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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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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Five on Friday #11

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Hooray! We made it to Friday! This was my first week back to work after vacation and I’m exhausted.

  1. Fourth of July is next weeks which means that it’s our biggest airshow week of the season. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! The fourth was always my favorite growing up because both sides of my family would get together to celebrate America and my sister’s birthdays. I loved having everyone together at the lake.
  2. We went to Oregon last week on vacation with my friend, Anna Sophie, and her boyfriend. You might remember her from my study abroad posts. We hadn’t seen each other since leaving London in 2015 so it was so nice to catch up! I’m hoping to write a whole post about our trip soon.
  3. Before vacation I was really motivated on my health and fitness journey. My goal is to not only lose weight but to accept my body at every stage along the way. I’ve spent the past couple of years being really terrible to myself with the way I talk about and treat my body and I know that needs to stop. Body image is a huge issue in our current culture and I’ve really had to step back from social media in order to get my head back in a good place.
  4. Going on vacation has really made me realize that I need to spend more time away from work. My work-life balance has gotten much better since last year but I still worry and think about work way too much. I need to step back every once in a while and just worry about me.
  5. I had a neurologist appointment on Monday afternoon and I’m thinking about doing a Migraine update post to share what’s been going on. I haven’t done an update post in awhile because there hasn’t been any updates.

Do you have any plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

Vacation Mode

Vacation Mode

I love to travel but now that I’m a full-time working adult I don’t get to travel quite as much as I want to. Brett and I still make it a priority to travel at least a few times each yet even if they are just small trips.

This week we are going on an extra special trip and I am so excited! We have been planning this trip for a couple of months now and I’ve been counting down the days until we finally get to leave.

Vacation time is really important to me in order to avoid burnout at work. When I work for too many months without a vacation I start to get frustrated and grumpy. Taking some time off allows me to reset my focus and come back relaxed and ready to tackle whatever challenge is thrown my way next.

Do you have any summer vacations planned this year?

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Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

 

7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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Anxiety Won’t Ruin My Life

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I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately between my personal life, work, and my mental health. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember and it seems to come in waves. Many days it’s smooth sailing and then other days I’m drowning in my worries. I’m normally able to function just fine but sometimes I can’t even make myself leave the house.

I think the trigger to these last couple of weeks of anxiety has been the fact that Brett took a new position at his job and has to travel a lot. I spent a week alone while he was in Atlanta and I barely slept the whole time he was gone. Every noise woke me up and had me searching all the rooms in our house for an intruder. I contemplated staying with my parents but I’m trying to be a “real” adult and suck it up.

I have come to the conclusion that anxiety is something I will just have to live with. It’s not always easy but I know I’m far better off than many others who suffer. I won’t let anxiety ruin my life or keep me from doing the things I want to do. I almost let my anxiety keep me from studying abroad and that would have been a terrible decision.

Sometimes you just have to throw yourself outside of your comfort zone and hope for the best. I’ve found that standing up to my fears has made me much stronger.

How do you cope with anxiety?

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

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I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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

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I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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