Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

2019 has been a great year for reading so far! I discovered the world of YA literature last year and fell in love! I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven earlier this year and was it really impacted me (seriously, go read it if you haven’t already). Jennifer’s writing style is powerful and I knew I had to read more. I already have a third book lined up by her to read in the near future.

Summary:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Review:

I needed to read this book. For the past year I have been beating myself up about gaining weight and Libby made me want to love myself again. Libby is the definition of a strong female lead who picks herself up off the ground and makes big things happen. She is brave, resilient, and unstoppable. I also love how she is so supportive of other girls in her class. I love when girls support girls instead of ripping each other apart.

And then we have sweet Jack Masselin who so badly wants to be a good guy but his undiagnosed neurological condition makes it hard for him. The common theme with Jack is peer pressure to do things he wouldn’t otherwise think to do. The “shitty” thing he does actually brings him closer to Libby which in the long run may save him from himself.

This was another quick read for me. I just couldn’t put it down! If I was reading it on a weekend I probably would have read it in under 24 hours. The characters, the plot, and the message were so good and made me want to keep reading. The ending was perfect too.

Favorite Quotes:

“I want you to know I’m rooting for you.’ Sometimes we need to hear that, even from a stranger.”

“We never know how long we have. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow. I could die right now, right here.”

“One of the worst things a pretty girl can say to a fat girl is You look really pretty.”

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone.

As for the rest of you, remember this. YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensive shittiness.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Libby and Jack may not be real but they can teach you a thing or two about life. I am giving Holding up the Universe 5 stars because it made me think, feel, and opened my eyes to other’s thoughts and feelings.

I love reading books that make me want to take action when I’m done. This one motivated me to put myself out there again and try to be the healthiest version of myself. It motivated me lose weight because I love myself and not because I hate my body.

Once again, Jennifer Niven is a brilliant writer. I’m pretty positive I will love anything Jennifer writes and am already looking forward to reading the next one.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

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2019: First Quarter Goals Recap

setting goals for 2019

In January I posted about my goals for the first quarter of 2019. The first three months have flown by and I am about to post my second quarter goals next week. Today I thought I would share how I did with my goals for the first quarter.

  1. Get a professional haircut. Guys! I hate getting my haircut so this still hasn’t happened. I still have this weekend though so I’ll try to force myself to get it cut. Do it for the blog!! I know I’ll feel better after I do.
  2. Travel at least twice. This was an easy one! We took a quick trip to visit Brett’s grandpa in Florida in January and then took a few days in February to visit my grandparent’s in Arizona.
  3. Commit to the blog. I give myself a 70% with this goal. I was pretty consistent with posting but never was able to reach my view goal that I always have in my head. If you read my blogging tips post you would know that I try not to take blogging too seriously so I won’t be hard myself and will consider this goal accomplished.
  4. Read three books and write reviews. YES! I read Meet Cute, All The Bright Places, and Top Ten and was able to write reviews for all three. I also read Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven but haven’t posted the review for it yet. Stay tuned!
  5. Meal plan and prep for the week ahead. I did okay with meal planning and prep. I went to the grocery store and made sure I had work lunches packed 90% of the time. I learned a couple of new recipes that I am loving and stopped relying on my crock pot so much. I still have some work to do with this but I plan on continuing what I have been doing in Q2.
  6. Make healthy living a top priority. Why is this so hard? UGH. I am getting better though. I’ve been losing a couple of pounds a week and have stopped snacking so much in between meals. I think about my goals often and try to be gentle with myself. Healthy living has been my priority and will continue to be throughout the rest of the year.

Stay tuned for my second quarter goals next week! Do you have any goals for the next few months?

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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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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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2019: First Quarter Goals

2019 Goals. New Years Resolutions. 2019 1st Quarter Goals

The time is finally here to start planning my goals for 2019. The past year flew by and I’m not sad to see it go. January always feels like a fresh start and this year I could really use a clean slate.

My goals for the first three months of 2019 are below and I encourage you to set goals for yourself too! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; setting quarterly goals instead of annual ones has been a game changer for me! I started setting quarterly goals at the end of 2017 and continued through all of 2018. I actually found myself looking back on my goals more often and completing them!

  1. Get a professional haircut. It’s incredibly sad that this is my first goal but the truth is that I HATE getting my hair cut. The whole process takes way too long and I’m rarely 100% satisfied with the results. I have super thick, wavy hair and most hairstylists don’t seem to know how to handle it. I like to joke that my hair is allergic to water because the second it gets wet it goes crazy and refuses to untangle. I have tried every product imaginable to tame the beast but I’ve summed it up to be #thickhairproblems. Do you have any hair products that you swear by?
  2. Travel at least twice. After our trip to Europe in October I was exhausted and traveling was the last thing I wanted to do. But Brett loves to travel and deep down I do too. I don’t want my love of adventures to be another thing my headaches take away from me. Brett and I want to take at least two small trips during Q1 including a trip to Florida to visit his Grandpa. The other trip will likely be a super spontaneous weekend trip so stayed tuned for the details!
  3. Commit to the blog. I have said this over and over before but have never stuck to it. I love blogging and in 2019 I want to focus more on doing the things that I love. Over the past 5 years the blogging community has embraced me and this has become my safe place away from everything else. I want 2019 to be the best year ever for Life of Hayley!
  4. Read three books and write reviews. One of the best things that 2018 brought me was my love of books. So far I have partially read two books that I am loving. I enjoy writing book reviews so hopefully I will find three books that I love to review!
  5. Meal plan and prep for the week ahead. I’ll admit that I haven’t cooked a real meal in a long time. My Crock pot and I became really good friends in 2018 because I had no energy or desire to cook. I’m kinda sick of the standard Crock pot meals though and am ready to start eating healthier and meal planning. Before our wedding in 2017 I was the Queen of meal prep. I’m hoping to at least get to Princess level in 2019.
  6. Make healthy living a top priority. I almost titled this goal as “making weight loss a priority” but then I re-evaluated my mind-set. This goal isn’t all about the number on the scale. I know that I need to lose weight but I also know my negative relationship with my body image. For me, the focus has to be on eating healthier and exercising and not the number on the scale.

In addition to setting quarterly goals I also wanted to choose a word to capture my goals for 2019. It took me longer than I care to admit to find a word that completely covers everything that I want to accomplish this year.

The word I picked is confidence.

Confidence in my ability to fight the demons that I am facing. Confidence in myself to be the best person that I can be. Confidence in my body as I look in the mirror everyday. Confidence as I stand in front of my co-workers with the knowledge that I can do my job well. Confidence that I am moving in the right direction.

Confidence in me.

What are your goals for 2019? Let me know below.

Thanks for reading!

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Migraine Update: Decision Time & Leaving my Neurologist

Chronic Headaches and Migraine
Hey, friends!

I finally had a Neurologist appointment last week after being discharged from PT almost a month ago. I thought about writing this after my appointment but I just felt so discouraged that I cried in my car before forcing myself back to work.

Basically, my Neurologist didn’t even read my discharge papers and wanted to put me back on the same medicine I was on before. I put my foot down and told him no because I was on it for YEARS with very minimal results. He was in such a hurry to move onto his next appointment that he didn’t even listen to what I was saying. He prescribed an anti-seizure medication that is crazy expensive.

I am managing just fine right now without any medication. I still have a headache every single day and migraines a few times a month. I really want to try out acupuncture or a chiropractor before trying the prescribed medicine.

I think I have made a big decision though. I don’t want to see this Neurologist anymore. I don’t know if this means seeing another Neurologist or finding a headache specialist somewhere else. All I know is that I can’t justify spending $200 per visit to talk to a brick wall anymore.

My old physical therapist called me on Friday to recommend a book called Grain Brian which apparently goes into how gluten and sugar work with our brains. I ordered it on Amazon and am looking forward to reading it. I really do not want to give up Gluten though.

I want to spend some more time researching before I decide what my next steps should be. Here’s the list of what I am researching:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractor
  • Elimination diet (gluten, dairy, etc)
  • Botox

Things I’ve already tried:

  • Massage Therapy (will do again)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Preventative/Abortive Medications
  • OTC Medications
  • Basic elimination diet (cheese, red wine, etc)
  • Trigger Identification

For now I am just taking it one day at a time and trying to remain positive 🙂 I think things will be much better once I ditch my current Neurologist and find someone who will actually listen and try to help me.

As always, thanks so much for all your support and feedback! I have loved reading your suggestions and have a running list of things to try based on blog comments.

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Migraine Update: Discharged From PT

physical therapy, migraine awareness month, chronic migraine headaches, treatme

Hey, friends!

I took a sick day today for a migraine and slept on and off all morning and afternoon. If you read my Migraine Story you know that my Neurologist recommended physical therapy and weaned me off of the preventative medicine that I’ve been on for years.

Well, my headaches have been terrible since weaning off of my medicine. I have had to take ibuprofen four times per day in order to dull the pain enough to go to work. My long-term goal is to not need to take any pain medication unless I have a migraine because it’s extremely bad for my body.

So I’ve had this migraine for about four days now and haven’t taken any medication in 30 ish hours. The reason I’m not taking anything for my migraine is because I know that I’m having rebound headaches which are caused by overusing medication. I need to get to the root problem which means stopping any rebound headaches.

Today was also a scheduled physical therapy day for me which I did not want to cancel. I went to PT expecting to do the stretches I have been practicing and maybe learning some new ones. My physical therapist is awesome but she knew that our appointments were not helping me reach my goal of being pain-free.

I didn’t expect to be discharged today. I didn’t expect to cry over being discharged. I didn’t expect to feel a wave of hopelessness when she told me that she didn’t think she could help.

I did feel like she heard me and believed me. I felt like she wanted to help me find an answer. She empowered me to not take “no” for an answer from my neurologist and doctors.

She will be sending a note over to my neurologist with her treatment recommendations which include a pain clinic or headache institute in either Ann Arbor or Chicago. I am doing my research and will talk to my family and doctors about the next steps. I’m sad that another door has been closed but I am hopeful that another will open very soon. My physical therapist reminded me that on the outside I look healthy but I need to remind people that I’m still suffering.

I did take away one important thing from physical therapy that I wanted to share with everyone. I know that I am extremly lucky to not have a brain tumor or a terminal disaese. But just because I can’t be “diganosed” doesn’t mean that I’m not still fighting for my life. Every day I am fighting for a quality of life that doesn’t involve constant pain, sleepless nights, and bottles of medication. I am fighting for a life where Brett and I can start a family which is currenly not an option. I am fighting to travel and spend a day at the lake with my family like a normal twenty-something.

I’m not asking for a miracle. I’m just asking to feel okay again.

June is migraine awarness month. Hopefully me sharing my story can help others who are suffering the same fate that I am. I’m not alone in this and I won’t stop fighting for myself and everyone else who is impacted.

I’ve ordered some books and will be spending the next few weeks researching my next steps. Let me know if you like these updates and want to stay informed on my treatment options!

Thanks so much for reading!

 
Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 
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