Five on Friday #6

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!

I have been waiting for this day since Tuesday! We had our Day of Caring Monday which meant that I didn’t have to go into work. Instead my company encourages us to volunteer our time at somewhere in the community. Volunteering at the food pantry helped me start my week off on the right foot.

  1. This might be the weekend where I finally get a much needed haircut. My hair is super thick and wavy and I really need to cut a few inches off.
  2. I had a major breakout last weekend so I re-ordered my favorite Murad set. I seriously love all of these products and cannot recommend them enough if you suffer from acne. I have been using Murad for about eight years now and have nothing but positive things to say about their products. The clarifying cleanser is a constant re-buy for me and I always have at least a couple of bottles on hand so that I never run out.
  3. I re-arranged our bedroom last weekend and I am so in love with how it turned out. I bought a new duvet set from Target that I have had my eyes on for awhile and it really helped transform our room. This weekend I’m going to try to finish up organizing my closet room (AKA extra bedroom turned walk-in closet).
  4. I’m still on cloud nine from our trip to Arizona to visit my grandparents. We had a great time exploring with them and I’m hoping to write some travel posts this weekend!
  5. Brett and I are both in desperate need for new laptops so I would really appreciate any recommendations! I would love something that I am able to play The Sims on but in reality I only need a laptop that would be great for blogging and online shopping. What kind of computer do you use?

I always love hearing what others are doing on their weekends so please let me know what you are up to!

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Photo by Muhammad Haikal Sjukri on Unsplash

 

 

Annual Day of Caring

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

Monday was my company’s fourth annual Day of Caring. Every year on President’s Day all 125 of our employees have the opportunity to volunteer at a place of their choice instead of working. President’s Day is a bank holiday which means that the stock market is closed. I work in finance so bank holidays are a great day for my company to give back to our community without missing out on the chance to serve our clients.

My department chose to volunteer at a local food bank that helps provide meals to families in need and weekend packs for school children who only get food at school during the week.

This is my third year volunteering at this food bank and I can honestly say that I really enjoy it! My team loves to make everything a competition. We usually break into two teams and race to see which team can create the most weekend pouches or who can package the most cereal containers.

I love that my company encourages us to go out into the community and make an impact. We have various other events throughout the year that focus on individual non-profits in each of our markets.

Our Day of Caring really means a lot to me because there were many times in my life where I was unable to donate money and resources. As a college student especially, the only thing I was able to donate was my time. No matter how big or small, you can still make an impact.

This year my team packaged over 1300 weekend pouches! This beats the record of 987 that we set two years ago. We hustled and worked together to create an efficient packing system in order to pack as many weekend pouches as possible in our time at the food pantry. It was also great team building!

Do you enjoy volunteering in your community?

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Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

I Can Be Healthy (And You Can Too!)

Health and Wellness

It’s been a few months since I posted about gaining weight. The cold hard truth is that I’ve only lost ten pounds since then and have been struggling to keep the weight off.

I’ve struggled with headaches and migraines for the past 7ish years which means that I’ve been on and off medications more times than I can count trying to find a solution. In 2017 I started to gain weight from the medicine that I was on and couldn’t seem to lose it. I gained about 40 pounds very quickly and there wasn’t much I could do. I know that sounds like an excuse but the medicine I was on really does cause weight gain and at the time it was prescribed I was a healthy 23 year old so my neurologist wasn’t worried about that particular side effect.

In 2018 I stopped taking that medication and stared taking Trokendi XR which I’ve talked about a few times in past posts. I was so sick the whole time that I was able to lose 10 pounds in under a month. One of the side effects of Trokendi is weight loss so I worked with a doctor and knew that it was “healthy”.

Now I have about 40 pounds to go before I’m back to my healthy weight. I only really weigh myself when I’m at the doctor because I have such a negative association with the scale.

I wanted to share this post to let you know that my mindset towards weight loss and being “healthy” is going to change. For the past year I have beat myself up every single day for letting myself go. I’ve refused to look in the mirror or be in pictures. I have told myself over and over again that I’m fat, worthless, and that I’ll only love myself if I lose weight.

But guess what?

All of those statements are wrong. I’m not worthless. I shouldn’t be embarrassed of being in pictures or looking in the mirror. I should love my body for carrying me through every single day of my life thus far.

I can be healthy. We all have choices everyday and these choices lead us down a certain path. In believing that I am worth the struggle, worth the time and energy I will start working towards a healthy lifestyle.

This is my year and I can choose to be anything I want to be.

I choose to be healthy and you can choose to be too. You first need to find the mindset and make the choice.

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Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

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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