Sunday Thoughts: New Year’s Resolutions.

There’s just something about a new year, isn’t there? I love looking back on the past year and thinking about what I would like to improve, and what I would like to maintain over the course of the next year. I used to feel a sense of loss when I thought of the old year being over; lamenting over how I never got a chance to do A,B, or C. But now I look forward to a fresh start: a chance to better myself and my family!

I’ve noticed that, this year in particular, there have been more people mocking new year’s resolutions than participating in them. To a certain degree, I can understand where they’re coming from. It might not be the best idea to purchase a gym membership if you aren’t fully committed to getting into better shape, for example. It’s not smart to radically change your diet or force yourself into restrictive eating habits over the course of 24 hours, when just the day before you were gorging yourself on whatever greasy, nasty food you could find. That’s not realistic, and unless you have a strong sense of self-discipline, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

However, if you are serious about improving yourself and making a positive change, I think it’s worth it to make resolutions and stick to them. In the past, I have been really good about adhering to my resolutions, for example, when I chose to stop eating processed sugar in 2010. I made it for 4 years without eating a single Oreo! Because I paced myself and set realistic goals, I was able to achieve them. That’s what I want to do this year, too! So by writing my goals down and publishing them, I hope to be able to regularly check back on them and update you all on my progress! What are your resolutions?

  1. First and foremost, I will stop eating sugar again. I’ve always felt best when I’ve chosen to stay away from processed and refined sugar, and I feel that it’s an important part of my identity. Another bonus is weight loss, which brings me to my next point.
  2. I am going to lose 50 pounds this year. I’ve spent too much time hating myself and being unhappy, and I need it to stop. For my sake, and my husband’s sake, I need to love myself. I’m going to begin a workout routine, and I plan on sticking to it. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again.
  3. Speaking of skin, I want to begin a better skincare routine. I have been researching Korean skincare for a while now, and I think it’s something I want to try. I don’t take good enough care of my skin, so beginning an intensive routine should give me a nice wake-up call (and dewy, flawless skin, too!)
  4. I want to start cooking more, and with that comes meal planning. There have been too many mediocre pasta dishes in our home this year. IT. MUST. END.
  5. I want to start planning things, writing to-do lists, and create a budget we can thrive on. To achieve this, I am wanting to start a bullet journal! I’m excited to share that process with you. Frankly, I’m excited to share all of these with you!
  6. I want to keep my apartment clean. It would be so much easier to do if we didn’t live here! I want to get better at that so that I’m prepared for random guests whenever it happens. Which isn’t very often, but still. I want to be prepared.
  7. I want to do more projects! I want to focus on my art and improving my home. Creating makes me happy. I need more of that.

Well, there you have it! My New Year’s Resolutions. It’ll be fun to come back a year from now and see where I started, don’t you think? :^)

 

-Haeley

Birth control.

Today I officially stopped taking my birth control.

I didn’t stop because we’re trying to get pregnant just yet- but if we did, we would be so excited! We’re still enjoying our time alone though. ;^)

I didn’t stop because of some moral objection to family planning. I believe that birth control is a blessing to those that need/use it, and I’ll admit it’s been terribly convenient to not have to worry about condoms and such.

I stopped because loathing myself was not worth the convenience of popping a pill every morning.

Crying every Sunday because I couldn’t fit my brand new dress wasn’t worth the lighter periods every month.

Dreading and actively avoiding family gatherings so they couldn’t see my weight gain wasn’t worth not having a baby before we felt ready.

I’m not writing this post to scare everyone away from ever using birth control pills, because they are very helpful to many people and work just fine with no adverse effects, but all bodies are different, and I felt like it was important to share my story.

Before we got married, we discussed birth control. I REALLY did not want to take the pill because I’d heard stories about women who gained a lot of weight, got really emotional, etc. I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want to sacrifice the body I’d worked so hard for in order to keep from getting pregnant. If I was going to gain weight, I would prefer it be from pregnancy rather than a side effect of pregnancy prevention. Does that make sense?

I did my research, and decided that I would try an IUD. We weren’t planning on having a baby for a while, it wouldn’t require any pills, and I wouldn’t have to refill a prescription. And- my insurance covered it! I knew the risks, and decided to take a chance. I was NOT going to take a pill if I could help it.

When I went into the doctor’s office, I felt confident. I was informed, and I was prepared for anything.

Except finding out I wasn’t physically able to get an IUD.

I have a retroverted uterus, which means it tilts toward my spine rather than towards my belly button, like most people. It’s also smaller, because I haven’t been pregnant before. Having a retroverted uterus isn’t a bad thing, and I shouldn’t suffer infertility because of it, but my doctor told me that IUD insertion would most likely be extremely painful and it might not work very well because of how small my uterus is. (IUD’s are often recommended to women who have given birth previously, because their uteruses are usually more able to keep the IUD properly in place.)

After I was told this, I was crushed, to say the least. I asked what my other options were, and I was given a few samples of the NuvaRing, which I LOVED. Unfortunately, my insurance covered very little of the prescription, so it cost over $100 for a two-month prescription. So after I finished my sample of the NuvaRing, I called my doctor and was prescribed a pill.

At first, I didn’t notice too much of a difference. It was annoying to have to remember to take it every single day, but being able to control my periods was nice. Plus, the pills were small enough to swallow without water, which made taking them much easier, as I could take them anywhere. I figured it wouldn’t be so bad… Until I began gaining weight.

Now, the birth control is not completely to blame for this. I began eating sugar again, and my eating habits changed to accommodate my new husband’s and his family’s while we lived with them. Still, I do not believe that I could possibly have gained THAT much weight from making a slight change alone. I went from a size 8 to a 16 in less than 8 months. I went from a medium in shirt size to an XL, and even have had to purchase 1X and 2X.

Going from the best shape of my life to arguably the absolute worst shape has been one of the most painful, gut-wrenching experiences I’ve ever been through. I’ve struggled with my weight for my entire life, and watching all of my hard work fade away so quickly has hurt in ways I never thought possible. Many, many nights have been spent sobbing into my husband’s shoulder. The kind of weeping where you can’t help but make noises like a dying animal. The kind of sobs that shake you until you’re not sure how to feel normal again. It’s in those moments where I enter a dark place. There’s no other way to describe it other than dark, emotionally, mentally, and almost physically. I sink into myself when I enter that place. It’s scary and it’s complete and utter misery.

I never knew the weight of the word hate until I was using it to describe how I felt about myself. Hate is such an awful word, and it legitimately hurts to say when referencing yourself. The weirdest part of it all was when I would say it aloud, I felt a deep, profound sadness, different from anything I’ve felt before. It almost felt as though when I said that I hated myself, I could feel God’s pain at hearing those words about one of His children. I could imagine Him desperately trying to comfort me while trying not to show how deeply I’d hurt Him.

Since then, I’ve tried not to use the word ‘hate’ in reference to myself, which can get difficult, because as the weeks have gone by, I’ve just gotten bigger and bigger and have lost touch with the girl I used to be. I miss her. I miss wanting to show off my beautiful self, and being proud of how well I took care of myself. I want to feel sexy and desirable for once in my marriage.

And starting today, I’m going to win her back. I’m going to get back to where I was, and more.

I guess that what I’m trying to say is this: Ladies, do your research thoroughly, and after you’ve done that, go with your gut. There are HUNDREDS of methods of contraception you can use. Don’t limit yourself! Condoms may not be your preferred method of birth control, but they can be very effective if used correctly. Same goes with spermicides. Be smart about birth control, and don’t let anyone bully or pressure you into thinking one method is better for you than others. Because, let’s be honest, some birth control methods are better than others, but often it’s a case by case thing. Above all, if you don’t want to do something, a lot of the time you don’t have to. I wish I had known this when I started the pill, because then I wouldn’t have ever TAKEN the pill to begin with! It’s MY body, and I get to choose my birth control. And if my birth control ever fails and we are blessed with a baby, it will be just that- a blessing. In the meantime, I will do what I feel comfortable with, and what I feel is best for my body.

~Haeley

Ps- I really hope this post hasn’t come off as overly preachy or self-absorbed. I’ve tried my best to be very transparent and honest in the writing of this, and as such, I think I’ve used a lot of I’s and me’s and my’s, but it’s a personal story, so you’re going to get personal pronouns. I hope this post helps someone to be brave, or, at the very least, feel less alone. Birth control sucks, but we’re in this together.

Pps- if you or someone you love is looking at birth control options, here are some links I’ve found to be helpful:

  • The RxList website is very helpful if you’re looking at potential side effects of various birth controls and other medications. 
  • Skinny Mom has some GREAT insight on natural family planning.
  • There are now some apps that supposedly help gain easier access to birth control.

2015….

A year ago tonight I sat upstairs at my parents house, cuddling the dog so she wouldn’t be afraid of the fireworks. A year ago today I was texting Tanner as it got closer and closer to midnight. He actually wanted to come over and spend the holiday with me, but we decided against it. At that point we were just friends, and I had no idea that in about a week’s time we would share our first kiss. I had no idea that almost two months later, I would be engaged. I had no idea that by midnight of 2015, I would be sitting in my apartment next to my husband, with our dog snuggled up by our feet.

2015 was quite the year. One of my favorite things to do when the time comes is to look back on the past year and see how different everything has become. This year, however, was especially crazy. So many things have happened in such a short time that it doesn’t seem possible for it all to have happened in a year! And yet, somehow, it all did. And we miraculously survived it all, too!

I honestly can’t believe how extremely blessed I have been this year. I married my sweetheart, gained an absolutely incredible new family, and have grown in so many ways. I think that the person I was at the beginning of the year would be proud of who I am now, and that’s comforting. I don’t feel that this year was a year of digression for me. It was a year of fantastic progress! I have become so much more independent! I have learned what it means to put someone else’s needs ahead of mine, and I have learned just how enjoyable it is to take care of someone. I really believe I was born to be a wife and (someday) a mother. Tanner has brought out a strength in me I didn’t know I had, and he has helped me grow and become someone I needed to be. I hope I have had the same effect on him.

This year also brought along difficult challenges. Learning to live with someone so completely different from you takes a lot of compromising and giving when you don’t really want to. I never realized how selfish I was until I got married, which is rough. I’ve cried more this year than I have in many years past. I’ve had to learn that sometimes you’re wrong, and you need to accept it. And I’ve also learned that sometimes you need to realize that neither of you will win, and the sooner you kiss and make up, the better. I’ve discovered that you can’t be passive about something important to you- even though you’re married now, you still need to stick up for yourself. You are still important.

All in all, 2015 was kind of a mess. But it was such a beautiful one.

-Haeley

On existing.

Throughout Tanner’s and my engagement, one of our biggest worries was where we would live over the summer. We planned on returning to EAC in the fall, but didn’t want to stay during the summer because the job options were slim, and the friends to socialize with would be slimmer. We had some potential job openings in Mesa, but the cost of rent for three months was higher than it was worth.

And so, after a lot of discussion, we made the decision to move to Cottonwood for the summer with his parents, in order to work there, and save as much as we could so that when we returned to Thatcher, we would have some money saved up and we could begin our life as a married couple there. 
About halfway through the summer, we decided to extend our stay in Cottonwood, because I had a job, and Tanner would have a job that would pay a little bit more than his current job was, and we decided to search for an apartment there. Our rationalization was that Thatcher didn’t really have that many options for us, and we would have a tougher time finding jobs in a small town overrun by college students applying for the same jobs we were. Plus there was a small college here that we could attend, so there really was no reason to go back.
At first, it seemed like a solid plan. But then I began getting depressed. My whole life had been conveniently shuffled into a routine of waking up, staying home alone until it came time to go to work, driving the 30+ minutes to Sedona, working until 8:30 pm or later, and driving home in the dark to a husband who was exhausted from working all day. I would eat dinner quickly, and then we would collapse into bed, almost too tired to even speak to each other. Rinse and repeat. 
I hate how accurate this is.
Now, I’m a very social person. Being with friends and family is what I live for! But I was hardly interacting with anyone aside from occasionally having some free time with my in laws or going on dates with Tanner. I had absolutely no friends here. It’s not for lack of trying, however, I can assure you. But our ward is full of elderly people, and while I adore their spunk and kindness, I just don’t think it’s feasible to try to have a game night with a bunch of people 75+ years old. And my job doesn’t really allow for bonding with my coworkers, as I stay in the front and seat people while the servers bustle around serving them. The closest friend I have is my manager, who sometimes comes to the front to talk to me. 
Let me say that again:
The closest friend I have, outside the family I am currently living with, is. My. Manager. 
The guy who is paying me to work for him. He’s the person I consider my friend. 
Does that seem sad to anybody else, or is that just me? 
I’m absolutely not trying to say that I don’t dearly love my family, nor do I want to spend less time with them, but friends are such an important part of life, too! There’s no sense in denying that, and for the past three months, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to myself.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about being introverted vs. being exroverted, introverted meaning a quieter person who is easily drained by social interaction. It doesn’t mean that they never socialize, or hate having friends, it merely means that they don’t rely on other people to keep them going. They are usually seen as quiet geniuses, choosing not to be with other people constantly because they would much rather read a book, or ponder the intricate workings of the universe. 
Extroverts, however, are more social, and thrive on being involved with people and activities. This also does not mean they never want to be alone, but it does mean that socializing energizes and revitalizes them. Because of this, extroverts are often seen as flighty, or people who only care about attending their next party.
Case in point: when I looked up the word “introvert”, really deep, thoughtful quotes popped up. When I searched for extrovert….. I got partying weirdos. There’s a bit of misrepresentation here. 
I am an extrovert. I love people! I love having friends, and getting out of the house makes me feel so good!
However, these past few months I haven’t had much opportunity to do those things, because there’s not really anyone my age here. Neither of us are enrolled in classes (something I continually kick myself for), so we’re not meeting people that way. And on top of being in a ward that primarily houses the retired, we were recently called into nursery, so I see even less people there. I’ve tried time and again to convince myself that I’m just being selfish, and I should appreciate the blessing of being employed, and being married. After all, I’m married to my best friend! Why would I need or even want to be with anyone else now that I’m married? I’m just being stupid. It’s a good thing that we both have jobs; I’m just depressed because we don’t have a place of our own yet. Yes, that MUST be the case! Life will magically get better once we live in our own apartment, where we can continue working and going to a church full of older people that can’t really attend a game night outside of their retirement community. And we’ll eventually go to school! Maybe! But everything will get better once we have our own apartment. 
Friends, I fully convinced myself of this. I had decided that I would be content living in a place that is essentially a dead end for newlyweds because we had jobs. I was denying myself the luxury of having friends in favor of having a job. 
Rather than realize how depressed I had gotten, I was bound and determined to merely exist, rather than live life to the fullest while we’re still young. 
I tend to forget just how very young I am- I’m not even 20 years old yet! Why on earth would I think it was a good idea to settle down in a town that has literally nothing to offer us, other than jobs? Don’t get me wrong, having a job is so, so, important, and I’m not trying to dismiss that. But the thing is, we just have JOBS, not a CAREER. We can find a job pretty much anywhere! We still need to work towards a career, and we shouldn’t be putting that on hold just because we have a job. I sure don’t want to be a seating hostess the rest of my life- no way! So what am I doing sitting here, not pursuing my dreams, because I have a job that I hate? 
Mesa has so many actual opportunities. We can find jobs, there are HUNDREDS of apartment complexes to choose from, and there are so many college programs there. Not to mention, friends! Actual friends!
I realize now that being an extrovert is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not anything I should try to cover up or suppress. I need to accept myself fully, and that means taking my life by the reins and doing something about my situation. Yes, moving will be hard, and yes, it’ll be scary starting on square one again, but I am going to do it with my best friend by my side, in addition to my other friends, who will love and support us, and come to a game night where they don’t have to bring an oxygen tank. 
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to give up some of your most basic needs and pretend you’re okay. To quote from the movie Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement: “being married is about being yourself, only with someone else.” 
Oh, Helen Thermopolis. So weird, so wise.
I thought it was kind of a funny statement at first, but there is a lot of truth to it! I got married not because I wanted to hide away certain aspects of my personality in order to be a housewife; I got married because I found someone I can be 100% myself around. And being 100% real means acknowledging that sometimes it’s okay to do something scary, because it will benefit your family, but it will also help you live your best life. 
And I fully intend on living my best life. After all….. Happy wife, happy life, right? ;^)
I kid, I kid. But I’m excited to move to a place where we are going to have options, schooling, and friends! Oh, I am SO excited to have friends again. And I am so excited to be LIVING, not just existing. 
Mesa, watch out. The Rhinehearts are coming for you!!
~Haeley

(ps- I’m every bit as disgusted as you are by my excessive use of stock photos. But I needed something to break up the monotony of my words. Bear with me here.)

Inches.

I have never been the skinny girl.
I will never be able to talk about when I was a tiny, slender little teenager, who never knew just how skinny she really was, because the reality is this: I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Granted, I’ve never been over 200 pounds, nor have I accrued major health problems due to my weight. Nevertheless, I have struggled. It’s hard to be a chubby girl surrounded by “perfect” figures everywhere you look- magazines, TV, and the girl sitting next to you in your 9th grade English class.

I haven’t always hated being bigger, however. In elementary school, I started a secret club for the “fat girls” in our class- a club that lasted for about ten minutes until we were discovered and had to put a stop to it, for fear that someone might feel left out. We didn’t start the club because we wanted to hate on skinny girls- it was just a group where everyone felt alike. We all knew what it was like to be a chubby girl in elementary (oh, the struggle!), and it felt good to have comrades.

In 7th grade, I had gotten bigger, but it didn’t bother me too much. I told myself that the uniform pants that didn’t fit and took me ten minutes to wrestle on around my girth made my butt look good, and it didn’t matter that I was overflowing around my waistband; my peers wouldn’t notice.

Hopefully they didn’t notice my
unibrow, either,

By 8th grade, I had officially reached the point where my bellybutton was visible through my shirts, because my stomach stuck out that much.
I didn’t necessarily care, though. I was still curvy, meaning that even though I had to carefully maneuver myself in between the desks at school so I wouldn’t knock something over with my large hips, it was okay. Those child-birthing hips were dang fine!

Eventually, I realized something. I was wearing a size XL while others my age could still fit into children’s sizes! I was a size 16 when most of my friends hadn’t even cracked a size 8 yet. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand myself. I needed a way out. I just wasn’t sure how I would find one.

9th grade came around, and I finally decided to make a change. I made a goal that I would stop eating sugar completely. I had done some research, and I knew how bad it was for your body. I hoped I would lose some weight by doing that, but  mainly wanted to see if I could go a whole year without consuming any sugar.
It was hard. It was so hard to say no to the things that I loved and craved, but I was stubborn. I WOULD make it a year without eating sugar. At first, a lot of people teased me about my choice, and tried to convince me to sneak an Oreo here, or taste a brownie there. But I stood firm. I was determined.

And eventually, the most amazing thing happened! I began to lose the weight I had packed on throughout the years. I watched my pant size go from a 16, to a 14, to a 12, and, finally, a 10. A 10!! I was one size away from being in the single digits! I no longer had to buy shirts that were extra large, or even large. I was a solid medium.
As it came time to go to college, I began to panic. I could NOT gain the freshman 15. I just couldn’t. I hadn’t worked so hard for years to let it all go to waste because I was living on my own. So I made my mind up to be the healthiest I could be, and for the majority of the year I achieved just that. I was smaller than I had ever been, and I felt better about myself than I did in years- I could even fit into an 8 in some clothing brands!

I finally, FINALLY felt good enough about myself to want to highlight some of my best features, so I did. I had a little bit of a pooch around my tummy, but when I lied down, it would disappear and my stomach would be flat- something that was a new sensation for me. I watched with delight as my face slimmed down to reveal cheekbones to rival Kim Kardashian’s (in my mind at least), my thighs shrunk down from all the bike riding I was doing, and I was just… Happy. I wasn’t skinny, but I was finally in a place where I felt beautiful most of the time.

Then I started going out with Tanner, and we started eating out at restaurants more often, and my bike wasn’t used nearly as much as I was more often found in the front seat of his car. One thing led to another, and I started eating sugar after more than 4 years of abstaining. I didn’t notice any major changes until one day, after struggling to button my favorite pair of capris, they ripped apart on my thighs. In a big way.

From there it just got worse. I barely fit any of the clothes I had bought in Thatcher, and one by one I watched my jeans rip and tear as my waistline grew. For the record, I don’t blame Tanner for any of this. Weight gain is a common thing when you start going out with someone, because your eating habits change to accommodate visits to restaurants, and your significant other’s personal preferences. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s natural. But it still is difficult to accept.

I have watched myself grow from a 10 to a 14 in just a few months. It’s like I’m trapped in a balloon, but the balloon is me. I can’t even look in a mirror anymore. It hurts too much. When I lay down at night, there is a bulge where there used to be a flat stomach and hip bones. A lot of my shirts are difficult to take off because they get stuck around my fat arms. I hate wearing jeans more than anything, because they just don’t fit me. The jeans that I bought in a size 13 are now giving me a muffin top, and they cut off my breathing. So I wear mostly yoga pants, or skirts, because they’re stretchy and they don’t make me look like a busted can of biscuits. I’m not wearing yoga pants because I’m lazy, nor do I want to strike lust into the hearts of men. I wear them because they are more  forgiving than my jeans, and I feel like I can hide the fact that I’ve gotten fat when I’m wearing them. So, for anyone who’s personally offended or disgusted by yoga pants, chill, okay? Sometimes they’re a security blanket, because they fit when nothing else does.

Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch the body I worked so hard for disappear? I have a double chin again. I hate getting dressed in the morning, because I have to figure out what is going to fit me today, all the while praying I can button up my pants. It. Hurts. So. Much.

One of the worst parts about being unhappy with your appearance, is you’re basically not allowed to talk about it. In today’s society of body positivity, you MUST love yourself
AT
ALL
TIMES.
Feeling fat isn’t a thing anymore! You’re beautiful just the way you are! Curves are beautiful! Just embrace it! LOVE ALL YOUR FLAWS. NEVER CHANGE.
It feels like I’ve been muzzled. Every time I’ve brought up my dissatisfaction with myself, I am immediately silenced.
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful! Stop thinking like that. Don’t say things like that again.”
Why is it okay to discuss our fears and worries until it comes to our waistline? Why do I have to unconditionally accept the fact that I’m getting bigger? Why, for heaven’s sake, can I not talk to anyone about the pain I am feeling? Telling me to stop feeling that way just shows that you’re uncomfortable talking about this issue and it would be better for everyone if I could just stop.

Sometimes, I need someone to listen to me. I need someone to understand how I’m feeling, and rather than dismissing it with, “but you’re beautiful!” offer some support. Remind me that I can do this. I lost all the weight once, and I can do it again. I don’t want to be alone, and I especially don’t want to be quiet about it.
I think that it’s okay to not be completely satisfied with your appearance. How am I ever going to change anything if I just sit and accept the fact that everything I worked for is gone? How will I better myself as a person if I just decide that I don’t need to keep trying; as long as I’m “happy”?

It is okay to want to change. And it’s okay to be sad about this. I don’t hate myself as a person, I just know that I shouldn’t have become lax about the goals I had in mind. Emotions, good AND bad, are an important part of the human experience. It’s okay to be sad about the inches I’ve added on.

That will make the disappearance of said inches all the happier.

~Haeley

A year.

365 days ago yesterday began the most eventful year of my life. I figured it would be, but I had no idea just HOW eventful it would be.
Isn’t it interesting just how much can change in just one year? Looking back and remembering is so crazy. This year not only taught me many things about the world, and the people around me, it taught me a lot about myself.

The day I moved in and was truly on my own was surreal. Walking into my apartment for the first time with my parents by my side and a host of boxes in the car gave me butterflies something fierce. This was it. In only a matter of hours, my parents would leave me on my own, and I would begin life as an adult. Was I ready? Could I do this? I guess I would find out soon enough. We had a good day together, organizing my things, trying to enjoy each moment we had together.

Then it was time for my parents to go. It was a bittersweet moment, watching them drive away. Granted, they would be back in just a few days for my class registration, but it still felt kind of scary. After they came on Wednesday, I had no idea when I would see them again.

However, as scary as it was, I was so excited. I was on my own! My life was beginning in earnest! There was no telling what would happen now.

Over the next few months, I grew in so many ways. Before I moved, I was worried that eventually I would stop going to church, because the decision was 100% mine. But I never willingly missed a Sunday! And I really enjoyed my ward. There were some genuinely good people there. It was comforting to know that my faith was strong enough to carry me through independent life, and it made me feel good knowing that I really did have my own testimony, and I wasn’t blindly following my parent’s beliefs.

I learned that being alone doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. I spent a lot of time on my own, since I didn’t have too many friends in Thatcher. At first, I was a bit sad about not being as much of a social butterfly, but in time I came to accept that sometimes it’s okay to be friends with just yourself. I took so many walks and bike rides in that pretty little town. I loved exploring by myself, and I found so many beautiful places that I never would have, had I stayed home feeling sorry for myself. I think everyone should take advantage of where they live. There’s beauty everywhere, if you look hard enough! Take some time to yourself, and enjoy who you are when nobody’s around.

Among learning how fabulous I look with purple hair, and how performing arts might not be for me after all, I learned something even more important: give everyone a fair chance when it comes to dating.

Not saying that you should keep dating someone you know is wrong for you, or putting up with unsavory behavior because you don’t know that you’ll find anyone better, of course. But give people a chance. I dated around a lot in the months before Tanner. I dated people I was not interested in, but I went anyway because people can surprise you sometimes! I went on many a date where I hardly knew the boy, and at the end of the night, I had made myself a friend. Heck, I wasn’t really all that interested in Tanner when we went on our first date! But I gave him a chance, and I’ve never regretted it.

Dating is so much fun! Don’t be afraid of asking someone out, or going out with someone you don’t know super well. Use your best judgement, of course, and don’t go out with someone you’re pretty sure could kill you in your sleep. ;^)

Who would have ever thought that on the one year anniversary of my moving out, I would be going on my third month of marriage? I’m so glad I was able to attend EAC. It taught me so much about life, about love, and about who I am. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunities He did, and although I miss Thatcher something fierce, I got a pretty cool keepsake out of the deal, don’t you think? ;^)

What a wonderful, stressful, scary, crazy, awesome year it’s been. Who knows what will happen in the next year? Only time will tell….

~Haeley

Dear me.

Dear me,

Let’s talk for a minute, Haeley-to-Haeley. Cool?
I promise I’m not mad at you, so don’t freak out. I just need to remind you of a few things.

I need you to take a step back and appreciate your life for the crazy, wonderful, mess that it is right now. I need you to remember that these days won’t last forever, and you’ll eventually look back on them with incredible fondness.

No, you’re not dying, divorcing, or anything traumatic. It’s just…

You’re not pregnant.
And that’s okay. The two of you aren’t trying to have a baby yet, anyway. Still, your baby hunger is real, and boy is it persistent. Each month is a mixture of emotions for you as you simultaneously hope your period doesn’t show up, while at the same time worrying that it won’t. It’s a strange state of being, isn’t it? What would it be like to wake up one morning and not be doubled over with cramps? What would it be like to be a few days late and secretly hope that your period just wasn’t going to come? What would it be like to watch those two pink lines show up on a pregnancy test, confirming what you were hoping and praying for?

I’ll tell you what it would be like- or, at least, what I imagine what it would be like. It would be amazing. It would be the biggest rush of emotions, knowing that there was a life growing inside of you, and that in a few months, you and your husband would be parents. It would be so exciting, while at the same time being scary and daunting.
I have no doubt that it would be worth it, either. Having a baby to love and care for is the dream, after all!

But it’s not the dream right now. And what you need to understand, sweet girl, is that it’s okay! Please remember that although you may feel older than you are, you’re still only 19. You are still in your teens, Haeley! You’re still a baby! Having a baby will be wonderful, and beautiful, and scary, and the most wonderful thing is you are still so young. You can wait a few years, I promise. You’re okay. Your biological clock isn’t ticking quite yet. ;^)

For now, I want you to enjoy this part of life. You only get to be a newlywed once, you know. So take advantage of it! Go dancing with your husband, and feel free to forget what song is playing because you’re too busy kissing him to pay attention. Enjoy how excited you get when you come home from work and he’s there, waiting for you and only you. Cuddle up to him each night and hold him as close to you as possible, because this time is limited. You have the rest of your life to be a mom, but you only have right now to have it be just the two of you.

So go ahead, live your life to the very fullest. Feel free to be as passionate as you want to, in whatever you’re doing. The two of you are so, so young, so go out and LIVE while you can! Take a random trip to a city you’ve never heard of. Stay up all night watching movies without worrying about waking up the baby. Go on dates as often as you want to without worrying about a babysitter. Make sure your siblings are annoyed by your constant cuddling and general lovey-dovey talk.

Haeley, you’ve wanted a relationship like this since you were 12. Do you know how lucky you are? Start appreciating the lovely little family you have right now, and know that in the Lord’s time your children will come to you. But don’t worry about it right at this moment, please. Enjoy being a newlywed while you can, and love that sweet husband of yours with every last ounce of yourself.

Because someday, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, because the little creature the two of you created needs you. And someday you will have to find a babysitter in order to spend a little alone time with the boy who still gives you butterflies when he holds your hand.

Someday, you will be utterly drained and exhausted, but more full of love than you ever thought. Someday, you will have a beautiful little child running through the sprinklers, giggling and squealing, and you will marvel at just how you lived without them. And throughout the years, you will watch that child grow up into their own person, and eventually they will find their own spouse, and you’ll remember this time again, when it was just your husband and you, and you’ll hope your children are even half as happy as you are.

These years are coming, Haeley. They are. And they will be the best years of your life, but those years have already begun. Look into Tanner’s eyes and know that all you need is in front of you. He is so wonderful to you. sweetheart. You couldn’t have done better.

Remember that.

Love, me.

~Haeley

Nobody is better than me.

Self-esteem is an uphill battle- something I struggle with constantly. In fact, sometimes I think I should just rename this blog “Haeley’s ramblings about her crummy self esteem”, because I’m pretty sure that’s all I talk about.

But I digress. We need to get to the juicy part: my problems!

Now, perhaps it’s just my hormones. They’re goin’ a little crazy lately because it’s almost that time of month (tmi? Sorry), and when that happens, I basically hit rock bottom. I feel like I can’t do anything right, I feel like a fat loser, and I find that I can’t laugh at myself anymore- which STINKS because let’s face it: I’m hilarious. But I just can’t find the energy to laugh at myself when I’m stuck in a pool of self hate. I should say a toxic pool of self hate, because hating yourself will never get you anywhere.

Low self esteem is not as simple as it seems, however. There are so many complicated facets to it- there isn’t a single, solitary “type” of low self esteem. I could go into detail here, but let’s just leave it at that. The specific kind I’m talking about it a little thing I like to call the “better battle.” (I call it that as of 30 seconds ago, when I came up with that term)

What that entails is comparing yourself to others and deciding they are better than you. Be it better overall, or just a specific thing they are better at, it’s a harmful cycle, because if you can find one thing they’re better at, you can find a hundred. Pinky promise. And who has time for that?

Well, you’d be surprised how much time you have for comparing yourself to others when you really put your mind to it. (please, please sense the sarcasm here. Comparing yourself to others is a bad thing, period. Never schedule it in.) And unfortunately, I spend wayyyy too much time doing just that.

The dating game is a particularly nasty culprit for this kind of thing. For example, I like this boy. I think he likes me, but then I see him talking to another girl. Suddenly, the little green jealousy monster climbs up my back, messes with my vision, and before I know it I’ve tallied up a long list of things the aforementioned girl is better at than me.

*sigh* She’s so much prettier than me. She also always has the cutest clothes on. And she plays the piano, she’s SUPER spiritual, and she has probably never said a mean thing in her life. Oh, and she’s super skinny. She’s the full package. He deserves someone as special as her. Why do I even try? He would be a complete fool to even glance twice at someone like me. She is CLEARLY the better choice. I am nothing.

It hurts me so much to write those words. It is actually making me extremely sad to read, because I realize how terrible it sounds. But in the heat of the moment, those poisonous thoughts make total sense. I completely lose sight of who I am, and I forget that I: a messy, scarred, imperfect person, am worthy of love. All because I think someone is better than me.

Well, you know what? No one is better than me. No one. Not to say I am better than anyone, because that just ain’t true. The fact of the matter is this: nobody is better than you or me, but they are different from you.

We all have different skills, traits, and qualities that make us uniquely US, and if we were all the same, life would be so dry. It would be so lame if everyone was really good at the piano! How boring that would be? Concerts wouldn’t be a thing. After all, why pay money for something you can do just as well? Our differences balance everything out. It’s a beautiful thing, and it doesn’t extend to just talents. Appearances, skills, really anything you can think of.

If you had to eat the same food every day for the rest of your life, it would totally get boring. You need the differences in flavor and texture to be satisfied, don’t you?
Well, life is like that. We can’t all be the same, because life would get so dull if that was the case. Thankfully for us, Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when he gifted us with our differences. I bet it would have been simple to make a whole bunch of carbon copies of the same person, but He gave us our varying skills and abilities in order to make this crazy world work. Isn’t that so great? Our inequalities and differences are actually a huge blessing.

I am not supposed to look like the girl my crush is talking to. I am supposed to look like ME. And someday, someone will love me for the crazy, wonderful, mess that I am. Because my differences will compliment his differences, and together we will create something bigger and more beautiful than either of us could do alone.

Yes, I struggle with seeing myself the way God sees me. But I (and all of us) need to take a page from His book and learn of our true potential. We are great. We are beautiful. We are different.

And nobody is better than anyone else.

~Haeley

Alone.

Last night was a rough one.

I didn’t get enough sleep, I had to wake up early, and I was generally not looking forward to the day ahead. It was like a Monday all over again. As I shuffled through the door to get to my first class, however, I noticed something different.
 It seemed…. Quieter than normal. Mornings are usually relatively quiet, but this was different. Perhaps the cloud cover had done something to the atmospheric pressure, making it some sort of blanket over the town, but everything had a softer, muted quality to it.

Hearing and feeling the silence was extremely calming, and I found myself wishing I could just skip out on all of my classes, call in sick to work, and go exploring. But, being a good person, I did as I should and went to all my classes and finished work.

As soon as I got out of my last class, however, I knew I couldn’t wait anymore. I hopped on my bike and away I went, to see what I could find. I rode past the graveyard and the park, in my quest to be closer to Mt. Graham, and in doing so found an abandoned ballpark.

 Why I’d never noticed this before, I wasn’t sure. But I pulled over and walked around it a bit. Even though it was run down and rusty, it had a certain charm to it. 

I took some pictures and continued meandering around, until I found some flowers growing on the side of the road. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had a headband full of bright yellow flowers. I felt a bit like Anne of Green Gables when she decided to put wildflowers in her hat. It might look crazy to others, but to me it felt splendid.

I continued along, riding my bike in hopes of being able to get a good, clear view of Mt. Graham. I ended up further than I planned, but I found some beautiful, beautiful scenery. Today was a perfect day to be alone.

As Dr. Seuss said, “alone is something you’ll be quite a lot,” and I have found this to be true, especially since moving out. But there is a fundamental difference between being alone and being lonely. More often than not, I’m lonely. But you know what? I think I figured out why.
I spend so much time alone in my little apartment, plinking around on my laptop, that I have effectively closed myself off from the rest of the world. No matter how much time I spend on social media, it doesn’t change the fact that I am no longer a very social person, and frankly, that scares me. Where did the zeal I had for life go? Why do I care more about the number of “likes” I get than the people I like? It’s a slippery slope leading directly to a black hole, and I am very afraid I am being sucked in.

Having realized this, I’ve decided I need to spend more time outside, particularly while the weather here is so lovely. Today was the beginning of that, and oh, how therapeutic it was! Not having to talk to anyone else, not needing to smile constantly, and not having to publicly update everyone on my whereabouts was so nice. I realized that maybe instead of focusing on having more friends, I need to focus on being my own friend. I loved being able to just think to myself in the wide open spaces. I loved not speaking a word out loud. I loved absorbing the scenery, and finding places I would like to visit again.

Being alone is something I think everyone should do more often. I was able to take my time, stop and smell the roses, and go as far away as I wanted without having to worry about tiring anybody else out. I went at my own pace, and my goodness was it wonderful. Do I want to share that with somebody? Of course I do! Maybe sometime. But taking it all in on my own time was important. I really got to enjoy the simple beauty of nature; something I forget to do all too easily.

Guys, be alone every so often. Take an absurdly long bike ride to clear your thoughts and find out who you are. Get to know yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a small town like Thatcher, or a big city like Mesa. Find a bike path and just GO. Even in Mesa I found some wonderful places to explore, and so can you. The world is so beautiful. There is so much to see! So step away from the laptop. Take some pictures of the places around you. Immerse yourself in the outdoors, even if you live in a concrete jungle. You can do it.

And you don’t have to tweet about it. Trust me. (the irony of me writing this and promoting it on my social media outlets is not lost on me, fyi. Just a friendly reminder to tune out every once in a while. :^) )

Adventure is out there!

~Haeley

A letter to my thirsty 16-year-old self.

Dear 16-year-old Haeley:

First off, happy birthday! If I haven’t told you yet, you’re beautiful. I know that sometimes you hate looking at yourself, but believe me. It’s true. And trust me, you’ll only get prettier from here! I mean, look at me now. I’m (we? You? Us?) a babe now. ;^)

Okay, okay. That’s not why I’m writing to you today. I have a purpose, I promise. You see, I just got off the phone with Geneal, our beautiful, precious sister (do you know how lucky you are to have a sister like her? Because she’s amazing. Never forget that), and she was telling me all about Homecoming and how great it was. Eventually, our conversation wandered off into where it usually goes: boys and relationships, and she brought up something I have been thinking about for a while.

She talked about how much of a relief it was to not have a boyfriend right now. You’ve told yourself time and again how glad you are that you don’t have a boyfriend, but you’ve never really believed it. Don’t try to deny it, sweetie. I know you want a boyfriend so badly you can taste it. The thing is, you’re in high school. You’re a sophomore, and I don’t care how mature you think you are, the thing is, you are so unbelievably young. You don’t even have your license yet! (Don’t panic. You’ll get it in March, and you will get terribly lost just a few days after receiving it. But your dad will call and help you find your way home. Aren’t dads just the best?) You haven’t experienced hardly anything in life. Why would you want a boyfriend right now?

I know how it feels to want to be loved. I’m still you, remember? I’m just a little bit older and (at least in my 18-year-old opinion) a little bit wiser than you are at this point. Our craving for someone to love and care for hasn’t changed; in fact I would go so far as to say it’s only gotten stronger. But that’s because I am finally at a point in my life where seeking male companionship is acceptable and okay.

Haeley, you’ve read For the Strength of Youth before. Countless times. You always flip to the Dating section, because you love reading about it. All your life you’ve looked forward to dating! And trust me, it is so much fun. Dating is one of my favorite things about life! But you need to be careful. I can’t stress it enough. Boyfriends are so great. They will make you feel on top of the world! At least, that’s what I’ve been told. At this point I’m still dating around. Don’t get too excited just yet. ;^) But just know that the prophets know exactly what they’re doing when they advise us to not only hold off on relationships until we’re out of high school, but to only go on group dates. TRUST THEM. Does it seem like a total buzzkill to have to wait to single date and have a boyfriend? Yep. Not gonna lie. But it’s so worth it to look back and not have any regrets. You have no idea.

Now, just because you’re not going to have a boyfriend in high school does not mean you’re going to escape without heartbreaks along the way. You will have your heart broken. And it will hurt more than you ever thought it could, and it will hurt for a very long time. But you will be better for it. Heartbreak sucks, but it’s such a good growing experience. Never say to yourself that the boy wasn’t worth it. Everybody is worthy of love, and even though it hurts, don’t stop giving it.

Love is always the answer, whether it involves boys or not. Never believe you weren’t worth it. You are worthy of love. And just because a boy hurts you doesn’t mean you’re worthless. Keep your head up and keep loving. You were given a heart that naturally wants to love. Don’t hold that back. Let everyone know you care about them, because this world needs more love.

And dances? Dances are every bit as fun as you think they’re going to be. Granted, there will be a few that will not be fun, and you will cry over them on more than one occasion, but the good ones will more than make up for them. Go all out! You’re a babe.

You’re worried about so many things. You’re worried about impressing boys, and being as attractive as possible to them. You’re worried nobody will ever ask you out. You’re worried your weight will act as a barrier between you and all potential crushes. You’re worried your hair needs to be a certain length, or your clothes need to hang a certain way, or your first kiss is going to be a total disaster.

Haeley, here’s the thing:

  • You will be asked out. A lot more than you think.
  • Who cares about your weight? You’re a bodacious babe. Beauty and personality will surpass any insecurities you have about your weight. 
  • Your hair does NOT need to be long for boys to like you. You will eventually cut off all of your hair and it will be the single most freeing thing you’ve ever done, and- spoiler alert- boys will still like you after that. 
  • Your clothes are FINE.
  • Your first kiss will be absolutely perfect.
Stop worrying so much about boys. Love your life! Embrace who YOU are, and what makes you so special. Your time will come. I’ll make sure to write you again when we find Mr. Right. ;^)
I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Love, 
~Haeley