I immediately thought of the infamous Spongebob song “F is for friends who do stuff together…” when I typed the title of this post!
In all seriousness, February has been one of the best months I’ve had in a LONG while. The quality time my friends and I have given each other is one of the best gifts 2021 has given me. I’m grateful because I know for many, February wasn’t as easy and giving for those in other parts of the country and world.
We can all (or at least mostly) agree that it’s hard to imagine that our lives were almost turned upside down one year ago; we’re still experiencing the whiplash of COVID-19, the restrictions and uncertainties of the pandemic, and the lack of normalcy in our lives overall. Any bit of sanity and time well-spent with friends is exactly what I’ve been craving and desperately needing!
I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy!
One of my best friends turns 27 today, and I can’t help but reflect on our adventures together. From Kalmar to Chicago, Reykjavik to Cortez, Colorado, we always have a spectacular time together!
Bethany is always a consistent source of joy and happiness in my life, and I know she always will be. Every conversation is meaningful, every adventure is purposeful, and every laugh or inside joke is cherished. This gal is truly my best friend!
Happiest birthday to you, Bethany! You’re more than anyone could ask for 🙂
A few days ago I Skyped my friend Bethany, who has been featured in several of my posts, most notably for our travel experiences together. We met in 2016 as two eager U.S. students studying in Kalmar, Sweden and we haven’t skipped a beat since! Bethany now lives in the Seattle area and I’m hoping to visit her as soon as possible. She’s truly the friend you can always rely on, no matter the distance.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been FIVE YEARS since we began our Swedish adventures. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with watery eyes. I have a love-hate relationship with looking at old photos. I reflect and feel myself in that moment again, sometimes with sweet nostalgia and other times with immense longing to be there again. But why?
1. I’m craving new adventures and memories (aren’t we all?). In all seriousness, travel is my decompression. It’s an escape from work, from people, from life at home. Those long weekend getaways with a close friend, my husband or parent, and lengthier international adventures mean more to me than any material thing.
2. I don’t love where I am right now. I believe people looking into my life (especially through photos) would want what I have: a husband, a dog, a home, a job… but I am not emotionally where I’d like to be. I know deep down that I need to rediscover myself and what’s important to me, which is why I’m in need of positive change.
3. Sometimes the past is more appreciated in the present than it was back then. Sometimes I’ll look at an old photo and think “wow, that was an awesome day!” and maybe I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s such a shame how our minds can trick us this way.
I’m trying not to beat myself up because all of us can experience these feelings. We can all look at old photos or reflect on old memories with a multitude of emotions ranging from sadness to warm-hearted joy.
I hope we can all create new memories – be it solo, with loved ones, or even strangers – this year and for many years to come 🙂
Some of us are excited for what 2021 will bring. Some of us remain uncertain and are maybe even afraid for the future. I’m almost certain that no matter which bucket you fall into (if not both!), you’re ready for some normalcy. And one of the only beings in my life who is loving all of this is my pup, Linley.
For Juan and me, January has been filled of some quick (and safe) visits with friends, tons of work after hours, and the occasional date with just us two; but mostly it’s filled with Linley-related quality time.
I hope that the remainder of 2021 involves more time with friends and more traveling, which includes more adventures with Lin!
Today is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Saskia and I met ten years ago, and our friendship has proven the test of time and distance. I haven’t seen Sassi in person since 2016 (which is quite depressing to think about!), but we use WhatsApp to communicate on a weekly basis. She and I are closer than some of my family and friends who live close in proximity; she truly is my family right now. Although I love hearing her voice, I can’t wait to see Saskia again and give her the big hug that she deserves! Happy birthday, Saskia 🙂💛
I’m seldom at a loss for words; my heart goes out to the people who live and work near the U.S. Capitol. My best friend and her husband have lived in D.C. since 2016, which has easily been the most challenging four years for my friend’s husband as he is directly employed by the city. As protests sweep the nation, I always think about the safety of my close friends and hope that he returns home after chaotic days of work ❤️
Last year, one of my closest friends from a past study abroad adventure stayed with us for ten days. We visited the Niagara Falls, enjoyed some live music in Toronto and went to a roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve party hosted by one of my dearest friends. It couldn’t have been any better!
Fast forward to December 31, 2020: another beloved COVID test, watching Portlandia and snuggles on the couch…
I hope 2021 is full of more adventures, quality time with friends, reading and career advancement. I also wish for less social media/screen time and self-doubt this year.
For many of us the holidays not only feel different, but look different. I haven’t been in much of a Christmasy mood this year and have done just about everything to get myself out of this funk. It’s been wonderful to see some bright lights with my husband, dog and friends in safe ways this month.
Our tree has been a much-needed focal point of our home. This will likely be my last Christmas in Michigan for the foreseeable future, which makes our tree even more meaningful. At the end of our neighborhood lies Linley’s doggy daycare, and Santa put him on the nice list this year 🙂
Campus Martius, Detroit
There’s nothing that screams Christmastime more than the tree and lights in downtown Detroit! Juan, Linley and I had a wonderful time exploring and grabbing some dinner in Campus Martius park (even if our glasses kept fogging up!).
Big Bright Light Show
Each year, downtown Rochester knocks it out of the park with their big bright light show. Every business has their own colorful lights outside and not only is this absolutely whimsical, but it’s also extremely helpful for local businesses. My friend Ter and I ordered some pouches of Bright Light Cosmos and enjoyed ourselves a little too much!
Drive Thru Light Show
I actually drove through this light show twice: once with Juan and Linley, and another time with my friend Ter. Both times were fun and full of cliche holiday music.
My friend Donna and I definitely took drinking in public for granted! We each enjoyed a cosmo mule on a heated patio recently and had a great time.
I hope you all have happy and safe holidays this year! ☺️
As 2020 comes to a close, this is a great time to reflect and donate to a local charity or two. With many nonprofit organizations’ funding being eliminated due to the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to help amazing charities in your area.
While there are many charities I care about, there are four that I have either participated in, heavily benefited from, or have grown to admire over the past decade. If you are interested in donating time or financially to any of these charities, please use the affiliated links or contact me for more information. And most importantly: thank you for your donation!
Big Brothers Big Sisters
I immediately tear up when I think of how much BBBS of the Great Lakes Bay Region (Michigan) has impacted me. Aniya and I have been matched for six years and to see her grow has been one of the greatest gifts I could’ve asked for. Aniya is gracious, strong and has truly grown up to be a phenomenal young woman. She is the sister I never had but always wanted. There’s no doubt that I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me! Please consider becoming a Big or donating a gift a money to: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E246618&id=1
Compass Dog Rescue
I’m pretty sure my first word was “dog,” and I impatiently waited 23 long, ‘’miserable” (😂) years to finally rescue one. Compass Dog Rescue is based in Royal Oak, Michigan but rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in southern states. My little guy Linley was saved in 2017 from a high-kill shelter after he was dropped there during Hurricane Harvey. This pup has helped with my anxiety and depression more than I could’ve ever anticipated, and your new best friend could be waiting for you at Compass! To donate or even rescue/foster a rescue dog, please visit: https://m.facebook.com/compassdogrescue/
The Camilla Foundation
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Camilla Foundation is focused on helping those in need at both local and global levels. Their global mission is to empower and grow the stability of an orphanage in Uganda. They are currently approving the salary of 20 amazing caretakers and funding self-sufficient food security for our growing children through the entire year. To donate, please visit: https://camilla-foundation.org/donate
The Barn Sanctuary
As a vegetarian transitioning into a fully plant-based diet, I want to end animal cruelty, live a healthier lifestyle and protect the environment from the dangers of climate change. Animals are friends, not food! To learn more and donate to the Barn Sanctuary, please visit: https://www.barnsanctuary.org/donate/