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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Recharging the “Introvert Battery”

Introvert Recharge

Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you but I am exhausted! I have been going nonstop lately and I am in desperate need of a break.

“What’s an introvert battery?” you ask. Great question! I don’t know if this a real term but it’s something I use to explain how I feel. If I know I’m going to be in social situations I spend some time alone to recharge my “battery” before needing to talk and interact with people. After I’m done interacting I go home and sit to recharge myself for the next outing. Being social takes all of my energy sometimes.

I’ve talked many times about being an introvert and one of my most prominent introvert tendencies is the need for alone time. I have had very little alone time as of late and need to recharge my battery. By recharge I mean not be around people for awhile.

I hate being “on” all of the time and I need to switch myself “off” for a while. I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately just because I feel so overwhelmed right now. It’s so hard to explain this to people who don’t experience the same feelings of anxiety towards social situations. Brett tries really hard to understand but he loves being around people so he struggles to realize that I can’t do as much as he can.

Sometimes I wish I could have a personality transfer because these periods of my life suck. It makes me feel selfish and ungrateful when I have to say no to friends and family that want to see me. But if I don’t recharge soon I will crash. I’ve crashed a few times before and it’s not fun and I end up feeling guilty about it for days. Our wedding day took a full introvert battery and I crashed at the end of the night because I was so overwhelmed and exhausted.

Do you ever feel this way too?

Thanks for reading!

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Image via Unsplash

The Importance of Practicing Self-Care

The Importance of Practicing Self-Care
Hello, my friends!

I have spent the past few weekends learning how to practice self-care. I have never given myself enough time to truly focus on making myself happy. I am always in a rush and when I do have any down time I like to spend it reading or relaxing on the couch. Relaxing is important but I never felt better afterward.

In one of my last posts I talked about my weight gain. What I didn’t really mention were all of the negative things that I brought upon myself because of the weight gain. I hated the way that I looked and the way my clothes fit. I thought punishing myself by squeezing into my old clothes would motivate me to lose weight. Instead I just felt terrible all of the time. My confidence, especially at work, was at an all time low.

A couple of weekends ago I finally had had enough. My mom, sister, and I drove to the outlet mall and I bought all new work pants and jeans. I had no idea how much of an impact those purchases would have on my self esteem. It felt good to not look like I was squished into my pants. I wouldn’t say I felt confident but I did feel better.

The next weekend I decided to spend an hour getting my haircut and eyebrows waxed. It felt so good. I have such thick hair and it grows at such a fast pace. I usually only get my haircut every six months but it was making me unhappy so I decided to change it. You still won’t catch me styling it in any way but at least I can brush it!

Spending a little time on self care is SO important and I am just now realizing that. I have never ever made the time to put myself first. I deserve to be happy and shouldn’t punish myself for the fact that I’ve gained weight.

Do you have any tips for practicing self-care? I’d love to hear them!

 

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Things That Make Me Happy

Things That Make Me Happy
Hellllloooo!

Life of Hayley has been a little depressing as of late. I was talking to my husband, Brett, the other night and he said I should make a list of the things that make me happy so when I’m down I can read the list. So here goes nothing!

By the way, this list is not in any kind of order.

  • Our cat, Lucy
  • Summer nights by the bonfire
  • Hanging out with Brett
  • Being at the Lake surrounded by family
  • My parent’s dog, Megan
  • Shopping with my mom and sister
  • British candy
  • Road trips
  • A clean car
  • Freshly baked cookies
  • A completed to-do list
  • Sunday afternoon naps
  • Getting a good deal (on anything)
  • Summer in Michigan
  • My grandma’s banana bread and zucchini cake
  • Traveling (especially around Europe)
  • A good ol’ cup of tea
  • Reading before bed
  • Helping someone when they need it
  • Writing (this blog, a book, who knows?)
  • Boat rides
  • Walking the dog
  • Toddlers
  • Nice people
  • An unexpected “Thank You”
  • Weddings
  • A clean house
  • Fresh sheets
  • Weekends
  • New skin care
  • A full tank of gas
  • Clothes that I feel comfortable in
  • An empty e-mail inbox
  • Coke Slushies
  • FroYo
  • Putting my pajamas on after work
  • Christmas Eve
  • Fireworks
  • Summer car rides with music blaring
  • Home
  • Ikea
  • Reading book reviews
  • Brunch
  • Fresh flowers
  • London, England
  • Our wedding video
  • Collecting vintage tea cups
  • Harry Potter!
  • Art Shows
  • People watching
  • Puppies
  • Trader Joe’s
  • 90’s music
  • Sunflowers
  • Sour candy
  • Friends
  • Going to the beach
  • Camping

That was easier than I thought it would be! I could go on and on but I won’t bore you with the details. Making a list of my favorite things actually did make me feel so much better! Next time I’m feeling down I will come back and read through this to remember my happiness.

And as the saying goes – “It’s a bad day, not a bad life”

Thanks for reading! What are your favorite things?

 
Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Photo by Aleksandr Eremin on Unsplash

I’ve Gained Weight

I've Gained Weight

Hey guys,

I’m back with another post. This may be the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to write but as you can tell from the title….

I’ve gained weight.

That one sentence makes me want to crawl back in bed and not come out for a very long time. I have a very negative relationship with food and weight that makes this topic hard for me to discuss.

The truth is that I am at the highest weight I have ever been. My clothes don’t fit, my skin is stretched out and uncomfortable, and I feel sluggish all the time. I have started my “weight loss journey” at least three times over the past 6 months but it’s hard and I quit because I don’t see any results. The number on the scale just keep growing and growing so I have stopped looking all together.

I can remember a time when stepping on the scale was the highlight of my day. The numbers kept dropping and I was so proud of myself. I thought being in the double digits would be the best thing that would ever happen to me. Luckily for me, I never quite made it to that extreme.

It’s been several years since I was at my lowest weight. I don’t remember consciously making the decision to lose weight all of those years ago. I was just anxious and didn’t ever feel hungry. I started college and gained the typical “freshman 15” which put me back at a healthy weight.

Over the years I have gained and lost weight. When I studied abroad in London I gained about 20 pounds which I was able to lose easily when I came home. I stayed at pretty much the same weight until I got married. I went a bit crazy during the honeymoon and ate whatever I wanted. Since coming back in early September I continued to eat anything and everything. It felt great not having to think about fitting myself into my wedding dress.

I did not realize how big I had gotten until my clothes stopped fitting me all together. When I look in the mirror I can see that I’ve gained weight but I had no idea how much I had actually gained. I went to the doctor and saw the number on the scale and had a small panic moment. I could not believe that this was my reality.

Now I can’t seem to lose the weight. I eat healthy and work out but the numbers on the scale keep getting bigger. I’m not sure if there’s a reason, like hormones or medication, or if I need to try something different. I usually shed a few pounds each summer because my activity level goes up and I eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

This post isn’t about telling you that I have started some crazy new healthy lifestyle. In fact, I am still trying to find the best diet and workout routine that will work for me and my body.

I really just wanted to share my story as someone who has a negative relationship with food. I am trying my best to lose weight in a healthy way and stop any crash dieting that can be harmful to my body.  I know that this journey will take some time and I want to do what is best for me, both physically and mentally.

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks for having a healthy lifestyle! And as always, thanks so much for reading!

 

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

An Honest Life Update

Anxiety, goodnight
Hello, hello

I can’t sleep so I thought I’d hop on the blog and talk about what’s keeping me awake.

For starters, Brett is off on a boy’s trip to Oregon with his friends and it’s storming in Michigan. He’s tracking the weather from his trip but I’m still missing his constant stream of commentary every time it thunders. I’m having a really hard time sleeping without him even though I am enjoying having all the blankets to myself.

I’m also having some extreme anxiety about work. We are very understaffed at work which has lead me to working many long hours. I am fine putting in a lot of work because I know I am making an impact on our client’s lives but lately I cannot seem to catch up. The work keeps on piling up and even though I am working at a crazy fast pace I still can’t get everything done.

I am a perfectionist which is why I am good at my job. I like to take my time and make sure that everything is correct which is hard to do when I am cramming so many tasks into each day. I keep getting angry at myself that I can’t get more work done. I am physically and mentally exhausted by the time I walk to my car at the end of the day.

Today I also found out that I made a huge mistake back in July of 2017. Everyone keeps telling me that it’ll be okay but the problem is that I can’t even remember making the mistake. I’ve been so busy, angry, and frustrated that I haven’t had the time to dwell on anything.

So now I’m sitting in bed thinking about work and wishing that I had brought home my work laptop so I could get a jumpstart on my to-do list for tomorrow.

Does anyone know the definition of work-life balance? Because clearly I do not.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully it will be better. I want to point out that I do love my job. It’s just busy season and I am still covering a maternity leave. It will get better. I will survive. My team is amazing and I am grateful for this job.

Wish me luck as I try to get some sleep tonight.

Goodnight, my friends! Let me know if you have any tips for falling asleep or anxiety.

 

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Photo by Alex Jones on Unsplash