Monday, October 31, 2011

Splendidly Spooktacular :)

The 2011 Halloween season flew by really fast... I can't believe that October is already over. Only a month and two-ish weeks until the semester is over. Crazy? I think so. Just when I think life can't move any faster...

Anyway, the holiday was an awesome time. Last Friday night AAT had their Halloween/gender bender Cabaret Night, "CaBOOret". It was such a successful event. I dressed up as a pirate (original, I know) and ran concessions with the Yin to my Yang, Connor Padilla. The decorations were superb, the talent was amazing, and the company was nothing short of wonderful. The event was well-attended, and it was another reaffirmation of how much I love this department and the people who are in it.
After cabaret night I ventured over to the Union for a multi-stake Halloween dance. After several minutes of searching for a familiar face (all the while feeling like a loser), I finally ran into my folk dance friends. It was good to see them all there. The dance was a flop, so Karina Spencer and I grabbed a pizza and went to her house for some good-quality girl time. She introduced me to the TV show "The Sing Off" and now I'm completely and totally obsessed. We watched episodes of the show until two in the morning! haha. I was really needing a friend that night, and I'm glad Karina and I got to get to know each other a little bit better. She's a fantastic girl, and I hope we can become great friends!
 Saturday night I went to the Folk Dance Halloween Social! I dressed up in my pirate costume and drove to Kaysville with Alex Sorenson for the party. We all had a blast! It was my sugar day (the only one until Thanksgiving) and so I ate pumpkin cheesecake, candy corn, candy pumpkins, sugar cookies, and Jack Shapiro and I even went to Dylan's for some pumpkin shakes. They were delicious! I had a blast with the team. We played a variety of group games, ate some delicious food, and spent time getting to know each other better.
Today was nice too. The school day wasn't different from any other day, except that I wore orange and black and my Frankenstein earrings. I also had an amazing performance experience with Lindsea Garside in Acting for Musical Theatre. I cannot adequately explain how much I enjoy that class.

Then, tonight Jack Shapiro and I went and saw Sleepy Hollow. It was a fun experience to watch the other cast perform the show, and it was such a festive activity for Hallows Eve. :) I'm glad Jack came with me to see it, we had a fun time visiting with each other and watching the show. (And indulging in some sugar-free candy, too.)

Then when I got home, I watched the newest episode of the Vampire Diaries. I still can't believe my roommates last year got me addicted to this silly show. ;) Gotta love some hot boys and some drama! haha. It's an entertaining show, that's for sure. And it was the perfect ending to a spooky Halloween!

Hope everyone else enjoyed their holiday festivities :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This, That, and The Other

I have this bad habit going right now. I have Sleepy Hollow performances three nights a week and the cast always goes out to dinner after the show, so I don't get to bed until late at night. I really regret this decision in the morning when I have to get up for my eight thirty class. After my classes, I come home dead-tired and take a nap to catch up on the sleep that I missed. Usually I end up taking a longer nap than intended... which means that I'm not tired when I come home from dinner with the cast after another show, and so I stay up even later still. I really regret this decision in the morning when I have to get up for my eight thirty class.

It's a vicious cycle.

Anyway, this is why I'm blogging at one in the morning. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 

(Oh right... and it may or may not be because of a boy who I may or may not have a silly crush on. And I may or may not have gushed to my mom about him over the phone and now I can't sleep a wink because I may or may not be thinking WAY too much about it all.)

Ahem. I digress. So here we are. A couple of things...

First. I got a little present from Mom today. She drove all the way to Centerville to drop off my Halloween costume and left me a bag that had the cutest baby-blue scarf inside. She bought it when my whole family went to St. George without me last weekend. (Thanks to Sleepy, no vacation for Bailee.) It's finally getting chilly enough outside that I can wear cute scarves. Despite the cold weather, I AM excited for the whole scarves-gloves-hats-and sweaters thing. I love me a little fall fashion.

Speaking of the fall season, the colors outside are brilliant. Maybe it's because I live on the bench, but the trees here in Ogden seem much more colorful than the ones in the Salt Lake Valley. Don't get me wrong... northern Utah's autumn season is gorgeous regardless of where you are exactly, but the trees are so beautiful here in Ogden. Maybe I just didn't appreciate it as much when I was younger. I definitely have time to appreciate it now. Making the thirty minute drive from Ogden to Centerville three times a week really allows for some time to admire the mountainside.
Now all I need is a cute boy, Daddy's fancy camera, and two cups of hot cocoa. I want to go for a drive and gaze at the colors. Maybe a picnic. (Any takers?)
Also... I'm addicted to Pinterest. It's ridiculous. Anyway, I've been messing around with my new hairdo for a while, trying new things with the bangs. (You fellow Pinners know where this is going.) I found a tutorial for a cute hairstyle that I decided to try. Girls these days have that whole big-bun-on-top-of-the-head thing going for them. So I gave it a shot. High-bun, (fake) glasses, fall sweater, black scarf, red lipstick. Thank you Pinterest. I feel more fashionable now. (Here are the pictures I promised, Mom) My bun fell back a little bit as the day went on. Needless to say, I think it worked. A lot of people complimented my 'look' that day. I got everything from "darling messy bun" to "sexy professor vibe." haha.



And lastly... One of my favorite things about the fall season (aside from the fashion and the hot chocolate) is the sound of the heater kicking on in the middle of the night. I've been FREEZING my bottom off for the past couple of weeks because my roommate has been trying to hold off on the heater bill for as long as possible. Tonight though, I walked into our quiet house after the show. While I was taking out my hair in the bathroom I heard it: The quiet hum of the heater. And then I felt it, too. The heat blowing through the vent is so warm and cozy. I still can't get over how quaint and adorable my new house is. I'm in love with the place. Especially now that I can feel my toes while I'm sitting barefoot at my desk in my jammies.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. I better find it in me to get some shut-eye. We're dancing Michael Jackson's Thriller tomorrow in Jazz 1 for a Zombie Flash Mob next week, and at this rate... I'll be bringing a new meaning to the term "zombie" come tomorrow.

Much love!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

some late-night video watching.

Watch this

 
And This...

And this.
I love music.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This is called "Me Time"

You had better believe that I took full advantage of my fall break today. After staying up until three last night, I slept in until eleven this morning. While part of me is ashamed that I wasted so much of my day sleeping, another part of me is feeling so grateful for how rejuvenated I feel right now. I'm pretty sure your body can't just make up for lost sleeping time by taking an entire day off to be lazy... but I feel like I've gained back all of the sleep I've lost since... well, since school started.

After waking up (no alarm clock, no phone alarm, just the sunshine streaming through my bedroom window) I treated myself to the longest steamy shower. It felt great to scrub my face clean from the makeup I was too careless to take off from the night before, shave my legs and put on my favorite brown-sugar and fig lotion, and rub my new deep conditioner through my freshly-cut hair. I felt like a new person.

It felt refreshing to actually take time and get myself all ready for the day without having to rush to school in the morning. I find I enjoy my down time better if I get myself ready as opposed to lying around in my pajamas all day with messy hair (although sometimes those days are necessary). 

I straightened up my bedroom a bit while listening to some music, and then I made some oatmeal (sweetened with Splenda, not sugar) and some sugar-free hot chocolate. (which really tastes the same as normal hot chocolate, just more expensive.) The house has been feeling a little chilly these days, so wanted to make myself a warm treat.

I turned off the volume to my phone and ignored all phone calls and text messages, curled up on the couch with my little meal and watched my favorite movie, P.S. I Love You. I promise you, that movie never gets old for me. It may be really sad... but it is so romantic. I'm obsessed.

I fell asleep during the last part of the movie, and when I woke up from my nap I gave Mom a call. I don't think a day goes by where I don't call her at least three times. It's always nice to chat with her about life, school, and boys. Especially boys. It's a good thing she listens to all of my stories, because if it weren't for her I don't know who I would tell them to these days (what with Brittany busy at the University of Utah and Elise on a mission.)

After catching up with my mom, Callie and I hit the 6:20 showing of The Help at the movie theater. (If you haven't seen that movie yet, go now. Tell me you didn't enjoy it. I dare you.) It was such a beautiful, moving, powerful, inspirational movie. I loved every moment of it. And it was fun to go out with Callie and spend some time with her. I have some great roommates this year.


I came home and ate macaroni and cheese for dinner. Then I had a piece of toast slathered in peanut butter for dessert. (because peanut butter isn't against the rules) And since then I've just been sitting at home, wearing the sweater I stole from Mom's closet, (the one Dad gave her while they were dating, and one of my favorite articles of clothing in my entire wardrobe) and playing Words with Friends on Facebook.

Now it's time to wash my face, step into comfy pajamas, and have another cup of hot cocoa before climbing into bed. I love nights when you can really take some time to wind down before going to sleep.

Days like today just don't get much better. I didn't have classes, didn't have meetings, didn't answer anybody's phone calls (except from Mom), and I didn't even look at my homework or my laundry.

Tomorrow is a different story. Back to life.
...now when is Thanksgiving break?

Friday, October 21, 2011

new circle of friends.

Being on folk dance has give me the opportunity to meet some really great people,
And I am so excited to become better friends with all of them.

Usually we don't ever go out as a team after our 7-10pm Thursday practices
Because officers have a 7am meeting the next morning

But with this weekend being fall break, said meeting was cancelled!
A trip to Dennys with the team was in order.

Even though the majority of the time was spent
With the entire team trying to get me to eat sugar,
I had such a blast with the team last night. :)

After Dennys, a couple of us had a movie night!
Sam Howe, Alex Sorenson and I went to Jake Sommer's house
And we watched What about Bob?
I was quite surprised that I managed to stayed awake through the entire thing.

And, lucky me, I had a movie night with three cute guys!
The other girls decided they were too tired and they disbanded after Dennys
Guess they aren't very smart... ;)

Anyway, we had a good time (even though we were up until three in the morning.)
I haven't had any college-student-late-night-socialization/partying
In quite a while. It was nice to kick back and have some fun.

I'm loving Folk Dance. We're the dream team, that's for sure! ;)
I can't wait to get to know everyone. I love all of them already.

I'm also loving Fall Break.
I just wish it was one day (or a couple of days, or a week!) longer.
But we'll just enjoy it while it lasts.

 First community performance with the team.
We performed Sauerlander, Three-Leather, and Bavarian Polka at WSU
 Chad, Ashton and I before practice!
 Karlie Nichols... she's such a sweetheart! 
And we both have claddagh rings. We're just that cool.
 This is Jordan Smith! We also have BOM together. :)
We laugh WAY too hard in that class.
 The presidency. Annie, Jack, and Karina. :) Love them!
This is the team on our very first practice
Dream it; Achieve it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

They're the greatest...


...and I just kinda miss 'em right now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sleepy Hollow


Sleepy Hollow opens today at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre.
 
Awkward schoolmaster Ichabod Crane pursues the town beauty Katrina Van Tassel, only shortly after to be pursued by the infamous Headless Horseman. Utah theatre favorite Jim Christian and Tom Edward Clark's new stage adaptation of the spooky classic American story opens October 17th at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre.

 I just want to thank Jim Christian for asking me to be a part of this great show,
And thanks to my parents for supporting me through the process
(Including the price in gas money!)
 
Good luck to the MWF cast tonight; I hope you have a great show!
I'll see my fellow TThS castmates tomorrow.
Happy Opening everybody :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finding my school pride.

 (Jack and I at the WSU Football Stadium)

Yesterday I went to Weber State University's homecoming football game.
It was mine and Jack's first time attending a big WSU sporting event.
Our friend Karina Spencer was going to join us, but had a change of plans
So Jack and I went and experienced our first Weber State football game!
We had to leave a little early due to my final dress rehearsal for Sleepy Hollow.
(Lame, I know. But I heard that WSU won! Hooray!)

I had a pretty great time, and now I'll have to start attending more games.
I think it's about time I attended a game and found my school spirit.

(In my defense, I DO have a Weber State Banner hanging above my bedroom door.)

Most of the time I just go to classes, rehearsals, and meetings.
I know, it's pretty pathetic. I used to be full of school pride, back in high school.
So I decided I need to start taking advantage of the social opportunities 
With the school and with the institute.

After all, people are always telling me that your college days are
Some of the best days of your life. 
Gotta live it up a little, right?

(We conquered a fear that day; neither of us love meeting the mascot. 
I say they should save the big heads for Disneyland. But it was okay, Waldo was nice.)

So There you have it. My first college football game.
We're talking about a pretty big milestone here, people.
I couldn't go without taking a couple of pictures and documenting the event.

Oh yeah, and speaking of the pictures, 
You can see I got my bangs cut back in.
I'll be honest... I'm not loving the way they look in these pictures.
They're a teeny bit short right now, but I think I'm happy about having them back in.
The hair dilemma has been solved. :)

Anyway, I digress.
I had a really great Saturday afternoon
Attending the homecoming game with Jack
(Thanks for going with me!)
And now I guess I better ask for a WSU jacket for Christmas,
Get a schedule for the football season, and start showing my school pride!!

GO WILDCATS! :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beat.

I am extremely worn-out.
Tired.
Sore.
Exhausted.
Sleepy.
Fatigued.

But it's the weekend now. I can go out and be a crazy college kid.

Or maybe just relax. That sounds nice.

...but I don't have time for rest or relaxation until after work call, the homecoming game, and a final preview of Sleepy Hollow; which activities will probably result in me feeling even more worn-out. Then I will miraculously pull myself together for another week of school, performances, rehearsals, and meetings.

It's a vicious cycle.

Such is life, my friends. Such is life.
But it's a good one at that.

And being busy is worth it.

Even still... a little part of me just wants to stay in the entire weekend, never getting out of my bed or my pajamas, and watch chick flicks while eating something yummy
(but not sugary.)

Here's to a good weekend for everybody.
Peace and blessings. Much love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Flavors.

This year Shelby introduced me to the seasonal pumpkin bagel and smear at Einstein Bagels. This stuff is delicious... if you could taste all of Autumn in a single bite, this would be it. At the beginning of October I found a month-long coupon to Einstein Bagel's in the mail. "$1 for a Bagel and Smear every Tuesday before 11:00am"

For those of you who don't know how much I love Einstein Bagels yet... you can bet that I jumped all over that promotional item.

So - today being Tuesday - I woke up just early enough (no really, woke up at 7:20 and was out the door by 7:50) to make a trip to Einstein's for a pumpkin bagel and smear before class at eight thirty.
Because of my recent no-sugar dieting trends, I've been missing out on some of my favorite seasonal treats. Yesterday the cast of Sleepy Hollow indulged in a plate of homemade gingerbread men, and on Sunday the Ogden YSA 16th ward held a linger-longer and served warm carameled apples. I'm also missing out on the pumpkin pie, the candy corn, and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.... so you can bet I was glad to taste my pumpkin bagel and smear this morning.

It was the perfect addition to a rainy October morning. (I love rainy October mornings) And lucky me; I bought my bagel, got a kick-butt parking spot, and was still fifteen minutes early for my first class. Then "Break My Stride" came on the car radio while I was doing my makeup... and I knew today was going to be a great day.

The only thing that would make my life better is a morning cup of hot chocolate... Mom says they sell sugar-free hot cocoa in the stores... but I couldn't find it at Smith's last night. Hot chocolate is a major part of my winter ritual. I have to have it, so we'll keep looking.

Also... the past couple of weeks have been all about Shakespeare for me. I drove to Riverton last week to see my brother's high school Shakespeare competition pieces (He did an awesome job. Go Ben!), and I'm working on a Shakespeare scene of my own in Acting II. Then last Saturday Jack and I saw Weber State's production of Romeo and Juliet. (Beautiful. You should go see it this week)

I just have to say, I'm really enjoying learning more about Shakespeare. Usually any utterance of the man or his works makes me grumpy. Sometimes studying Shakespeare can be extremely tedious. But Tracy really got our class excited about it, and I've really enjoyed seeing the show and watching other Shakespearean performances in the past few weeks.

Shakespeare's language is just so beautiful. And if you can put the language in your mouth and make the characters real, then Shakespeare can become such a stunning peice of art. Too often the actors try and make Shakespeare too posed, stiff, unrealistic, and proper. But I mean, just listen to his words.

"The all-seeing sun ne'er saw thy match since the world first begun..."
"Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?"
"Love is begun by time, and time qualifies the spark and fire of it."
"I Love you more than words can wield the matter."
"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs, being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes, being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers' tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet."
“This bud of love by summer's ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet” 
"Such is my love, to thee I so belong, That for thy right myself will bear all wrong."

The language is simply beautiful! And I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind it one bit if some handsome young suitor said something like that to me. ;)

Hehe. Kidding. Kind of.

Anyway, that's about everything for today. Shakespeare, pumpkin, rain, bagels, lovely music, warm sweaters and scarves, friends, and (hopefully soon) hot chocolate... life is good.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A place of love and beauty.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Every day I'm learning.

I just want to take a quick moment and express my appreciation for some things. I really appreciate my Acting for Musical Theatre class. I learn incredible new things every day when I step into that classroom. This class is helping me to take risks and shake off my nerves while I'm singing. It's really good for me, despite the challenges that come with having to stand up and sing in a room full of brilliant singers every day and feeling like I'm not up to par. That's probably the exact reason as to why this class is so good for me. I need to stand up and sing in front of those people. I need to force myself to perform, even in front of the most knowledgeable audiences, so that I can become more confident.

I sure am lucky to be a part of such a great department where I learn new things about myself every day. I am also lucky to be able to know some pretty awesome people while I'm here in the department. I learn so much from the people around me... be it from professors, classmates, guests, or friends. Like today when Shelby was telling me how it's okay to be myself. We didn't have a serious conversation or anything, but her few words of advice were needed and appreciated today.

Being surrounded by such a variety of people who are different from me, sometimes I think I lose sight that it's okay to just be me. I'm perfectly happy with who I am and I don't want to be like anyone else in the department, but sometimes I seek acceptance too much. I just want to be friends with everyone, and I want to be treated with the same maturity and respect that everyone else receives. But the real me is enough. It's okay to be Bailee McKenna Paxman... and if anyone thinks otherwise or treats me otherwise, then they're probably not worth my time anyway.

Today after an awesome workshop on my presentational song assignment for the class, I received two compliments that were also MUCH appreciated. When I sat down after my song Bre whispered to me, "You have some pipes on you girl!" and then after class Travis went out of his way to tell me, "You have an amazing voice!"

The generous people who said those things today probably didn't notice how much their kinds words meant to me. It was one of the few times I've been complimented on my voice in such a way by a fellow theatre major. My old roommate Brittany and my best friend Elise often gave me encouragement about my singing, but in all honesty they're kinda required to encourage me... they're my best friends. Same goes with family and other close friends. But I've rarely heard such kind words from one of my classmates; someone who has just as much knowledge (if not more) about the voice and about musical theatre as I do. Usually I get complimented on my dancing... and those compliments are just as appreciated, truly, but it was refreshing and comforting to hear something about my voice instead of my dancing today. Because I want to become more talented in all three areas of my craft; dancing, acting AND singing.

Now let me first make one thing clear: I don't want to seem shallow or vain. I don't rely on the compliments of others to boost my confidence. I don't need to receive compliments all the time... but it is nice to hear once-in-a-while. It felt good to hear these words from my classmates today. There was no obligation in either compliment; they didn't have to approach me and tell me anything about my voice. They were being genuine and kind, and it meant the world to me today.

All of this ties together with another experience I had earlier this week. I had an awesome opportunity to meet Andre Ward this week... a WSU graduate who is now constantly performing professionally (I even saw him in Rock of Ages on Broadway, and I didn't even know it!) This man gave the students here at Weber State some wonderful words of inspiration. But one thing he said really hit me hard.

He said that for a long time during his career he worried about, "What does the director want me to be for this show?" or "what do people want to see from me?" or "how can I be more like this person?". He was always trying to be what other people wanted him to be, instead of just bringing to the table what NOBODY else could bring to the table... himself.

Andre Ward told us that the moment he stopped worrying so much about what other people thought was the moment he started to be more successful. Nobody else can walk into a room and be Andre Ward. And nobody else can walk into a room and be Bailee Paxman. Just by being me, I can bring something unique to the table. Just by being me, I can bring on the competition. I can make any audition or performance a noteworthy experience, simply by being true to myself. Why should I waste time trying to be like somebody else? They will always be better at being themselves than I will be at trying to be like them.

Today in Acting for Musical theatre I began to experience that. And the moment I simply let go and started to be myself was the moment my nerves fell away. I missed a whole line of lyrics the first time I sang, and I didn't even notice because I was so focused on the character instead of worrying about the notes! I missed a whole line of lyrics, and I didn't even care! Missing my line didn't destroy my confidence like it usually might. I knew I could sing it better, and so I the second time around I did. I belted out my song and forgot about what everyone else might be thinking.

And the song wasn't perfect. Goodness, It was far from perfect. But who cares? I had fun while singing in front of my classmates today. I learned something, and I progressed somewhere, and I felt good about myself.

Shelby, Bre, Travis, and Andre were right. It's okay to be myself. I DO have a good voice; I have something wonderful I can give. If I can learn to embrace my own voice, my own acting, my own body, and my own personality... then why can't I be just as amazing as any of the other people in that room or in the department or in the musical theatre community? Nobody except me is going to try and stop me. So why not explore where I can go with this craft and take risks and learn more about what I can do?

Like I said... new mini revelations. breakthroughs. epiphanies. 
I experience these things and get to be around these great people every day.

It's really quite liberating.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Food Junkie No More!

Last Sunday, while indulging in a couple of smores around the campfire at the folk dance social, my friend Jack Shapiro and I made a pact. We made a pact that we aren't going to eat sugar until the new year. If we break this pact, we owe the other person fifty dollars. Soon after we made this sugar-free decision, our friend Ben Eschler decided to join us as well. The three of us are going without sugar until January 1, 2012. We decided to give ourselves three days off. We are allowed sugar on Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. That's it. Only three days of eating sugar for the rest of the year.

For the past two days I've been thinking to myself, "Why did I agree to this challenge?"
Yeah, it's beyond me.

But this will be a good thing for me. I am going to be so healthy! I just need to find healthier treats to eat. We decided that natural sugars, such as fruit, are okay to eat... but the rest of the details, rules, and guidelines aren't set in stone yet. Last night Jack and I decided we better define the rules and the details and write it all down. Just so nobody tries anything that might be bending the rules.

 So there you have it.  No more of this...

No sugary junk food until 2012!
Dang, I'm already looking forward to the New Year.
But I am NOT going to lose fifty dollars...
So Ben and Jack? It's on. :)

Wish me luck!

Conference quotes and notes


First, I just want to talk about this man.
This wonderful, adorable, wise, amazing man.

I look at his smiling face and I see honesty, compassion, strength, humor, and a great gentleness. I see wisdom and faith. I see a loving disposition, and I see someone who I could easily run up to and hug as if he were my own grandfather.

I mean, really... look at that kind smile. Look at the crinkles around his happy eyes. Isn't he an adorable human? I don't understand how anyone could look at a face as warm and genuine as his and not trust anything he might have to say. I don't understand how anyone could find it in themselves to hate this man. He's harmless. He's loving and kind and wonderful.

I was extremely grateful to have spent the past weekend listening to and watching General Conference. It was one of the first times I had ever sat down and listened to all four sessions of conference without having to record or read any of the talks at a later date. I dedicated my entire weekend to listening to the spirit and being the recipient of it's great inspirations.

As I watched each session, whether it was by myself or with my lovely family, I learned new lessons and received great insight. Each talk was amazing, edifying, and uplifting. But instead of writing about every talk, I'll let you read or watch it here, because I know that summarizing what I learned from the talks on my blog pales in comparison to actually experiencing the goodness of the conference for oneself. Trust me. You just have to watch for yourself! :)

While I loved each and every talk, speaker, scripture, and song... here are a couple of quotes I wrote down while I watched that I would like to share here in my little corner of the cyberspace universe.

"To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship."

"Temples are where relationships are sealed together to last the eternities."

"Every person who has a physical body has power over the Adversary."

"Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They're always available when needed."

"We have scarcely scratched the surface; our work knows no boundaries."

 "You are never far from the side of your Heavenly Father"

"Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text."

"Please understand that what you see and experience now is not forever what you will feel. You will not feel pain and discouragement forever."

"Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant."

"You are precious beyond measure."

"Satan makes us think we are too small for anyone to take notice of us; he makes us focus on our insecurities."

"No matter how difficult our circumstance, everything happens for our experience."
I could write an entire essay solely on my love and appreciation for General Conference. But even my best writing wouldn't do it justice. That's why I quoted some of the talks... their words are truly amazing.

I have a testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and of the True Gospel that this church brings to the world. I am grateful to have a living prophet on the earth today. It is such a comfort to me to know I can trust and heed the council of anything He and His apostles say. I am grateful for their thoughtful and spiritual preparation for this conference.

I am extremely grateful for the messages I heard and the spirit I felt during the past weekend. I know that Heavenly Father listens to me. I went into this conference with a couple of questions in my heart, and all of my questions were specifically answered. I know that the answers were no coincidence. Heavenly Father inspired the speakers and opened my heart so I could hear what I needed to hear, and I am grateful for that opportunity.

I would also like to share my respect and gratitude towards the prophet Joseph Smith. Because of his faith and valiant work we have living prophets on the earth today, we have the fulness of the gospel on the earth, and we have been privileged to be born into this gospel and to live in times of knowledge and truth. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that everything he saw was real. Why would a man suffer so much ridicule and persecution if he wasn't being honest? Joseph Smith could have put an end to all of the public persecution had he only denied what he had seen. If what he saw was not real, he would have denied what he said he had seen. Because of his optimistic perseverance in the face of such harsh ridicule, I know that he was a prophet, seer and revelator, and I know that he brought the true gospel of Jesus Christ back to the earth. Aside from this logical perspective of such events, I know from the power of The Spirit that Joseph Smith restored the church to this earth.

I am grateful for that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in my life, and I hope to continually strengthen that relationship. I am grateful that I can receive personal inspiration and revelation from the Holy Ghost through prayer, modern-day prophets, scripture study, and people who are placed into my life for such inspiration.

I testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. In reading it and re-reading it I am always discovering more truths and more wonderful messages within it's pages. I hope to strengthen my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God. I know that if you read the Book of Mormon with a desire to learn the truth, you will receive a confirmation of the truthfulness of it's messages.

I bear testimony of the importance of the temple and temple attendance. Every time I go to the temple I feel a peace that is beyond anything of this world. I am overwhelmed with love, charity, peace, and joy. I am extremely grateful to have so many temples in close proximity to where I live. When I am feeling down, I can count on the temple to lift my spirits and to give me eternal perspective. I love looking at the temple, driving by the temple, sitting on temple grounds, and going inside the temple. I love the temple, and I cannot wait for the day when I can be sealed to the love of my life inside the glorious temple walls.

I have a firm testimony of missionary work. I am grateful for the missionaries in the world who are selfless enough to leave their families behind for a time and bring other families together for eternity. I have seen the blessings of missionary work as I have met missionaries in my ward, and as I have watched my very best friend embark on her mission. Seeing how even the first couple of weeks has changed her life is a living testimony to me that missionary work is amazing, and that this gospel is real.

I am forever grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for his atoning sacrifice. I am beginning to learn how personal His atonement is for me. While I knew before and had a testimony of his atonement, I am beginning to understand how well he knows me as an individual, and having that knowledge is a wonderful comfort in my life as I face temptation, trials, and hardship. He has experienced everything that I have experienced. What a powerful knowledge to have. I am grateful that I can be saved from my sins and imperfections through the divine grace of God.

I am deeply and eternally grateful for The Plan of Salvation and for my loving Father in Heaven. I love my family more than anything in the entire world, and I want more than anything to be with them for eternity. To think of losing my family after death is a terrible thought, and I am grateful to have the knowledge that I can be with my family forever. I am grateful for my family's unconditional love and support. They have taught and continue to teach me so many of life's valuable lessons. I am so blessed to have their love. I am grateful to know that I too, can build a family and be with them forever also. I know that The Plan of Salvation is real, and I am grateful for the choice I made to take part in this wonderful plan. I am thankful for this wonderful life that I have to call my very own. I am thankful for all of the people, events, trials, successes, and experiences that make up this life of mine. I am thankful for all of the blessings that I have and all of the knowledge I have been given that I have not mentioned  or testified of at this time.

I know that these things are true, and I am thankful for the knowledge I have of such truthfulness. I leave these things with you tonight and thank Heavenly Father for everything I have. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I love you all and wish everyone the best.

Much love and good night
-Bailee