Reflecting on 25 Years

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For as long as I can remember I have been looking forward to my 26th birthday. My 26th birthday is also my golden birthday so I thought that meant something amazing. As a kid I imagined that 26 would be the best age, I’d have my whole life figured out by then.

I turn 26 on Saturday and I know that I don’t have my whole life figured out but that’s okay. I’ve spent the past week reflecting on my 25 years on this planet. All the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly moments that have made up every second of my existence. I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been floating through my mind as I prepare for this special milestone in my life.

  •  I’ve spent all but 20 months of my life with a built in best friend. Being a big sister wasn’t always my favorite thing but I’m so glad to have my sister!
  • My grandparents have always been a huge part of my life. All three of them have supported, comforted, and cheered me on and I’m grateful to have them.
  • My mom is the best person in the world. I can count on her for anything and even at *almost* 26 years old I still need my mom!
  • My dad and I haven’t always gotten along but I know he had good intentions. Having two daughters wasn’t his dream but he always supported us and provided for us. I’m glad I’m no longer a sassy teenager and we can get along!
  • Brett has been a major part of my life for the last 8 years. He’s been my shoulder to cry on, my pillar of strength, and my friend. Like I said in my wedding vows, Brett came into my life when I really needed a friend. He was brought to me at the perfect time and I’m always grateful to have him as my other half.
  • Lucy and Oscar are my furbabies and they make me so happy. Lucy was a gift from my parents after I went through a really rough patch in high school. She’s the perfect therapy animal and is always there for me when I’m upset. Oscar is the goofiest dog and really completes our little family (for now!).
  • Middle School and High School were some of the hardest years of my life. I couldn’t wait to graduate and forget all of the horrors that I experienced. It’s been 7 years since I graduated and I realize that all of those terrible moments made me who I am today. I’m stronger because of the tough moments.
  • College wasn’t what I expected. I worked hard in class and at my job and didn’t really have the time to socialize. I’m glad I went to business school but wish that maybe I had tried to make a few more friends. I struggled a lot during these years.
  • Studying abroad in London was the highlight of my college career. I made friendships that have lasted despite the distance between us. London became my second home and for a homebody like me, that says a lot.
  • Unfortunately, migraines and headaches have been a huge part of my life. I’m still struggling but I’ll keep fighting for as long as it takes!
  • We had a foreign exchange student live with us during my sophomore year in high school. She was a family friend from Denmark and I was so excited to finally have an older “sister”. She is beautiful and loving but I was a brat. I learned so much about other cultures during this time and am proud to call her my sister to this day. She even came to our wedding and played an important part in our day!
  • People say that your wedding day is the happiest day of your life. That wasn’t true for me because I knew that there would be many “happiest” days for us as a couple. Our wedding day was one of many happy days but it felt amazing to be surrounded by people who loved us so much and wanted to celebrate our life together.
  • Buying our house was special. Everything fell into place and we found the most amazing home to start our life together in. We walked in and I knew that I knew that this house was meant for us. I have never felt so settled in my life! I’m happy to be here and add our happy memories to this incredible home.
  • I’ve had two best friends since the third grade. We may not talk everyday or see each other often but I know that I can always count on them.
  • I went through a really tough breakup in high school that set the rest of my life in motion. I would be so different if I hadn’t gone through this breakup exactly the way it happened. It’s hard to acknowledge that this was a pivotal life moment for me.
  • After graduating college I jumped into the job search like it was my second job. I struggled for those couple of months after college before I found a job. I stumbled into my current job because I knew that the company was amazing. It wasn’t my dream job but I knew I’d be happy. Three years later and I’m so grateful that I took the leap of faith!
  • In school I struggled with anxiety and depression which I don’t often talk about. I learned a lot about myself during these times and continue to learn as I grow older. In high school I also struggled with body image and an eating disorder. All of these things have shaped me into who I am today. I’m sad for past Hayley but glad that these hurdles were added to my journey to make me a stronger and more empathetic person.
  • Band was a huge part of my life! I played the flute from 5th to 12th grade. I took private lessons, made symphonic band as a freshman, was a total marching bank geek, and made SO many band friends along the way. I think I would have been lost in high school without band. I even considered being a music performance major in college!
  • My parents always provided a warm home, food, clothes, and toys without making us spoiled brats. I learned the value of a dollar at an early age and have always been financially savvy which has proven to be helpful in my current career in finance.
  • In 2011 I traveled to Europe for the first time with my high school band. This trip opened my eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities. From that moment on I was always planning my next trip. I want to see the world and am grateful that I had this opportunity to inspire me to chase my dreams.
  • My parents have fought for me. They have helped me chase every dream, they have supported me, and they have loved me when I was pretty unlovable. I know that I’m lucky to have them.
  • I’ve been all over the world, I’ve left my heart in so many places. Yet the feeling of coming home is always my favorite.
  • Here’s to the hundreds of notebooks that I filled with stories, songs, poems, and random thoughts throughout the years. I recently went through these notebooks that dated all the way back to preschool. I’ve always been a writer and I’m glad I found blogging to fulfill my passion.
  • Speaking of blogging, in the next couple of weeks I will be celebrating SIX years of Life of Hayley! I never imagined that my passion for writing would take me here. To a platform where I can share my most precious thoughts and feelings and be understood and acccepted. Thank you for sharing my journey with me!

All of these little moments, these struggles, these “happiest” days have made me who I am today. These friends, family, and loved ones have shaped and inspired me. I’ve been hardened by the struggles to know my worth and to fight for what I believe in. I’ve learned to love myself even when I think that no one else does.

The past 25 years have been challenging, exciting, emotional, and adventurous. What will the next 25 or 50 years bring? I have no idea! But that’s part of the adventure!

If you have gotten this far, thank you so much for reading! I am a sentimental introvert!

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Five on Friday #13

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Welcome to Friday, friends! 🙂

This week was okay. I had Monday off to go to South Haven with Brett so I only had to work four days. A four day work week seems so much more enjoyable than five days. How was your week?

  1. Our local balloon festival is this weekend so Brett will be busy with that. I will be joining him for most of it but I’m also hoping to squeeze in some time to get chores done and spend time with family.
  2. Brett and I went to dinner on Tuesday night with my grandparents and parents. My parents are celebrating 27 years of marriage this month! I cherish all the time I can get with my grandma and grandpa.
  3. I’ve been in a reading rut lately. I’ve started a couple of books but nothing has stuck which is super disappointing. Have you read any good books lately?
  4. I’m starting to get sad that summer is almost over. I’m happiest when the sun is shining and I can spend all the time I want outside. I love fall but it’s too close to winter. I am pretty excited to switch up my home decor and drink some hot apple cider though! Are you ready for fall?
  5. I was doing really good with my health and wellness journey but I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit these last couple of weeks. I’m determined to re-group this upcoming week and get back on track! I’m planning on doing some serious meal prep on Sunday to get me ready for the week.

What are your plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

The Blogger Comparison Game

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A couple of years ago I took an internet marking class in college that made me decide to quit blogging. I had already been blogging for a couple of years at this point and no longer could handle it. I hated comparing myself to other bloggers and their successes. I hated looking at my stats and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t meet the goals that I had set for myself. I decided that I hated everything about blogging and shut my door to the community that I worked so hard to connect with.

I never thought that I would come out of blogging “retirement” but I’m so glad that I did! I pretty much had to build myself back up from nothing and it was rough. I let fear and self doubt crush everything that I had created and I almost let that fear win.

Blogging in the age of social media influencers is much harder than when I started this blog almost six years ago. When I started writing a blog for a college English class I never expected to love it and want to keep writing after the class was over. Having this space has become my creative outlet and all of you have become my internet friends.

Still, I find myself comparing my little piece of the internet to other’s. I feel a sense of belonging in the blogging community yet still compare my posts and pictures to everyone else’s. I cheer people on while tearing myself down because I’m a perfectionist and nothing ever feels good enough.

The blogger comparison game is real. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way and I wanted to share how I’ve been coping with my feelings.

The wonderful bloggers who I follow are amazing people. I’ve never met them in real life but I can tell because they put so much into their writing. Instead of comparing myself to them I’ve been trying to instead put my energy into engaging and building others up too. If I follow you it’s because I honestly love reading your content and I want you to do well!

As bloggers we have the unique ability to put our thoughts out into the world in either a negative or positive way. Playing this stupid comparison game with myself was a negative behavior and it was hurting my blogging. I will probably never be a social media influencer and that’s okay. I’ll always be a shy introvert who is just happy to share her truth with the world.

Do you find yourself getting caught up in the comparison game? How do you deal with it?

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Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

A Day at the Beach: South Haven, MI

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Monday was our 8 year anniversary, 2 years married and 6 years dating. Brett and I both took the day off of work so we could spend time together. We decided to head to South Haven which is about an hour from our house.

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South Haven is a little town in Southwest Michigan located along Lake Michigan. One of the best things about Michigan is all of the lakes! We usually spend time at one of our smaller local lakes but being only an hour from Lake Michigan is pretty amazing. South Haven is special to me because my grandpa, the landscape artist, worked on the design of the downtown area.

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We started our day at the beach by wandering through the downtown area with all of the cute shops. My favorites are the Blueberry Store where you can buy products made from locally grown blueberries and the pet store, Decadent Dogs. After wandering through a few stores we stopped for lunch at Clementine’s.

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Clementine’s usually has a line out the door and is a must for any trip to South Haven! Because it was a Monday we were able to get seated right away! I got the Outlaw steak and a strawberry daiquiri. This is my usual Clementine’s order.

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After lunch, Brett and I headed for the antique stores. We love to go hunting for antiques! My favorite thing to collect are tea cups and dishes of any kind. I’m lucky to have a set of china from my grandma but I still love collecting pieces of china here and there. Brett collects aviation related items and vintage signs. Brett was able to find an aviation sign for our outdoor bar and some vintage beer labels for our basement.

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We grabbed some boba smoothies and headed for the beach! It was the perfect summer day in Michigan, 81 degrees and sunny! The beach was pretty packed for a Monday but we were able to find a parking spot right away! We set up camp near the water and I read while Brett napped. We did a bit of swimming and hanging out on the sand bar.

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Being at the beach always makes me sleepy so after a couple of hours we packed up. Before heading home we made sure to stop at Sherman’s Ice Cream! Sherman’s is a must for any South Haven adventure! My favorite ice cream flavor is Chocomania.

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We had a great beach day and it definitely reminded me that I need to make more time to spend with Brett. We spend a ton of time with family and friends but rarely make time for just the two of us unless we are traveling. I loved spending the day with him!

If you are ever visiting Michigan, I would highly recommend a day in South Haven! We barely scratched the surface of all of the great things to do in this adorable beach town!

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Our Love Story: 8 Year Anniversary

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8 years ago today Brett and I went on our first date. Our mutual friend had introduced us through text one night when I was hanging out with her. We hit it off right away and talked everyday for a couple of weeks. Brett finally asked me out on a date while I was at my friend’s cottage on the lake. I was 17 and getting ready for my senior year of high school. Brett was 19 and was starting his junior year of college.

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Our first date was on August 19, 2011 at a mini golf and arcade place in our hometown. I remember seeing him for the first time as he got out of his car and walked towards mine. He was wearing a football jersey for our local university. The same university he was currently attending and I was hoping to attend in a year. I thought he was super cute and sweet.

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After our first date we were pretty much inseparable. We spent the rest of summer 2011 falling in love with each other. He took me to an early hot air balloon launch and we followed the balloons with his car. I navigated while he drove. After that we had breakfast at a cute little diner and then spent the day at the zoo. It was the perfect date day.

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Brett was so supportive during my senior year. He came to marching band competitions, football games, flute concerts, and every graduation occasion.  He took me to prom and we danced the night away together. He helped setup my graduation party and stayed with me the whole day.

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My favorite part of our story is our years in college. Brett was already attending my dream university so we ended up at college together! We both lived on campus my freshman year so we were able to eat meals together, study in the library, and hang out with friends. He helped me get acclimated to college and made the transition so much easier.

My junior year of college was when I decided to study abroad in London. It was a hard decision to make to be gone for 5 months but Brett was very supportive. I had been talking about studying abroad in London the whole time we were dating so he knew it was going to happen. He attended study abroad fairs with me and helped me choose the perfect program in London.

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Studying abroad was hard. This was the most difficult thing we had ever had to go through in our relationship but it made us a lot stronger. We were in different time zones and it was hard to make time to Skype. We planned on Brett coming to visit at the end of the semester with my mom and sister. It felt surreal when they finally bought their tickets!

Brett came a few days early so we could spend time with my new friends and I could show him around. I think he fell in love with London as much as I did during this trip. Once my mom and sister joined us we traveled around London, and to Denmark and Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime!

The day I had to say goodbye to my friends in London was very memorable. Brett was planning on proposing to me and had been carrying around my engagement ring. He should have told my family his plan though! He left the ring in the safe while we went to dinner with my friends. My mom and sister found the ring box and opened it. While Dani was trying my ring on, my mom was texting her friend. Instead of texting her friend though she texted me on accident! She told me not to tell Brett but he had already seen the text.

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I spent the rest of the trip wondering when Brett would propose. He didn’t propose in Denmark even though my exchange sister had set up the perfect scene. He didn’t propose in Ireland or on our last day in London. On our last night we stayed in a hotel by Heathrow. We went down to the hotel lobby to print our boarding passes and Brett asked me to take a walk with him. It was on that night, on some random road near Heathrow Airport, where Brett asked me to spend my life with him.

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We decided not to do any wedding planning until after graduation. We got engaged in 2015 and planned for a 2017 wedding. Our engagement was also hard. I was only 21 so I felt pretty isolated. Brett and I had been together for 4 years and I expected people to be thrilled for us. Instead I just felt really lonely.

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We graduated in the spring of 2016 and both of us had to figure out what to do next. We started applying for jobs and having interviews on top of planning our wedding. We picked a date, August 19th, 2017, a venue, and I picked a dress. Finally we both landed jobs and everything figured itself out.

In December 2016 we moved into a cute little apartment together and made it into our first semi-permanent home. We both moved around so much in college so it was nice to finally be settled. We had so many great times in that apartment!

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Two years ago, on August 19th, 2017, I finally go to say “I do” and marry my best friend! You can read about my favorite wedding moments here if you are interested! Our wedding was English Garden themed with lots of flowers, music, friends, and family. We collected hundreds of antique teacups for the centerpieces and decor.

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Our honeymoon was in London and we were able to spend two weeks visiting all of our favorite places. It was the best! The last two years of marriage has been filled with ups and downs including buying a house, adopting a dog, changing jobs, etc.

Two years of marriage and six years of dating has flown by. We’ve had so many amazing memories together and I can’t wait for many more to come. Marriage isn’t always easy but it is always worth it.

Thanks for reading!

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I Just Want to Travel

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I love to travel. There’s just something so amazing about exploring a new place, culture, way of life, that really makes me feel alive. I love wandering around new cities and getting lost. I love listening to people speak different languages and wondering what they are saying.

Every year my vacation days refresh and I begin to plan all of the things I want to do and see. My work is pretty good about vacation time but it never seems to be enough for me. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore!

Brett also loves to travel so we talk constantly about the next places on our bucketlist. In 2020 we really want to visit Amsterdam and Prague but I’d love to sneak in a few days in London. We didn’t plan a big trip in 2019 because we traveled to Florida, Arizona, Oregon, and Florida again. I think we will visit Massachusetts or New Hampshire in the fall though!

Travel is something that is always on my heart and mind. I visited Europe for the first time in 2011 and became addicted to exploring new places. There are so many places that I haven’t been and I’m looking forward to visiting all of them!

Do you love to travel?

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Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

 

 

Oregon Trip Part One: Smith Rock and Painted Hills

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Earlier this year I got the most exciting WhatsApp message from my friend Anna Sophie! For those of you who have read my study abroad adventures you would recognize Anna Sophie from London.We met during our study abroad semester at Regent’s University. Anna Sophie is from Germany while I am from Michigan so we haven’t seen each other since 2015.

Anna Sophie’s message said that her and her boyfriend, Jona, were going to be spending three weeks in the USA roadtripping! Brett and I have flight benefits so right away I messaged back saying that we would love to meet them somewhere. We settled on meeting them in Bend, Oregon and then traveling with them to Portland, Oregon in June!

The months flew by and when June rolled around I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be reunited with my best friend! Brett and I flew into Bend on Sunday afternoon and expected to meet Anna Sophie and Jona on Monday morning. She called me while Brett and I were at Target to say that they decided to come to Bend that night instead! We were reunited at our Airbnb and started our wonderful new journey together.

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Brett went to Bend last year for a guy’s trip so I kind of knew what to expect. On Monday morning we headed to Smith Rock for a day hike. It was HOT and I was unprepared for just how hard the hike would be. I didn’t expect to be climbing straight up a giant rock when I’m as out of shape as I am. However, we still had a great time together and it was absolutely beautiful!

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I did not make it all the way up Smith Rock that day. In fact, I slipped and fell near the top and ended up scrapping my leg up pretty badly. It’s 2 months later now and my leg still looks pretty gross. Brett and I decided to wait for Anna Sophie and Jona and they made their way up to the top. I was disappointed in myself but sometimes I have to cut myself a little slack. I’m always happy to get out and do things instead of living in fear of another migraine attack.

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After our trek, we headed to Coldstone for some ice cream! Ice cream is my love language. After Coldstone we headed back to the Airbnb and got ready for dinner. Brett and I decided that it would be fun to introduce our German friends to hibachi. We went to a hibachi restaurant in Bend and they ended up loving it! After dinner we went back to the Airbnb, cuddled with our host’s dogs (including a super cute dachshund named Ruby), and played games. One of my favorite memories of Anna Sophie and our trip to visit her family in Germany was playing games together.

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The next day we headed out to the Painted Hills. Brett drove and I navigated but when we got out towards the Painted Hills we lost service. We may have gotten a little lost while we were driving but that was part of the adventure!

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The Painted Hills are amazing! I didn’t really know what to expect other than the google images that I looked up before going. We did a few of the hikes which were nowhere near as exhausting as Smith Rock from the day before.

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After our hike, we headed back into Bend for dinner. We stopped at this place called On Tap that has a outdoor bar and food trucks. We all got food from different trucks and ate by the bar. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better! We tried to teach Anna Sophie cornhole after dinner per Michigan tradition.

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Of course, our night was not complete without ice cream! We went to Bonta Gelato for some delicious dessert! You know a place is good when there’s a line out the door and Bonta did not disappoint.

Brett went to see his friend who lives in Bend after dropping us off at the Airbnb. Anna Sophie and I sat and chatted for the next couple of hours just getting caught up on life. We also had to pack to head to Portland the next morning.

I really enjoyed our time in Bend even though it was super short! We loved our Airbnb, the great food, and just spending quality time with friends who we don’t get to see often enough.

Study abroad was one of the best adventures of my life and I was so sad when it was over. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my friends again and I that was devastating. We’ve all kept in touch over the years but that’s not the same as seeing each other in person. Seeing Anna Sophie again was like being reunited with a piece of my heart. She understands me in a way that a lot of my other friends don’t. Even though we are from different countries and were raised differently she still feels like the friend I’ve always needed and wanted.

Part two of our trip will be posted soon!

Have you ever been to Bend? Do you enjoy hiking?

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