Sunday, April 19, 2020

Quarantine 2020 Real Talk

I used to write all the time. I found writing to be so therapeutic. I kind of miss that.

It's currently April 2020 and we are going into week 6 (I think?) of the COVID-19 quarantine here in Colorado. I'm not going to lie, this past week has been hard.

There have been phases to this thing. The first week, after we rushed home from London with Mila the last day before the UK travel ban, I think we were all kind of in shock. We just tried to enjoy our days and surround ourselves with home comforts. It was our spring break and so it seemed like we were kind of in a relaxing mood anyway.

The second week became a little more real, as kids started remote learning school and I watched my job as an event coordinator for an indoor trampoline park crumble before my eyes. When you get paid for booking kids' birthday parties and school field trips, you are not in high demand during a worldwide pandemic. All of our parks shut down and I was furloughed. My kids didn't need any aid from me for school, so I tried to figure out what my new daily schedule looked like. It has mostly looked like lazing around in the morning a bit, cleaning the kitchen, doing whatever free Zoom workout I can find between the hours of 12 and 2 (or going outside on the days we didn't have a blizzard), eating lunch at 2 or 3, showering by 4, then making and eating dinner, followed by arguing about what movie we would watch together at night. On occasion, there would be Zoom meetings with family members or my young women class and presidency, which have been huge comforts.

I also found myself overwhelmed with the urge to create. I love to be creative and I'm not often granted the time to do it. When so many things in my world felt like they were disappearing around me, I just wanted to make new things to make up for it. This mostly manifested itself in silly little videos I could share with friends and family to hopefully bring some cheer to their day. One video took me the better part of a week to put together, and I really enjoyed that. The twins and I came up with a short movie script and started filming that as well.

This has mostly been what the first month of quarantine looked like for me. Then week five hit and something shifted a bit. As an introvert, I can find great peace in being cut off from the outside world with only my people. Gone is the anxiety about having to measure up, to perform well, to accomplish daily public tasks at an acceptable level. The dark flip side is one I've only really had to grapple with this past week. And that is, along with my small levels of social anxiety, there is a deeper anxiety that manifests itself when I don't make social connections with people in real life. I start to believe that everyone I love and adore has actually forgotten about me, and worse, holds contempt for me. I understand that this is not rational thinking. I know. It's purely emotion, and I can't explain it, but it's been weird and not fun. I have cried myself to sleep this week over a text that wasn't responded to. I'm sorry if this is not the fun, positive, upbeat side of me that you have come to know over the years. I am just trying to work through all of these strange manifestations of completely irrational thought.

Another hard part of this quarantine for me is home church. I don't like it. It turns out that I need real church. In my present situation, I am responsible for 100% of anything that happens in my home that is church related and it's not easy. It has been lonely to see so many people celebrating church at home when it is something I dread. I am happy for people that get to have a positive experience, but I am just being honest about how it has been for me.

I worry about my junior. My heart hurts for the seniors this year and their pain and loss is validated. But I have a high school junior whose future was greatly impacted by this chain of events. He worked for three weeks, harder than anyone I've ever seen, to teach himself to play volleyball so he could get a spot on the high school volleyball team. He made the team, played one game, and it was over. Simultaneously, he was going to be one of two long jumpers on the varsity track team this season. He was hoping to achieve personal records that would possibly qualify him to get some sort of track scholarship for college. That possibility is just gone now. There was not one track meet, zero chances for new personal records.

I do feel the need to point out the highlights of this past week. I miraculously connected with two of my best friends that I haven't heard from in twenty years. Re-establishing these friendships was so important to me and something that has been missing from my life for a long time. I am grateful for that light during this time. I am grateful for people who are there for me every single day of this. I have a group of friends here in Colorado and we have been texting recipes, memes, news articles, exercise ideas, and words of comfort since this began. I love them. One of them sent me a hand-written card in the mail and it made my whole week! I am grateful for a few good friends who don't live nearby who have allowed me to burden them with any thought or complaint, no matter how big or small. One of them is dealing with the stress of the pandemic on top of her husband dying of a terminal illness and STILL makes time for me. The fact of the matter is, we are in good health and have lots of good food and Ben is still working and Kenya is maybe the happiest dog in the world, having her pack home all the time. I have good kids and they are being mostly kind and helpful. Ben was in a pretty bad bike crash the day before Easter, but the fact that his best friend that was with him is a doctor and that he is alive and healing well is also a huge blessing. I got to see m adorable Young Women in a Zoom activity this week and their happiness and positivity is inspiring and contagious! We are mostly good and getting through this! We will get through this and we are truly all in this together.

In conclusion, if anyone needs someone to talk to or needs to complain or be sad or just needs a listening ear, I am here for you. I really mean that. Please text or call or dm me or whatever. You matter to me and I want to be there for you. Chances are that I've already been thinking about you and worrying about you as it is. All my love to you and yours. You can do it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

40 for 40

In no particular order, here are 40 things I've learned in my 40 years of life. I've tried to give credit where credit is due for tidbits I've gathered from others.

1. Having friends is one of life's greatest joys. Missing friends is one of life's greatest sorrows.
2. Everyone thinks that their teenager will be the one that won't be difficult and hormonal, the one that will simply rise above it all. Spoiler alert: NOPE.
3. On your 38th birthday, the most surprising gift you will receive is five extra pounds.
4. Where acting/singing/improv is concerned, I truly believe that "It is better to have performed and lost, then to never have performed at all."
5. No matter what is happening in your life, or how grumpy or mad or sad you are, you go to church. (This one is from my mom)
6. A person can change into a "dog person" overnight.
7. All of your beloved friends and family members gathered together in one theater to watch your movie premiere feels like heaven. Only in heaven, I hope we are all watching the movies of each others' lives.
8. Producing a film is one of the most thankless, least glamorous jobs there could be.
9. As a recovering perfectionist, I've learned that the quest for perfectionism is really a rejection of the human condition. Perfectionism prevents you from taking risks, which prevents you from failing, which prevents you from learning, growing, and succeeding. Therefore, perfection equals eternal stagnation. (Dr. Finlayson-Fife)
10. If I could choose just one thing for my children to learn before they leave my home, it would be that having compassion for everyone is more important than anything else.
11. There's no such thing as aging gracefully.
12. Being a mom is not a competition, and if it is, guess what? You've already won, because your kids only want YOU.
13. When it comes to religion, the only thing that truly matters is your personal relationship with Christ. (Richard Bushman)
14. The older I get, the more I have to embrace my biggest weaknesses: laziness, vanity, and hoarding tendencies. But being self-aware is half the battle.
15. Everyone should have to live in NYC for at least one year as a requirement to be a human.
16. It turns out that you CAN sit next to the pool/beach ALL day and not get bored even one little bit. Sidenote: is there a better place than Costa Rica?
17. Children growing up is nature's cruelest trick.
18. Twins are the best thing that could happen to a person.
19. Marriage can only thrive when you fully embrace your partner, flaws and all.
20. Social media is the best thing and the worst thing.
21. Hanging out and laughing with your older kids is just about the best thing there is.
22. After spending countless evenings bawling my eyes out over my many failures or over the plight of a loved one or child, the best life mantra I can offer is "Tomorrow is another day."(I can probably credit this one to my dad, the eternal optimist)
23. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that one becomes a food snob. However, there is no turning back.
24. I wish that I could spend more time with my siblings. They provide a unique strength in my life. Especially since my brother is a human Xanax.
25. Keeping a sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself is one of life's most valuable survival techniques.
26. The prettiest, most popular kids in high school often make the least interesting adults. They never had to learn how to be funny.
27. In your 20's, you are constantly worried about what everyone else thinks about you and if you're measuring up, in your 30's you start to focus more on the hobbies/interests you actually enjoy vs. what you think you're supposed to enjoy, and I am hopeful that my 40's will include having the freedom to say what I truly feel.
28. Experiencing high school with your child is like RE-LIVING it. In all the best and worst ways.
29. Winning the family-in-law lottery is truly one of the best things I ever did.
30. Everywhere you go, you make friends. But only a handful are lifelong friends. And they are the treasure of my heart.
31. Watching your parents navigate divorce and the aftermath can do one of two things: impair your ability to have a successful relationship OR instill you with a profound determination to never repeat their mistakes. I'm one of the lucky ones.
32. Other people's successes are not my failures (Tim Threlfall, BYU)
33. Other people's successes can be my successes. Karma is a thing, y'all.
34. If you love an item of clothing, pair of shoes, etc., and wear it with confidence, then everyone else will love it as well. (Also my mom)
35. Prayer is a powerful and awe-inspiring tool.
36. Family/relationships are more important than religion.
37. Acting/performing/creating just to act/perform/create is meaningless to me. Collaborating and creating with my friends is EVERYTHING.
38. There is no better feeling than belly laughing with friends and/or family. That also feels like heaven to me.
39. Love is love is love is love is love is love is love... (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
40. I don't really have any regrets. I would choose all of it again.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Being a Mom

My friend Kacy wrote a post about "mommy blogging" the other day, including links to some of her favorite posts on the subject of parenting. I read them and loved them and felt inspired. After I finished reading, I felt guilty for sitting there so long at my computer instead of unpacking my suitcases from my trip to Boston last week, or putting away laundry, or cleaning the kitchen. I sort of feared that I had wasted my time when I should have been doing other things. But then, the words from those posts stuck with me throughout my day, and when I went to pick up my kids from school, they were still there, floating around in my head.

I'm not going to tell you all the things those posts said, because that's not really my point, but it sufficeth to say, they made me be mindful of parenting in general, and my personal parenting in particular. So then, that night, after I returned home from a visit with a church friend and my ten year old son came to me and said, "Mom, I really feel like we haven't had a chance to just talk in a while," instead of sending him to bed because I wanted to watch my TV shows, which is what I am typically wont to do, I invited him to come sit with me on the couch. He brought a blanket and we sat together under it and I put my arm around him and combed my fingers through his hair and listened as he talked. And talked. It was after his bedtime, I was tired, but at that moment, I knew that I was a very lucky woman that had a ten year old boy who wanted nothing more than a personal conversation with his mom, and I was not going to miss that opportunity. For in that brief, simple moment, I could honestly sum up my parenting efforts with one word: winning.

And that's a good feeling.

Photograph by Mark Abernathy

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


So, last month, for book club, we read Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) I really enjoyed the book, and Mindy's writing style, and it really made me want to renew my commitment to write something, anything, for an hour every day. It also made me want to write funny TV shows with my friends, but that's not happening any time soon, so writing by myself for an hour a day it is!

For book club, we were given an assignment to come up with a "Best Friends Rights and Responsibilities" list, like Mindy has in the book. I went a little overboard and wrote quite a few. I only shared three with the club because everyone else only had one and I didn't want to be that crazy over-achiever who was craving all the attention (too late.) I tried to mimic her overall format and tone. I had a lot of fun with it, and I think you should write your own, too.

Hailey's List of Best Friends' Rights and Responsibilities

You will always crave a cheeseburger at the right time, which is every time.

If I have too many striped shirts in my wardrobe, you will let me know in a sarcastic yet serious tone.

If I start getting sucked into rom-com movies or literature, you will remind me that sci-fi is my thing.

There will always be pistachio ice cream in your freezer.

If we show up to an event wearing the same dress/shirt/coat from Target, we will totally own it.

If I daydream about my future career as a dubstepping sensation, you'll promise to be in the front row even if that makes you sound like you're buying into my crazy delusion.

If I complain about feeling overwhelmed, you'll remind me that I said the same thing a year ago, and you told me then to get a TV in my bedroom.

Even though you're super organized and I'm kind of a hoarder-in-training/major slob, you'll help me go through my stuff when I move without judgment. Well, maybe just a little. You are human, after all.

No matter how famous you or your family become, I will always remind you that you will always be kind of a geek and your kids really don't care. You're welcome. Just for the record, I do care. A lot.

If it's January, and I don't hear from you for a month, I will remember that you're hibernating.

I will always give you the benefit of the doubt.

If someone is rude to you, I'll tell you that they were probably having a bad day, and when that doesn't work, I'll remind you how much funnier, prettier and smarter you are than them.

If I over-analyze a performance I just gave, you'll listen patiently, then still tell me I killed it.

I'll go to Time Warner and wait in line behind thirty people to pick up your modem while I write a list about my best friends' rights and responsibilities.

If any of our kids end up marrying each other, we'll sit back and celebrate the victory of our master plan, then await the arrival of the most inconceivably amazing offspring known to mankind.

When you run a half marathon, I will be there at the finish line...with a chocolate shake.

If you turn into a zombie, I will decapitate you with a katana sword, and vice versa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taking a Breather

My kids are great. Amidst the craziness that is the quotidien around here, I want to take a minute to stop and remember the things they do and are.

Lane. She is still five going on thirteen. She is very sensitive, cares about what her peers think, and is particular about her physical appearance. Mainly her hair. When we wash her hair in the bathtub, she has to fix her bangs so they're not slicked back, even though they're wet. She was afraid to go to school because Jordan kissed her hand and wanted to "date on her." I had to tell Jordan that Lane wasn't old enough to date, to which he responded, "Holy Moley!" and ran away.

She has the slightest lisp which is the cutest thing I've ever heard. She is shy. Last year in her Kindergarten class she was in a play and played a unicorn who could turn invisible--it made perfect sense because she doesn't want people to notice her, and I understand how she feels. She still sucks her thumb while holding "baby white elephant's" ear over her nose when she goes to sleep at night. Her favorite game is when Maclain puts on her headband and does an impersonation of her, down to her little valley girl voice. She chose Ben for her one-on-one date and then spent the whole time asking him if he thought she'd made the right choice. She loves to paint. She loves nutella sandwiches and tomatoes.

Lucy. I need to record her voice when I pick her up from her classroom after school, because she has this hilarious way of talking when she's sharing an amusing anecdote that makes me want to laugh out loud. She also inserts "ugh" and "ack" into her sentences. I'm living with Charlie Brown and I have no idea where it came from. Any sentence from her will go something like this, "Ugh, ugh, ugh, can I have a string cheese?" It's like a stutter, I guess, and I never want it to stop. We had a special one-on-one date on Saturday and she kept saying, "This is a lovely, lovely, lovely day." She collected leaves for Lane and then came home and glued them on to a paper tree she made. I can't take it. She's so sweet and easy-going most of the time. She likes to pour her own milk. She loves to color and cut and she's learning to write.

She wrote her own talk about the Priesthood on Sunday, but then was too scared to read it. She got sick of me saying that I didn't have any money whenever she asked for an icee or slurpee after school, and so she told me to get a job. When I did get a job for a few days, she exclaimed to my friend who picked her up from school, "Guess what! My mom didn't have any money, so she got a JOB!" Then, when it was done, she asked me how much money I had now. She loves to snuggle with me after school. Sometimes, she cries when I come to recess because she worries that we won't have enough time to play together. When I sing "Goodnight my angel" to her at night, she tells me that it makes her think of me dying and she worries that when she goes in heaven after me, she won't be able to find me there.

Ethan. His "Lumpy Space Princess" impressions are killing me right now. The kid is funny. He's a talented actor and story teller. He has my big front teeth. He still loves board games more than just about anything. If I go to his soccer games or watch him play football after school, he looks over constantly to make sure I'm watching him. He's super picky about how his pants and shoes fit. It's maddening. He wants a little brother so badly, poor kid. He loves playing with his cousins and reminisces about Christmas in Sedona. He loves Utah and thinks it's better than New York.

He has gotten up to bear his testimony twice. The second time, he said to his friend sitting next to him, "Hey, if you go, I'll go." And off they went. Nothing offends him more at school than jokes that just aren't funny. He's keeping track of his babysitting hours to save up for Lego Batman. He's really good at Dungeon Defenders and was amazing when we defeated the dragon. He's a good friend and leader at school and everyone likes him. He has play dates with his friend that's in a wheelchair even though they don't always do things he would necessarily choose to do. This choice melts my heart. I want to hug him and kiss him and snuggle him like when he was 2. He gives me a kiss before he goes to his class. I just think he's awesome.

Mila. She brings candy home from Young Women and puts it out for me to take. She has a Tardis iphone case and is dressing up as a weeping angel for Halloween. She's 12 and takes the crosstown 96 bus to go to high school. She has a locker and changes out for PE and has off campus lunch. I'm starting to cry now. She likes her theater class, but says choir is kind of boring. She does her homework every day without me ever mentioning it. She wakes up 45 minutes earlier than me every day. She has a nightly checklist which includes laying out her clothes, making her lunch, showering, organizing her backpack, etc. I want to be her when I grow up.

Her Young Women leaders adore her and ask me what I did. I try to tell them that she came that way. She fights with Ethan because he pushes her buttons a lot. Sometimes she gets emotional and I catch a glimpse of the teen years poking through. She has to do everything her way, and if you try to get her to make shortcuts or do it differently, she goes behind your back and manages to still do it her way. She's an amazing improviser for her age, and a talented actress. She loves to wear necklaces and make friendship bracelets. She's crafty. Where did she come from? I love her, even though she's humbling to be around. She babysat for another family last week. Why is she getting older? I get texts from her that say "I love you more than anyone in the world."

I'm truly lucky.

(I wrote this post last week. And then, a few days later, a mother who lived less than twenty blocks away from me lost two of her three young children when their nanny took their lives. I was horrified when I found out. I can't imagine the pain of that family and I ache for their loss. I just can't even comprehend what my life would be without all of my little people in it.  I really want to capture my children as they are right now, and to cherish the simple moments that I have with them.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fakin' it

My motto for 2011 was "I can do hard things." I have decided that my motto for 2012 is "Fake it 'til you make it." Someone said that at church on Sunday in a discussion about being kind to people, even if they're mean to us, and I thought about how NYC is sometimes rude to me, but all I have control over is my reaction to its rudeness.

For example, I can't change the fact that NYC insists on me hauling four loads of laundry down to a cockroach-infested basement laundry room (rude), but I can pretend like it's amazing and I'm getting royal treatment, and that the roaches are my friends, a la "Shinbone Alley" with Carol Channing.

NYC insists on squeezing me into smelly, crowded subways with standing room only. But I can grin and bear it. Where else would I get to see a 60 year old man with long hair wearing glittery biker shorts and heels? How else am I supposed to learn what cuss words the kids are using these days. NO, thank YOU, NYC, thank you much.

And so on and so on.

But Hailey, you say, you live in the most amazing city in the world (it truly is). Surely you are being over-dramatic and really you are just spoiled. Maybe, friends, maybe. But I have to be honest. I went to Utah for three weeks this summer. I laughed, I ate, I sang, I improvised, I took in the views. And it was amazing. I can't ever change the fact that I am just a super Mormony girl who loves the kind of food places that exist between the realms of fast food and sit-down restaurants. Who loves to sit in on my friends' writing groups and offer ideas. Who loves to drive a minivan. It's who I am.

In my Utah ward in July, a lovely older lady turned to me and asked, "Is it true what they say? That New York City is both the best and the worst place in the world?" I said, "Yes!" That is exactly it. I have never loved and hated a place so much at the same time. I guess hate is a strong word. That's not very kind of me. OK, NYC, I don't hate you. But yes, sometimes you make it very difficult for me to like you.

And so I will continue to fake it until I make it. Hopefully, making it will involve me falling head over heels in love with this crazy place. I hope so. I do have moments when I'm walking down the street and this feeling of complete adoration for Manhattan will wash over me and it takes me by surprise. I ran into Lucy's Kindergarten teacher from last year this morning and I was reminded how much I loved her. My girls' K teachers were the best on the planet, and so NYC has come through when it really counts.

I'm so impressed with my many friends here in the city who don't have to fake it. They love it for reals and they're not ashamed of it. And if they don't, I would never know because they must be super awesome at faking it! Either way, they are wonderful examples to me in my times of need, and I'm lucky to have them. I also think it's hilarious that a friend of mine is coming to NY soon for a girls' trip and she sent me their itinerary and it looks like a lot of fun. Then this morning, I get an email from a friend here about going on a girls' trip to RI, or anywhere that is out of this place! Us city girls are dying to get out while everyone else is dying to get in. Oh, how I love irony...

And so my friends, please think of me when you're loading up your minivan trunk with Costco goodness or carelessly tossing your non-mildewed towels in your washing machine, and in return, I'll think of you when I'm sitting on a bench in Central Park in the fall, or eating pizza in Brooklyn. We can't have everything at once, right?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

I Feel You, Sesame Street

Recently, this song has been running through my mind every time I step out my front door.

"Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? In your neigh-bor-hood, say, who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day!"

Here are the verses for my little block of NYC:

"First let's go and meet Maksut.
He's the person who sells us our fruit.
He smiles at me and lets the jokes fly
He's the friendly, kindly fruit cart guy."

"The dry cleaners is one block away,
I don't know the lady's name, I'm sad to say.
But she's lovely and is nicely dressed
And her classical music is the best."

"711 is just under us,
I can buy my milk without a fuss.
Slurpees also use up all my money
And the cashier always calls me honey."

"In my lobby you'll find Fernando
He's my part-time doorman, don't you know?
We talk about the weather a lot
And also he thinks my mom is hot."

I kind of love my neighborhood and the colorful characters who live in it. Maybe next time, I will add some verses about the crazy-eyed homeless man and the large, intimidating crossing guard lady who yells, "You don't have the light!" at you if you cross early. Ah, New York...