Ignited Lent Action

I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability lately. Not only living sustainably in relationship with the Earth and the other creatures on the planet, but living in a way that is sustainable for my soul. For this reason, my co-editor and I decided to focus on sustainability as our March theme and in our Lent Action for Ignited Magazine (you can read more about those on our website). I was excited about thinking more deeply about ways to practice both global and soul sustainability, and to experiment with practices over the next 40 days. I thought maybe I’d try going vegetarian, and that I’d set aside time in my week for creativity, or going on an outdoor adventure with a friend, or something else that feeds my soul. But life, it seems, had other ideas and decided to throw me a curve ball.

For the past two weeks, the fatigue I have struggled with for months (maybe even for almost a year) has intensified to the point that normal, everyday activities make me feel worn out. My muscles ache, burn, and feel tense all the time, I wake up so tired that I can’t focus in class or remember the readings, my neck and back hurt almost constantly… today I slept for 14 hours and still don’t feel fully rested. Add to that list a particularly heavy course load and you’ve got a Hailey whose life has been thrown a bit off kilter recently.

My instinct when things spin out of my control is to try harder. Work harder in school, do more every day so that it all fits, give up all the “non-essentials” (which usually are actually pretty essential, I just don’t get graded on them). I have been trying so hard through my foggy-brainedness of the last couple days to think of a meaningful Lenten practice centered around sustainability. I decided to give up all non-fair-trade cocoa products as my global sustainability practice–something I have been wanting to do for a while– but couldn’t think of a good personal sustainability practice. It just felt like I didn’t have time or energy to do the practices I thought would be meaningful.


Today, after 14 hours of sleep, on the way to a last-minute doctor appointment, I realized that right now, the most important way for me to sustain myself spiritually, emotionally, and physically is to take care of my health. Part of that is using my time and energy to take care of my body and my emotions, instead of pouring all myself entirely into staying on top of my course load. It also means recognizing that I don’t HAVE to be able to do it all. Depending on the outcome of the blood tests I am getting done tomorrow, it may be in my best interest to withdraw from a class, so that I can deal with my health problems without added stress from being overwhelmed by schoolwork. Finally, it means voicing my needs to my friends and family. I tend to get very lonely when I am tired and overwhelmed, but I also tend to get worse at asking for the support I need from people. In my exhaustion I just hope they’ll notice what I am going through and know what to do, but this only leads to frustration when people, inevitably, can’t read my mind. So those are the practices I am focusing on to cultivate some personal sustainability. I will put time and energy into cultivating rhythms that support my physical well-being (including a stricter sleep schedule and eating 3 meals a day). I will be gentle with myself and allow myself to only take on what I can handle without feeling overwhelmed. And I will reach out to people and ask for the support that I need.

To be honest, I’d rather be able to adopt practices that seem more interesting and unique, but I also need to recognize that self-care, particularly in times of stress, is something that I need to work on in order to sustain myself and be able to love others well.



The Heartbreaking Beauty of Shared Burden

I’ve been trying to marvel at humans a little more lately. There is so much in the world to make me despair of truth and goodness. Maybe becoming more aware of the intense pain and brokenness of humankind is a side-effect of growing up, but it’s also incredibly heavy and discouraging. When it all feels like too much, I remind myself of this quote by our dear friend, Mr. Rogers:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.”

I am not always good at looking for the helpers. I can become incredibly overwhelmed by pain and suffering and fear. And sometimes the emotional impact of that feels so isolating that I forget that I am not alone in feeling it. However, lately I have been working harder than ever to look deeper into the pain I see in the world and in the lives of those around me, and to see within it the intense love and selflessness that I believe must characterize humans just as much as our brokenness.

In the past couple of weeks I have had the honor to witness moments of this love and to watch people I know mourn together, care for others together, and beautifully share the burdens of being human together. The pain and love I see and feel in those moments feel so intrinsically linked to the heart of humanity and to the heart of God. Despite the hurt and frustration that this shared mourning results from, reflecting upon the love that inspires people to share in the heaviest parts of being with one another fills me with appreciation and awe for what we are capable of.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I will do in life to add to be beauty of the world and to detract from some of the pain, and while I want to continue to do that, I am also trying to focus of becoming someone who simply lives beautifully and loves the people in her life deeply and without restraint, no matter what I am doing. The presence and connection we foster with people in our lives is so beautiful, even if it feels small. The burden of being human is large, and I am trying to let the beauty of sharing that burden with others loom just as large in my heart.



Re-examining “Flaws”

Earlier this week I was talking with a friend about my dislike, and sometimes even fear, of change and how I wish I was better at embracing transition and uncertainty in my life. My discomfort with change has been something that I’ve considered one of my bigger flaws for a long time, so I was surprised when my friend responded, “Well, I think the world needs both kinds of people though.” I’ve found myself coming back to that a lot in the past couple of days.

Lately, I have been acutely aware of the fact that I am entering a new, largely unplanned and uncertain chapter of my life. As I try to prepare myself to roll with the punches, I have thought a lot about how I might work on being more comfortable with change and not having a plan. While I still believe that being fearful and avoiding change are definitely not healthy behaviors, I’ve been experimenting with imagining how my desire for stability (which is probably a more positive way to frame my discomfort with change) and my ability to create and carry out a plan can serve me in this next chapter.

Sometimes I forget that I can be a good, healthy, fulfilled person without fitting this perfect idea of what that looks like that I have created in my mind (an obvious theme is many of my posts). Hearing my friend affirm that even traits which I have been consistently framing as negative also have their positive applications, reminded me that the line between our struggles and our gifts is sometimes blurrier than we realize. For this reason I am trying to reframe how I look at my “flaws.” I know that, personally, I can get so entrenched in trying to solve the negative sides of certain traits, that I fail to appreciate how those same traits have positive sides as well.

Another example of this is my recent realization that I think about people a lot. Somehow I didn’t realize until I was at least 20 that not everyone is walking around with everyone they know and care about in their brain almost all the time. There are people that I haven’t seen in years that I still think of every day, not because there are unresolved tensions or emotions between us, just because I wonder how they’re doing, or I see something that they would like, or I spend time with someone that we both know. I once had a friend, in an attempt to make me feel loved and cared for, tell me that they thought of me often, “at least every couple of days” which did make me feel loved, but also confused because I thought of them ten times every day at least.

In my college years this trait has felt like more of a burden than a gift. For one thing, I am still learning to understand that people whose minds don’t work like mine can still love and care for me deeply, even if I don’t always live at the forefront of their brains. But I also have some suspicion that living with everyone you care about in your head all the time isn’t always helpful in periods of loneliness and isolation. I’ve felt like this is something weird about me that I should counteract in some way. However, as I’ve been reflecting this week, I wonder if I have underestimated the gift that comes with being able to carry people with you the way that I seemed wired to do.


It’s becoming clear to me that some of my gifts and unique traits can feel like struggles because I haven’t completely learned how to use them yet. Which is actually kind of exciting because it means that there are parts of myself that I’ve been taking for granted that have the potential to be helpful to others and to myself if I take the time to acknowledge and cultivate them. Even if I am not always comfortable with those traits, learning to form them and use them in healthy ways is part of becoming my best self. A self that is necessary in the world, regardless of whether it matches up with my unattainable ideals.

New Project!!

Hi everyone, obviously I haven’t been very active on this blog in the last 3 months, this is mainly because I have been working on a new project that launched just yesterday! A friend of mine and I have started Ignited magazine, an online magazine by and for people ages 18-26 who are seeking to follow Jesus in our every day lives through art, social justice, and personal development. You can check it out at ignitedmag.com.

Header Ignited

Franny and Zooey, and Jesus, and Me.

“But most of all, above everything else, who in the Bible besides Jesus knew–knew–that we’re carrying the kingdom of heaven around with us, inside, where we’re all too goddam stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look?” –J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey.

When I was seventeen, my family took our yearly summer vacation down to the hot, dry, almost completely vacant haven that is Palm Springs in August. It is a tradition in our family that on long car rides, my dad will read books, articles, or scripture out loud to us for a few hours along the way. On this particular trip he brought a small, paperback book that I had never heard of, and frankly had little interest on. It was called Franny and Zooey. Despite my lack of interest, I was hooked within pages. There was something so honest and true about the dialogue-heavy story that made me listen attentively and want more long after the book had ended.


That fall I convinced my mom to let me read a selection of Salinger’s other works as part of my schoolwork. I read Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters. There are portions of Nine Stories that I now have almost memorized because I often carry it with me in my purse and reread it when I am bored. However, I never reread Franny and Zooey. Until this weekend, when, in an effort to center myself and direct my thoughts in a purposeful way, I reached for the nearest Salinger book, which happened to be none other than Franny and Zooey.

After a few minutes I came across a line that made me get up and find a highlighter. One of the main characters, Franny Glass, is trying to explain to her boyfriend the meaning of this book that she just can’t get off of her mind. The book in question is The Way of a Pilgrim and what Franny is stuck on is the concept of praying without ceasing which the main character in the book masters and shares with people he meets on his travels.

“–you only have to just do it with your lips at first–then eventually what happens, the prayer becomes self-active. Something happens after a while. I don’t know what, but something happens, and the words get synchronized with the person’s heartbeats, and then you’re actually praying without ceasing.”

Like Franny, I am very attracted to the idea of this centering heartbeat. The idea of having a sense of peace and belovedness that is so deep that you are constantly connected with the greater power of the universe, is something that I feel pulls at the very core of my being. However, I often struggle, like Franny does, to balance how I feel about my real life with how I feel about this otherworldly pull on my heart. The belief that it is because I am defective that I cannot attain this level of centeredness and clarity, is one that I often find myself fighting. I’ll think that if I was really good, and committed, and if I just worked hard enough, I could live in a constant state of peace, unconditional love, and a ceaseless sense of connection to God and the world around me. Alas, as both Franny and I seem to forget, that isn’t really how being a human works. You can strive for all the right things and deny your own desires, but still fall short of perfection. And to be honest, I think that a great deal of my and Franny’s shortsightedness comes from an inability to accept what is right in front of us–the truth about ourselves.

In the book, Franny puts her life on hold, allowing herself to become obsessed with the idea that if she prays this prayer she will find peace. She fears that, by doing anything else, she will fall prey to the egotism and materialism that she feels is consuming her peers. While remaining humble and unattached to possessions are worthy goals, Franny uses the prayer to distance herself from not only her own passions, but also her fellow human beings. Here the parallels between Franny and I breakdown somewhat. My criticism is more likely exercised on myself than on others, but the effects of my fears and unbalanced thought-patterns are often similar. They lead me to feel isolated, disconnected, unfocused, and un-accepting of myself. Pretty much the exact opposite of a centering heartbeat.

In Salinger’s novel, the counterargument to Franny’s desperate self denial and feelings of isolation is presented in the form of her debatably insufferable, but somehow also wise older brother, Zooey. Although a complete mess himself, Zooey is able to speak a jarring amount of truth into Franny’s predicament. In a conversation that had me reaching for my highlighter every three of four lines, he forces Franny to examine her beliefs and thought process more close, specifically pointing out that if she is praying the Jesus prayer in hopes of finding peace and to isolate herself from the difficulties and evils of life, then she doesn’t really understand Jesus. Zooey argues that a Jesus who flipped over tables and loves even the most egotistical and frustrating of humankind, isn’t a Jesus that is looking for detachment. He argues that what sets Jesus apart from other profits and philosophers was that he didn’t need to “keep in touch” with God, that he simply knew that there is no separation from God, whether we recognize it or not. Which brings us to the quote at the beginning of this post–a quote that has been running through my mind incessantly for the past couple of days.

“But most of all, above everything else, who in the Bible besides Jesus knew–knew–that we’re carrying the kingdom of heaven around with us, inside, where we’re all too goddam stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look?”

Is it just me, or is that a stunningly poignant statement to find in a book that consists entirely of conversations between rich, dysfunctional New Yorkers in the 1950s? (I could go on and on about the literary genius of Salinger for hours, but that is not the point of this blogpost, so I’ll refrain.)

My best self (that is, who I am when I feel confident and connected to something bigger than myself) understands Zooey’s argument completely. My best self is excited and moved by the prospect of discovering how to bring the kingdom of heaven that I carry inside of myself out into the world. But the line between that life-giving excitement and an irrational belief that I should be something beyond the realms of humanity can be dangerously thin. Franny too, seems to struggle with reconciling even her most noble human desires with her compulsion to detach herself wholly from worldly things. I often feel that I shouldn’t want anything. Even things that are good and make me a better person. I shouldn’t want to work a fulfilling job, I shouldn’t want to find a life partner, I shouldn’t want to feel loved and wanted by people in my life. But, as Zooey seems to argue (I say “seems” because Zooey is not the most straight-forward of talkers), it is our desires that make us human. We can’t get rid of them. We can decide how much we allow them to rule us, we can decide how we use them, but whether we acknowledge them or not, they are part of us. Living out our desires for love, fulfillment, and connection in a healthy, God-conscious way, is one of the most important things we can do to honor our Creator. (Note: when Zooey makes this point he speaks very metaphorically, so this is more interpretation than paraphrase on my part.)

The fact that I will never be more than human, may seem really obvious to most of you. But accepting all of the imperfections of humanity, while still appreciating the incredible beauty and responsibility of carrying the kingdom of heaven, is seriously challenging for me, to say the least. Sometimes I can feel it all at once and it’s completely overwhelming. However, every so often I catch glimpses of what balance might look like, and I am driven to learn to internalize and believe the truth that as flawed as humans are, we are infinitely more loved.

*if you have never read Franny and Zooey, please go do so and enjoy it for yourself instead of relying on my crummy (and highly selective) summarization.


“I need to stop ignoring my passions in favor of ‘succeeding’ in college.” File under: things I probably should have been able to articulate and realize a long time ago.

This fall marks the beginning of my fourth year in college, which means another chapter in my ever-tempestuous relationship with secondary education. Before the semester began I was excited. For the first time in my entire college career I spent the final weeks leading up to the first day of classes actually looking forward to them, instead of contemplating dropping out of school entirely. This was a big deal for me and the energy of it kept me content for the first three or four weeks of school. Then I began to realize that the classes I was most excited about felt boring, the challenges of the more difficult classes felt discouraging instead of motivating, and the newness of my new job had me feeling insecure and unsure of myself. Not to mention, my ongoing struggle to find a sense of community and support among my peers had seemingly hit a wall.

Unfortunately, when I hit roadblocks like this my tendency (which somehow always seems like a good idea at the time) is to throw myself entirely into one thing with blind determination, high expectations, and very little tolerance for my own feelings and needs. Usually that thing is school because it feels like one area in which I have control over how well I do. I fall into a thought pattern that revolves around the idea that school and my ability to perform well in it are the most important things about me. Once in this mindset it is only a matter of time before the behavioral pattern it produces becomes apparent. Fear not, I will save you the pain of reading the carefully written out description of this pattern that I wrote while I was journalling this morning. But I will tell you that it leads to rampant self-criticism, exhaustion, and eventually these really fun emotional breakdowns that sometimes result in cool adventures like crying in bathroom stalls on campus.

I spent the passed two weeks in this final phase of the pattern. Although this isn’t the first time I’ve been through this cycle, this time is different… maybe because I went through it more quickly, or maybe I was able to recognize what was going on more this time. I am not entirely sure, but this weekend I was able to take a bit of a time-out to deal with it. Between time with friends (a form of self care for my little extraverted heart) and reflections brought on by journalling and Salinger (the product of finally having a few spare hours in my life), I have had the space and energy to think more clearly. And today it’s just hit me really hard, that the value I place on my academic achievement is up to me. But my value as a person is inherent and not dependent on what grades I get, or my levels of productivity, or on my inability to meet my own ridiculous standards. As simple as that all sounds, there are a lot of voices in my head working to tear down that truth. So I am taking a couple approaches in my counter attack.

The first of these is simply reminding myself of my inherent value even when I don’t believe it, so that it eventually because a thought pattern. (These are the kind of solutions you come to when you were raised by a guy who studied applied psych, thanks, dad.)

And the second is that I am challenging myself to make time to do things that I am passionate about, even if it means letting go of my goals of academic perfection a little bit. Before college I always had a rich life outside of schoolwork, and I feel like I have lost that a bit, so I am challenging myself to create it again. I am not sure what that will look like yet, but I am excited and energized by thinking about it, and I want to hold onto that.

Blogging About Blogging (a.k.a “Why haven’t you written in so long, Hailey?”)


I have a terrible tendency to lose motivation for doing things if they don’t feel meaningful and impactful. And by that I mean that I often feel selfish or unproductive if I do not feel like I am contributing something of value to the world. Which is why a lot of drafted posts never make it on my blog, and why I have a complicated relationship with my college career (however, that’s a post for another time).

As you might be aware from at least three other posts I have written, I am a chronic perfectionist. I rarely write anything that I feel would benefit anyone other than myself. While I love the idea of sharing my thoughts with the world, when it comes down to it I don’t feel at all confident that my thoughts are meaningful or helpful to others. Additionally, I tend to write chiefly about the things that I do NOT have figured out. I rarely have solutions to offer or suggestions to make, and when I do I feel like I must be too young and inexperienced for those suggestions to be valid.

I am still trying to decide how and why I want to continue with this blog. Should I continue to use it as a platform for self-discovery and vulnerability no matter how much that makes me cringe and worry that I am being uselessly self-indulgent? Do I shift to using it to make commentary on current events and topical conversations that I feel passionate about? Do I scrap it until I am a little older, and, hopefully, a little wiser?

I don’t want this post to just be me feeling angsty and conflicted about my writing. That would be pointless. I am honestly asking for input, I know only a handful of people keep up with my blog but if those of you who do could tell me what I’ve done best in the past, I would really appreciate it.