Social Worker, an Adolescent Wilderness Therapist, a Co-Founder of a non-profit, an Author, and the sister of a very prominent Radical Mormon Feminist. Through my sister I have met some of the most beautiful, brilliant, articulate, and passionate Mormon Feminists.  I have eaten with them, listened to them, read about them, and even done some research on many of them. I love each and every one of them. They are my sisters in the gospel.

It is important to note that I do not agree with everything they have to say and my heart and head are not as concerned about some of their deepest and impassioned causes. As I am sure they are not concerned with some of the things that consume my heart. However, because they are my sisters, their pains and their concerns, matter to me. This is part of my baptismal covenant.

I have been silent for too long on this matter. I am appalled at some of the things I have heard and read from Mormon women about Mormon Feminist women. I don't understand it. Don't get me wrong—not everyone needs to agree with or be a Mormon Feminist (remember how I stated earlier that I am not) but when is it ever okay to be so patronizing, vitriol, degrading, and divisive?

Today on FB a friend of mine asked about the "Mormon Feminist Protest" and in response I posted the link to Ordain Women—that was it on my part. I didn't comment about it, didn't remind people it wasn't a protest, didn't state my opinion—just posted the link. What followed after that link was embarrassing. One woman after another belittled, joked, made fun of, and villainized other women. Even better yet were the awful comments from some men. And, this FB thread was VERY mild compared to other things I've heard and read.

I understand having a difference of opinion (I have 5 fiercely opinionated sisters). I understand feeling content as a Mormon woman and not understanding why other Mormon women aren't. I understand being uncomfortable with what the Mormon Feminist women are feeling, doing, talking about, organizing, etc. What I don't understand is the hate.

I am my sister's keeper. It is my responsibility to hold her heart and be aware of her concerns. I may not understand why she decided to wear pants to church or why she wants to go to the Priesthood session, but I can certainly learn about her cause and concerns before I demonize her.

I can choose to find and build on common beliefs and things we can agree on rather than pick at things we disagree. I can educate myself on the issues, become aware of those in my ward who are longing for support, and I can love them.

We are stronger as women and children of God when we stay in the church with all of our flaws, dreams, hopes, imperfections, passions, and provide each other support and opportunities to learn and grow.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Favorite Things (A Few of Them at Least)

I figured it was time to let you in on a few of my favorite things. I LOVE all these things/products/music lately. I hope that if you don't know about them you can check them out--seriously!

I know everyone has their own playlists they love and music of the day so I just wanted to share a few of my current (and old) favorite artists.

Here is one of my favorite songs on her new album

Here is one of my favorite songs written by Jonathan and sung by him and Jeremy Jordan

Here is one of my favorite songs written by Scott and sung by the amazing Broadway Boys

If you know me at all than you might be surprised that I'm posting makeup favorites at all. I am not too big into makeup and rarely spend much money on products. However, these are some of my favorite things lately and I hope you check them out!
This inexpensive face primer is magical and you can get it at Target

This is so great to set makeup and to refresh you face for the evening. Found at Target
This is the most amazing foundation. It is a bit on the expensive side ($30) but it last forever and is amazing!

I am addicted to this stuff. If you are so white like me but want to have tan legs w/o tanning this is your product! It can be hard to find sometimes b/c it is usually with all the other Sally Hansen stuff in the Nail department.

I love all things Burt's but this chapstick is incredible and keeps my lips moisturized even in the toughest of weather out on the trail in the heat all day. I love how it feels, smells, and it's just the right amount of tint.

I know there are a lot of ways to manage your money but this is what I use and I find it really helpful. I set goals and pay things off and get really excited about reaching my goals. It works with all social media and you get text reminders, see where you spend your money, and figure out great ways to save!

I am not that great at eating meal (the joys of single life) so I am always looking for snacks that I can carry around and enjoy. Here are a few of my new favorites

I am always looking for natural ways to help my body heal and work properly. Recently, I started a few new things that I am excited to learn more about but am currently loving.

I have really loved going to Jason Alston my new Myropractor. He is professional, kind, and knowledgable. You can find out more about what Jason does here: Natural Motion or the link below
Do Terra Essential Oils
A few weeks ago I was having a really severe (Anaphylaxis) allergy attack and so I got ready to use my Epi Pen but I didn't really want to go through the side affects so I asked my roommate if she had any DoTerra Essential Oils that would help with breathing and she shared with me some BREATHE. I used it and was amazed at how quickly it worked and was glad I didn't have to use my Epi Pen. So, now I'm a believer and have my own kit like the one below!

As a writer I am always looking for new avenues to write and I am also always looking for great books, blogs, podcast, etc. to read or listen. Here are some of favorites. Sidenote: I write for both of these below so yes, I am biased.

Awhile back I got contacted by Deseret Connect to maybe write for them. They are sort of like a think tank for LDS writers. So basically you write about whatever you love, if an Editor likes your piece then they choose your article, and they work with you to publish. They work with such media outlets as Deseret Book, KSL TV,, Mormon Times, and many more.

Read this blog. You will love it. I promise. It is filled with truth, light, love, experience, and great tools to help you walk forward in your life. If you are familiar with ANASAZI (where I work) then this blog is a spin off of the principles that run through ANASAZI.