365 New Days, 365 New Chances

Today, I gave the fifth grader I tutor an assignment: to write down three things he wanted to happen in the new year. His answers were “to start a new YouTube account because the other one was hacked, make my fort better, and make my Pokemon collection bigger”- all very important goals for a fifth grader. This made me think, everyone, young and old, wishes for some sort of change in the New Year.

This also made me reflect on 2016 itself and think about how many people I have seen on Twitter saying “good riddens 2016”, “2016 was a nightmare “, etc. I can relate; some years are better than others, but this is the wonder of having a New Year. On the 365th day of the year, you can reflect on what goals you accomplished and the memories you experienced, both good and bad, and then you can come up with new goals to work toward and new memories to create. Even if the year wasn’t your best, you made it through to the end, and on midnight itlifestyleis a fresh slate. Tomorrow marks 365 new days, 365 new chances.

Tonight I reflect on what I accomplished this past year and the memories I’ve made, and I invite you to do the same for yourself. Celebrate the impact you’ve made on this world this year just by being here. 2016 was a year of milestones for me. I got my first lead role in a musical, I graduated high school among an amazing group of friends, I had the second annual race in memory of my grandfather, I got into college, began vocal lessons, was part of my first musical production outside of school, began this blog, started and completed my first semester of college, and got into an a capella group at school. Of course there were many downs to this year, every year comes with failed auditions, heartbreak, losses, and struggles, but I made it. If you’re reading this, you made it. And just making it through a year is a blessing alone.

Tomorrow I will start towards new goals.

  • Tomorrow my family together is starting to eat healthier. We will support each other in trying to not eat out as much and eat more fruit and vegetables and less junk food. We will be referring to this healthy eating grocery list for our trips to the supermarket. http://collegelifestyles.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/grocery.jpg .
  • I will continue to do yoga as I mentioned in my post Breathing&Believing ; I feel yoga has definitely helped me cope with my anxiety as well as feel more confident and at ease.
  • However, I want to take part in more physical activity to build muscle and tone up. I have found a slow and steady fitness plan to train to run a 5K race that I am striving to follow through with this year. This fitness plan is good for beginning runners and includes days for cross training and yoga  http://pin.it/UeZD96c.
  • I will continue this blog and add more posts AND pictures thanks to my new lovely photographer: Janjira Sun.
  • I will take part in new productions and audition, audition, audition!
  • I will organize and plan the 3rd annual race for my grandfather and put in the effort and hard work it deserves.
  • I will balance work with school and make sure to study extra hard for my courses.
  • I will continue to write and complete the projects I have been planning and working on this past year.
  • I will save money and work to be more frugal.

Goals I recommend all of us have:

  • Strive for happiness, not perfection.
  • Leave the past behind. (Be like Elsa, just let it go.)
  • Focus on the future, but live in the now.
  • Don’t take anything personally. There’s almost always an underlying reason why someone behaves the way they do. It’s almost never because of you.
  • Take chances that you know you’ll regret if you don’t.
  • In your decisions and with how you treat others and yourself, be the person you needed when you were younger.

And remember, at the end of the year you may not have achieved all of these things. In your day-by-day journey, you could have gotten off track, and that’s okay. This is the beauty of a year: there’s always a new one. So pop the champagne (or sparkling cider) , say goodbye to 2016. Say cheers and, with a click of a glass, welcome 2017.

Have a wonderful new year,



Ease into the Holiday Spirit

Fa La La La La! It’s that time of year once again. I always feel like after Halloween, Thanksgiving creeps up on us and then Christmas swoops in. I also notice that, as a student, preparation for finals and big papers collides with prepping for the big holiday. It can be so difficult to really find the time to feel and appreciate the Holiday spirit.

It seems every year now I find myself asking the famous question: Where are you Christmas?  I wish nothing more to be young again around the holidays: dreaming of sugar plum fairies, watching Christmas specials, tracking Santa, believing in holiday magic. So this year, I made a decision: to find balance between wrapping up classes and wrapping gifts. I am writing this post specifically for people like me who need to find simple ways to ease into the holiday spirit.

Hayley’s Holiday Guide:

Step 1: Play those Christmas tunes. I know in the Jasmin house, Christmas music starts playing November 1st, right after Halloween. I also realize that might be, to spare my mother’s feelings, “a little” extreme. But, as soon as you are ready to embrace the holiday season, blast those holiday tracks. Buddy the Elf says it best:raw.gif

Step 2: See at least 1 Holiday Concert. It feels weird not participating in my high school’s Christmas concert this year since I’ve graduated. That used to be my way of getting into the holiday spirit. However, I will be going to the concert. To save money, check local schools and universities for holiday concerts. There’s a good chance at least one school will have one, and by attending you’re also benefiting the school’s music program. This year, my aunt kindly brought me to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. I highly recommend it to anyone. This group puts on an amazing show and all of their songs go along with a Christmas story being recited by a narrator.


TSO performing at the DCU Center in Worcester. Photo by Nicolle Wood

Step 3: Go to a Festival of Trees. I don’t know how common these events are outside New England, but a few local towns in my area hold a Festival of Trees.Donors from multiple organizations create their own decorated Christmas trees, which are works of art, and people can enter a raffle to win one of them. With festive background music and aisles upon aisles of these beautifully crafted trees, this event is sure to get you pumped up on Christmas spirit.


Step 4: Drink Hot Cocoa and Watch Holiday Movies. I know we are all dreaming of watching White Christmas with a mug of hot chocolate and a warm fireplace. Study hard for finals and reward yourself with this holiday treat. Don’t know what to watch? Here’s Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas official schedule: https://www.25daysofchristmastv.com/schedule. (ps. This is great to do with friends and family.)


Step 5: Give, give, give. It’s so easy to get lost in the commercialism of the holiday season. Thanksgiving wasn’t even over yet and it was already Black Friday! I love Christmas shopping, whether it’s online or in stores. I love buying for my friends and family. However, each year I try to give to someone who isn’t as fortunate as I am around the holidays. My family always participates in “The Giving Tree” at my parish where anyone can take an ornament with the name of an item someone in need is asking for and buy the item and return it to the parish. Someone from the parish then brings the gifts to those in need of them. I have also participated in a toy drive in the past. Toys for tots bins are set up in several places locally or you can visit their website for more information. This year my campus had Sun Santa banks set up at the register to our school’s market. I placed change in their whenever I bought something. You can also donate to any local charities this season.

Step 6: Take holiday pictures. This year I decided to take on an Instagram Countdown to Christmas challenge. Each day is an assigned photo that you must post, all with different holiday themes. Below is the challenge I am taking part in. See my December in photos on my Instagram: @hayley_jasmin (Tip: Get your friends and family involved too!)

Step 7: Find a Christmas/Holiday Read! I have finally finished all of my final paper assignments and have read all of the books and sources I needed to complete these papers. Now, I can start my traditional Christmas read. Every year, I try to find a holiday book to read before Christmas. Last year, I read the Christmas class, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This year I am reading John Green’s Let It Snow. Another author to check out is Richard Paul Evans. He has multiple Christmas novels like The Christmas Box.


Step 9: Go Ice Skating. This is just a fun winter activity in general, so feel free to do this after Christmas. Or you can be like my family and buy a refillable ice skating rink on Amazon. Stay tuned for footage of our first experience with that.

Step 10: Remember the Reason for the Season. For anyone religious, Christmas Eve Mass is a great way to truly celebrate the season. I have also been following a December Bible Quote Challenge I found on Pinterest that has helped me engage in the Advent season. img_4071


I think Linus says it best. 🙂

For anyone who is not religious, connect to the holiday season with a grateful heart. This yoga practice from Yoga by Adriene is a great way to get some exercise and allow yourself to just breathe and be thankful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pbuvhbg7po

So wrap up those finals, wrap up some gifts and ease your way into holiday magic!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


5 Lessons Learned from Disney’s Moana

Maybe I’m biased as a die-hard Disney fan, but I think some of life’s most important values are taught in Disney films. Disney movies have a way of engaging our hearts and souls through their music, characters, and story lines. They truly are magical.

My mother felt that there was no better way to spend the day before Thanksgiving than at the movies with her children and friends to see the newest Disney release: Moana. Now, I had heard only three things about the Moana movie prior to seeing it: Moana was an island girl, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson played a demi-god; and Lin Manuel Miranda did the music and lyrics. Being a huge Hamilton and In the Heights fan, that was a deal breaker.

And boy, was I not disappointed. Through its incredibly catchy songs, vivid animation, and heart-warming story line with the perfect dose of humor, Moana is a movie to see. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good Disney film. But what impressed me the most about Moana, is how inspiring it is to its viewers, young and old.

Here are some lessons you can take home from Disney’s Moana:

  1. The value of having a close relative: This lesson hit me the hardest. I think anyone can relate to having a special relative or role model in their life that they go to to guide them in life. Moana’s bond with her grandmother reminded me a lot of my bond with my own grandmother. Moana’s grandmother guides her in following her heart and taking chances. Without spoiling the film, I can tell you that her grandmother’s advice plays an important role in the story.
  2. Your heart calls you to where you’re supposed to be: Anyone can relate to that feeling that you belong somewhere else. It’s a common theme in Disney movies; think Tarzan’s quote “I just know there’s something bigger out there” or Tangled “when will my life begin?” For Moana, she feels a longing to travel outside her island but her father’s teachings hold her back. It’s only with the advice of her grandmother that she finally takes a chance in finding where she truly belongs. She chooses her heart over her mind.
  3. You are the reason you are who you are: I really enjoyed the Rock’s performance in this movie. His character Maui is a demi god who claims “he is nothing without his hook”- his magical fish hook that gives him transforming powers. Moana tells him “maybe someone saw you were worth saving” but that no hook or powers made him Maui- he became a hero all on his own.
  4. Everyone has a purpose in life that is not to be questioned: Moana finds herself chosen by the sea to complete an adventure, but spends the movie not knowing why she was chosen. She questions her own abilities, her own choices, her purpose in her life. But what she finds is that whenever she feels like giving up, it doesn’t feel right. Deep inside her a force drives her to keep it up, to keep going. I think anyone can take this advice home. You might not know the answer, but you are on this planet for a very special reason. You have a purpose. Keep going.
  5. Music awakens the soul: Now this is something I very personally took home from this movie. As soon as the first song began, I was taken away. The soundtrack to this movie is filled with inspirational lyrics, pleasurable rhythms, and a beautiful island sound. I truly left the theater in chills from many of Lin Manuel Miranda’s creation. He has done it again. I am truly thankful for music.

So my advice for this Thanksgiving break is:

1. Take your friends and family to see Moana.

2. Make sure you save room for dessert.

3. Remember to stay thankful and celebrate Thanksgiving to the fullest before you head to Black Friday sales.

4. Have a blessed holiday weekend!

Lots of love,


The Perks of Being An Anxious Performer

I know, I know. Anyone who suffers from performance anxiety is looking at this title and saying “Hayley you are out of your mind, there are no perks to being an anxious performer.” I often think this way too, but the truth is you can find something good in everything, even your worst moments. Looking through dark moments in a positive light will reflect your own strengths and leave you feeling overall more positive.

I often feel my anxiety holds me back in my performances, especially when panic is at its highest. This can be true. There have been auditions, rehearsals, and performances where my own anxiousness has prevented my from performing to the best of my ability. What I have come to find is, however, that same nervous energy can be channeled to strengthen your performances and make them even better.

So what are the perks of being an anxious performer?

  1. Every performance is a victory over your own fears. Think about it. Every time your nerves build up before a performance to the point they seem unbearable, you choose to go out there anyway. Whether it be playing a sport, singing, dancing, acting, or simply walking into a class, you are challenging your own fears. And once you do it, you’ve already beaten them. Congratulations little warrior, you’ve won!
  2. Every failure only strengthens you. Kelly Clarkson was right everyone, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That audition you jumbled the words to a song out of your own nervousness? Think back on that when you finish slaying your solo in the school musical. When you were so nervous on the field you scored for the other team? Think back on that when you just score the winning goal at a state championship. You didn’t give up after. That voice in your head that said “You’re passionate about this, keep going” kept you strong.


    picture taken by Susan Cutelis.

  3. Nervous energy can fuel emotional connection. This one is for my fellow singers, actors, and dancers. A performance can be extremely well done, but when it portrays real emotion it can drive someone to tears. All of that nervous energy can be channeled to create a killer performance. I’ll give you an example. I get super nervous too. In Grease, there was one scene I used to get so nervous about where Rizzo sings “There Are Worst Things I Could Do” to Sandy and Sandy had to stand still on stage and just react. It’s easier to hide my nervous energy when I am moving around, but standing still is a struggle for me on stage. Luckily for me, I found a way out. The song immediately afterward is “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee Reprise.” The stored nerves inside me actually drove me to tears which I used to sing the songs beginning where lines included “when they criticize and make fun of me can’t they see the tears in my smile.” There I thought of my anxiety and how it held me back and when people saw me and didn’t understand they would just laugh or make fun of my fidgeting and twitching. Then with the last line of the song, “hold your head high, take a deep breath and cry ‘Goodbye to Sandra Dee!'” I released all of the bottled up energy and took a deep breath. I was saying goodbye to the fear and the nerves. And I was thanking them, for giving me emotion and for showing me I’m human.

Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

Stay Strong,


A Cup of Positivi-tea

I dread waking up some mornings, but I’ve come to find that sometimes the slightest moments can bring positive energy to anyone’s day.

So this morning I woke up an hour and a half earlier than I was planning to and found it nearly impossible to fall back to sleep- my head was already running through the course of my day (breakfast, workout, catch the shuttle to class, go to class, get home, go to work,etc.) I opened social media to find nothing but a turmoil of differing opinions so I closed out of it and opened YouTube hoping to catch up on the latest videos of channels I am subscribed to.

That’s when I stumbled across Rclbeauty101’s latest upload (below) titled “Makeup Stereotypes.” For those of you who don’t know her, Rachel Levin is one of YouTube’s beauty gurus who is infamously known for her creative, comical videos of everything under the sun. I always go to her videos for a good laugh. So seeing this upload, I knew my morning was going to be made better; a good laugh was in store for me. However, what I got was even better.

The video addressed a real issue present in society. Creative expression, in makeup or clothes, is being mistaken for extreme insecurity, promiscuity, or as it is put in the video “asking for it”. “Wow you try so hard” is the response me and many others receive when we simply wear a stylish outfit or feel like wearing makeup. People get interrogated when they aren’t wearing makeup and when they are wearing makeup. Why don’t you add more blush, you’re so pale? Why are you hiding behind all that makeup? Are you going on a date or to the grocery store? etc.  Instead of encouraging people to be themselves and express their own creative genius, we are stomping on their attempts. We need to spread positivity to others.

Rachel once again uploaded a very real and touching video. Another video of hers, uploaded a few months ago, changed my outlook on self-love. It was titled in all caps “I AM UGLY.” Immediately I was curious and what I watched changed my life. I have always felt self-love to be one of the most important struggles of humanity. It’s so hard to accomplish- we are constantly bashing ourselves for little things, finding little flaws, developing several insecurities. It’s so easy to bring yourself down. I know I did and sometimes still do. I remember going home in junior high crying because girls thought I was too nice and therefore too weak: an easy target for bullying. I was mad at my own kindness. Mad at the way I looked. Even in high school and to this day, I’ll get mad at how I look some days or mad at my anxiety, my carelessness.

But Rachel put self love in an entirely new perspective. Her video teaches people to pause before they make a negative comment about themselves and to picture saying this negative comment to your younger self. All of a sudden I was looking back to junior high and picturing how I would feel if I would’ve told my thirteen year old self to stop being myself. I picture telling my five year old self that I’m too much of an anxious mess to perform or that I’m not thin enough or fit enough. Like I said, it’s so much easier to bring yourself down than lift your spirits. It’s often said that a child can one’s perspective on life. Little did I know that child could be my younger self.

Using Rachel’s technique has made self-love a little easier. My hopes are only that sharing this video and her last video will change the way people view others and themselves. Right now it seems everyone is on edge with each other. So much hate is being spread.

Take a sip from a cup of positiv-tea and pass it along. Watch the love pour out.



Loss and Living On

Today, I share with you the essay that helped get me into college. I always believed a good essay should come from the heart in a way that the reader can sense the passion behind your words. So I wrote about losing two of the people that inspired me the most but focused not on loss, but on the importance of living on after loss and letting their memories live on as well. Thanks for reading.

A wise person once said, “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.” I don’t think this is ever thought about by anyone who takes that small step forward- that little step that, in time, marks their transition into maturity, into adulthood, into themselves. I think these people go into their projects with a checklist with one blank box next to their goal: to make a difference. At least, that’s how it was for me.
Growing up, I rarely experienced loss. I have this huge, close-knit family and we do
everything together. I had that childhood where grandparents visited daily. My grammy always lived across the street from me, and my pepere lived close enough I’d wake up to see him downstairs sipping coffee. When I started performing in plays and talent shows, my grandparents were always there encouraging me. They were always there for me until they couldn’t be.
That’s what hit me the hardest in high school. I lost both of my heros. My grammy
passed away from cancer the fall of my freshman year, and it truly didn’t sink in until the
following spring when something happened to me. I was sitting watching my older sister
perform in a play when I became restless; I was sweating and struggling to breathe. This episode occurred again when I was singing in my church choir. I looked out at the crowd and thought I was going to pass out. These panic attacks grew worse and began to happen regularly: in the halls, in classes, during more performances. Every day for me was a battle against fear. When my anxiety was at its peak during my sophomore year, I lost my pepere who had cirrhosis from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. More loss meant more panic. I needed a new way to cope.

Top: Roger Cote stands before the Vietnam Wall in D.C.. Bottom: Roger Cote’s grave on Veteran’s Day.

I had a family friend whose nephew committed suicide due to PTSD. He was a veteran
and, like my pepere, had died from an illness resulting from war. In many ways I saw myself in my friend’s nephew and the many other veterans living with PTSD. They were suffering episodes of panic similar to that of mine, only worse. I wanted to help them, and a little voice in the back of my mind said maybe helping them could help me. And that is when I came up with the idea for the Roger A. Cote Run for Courage. My aunt and I dreamed of hosting a run or walk in memory of my pepere and the dream became a reality. With the aid of BNS Event Management, we held our first annual 5K race on June 14, 2015.

A young Roger Cote in his Navy uniform.

The morning of the race, I set up t-shirts and raffle stands and scanned the parking lots.
Could this work? Friends and family came, our dozen volunteers helped out, and the runners began to show- 120 runners surpassed our goal of seventy five. Some said my pepere wouldn’t have wanted anyone to make a big deal out of his passing. “Just honk your horn and wave as you pass by my grave,” he would say. But maybe the truth is, it isn’t so much for him as it is a coping mechanism for my family and me. The money raised would go to Operation Homefront, an organization that financially assisted wounded veterans. We were helping people like my pepere and my friend’s nephew overcome their illnesses. At the same time, I was overcoming mine.

Roger’s grandchildren and wife Rita at the 2nd Annual Roger A. Cote Run for Courage.

I grabbed the microphone and in a shaky, but strong voice, counted off “READY, SET,-”
and the power behind my words was almost unrecognizable; it was the sound of a familiar voice that had been hidden under panic and fear for so long. In complete control, I took a small step toward the crowd: “GO!”…
…And it was the biggest step of my life. Making a difference? Check.
Happy Birthday Pepere!
Your Granddaughter

Lobs of Fun: How My Long Bob Made Me More Confident

Hit the wind machine. Allow me to stroll along the hot sands, long hair cascading behind me in luscious ripples. Beautiful.

That’s what I thought was beautiful, and I still think it is, but it does not define beauty.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair.” *No hair falls.*

That’s me and I’m proud of it. I used to think I needed long hair so I grew my hair out for a while and wore it long up until sophomore year. I knew someone who told me he liked my hair long so I kept it long. Yet, time went by and feelings changed to a point I didn’t feel attachment to my long hair anymore. I just wanted change. So I took the scissors and snip!

I actually didn’t take the scissors, my hair stylist did, and I am so glad. I felt so free with my hair short. I felt like a risk-taker. For once, I did something completely for myself. This began a future habit, making decisions for myself. My long bob, or “lob”, made me feel powerful. I didn’t feel like a whole new person, I felt like me.

Some people say finding yourself is becoming someone you never were. For me, I feel it is the complete opposite. Months after my first chop, I added lighter blonde highlights, returning my brown hair to the former dirty blonde it was when I was younger. Since I was a toddler, my hair had above my shoulder and light, I was only returning to the Hayley I once was. I found myself again.


When I made the decision to cut my hair, I thought of the many short hair stereotypes. I won’t be able to wear it up. Goodbye ponytail! I won’t be able to rock the Ariana Grande half-up, half-down. My natural curls will be way to0 puffy in a shorter ‘do. Bye beautiful braids!

When I cut it, I thought all of this was true, but boy was I wrong. Thanks to Pinterest, I found that anyone with short hair can pull off several hairstyles.

Short Hair Myths Proven Wrong

  1. I won’t be able to wear it up. 

    Inspired by Lucy Hale, create a deep side part and french braid until you reach the back of your hair. Gather hair into a twist, secure with an elastic and pin with bobby pins.

    2. I won’t be able to rock the half up, half down.


    Gather hair at the crown of your head and tease with a teasing brush. Then secure the gathered hair into a half pony or half bun. 

    3. My natural hair will be way too puffy when short.


Add volumizing mousse to damp hair and blow dry with a diffuser. Spritz a sea salt spray and scrunch hair under diffuser until waves dry.

4. Bye bye braids!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Create a side part and dutch braid your hair and secure small braid with bobby pins.

See? With the short hair, you can have lobs of fun. See what I did there? I’m an embarrassment :).

-Best of Luck,













Our Family’s Gift: An Adoption Story

I thought I knew what a family was. I had a mom and a dad, an older sister three years older than me, and a younger sister two years below me. My sisters and I were all born from the same parents in the same hospital and lived and were raised under the same roof. That’s what a family was: people who shared the same blood, had the same parents, and resembled each other.

Flash forward ten years and I’m standing against the hustle and bustle of the Orlando Airport watching people frantically scurrying to security, pulling their luggage onto the moving ramps, and stressing over flight cancellations. In the midst of it all, I see a woman holding a “welcome home” poster and that alone brings me back ten years. I am my seven-year-old self standing amidst the stress and chaos of the Boston Logan Airport, not letting it affect me in any way. My excitement is at its highest as my sisters and cousins sip IBC root beer, giggling while my grandpa tries to eat crab cakes without his teeth. It didn’t matter that we were tired. It didn’t matter that my extended family took up an entire three large tables at the airport restaurant and told stories too loud while other customers were trying to enjoy their dinner.  All that mattered was I was meeting my new brother today.

A year or two before this day, this wouldn’t have happened, but plans change and things happen. My mother was expecting a fourth child. Our new addition to the family was going to be just like us- a baby boy or girl born from my parents, sharing my blood. Family. But the tide turned and a storm came. My mother had an unfortunate miscarriage that devastated her and our family. We thought that dream of a fourth sibling was lost forever.

Healing time passed and I learned that dream was not unattainable. My parents looked into Wide Horizons, an adoption agency connected with countries all over the globe, and talked about welcoming a baby into our home. After contacting people and searching all over, they finally received word on a three-month-old baby boy from Ethiopia that was put up for adoption by his aunt, after his eighteen-year-old mother left him in her care and ran off. My parents eagerly accepted the offer. His name was Sintayehu. But, I know him as Ty.

After what seemed like light years of waiting and preparing, my mom told my sisters and I that my dad and Uncle Sean were coming home from Ethiopia the next day with the now six month-old baby. My seven year old self immediately scurried over to our PC with a piece of blank white paper and a box of crayolas. I searched “Ethiopian flag” on Google and began my masterpiece. It would hang next to our “Welcome Home” banner in our living room, right next to the American flag: our two worlds collided.


Ty and I on Christmas Eve in 2015.

Ty still has my crayon Ethiopian flag, my welcome home present. He keeps it in one of the three drawers under his big trundle bed in his room, along with his birth certificate, his Baptism candle, and the Ethiopian outfit he wore when he met my father. When he was still small enough, he’d put the outfit on sometimes and excitedly show us all. Ty holds pride in his story. Even as a toddler who didn’t truly understand, Ty never held back from sharing his background. My mother would push him in a grocery cart and if someone complimented him or started conversation, he’d reply, “I’m from Ethiopia” with a beaming smile.

That beaming smile brought a whole new element to our family. We had brought home this tiny little baby with a huge personality. As he grew older, more and more characteristics of his personality began to show. Ty was happy. He had this huge smile that brought dimples to his cheeks and started a chain reaction of smiles throughout our house. He was very smart. He could hold conversation with anyone and was able to absorb facts like no one else I knew. One morning I woke up and Ty recited an entire infomercial to me he had just seen that morning. Ty was gentle and kind. Most boys in our family had gone through a tough stage where they would push, shove, or punch everyone around, but Ty never did. He didn’t push or shove. If anything, he just used his words. Ty was funny. He’d walk around the house wearing costumes and his dancing alone could bring tears of laughter into one’s eyes. Even a dim-lit room would shine bright when Ty walked in.

I never thought I needed a brother. I thought I could get along just having my sisters around, and maybe I could. But there is something so different in a brother-sister relationship. I was blessed with my grandmother’s patience, which allowed me to see beyond a young boy’s irritable habits and immense amounts of energy, and see Ty for his heart, mind, and intentions. Ty showed me a whole new perspective on life through his own lense. He had the ability to bring my mind at rest, especially in moments I needed it the most. Throughout high school, I struggled with anxiety, which interfered with my ability to sing and perform on stage in musicals, plays, or choirs. When the going got tough, I looked in the crowd and saw Ty’s wide eyes and familiar smile staring back at me whispering “go on Hayley”. I’d roll my shoulders back, stand up straight and tall, and perform because my little brother, our family’s gift, was out there watching me, so I could get through it.

Ty’s adoption brought some conflict. My mom would push her African American son around in a stroller and receive cold stares and grimaces from some onlookers. For them, even in the twenty-first century, it seemed odd to have a child of a different race in your family. However, for my family, these cold stares brought laughter. It was hard for us to picture our lives without Ty. I didn’t wake up every morning and think “this is my non-biological brother.” Ty was my family. I often forgot we came from different blood. He fit so well in our family’s jigsaw puzzle that he had completed after so many years.

When the flight arrival time approached us, I remember eagerly rushing towards the gates with all of my family, holding the welcome home sign. I could barely see through the crowd of people gathered around us, but in the corner of my eye I could catch a glimpse of my Uncle Sean, sweaty and exhausted after a long flight from Ethiopia. But where was my dad and the new baby? Just as I thought that they had gotten lost, I saw my own exhausted, pale, and thin father carrying this little bundle of joy in his arms towards us. My mom hurried up to him and he placed the baby in her arms and, with a tear-filled smile, she said hello to Tyesin. My sisters and I surrounded the new baby. I grabbed his hand and saw his smile light up my world for the first time.

“Do we really get to keep him?” I repeated for about the eighth time since I saw him. As I said before, I thought I knew what a family was. But in the peace of the car ride home from Logan Airport in June 2005, I felt what a family truly is. A family isn’t connected by a blood line. It’s not sharing the same physical characteristics or even the same biological parents. A family is when you’re driving in a car, heading for home, in the quiet of a summer night and you can hear each person in the vehicle’s heart matching rhythm and the tiny bundle in the car seat next to you becomes, no longer a person, but a gift. Then in the heat of the summer air and the smell of the streets you feel something fill an absence you never knew existed. That “something” is completeness.

I flash ahead. I’m in the now. Our plane home from Orlando has just arrived and we’re beginning to board step by step, little by little. Ty takes his seat next to me, my life coach through my fear of flying. He squeezes my hand “Hayley, we are going to get through this.” He smiles at me. My brother smiles at me and I smile back. Do we really get to keep him?

Establishing Your Mantra

Right now as I sit in my desk chair dreaming of ice cream and feeling self-defeated, I am realizing that I have two options. I can drown my sorrows in ice cream or I can motivate myself to keep going. I can do this! I’m Hayley Jasmin and I am fabulous.

My sister and I just took a trial tap dancing class. We were very excited to put our dancing shoes back on after nearly ten years has passed since we last took lessons. However, the class we are taking is at an advanced level and, having only taken a little bit of tap, we found ourselves very behind. In fact, we walked out of the studio after the class was over with tear filled eyes.

There are many times like this. Times where it seems like the better option is to just give up. The better option seems to tear yourself down rather than boost yourself back up. But this is not the way to go. Because when I saw myself telling myself that I could never catch up on tap dancing, I thought about the time I told myself I would never be able to handle my anxiety. Or that I would never be able to perform on stage. Or that I would never be able to find myself. To become the it girl.

Rather than destroying yourself over defeat. Let it encourage you. And build yourself back up. It can be as simple as establishing a mantra. When you are down, pick yourself back up by saying “I can do this.” Or “I am beautiful”. “I am strong.” “I can do anything I dream of.” “I am fabulous.”

One of my best friends uses a mantra, a quote from her inspiration, Sierra Boggess, before each and every one of her performances. Sierra says “You are enough. Your are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.” So before you let defeat or failure destroy you, remind yourself about how great you are just being you. No one is more you than you are. And that’s perfect. That is enough.

I don’t need to be the best tap dancer right away; I can get there at my own pace and with my own perseverance. All I need is to encourage myself, trust myself, love myself. Be proud of myself. No one is more me than me.

Don’t drown in your sorrows, float above them.

Be you.


Beauty Products I’m “Falling” For

It’s still been a bit on the warm side, but I can just taste the warm apple cider doughnuts around the corner. No, I literally can taste them, I caved and bought a bag as soon as I saw them at a local farm stand. But the nights have been cooler, the days slowly shorter, and I am cautiously beginning to pull out my sweaters. The summer’s been fun but I’m ready for a change.

But with the temperature stubbornly staying on the high side, I decided my transition from summer to fall will have to begin with the beauty products I am using. My routine consists of warming up the face to keep the “summer glow” alive during the cooler months.

Here are some of the products I am totally “falling” for this season:

Eyes: For my eye shadow, I use my go-to base, Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Barely Branded, and apply it all over my lid. Then I dip a crease brush into MAC’s Mythology and work that into my crease and smudge some below my lower lash line. Then I finish with mascara. Mythology’s shimmery copper shade matches fall’s trendy neutrals while also warming up an eye look.


MAC “Mythology”

Face: I can’t seem to steer away from the summer’s highlighting trend. I take highlighting into the fall by using my favorite bronzer and blush duo. I apply Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer to the hollows of my cheeks and contour, brushing upwards towards my temple, and warm up the rest of my face by applying some to my nose, my forehead, and my jaw line. I then use Benefit’s Coralista blush and apply that to my cheekbones brushing upwards to meet the bronzer. Hoola does the job of warming my face up, while Coralista applies a natural flush with a shimmery highlight. No additional highlight needed!


Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer and Coralista Blush

Lips: Once upon a time a girl named Hayley was scrolling through Pinterest and came across the most gorgeous neutral lip color by NYX and dreamed of buying it but couldn’t find it in store. Then one day she walked into CVS and bam! She bought it and they lived happily ever after. Okay, that was dramatic, but I’ve been dying to buy NYX’s Liquid Suede Lipstick in Sandstorm and I finally did. The color seems to match any skin tone. It’s a very dark, warm-toned nude with a matte finish, perfect for fall and everyday use.


In shade “Sandstorm”

Nails: My go-to fall and winter nail color is always darker shades, especially deep plums and purples like I am wearing now. My apologies for my chipped mani. My hands got dirty tearing apart my old bed and replacing it with a newer one.


Revlon Colorstay Gel-like Polish in “Bold Sangria”

Body: When it comes to the fall, I am a Bath and Body Works hoarder. I cannot get enough of the smell of baking cookies, spiced apple cider, leaves, and pumpkin. My wallet just cannot keep up with the amount of candles and body sprays I want. Out of luck, I came across one of the scents I purchased last year and have received many compliments. Bath and Body Work’s Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte smells sweet, sugary, and has the perfect balance of pumpkin and the vanilla-y scent of marshmallows. Perfect fall fragrance.


I hope all of you enjoy my first beauty-related post on this blog and start “falling” for these products, too. For my regular and newer readers, stay tuned for a new post every Wednesday, from Beauty to Fashion to Lifestyle to Anxiety Coaching, each post will bring something new to the table.

Don’t forget to “Fall” in love with yourself,