Best Laid Plans

I’ve always had plans.

I wanted to graduate from college in four years, get a job, get married, buy a house, adopt a dog, and have a baby or two.

Life has a way of reminding you that you can’t control it. You can’t plan for what’s going to happen no matter how hard you try or how badly you want it. Even though I’m a planner I know that life isn’t going to go according to plan and my best laid plans will be thrown back in my face.

Even though I can’t control life making these plans still makes me feel like I have some control. When I feel anxious I make a list. Writing down the thoughts that are racing through my head helps me to feel like I’m in control. That’s how I feel about life too. I can’t control it but making these plans and lists makes me feel like I have a bit of control over the situation.

Right now I’m in a phase of my life where I am constantly reminded that I’m not in control. I have to have faith that there’s a plan for me that’s greater than the one I am wanting. I have to be patient and know that my time is coming.

I had a carefully laid plan for this year. I still have hope that it will be a good year it just won’t be what I had planned and that’s okay too.

Are you a planner? Are you usually able to stick to the plans that you make?

Photo by That’s Her Business on Unsplash

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A Beer Review From a Non-Beer Drinker

My husband, Brett, has a blog and a YouTube where he talks about a variety of things like weather, air shows, roller coasters, and beer. His YouTube is mostly beer reviews but we’ve had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and setting up a little studio in our house for him to film. The studio is still a work in progress. We went to Ikea a couple of weeks ago and now I’m working on getting things setup. I’m excited for him to have a space to film soon!

A few weeks ago we had nothing to do so I joined his for a review video. I’m usually behind the camera and I don’t like beer so this was new for me. Check out the video if you want to see my awkward faces and to see our super cute dachshund-mix, Oscar!

I love supporting Brett on this little adventure of his. He has the personality to be a good YouTuber in my opinion.

Do you like beer? Do you watch YouTube? What kind of videos do you like?

Feel free to subscribe to Brett’s channel. We filmed a video at Ikea that will be up soon too!

Social Media Overload

I’ve been on social media for at least 15 years. It all started with Bebo (anyone else remember Bebo?) and has transitioned into TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ve been feeling drained with all of the information shared on these platforms and I do contribute some of my anxiety to this information overload.

I started taking a break from all social media platforms on March 1st.. I’ve taken quite a few breaks from blogging over the years and I really do think that it’s okay to take breaks. I’ve only taken one social media break though and it was very short lived and actually resulted in me creating a new Facebook profile so I didn’t have to see all of the negativity associated with my old one.

I don’t know how long this break will last. I’m trying to spend the time I would have spent scrolling through Instagram on things that I actually enjoy like reading, taking Oscar for walks, and planning for my garden.

If I miss a tag or liking a post it’s because of this. I do really miss seeing what people are up to so I will try to focus more on WordPress and reading/commenting on posts. I originally considered WordPress to be something that I needed a break from too but blogging can be really therapeutic so I will continue to stay on here for as long as it remains healthy for me.

Something that I have struggled with since I started this blog was how much I should share. It’s easy to overshare while I’m hiding behind a screen but I have a much harder time confronting these things in my real life. Sometimes it’s better to keep things to myself until I’m ready to share and I feel like this is one of those times. Taking this break from social media will allow me to focus on myself like I really need to.

Have you ever taken a break from social media or blogging? If yes, did you find the break helpful?

Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

6 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

January 24th, 2015 was one of the scariest days of my life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew that I had to go. I can’t even explain it but I had this feeling that I was meant to live in London. I’m the type of person who hates change so moving to London was very out of character for me but with every fiber of my being I knew it was the right decision.

In 2019 I wrote a reflection of 4 years after studying abroad and it’s interesting to see how some of my feelings have changed or strengthened since then.

It all started in 2011 when I went on a high school band trip where we traveled to 7 countries in Europe. Our first destination was London and from the moment I stepped off the plane I knew I’d be back. We were only there for a couple of days but I fell in love. After that I said that I’d be studying abroad in London for a semester in college. I didn’t know how but I was determined to make it happen.

Studying abroad is pretty common in college. I went to all the study abroad fairs, talked to my advisors, and worked many hours in order to save enough money to make it possible. I applied for scholarships and worked hard to make my dream a reality. I will always be a huge advocate for studying abroad in college. Here’s a list of reasons why I think studying abroad is important.

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

At the time, studying abroad felt selfish. I was going to a great university in Michigan so there was no real reason for me to seek education elsewhere. I had a good job that I’d need to give my notice to. I had an amazing boyfriend that I’d need to leave behind for a few months. All of these reasons almost made me give up my dream.

Studying abroad was selfish but in the best way possible. For the first time since I was 16 I wasn’t working. I was able to make friends and spend a huge amount of time with them. I was never able to do that in Michigan. I was able to take trips on the weekend without worrying about finding someone to cover my shifts at work. And my boyfriend? He was fully supportive of my decision. It wasn’t easy to spend so many months living apart but it all worked out in the end (spoiler: he proposed when he visited me in London)!

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

It also wasn’t easy. I wrote this post about being homesick after a really tough day in London where I’d almost missed a school trip and was so afraid to call and tell my mom because I felt like I had failed. Being away from Brett was hard too and I wasn’t sure if our relationship would survive. We talked as much as we could but there was a big time difference. I missed my family and friends back home and it was hard to miss birthdays and gatherings.

I remember being so scared that I’d travel all the way to London just to be alone. I didn’t really have any college friends back home and it was lonely. I had almost convinced myself that it would be the same in London and that I just shouldn’t go. But I faced that fear and I made the most incredible friends along the way. We still have a group WhatsApp chat and even had a Zoom call recently to catch up. I also met my friend, Anna Sophie, in Oregon in 2019!

Even though it wasn’t easy, I would do it all again if I could because for those few months I finally lived. Like really and truly lived.

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

I can’t say for sure that studying abroad is the right decision for everyone but it was the best decision for me. I hate change and I’m a homebody but I’ll forever feel like part of my heart is in London. Brett and I spent our honeymoon in London in 2017 and we both felt like we were coming home. We had a big Europe trip planned for 2020 and the first stop was supposed to be London. One day we will be back.

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

I am in awe of the person I was 6 years ago. I’m so incredibly proud of myself for taking that leap of faith that turned into some of my favorite memories. I have never been as happy as I was when I was studying abroad. I made these amazing friends and traveled all over. I learned to be independent and confident in myself. I wish I could figure out how to make big life changes like this again but I’m not as brave as I used to be.

Remembering who I was 6 years ago is giving me the inspiration to think about some of the changes I need to make in my life now. I need to be brave again and figure out how to put myself first and be “selfish”.

Did you study abroad in college? Would you ever consider moving to another country?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

Making Work-Life Balance Happen

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m a workaholic but basically all I did in 2020 was work and now I’m burnt out and don’t quite know how to fix it.

My company wants us to have work-life balance but we’ve grown so much in the past few years that it just doesn’t feel possible anymore. In order to keep up with the demand we are all working long hours and I don’t see an end in sight. I love the company I work for and the team I’m on but I’m so tired every day and I really just want to be able to take a lunch break or a vacation day without feeling guilty.

In general I’ve been questioning work-life balance. I haven’t been sleeping well because I have anxiety dreams about work and I can’t shut them off. I’m worried about my to-do list, I’m worried I’m missing an e-mail because there are too many, I’m worried about training others while trying to learn new things myself. I’m worried that I will burn out for real before I even turn 30.

2021 has to be the year that I figure this out. I need to take all my vacation days without feeling guilty. I need to have a normal amount of responsibilities. I need to put my mental health first. And most of all, I need to work normal hours because working this much is not healthy.

In 2019 I wrote a post about how my dream job was no longer a specific job. Instead it was a team, my team. I still love my team SO much but I don’t know if it’s enough anymore. 2019 was the best year of work for me. I was in a great place but 2020 changed everything and I don’t know how to go back.

Have you been able to make work-life balance? How do you put your needs first?

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Five on Friday #24

Happy Friday!

This is my first Five on Friday post since July! I usually try to write these once a week or so but I took a little blogging break at the end of the year. With that said, so much has happened since July so this post might be really random.

  1. In July I was posting about Taylor Swift’s new album, Folkore, which I instantly loved. Since then Taylor has released another new album, Evermore, which is heartbreakingly sad but so easy to love. I have listened to Evermore everyday since it came out. It got me through the long December work days and I’m really grateful. Have you listened to Evermore? What’s your opinion on it?
  2. I’ve been loving watching Curiosity Incorporated on YouTube. Brett and I refer to it as the Canadian version of Antique Archaeology which we have always loved! We were able to visit the shop in Nashville in 2015 and it was really cool. I’ve been binge watching Curiosity Incorporated for a couple of weeks now and really recommend it!
  3. I recently moved my office up from our basement to our main floor guest bedroom. We removed the bed and moved around the rest of the furniture so that I could have a nice office with windows! I was struggling being in the basement all day everyday. I’m hoping that being upstairs will help!
  4. Last year I bought two planners and had big plans of using them. I still laugh at how empty those planners are. I was good for the first couple of months but once I started working from home I no longer filled out anything in my planner. I’m looking forward to being more organized in 2021 with my new planner! I love the monthly view for planning out vacation time with my teammates and blog posts.
  5. I’m currently reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and I really love it! I read and reviewed How to Stop Time by Matt Haig in 2020 and was obsessed with it! I was so excited when he released this new book and have been flying through it so hopefully I will have a review up soon. Have you read any good books lately?

How was your week? Do you have any plans this weekend?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Weaning Off Meds

I haven’t done a migraine update since July and SO much has changed since then. I’ve worked really hard the past six months or so on my health. Being in a vicious migraine cycle for the past 7+ years was a nightmare and I knew that something needed to change. I couldn’t continue being in constant pain everyday.

Before I continue, please read my migraine story and know that my journey will be different than yours if you also have headaches or migraine. I should write an updated migraine story since I wrote that one in 2018 but I have done many migraine updates since. It took me years to find a Neurologist that worked with me and understood me. My story would be much different if I hadn’t found my current Neurologist.

Muscle Relaxers

In July I wrote about taking muscle relaxers at night to help me sleep and lessen the tension in my neck and jaw. I was very skeptical when my Neurologist suggested muscle relaxers but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I only take them on the weekends because I do sleep almost too well and have a hard time waking up on workdays. But I do notice a huge difference when I take them and it really has helped me.

Rebound Headaches

How many times have I mentioned rebound headaches now? For years I lived off of ibuprofen because I was in constant pain and it was the only thing that made the pain manageable. Taking all that ibuprofen was not only extremely unhealthy but also put me in an endless rebound headache cycle.

I made it a goal this summer to break my rebound headache cycle which meant weaning off of ibuprofen and any other pain medication that I was relying on. It’s almost like an addiction and I didn’t think that I’d be able to get through it. It’s been about 4 months since this journey began and I’m happy to say that I’ve only taken pain medication a handful of times per month since. I still can’t get through a bad migraine without rescue meds but I don’t take anything daily for pain.

I should mention that weaning off of pain medication was very painful. I had about a month of severe pain and basically withdrawal symptoms. I’m still in awe of myself that I was able to break the cycle. I still have daily headaches and migraine cycles a few times a month that last days but I know my overall health is much better now.

Weaning Off Medication

I’ve always wanted kids but it’s felt impossible because I was in constant pain and relied of medication to keep me going. Over the past few months I’ve finally felt like I might be able to start a family which is a huge deal for me. I’ve watched friends and family members start their families while knowing that I might never be able to have that same experience. Now I feel like it’s a possibility.

Because of that, I made the decision with my Neurologist to wean off of my daily preventative medication. These meds were also controlling my tremor so weaning off them meant that my tremor would come back full force. It took about a month for me to completely wean off of them and I really noticed a difference right away. I have a constant headache, tremor, and an increase in migraine days.

It won’t be easy but I hope that weaning off of this medication will be okay. It’s only been a couple of weeks now so it’s hard for me to say. I hope that one day soon I feel comfortable and confident in deciding to start a family. The thought of being pregnant still terrifies me but I hope it’ll be worth it!

So much has changed in the past several months and I feel like I have a lot to be proud of. My journey with Chronic Migraine hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned a lot.

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

2021: First Quarter Goals

I started setting quarterly goals in 2017 instead of a “New Years Resolution” and I’ve really loved it! Instead of setting goals for the whole year in January I set goals every quarter. This keeps me motivated to get things done and also feels more realistic for my lifestyle.

2021 is the first year that I don’t have all planned out. We don’t have any travel plans due to Covid and I’m not really sure what else will happen this year. So setting my goals for the first quarter feels a bit strange but I’m hoping that this will be a nice challenge and will be good to look back on for years to come.

Here are my 2021 Q1 goals:

  • Work-Life Balance: The end of 2020 was killer for me at work. I worked 50+ hours per week and had zero boundaries when it came to phone calls, e-mails, and meetings. I am in the middle of training two new hires and I get a new intern to mentor in a couple of weeks so I know that things won’t slow down but I need to be better about creating a balance and not over-extending myself. Right now my work-life balance isn’t healthy and I can’t continue working this way.
  • House Projects: Probably the most exciting thing that we have planned for 2021 are some house projects. Our main goal is to see if it’s possible to add a bathroom and walk-in closet to our second story. We live in a Cape Cod style house so the second floor is a converted attic with sloped ceilings. It’s a huge space but right now it’s just a guest room. We’d love to turn the second floor into a master suite so we will see what the contractor quotes us. We’d also like to re-do our kitchen and mud room floors and maybe splurge on new kitchen appliances.
  • Blogging: I took another blogging break at the end of 2021 because work was killing me and I couldn’t spend anymore time on my computer to write a blog post. I’d love to be able to post 2-3 times per week but we will see how realistic that becomes with my work schedule. I also failed at reading and commenting on posts so I want to be better about that because one of my favorite things about blogging is reading other blogger’s posts and it’s just not the same without that.
  • Monthly Date Nights: My husband, Brett, works nights Tuesday-Saturday so we don’t see each other that much and it’s been hard to schedule quality time together. One of my favorite things that came from being quarantined was our monthly date nights and I want to keep that up. I genuinely enjoy spending time with Brett and it’s really great for our marriage to have that time scheduled each month.
  • Health: There are so many things I want to say about this goal but I’ll keep it pretty generic. This is the first year that I can remember where I’m not setting a goal to lose weight or am starting a new diet. I’ve struggled with body image forever it seems and restricting myself to a specific diet has been really unhealthly. This year I want to focus on taking care of myself which means eating healthy most of the time, practicing self-care, and prioritizing the things that make me happy. Hopefully keeping this simple will work better for me and I won’t feel so bad when I “fail”.

2021 feels different for a number of reasons. I want to take the time this year to work on myself and stop putting my job before anything else in my life. I have to start setting some boundaries or I’ll be completely burnt out before I even turn 30.

2020 taught me some valuable lessons and I hope that I learned enough to make this year different.

Are you setting any goals for 2021?

Photo by Andreea-Maria Juganaru on Unsplash

Seven Years of Blogging!

November 21st, 2020 marked 7 years of Life of Hayley! I’ve told the story of how this blog started many times before but basically I turned 20 and had a life crisis where I didn’t feel like I had accomplished enough in the previous 19 years. I wanted to use this space to document all of the things that I would do in my twenties. I’m an introvert so sharing my story can be difficult for me so this was also a way to push me outside of my comfort zone.

Fast forward 7 years and I’ve accomplished quite a bit. Over 800 people subscribe to this blog and read what I write. I didn’t do this for followers but I have really enjoyed sharing my life and making blogging friends. I’ve taken quite a few breaks from blogging and learned that it was okay to need a break.

I don’t know what this next year of blogging will bring. I can’t tell you how much I’ll post or share. But I do hope to be around for the foreseeable future.

So much has changed in the past 7 years. I’m now 27 and I’m married, with a dog and cat, working a full time job in finance, and I own a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood. My life isn’t perfect but I hope that 20 year old Hayley would be happy with how far I’ve come.

Even though so many things have changed, one thing remains the same. This blog has been my safe space and you’ve been my friends. I’ve shared my health journey and hopefully spread awareness about invisible illnesses. I’ve opened up about struggling with being an introvert. I’ve shared my wedding, anniversaries, funerals, and everything in between.

Thank you for an incredible 7 years! I am looking forward to many, many more to come.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

2020: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This will be my third year writing this type of post but this time feels so much different. 2020 can be accurately descripted as a dumpster fire and it’s much easier to find the ugly moments instead of the good moments. I’m going to attempt to document a variety of 2020 memories in this post.

As always, this isn’t a post to brag about my life or to show off. This is simply something that I enjoy writing to look back on in future years. I love looking back on 2018 and 2019.

In 2020 I…..

  • Traveled to New Hampshire to be my sister’s Matron of Honor for her wedding
  • Switched roles at work in February and cried a lot over it
  • Packed up all my stuff and started working from home in March
  • Started a job search and am still undecided about what I want to do
  • Saved money to start a new house project in 2021
  • Weaned off of my migraine medication to *hopefully* prepare to have a baby in the future
  • Broke my rebound headache cycle which I never could have done if I hadn’t been working from home. This is by far my most proud accomplishment of 2020 because I was so sick and I didn’t give up.
  • Flew to New Hampshire in July to drive back to Michigan with my sister for a few weeks. I enjoyed so much quality sister time.
  • Celebrated 3 years of marriage and 9 total years with Brett in August.
  • Found out that my sister was pregnant in September! Looking forward to adding another niece or nephew to the cousin crew in May 2021.
  • Spent more quality time with Brett than I have in years. Our monthly date nights are a 2020 highlight.
  • Started training two new hires in August on the role that I really don’t enjoy doing. Training has been slow moving since we are doing it virtually and it has been very hard on me. I’ve been working 50+ hours per week trying to keep up.
  • Took a break from blogging because I was overwhelmed with life.
  • Completed year 1 of a 3 year certification course for work.
  • Spent a lot of social distanced time with at my Grandparent’s lake house
  • Turned 27 in quarantine
  • Celebrated 7 years of blogging in November
  • Finally got promoted in December
  • Worked from home for 9 months and can’t imagine going back to the office full time ever again.

2020 was challenging in many different ways. My biggest challenge this year in my personal life was going from loving my job to hating it. Because work has been so hard I’ve struggled with everything else since I am so unmotivated. I don’t have an answer or solution for this yet so I will just keep chugging along.

I’m looking forward to the new year. I’m looking forward to a fresh start and hopefully leaving all of these negative feelings behind me.

What will you remember about 2020?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash