My life is pretty much a hot mess right now, on so many levels. I’m a very candid person, and I love to express myself through writing. I have countless journals lining my walls starting from the time I was old enough to spell.

I still write often.

However, the trials I am now facing are not mine alone. So, instead of getting way too personal and deep here in this new world of blogging , I will use my living situation as an analogy of sorts. Take it for what you will.

When I was first married…as a bright eyed 23 yr old “child”, I was able to move into a beautiful home in Utah that my new husband had already purchased in his bachelor days.

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Never in my life had I lived in a home of such elegance and space. We are talking granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances guys. None of the finishes were of my choosing, and the place reeked of “SINGLE MAN LIVES HERE”… but to me- it was straight up heavenly. It was new and clean and “huge”. I mean, my closet had four freaking walls people!

We lived in this home for three and a half years. Many of those were spent happily playing with babies crawling on the floor. (We had three kids by our second wedding anniversary!) -Honeymoon identical twin girls that came 13 weeks early, and another one shortly after.

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Basically what I’m saying is – I was the queen of everything. Life. was. good.

We learned, we grew, we loved. The house was great to us.

Opportunities came, and life urged us onward. We moved to the San Francisco Bay area for the next four and a half years, where even more joy entered our lives. No more babies, although we certainly tried and prayed and begged for them. It just wasn’t in God’s plan for us. BUT we had friends and a community like we had never experienced before. People who truly cared about us on a level I thought only family was capable of. The girls went from barely walking- to one big old kindergartner and two even bigger first graders. The sunshine was medicine for our souls. I loved that place, and had never felt more at home in my entire life.

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This last December, with fast changes in employment and our landlord wanting to sell our home (We had rented the same small, beautiful, sunlit home the entire four years.) We found ourselves headed to San Diego. We were heart broken. Nervous. Anxious. But excited.

However, life took more unexpected turns, and suddenly instead, we were on our way back to Utah.

Abruptly. Unexpectedly. And somewhat Unwillingly.

To the same house. Our house. One we loved and cherished, but never had planned on coming back to.

Four and a half years. Three different tenants. And a whole lot of damage.

So, let me introduce you to my hot mess…

We had to almost physically remove our tenant from the property, as he had told us he would vacate…yet just kept pushing the date. Our pods were sitting in the driveway ready to be unpacked, but our belongings had nowhere to go.


When I walked in, this was the first thing I saw. Our beautiful living room with carpet covered in oil? mud? feces? I don’t know. There was an entire chunk of Little Caesar’s pizza just laying by the door.

Welcome home.

I bent down to pick up said pizza, then went to wash my hands…


But found our tenant had let the faucet corrode so badly, the nozzle wouldn’t even go back into the base. I had to hold it up like a shower to spray off the grease.

The circumstances that brought us to Utah in the first place were weighing so heavily on my soul, it was all I could do just to breathe. I felt like I was watching myself float through this surreal turn of events. I was supposed to be in Northern California with my wonderful friends. No, I was supposed to be in San Diego in a beautiful home we had put an offer on.

But nope. I was here. In Utah. With oil stained carpets and a broken faucet.

Just breathe.

As I would continue to wander throughout the house…still not vacated, mind you. People were swirling around me trying to grab bits and pieces of odds and ends they were still packing. A dad and his two children shoving whatever they could grab into boxes. Who was I to make them leave? But also, WHY had they treated my home this way? And why hadn’t I been more proactive in taking care of it?

With every turn I found more damage. (I was so steaming mad I didn’t even take more pictures.)



The filth was unbelievable. It took 3 professional cleaners NINE hours to get it to a state where I could even begin to bring our boxes in.This was the first time in my life I have ever paid anyone to clean. But I had to bite the bullet, as I realized it would have taken me a solid week to clean it on my own. I had packed up our California home so meticulously and carefully. Everything was organized and labeled. Nothing came with us that could have been discarded. It was meant to be an easy, fluid transition. Instead, we were throwing our boxes into any room without so much as a second thought to where things went. We just needed to unload.


The fridge was broken. Leaking. the wall had peeled and mold was growing.

Three doors wouldn’t close. Two deadbolts wouldn’t lock. Countless light bulbs weren’t shining.

Cabinets hung off hinges, a bathtub clogged, holes upon holes carved into every wall. Televisions had been mounted EVERYWHERE. And paint colors included…a half primed, half brown kitchen (and a “backsplash” in jet black), the master bedroom with long forgotten test squares of tan and “beige”, and the fireplace sloppily painted like vomit.


A shattered window in the basement. A broken dishwasher, years and years of dust… and the icing on the cake?

He was a smoker.

Luckily he kept his dirty habit to the back porch and the garage. But the smell seeped into the kitchen, and every time the door opened, it filled the room.

Which reminds me…. the garage door is also broken. Parking out in the snow has been a fabulous treat.


The WIFI wouldn’t work since he had so many dishes hooked up to the outside of our house. Cables had been cut and left.

More and more things are being discovered broken or missing everyday.

SO, WHY am I sharing all of this with you?? good question.

Yesterday I went to take a hot shower. Not just a “shower”- a, you know, “wash your hair, deep condition, shave your legs” shower. But when I went to hop in, there was no hot water. This is yet another perk of living where we do. It is maybe the windiest place in the entire state of Utah. And every time a wind storm picks up (at least once a week), it blows out the pilot light on our water heater. This might be the one thing that is not our tenant’s responsibility… but nonetheless adds to my list of frustrations. I huffily put my clothes back on, and washed my face in cold water. I got the girls in the car, backed out of the garage, went back in the house to close it (the only way it will shut). I slipped on ice on my way back in, smelled the neighbor’s dog poop, unlocked my newly replaced deadbolt, walked through my construction zone living area, and went down into the basement to light the water heater.


Maybe you all know this already…but you have to practically lay down on the cement floor and look through that tiny glass peep hole as you try and ignite the sucker. Although I had done this countless times, I must have had too much gas and sent a ball of flames roaring through the heater.

It was in that moment that I became so infuriated, so discouraged, so fed up with my circumstances that I wanted to scream. (remember this is not really about the house)…

WHY was my life going this direction? WHY couldn’t I just take a hot shower? WHY was something as simple as pulling my car out of the garage now a 45 step death defying process? When did everything become so impossible?

And then I remembered. I remembered WHY life is hard. I remembered the divine plan and our purpose and need for growth. I remembered the words from Elder Nelson last October “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

(I’m also LDS and would love to share more about that often).

I felt peace and assurance, and suddenly I was filled with gratitude. Grateful for the three perfect humans waiting out in the car for me. Grateful that my face hadn’t just blown off. Grateful for a roof and walls and the chance to make this house a home again. Crazy grateful for the amazing people in my life who have already spent countless hours helping me.

So, I share this with you. All ten of you. I want to write as I rebuild myself and my home. I want to create beauty in a space that has all the circumstances working against it. I want to find the courage to be bold, and the voice to inspire others.

So, continue with me as I ramble and vent and find my way.

I promise my next post will be filled with pretty pictures and design ideas for your nooks. But it seemed pertinent for me to share the bare bones with you first…


6 thoughts on “hiccups

  1. Bec says:

    You simply amaze me lady and I miss you so. But you got this! And I can’t wait to see the transformations and upgrades in the house, your fam, and you. Love you!


  2. Celeste says:

    Oh Hayley, I’m so sorry for the crappy circumstances 😦 😦 What an awful, stressful ordeal. Hugs.

    PS I’m selfishly a little happy you moved back to Utah because we’ll be moving to Salt Lake in June 🙂


  3. Chelsi Allred says:

    I’m sorry that you are having to deal with all of lifes crazy hard balls. You are a great person!!! I miss being your neighbor and seeing those three darling blonde babies at the play ground. I hope and pray that you will find peace and love in your new chapter of life. I love your words, keep writing and inspiring us!! God bless you!


  4. Brianna DeJarnatt says:

    I don’t know how I stumbled onto your blog, but I am so happy that I did. Your writing is amazing, you’ve got such an inspiring and resilient voice, and I am incredibly excited to see where your journey takes you. I’m also learning and designing, so I feel, if only slightly, a sense of relation to you. Wishing you all the best. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thepapernook says:

      you have no idea how much that means to me! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I’m so new to this- and sending words out to the abyss is a scary thing. So thank you!!


  5. Brianna DeJarnatt says:

    I don’t know how I stumbled across your blog, but I am incredibly happy I did. And I am so excited to follow along in your journey. You are an amazing writer, and you have such an inspiring and resilient voice. I am also learning and designing, so I feel some, even if very slight, relation to you. Wishing you all the best. God bless.


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