All Posts By: missdansie

Belonging in June

June was full of so much fun for me. I spent the first weekend celebrating my sister’s birthday (playing laser tag) and Pride. June 9th was mine and my friend Megan’s birthday, and the day began with news that my niece was born, bringing us another birthday sister <3. We spent the day at a festival of colors and later had a pool party with friends. The third weekend I camped in Southern Utah at Toquerville Falls for my friend Amy’s birthday, and last weekend I spent three days with my extended family at the Dansie Family Reunion in Elwood, Utah. I have been buuuusy.

Being surrounded all month by people who love me has me considering my perceptions of community building and what “belonging” means to me.

In the first Lucenti Live podcast episode, I discussed how I didn’t fit into a community growing up. To a certain extent that was true, but to clarify, I didn’t feel like I belonged to a chosen community. I was part of a community—the community of my large Mormon extended family.

On my dad’s side of the family, there are 32 grandkids and 71 great-grandkids. We have spent Easter, the Reunion, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together every year for as long as I can remember. I still attend all of these events if I can, regardless of how I feel about them. On my mom’s side, there are 30 grandkids, and I’m not sure how many great-grandkids. I’m not as close to them as I am to my dad’s side of the family, but we spent a lot of time together as kids. I have only known a world with my cousins (and their babies) in it. There are over 260 people I share blood with on this planet.

I have never been sure where I belong in my extended families. I haven’t ever felt I could belong anywhere outside of them, and I have struggled to feel accepted within them my entire life. As a child I was taught “our family will be together forever,” and then told by others, “not your family, your parents didn’t get married in the temple.” I felt like I was part of a cruel joke, not understanding how only parts of my family would be together in heaven, and I only wanted to exist in a world where everyone was welcome. (I am finding this to be a common theme of my past–often my confusion as a child is derived from being taught competing viewpoints.)

I need to be clear here. I love my cousins and my aunts and uncles, all of them. I share different viewpoints of the world than many of them do, and I always have. Difference has the potential to cause real contention, and I felt that contention within myself for a really long time. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized that difference is also a huge opportunity to learn something new.

While camping at Toquerville Falls in Southern Utah the third weekend of this month, I was reminded of the love I have for my family as I held a bag of Jelly Bellies on my lap and discussed the flavors with Megan. Amy remarked something like, “I feel like I’m in my grandpa’s camper hanging out with my cousins.” And just like that, a cloudy lens was removed from my vision, as I felt familial love well up inside of me.

My family has no connection to my sense of belonging in the world. I belong simply because I am.

After spending last weekend with my cousins playing bingo, marbles, horseshoes, and riding down a meeeean slip-n-slide, I have been struck by nostalgia and a new sense of learning. For a long time I have held the belief that it is crucial for others to make space for me, but the more I study my social dynamics, the more I observe that if I want space made for me, I must make it (and that requires a shit ton of courage). I belong within and without my family.

In Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, she recites this quote from Maya Angelou repeatedly, “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”

This month has brought me closer to understanding how important it is for me to belong within myself, from moment to moment, unapologetically. It is through living my truth, in the present moment, that I become free of the necessity of belonging anywhere at all.

Birthday Resolutions

For the last five years I have set my New Year’s resolutions on June 9th. I have always had a hard time being accountable to January 1st, but June 9th, the day of my birth, the day of MY new year, has made the perfect check-in point. I love my birthday and count down the days until I get to celebrate myself alllll day long, every year. Call it…

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Your Whole Heart’s a Village

On April 19th, the woman who I claim “sang me through college,” came to town for a concert. All of my life I have had a penchant for woman singers. My mom surrounded me with the voices of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Janis Ian, Melanie, Carol King, Reba McEntire, and so many others. I have taken after her taste by finding women like Brandi Carlile, Jewel, Tori Amos, Sara Bareilles,…

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Where I Come From

A few nights before I left for Germany I played a game with a few friends called Hot Seat. The setup and gameplay are similar to Cards Against Humanity. The person who leads the round draws a card with a question on it, and every person in the circle writes an answer including the person who pulled the card. Everyone’s responses are tossed into a box and drawn anonymously….

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A Short Poem

Drifting, floating, flying, leaping, My feet move across the Earth. Every day different, time being measured, By the passing sun in the sky. But what is time anyway, and why pay attention, and why use it to measure our lives? How can time be wasted when each passing moment will never again pass by? Tripping, falling, crashing, hurting, I catch myself down on my knees. Feeling fatigued by the…

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Book of Mormon Stories

A couple of weeks ago a girl I grew up with was interviewed on the Mormon Stories Podcast. She grew up down the road from me and is one (of many) girls whose parents restricted them from playing with me because of my parents’ lack of church attendance. She was always kind to me, but the barriers were clear. The podcast explores she and her husband’s religiosity and why…

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Getting What I Need

A little over a month ago I was sitting in my friend Tyler’s living room complaining about some problems that were playing out between me and my partner, Miguel. “But Tyler,” I pouted, after he gave me some solid advice, “I don’t want to do that!” He looked at me with compassion, shrugged his shoulders and said, “sometimes what you need and what you want,” he brought his thumb…

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We Live in Separate Bodies

It’s February, and I have allergies. The elm trees are pollinating early, and clearly, my body doesn’t like it. Allergies smallergies; April Dansie is sooo sensitive. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if someone else could crawl into my skin so I might share the world as I feel it; so they might sneeze as much as I sneeze. Do my feelings of isolation and being misunderstood…

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The Goodwill Journal

Recently while shopping at the Goodwill Outlet, my friend found a copy of someone’s journal and handed it to me with a smirk. Ten minutes later, standing at the counter, he was surprised to see me purchase it. I haven’t had an opportunity to read the entire thing, but I am catching small glimpses of the thirty-year-old man who began it in 1995. He started journaling because he felt…

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