2020 Recap + 2021 Anticipation

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I did a lot of stuff in 2020. From playing music again, to writing a book, and more. A lot of projects. But if you read between the lines, you saw what was really happening… 

In January I fell into a deep depression—the deepest of my life—but gratefully started feeling better by mid-February. But then, COVID. Because we didn’t know much about the virus—and I’m sure that we are still learning more about it all the time—I chose to be safer rather than sorry. I followed all social distancing recommendations. I didn’t get closer than 6 feet away from any person for almost 7 weeks. It was tough. 

Work was also tough. At the beginning of the year, I was in a position that required me to meet with different business owners. Obviously that became more difficult with the pandemic. My contract position ended at the end of June, and then it was just hard to find another job. I went from reduced hours to no job. Because it was a contracted position, I didn’t qualify for unemployment. And to be honest, toward the end of the year, I was hesitant to look for jobs in the region as I began to think seriously about moving…I just didn’t know where to yet. 

I was so productive this year both because I needed to be for my mental health, but also just because I had a lot of time on my hands. Others were working full time jobs or caring for loved ones and I was just…alone. Nearly 24/7. (Plus Felix the cat in June).

I didn’t have a reason to wake up in the morning. And I say that not in a super depressed way, but in a neutral way—there was just nothing and no one commanding my attention. I eventually recognized that I was using creativity, productivity, and accomplishment to fill a void***. I don’t think that’s very healthy—seeking external accomplishment and validation—but it was working, and I knew it was just for a season.

Now, the seasons are changing, and I am so grateful.

While I’m very proud of all that I created and accomplished this year, I’m so eager to move to a city where I will be so close to family, and people who might as well be family. To be in a city and home that, I anticipate, will feel like the sweetest exhale. To actually have a reason to wake up in the morning.

***I want to quickly note that while I recognize that my creativity and productivity were filling a void, I feel like I received inspiration for each of my big projects this year: I had the recurring thought to start writing my book back in March; while I was trying to uplift with my podcast at the start of the pandemic, I felt another recurring nudge to begin teaching yoga again, to use my skills for good in that way; …but I think the music was just a fun project. 🙂 

A few weeks ago I had a realization that while I had the opportunity to work on many personal projects this year, next year is going to be about how I can help others with their projects. I already have a couple projects lined up and I feel so grateful and excited to be a part of them.

It’s been interesting to suddenly push pause on my own projects. Each time a personal project idea comes to my mind, I immediately tuck the idea away for later without a second thought. This is exactly where I’m meant to be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I am grateful for 2020, and I feel excited, peaceful, and hopeful for everything to come.

P.S. My latest article for Healthy Humans Project is about developing resilience for 2021. It’s a topic that has defined much of my year, and one that I care a lot about. 

Chapter 2: The Lowest of Lows

Hi friends! I know a lot of people, myself included, are struggling right now in different degrees and for I’m sure many different reasons. Life is tough, but then add in a pandemic and everything else going on this season, and it can just feel like too much sometimes.

The biggest purpose I had in writing my book was to help others feel less alone. I thought it could be useful to share Chapter 2 of my book, all about my own deep depression, in a blog post for anyone to read. I share about one of the lowest points in my life that actually happened earlier this year. At the bottom of the blog post I have a couple resources for you.

If you want to read how I’m specifically managing my mental health during the pandemic, you can read my article on Medium about that: “I’ll Be Eating Frozen TV Dinners for Thanksgiving, and I’m Genuinely So Grateful.

I hope this helps. And lastly, I’ll leave you with a thought I originally heard from Natalie Norton: Pain is a tunnel, not a cave. Just keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

“…we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of  the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better  land…” 2 Nephi 10:20 

While I’m still very glad that I moved into my own place, moving to a city without knowing anyone prior—and living  alone—was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I honestly thought I’d be okay. I had moved before. I moved to Provo, Utah when I was 19, and then served a mission in Kentucky  and Tennessee when I was 22. But only later did I realize the  one thing I still had during those big moves: community. 

I still had extended family near Provo, roommates in Provo, and companions during my mission. When I moved to  Cedar City, I knew absolutely no one. And try as I might, I just  couldn’t find my community. I went to church and everyone  was very friendly, but I knew it would take a while to click with  anyone there—friendships often take a little while to develop. I met some great people through my job, but those meetings were brief, infrequent, and within a business setting. At the  end of the day, I’d still walk into a quiet, empty house and be  absolutely alone. 

It was crushing. 

It was so hard facing so many new things all at once:  within a week, I moved into my new house, started my new job, and began the online MBA program. I moved in on January 8. I cried every day for at least a month. 

As I entered February, the loneliness felt increasingly heavier. For the first time in my life, I began experiencing suicidal thoughts—though I don’t think I had any intention to act on them. But the thoughts were there, and they terrified  me. I cried harder, wishing someone were there. Not just over the phone or video chat, but HERE, physically beside me. 

I want to describe the pain, but I don’t know if I can. It felt like my whole soul was being crushed. I wanted to disappear. Each day felt so long, and I couldn’t imagine starting a new day all over again. I prayed that a loved one would come visit, but no one did. I asked perhaps three different people if they could come visit me, but I don’t think they realized the extent of my  depression. I don’t think they realized how overwhelming the  darkness was. 

While relief didn’t come in the ways I asked for, I was grateful for the quiet reminders that God was still there. One afternoon, as I collapsed onto my bedroom floor in tears, I had the thought to look at my “Come, Follow Me” manual. That week the curriculum centered around 2 Nephi 6- 10 in the Book of Mormon. A particular heading in the manual  stood out to me: Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I can “cheer up” my heart. It referenced 2 Nephi 10:20 in the section.  I had the thought to look up that scripture.

At this point in the Book of  Mormon, the prophet Jacob is testifying to the people. He shares about the journey that his family had taken to the Promised Land, following revelation and not always knowing  where they were headed—which suddenly felt very familiar to me. Jacob said: 

And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful  God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and  not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off;  nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our  inheritance; but we have been led to a better land… (emphasis added) 

I was not cast off. I had been led to a better land, even  though I couldn’t see it at the time. Even though I was still in  the deep end of depression and loneliness, this scripture  reminded me that God had a purpose for me in Cedar City. Logically, I knew that. 

Emotionally and mentally, though, I very quickly fell back into the deep end. 

I still wanted to die. Honestly, the biggest reason I didn’t end my life was because of my student loan debt, as silly as that sounds. I had never had this kind of debt before—I’m so grateful that my parents paid for my undergraduate degree,  but I was determined to do my graduate studies on my own. I didn’t want to put this debt on them. Also, what parent wants thousands of dollars of debt from an MBA program that their kid wasn’t even in for two weeks? Not to mention the stress of  dealing with the house I had just signed a year lease on. 

But really, the main thought in my mind was that student loan debt. And thank goodness for that. 

I had met a handful of people in my neighborhood at that  point, but no one I felt particularly close to. Still, on a very dark Monday night, I kept thinking that I should reach out to Linda, my new Relief Society President. Feeling like I had very little to lose at that point, I texted Linda, simply asking if she was there.  It was all I could say. 

Within minutes, she responded. I simply asked for a hug  and she gladly and eagerly agreed.

A few minutes later, Linda and another neighbor, Heidi, appeared at my front door. As soon as they walked in, they  hugged me. That was the first physical contact I had had with anyone in days. We sat in my living room and just talked—not necessarily about how sad I was, but just about life, and getting  to know one another. I finally stopped crying. 

Heidi’s husband came over a few minutes later to give me a priesthood blessing. The four of us continued to chat until everyone left. 

Two days later, Linda doorbell-ditched treats at my door.  A few days after that, she organized a group of women, most of  whom I had just met briefly before, to take me out to lunch for my birthday. I had been trying for weeks to feel okay and couldn’t for the life of me find my footing in this new place. It turns out, all I needed to do was find the right person to reach  out to. 

If someone seems to be struggling and asks you to come  visit, please do everything in your power to go be with them. Be that right person. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Crisis Text Line 

Text HOME to 741741 

More resources available at idontmind.com 

Not According to Plan is available on Amazon
(ebook for $2.99, paperback for $12.99)

We Have More Influence Than We Realize

This post is not about political candidates. It’s about how I’m finding peace in the midst of everything going on right now.

I really struggle with contention and division. Whether in relationships or politics or what-have-you, contention will cause an immediate rise to my stress levels, trigger my fight-or-flight, and it’s not uncommon for it to end in tears.

I’ve never cared about politics until this year, and boy, is it exhausting. It’s that contention and division. There’s just so much of it right now. For a while, I was choosing my “fight” response (or rather, adamantly reminding everyone to fact check and refer to factual and unbiased news outlets). More recently, I turned to my “flight” response, choosing to just hibernate for the next month or so until the election is over (COVID-19 prepared me for this! I’m totally good being alone!). But neither of those really get me anywhere—or get anyone anywhere.

While my blood still occasionally boils and I regularly have to talk myself down, I’ve realized some things that are helping me feel a lot better about the election. If you want to feel more peace, this blog post is for you. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Two things that are helping me feel peace:

  1. We each have the incredible ability to bring peace and happiness into our spheres of influence. From ourselves, to our families, our neighbors, our communities… we have the greatest say in what happens there. This is true no matter the outcome of the election.

If we are concerned about tax rates changing, we still have a say in how we choose to budget and spend our money, even if that looks different next year. If we don’t feel that the country’s leadership is doing enough in a certain area (poverty, homelessness, sex trafficking, women’s rights), we can choose to volunteer our time or donate a portion of our income to private organizations championing those causes. If we are struggling financially, there are still private organizations that can help, including food banks, job coaches, or other resources. If you’re a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have help available to you, and I know that goes for other religious organizations as well.

If there are other situations that you are concerned about, I invite you to think prayerfully and creatively about how you can make a difference in those areas. I honestly believe we have more influence in our families and communities than we sometimes realize.

  1. A gal I follow on Instagram (@rosiecard) has said multiple times that if we hear a piece of news that seems too outrageous, scandalous, or terrifying…it probably is. Check the facts. Do a simple Google search. Look at what other news outlets are saying or, even better, go directly to news outlets that are factual and centered (check the Media Bias Chart to see what news organizations those are). When you choose to look at news organizations that report ONLY the facts without commentary, YOU can create your own opinion as to what is REALLY happening.

I say this noting that I used to read CNN for my national news, which is less fact-based and left of center. CNN is the left’s equivalent of Fox News. Even though I often agree with the commentary on CNN, and it kind of warms my heart to know I’m not alone in how I’m feeling, I now choose to go straight to NPR, Associated Press, or Reuters—top and centered on the media bias chart. 

I’ve also talked to people who choose to read Fox News AND CNN, making sure they see what both sides are saying about an issue. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this as well, as long as you keep an open mind.

Especially during this season, it seems that some media is trying to scare people into thinking one way or another, which I don’t think is correct or ethical. Often, the truth is not nearly as bad.

And if it is, you can still choose how you respond. Go back to point #1. How can you be a positive light in your world?

I hope this helps. Again, I’m sharing these two realizations in hope that it helps bring you some hope and peace of mind. Whatever happens—in the world, in politics, in relationships, in your homes—you are still going to be okay, and that you still have a great impact on your personal sphere of influence.


My book, Not According to Plan: Becoming whole without a husband and other unexpected paths, will be released by October 20. It’ll be available on Amazon.com. The book, in the LDS nonfiction genre, is about developing resilience and finding joy when life doesn’t look like we thought it would—and while this book is marketed toward LDS women, there may be some principles in here that a wider audience could relate to. *P.S. I also added in some stuff for unmarried LDS adults, because there just isn’t enough written from that perspective. So I’m lifting where I stand!

For the most up to date info, follow me on Instagram @lookslikewandering. Here are a couple of posts I wrote over the last few weeks to celebrate little milestones:

I started writing a book on March 8, after ignoring promptings to begin writing it for weeks prior. I finished the full draft of my book on Saturday, August 29 at 11:10pm and sent it off to two friends to edit. I took the second photo at 11:24pm, after working the last two evenings—including the last 4 continuous hours—to edit this draft. Those last two nights left me emotionally drained. There were tears. It feels heavy. I spent most of Sunday in bed and 90% of my meals were sugar-based. And then, the text from my editor Melissa

“So I totally read your whole book last night. 😱😱😱 ITS SOOOOOO GOOD!!!!! I planned to read a chapter or two in bed. Nope. Had to read it all! That opening. Man. Sooooo good! It’s so great.”

And it all feels worth it.

Cover photo and design by Maddison Weber

So much of this book came from spiritual promptings and impressions—from the initial idea, to the title, to certain chapters—and I dragged my feet through so much of it! 😅 Haha!

Despite my resistance, I couldn’t ignore it, even just for the fact that I’ve made it a life goal to never ignore anything that could be a spiritual prompting. God says write, so I write. There’s a greater purpose to it all, even if I can’t see it yet.

I wrote this for you.

“Not According to Plan: Becoming whole without a husband and other unexpected paths” will be released by October 20.

June 2020 Updates: Podcast, Postcards, T-Shirts, Yoga, and a Newsletter!

A lot has happened since I last posted. As I shared on Instagram, I no longer felt interested in posting about career paths or anything related to business when COVID-19 happened. And it seemed like most of you guys were feeling the same—in an Instagram poll that I did toward the beginning of social distancing, most people said that they were worried about emotional strain more than anything else. While I was already moving in that direction anyway, COVID confirmed it. The latest two episodes of the podcast were call in episodes. My hope was/is that with these episodes, those who are social distancing can feel less alone in their experiences, both the good and the bad. That we could all feel a sense of community. Here are those episodes, if you haven’t already listened to them:

I’ve surprisingly been doing okay. I struggled through a very deep depression earlier this year, and I think that helped me be ready for the several weeks of being alone during COVID. I was experiencing, and have been experiencing, many highs and lows as many others are, but I feel like I was prepared, and I’m grateful for that. (I never would have thought that I’d be this grateful already for that terribly low season earlier this year.)

A lot of things are in the works, as my focus has been changing with Looks Like Wandering. The podcast is still happening. I have people lined up to interview, but haven’t done that yet. I apologize. I’m trying to balance quite a few things right now, and I haven’t done great with that one.

We have been doing a campaign on Instagram: use the hashtag #lookslikefindingjoy to share the daily joys you are creating in your home, and I’ll send you a pack of 3 Finding Joy postcards, beautifully designed by Alexis of @figuringslowly. Full details here. Once you’ve shared the hashtag the required 5 times, please DM me and I’ll send you your postcards!

I’ve also designed a couple t-shirts, with the help of my dear friend Heidi. They are currently in production and I’m taking pre-orders for them now. More info about those here. (*Note: If you’ve done the #lookslikefindingjoy giveaway, your pack of postcards also came with a 10% discount code for the shop. You can add that to the existing pre-order discount).

I am also excited to share that I’ll be teaching yoga again, this time over on Patreon. I want to give a little background on this. I am a 200-hour certified yoga instructor, and used to teach regularly up in Utah County. I really enjoyed it, but was barely making any money doing it, and missed practicing yoga just for myself. I grew more in debt as I continuously did not ask to be paid what I was worth as an instructor.

I really care about providing value, and I truly believe I am doing that with this. Yes, it costs money, but in exchange, I will be sharing short yoga videos every weekday, consistently. That is the baseline, and I intend to add more value in any way I can. And I do still have free yoga videos online: a few years back, I filmed a whole beginner’s yoga series on Udemy, and recently set that as a free course. While my teaching style has changed a bit since then, it’s still there as a free resource.

My Patreon is entitled “5 Minute Yoga with Allie.” Every weekday, I will be sharing 5-10 minute yoga videos as a jump start for your day, as a way to wind down at night, as a warm up or cool down for other physical activity, or really anything. It is me showing up for you consistently. I promise, it will be worth the investment. And if it’s not, simply cancel your subscription anytime. I know my efforts are worth being compensated, though, and I feel really good about that exchange.

I do want to give one more thought on this, a little behind the scenes of this project. I’m planning to record all of the videos ahead of time, then post them each day. I’m still figuring out some mental health issues, and if I did have to record or teach live each day, there are days when I simply wouldn’t be able to show up for you. Some days I need to step back, and that is totally okay. Pre-recording these videos is beneficial to both you and I.

Lastly, I am starting a newsletter for Looks Like Wandering. When you subscribe (on the sidebar on the website) you will also be able to download “The Wandering Guide,” a list of journaling prompts to help you consider your next step forward in any area of your life. If you follow Looks Like Wandering and want to make sure you get the first updates, special deals, etc., join the newsletter. I won’t send things out often, but when I do, you’ll be the first to know—and it won’t get lost in an algorithm.

Thanks for sticking around, friends! I’m excited about everything I’m working on, and I’m so glad that you’re part of this community.

Allie Barnes

Ep. 15: Making the Most of Unexpected Changes (Featuring MY MOM!)

I had no idea the changes that would happen between the time I recorded this episode with my mom in early March to when it was released two weeks later. COVID-19 was barely on my mind—I was just surprised when I couldn’t buy toilet paper that week at Walmart. And here we are now, practicing social distancing, and some of us in isolation.

Life has changed and most of us have a lot of adapting to do. This interview is more applicable than ever.

In this interview, my mom, Julie Barnes, shares her journeys with fibromyalgia, several months of almost continuous vertigo due to a hormone issue, and most recently, Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or “Painful Bladder Syndrome.” While she has struggled with fibromyalgia for several years, the vertigo and later IC kept her mostly at home, and sometimes bedridden. She had to leave the job she loved, and later the church assignment she loved, and find new ways to find joy and fulfillment in her new circumstances.

Me and my Mom <3

During the interview, my mom mentions a charity she sews for, Teeny Tears. It’s a great resource if anyone who is looking for a service opportunity or if anyone works at a hospital or funeral home and would like to request items. (From their website: “Teeny Tears is a service organization that provides tiny flannel diapers, mini blankets, and no-sew stockinette hats at no charge to hospitals, funeral homes, and bereavement support organizations for families that have suffered the loss of a preemie or micropreemie child through stillbirth or NICU loss. Serving the bereavement community since November of 2011, we currently provide clothing to more than 2,500 hospitals worldwide.”)

My family with my mom’s parents, Christmas 2019

My mom is also very spiritual, and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of her favorite religious books is Making It Through the Middle by Emily Freeman. (I agree, it’s very uplifting!)

My family, December 2019

I love my mom so much, and I’m so glad I get to share her with you today! Feel free to connect with me and her on the Looks Like Wandering Instagram page.

Thanks so much, mama! And thank you to everyone for listening!

Home Tour: Living Room, Part 2!

Remember my living room tour in January, shortly after moving in? SO MUCH has changed! I was missing two things in this room that, after spending several weeks checking Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, etc. I realized would probably just have to wait. Those things were 1. a couch (specifically, ideally, a grey couch), and 2. something for the opposite wall. For weeks, there was nothing on the wall across from the sitting area, except my router sitting on the floor.

And then I found it: THE COUCH.

I got an incredible deal on this couch on Facebook Marketplace, and while it’s used and I had to clean it up just a bit, it is perfect for ME.

The art above the couch was just a photo I took on my phone while driving out of Minersville, Utah a few weeks back. I changed up the settings in Adobe Illustrator to print it on multiple pages, printed it at home, and hung it up with masking tape. It cost nothing, and I LOVE IT.

The bookcase used to be vertical where the lamp is now, but I turned it back to horizontal and put it against the wall opposite the couch. The wall was still pretty empty as I don’t have a TV yet, so I DIY’d up some prints from Parabo Press* and hung them up.

Aside from the bookshelf that I bought a couple years back, I don’t think anything in this room cost over $40. I either already had the items, or I took my time finding them. I listed some of my sources in my first post, but just to recap / expound:

Blanket basket: HomeGoods
Blankets: if it’s a quilt, I made it myself a few years back
Lamp: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Beige pillows: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Floral pillowcase: made with fabric from Harmony in Provo, UT
Scandinavian inspired pillow: Ikea
Blue glass on bookshelf: vintage, from my late Great Grandma Mary
Pots with plants: inherited from my late Grandma Judy W.
Yellow chairs: vintage, Facebook Marketplace
Couch: used, Facebook Marketplace
Coffee table: used, Facebook Marketplace
Wood: from my wood guy, Devin Stratton in Orem, UT
Ceramic plate on bookshelf: from Busy Bee Pottery in Beaver, UT
Wood prints: by Light & Ink, Provo, UT
Mt. Timpanogos art print: by Annie Blake, Provo, UT
Beeswax candles: from Farm & Hive

And as I mentioned previously, the photos were printed through Parabo Press. I love their products and have used them for years. If you want to try them out, please consider using my referral code DDJRHF for $10 off your first order. If you do, I also get $10 off my next order, which is a pretty sweet deal for both of us!

I’m so glad this room has come together like it has. I would say it’s my favorite room, but I think that keeps changing. I’m just very grateful for this space to call my own.

Ep. 14: From Stay-at-Home Mom to Podcaster

Today we’re talking to Jenny Furse who, along with her husband Joe, hosts the Of Progress and Purpose Podcast! Jenny shares her journey from student to working mom to stay-at-home mom to podcaster. She also shares some of the values that she and Joe share on their podcast. Jenny is a light, and I’m so grateful for the chance to share her with you!

Hear more from Jenny on the Of Progress and Purpose podcast:

Listen on Anchor.FM

Thanks so much, Jenny!

Ep. 12: From Copywriter to Dream Pop Vocalist

Kendall Sallay-Milotz and I have known each other since MIDDLE SCHOOL, so you know this episode is going to be great! There’s too much love and history there to not be great!

Kendall plays in the dream pop band Starover Blue (website / Bandcamp / Instagram). In this interview, she shares about her path as a musician, from choir member to lead vocalist of a band. She shares how she balances a full time job that she loves, as well as pursuing her passion for music. She shares the value of sacrifice and hard work.

Here are some photos of the band, but also of me singing with Kendall/Starover Blue, because those are some of my most favorite memories ever.

Photo by Gary Barnes, Holocene Portland, January 2020
Photo by Gary Barnes, Holocene Portland, January 2020
Photo by Gary Barnes, Doug Fir, Portland
Album Release, September 2019 (I’m on the right!)

And some throwbacks… 😉

2007, San Diego
2007, San Diego (Photo by my cousin Morgan Miller, I believe!)
2006, Les Miserables in High School. Kendall and I sang in the Pirates of Penzance, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Mis together.

I have always been SO proud of Kendall. I think we both cry when we listen to each other’s recordings. When we sing together, it’s hard to tell my voice from her’s because we’ve literally been singing together for half our lives. My friendship with Kendall has been one of the greatest of my life. I’m just so happy to share her with you today.

P.S. Some of my favorite songs on their latest album Ordinary Magic are A B Y, Anemone, and The Howl Makes No Sound!

P.P.S. Every year, Kendall, Dirk and I record a cover of a song. Here’s one of those:

Thanks so much, Kendall! <3

Ep. 11: I’m organizing an event!

As I’ve met with business owners in Beaver County over the last few weeks, I started to see a need: women business owners—many of whom run their businesses out of their homes—want to connect with other women business owners, and they want opportunities to learn. I kept having this thought that I can create a space for this for them, and I try to never ignore a reoccurring though, so here we are! If you are a woman business owner in Beaver County (or the surrounding areas), OR a potential/hopeful/future business owner, you are invited to this free event on March 18 in Beaver.

Most of the evening will be just chatting and getting to know each other. We’ll also have a speaker or two sharing about different selling platforms and doing a brief Q&A (if this event is successful, I’m lightly planning to do more of them, with different topics covered each time). We will share tools and resources to help you fill any gaps you notice in your business. And, if that wasn’t enough already, I’m planning on having refreshments!

RSVP on the Facebook event, and be sure to tell your friends! See ya soon!