Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Best of BYU 2017


I am graduating!!! Oh my goodness! I seriously can't believe this is real life.

Nevertheless it is true. My time at Brigham Young University is coming to an end, and I am feeling the full spectrum of possible emotions. I am SO excited for my exciting plans to move to NYC and all of the wonder my future has to offer. I feel supremely blessed to get to live out one of my lifelong dreams doing what I love. (thank you so so much Heavenly Father!) And yet.... somehow my heart aches a little to leave this wonderful life I have hear. BYU has become my home, and I am forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities it has given me. Here are some top 10's of my time here at BYU.

Top 10 Memories:

10. On my first weekend here in Provo a giant group of Freshman decided to go jump off a bridge in Lehi. Stupid, I know. But soooo fun. Haha at the end of the night we got back into a random freshman boy's car, and right when we drove away he crashed it into a giant cement block down a small hill. (How this happened is still a mystery.) When we started going down the hill toward the block, another stranger in the car yelled "weeee!" Nessa, Sav and I laughed so hard I thought we were going to pee our pants. Which is rude. I know, but it is a memory I will never forger.

9. I had a really rough day at school my junior year. My brain was struggling to think through lyme disease and I was feeling fed up. Madeline Woods spotted me crying and brought me a candle and a note when she hardly knew me. It meant more than I can say at the time.

8. Walking around campus with my IV pole. My college experience was certainly different than most.  Would I change it? Yeah probably, lyme disease stinks. But oh those funny memories of people staring at me are pretty awesome.

7. One time in my Doctrine and Covenants class we were covering Polygamy in the early Church. One student in the class was unaware of how many wives Joseph Smith had. When the teacher told us, the girl immediately spoke up and said. "That's disgusting!" A few students in the class gasped or snickered, rolling their eyes at the girl who was working through her faith. Our teacher stopped the class and said simply. "Enough. Polygamy is an uncomfortable subject. We should all probably feel uncomfortable as we first learn about it. Be respectful as we each come to work through our testimonies and understand God's plan." This moment left a huge impact on me for many reasons. One: it is 100% ok to ask questions. In fact, it is necessary. Two: Never judge someone for being at a different place in their testimony than you. Give everyone the opportunity to discover the truth for themselves in their own timeframe. Belief is not easy, be kind to one another and yourself.

6. ASSASSINS! This was the most intense ward activity I have ever participated in at the Isles, and let me tell you, it was the best! My roommate Carly Case wore a wig to school. For months after we found spoons in our cars and bags and crevices of our apartment. Oh how I will miss the Isles and the crazy things we did here. Heaven bless Michael Sorenson for planning the best ward activities ever.

5. One time, I had a C in Marriage and Family Prep. Now if you go to BYU, you're cringing for me right now. Brother Dorius's class is known for being about the only easy class you can take here. And yet my brain could not retain anything. I was thinking through brain fog and everything felt impossible for me. I went and spoke to my professor and he said, "What kind of religion professor would I be if I did not help you?" I finished with an A. Thank you Brother Dorius for being merciful. It left an impression on me.

4. The best date I ever had in Provo was a group date my roommates and I had in our apartment. (Go figure lol) We put twinkly lights up and made a fort out of our living room. We had a projector up and lived in a fairy tale. To this day we talk about how that was one of the best days any of us have ever had. Something about your best friends being all together under twinkly lights is just magical. One of the couples there that night got married, and the other three broke up over the following month.


3. So You Think You Can Dance. Man that was awesome. I will forever be proud of myself for the time I made it to the last round in Vegas while simultaneously battling a relentless and painful disease.

2. One day in my intro to women's studies course, a student stood up and told her rape story. Over the course of the class four more students told of their rape stories. We came to learn that over half of the class had been sexually assaulted in some way over their lifetime. (And that is just the women who spoke up.) This is where my passion for women's rights was born. We cannot be apathetic. A women's movement is necessary.

1. Covering the final Presidential debate in Las Vegas. Holy moly I have never smiled so big as I did when NBC shared my story on their breaking news. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! The first time I broke news. Like actually broke the news before anyone else had it. I am smiling now just thinking about it. Thank you BYU for giving me the change to cover such a massive moment in American History. Good or bad, it was a moment to be remembered.

Top 10 Most Influential People:
10. Ty Mansfield - D&C teacher mentioned above. He is so open minded and smart. Take his class!

9. Denise Snyder - My first women's studies professor. On the first day of class she said, "I am a covenant keeping member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I am a feminist." I was sold right then and there. TAKE HER CLASS!

8. Center Stage - Students, teachers, parents, and mentors. Center Staged saved me at an impossibly difficult time in my life. Thank you for letting me stay close to my passion when my health no longer allowed me to perform myself. Thank you for letting me teach your brilliant kids. I love this place more than I can possibly say.

7. Lucy Scholl - I don't know what I would have done without you in my life these past few years. You are my soul sister. God put us together to push each other to reach our dreams. You're friendship is healing. Every needs a Lucy.

6. Sav - You are something else. Thank you for selflessly serving me. Thank you for helping me grow closer to the Savior. We make each other think, learn, and genuinely bring out the best in each other. There aren't a lot of people you can say that about. I will miss living with you every day. Love you sister.

5. Lizzie - We will be together for eternity. Aren't I lucky. Thank you for your light. You are sensational.

4. Kati Ellis- You are one of the reasons I am able to go and live my dreams. You have blessed me with your gifts and lifted me up constantly. I am so lucky to have you!!

3. Carrie Moore - I was told once that women need to have successful role models to look up to in order to achieve their dreams. Thanks you for being that for me. Thank you for believing me and for constantly encouraging me. Someday when I am living out my biggest dreams, I will look back to the time you told me that I could make it, and know that you are a big part of how I got there.

2. Parents - You are everything. Thank you for financial, emotional, spiritual and every other kind of support you can think of. I love you.

1. Christ - "Nevertheless the Lord God showery us our weakness that we may know that it is by His grace, and Hi great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have the power to do these things." - Jacob 4:7

- American Women's History (Take it from Rebecca DeSchweinitz
- English 312 (Persuasive Writing with Nicole Wilkes Goldberg)
- First half of the New Testament (Take it from Stanley Johnson)
- Advanced Print Reporting (Take it from Carrie Moore.)
- Any acting class from David Morgan

Number 1 thing I have learned about myself:

You can accomplish the impossible with God's help and a whole lot of grit.

I love you BYU.


Friday, April 14, 2017

It's good to hear from you

I've had a rough week.

Really that is an understatement, but we will just leave it at that.

In response to my rough week, I decided to turn to the Princ of Peace. I prayed earnestly and with real intent. I read my scriptures and I attended the temple. I went to all of my Church meetings and I strived to stay close to the spirit at all times.

I wasn't trying to fix what was so heavily burdening me. I have been weighed down for too long to even hope for that kind of respite.


I was praying for comfort. For hope. For peace. For ANYTHING.

Somehow, through it all, I felt nothing. My burden was not lightened, and my grief was not born. I was drowning--suffocating in my pain, and my Prince of Peace was not responding.

I felt confused and abandoned. I have been taught that the one being I can absolutely trust and rely on is my Heavenly Father. Why wasn't he there? Was I doing something wrong? Was there a magic combination of righteous living that I was just a couple of degrees off of? I mean I am certainly not perfect, but I am doing my very best! Should I have gone to the temple twice that week instead of just once? What was I missing???

I talked to a good friend about it because I needed some helpful insight. She is a marriage and family therapist, and she used the knowledge gained from her profession to give me something interesting to think about. She said that when trust is broken in a marriage, the person on the receiving end experiences a very real trauma. Like physical trauma. It's called betrayal trauma. She explained that there are times in our life when, because of our mortal understanding, it feels as though God is no longer listening. In those times, because so much of our identity and our belief system is rooted in his loving responsiveness, we experience betrayal trauma with God. Though he is likely still listening, and actively aware of our challenges, the perceived abandonment has an impact on our psyche and emotional well-being.

So what do we do when the Prince of Peace is also a source of our emotional undoing?

I don't know.

I really don't.

But I remember hearing once that God is ok with his children being frustrated with Him. He understands that our vision is limited, and that by design we will spend some days on the very bottom with frustration toward our maker. All he really cares about, is that we talk to him. He never wants us to stop reaching toward him, asking for his love, even when we aren't at our best. Even, it seems, when we don't feel that we are getting a response from Him.

It reminds me of a talk given this last Conference, "Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him." In the talk Elder S. Mark Palmer teaches that even when we behave poorly, Christ first beholds us and loves us. Before all else! He loves us! He knows that if we continue to reach out to Him, eventually things will come back together.

"Anytime you feel you are being asked to do something hard, think of the Lord beholding you, loving you, and inviting you to follow Him," Elder Palmer said. 

Sometimes those hard things aren't callings, or giving up sins, or moving mountains. Sometimes the hardest thing we will ever have to do, is believe.

On our weakest days, may we continue to turn to the Lord, no matter where our testimony lands on the strength spectrum. God will behold us and love us, and I have faith, things will get better. 



Click the advertisement from the LDS Church on the right side-bar of this page. The campaign encourages us to turn to Christ for lasting Peace in our lives.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Open Your Eyes

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."

This sentence can be found on page 264 of Anthony Doerr's "All the Light we cannot See."

I read it this afternoon and ever since, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It has been pulsating in my brain and pulling at my chest. If I don't learn to open my eyes now. If I don't strive to see today, someday I will be blinded forever. Confined to my own ideas. Unable to accept and learn about the opinions of someone else.

There is something important about youth. While there is a wisdom we don't have there is an openness that we can cultivate before our opinions are pulled and prodded by our obligations to a party, or a person, or an institution. When we are young, for a very brief moment, we have the opportunity to try to see without an entirely obstructed view.

In 2016 the shudders on many of our wide eyes were were pulled down further than they were before. Many of our opinions were more solidified, and the opinions of others seemed to be more ridiculous or even worse, dangerous. We began the blackout process.

Many people decided that facts were no longer relevant. That they did not need to do the research necessary to make informed decisions. That they could take the opinions of their parents, or their party's most beloved commentators for truth. Rather than choosing who to vote for based on policy or decency, they chose based on whether or not their candidate had knighted themselves as "liberal" or "conservative."

As though the affiliation with one will lead you closer to Heavenly glory while affiliation with another will lead you toward hell and damnation. (Where you stand on the spectrum of "left to right," will decide which description you assign to which party. You may be surprised to know that the person who will read this after you disagrees with you wholeheartedly.)

If you are reading this, I am talking about myself as much as I am talking about you. None of us are exempt from blinding our own eyes. None of us is guiltless of closing ourselves off to the opinions of others.

In fact my brother literally called me out on doing this exact thing this week. I am guilty as charged. But I am committed to working on it.

There is such a thing as right and wrong. And we ourselves don't always get it right. Let's open our eyes to the possibility of being incorrect. Let's choose to go outside of our echo chamber's in 2017. Let's learn about the intricate world beyond our own. Let's believe it is possible, to think more brilliantly than we already have. Let's get back to the facts.

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."
Let's not let 2016 be the year it all went black for us.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

That's Life

I have this really great dad.

Like really great. 

While I was growing up I used to hate to do my homework, and that really great dad would help me with it. Much to my chagrin, he would never give me the answers when I asked for them. He would always insist that I work through the problems the right way. I mean who did he think he was? Expecting his child to be honest in order to actually learn something? HONESTLY??

Haha ok ok I'm done.

After every frustrating homework experience we had together, he would say to me, "Haley, you need to learn to love to learn."

I would roll my eyes and say, "Ya ya, whatever you say dad."

Learning is difficult. It requires sacrifice and more often than not it will lead to frustration. The very nature of it is not meant to be easy. It is meant to challenge us. For little Haley, I couldn't understand why something so difficult could ever bring me joy. If I was uncomfortable doing it, odds were good that I wasn't going to enjoy it.

Somewhere along the way though, his lesson sunk in! Now here I am. Approaching finals week at BYU. Stressed out of my mind. And loving it. 

I am LOVING what I am learning. Seriously. I am so proud to be a student!!!

But learning isn't what I am here to talk to you about today. I have discovered that the lesson my dad taught me during homework sessions growing up were much less about learning, and far more about life.

Life in general is difficult. We will have to make big sacrifices and be faced with frustration nearly every day until we die. In coming to earth we entered a world of suffering. Wherever your pains fall on the spectrum of difficulty, life isn't easy for anyone.

Because of how difficult it is, I think it can be easy to have a poor me attitude through life.

Sincerely we are busy, and honestly we are tired, and truly the challenges never seem to stop. But if we take my Dad's advice, and learn to love to live. We will be able to find joy in everything.

I watch my Dad deal with large challenges every day, and somehow he never seems to be too down on himself. In fact, he seems to be invigorated by the struggle. He is inspired by the opportunity to overcome. He is truly a wonderful example.

When it comes down to it, most of us are going to spend a lot of our lives just WAY too busy. We will spend most days tired. We will all get sick (some more than others.) We will have to do things we don't want to do. We will have our feelings hurt. And sometimes we will be completely shattered.

But that's life.

In the most magical way possible.

So let's take Scott Hilton's example and choose to be invigorated by our difficulties.

Life will be that much sweeter.

And we will learn to love to live.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

On Problem Solving

Hello hello! Sorry it has been ages since I've been on here. Seriously this semester has been crazy town. But I have a chill week ahead so I thought it was the perfect time to update the old blog. Today I want to talk about problem solving!

I am a dance teacher at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio and boy do I love it. Seriously, I have to pinch myself when I think about the fact that I teach and choreograph for a living. Best job ever!

Anyway, at the beginning of the school year this season, my students were having a bit of a tough time showing up to my ballet class on time with their tights on, buns in their hair, or their ballet shoes on their feet.

Now, if you're not a dancer, it is important that you understand how crucial these things are to the classroom environment. There is a certain reverence around the ballet world. It's a classical art form dripping with prestige. It is so challenging, and so riveting, it's expectations are exceptional. You simply cannot be late. If you want to grow, you simply have to come prepared.

I relayed this information to my students, and reiterated what my expectations would be for them throughout the year, and they were quick to give me excuses. Excuses like, "My last teacher let me out late!" or "I was in a private before this," or "I forgot my bag at home!"

My response to them was simple.

Problem solve.

If you have a teacher before this class that has a tendency to let you out late, and you know that I won't accept tardiness, what are you going to do? Are you just going to give up? Take the negative consequences week in and week out for an entire year? (they have to do wall sits for me if they are late or unprepared.)


You're going to problem solve. You're going to think ahead. You're going to check your bag before you leave for school, you are going to attend the earlier class already dressed for ballet. You are going to use your mind to fix the problem.

To my students credit, they only needed one week of my chastisement to come to class ready to work. They are hungry and committed and improving each week. It is a pleasure to watch them grow, and their preparation has a hand in this progress.


This past Sunday I woke up and immediately realized that my car was completely out of gas. I had to drive to Salt Lake that day and would definitely need the gas to make the trip. I thought to myself, "Well the ox is in the mire, I'll just pick it up on my way." Directly after that thought I heard my own voice in the back of my head saying simply:

"Problem solve."


My own anecdote used against me. How much more reverence and respect should be surrounding the Lord's time than my ballet class time. If I demand preparation and commitment from my students, how much more should the Lord expect from me on His day.

Now I don't think that getting gas on Sunday is a huge deal or anything, but I recognized in that moment, that it was a small way that I could show the Lord that I was prepared to learn what He was going to teach me. It's less about what I shouldn't be doing, and more about what I should have been doing.

If I want the full blessings that the Lord has to give me, I need to enter the Sabbath prepared to have the spirit with me. Certainly my students could learn just fine if they came into class fifteen minutes late, and I could forgo a few details that will help make my Sunday truly the Lords day without it being a big deal. BUT the full breadth of the Sunday experience as well as the full breadth of the classroom experience, can only be had if one is ready to learn.

My mind took these thoughts of preparation for the Sabbath and went spinning with ideas of problem solving.

"If you keep waking up on Sunday with an empty tank of gas, problem solve. Set a new habit of going to the gas station before you head home from hanging out on Saturday nights."

"If you are having a tough time feeling the spirit on Sunday mornings, problem solve. Set a pattern of obedience and ask the Lord for help in coming closer to him throughout the week."

"If you are having a tough time remembering an important thing that you learned in sacrament, problem solve. Take a notebook and pen with you."

"If you are having a tough time having the desire to enjoy all three meetings, problem solve. Pray to the Lord to fill you with the hope and happiness of the gospel."

The Lord expects us to give Him His time. He has valuable lessons to teach us that will allow us to grow and to become better.

Let's all work harder to problem solve and strive to be ready to learn what He wants to teach us.


Also, I got to cover the final presidential debate this past week and it was awesome! And crazy. But awesome. Here is a picture of me in front of the MSNBC stage having the time of my life.

BFF Halloween Party

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's good to be back

Gosh it's good to be back at BYU! I can't believe I am entering into my final year of my undergraduate degree. I swear just yesterday I was taking the worlds worst ID card picture and rushing to my very first Book of Mormon class!

I love the beginning of fall semester every time it comes around. There's a kind of euphoria around the whole experience.

I love walking through campus on the first day of school. The air is electric with excitement. Nearly everyone is hopeful about what changes this new year might bring for their lives.

I love hearing the chatter of different languages as I walk through the maze of buildings. Half of me is rolling my eyes at the students trying to show off, and the other half is astounded at how much good these people are going to do with their knowledge.

I love laughing at the new freshmen girls with their promise necklaces hanging around their necks. (Give em a couple of weeks and those babies will have disappeared into the corners of their lavishly decorated dorm rooms.)

I'm always amused by how easy it is to pick out the freshly returned missionaries and the ridiculous cadence they picked up while they were away. (Can we talk about this? It is so dang distracting! The whole time they are talking I'm thinking, "Why did they put so much emphases on that random word? Are they speaking in code?" And, "Why are they whispering at me like their voice is thick with honey? I feel weird...." Ok rant over.)

I cringe at the high pitch screams that make up the long awaited reunions. And then laugh out loud at how many times I hear, "You're engaged!!" or "She got married?! She wasn't even dating anyone in April?!" 

I love watching students frantically run from room to room and building to building, completely at a loss for where their ten o'clock class is supposed to be. (Literally me every first day of school since I got here.)

I am endlessly entertained by the fact that in every class I go to during the first week of school, at least one person has found themselves in the wrong place and has to awkwardly climb over and entire row of people to get out of the classroom.

I love watching people flirt shamelessly on campus as though they are doing homework for 'Spouse Hunting 101.'

I gag a little (ok a lot) at the couples who perform far too much PDA on campus. But then remind myself that they are happy, and since I'm a big proponent of happiness, I try a little harder to not be disgusted by the fact that they are totally making out where we are supposed to study.

I love that people here have plans. I love that they set goals and that they want to do good. I love that BYU gives us the tools that allow us to believe in our own capacity to do that good. I love that everyone is thinking. That everyone is learning. That everyone is growing. I love that we are all gaining information to bless the world around us.

I love that on the first day of every new semester, the professors stand up and bear their testimonies to each of us. I marvel at the idea that all of these brilliant minds have to be heavy with questions. The more knowledge we gain on any subject, the more questions we can have about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet these scholars stand before us, bravely trudging through the burden of questions, and tell us that they believe. That in spite of confusion and frustration, they choose to ask questions with the purpose of proving the Lord right.

It must be daunting to teach here. The clear aims of BYU are found on their website. "The mission of Brigham Young University is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." Casual really. Their job is to help us become perfect. 

So here is to another semester of trying to do a little better. Another opportunity to refine our minds and our spirits. Another opportunity to learn about how the Lord will use us to bless the rest of His children. 

It's oh so good to be back. 
I'll be seeing many of you at the Lib! 


p.s. lyme treatment is still happening. I'm surviving and very thankful for all of your prayers. Also Carly and Drew got married! Congrats to them. ANNNNND Lizzie and Jacob are engaged woohoo!

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's always good timing.

I feel like timing is one of those things that is a universal stresser. Whatever your culture or life experience, if things aren't following standard timing.... you're probably feeling some inner mayhem.

We're all looking around us, starving for someone who is living life at our same rhythm to make us feel ok with how things are going.

"Well they took five years to graduate so it's ok."
"Well they waited five years to have kids so I'm good for at least another two more."
"Well they didn't get their first grammy til twenty-six so I'm still chillin'."
"Shoot, she won the gold medal at sixteen??"

As you can see, from personal experience, I have come to realize that this is a serious issue.

I genuinely believe that we do ourselves a great disservice, when we set up specific parameters around the timing of our lives. These parameters generally run around group think. Group think is not Heavenly Father think. And when we veer from him... we're in trouble.

When we miss a timing mark in our life, we might be tempted to be heartbroken over our circumstances. The irony of this is that half the time our circumstances are wonderful, we just expected them to be wonderful at a different time and place. 

Say you're in your third year of college and you have no idea what you want to do with your life. I say make the most of it! You have the luxury of continuing to explore your options. Major in what you love and then remember that there is always graduate school. The years of study may bring the clarity you need to find your calling in life. You'll figure it out eventually. <-- if this feels like a total lie... it may be. But won't you be happier believing it anyway?

Say you got home from your mission five months ago and you aren't already engaged... calm the heck down! But really if any of us are single for longer than the amount of time we had planned on, don't worry. Don't be depressed. Live the heck out of being a twenty something-year-old. Travel. Pursue your dream of all dream careers. Don't sit motionless waiting around for your life to begin. If that relationship were to never come, what will you have made out of the life the Lord gave you?

If you're like me you might be worried you won't have time to do ALLLLL the crazy things you have always hoped to do in your life. (DING! DING! DING!) I feel like we should try to remember we've got a lot of years left to live. We should use this desire to REALLY do something! We should set goals and organize our time so that we aren't limited to just one thing. The Lord can do a lot with our time if we trust in Him.

We should decide that we will never feel bad about the circumstances we are in when it comes to timing. (haha I am terrible at this so far. But I think it might be like a muscle! The more we use it the stronger it is.) There is no one right timing to be followed in life. Everyones should be different for their specific role the Lord would like them to play. If we keep our hearts so convinced that there is a one-size-fits-all timing, we will fail to recognize the opportunities around us. 

I will be the first to tell you that life is riddled with unbearable challenges that I wish would go away at this very moment. Or things that I feel like I NEED to have happen RIGHT NOW! But because I don't control the timing, I am deciding to take charge of what I can control. What am I going to do with what God has allotted me with today?

At every age and at every stage, there is something to be outrageously excited about. There is someone who wishes they could be doing what we are doing. Let's seize the wonderful that is in front of us and make it our own. Because the truth is, it's always good timing.