Monday, July 24, 2017

Honeymoon Dreaming

Wedding planning is so much more stressful that I anticipated. I always kind of thought we would elope to Colorado and get married in the mountains, but after thinking it over more, we decided St. Louis would be more practical so we could include more of the people we love in the celebration. We've locked down a venue, I've found my photographer, and I'm slowly making my way through the other vendor checklist, but I don't want to overwhelm myself by doing too much.  So what is a girl to do when she needs to take a break planning but it's anxious as hell about her wedding? Obviously it's dream up places to honeymoon once the wedding is over.

To me, a honeymoon should be a big deal. Your first adventure as a married couple should be something big and great and super cool. I know not everyone feels this way, but I totally do. It's why when Jarrett suggested Florida I got borderline offended, mostly because he said we couldn't go to the Harry Potter theme park which was basically a Florida deal breaker. WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT THEN?!

So my procrastination has brought you this list of my top honeymoon choices. Since it's not something I can book yet, it's the easiest thing to dream about when I can't work on anything else. Still, I'd love to hear about your honeymoon and basically any advice on the wedding planning process anyone wants to send my way. 



Tulum, Mexico
Photo: Habitas Tulum

Ok so Tulum is probably top of my list right now. I had looked at a few other places in Mexico until I read a blog post by Gala Darling talking about Tulum and basically decided if I go, this is the Mexican hotspot I'm running too. I have my heart kind of set on staying at the Habitas resort, which has an outdoor shower and fancy glamping style tents. 

California Road Trip
Photo by me 

I lived in San Diego, CA for almost 5 years, so I have been wanting to go back to the West Coast since I left basically. I think it could be really cool to take a big California road trip. Starting in San Diego, checking out LA, Palm Springs, maybe even San Fransisco if it didn't take too long. I didn't get to explore too much of California while I was there, and I definitely wasn't a foodie like I am now, so it would be like getting to see a favorite place in a whole new way, especially since Jarrett hasn't spent much time there. 


Pacific North West

I've always had this dreamy love for the PNW. As much as you can love a place you've never been. All the gorgeous lakes, lush green forests, waterfalls, and those foggy rocky coasts. It's a place I've always wanted to go and I think it could be a really cool honeymoon to take if we want to mix a little adventure in with our relaxing. All those pretty hikes might spoil me for life though. 


European Adventure

I've wanted to go to Europe for 10 years, maybe longer. The history that just surrounds a place so old calls to me. European vacation could describe so many different trips. We would most likely take 2 weeks for our honeymoon, so that leaves only so much time to fit places in. I want to see so much, Ireland, Iceland, the Scandinavian countries, England, France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy. All of it. So narrowing it down to just 3 or 4 countries would be hard but could definitely feel like the trip of a lifetime.  

Hawaii

I think we would try to hit up Kauai but any of the islands would be a dream. Hawaii fits a honeymoon that has adventure but also a ton of time to chill on the beach, with the added bonus that you don't have to get a passport. It's insanely gorgeous and I have always wanted to go here too (wow, what a familiar theme for this list!) so I think it has a decent chance since Jarrett is wanting to do a more traditional beach honeymoon. Plus I could finally feel like I'm living in Jurassic Park but without the dinosaurs wanting to kill me. 

NYC

New York City is the kind of city that would feel overwhelming in the best kind of way. I want to spend my time walking every where and eating all kinds of food. Petting all kinds of dogs. Adventuring into the subway and hopefully not getting too anxious about it. The architecture and the different boroughs would be so cool to explore. I feel like it's the kind of city that I could fall in love with and still never get to see it all. 

Costa Rica

Something about Costa Rica just calls to my soul. Like Hawaii, I think it would be a good blend of adventure and relaxation. Plus I hear they have outdoor showers and I would totally love to have a jungle bungalow with an outdoor shower. I think I've always had Costa Rica in mind since I saw Jurassic Park when I was little and knew that Isle Nublar was off the coast of it. I'm guessing you've noticed a theme that Jurassic Park was my favorite movie growing up and is unexpectedly informing a lot of my possible honeymoon choices. 


Thailand

You should know that I love a good Thai curry. I have been unsuccessful in creating my own at home, and I've heard so many good things about the food in Thailand. Another place that balances my craving for adventure with the availability with beautiful beaches. It would be such a once in a lifetime experience, so it's one of the ideas that I am leaning more and more towards. It helps that I have a friend who currently lives in Thailand and all of her photos give me major travel envy. While this might be my favorite idea, I think it also might be the least likely to happen, which is kind of a bummer.


Austin, TX
Photo via Tumblr


I follow like an insane amount of bloggers from Texas and I'm kind of in love with the vibe they have going on down there. So much good food, all the cool walls to make Jarrett take my picture in front of. We both mentioned Austin as a place we think we'd love and are planning to go eventually, but it could definitely be the kind of place we spend out honeymoon in. 


Friday, July 21, 2017

Kickin it Freestyle

Hey friends! Sorry we've been pretty silent lately. First I took a week off work and then the following week I had a lot going on at work and felt super overwhelmed, emotional, unbalanced and just not myself.  When I'm not feeling myself, I become even more reclusive than I normally am (which is A LOT). This week I'm feeling pretty great mentally, so hopefully we can get back to consistently posting again.

A few weeks ago, Heather and I got together to do some outfit shoots and we were extreme willy nilly with picking themes so we just decided to do a couple of free styling shoots. Free styling is always so fun, there are no guidelines and we each pick an outfit we our feeling with little discussion between the two of us.  Our picks always end up being very different and I think it really helps showcase our individual styles even more.


I chose one of my favorite rompers to style. Rompers really are one of my favorite summer outfits. It gives the illusion you are wearing a dress, but you don't have to worry about being lady like with your actions.  Rompers bring me alllll kinds of confidence.  They make me feel fancy and comfy all in one go, plus they really do help keep you cool when it's like 100 degrees out.  I have a weird hang up about showing too much leg at work, but I'm working on it. It's just too damn hot for lots of fabric right now.


 
Rompers also immediately take me back to being a kid in the 90s, romping around.  Like most things 90's, it gives me mad nostalgia and I instantly need it.  I've been honing my summer 90's style even more lately with the addition of several pair of mom shorts which give me more confidence to wear shorts at work since they are sooooo long, even when you roll the legs. I think the feelings of "modest work wear" come from the attitudes I receive from people when I'm not dressing according to their version of professionalism. Like I don't know my shit or something just because of what I'm wearing.










Outfit Details
Romper {Forever 21-last season} / Mules {Forever 21-sold out}


Like Jen said, July has kind of been kicking our asses. I went back to work after 12 weeks of leave so it's been a huge adjustment getting used to working and commuting again. I work in a call center which can be incredibly mentally draining. My first week back I basically did nothing besides work, commute, and veg out on the couch. As the month winds down I feel like I'm finding my groove and motivation again. It's been really interesting to see the difference in where I was when I went on leave and how I feel now. I'm doing good, feeling like myself again, heck maybe even better than I was before. 



I have to admit, after I posted about trying Lularoe leggings a few months ago,  I kind of got obsessed and hooked. I was buying things all the time and then turning around and reselling them on Poshmark when the buyers remorse hit and I realized not everything works on my body. It's interesting since it's a company that develops clothes based on modesty, which is not something I would usually say describes my style. A lot of it is really soft and comfortable, like this dress and tee. It's hard to see but the tee has cats on it so obviously I was going to own it. This whole outfit is my jam and feels very "me". It makes me realize the good things about Lularoe (but I need to remember the downside, which is the price point isn't always worth it to me). One of my good friends is just getting started with selling Lularoe, and while I'm so proud of her for trying something new, my wallet and wannabe minimalist tendencies are keeping me from buying any more right now. 

I've been slowly making my way through Nicole's Feel Good, Dress Better workbook and this outfit feels like something that I wouldn't have tried without that guiding me. I'm so excited to dive even deeper into it this weekend. 



Outfit Details 
Mustard Dress {Lularoe Carly} / Shirt {Lularoe Classic Tee} / Shoes {Forever 21} 




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July Small Goals


June is already over and we are sliding into the back half of the year. June has been one of the best months I've had this year. If you read my post about taking leave from my job, you know I've struggled a lot in the past year. I've finally turned this corner where I feel happy and healthy, which makes all the difference in the world. June was such a fun month. It finally felt like summer and I fit so much in that it flew by. I think summer is shaping up to be the best yet and I have so many fun plans lined up. As always, we are linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl so go check out all the small goals. 


Jen's June Small Goals
1. Frame my 2016 Cross Stitch Project. I literally completed this goal on the last day of the month.  It's even been hung too so it feels like a double accomplishment.
2. Wear Sandals. Man, this one was way easier than I expected it to be. I basically destroyed this goal.
3. Make 2 Garments. Gah! This month flew by and I can hardly remember what I did. I'm pretty sure I made a skirt and I remade my romper. I also made half a dress-the other half I finished just a couple of days into July. Guys, I think I'm counting this one.
4.  Morning Routine. If a morning routine consists of waking up, reading for a spell and getting ready for work, then I completed this goal. However, that wasn't exactly what I was going for so fail.
5.  Join a Sew Along.  Fail, fail, fail! I literally didn't even think about this one.  I must plan out crafty goals wayyyy better.

3/5 is a pretty successful month!

July Small Goals 
1.  Make a jumper.  I have a vintage, 80's-90's jumper sewing pattern that I'm pretty gaga about. I've already ordered the fabric so I'm making this the goal. Hopefully having all my supplies on hand will ensure I complete this crafty goal.
2.  Go thrifting.  It's no secret I'm always into deals and bargains. I've lately have become obsessed with highwaisted mom shorts and have bought a couple of pair of poshmark and ebay.   I feel like these items would be a ton more economical if they were found in the wild instead of someone catering to me specifically online. Thrifting and patience is the goal.
3.  Graphic tee freeze. Guys, the other day when I was putting my laundry away, I noticed my graphic tee drawer is almost full and I still have a couple of outstanding tee orders I'm expecting to arrive later in the month. I need to chilllllll. Time for a break before Halloween tees are tempting the shit out of me.
4.  Squirrel Girl catch-up.  So Squirrel Girl is hands down my favorite super hero but I'm a little behind on the series and I'm ready to make it a priority to catch up.  I try to interject "Eating Nuts and Kicking Butts" as often as I can.
5. Desk quilt.  Ok, so this isn't a quilt I cuddle with at my desk at work, although that sounds seriously amazing. The back of my desk is meant to butt up against a wall but my office set up doesn't allow that. The back is unfinished and unsightly.  My goal is to make a quilt to velcro on the back as a covering.  I want to basically make one row out of my sasquatch quilt to accomplish this goal. I feel like a sasquatch is a great office mascot.


Heather's June Small Goals 
1. Finish knitting sweater front Nope. While I did start on the sweater front, I'm only about halfway done. I overestimated how much time I'd get to work on this in the evenings, but I'm happy I have a solid start on it. 
2. Make a Return to Work plan Done! Only a few more days before I go back! While I have some anxiety about it, I'm mostly ready and excited. 
3. Narrow down wedding venue search Done! Not only done and narrowed down, but we have a wedding venue! It's an art gallery in a cool part of St. Louis that we used to spend a lot of time in so it also is meaningful. 
4. Have a "Girl Day" with Emily and Morgan Done! I was so happy we got to fit in a girl day this month. We went to Target, got some Starbucks, and talked about everything. It was so much fun being together just the 3 of us. 
5. Go camping Nope. I just ran out of time. Plus it got pretty humid here and I don't like sleeping when it's too hot. Maybe I'll move camping back to the fall? 

3/5 goals is pretty solid! 

July Small Goals 
1.  Say yes more I've noticed that when I'm in a particularly depressive/anxious mood, I withdraw from my world a lot, which makes things worse and is super unhealthy for me. I want to say yes to move invitations and hangouts with friends. I'm realizing I need to balance alone time and going out much more than I currently do. 
2.  Get laptop repaired  Guys. My laptop has not been working right since January, which would be a much bigger deal if I didn't have a laptop for work. I need to get into the Apple store and see about getting it fixed. 
3.  Yoga 2x a week and Zumba 1x a week  I've been adding in yoga and a weekly Zumba class with a friend to my routine and I've loved it. I want to keep up with it now that I'm going back to work and will have to get used to working 8 hours again. 
4.  Book 2-3 more wedding vendors  So my wedding venue is booked, the date is set, and that's about it. It's about 9 months away and I need to start booking other vendors. A photographer is my big one. My first choice photographer is booked on our wedding date, so now I have to start that process all over again. Beer me strength y'all. 
5. Celebrate my mom July 28th will mark one year without my mom. This past year has been hands down the worst of my life. Good things happened but my head and heart were in such a bad place for most of it. My sisters will both be in town and we have a mini celebration thing planned, so I'm actually looking forward to taking this day to celebrate who our mom was instead of mourning her. I'm sure it will be emotional, but also cathartic. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

July Book Club


Welcome book lovers! We are heading into our 7th book club pick of 2017 and it's been a pretty solid year for book club.  Jen and I have loved the collaboration that's taken place this year and I think it might be something we continue with from now on. About a week before the new month we usually ask each other if we have any ideas for book club. Jen came through this time with two solid choices, both of which I happened to already have on my book shelf. I've been waiting to pick up When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon since I got it, but I've been trying to make my way through a pile of library books so it was waiting patiently on my shelves. Book club gives me the prefect excuse to move it to the top of my reading list and with the long holiday weekend in the US, it's the perfect time for some summer reading! 



About the book

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Real Talk: Why I Took a Leave of Absence from Work



This is my 3rd attempt at writing this blog post. I feel like it’s important to talk about, because no one ever talks about it, but it was hard for me to find the right way to talk about it. The first time I wrote it, it was me pouring out my heart and soul, laying all my pain out for the world to see. But at the same time, I kind of felt defensive. I felt like I had to defend my decision to take a leave of absence from my job, when honestly I don’t have to defend shit. While Jen read that post and said it was perfect, I wanted to wait. It took some time and, if I’m being real, some therapy, for me to feel like I was in the right head space to talk about this. So here we go. 

My mom died almost a year ago. It will be a full year at the end of July. It feels unreal that the time has gone by so fast and I’m looking at starting my second year without my mom. My mom died from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. She had a stroke in early 2015 and shortly after was diagnosed with cancer. She was doing chemotherapy for almost 14 months straight before she stopped responding to treatment. This was at the beginning of July 2016. By the end of July her body just stopped. I found out she was in the hospital two days after being back at work from a 2 week vacation and instantly left and spent the next 3 days by her side until she passed. It was hard. Watching someone you love die is horrifying, nothing at all like it is in tv and movies. I was haunted by “end of life” breathing for weeks. Even now, sometimes I remember what that was like and I my heart sinks. I was 29 years old, my youngest sister was only 20, and suddenly we didn’t have a mom anymore. 

Her passing changed my whole world. I had a complicated relationship with my mom for most of my life, so her dying left me with a lot of guilt, a lot of unresolved issues. I felt scooped out. I was empty. I was someone I didn’t recognize anymore. I didn’t know how to navigate this huge grief that I didn't ask for and didn't want. Before my mom died, I had ambition and was hard working and energetic. When she died I became this version of myself I didn’t recognize. Panic attacks became a huge part of my life, along with constant anxiety. Depression also came along for the ride, so I was just a mess. I took a few weeks off from work right after this happened, but I was still struggling. I was pretending to be healing and that I was ok, that I was fine, but I was very much not fine. 

My depression made it hard to get out of bed, hard to do anything. I found myself missing work once every week or two. I just couldn’t do it. I was able to work from home sometimes, but it was still incredibly hard. It’s really hard to convey in words just how bad things were, how different I was from who I used to be, and how much energy I put into pretending I was ok. The company I work for has an unlimited PTO policy. It’s also the first place I’ve worked where it felt like I was valued as a person. I know that if I went through this at any other job I would most likely have been fired. It was hard to admit that I was not in a good place and I was blaming a million things in my life besides just dealing with my grief. 

In March, I was put on a performance improvement plan. Not surprising since my quality of work was nowhere near what I wanted it to be. It’s so weird to struggle at work and want to be better but not seem to be able to get any better. I finally opened up to my lead about how I was feeling, truly and honestly. She was incredibly supportive and kind. She mentioned to our HR rep in our office that I might need to talk. I had a meeting with my HR rep and she suggested taking a leave of absence. I didn’t even know that was an option, that you could take leave for mental health reasons. Once I knew that was something I could do, things just clicked. I had been seeing a doctor for my anxiety and depression since my mom died so I had medical records to back up my request, and getting it approved was pretty easy. 

The past 3 months have still been a struggle, but I finally feel like I’m healing. I’m moving on to the acceptance part of grief. My coping mechanisms are so much better. Like, I actually have coping mechanisms now. I’m anxious about returning to work but also excited. I’m grateful I was able to have this opportunity to heal. The biggest thing that has lead to my progress has been finding a therapist. I’ve been seeing mine for about 6 weeks and I kind of wished I had started seeing someone as soon as my mom passed. Therapy was scary for me, but just in the past 6 weeks I’ve made an insane amount of progress. 

When I first went on leave, I was incredibly embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling, especially with mental health things. Admitting I needed help, that I needed a break from my job, felt like admitting weakness. Plenty of people live with these issues every day and don’t take a leave from their jobs. All I can say is that I know how bad things were 12 weeks ago and this leave feels like it saved my life, no exaggeration. I feel like I’m getting back to the person I was before, maybe even a better version of who I was before. I will always live with the loss of my mom and the feelings that come up with that loss, but I’m healing from the rawness of that loss. I don’t feel ashamed anymore that I took leave from my job. I did what I had to do for myself and my family. I recognize the incredible privilege I have that afforded me to be able to take this time off. I have an amazing support system in place, people who always believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself.


Mental health is something that is not really talked about very often or openly. Not where I’m from anyway. I want to be transparent with this huge thing that I dealt with. Grief is different for every person. For me it triggered an incredible amount of anxiety and depression and I didn’t know how to help myself. If you have any questions on what it was like to take leave, I’m more than happy to answer them! For now I’m preparing to go back to work at the beginning of July and prepping to talk to everyone who maybe assumed I didn’t work there anymore.  Wish me luck and thank you so much for reading through this very long and personal post! 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's Getting Hot in Here

Well Friends, it's officially summer! We are kicking off the change of season with a new outfit post!  

I'm so thankful for seasons. I don't think my heart would be as happy to live in a place that doesn't have super defined seasons. I relate certain activities and celebrations to certain times of year based on the seasonal weather. I can't image living in a climate where you could swim at Christmas or never see the snow fall or a place where you don't get to watch the leaves lifecycle each year.  I get very into crafting and decorating for each season as well as rearranging my wardrobe per season. Thinking about each season passing from one to the next, basically marking time, can make me feel very at ease with the universe and with nature. Like, I'm just such a miniature part of this great universe.

  One day I would like to take it a step further and have some sort of solstice celebration for each season. My mind immediately goes to Practical Magic, where they are celebrating the fall solstice and the witches jump of the roof naked. Or even further back to Little Bear (Nickelodeon days) and their traditions of celebrating the winter solstice with an outdoor gathering/feast where they feed all the creatures of the forest. I think I'm looking for some way to celebrate nature and each season individually while giving back to the universe in general.  Obviously, I'm not looking for any public indecently charges, but I think you get where I'm going with this. I just want to stop and take the time to really celebrate how cool nature is. Yah know, throw some flowers in the air and dance in the yard barefoot and eat some food off a blanket, that kind of stuff.  


Bodysuits are life. Seriously. I'm not sure how I ever lived without them, especially with my love for overalls. I now have a hard time styling a sleek look without them. I feel like everyone can see the fabric bunching up without the sleekness of said bodysuit. (My head is full of these types of lies--no one even notices the fabric bunches.) These pants are super classy yet feel like pajamas so they are basically perfect for almost all activities.  So far I've only styled them in a professional type manner and now I'm curious to see how they would look with a graphic tee or a tank top.  I was lucky enough to grab these baby's on clearance for under $20 and that feels like a major score considering they are from Modcloth.  Also, these heels make me my dream height of 5'5"/5'6", which I have been told is an extremely girly statement. *shrugging emoji*












Outfit Details
Bodysuit {Forever 21} / Gauchos {Modcloth-sold out} / Sandals {Forever 21-sold out in blush}





Do you ever see something and think, "This is very me and I need to own it immediately no matter if I have to dip into savings?" While I didn't dip into my savings this time, I did think that this dress was one of the most "me" things I had ever seen and knew I had to own it. Mustard is my color and it pairs so well with navy. I love the silhouette of the dress and the ruffle detail of the navy sleeves. Even with all these perfect details, the first time I wore it was for this blog. Sometimes I buy something I really love and then I let it hang there for weeks because I want the first time I wear it to be special. Which is kind of silly, since I don't think beautiful things need to wait for a special day.



My got to outfits are usually things that are flattering in the stomach area. It's where I hold all my weight and I can easily look 4 months pregnant in the wrong thing. Thanks to having twins, my skin is kind of stretched out so I do my best to love my body while also dressing in ways that look good on me. This dress does that for me. It's my favorite color, it can be casual or dressy, and it's flattering. Plus with the humidity being out of control in Missouri, it also keeps me pretty cool.




While I do love experiencing seasons, I do miss those years I lived in San Diego and could basically use a cardigan in the middle of winter as heavy outerwear. I'm embracing that Missouri is my home for the foreseeable future and I'm cool with it. But I don't think I'm as big a fan of seasons as Jen is, but I am very into her idea of celebrating solstices! Might have to make that a bestie tradition of some kind! 


Outfit Details 
Dress {Piper and Scoot-not longer available} // Shoes {Forever 21-similar



Monday, June 19, 2017

Real Talk: Grief and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner




“Our memories of our loved ones are the pearl we form around the grain of grief that causes us pain.” 




If you've been a reader for awhile, you might know that my mom passed away last summer. It's about 6 weeks away from being a full year, which seems crazy to me. It's been the hardest year of my life. Grief kind of swallows you, leaving you to fight your way back. You aren't the same person any more. When someone close is taken from you, it's like you are broken into a "before" and "after" version of yourself. You are forever changed, you won't be the same, but you try to find a way to navigate yourself back into a person who isn't as broken. So, I think it might be obvious that reading Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner for our May book club was hard for me. 

I had tears streaming down my face most of the time. While the circumstances of our grief was completely different, the emotions that Carver has after his friends die is so universal to the grieving process in general. Carver loses 3 of his best friends (Eli, Blake, and Mars), the other members of the Sauce Crew. He's left with guilt over the fact that a text message he sent to one of them could be the reason for their car crash that killed them all on impact. As he navigates this new world without his friends and the weight of the grief and the guilt, he grows close to Eli's girlfriend Jesmyn and helps the families of Blake, Eli, and Mars have a Goodbye Day for their friends. The idea of  a Goodbye Day is to share your memories of the person with others who knew him so you can know that person a little better. 



“Funny how people move through this world leaving little pieces of their story with the people they meet, for them to carry. Makes you wonder what'd happen if all those people put their puzzle pieces together.” 
― Jeff ZentnerGoodbye Days



Each time Carver had to help the families of his friends with a Goodbye Day it was crushing. Blake's grandmother was so sweet and loving and it broke my heart to witness their sweet and wonderful Goodbye Day for Blake. Eli's was completely different, but still heartbreaking, and the one with Mars' dad was crushing. He not only had to deal with different emotions each time, but also with the fact that some people held him responsible for his friend's deaths, including some of their parents. Like, holy shit I cannot even imagine that level of guilt and responsibility. While my mom died of cancer, and that can't be blamed on anyone really,  I think for me, it really hit me hard because one of the things I wonder about the most since my mom died is about all the pieces of her I didn't get to know. I know her as my mom and our relationship was complicated for most of my life, so realizing that other people have these pieces of who she is kind of helps. Hearing family and friends tell stories about my mom help me know her better, even if I didn't get the chance to do that when I was alive. 

I think another part of this story that hit close to home was Carver struggling with guilt and panic attacks, something I have struggled with a lot since my mom died. I am on anti anxiety meds now and in therapy (which has helped so much) but when I had that first panic attack, I was sure I was dying. I couldn't breathe and I was at work, so it was hella embarrassing (kind of like Carver and his first day at school without his friends) Jeff Zentner captured the feeling of panic and guilt and grief so perfectly. He also is able to write characters that feel like whole people. We only get to meet Eli, Blake, and Mars through flashbacks and stories, but you really get a feel for who they were and how crushing their loss is for Carver. 

Goodbye Days came to me at kind of a perfect time. It was hard to confront my own grief in the context of this story, but it honestly helped a lot. This book will hold a special place in my heart, especially since it was hard to read for me. I think that everyone should give it a chance, even if it can feel heavy at times. Losing someone is one of the hardest things we can ever go through, even knowing it's part of life doesn't make it easier. This book is basically a perfect example of how YA can be moving and funny and heartbreaking all at once, in the best kind of ways. Books can move you and tell your story, even if your story isn't even remotely the same. Read this book, y'all.