16 November 2017

God's plan and my plan

The best laid plans are no match for the mess of reality. Isn't that how that goes? 
It's true just so you know. Or at least it's proved true for me. 
And since it's Jay's birthday, I'll tell you. He wasn't what I pictured. 
I pictured tall, dark, and handsome, and super sweet. 
(Jay is most of those things, but I wouldn't define him by those specifically)
Then I dated tall, dark, handsome, and super sweet and couldn't fall in love. 
And nothing was working according to my plan, and really nothing was working at all.
So I started focusing elsewhere in my life. And when my guard was down- Jay happened. I had mission papers in for my church so I was open to it.  And it ended up being perfect, and so much better looking back than anything or anyone else.

And God knows me, because Jay is honest and dependable and loves me with the deep, abiding, true kind of love that's exactly what I need. He isn't showy, he doesn't say things he doesn't mean, and he let's me have my own wings and dream and be myself completely. 

Then we started to figure life out together.  First we felt like law school wasn't the right choice and that we should pursue tech jobs. Then we felt right about a company in Utah. Then that company ended up not being a great fit or situation and we decided to move on from after a year. Which then led us to Jay's current job, which came about through moving to Utah and rekindling friendships here, but wasn't ready for Jay's position until last fall. 

We felt right about buying a home when we moved to Utah initially, and home after home after home didn't work out for us. I was 39 weeks pregnant and still had no home to bring Rory to after she was born. It wasn't working how I pictured and certainly not how I wanted. And eventually after a lot of hassle and push and shove we ended up in our sweet foreclosure and got to work making it ours. We love our home, and our ward, and everything about the way things ended up.

And nothing went as planned. And now we feel like we should move again, and we made a fair offer on a house that seemed perfect and they refused to budge. So we looked and looked and finally found a house that seems like a more perfect fit than anything else we looked at, though it wasn't what we had in mind at all. It's a recurring theme. 

I guess what I'm saying is almost every plan I've ever made has gone completely differently than I planned for it to go. I mean I could go on and on and on. I remember feeling so lost in college because I wanted to fit the mold in my program and I didn't get the right internships or ace the right classes and it just never ended......I digress. 

But it all worked out. And sometimes it wasn't until I set my plan aside for a moment and got out of my own way that the Lord could do the work in getting me what I actually needed and getting me where I actually needed to go. Sometimes I just had to have a blank slate so somebody that knew better could come in and paint the picture I couldn't see. And even today, I have a lot of parts of my life mural that... well, I'm trying to see how the current strokes fit. And I'm having to hold back and wait, reminding myself that it will always work out. 

I just really believe this sentiment shared by Gordon B Hinckley...

It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. 
It all works out. Don't worry. 
I say that to myself every morning. 
It will all work out.

03 November 2017

Favorite things Friday:

To watch: Humans of New York, the Series. I've always loved Humans of New York and the Series is even better I think. It's not "feel-good" necessarily, but it's thought provoking and human and authentic and raw. It makes you think and open your eyes to other people's reality. I don't think you have to agree with everything everyone says, I don't, but i do think it's necessary if we are to develop Christlike love to understand people-all kinds of people- and that's what I feel like this series helps do.

To listen: General Conference. I've been listening to general conference talks like I would a podcast while I'm putting on makeup, doing the dishes, or sewing and it's been awesome. Leave your favorites in the comments so I can listen to them next! Some of my favorites are here, here, and here.

To read: We found Rory's favorite book randomly while at Costco a while back (have you ever seen those massive board books they have sometimes!? I'm obsessed!), and it is the sweetest book with a message I love! It has kind of quirky illustrations and Rory wants to read it constantly and has the whole thing memorized. If you ever watch my instastories, it's the book she's most often quoting. It's called 'I like myself' and it's all about self-love. If you're looking for a good children's book to throw in the mix that you won't hate, this is a good bet.

To use: Marco Polo! It's essentially a combination of FaceTime, snapchat, and texting. I got several recommendations to try it out, but the concept seemed a little redundant to me. Turns out I LOVE it. I'm way better at responding than I am with texting because you don't have to sit down and type out a response, you can use it while you're multitasking, and there's not as much miscommunication because people can see you and hear the tone of your voice. Disclaimer: I use it mostly with my mom friends and I don't think I would use it as much if I was working or in school because you can't send or receive messages silently.

To eat: THIS Magnolia's banana pudding copycat. I enjoy it best the morning after I make it when the Nilla wafers are soft and the banana flavor has set in a little- it's near identical to the New York crowd pleaser. (That I've also had in Hawaii?) Also, don't make the same mistake I did. Use instant pudding and save yourself the heartache of a pudding that is impossible to set. hahaha. My whole family is now sick of it because I made it like 3 times in a span of two weeks. hahaha literally in love.

02 November 2017


I read an article on sex trafficking today that just about made me sick. It was about a woman who started dating somebody, fell in love with him, and he convinced her to sell her body and eventually took all her money and ruined her life. It sounds crazy, but it's real. She was raised in a stable, two-parent home and had a degree and a good job... but was made a victim.

And do you know why he targeted her? Her lack of confidence.

It scared me to death. I've been there, I'm raising a girl, I know too many girls who have been there too.

I lived that way for so so many years. I thought I wasn't pretty enough or thin enough, I thought nobody would love me the way I was, and that perfection was unattainable. The adversary fed that lie for all it was worth. He told me that my lack of confidence was only affecting me, he made me think as long as I wasn't "sinning" it was all reasonable and fine. He made me think it was justifiable to treat my body poorly and punish and think poorly of myself. I was miserable, and all the causes for my lack of confidence consumed my thoughts day in and day out. I was an extremely harsh critic of my own body, and unconsciously became a harsh critic of others as I constantly compared.

I think about that time in my life sometimes, and most often I feel overwhelming gratitude that I am a different person now: now that I have confidence. Real, genuine, confidence.

Now before I go any further, I feel like there's an important distinction to make. Confidence and arrogance are not the same thing. Arrogance is feeling like you are worth more than someone, and confidence is knowing that your worth something. Arrogance is thinking you could do something better than others, confidence is believing you can do hard things.

I believe in confidence. I believe in teaching it to our daughters and encouraging it in our friends and spouses. I believe knowing who you are and knowing you have a purpose and a role on earth is crucial. If you have real confidence, you can get through hard trials, and withstand hard temptations, and do really good things.

It really is an individual matter. I think confidence doesn't come from anyone else but you (and God). But i do think other people seeing good in us can help us along. Other people's faith in us can help us get to a place where we are ready to believe in ourselves. So just.... I guess the point I didn't know I was getting to is for us to.... be builders. It may not help, but what if we each tried to be builders of other people.  It certainly wouldn't hurt. If we could help inspire confidence in those around us what could we keep from happening in our world? Drugs? Sadness?

And a picture that to me represents this. This is me this summer, one week after having a miscarriage with a body that is a far cry from my fittest, but happy. Genuinely happy and not thinking a second thing about that body that has done so much for me and is such a gift. Not cropped, not covered. My sister asked me to be in a picture, and I got in the picture. (sidenote: I don't think being comfortable in our bodies is the only form of confidence, and I don't think pictures in bathing suits represent confidence. But for me, that's where I've struggled and come from so it represents a lot of personal triumph to even have a picture like this.) So I hope we all strive to find real confidence within ourselves. For me, it's a continual effort. Find purpose and meaning, and build other people. It will change your life, it will change theirs, and it can help change our world.

26 October 2017

The hardest year of my life/how I made it

Last summer my grandpa died, and thus ushered in the hardest year of my life thus far. The 11 months after that included my parents getting separated and divorced, losing a cousin, and a painful miscarriage. It was a lot to take on in a year, and one year later I'm still standing, but in a radically different world than I did before.

I'm not saying I have come out unscathed from the hardest year of my life (thus far). But I am saying I survived- and I feel emotionally stable and healthy and in a good place almost every day now. I know it may not be the worst year of my life ever but by any standard it was a pretty life altering and terrible period of time. There are a million different ways to have a really hard period of your life, but I found that when I was doing certain things I was much more okay than when I wasn't- and the same may ring true for you.

1. Find your therapy. (Also, if you need it, get some therapy) Find something that's therapeutic for you, and make the time to do that thing. I write, and I exercise and I sat down and made goals about those things even though I've got a lot on my plate. This is related to recharging your batteries (below), but distinctly different. Therapy can recharge your batteries, but more than that therapy helps actively clear your mind and recenter your spirit.

2. Say no. There are "no" periods of our lives, and there are "yes" periods. (link here to a podcast I love that talks about this very thing) Essentially, it's ok to say no. Not to everything- but when you are overwhelmed and know what you need to do to stay afloat, say no to the things that are more than you can handle. Narrow things down, cut out the static and focus on the core things you need to focus on. (e.g. taking care of your mind, body, and your family relationships)  If you can't take on another project or responsibility it's ok to say no. I did this quite a bit on my hardest days, and I always looked back and was grateful that I allowed myself some grace. Sidetone: this is a lot easier to do and a lot less guilt inducing when you are open with friends and family. A straight "no" is a lot more harsh and a little less honest than a "you know what, I wish I could. We are going through a lot/have a lot on our plate right now and I really feel like I can't take this on right now"

3. Recharge your batteries SO. MUCH. MORE. OFTEN. For example, I like people and I like being with and talking to people....but when I need to recharge, I am a classic introvert. And so is Jay. I need to stay home and take a bath, and clean my house, and do my nails and read a book. And when you are in the middle of something really hard, you are so emotionally spent so often that you need to do more recharging than you might normally do. Maybe recharging for you looks like girl's nights or long walks or good workouts. Find out what recharges you and do more of it.

4. Sit in your feelings and feel them. Don't wallow in your feelings forever, but don't suppress them in hopes that they will disappear. (Big hint: they don't) Sit and take them as they come. Get mad, cry when you need a good cry, call a safe person and talk it out if you need to explode. If you don't know how to feel and express complicated emotions therapy is a good option to help you sort through them.

5. Hold onto your God and your spirituality with your life. If you've ever heard the term "buy low, sell high" the principle applies here so well. (can you tell I was raised by a father in the financial industry...?) The concept is that people get scared when things (stocks, etc) are low and things are hard and they bail out because it's scary and hard to stay. In reality, that is the worst possible thing you could do. You should evaluate whether to pull when things are high- the low times are when it's most important to stay and ride the curve back up.  Stay in the boat. Ride out the wave. All of these sayings are about staying on board with whatever was keeping you stable and safe even when it gets scary.

6. Keep your head up and look forward. There are so many things you can't control in the past or things that you could dwell on that could suck up your entire day, week, or year. No matter how intense or non-intense our hardships have been, this is true. But we also all have so many good things to look for in the future. We each also have new experiences and hope ahead of us. Tomorrow is always a new day and the good news is we can keep refocusing on the hope ahead rather than the tragedy and heartache in the past and sometimes the present.

Essentially, simplify your life and focus on the essentials. Really take a deep look at yourself and your situation to figure out what helps you. Be kind and forgiving to yourself, and even more than that be a little more kind and forgiving to others- because you know what it feels like to not feel your best.

12 October 2017

Get in the game

Today, whatever news station somebody previously had on when I hopped on the stairclimber was talking about fandom and it's benefits and mostly- it's downfalls. They were talking about the phenomena that hardcore fans essentially go through the same stress and adrenaline rush as the players they love so much, except for the fact that we have absolutely no control or part in the outcome. SO that stress just sits- there's nowhere productive for it to go. Today I want to write out loud about sitting on the sidelines of our own lives, and how we can possibly get in the game and start feeling fulfilled. It's not about the fame, it's about playing a game that you want to win.

First, I hope we are all fans of our own lives. I hope we dream of "winning" of the house cup or the world championship or whatever it is for you. And mind you, I don't think that has to be anything grand. I think my "winning" or "succeeding" largely has to do with growing old with Jay, having lots of babies, being financially stable and independent, and having a massive greenhouse on a piece of land somewhere pretty. Also owning my own business. Maybe a massive garden and lots of Boo's puppies running around. Some beautiful, frame-able photography for pleasure thrown in there. And I get to be on the field working toward that goal every day.

So yeah, I hope we're at least fans. I hope we are cheering for ourselves. But what I really hope is that we are down in the dirt doing it. I hope we are playing the game, and playing with all we've got. (mind you, I believe taking time to heal from injuries/catastrophes in our lives is ok too) There are a million things we can/need to do in a day. All of us. And for me it at times can be completely overwhelming and I would rather crawl in a hole and lie in a stressful sea of nothingness than do something. But I always feel better if I just play the game (or do the darn thing, ya know?), so why don't I just do it?

Do you have the same struggle? Why do we do this to ourselves (assuming it's not just me)? When I take a step back it seems like most of the time I know the antidote to whatever I'm feeling, but just don't want to make the initial hurdle. Even if you aren't perfect at whatever it is, or it's going to take you five years to really accomplish or whatever the case may be... it is so much more satisfying to be playing the game, even if you aren't completely sure of exactly what you're doing!

My dad always said, "point, shoot, aim (repeat)" which sounds a little silly at first, but it's really the principle that you've gotta shoot to see where you're at and you can re adjust from there.

So here's to being better at sewing and photography than I was last year because I kept doing them despite my imperfections. Here's to living our lives and making the phone calls we should and getting out of bed on time and exercising and taking twenty minutes to clean the dishes that have been staring at you from the sink. Here's to making the hard phone calls and e-mails and doing all the things we know will help us get closer to that victory, even when they're hard. Especially when they're hard.

Get a planner, find a new alarm clock that works, surround yourself with inspiration (whatever that looks like-podcasts and books are a good start), make time to do the things you love. For me, I'm a "point, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, and then maybe shoot" type person more often than not. I'm a solidly functional perfectionist, who used to scrub the dirt off her old navy flip flops with a toothbrush after school every day. (that, dear friends, is the truth) And so it's hard for me to move forward knowing things aren't perfect. Knowing they aren't exactly how I wanted them to be or pictured them to be. But I'm working on it. I'm making steps forward and sewing and ripping out a lot of seams and taking more pictures in manual. And you know.... it feels good.

Basically, this quote from instagram sums it up-
"You don't have to get it perfect. You just have to get it going" @haleyacres

And for my weekly photo I've got a shot I'm really proud of recently that makes me proud of keeping in the game and practicing photography even when I have been discouraged and it's a lot easier to leave my heavy camera at home. There's motion and light and real, genuine, human beings.