Part 2: First date.

The closer Friday came, the more I panicked.

I had been on many a date with guys I knew even less than I knew Tanner, yet for some reason I was still nervous. I didn’t want our instant connection the night of Fall Sing to have been a fluke, and I didn’t want to deal with the awkward silence I was sure would happen. Nevertheless, I had made up my mind to go on this date, and who knew? It could turn out to be fun after all. He had managed to make Fall Sing less dull, and that was saying something. Waiting backstage is SO boring.

We had decided on getting pizza and watching a movie at the park. Since it was October, I’m a valley girl who has no experience whatsoever with chilly weather, and I was fighting a head cold, I decided to bundle up way more than was necessary, so I wouldn’t have to freeze myself.

I got ready quickly, and had some time left to kill, so I puttered around my apartment looking for something to do. Suddenly, I heard harsh knocking and rushed to open the door. Tanner sure was…. Not here yet. It was my crush instead, coming in to do some homework and hang out. I chatted with him for a little bit, then told him I was waiting for my date to pick me up, hoping he would get the hint and head home. But he didn’t, so I continued entertaining him until Tanner came my way- after all, what kind of hostess would I be if I sent him out? Plus, he WAS my crush, and I wasn’t about to say no to spending a little bit of extra time with him.

Tanner arrived right on time, and we left, to some teasing on the part of my crush. After some semi-awkward small talk in the car, we got to the restaurant where we ordered our pizza and sat down. Within minutes, he had me laughing again, and we hardly had time to eat our food! We exchanged stories, talked, and laughed until the restaurant closed and we had to leave. Giggling, we drove to the park in order to watch our movie, where we interrupted a group date. We watched them from the car, which reminded one of us of a funny story, which reminded the other person of a funny story… And so it continued until the park closed.

I thought that would be the end of the date, so I reluctantly put my jacket on and got ready for him to drive me home, but Tanner didn’t take me home. Instead, we drove around aimlessly for a few hours, making a circuit of the small town over and over again. He told me his eyes were each a different color (one green, one blue), a detail I had never noticed before, and I told him about my petrifying fear of throwing up. We talked about so much that night. We even told each other the story of our first kiss, and about dating and how weird it all was. That right there is where I determined that we wouldn’t ever become anything more than really good friends. I mean, we’d been talking about kissing other people and totally dissed the dating game- automatic double friendzone, right? I thought so.

Eventually, we turned into the WalMart parking lot, where we sat and talked until well after 3:00 AM. I know it sounds cheesy, but time really did fly that night. I’m sure we could have easily talked all night long, but the single’s wards had a service project the next morning at 7:00 AM, which I was determined to go to, provided I was awake enough to do so. We said goodnight, and exchanged phone numbers so I could let him know if I was going to go to the service project after all, so he could come and we would hang out some more.

As I lay in bed that night, I thought of how easy he was to talk to. I could very easily see myself becoming really good friends with this boy.

~Haeley

(click here for Part 3 of our story)

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

I am homesick.

Every one in a while I get hit really hard with homesickness. For some reason, the past few days have been particularly difficult for me, but I haven’t really been missing people. I’ve been missing places, which is a first, because I am so in love with Thatcher you would think I wouldn’t miss anything at all, but I do. I’ve found that it helps if I write about these things, so I will do so now. (why else would I be blogging about it?)

What triggered this latest bout of homesickness was just about the weirdest thing ever. I was listening to Hellogoodbye’s latest album, and at the end of their song “Summer of the Lily Pond”, there’s an echo-y trumpet part, and for some bizarre reason it reminded me of downtown Main Street in Mesa. It reminded me of the old music store Milano’s, and how you could almost always hear music somewhere on that street. I love the sound of music played outside. It sounds airy, and I love live performances- something that happens quite frequently on Main Street. Live music. I miss that so much, to be frank. Music here is all from YouTube, Spotify, or other internet radio stations. There’s no live music.

I also miss lunch on Main Street. (yes, I’m referring to high school.) I miss walking up to the bank and sitting on the highest story, overlooking the whole city. I miss chatting with my two best guy friends up there, just enjoying each other’s company and not having to worry about our latest utility bill and how much higher it is this month than last month’s. I miss walking around the MAC with my sister in the morning before class started, putting our feet in the water and being able to talk through our problems. I miss having math lab with her. I miss quietly laughing over stupid things with her. I miss doodling with her.

I REALLY miss going on walks/long bike rides back home. I miss the greenbelt, and how beautiful it looked just as the sun was going down. I miss the canal just across from it. I miss being able to see huge goldfish splash around in the water if I waited just long enough. I miss hearing all the birds chirping as the evening drew closer. I missed the silence that came with being on the walking trail in between the canal and the greenbelt; a silence so uncharacteristic of Mesa. I miss the yellow flowers that grow everywhere by the canal. I think I miss this area so much because I love going there with people I love, especially since there’s someone new I want to show it to now. I want to share the little piece of heaven I found in my neighborhood, and now I can’t, because I am too far away.

I guess what I’m saying is I’m kind of tired of this right now. I want to go home and be young enough to not have to worry about my bills. I don’t want to have to figure out what to have for dinner. I want to go to Jamba Juice or Bahama Buck’s with my sisters. I want to stay out too late with my friends, doing dumb things like getting caught in the sprinklers at the park because we were there past closing time. I want to be able to wake up and play with my dog, and hear my baby brother’s lisp as he asks me to play with him. I want to hug my mom when I want to, because she’s right there. I want to hear my dad come home, and I want to hear my nickname again.

I guess I just want to stop being lonely.

~Haeley

Flirting tips and tricks guaranteed to get you a man.

This has got to be my favorite. It’s fail-proof.

If you follow these tips and tricks, you’ll have yourself a man in no time at all!*

~Haeley

*these have not actually been tested. Results may vary.

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

Things that are difficult.

After being here for over two months, I feel like I have settled into a routine of sorts. And for the majority of the time, I am very happy. I’ve told you guys this dozens of times, in fact. I love Thatcher! I love my bike! I love my ward! Happy, happy, happy!

But in all honesty, it’s not all sunshine and daisies and freakishly huge grasshoppers. There are struggles. There are issues. And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t tell you all about them? So here goes.

Coming home is hard. I was able to attend my little brother’s baptism over the weekend, and it was a weird experience. Having only visited twice since moving, I’m definitely not used to the changed dynamic of my Mesa home. For one thing, I keep forgetting where everything is, and I feel guilty every time I eat their food. Is that not bizarre? I suppose since I have to buy everything now, I feel the loss of even a few crackers.

For another, I have to learn how to manage my time. Since I’m not readily available in Mesa, I am now a hot commodity, it seems. All of my siblings want to spend one-on-one time with me RIGHT NOW, and my parents want to spend time with me RIGHT NOW, and my friends want to see me RIGHT NOW, and I want to be with them all individually RIGHT NOW, but that is impossible. And so I have to figure out how to divide my time between everyone, and that is easier said than done. It’s so hard when everyone you love wants to be with you, because you want to reciprocate that and spend as much time as humanly possible with them, but the fact of the matter is, there are other loved ones who want to see you just as badly as all the rest. So I was stretched very thin over the course of those few days, and even though it was a wonderful time, I was emotionally exhausted by the end of the weekend and ready to be back in my tiny apartment with my crazy roommates. I’m not as in demand back there, so it’s easier. I can only hope that winter break helps solve those problems, as I will be in town much longer.

Those things aside, I want to get to the heart of the matter. The true reason for writing this post, which is…. Food. Did you expect anything less from me? Specifically, Asian food. I am going through major withdrawals.

It’s funny, because I really didn’t have that kind of food very often back home, but it was accessible almost 24/7, which was comforting. But now? I am nowhere near a Thai restaurant, or an Indian buffet, or- and this is the painful one- a sushi bar. Thatcher just doesn’t have any of those things. And it is slowly but surely killing me and depriving me of my happiness.

Okay, fine, I’m just kidding. But I am suffering.

For example, tonight I had a hankering for pad Thai, so I decided to get crafty with it and make some myself. Meaning I made rice noodles and topped them with a meager spoonful of peanut butter, soy sauce, minced garlic, and lime juice. A far cry from genuine, perfect pad Thai, but I tried, okay? It’s the thought that counts…. Right? I’m pathetic.

At least I haven’t attempted to make sushi with the canned tuna and brown rice I have. Yet.

A girl needs her sushi fix every now and then.

~Haeley

Why.

You know, each year it gets harder and harder for me to be okay with General Conference passing. On some occasions it’s because I slept through one too many talks (you know you’ve done it, too) and I feel guilty about missing those inspired words, but more often than not it’s because conference weekend is full of so much good. This year was no different.

Since I no longer live in Mesa, I attended conference at the institute building right next to my apartment. I could have stayed in my apartment, but I knew I would eventually get distracted and eat the whole kitchen or fall asleep or something. Plus, I figured I would be able to see some friends, and that’s always a good thing. So off I went to the institute building, and there I was able to watch all four sessions of conference.

I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t on a super comfortable couch the whole time, I didn’t have ready access to a kitchen full of food, or because I couldn’t easily fall asleep without everybody noticing, but I got SO much out of this conference. I was inspired to try harder to be better, and I was reminded of how good I have it. I feel one of the themes of this session was building up our testimonies for times of trial, and I realized I need to work on that. Specifically in regards to prayer.

 In Richard G. Scott’s talk, he highlighted the importance of prayer, and it really hit me. Heavenly Father is interested in ME. He is interested in YOU. Whatever you have to say to Him is important to Him. God is our biggest fan, and the more I learn of Him the more I know that to be true. He is rooting for us even beyond the veil. His love for us is unfailing and everlasting, and all He wants us to do is come back to Him. Isn’t that awesome? We aren’t merely a passing acquaintance to God. We are His children, and His love for us encompasses all that we have. You and I are alive today because He wants us to be here. He wants us to have the experience of having a body, because He knows how wonderful bodies are, and He loves us enough to share that with us. I need to remember to pray to Him more often and let Him be a constant part of my life. There can be nothing but good that comes from keeping the way of communication open between us and God. How grateful I am that I was reminded of that.

You know, in today’s world, religion is often openly mocked and scorned. It’s easier to not say anything at all, or perhaps even abandon your beliefs rather than stand up to such an oppressive wave of hate. But it is imperative that we do so! We can only truly be happy if we stick to our guns and stay strong, no matter how hard they push against it.

Before moving here, I was worried I would leave the church, but now I know I won’t. I was scared that, because of my newfound independence, I would get lazy and stop attending church slowly but surely. It’s not because I was lacking in faith, but Satan is patient and will stop at nothing to drag us down. I was worried that because of the work of the adversary, I would stumble and fall. But having been raised in a family as wonderful as my own, church attendance has been hard-wired into my brain. I have never once questioned whether or not I should go, because it is a natural desire to do so. And I love my ward! I love who I am surrounded with. Being a part of this church is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know I will not leave it, because, simply put, it makes me HAPPY. I am comforted knowing I can return to my Father in Heaven, and I can be sealed to my family forever.

Another reason I want so badly to stay a part of this church is because my children deserve it. They deserve to be raised in a home full of Christlike love, and I feel my husband and I can only give that to them if we are united in belief in the church. I want my children to come into a home that is as close to heaven as they can get, because I don’t want any less for them. I was raised in such a home, and I know it works. Because of two parents who have a rock-solid foundation in the church, I am where I am today, and I know how I want to raise my sweet babies.

Conference has a way of bringing those feelings to the surface for me. I’m scared about the world we live in today, but I am so excited to be able to bring children into a world where I can help teach them wrong from right. I look forward to the day when I kneel across the altar from a worthy young man and we become a forever family. I am so excited to know that we can be sealed together forever.

I am not perfect. You are not perfect. But by listening to these messages and applying them, we can eventually become like Christ, who is perfect. I love that! I hope to remember these things the next 6 months.

~Haeley

(find the messages from this conference here.)

Haeley and the Mystery of the Fizzing Watermelon.

I think this is as close as I’ll ever get to being Nancy Drew.

It began as a normal night. I sat on my couch, alone, save for one roommate who was peacefully slumbering away in our room. It was late, and I was tired after watching a movie. As I removed my headphones and made for my bedroom, I heard the strangest noise. It was a…. Hissing? I slowly backed up into my kitchen, searching for the source of the sound.

I initially thought it was a gas leak, and it was spelling out certain doom for the lot of us. I couldn’t smell anything out of the ordinary, but that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to gas leaks.

Once I determined that it couldn’t be a gas leak, I then thought it must be a balloon. We had some balloons in the apartment about a week ago, and I was sure we had gotten rid of them all, but there could be a hidden one lurking around somewhere, right? I checked, and was wrong once again.

As I was turning around, I was met with a peculiar sight. The watermelon on our counter was covered in white foam. Did one of my roommates wash dishes and accidentally get soap on the melon? Upon closer inspection, I deduced that the foam was coming from the watermelon itself. What’s more, is it appeared to have been flowing free for some time, as the counter was covered in a beige fluid leading to the frothy puddle pouring from the fruit.

I got closer, looking incredulously as the foam continued to spurt from some unseen pore in the watermelon, I noticed the smell it was giving off. I expected to smell a sour, fruity smell, but was instead met with the aroma of yeast, almost as if the watermelon was actually a lump of bread dough. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was definitely unnatural.

This watermelon HAD to be under some magnificent stress for it to be able to force such liquid through its tough rind. I knew it was undoubtedly due to blow at any time, and it would cover the kitchen and me in a pulpy, rancid mess. I knew what I had to do. It was time to take action.

I gingerly picked up the great, rotting fruit and made my way for the door. Fearing that at any moment it would blow, effectively scarring me for life, I walked swiftly towards the nearest black barrel in sight. On my way to the bin, I was met with a small crowd of attractive young men who looked at me quizzically. I suppose the sight would be an odd one, maneuvering through the dark parking lot with a large oozing melon. Nevertheless, I was on a mission and had no time to stop and discuss the matter at hand. So I merely smiled briefly and continued on my way.

Just as I reached the black bin, I was overcome with a wave of curiosity. Would it really explode? What if I threw it? What then?

But then my conscience whispered that that would be considered littering, and I try my best to always listen to my conscience, so I threw it away, went back to my sweet little dwelling, and cleaned up the counter.

And that is the story of how I almost blew up via watermelon. The end.

~Haeley

Here’s actual footage of the fizzing fruit:

A whole month!

Well, you guys, I’ve officially survived living on my own for more than a month! I haven’t really documented too much, so I will now do so. I’ve come up with a list, so in no particular order, I’ll give you the 411 (does anyone say that anymore?).

  • let’s talk about the weather. Oh, this beautiful weather! It’s almost always super cloudy, and it’s been so much nicer here than in Mesa! I love the clouds, I love the rain, I just love everything about this weather. Okay, except the mosquitoes that come out in full force right after the rain. Not very fun. Nevertheless, my rain boots have been getting a good amount of use here! And Mount Graham? Lovely. It’s breathtaking when covered in clouds. Oh, my.
Ugh these clouds are perfect
Is this not PERFECT? Gosh, I love Arizona.
I am a fan of big, puffy clouds like this one. Cloud for president.

What use are puddles if nobody splashes in them?

  • About three weeks after moving in, I hit a wall of sorts. I felt completely alone, and friendless. It was a really lame slump to be in, and I couldn’t seem to figure out what was going on. Then I read this article that my bishop shared on Facebook, and I realized what was wrong: I was staying in my apartment all alone, all the time. I wasn’t making an effort to make friends! I was unhappy because I wasn’t putting myself into situations that would make me happier. Missing my family was a big part of it, too. I never really realized just how much I loved those crazies until I moved out. Guys, your families are AWESOME. Hug them often and remind them how much you love them even more often. Eventually, I started becoming more social again, which leads me to my next bullet point:
  • I’m finally making friends! Just by putting myself out there more, speaking up in class, and generally looking/feeling more confident, I’m slowly but surely becoming the social butterfly I used to be. I’ve met some really, really wonderful people here in good ol’ Thatcher, and I’m finally feeling like myself. So if you live in Thatcher and you’re reading this, there’s a good chance I’m talking about you. ;^)
  • Alright, kids. Let’s talk about cleaning. Before moving out, I HATED cleaning. HATED it. Basically, unless it was the bathroom (which for some reason I love to clean), I did not enjoy a second of it. But now I actually really enjoy it! Maybe it’s because I want my little house to be as nice as possible for all potential guests, but there’s just something immensely satisfying about having a clean house. 
  • I’ve also discovered how nice it is to cook! I was never really big on making food, instead being perfectly happy to let my mom take over (I know I’m terrible and selfish and whatnot, but what else was I supposed to do?), but now I love making my own food- and I’ve been getting creative, which is always an adventure. For example, spaghetti waffles. I’ll tell you later. But wow! This is so fun! I’ve also really been enjoying making food for other people, because cooking for one gets boring. 😛
Tuna melts. Also, that is not mayonnaise. It’s Greek yogurt,
thankyouverymuch.
Chicken Alfredo!
  • Also. Laundromats. They aren’t all that bad, I guess, I just don’t love dragging my laundry basket around the corner. I’m really afraid one of my bras will fly out or something, so laundry day is always a bit of a scary ordeal. But I get clean clothes and some exercise, so it’s not all bad.
  • I got a big kid calling! I’m now a Gospel Doctrine teacher, and it’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I feel so inadequate when it comes to teaching, but I know that it’s what I’m supposed to do at this point in time, and I’ll be okay. It’s just a bit overwhelming right now and I’m very critical of myself. :^)
  • Each Sunday evening, a bunch of us single adults make our way to the local retirement home to sing hymns to the residents, and that has become the best part of my week! Seeing their faces light up and hearing them sing along makes me so happy. I love visiting them. I’m so glad I’m part of a community that wants to reach out in any way possible, especially in a way that’s as personal as music. What a blessing.
  • Even though I’ve hit some lows since I’ve been here, I’ve been ridiculously happy here in this beautiful town. I wake up every day smiling! Just kidding. I wake up every day after hitting the snooze button approximately 57 times, and even then I have to practically tape my eyes open. But about three hours later, I’m good. I’m happy, and it stays that way for pretty much the rest of the day. I don’t even know why I’ve been so happy lately! It’s just that life seems to be going perfectly right now, and I feel so free. It’s a good feeling. I want everyone to feel like that!
Shameless selfie, because I am cute.

  • Two weeks ago, I surprised my family by visiting for the weekend. Best. Idea. Ever. I wish I could have recorded their reactions! It was, quite simply, the bomb. I wish I could go back and relive those moments! It was weird being back at the house though… I didn’t feel like I fit there anymore! I kept forgetting where things were, and I felt guilty for eating my family’s food. Is that not the weirdest thing ever?! Totally bizarre. But it was so awesome to see them, and to see my dog again! Oh, don’t get me started on how much I miss my dog. I just miss dogs in general since there are, like, three in the Gila Valley. It’s disheartening, really. But I digress. My family is supa dope.

  • In love with this kid. In love.
    I ADORE THIS DOG

  • I never really enjoyed group chats until I started one with my childhood (heck, adulthood too) besties, Nikki and Kaitlyn. I love those girls so much and I don’t know what I would do without them. I’m so glad we started talking again. I needed them more than I knew. Kisses, you two sexy babes! :^)
  • Let’s talk about my bike for a second. That thing is my love. She gets me from A to B in no time, and let’s face it. She is one fabulous shade of blue. I’ve been having some issues with thorns in the tires recently, but I was able to get it fixed with some bike slime, a good pump, and a cute boy who knew what he was doing. :^)
  • I got a job as a 2nd grade teacher’s aid! It’s the most perfect job, and I get to spend my morning with a bunch of adorable kids, so what’s not to love? I even had two little girls come up to me during a football game this weekend to say hi, and one of them said she remembered me because of my pretty pink rain boots. Reputation- secured. I am now the awesome TA with totally legit shoes. Scooooore.
  • I miss dogs. A lot. And babies. The baby hunger is so real, you guys. So real.
  • I went to the temple this Saturday, and oh, my. It was bliss. I love the temple, and I’ve finally figured out how to start attending regularly… But it’s going to be closed for the next two weeks. Oops. But as soon as it re-opens, I will be there as often as I can. I love being there! It’s like going home for a little bit, and I get the satisfaction of knowing I am helping others, so really, what’s not to love?
    Isn’t this beautiful? Love me some temples.
  • The stars up here are so GORGEOUS! I’ve never seen so many before. I want to stargaze all the time now.
  • With the recent rainfall we’ve received, it unleashed this hidden supply of some of the largest bugs I have ever SEEN. My lanta. I mean, there are a ton of huge black beetles all over the place all the time, and the occasional cricket, but I swear we are having another plague or something, because there are SO MANY GRASSHOPPERS AND CRICKETS NOW. And they. Are. Humongous. There are these horrifyingly fascinating black, green, yellow, and red grasshoppers that are bigger than my middle finger, in addition to less colorful, massive hoppers. And crickets. Normally, I’m not opposed to the occasional cricket, but these ones are disgusting. Pure black and huge. I call them Satan-crickets, because they look like little demons. And the worst part is they really seem to enjoy my mouth. I am not even going to go into how many times a six-legged little pal has found its way into the warm confines of my mouth, because I would bore you to death, and this blog post is long enough already. But just trust me when I say that I am ready for bug season to be over.
Well, I could bore you with more details about my life, but I think that’s enough word vomit for one day, yes? Catch you later, peeps!
~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