just to say thank you

Kentucky is still.

I’ve enjoyed Kentucky more than I expected.  I knew that I would enjoy seeing my family, but I didn’t think I would like Kentucky.  Now, do keep in mind that I haven’t done a ton of sightseeing–aside from Target, Walmart, Chick-fil-a, and the labor and delivery ward of the University of Louisville Hospital.

But I’ve enjoyed Kentucky because it is still.

My sister lives outside of Louisville in a sweet little town.  Her backyard is green before it turns into fields of brown…something.  I don’t really know what it is.  Not corn?  Maybe hay?  (I’ve never really been a country girl.)  And the sky here is huge.  Huge.  And so blue.

I’ve associated a few other places with this type of calm and tranquility before.  Sun Valley.  Kapaa.  Kailua.  I thought I loved Sun Valley because of the mountains and the valleys and the lack of cell service and the quiet, and that’s true.  I loved Kapaa for the same reasons.  I had cell service in Kailua, but it was a weekend spent there where I avoided the usual social commitments, slept in and woke up to sunshine, and didn’t worry about much else going on.  Here in Kentucky I have the sleep and the quiet and the rest.  There is simply no pressure.  I feel like the sky is big enough for me to breathe and the people are so sweet that I get a little bit sweeter too.

There are special people associated with each of those places I mentioned, and Kentucky is certainly no exception (quite the opposite in fact–my trip here was primarily due to the birth of a new nephew), but I come to love the places associated with these memories too.  Special people, special places.

Advertisements
time management

5 Ways to Be Happy and (somewhat) Calm In a Busy Season of Life

Some of my friends are getting married, and some of my friends are starting grad school, and some of my friends are having babies, and some of my friends are starting grad school WITH babies.  Amidst all this, sometimes I wonder, “What am I doing?”

IMG_8675

IMG_8695

IMG_8734

The answer, of course, is that I’m student teaching. AND I LOVE IT.  It’s really the best thing I’ve ever done.  I miss my students over the weekend.  I miss them when they’re absent.  Sometimes (depending on how the block went), I even miss them during recess.  I love planning how I’ll teach them and how I’ll make everything sound like the most exciting thing ever.  No joke–the other day we used colored pencils instead of crayons, and the class literally clapped their hands and yelled “yay!!!”  It was the most precious thing.

But this season of life is a busy one.  From the moment I got home a year ago and started school at BYU-Hawaii (18 credits, working, and commuting an hour each way every day) until now (full-time student teaching), there hasn’t been much of a break.  (Aside from winter semester, which was a tender mercy in SO many ways).  The past few semesters have taught me a lot about curating a happy, organized, and calm life.  I’d like to say that  I’ve learned how to adult, but 1) I’m not sure I can say that yet, and 2) I’m not sure if the things I’ve learned are adult skills or just like, life skills I maybe could have picked up if I’d like read “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” or something…Anyway, I’m documenting them here to distill what I’ve learned, and perhaps to offer some inspiration to any who may need it.

So here goes:

Haley’s Top 5 Ways to Be Happy and (somewhat) Calm

In a Busy Season of Life

  1. Meal prep.  This is #1 because I love food, and I am the worst hangry person. Coming home from a long day and not wanting to cook or not knowing what to eat can be so frustrating, and then it gets way too tempting to reach for the $.69 frozen Totino’s party pizza…or cheetos.  Those vending machines in my dorm were rough on the bod.

IMG_3769

To combat this I normally spent a couple of hours on either Saturday or Sunday getting meals prepped for the week.  I typically roast and store two types of vegetables, cut up and store 2-3 types of fresh vegetables, pack fruits in individual containers, and make a few entrees for the week.  I like to do wraps as little pinwheels for lunch with veggies and hummus or this ranch, and I’ll make things like turkey meatballs (which I make in bulk and freeze) or roasted chicken or tilapia to go with the roasted veggies.  I like to do 2-3 different types of entrees because, let’s be real, those meal prep pictures on Pinterest with rows of the same food look really appealing and organized, but eating the same meal for five days straight is too much for me!  I have to mix it up.

IMG_6733

(Disclaimer: this is a bit of an extreme photo–this was food for a whole DAY when I was off dairy/grains/processed foods.  But you get the point 🙂 )

Meal prepping makes life easy because all I have to do to pack my lunch is grab a meal container (I alternate bringing hot food and fresh food to work), grab a greek yogurt (breakfast on the go is my friend), grab a container of fruit and boom!  That’s it.  In fact, I normally pack my lunch for the next day as soon I get home.  I empty my lunch bag, put the containers in the sink to wash, and then load up on what I’ll eat tomorrow.  My lunchbag is flexible and lightweight, so I just tuck it into a corner of my fridge.

This brings me to number two…

2. Prep the day before!

I’m a last-minute person who is trying to change that about herself.  I really like to just do things when they need to be done.  As I was once told, “It only takes a minute if you leave it to the last minute.” 😉  But I had a classmate who really inspired me to work ahead and be proactive.  When we would tell her how impressed we were with how far ahead she was, she’d just say, “I have to be on top of things or I get super anxious.”  I thought about what she said and realized that my own anxiety can be triggered by not feeling prepared.  So these are the things I do the day before in order to have a successful, and prompt, morning:

  • Pack my lunch
  • Choose my outfit
  • Shower

I never used to be a shower-at-night person, unless I felt really gross from the day.  I always thought that showering in the morning helped me feel more alert and ready for the day…but when I started student teaching and had to leave my house at 6:50 AM on the first day of school, I realized that showering in the morning was a thing of the past.  It’s worth staying up fifteen extra minutes when I’m tired, because it’s way easier to stay awake longer than it is to wake up earlier.

Speaking of sleep…

3. GET ENOUGH REST.  

I can’t say this one enough.  If there is one thing I would go back and tell my high school self, it would be to sleep.  When I got to college and suddenly had more time on my hands (funny how that worked), I realized that being well-rested is VITAL to my emotional, mental, and physical well-being.  I had more time on my hands my first year of college, but as my schedule has intensified, I’ve learned how to prioritize my sleep.  My roommates used laugh a little at me when I’d say good night to them at 9:30 like the grandma that I am…but it makes a huge difference.  I go to bed even earlier now (when I can) since my mornings are even earlier.

IMG_6951

If I know I’m going to be tempted by group chats blowing up and Snapchats coming in and Messenger chiming, I just put my phone in airplane mode.  Then I don’t check things in the middle of the night and forget to respond, or spend time in the morning laying in bed getting caught up when I should be getting ready.  I can take my phone off airplane mode when I’m on my way to school so I can call my mom, and I can check all those other notifications later.

4.  Plan around your priorities, not your to-do list.

I used to plan my week around to-do lists.  I’d get things done, but in the end I wasn’t any closer to reaching long-term goals.  Those goals–like being a better daughter, sister, or friend; or exercising; or applying for that research grant–were the things that were nice to do if I had time, but weren’t totally vital to my daily survival, so they normally got pushed to the back burner.  In Stephen Covey terms, they were important but not urgent.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 9.04.11 PM

(Source)

The real way to win is to plan your life, and therefore your weeks and days, around your priorities.  This is what Covey refers to as putting first things first, and that’s changed my life.  You HAVE to go read about it here.  Seriously.  It’s the best.

Thinking about things in terms of urgency and importance really changed my perspective.  Now when I plan my week (and yes, a wise man once told me that people who get things done plan their days, so I’ve done that for years) I start by making sure that I am addressing all of my most important priorities first.  Then I fill in the rest of the time, still making sure I accomplish all that I need to, in order of importance.  The time management matrix also helps you to weed out things that aren’t urgent and aren’t important, so are really just time-wasters. Planning my time in this way has helped me to be much more thoughtful and meaningful about my time and my choices.

5.  Get out and have fun!

I know that my life sounds very structured and planned–and it is.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s boring or that I don’t let myself have any fun!  In fact, because I know that I can get hyper-focused and a little myopic, I make sure that I plan things that force me to get out of the house, stop planning lessons, and socialize with people above the age of 7.  A lot of times my introvert tendencies will start to hold me back, but I make myself have fun the way some people make themselves exercise: I do it because I know it’s good for me, and I’ll be better for it in the long run.  (Now if only I could convince myself to do that with exercise too…)

Having fun is very, very important in a busy season of life.  And guess what? Having fun IS productive.  Recreation done right leads to rejuvenation, and I wrote extensively about that here.

This doesn’t have to be a weekend at the spa.  Just a quick daytime nap on the weekend can feel like such a treat!  Or meeting a friend at the gym or for dinner turns a routine thing into something where you get to catch up and spend quality time together.  Find ways to have fun and recharge, and you’ll do better in every area of your life.

Now, work when you have to work, yes.  But if you’re prepping and planning ahead, getting enough sleep, and focusing on your priorities, you’ll have time to relax too.  Promise.  🙂

IMG_7369

Possible upcoming topics:

  1. How to work ahead of the syllabus without losing your mind
  2. Simple meal prep routines
  3. Nail salon hacks?
  4. Outfits that are functional, professional, and CHEAP for student teachers (or other interns)
realizations

Things that make me happy:

  • Fresh vegetables with hummus
  • Lunches made for a whole week
  • Drawers full of clean laundry
  • Being ahead of schedule on my portfolio
  • Getting a full night’s sleep
  • Ice water, prefs w/ lemon, but defs with a straw
  • When my hair is curled
  • Ballerina-pink nail polish (aka OPI’s Hello Kitty Collection ‘Let’s Be Friends’)
  • Schedules
  • Crossing things off a to-do list
  • Soft clothes

 

 

byu, each life that touches ours, realizations

Dear Provo, I miss you.

A year and a half-ish ago, while visiting my sister in a city that is not Provo, Utah, I posted the following to my Instagram:

IMG_4567

I was in this funny state of in-betweenness.  I had an apartment in Provo and classes in the fall and a job and roommates and my best friend (when she wasn’t abroad, bless her wanderlust spirit).  But I also had this feeling that I was leaving Provo, at least for a while.  I was headed home, and that was unexpected and scary and humbling but so, so right.

So I post this thing and I don’t think much of it–because it really is a joke.  I mean, Provo is fabs, but some of it is so tough.  The comparison.  The vanity.  The sheer…pressure of it all.  Some of that is self-inflicted, sure, but I wasn’t alone in that.

When I left Provo I knew I’d miss the people, and the Chick-fil-a (bless the Chick-fil-a’s of Utah County, esp those on Bulldog Blvd and in the Wilk), and the Swig, but I never thought I’d miss the place.  I left quickly.  I didn’t really give myself time to think about it.

But now I know what I miss: I miss the In-N-Out runs at midnight.  I miss the Payson Temple.  I miss Zupa’s.  I miss the Provo Temple, and the Provo City Center Temple.  I miss the vending machine bagel sandwiches.  I miss the JFSB courtyard–the prettiest place in any season.  I miss the Maesar, and Karl–oh, Karl!! I miss J Dawg’s and the engineering building that I can’t remember the name of (the Clyde, maybe?  The one with the tiny women’s restroom that was so difficult to find?).  I miss the language lab on the second floor of the JKB, where you hear Mandarin, Arabic, and German spoken at tables right next to each other.  And oh, international cinema!  What a delight.  And Art After Dark!  So many great things.

I still feel myself to be a Cougar, true blue through and through, even though I won’t graduate from BYU (but hey, catch me in Laie on December 15th, won’t ya?).  I still feel that way because for so long, BYU meant everything to me.  (Even though I said forever that I had NO INTEREST in going to BYU.  Even though I visited other schools and had never stepped foot in Utah until two weeks before the start of freshman year.  Even though I complained about the weather and the lack of good chicken katsu.)  BYU and Provo encompassed so much.  They meant so much.  Provo brought me some of my dearest, and truest, friends.  Provo expanded my love of learning.  Provo sent me on my mission, and my mission more or less saved me.

BYU-Hawai’i has meant everything to me.  If Provo sent me on my mission, it’s my mission that sent me here.  And being here has been the greatest blessing (check out any and all of my social media posts from the past year to see/hear overflowing, gushing expressions of gratitude for all that this plot-twist life experience has been).  But I just want Provo to know:

 

You were my first love.

So have a good school year, BYU.  I still love you tons.  After all this time, always.

 

 

moi

Bodies and babies and happiness and maybes.

IMG_8135

 

Did you know that our bodies are so cool?  Did you know that our bodies are, in many ways, self-healing?  Did you know that our bodies can create other human bodies?  That our bodies grow and change throughout our lives?  That our bodies respond, almost instinctively, to danger in order to protect us?  Did you know that we can often know what we’re deficient in, nutrient-wise, by what we crave?  How cool is that?

You know what’s even cooler? Our bodies are homes for our spirits.  Our bodies are created in the image of God.  Our bodies make learning, growth, testing, and progress possible that simply wouldn’t be an option without them.

Our bodies are sacred.

I love body because with it I can walk my dog.  I can hold my friends’ and my siblings’ babies.  I can run when I want to.  I can bake bread.  I can bend and crouch and squat and kneel by the side of the first graders I work with.  I can gesticulate wildly while teaching my Sunday school class (they love it, trust me).  I can write and I can type.  I can speak.  I can listen.  I can see and I can read–what a marvelous thing it is to be able to look at it something, and make meaning of it!  My body is SO COOL.

My body isn’t perfect.  I’m a sleepy little human, and my body needs lots of rest to be able to function properly.  But hey, who doesn’t like sleep? 😉

There is not a single thing I want to do that I can’t do with this body.  And if there were something I wanted to do that I couldn’t, I could train my body to be able to do it!  Like, one time I went from never having run more than a mile and a half to running a HALF-MARATHON.  In FOUR MONTHS.  Bodies are SO COOL.

The end.

 

mormon, realizations

Why I won’t do homework on a sun-day

Before I get started, here is what you should know:

I love school.

No, really, I love it.  I always have.  In fact, the summer before 1st grade, I asked to be in summer school, so every morning my dad would leave “worksheets” on the kitchen table for me to do.  I just love to learn.  I believe that our purpose in life is to learn and grow in order to become like our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  When I learn, I feel myself growing closer to them, and I marvel at this world that was created for us.

But as much as I love school, and as important as it is to me, I also believe in the notion of a sabbath.  That term can mean different things to different people.  For many religious people, including myself, the Sabbath is a day (perhaps sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, perhaps Sunday) to rest from typical labors, worship God, and reconsecrate oneself to Deity.  Certain customs may be observed–part of my personal observance typically includes attending worship services, abstaining from shopping or dining out, and reflecting on my relationship with God through journaling and/or scripture study–all with the intent of regaining focus on what matters most in a busy world.

When I was a junior in high school, I decided to devote myself on the Sabbath hardcore.  Let me rephrase that: I didn’t change my observance, but my circumstances made my observance more difficult.  A typical day went like this:

5:10 am Wake up, get in car for early-morning seminary

5:25 am Arrive at early-morning seminary class (my mom was the teacher, so we were always early)

5:50-6:35 am Early-morning Seminary

6:35 am-6:50 am Travel home

7 am Prepare (Unless I went straight to school from seminary, in which case–homework)

8 am Leave for school

8:30-2:30 pm School (Or was it 2:40? 1:47? Does anyone who went to Moanalua High School understand the bell schedule there? I still don’t.)

2:30-5:00 pm, or maybe 6:00 pm, or maybe 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm Band or orchestra rehearsals, track practice, student association meetings, homecoming practice…who knows what else I ever did

I guess I did homework sometime after that, because I was taking 8 classes (the typical schedule at my school was 6 classes), and two of those were AP classes, and I was the vice president of the student association, and part of the National Honor Society and blahblahblah I WAS BUSY.

I decided to stick, hardcore, to my decision not to do homework on Sundays.  I wanted that day to be for God, and–if we’re being honest–my spiritual immaturity also led me to have a fear that if I didn’t stick with it, God would smite me and I would not get a 4.0 GPA.  Because, you know, He’s like that.  (Not.)

Several months later, I had an ecclesiastical leader make an unsolicited comment to me about the Sabbath and studying.  I was applying to universities at the time, and he reminded me that if I went to a certain one on my list I was likely to encounter many students would not study on Sundays.  I could understand their viewpoint, since it was my own.  But that good bishop reminded me that to learn is to become more like God.  That conversation didn’t lead to me block off my entire Sunday for studying–that felt like an abuse of the day–but it did help me to understand the sacredness with which I ought to regard my schooling.  That conversation is why I can’t stand to do a poor job on an assignment.  I’m not learning to earn a mark; I’m learning to become more like my Father in Heaven.

All this being said, one thing I have learned from my less-than-perfect attempts to keep the Sabbath day holy is the principle of recovery.  Rest.  Replenishing.

In his (phenomenal) book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel H. Pink describes how to “take a sabbath” as a means of regaining mindfulness in our lives:

Select one day a week and remove yourself from the maw.  Stop working.  Don’t answer your email.  Ignore your voice mail. Turn off your mobile phone.  Most Western religions have established a Sabbath–the seventh day of the week–as a time of peace, reflection, and prayer.  Whatever your faith, consider experimenting with the practice.  (And this need not be religious at all.  Secular Sabbaths can be equally re-energizing.)…Sabbaths, however momentary, can be important punctuation marks in busy lives.  (Riverhead Books, 2005).

This principle has helped me to feel calm during hectic semesters because I–the chronic type-A, focused, semi-workaholic student–believe in taking not one, but two days off from homework.  I try to avoid homework on Sundays, and I do the same on Saturdays.  I joke that Saturdays are sacred to me, too.  On Sundays, I worship.  On Saturdays, I play.  Both help me prepare to work and serve and teach and study and collaborate very, very well Monday through Friday.

This was my day yesterday:

8 am Wake up roommates, get ready for the beach

9-11 am BEACH BEACH BEACH followed by (sun)BURN (sun)BURN (sun)BURN

IMG_0872 (1)

11 am PLATE LUNCHES OF GLORY from Papa Ole’s (obviously ingested very, very quickly)

12 noon OMG there is a Sodalicious equivalent in Laie?  Prayers of gratitude all around.  (And everyone really should go check out So’Da Bomb–they’re wonderful and couldn’t be more friendly.)

IMG_7137

2 pm Shower, nap, get dressed with no rush

4 pm Meet up with friends at the temple

IMG_7144

6 pm Meet up with friends for sushi

IMG_7147

8:30 pm Continue the delicious food day with homemade ice cream (okay, okay, confession–neither the ice cream nor the plate lunch were ingested quickly…I just thought I’d saved pics of them from my Snapstory…and then I realized I hadn’t…)

10:30 pm Pick up something for the linger longer meal after church tomorrow, chat with a beloved friend

#blessed

12 midnight Go home wicked happy

That’s how I stay afloat each semester.  I believe in working hard, and worshipping hard, and playing hard too.  And I live by the counsel of a modern prophet of God, who said

Pres & Sis Hinckley

In all of living, have much fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.

-Gordon B. Hinckley

 

Happy Sabbath, sweet humans.  Let’s go rock this week.

IMG_7142

 

each life that touches ours

When I moved to Hawaii, EVERYONE told me it would be to find my husband.

img_7016

Well, joke’s on you ALL because I was literally just featured in the school magazine’s “Eligible Bachelor and Bachelorette” article. (Laugh-cry emoji, I know–I feel the same way.)

But there is a love story I need to tell, especially because it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

To understand this love story, you need to understand that my volunteer mission a couple of years ago–though one of the happiest times of my life–was very hard, and I learned a lot about myself and the world and just, you know, life.  One thing I learned is that I have anxiety.  I don’t think I thought anxiety was a real thing before my mission.  I thought people were just lazy, and that when I felt stressed it was because I was just being lazy or scared or I had procrastinated.  I didn’t think anxiety was real, to be honest.  Then I realized that I had it, and that those times in my life–nervous breakdowns in class over really little things, a convulsing meltdown the week of AP exams junior year, anxious overeating my freshman year of college–were not normal levels of stress.

A few rounds of counseling and other treatment later, things are better.  Generally, I do pretty well and I know what triggers my anxiety and I know how to keep myself in optimal conditions to minimize it.  But some days are still hard, and some days I don’t even realize what is wrong until I’m out of the funk and then it clicks.

Sunday was one of those days.  Nothing was wrong.  I mean, yeah, I was a little congested, and I was running late to church so I hadn’t showered, but nothing was wrong.  I had had a blast the night before with amazing friends.  I felt great about myself.  But something was wrong on Sunday.  I went to the first hour of church (sacrament meeting) and ran into a friend and said, “I think I’m about to split.”  I didn’t say what was really on my mind–“Sunday school is ALWAYS a struggle for me, especially if the teachers do A, B, or C, and it’s linger longer today and that’s just too many strangers for me to deal with, especially of the male variety.”  Instead I said I had a slight cough and I went home.

When I got home two of my roommates were also home (church is really, really close to our house).  They were grabbing cupcakes for the third hour of church, Relief Society.  Keep in mind that these roommates are the leaders of that organization, and there I was, laying on the couch, telling them that no, I wasn’t going back to church today.  They didn’t ask questions.  They just told me they loved me and they hoped I felt better.

I ran to the store for something I’d been out of for a week (not normal Sunday behavior, and I’m not condoning breaking the Sabbath, but this was NOT a normal Sunday) and took a shower.  When I got out of the shower, my roommates were home and had saved me a piece of cake from the class I’d skipped.

I sent a Snap to friends because, hi, their love–spoken and unspoken–meant the world to me.  Like, I ugly-cried on the couch.

Paul told the Corinthians that we’re nothing without charity.  That we can be talented and eloquent and a million other things, but without charity we are nothing.  Marvin J. Ashton asserted,

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.

Now, I’m not perfect at that, but I’m trying to be better.  I think if we look for what we love about people and how to help them, we’re able to see past the motes and beams.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Let’s love each other better.