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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Fall 2019 Bucket List

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Happy Fall Ya’ll!

Fall makes me love Michigan even more than I usually do. Michigan was made for fall and I like to take advantage of all the fun fall activities. Here a few of the things I’m hoping to do this fall season!

  1. Carve pumpkins
  2. Go to a Detroit Lions game
  3. Buy new fall staples for my wardrobe
  4. Decorate for Halloween
  5. Bake apple crisp
  6. Pass out Halloween candy
  7. Enjoy Fall Fest at work
  8. Drink hot apple cider
  9. Watch Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown
  10. Cozy up with a good book
  11. Eat fresh apple and pumpkin donuts
  12. Buy mums for our front porch
  13. Go on a weekend trip
  14. Take Oscar for a scenic fall walk
  15. Host a bonfire with our friends

What’s on your fall bucket list?

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Daily Conversations for a Healthy Marriage

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Marriage is hard. Ask any couple who have been married for longer than a couple of months and they will tell you that’s it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Your spouse is supposed be there for all of the highs and lows of your life so it’s not always pretty.

I’ve been married for a little over two years now but have been with my husband for eight years. We have had many great moments but have also had many struggles. There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to give up and walk away but at the end of the day Brett is my best friend and my person. He might upset me from time to time but there’s still no one else I’d rather do life with.

We had our first major fight a couple of weeks ago where I didn’t even want him to sleep in our room. One of my friends gave us the advice when we got married to never go to bed angry and I’ve stuck with that until this fight. I was so upset over something that was actually silly. I didn’t sleep that night even though I did end up letting Brett sleep in our bed. I woke up the next day and was really grumpy over my lack of sleep.

After that night I knew that something had to change. Brett and I don’t spend a ton of time together because he’s always busy with work or hanging out with his friends. We don’t have scheduled date nights and mostly communicate through text or when we talk before bed.

Throughout the day Brett tells me all about his day. I know what happened at work, what’s going on with his family, and what’s happening in his friend group. I tend to only share the big or interesting things so he doesn’t get to hear about a lot of my normal day to day activities.

Communication in a marriage is so important but ours was seriously lacking. I thought back to summer camp where we played the “roses and thorns” or “highs and lows” game. All we did at camp was go around the room and say the greatest moment (rose/high) and the worst moment (thorn/low) of our day. I thought this game would be perfect to play everyday with Brett.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve asked Brett every night before bed what his high and low for the day was. He usually answers that his low was going to work and his high was hanging out with friends, watching a weather documentary, etc. At first he never asked me the questions back but I’d answer anyway. Now it’s a habit and I look forward to what he has to say because his answers have evolved and have become more thoughtful. It’s a simple conversation that only lasts a couple of minutes but it really makes a difference in our marriage.

Communication is one of the keys for any successful marriage or relationship. Over the years communicating with Brett has become harder so I’m grateful that we have this new way to share things about our day.

Do you have any tips for communicating with your significant other?

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August According to my iPhone

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August is one of my favorite months! This August felt particularly busy but in a good way! Last summer I was overwhelmed and felt drained because of how busy our summer was. This year I feel good and I know that I’ve been able to enjoy my summer for the first time in years.

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My sister, Dani, was in Michigan for July and some of August. She moved to New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago and I miss her already! Her dog, Callie, had a great few weeks with Oscar and Bruno. Their friendships are so sweet!

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My sister-in-law and her husband took newborn pictures of their twin girls at our house. This is a behind the scenes look at one of the photo setups. Ava is in the dark pink and Elizabeth is in the light pink. I’m obsessed with them!

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We went to a baseball game with some of our friends for our city’s local baseball team. The tickets, drinks, and food were all free! We had a great time and I enjoyed it even though I know practically nothing about baseball.

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We had a 4:01 work party a couple of weeks ago with drinks, snacks, and games. It’s nice to just relax for a bit after a crazy work week.

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My dad texted me one day that he had made me a flag. It was a super random text and I was like “okay, thanks” and had no idea what to expect. I went over to my parent’s house and he showed me this flag that he made out of an old pallet. He must have been bored but I love anything my dad makes me! He hung it on our fence and I think it’s really cute!

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We went to Chicago for the Air and Water show with one of our friends. The weather was terrible! At one point we had to leave and find shelter because it was rainy and stormy. But Brett was happy because he got to see the Royal Air Force Red Arrows. After the air show we met a couple other friends who live in Chicago for pizza and drinks before heading home.

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Brett and Oscar taking an afternoon nap! Love them ❤

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I had dinner with my grandparents twice in one week and it was so nice! I appreciate every second I get with them.

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On August 19th we celebrated 2 years of marriage and 8 total years together by having a day date to the beach. It was so nice!

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I’m working on re-organizing and decorating our upstairs guest room. Oscar and Lucy love being able to play on the stairs! Usually the door to the upstairs is closed so they aren’t able to go up and explore.

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Last weekend we had our local balloon festival! I had a great time with Brett and friends doing fall things at a farm and seeing all of the hot air balloons. I definitely recommend going to a balloon festival if you have the chance!

I’m looking forward to this three day weekend that starts in a few hours! Brett and I have big plans and I’m looking forward to sharing them next week.

Also, I usually don’t show many pictures of myself on here because of body image issues and such. But I’m trying to get better about showing my face more! Do you have a hard time posting pictures of yourself on the internet? Sometimes I feel like the only one who has this problem!

How was your August? Do you have any big plans for Labor Day weekend?

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Weekend Recap: Hot Air Balloon Festival

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This past weekend was super busy for our family. Brett is involved with all of our local airshows and balloon festivals. He is a third generation aviation fanatic so the love of all things aviation runs deep.

Our local balloon festival was Friday-Sunday and Brett and I work on the media team doing Facebook and Instagram. The location of the festival is at a farm which is very close to where I grew up.The farm has apple orchards, pumpkin patches, a corn maze, farm animals, homemade donuts and cider, and every other fall activity imaginable. I went there every year growing up so it makes it even more special to be involved as an adult.

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Friday after work we headed to the farm for the first balloon flight and balloon glow. This was a balloon competition so each flight the pilots had bags to throw from their balloons to try to reach a target.

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We decided to sleep in on Saturday morning and do chores before heading to the farm. There was a car show from 11-2 so my dad, Brett, and our friend headed there. My mom and I stayed at my parent’s house and did some work. My parents are officially empty nesters so we are working on turning the two extra bedrooms into guest rooms. We also want to paint the whole upstairs and turn the basement into a family room area.

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Saturday night we headed to the farm for the balloon flight and glow. We met up with some friends and had cider and donuts. It felt like fall which made me excited for the months ahead!

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The Sunday morning flight was cancelled due to weather so we stayed home and did the rest of our chores and went grocery shopping. We took Oscar to my parent’s in the afternoon for a little play date and then my parent’s and a couple of our friends came over for dinner.

We had a great weekend! It felt like the beginning of fall in Michigan. I’m sad that summer is practically over but I’m ready for all the fall things!

How was your weekend?

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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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