Thursday, April 28, 2016


I got this email a few days ago. I've been so busy that I just barely got around to reading it. It didn't really matter, because I already knew what it said, and I already knew how I would respond.

Well, that's technically not true. I knew that I wouldn't respond.

I am officially graduating with my Master's Degree on May 9th. And I won't get to be there. At first, I planned to fly to Phoenix so I could walk, but Greg has a conference then and we have family in town right before that, and plane tickets cost I decided not to do it. It wasn't a big deal, except for now, reading this email, I feel kind of sad. I'd really like to walk in my graduate robes. That would be cool.

Two years after we first started trying to have kids, I went back to school. I had always wanted to go to grad school, but I decided not to originally so I could focus on my family. This was a good decision, because I was able to work and help put Greg through school, and that's obviously been a great thing for our family. Greg did well in school and landed an awesome job at an awesome company.

But then, as it became clear that having children was not going to happen on the timetable we had planned, I felt the pull. Back to school. I wanted to do more school. Greg believed in me, and he wanted this for me. I will always be so grateful to him for that. Having confidence in myself has always been hard for me, but Greg believes I can do anything. It's amazing. Before I married him I never would have guessed that I would find somebody who would give me such strong and beautiful wings. Thank you, Greg.

After starting the program at ASU, I second-guessed myself many times. Did I pick the right program? Was I being so selfish spending our family's valuable resources on this? But no matter how much guilt I had about it (and there was a lot), I felt deep down that this was the right thing to do. And I loved it. My degree is in Liberal Studies. Most people look at me cross-eyed when I tell them that. I chose the program because my professors helped me to emphasize in writing personal histories and memoirs. This is my calling. I love hearing the stories of regular people and making them available. This is social history at it's core, and I want to be a part of it.

My "thesis"--technically called an Applied Project--was recording, transcribing, and editing stories from my grandparents Keith and Mardene Dalton about their childhood. It took hours upon hours, but now it's finished, and I'm turning it in tomorrow. Almost 100 pages of history, and I'm proud of it.

As part of my program I also wrote my own memoir. I wrote about our experience with infertility and having Austin and Daniel. It was hard. Every night after work I would sit on the couch for two hours with tears streaming down my face, remembering and hurting and writing. It was such a valuable experience. Cathartic. I'm so grateful I had that. 200 pages of memories and truth. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but for now the fact that it exists is enough. Maybe 100 years from now my great-granddaughter--who I have probably cursed with PCOS--will find it. That will be a good thing.

So, I'm not walking. But I have a graduate degree. I tend to be very hard on myself, but I'm trying to just be proud of what I have accomplished. We had a few years when we couldn't have children, and I used that to accomplish one of my life goals. It's a good thing. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who doesn't allow things to work out the way I planned. I'm grateful for learning and for dreams and for talents and, most of all, for my family who supports me as I let my curiosity run wild.

Life is good.


  1. Congratulations!
    I understand your "needing to walk" feeling. Even though my family had to miserably attend, I wanted that closure.
    But guess what? Even if you don't make it to Wells Fargo arena, they still send you this AWESOME sheet of paper with the ASU crest that you can frame and hang on the wall!
    I'm proud of you, my almost daughter. It's been a long haul. And you did it! Love you!

    P.S. I'm with Greg. I've always known you could do anything.

  2. Congratulations! What a wonderful talent and I love your final project.

    Have you every heard of the Life Story Library Foundation? They collect stories, help people write stories, and other related things dealing with storytelling, the director Paulette Stevens is the sweetest lady.

  3. You did it! Congratulations! What a great example you are to Brynn (and many others!) of working hard to accomplish your goals!

  4. Congrats!!! Put on your bath robe and walk down the street! Your husband and daughter can cheer on and hand you a box of pizza as your certificate! Awesome job accomplishing your goal.

  5. So proud of you Heather! Especially of what you have chosen to do with it. You did something so awesome and you can do so much good with it!

    And I'm with Cami on how you should celebrate. ;-) Love you!

  6. Congratulations on graduating!! That is such a great accomplishment!

    I also would love a copy of grandpa and grandma's history! I would pay you for it! Let me know. Love, Aunt Cindy