All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This book was not on my 2019 reading list but I read a review and knew that I needed to read it ASAP. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of those books that makes you believe in love and happiness but also allows you to experience heartbreak that feels so real and raw. By the end of the book I was crying and felt like my heart was in one thousand little pieces but in a good way. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to feel all of the emotions at once.

But the main reason why I loved this book was because of the message. Reading through Finch and Violet’s day-to-day struggles with mental illness is SO important. Understanding is important. In the book they talk about how no one brings flowers to funerals and no one bakes casseroles for the family of suicide victims. That suicide is selfish. But it’s not and this book will explain why.

Summary

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

Review

This may actually be the best written book that I have ever read. I finished it about two weeks ago and still think about Finch and Violet daily.

I felt everything as it was happening and it took me back to moments in my life and made me realize that maybe I didn’t grieve as thoroughly as I thought I did. A couple of years ago I lost someone close to me who died in a “selfish” way. People tried to understand but they really couldn’t and it was devastating. I don’t think there will ever be a point in time where a book about mental illness and suicide is no longer relevant and important. It’s a hard read but incredibly important.

When we first meet Violet she is struggling to grieve for her sister who died in a car accident. Finch is all over the place with his mood when he sees Violet on the bell tower. They are both thinking about jumping and that day Finch saves Violet’s life and she gives him something to live for.

This book follows their friendship and eventual romance. It’s cute and fluffy with a side of seriousness. I love that the chapters switch back and forth between Finch and Violet’s point of view and I enjoyed being able to read both sides of the story. Finch’s chapters were really informative especially when you later hear the probable diagnosis from his school counselor.

The ending of the book is bittersweet and I actually did not see it coming. I really don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say much about it but these things happen in real life. It’s scary and crazy and it feels like there isn’t anything we can do about it. What I love most about this book is that Jennifer Niven brings to light all of the things we feel we can’t talk about when it comes to suicide and mental illness. Not only does she talk about it, she also gives resources for readers who feel similar to Finch and Violet.

Favorite Quotes

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

“You make me lovely, and it’s so lovely to be lovely to the one I love.…”

“You have been in every way all that anyone could be.… If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.”

“No more winter at all. Finch, you brought me spring.”

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”

“You saved my life. Why couldn’t I save yours?”

“I was here. TF.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Once again, this book is incredible. It’s raw, powerful, and extremely informative. I pride myself in being empathetic to others in situations very different from my own. Gaining perspective from All The Bright Places has helped me become more understanding, especially towards survivors of suicide. I would 150% recommend adding this to your reading list.

Apparently All The Bright Places is being turned into a movie in 2019! I’m looking forward to the day that I can watch Violet and Finch’s stories come to life. Also, it’s being directed by Brett Haley which is pretty much the most perfect name.

Have you read a book lately this you just can’t stop thinking about?

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Five on Friday #5

Five on Friday

It’s been a hot second since my last Five on Friday post! Today I am finally back with another five things that I am looking forward to or thinking about on this dreary Friday morning.

  1. We leave for Arizona tomorrow morning to visit my grandparents! My mom, sister, Brett, and I are going down for a few days of relaxation and family time before my sister moves to Hawaii next month. I can’t wait to be back with the fam and have a few days off of work!
  2. I have five books packed in my suitcase ready to go for some serious pool time reading. I’m flying through books again so please send me your recommendations! I’m trying to read a variety of different genres this year.
  3. I’m in the process of redecorating my house for spring and it’s making all of this snow and ice much more bearable. Michigan went from -37 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the matter of a week. My body is confused about what season we are in.
  4. I’m working on changing my mindset towards weight loss. I’ve been really struggling since early 2018 with my weight after taking a medication that made me blow up like a balloon. I’ve had issues with food in the past so I know that I need to be careful with myself and try to keep this experience as positive as possible.
  5. Brett and I are trying to plan out our summer! Summertime in Michigan is my absolute favorite but I always feel so stressed to squeeze everything in my the time it rolls around because I didn’t plan ahead. This year I just want to spend as much time at my grandparent’s house on the lake as possible.

What are your plans for this weekend?

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24 Hours in Paris: How to Spend One Perfect Day in the City

24 Hours in Paris

I mentioned before that my husband, Brett, works for a airline so we are able to fly standby at a low cost. The trade off is that we never really know where we are going to end up. The goal for our trip in October was to make it to Rome but flights to Rome were oversold and there was no way we would make it there in one day. Brett came up with a plan to spend a day in my second favorite city so that I could show him around.

24 Hours in Paris

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you would know how much I love Paris. I visited for the first time in 2011 and again in 2015. I attempted to plan trips in 2015 and 2017 with Brett but they never quite worked out. It was a dream come true to visit Paris with Brett! When times get tough I want to be able to remember this day in Paris with Brett. How happy we were, how beautiful the Eiffel Tower is in fall, and how much fun we had together even though I was dragging Brett around Paris on barely any sleep. 

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We started our day by changing our clothes in the airport bathrooms (#TeamNoSleep) and then booked an Uber to take us straight to the hotel to drop off our bags. We decided to splurge on a hotel which we never do and stay right by the Eiffel Tower since we were only staying for one night and wanted to make the most of our time in Paris. 

24 Hours in Paris

24 Hours in Paris

24 Hours in Paris

After dropping our bags off at the hotel we headed straight to the Eiffel Tower. There’s just something about Paris that’s magical to me and I was very excited to share the magic with Brett. There was construction around the tower so we were unable to go underneath it which was really sad. We also decided to not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower this trip. I had already been once and Brett didn’t want to spend all day in line. After taking in the views we went to a little cafe to grab breakfast. We were both exhausted and sitting for a few minutes to plan out our day was just what we needed. 

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In 2015 I walked along the Seine River to visit many of the places on my Paris Itinerary. This trip I decided it would be a great idea to re-trace my steps and do the same thing in order to show Brett all the highlights of Paris in a short amount of time. We would have to exclude a couple of things like Moulin Rouge and Montmartre (my favorite place in Paris) in order to make it a true walking tour. There are great bus tours of the city if you truly want to see everything in a day!

24 Hours in Paris

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In our 24 hours in Paris we explored the grounds of the Louvre but didn’t go inside, toured the Notre Dame,  ate ice cream by the Eiffel Tower, and watched the Eiffel Tower night show. In my Midnight in Paris post I talk about the magical moment I saw the Eiffel Tower at night for the first time. Pure magic. Brett and I also had a nice dinner complete with Brett trying escargot for the first time. He actually really liked it! 

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If we would have had more time I would love to have explored the Louvre again. I could spend hours walking around the Louvre. I would have also gone to Montmartre because that’s one of my absolute favorite spots in Paris. 

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We flew out around 11 the next morning so we took a walk around the Eiffel Tower and grabbed my favorite chocolate croissants from a cute cafe near our hotel. At the airport we bought macaroons and starting planning the next leg of our adventure in Rome. 

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Paris will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m so grateful that Brett and I finally got to visit together. In case you couldn’t tell, I really love Paris. 

Interested in visiting Paris? Check out my other Paris travel posts below!

Thanks for reading! 

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Snowed In

Michigan winter 2019

There are many things that I love about living in Michigan. The beautiful lakes, amazing summer and fall weather, and being close to my family and friends are at the top of my list. However, Michigan weather is incredibly unpredictable and one thing I do not enjoy is winter.

Winter in Michigan can be just downright miserable at times. Take today for example. The temperature outside is -9 degrees Fahrenheit before wind chill. That doesn’t sound terrible until you add in the buckets of snow, so much so that I got stuck in my own driveway after my husband had snow blowed it. And on top of that it’s windy so the actual temperature outside is closer to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. WHAT?!

The government for my city is closed down because of the temperature. The mail isn’t being delivered and the trash isn’t being picked up. The news warns us not to drive unless it’s completely unavoidable and to not be outside for more then 8 minutes at a time because of frostbite. It’s like a snowpocalypse.

I work in finance so if the stock market is open we are open for business. But the company I work for is all about work-life balance. Our President sent out an e-mail Tuesday afternoon urging us to work from home Wednesday due to the frigid temperature and terrible driving conditions. He sent another e-mail this afternoon with the same message. Reason number 1,000,001 why I love this company is because they value us as individuals and give us the opportunity to work from home instead of slip sliding our cars into work.

So, it looks like I’m going to be snowed in for another day. Working from home isn’t super easy because I’m down to just my laptop screen instead of my two screen setup at my work desk. But that’s okay! I’m home safe and sound with water running so our pipes don’t freeze!

Also, shoutout to the amazing people like Brett who work outdoor jobs. Today I bundled him up in a million layers so that he could go work his job at the airport in order to make sure that people can get to their destinations on time. They have been working in shifts so no one has to be outside too long.

Michigan, I love you but please give us a break from these unreasonably low temperatures!

Is anyone else out there freezing right now?

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Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

 

My Dream Job Isn’t My Dream Job Anymore

Girl Boss: Finding your dream job after college

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my life has changed since I graduated from college almost three years ago. I’m not at all where I thought I would be, I’m actually in a much better place than I could’ve ever imagined. I know many people have the same struggle as me after graduation so I wanted to share my experience in finding my dream job.

A few weeks ago my work sent out an internal job position in the marketing department. I immediately opened the job summary because I’ve always thought the only way I’d leave my current position would be for a marketing position. I found myself smiling along at the description and getting excited because the job summary was exactly what I’d always imagined myself doing. My fingers itched to fill out the job application and to start sprucing up my resume. But then reality hit me.

Things have changed a lot since I graduated from college in 2016. My  goals and my dreams aren’t the same as they used to be. I used to dream of planning events and managing social media for companies but now I am more than happy to help clients achieve their financial goals. I’m not client facing but I make an impact on our client’s lives and that means a great deal to me. In addition to that, I am a part of an amazing and hardworking team who always have my back. I have two strong female bosses who are willing to do anything to help me succeed. My dream job has changed because it’s no longer a role, it’s a team.

Success comes in many shapes and sizes but it can be lonely. Many people have success because they overcome failures and learn to be better than their peers. Success to me now means being on an efficient, cutting edge team. I’m one of ten people who show up each and every day ready to serve our clients and make a difference. We each play a part in the success of our company and each love what we do and what we stand for. Is there anything better than that?

So yes, my dream job has changed and it very well may change again. One day I may wake up and decide that marketing is the right move for me. Or I may retire in this very department. All I know is I am moving in the right direction and at 25 years old that’s all I can really ask.

If you are searching for your dream job and finding it to be a challenge, I hope that this post helps you. Your dream job may be right under your nose and you don’t even know it because you are looking for something else. It’s okay to take a risk and try something new. It might not always work but there’s a chance you could find exactly what you are looking for.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

5 Years of Blogging!

5 Years of Blogging

In November Life of Hayley turned 5! Since then I have been struggling on how to properly commemorate this very special occasion. 

Let me start out by saying that I began this blog right after my 20th birthday as a way to document the 25 things I wanted to accomplish before turning 25. At the time I was a sophomore in college and felt incredibly lost about what to do with my life. I felt unaccomplished and lonely. I had started a blog the year before for my freshman English class so the thought of writing had been in my head for some time. My 20th birthday was the perfect starting point for a lifestyle blog.

In the beginning I wrote about whatever I wanted and it was never about the views, likes, or comments. When I studied abroad in London I posted once a week and my blog gained a small following. I really loved the interaction with fellow bloggers and fell in love with the community. My senior year of college I took an internet marketing class that forced me to once again start a new blog. I spent all my time and energy on getting traffic to that blog. My grade was based on the number of followers, likes, and comments. I started to hate blogging when I no longer felt joy in interacting and instead found myself fixated on the stats. After I graduated from college I took almost a full year off of blogging and honestly thought that I would never blog again. 

My current job is what inspired me to open my laptop and start writing. I work in finance so there’s very little creativity in my normal day-to-day activities. I found myself wanting to write again about getting married and life after college. My first post was a challenge to write but after that I got back into the swing of things. 

My life has changed greatly since the day I sat in my dorm room and began writing. Life of Hayley has developed into something that I’m really proud of. This community has supported me during some of the hardest moments of my life and for that I am grateful. I hope 5 years from now I’ll be around to reflect on my 10 years of blogging.

Thanks so much for reading!

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