An Easy Evening Stroll

When people say “it’s the little things in life,” they aren’t wrong. A simple, easy stroll with my husband and pup was just what I needed yesterday evening. After a highly stressful day full of unexpected drama, unwinding by the river with two of my favorite fellas meant the world to me. I hope the three of us can have more spontaneous, relaxing walks together – before and after we move.

Photos taken Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Babbling Brook

I felt like F. Scott Fitzgerald this morning as I meandered along the babbling brook at the Grove Park Inn. Asheville, North Carolina is known for its breathtaking views and enchanting scenery – a wonderful place in which to be immersed in nature. Reading my book and sipping my dirty chai latte was the perfect way to start my day 🙂

The Hardest ‘Goodbye’

One of the most difficult, heartbreaking parts of moving away means saying goodbye (or ta ta for now!) to loved ones. Aniya, my Little Sister of seven years in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, is probably my hardest goodbye.

Entering BBBS, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would become a ‘mentor’ for a young child or teen, but didn’t know what to anticipate aside from that generality. At age 20, I was matched with the sweetest, funniest, most adventurous 10 year old I’ve ever known, and am blessed to call her my friend and sister today. I’m not going far, but it still hurts because she has truly taught me more than I could ever teach her. Aniya is my best friend, and I’m going to miss her more than any words can express ❤️

Here are some of our many cherished moments we’ve shared over the years. I’m so proud of the young woman she’s become, and am grateful that Aniya will always be in my life, as my Sister 🥲

Travel Besties

As we begin a new month, I’ve been reflecting on my best friends who love travel as much as me. Here are some photos of my favorite adventurers ☺️

Saskia

Hamburg, Germany (March 2016)

Carolyn

Chicago (Summer 2015)
Boston (February 2018)

Katy

Manhattan, NYC (Summer 2017)
Staten Island, NYC (Summer 2017)

Bethany

Blue Lagoon, Iceland (May 2018)

Aniya

Cedar Point (Fall 2017)

Juan

Mont Saint-Michel, France (Summer 2014)

Lin!

Ann Arbor (Summer 2019)
Pictured Rocks (Summer 2020)

Lake Life

There’s nothing better than a Michigan summer evening on the lake! One of my best friends, Donna, invited me out on her dad’s boat and we had the best time together. Her family has become a second family to me, and we enjoyed an evening speeding on the lake and floating with the best view of the sunset. Nothing feels better than this ☺️

June Gratitude

In continuation of my monthly reflections, here’s a random compilation of moments that made me smile this month ☺️

-my former teammates planning an entire weekend for me in Asheville, NC – which will go down in July

-the homeless man at the corner smiling at Linley in the car right after he got groomed (bow tie and all!)

-my new teammates laughing when I said “I’m a Phoebe in my personal life, but a Monica in my professional life”

-hanging out at the pub in my hometown with one of my best friends, and running into some familiar faces

-planning an amazing vacation with one of my best friends on the entire planet

-having people show up for me unconditionally through these difficult times

-learning to accept the things I cannot change, and learning to defend myself in challenging situations

-making progress on my tattoo with the most talented, friendliest artist I’ve had the joy of working with (who has become a lifelong friend)

-Linley gently playing with a five-pound, five-month-old puppy at the dog park

-spending the day in one of my favorite cities with one of my favorite people

-having another two-hour long Skype session and planning an adventure with one of my dearest friends

-spending one-on-one quality time with friends, even throughout the week

-taking a three-hour walk with one of my best friends and our dogs

-eating pub food and strolling a downtown river walk with my dad

-singing karaoke with one of my best friends and her three kids

-having one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time with a great friend

-trying new, creative vegetarian food in Detroit

-baby birds and bunnies frolicking in our backyard

Sunset on Grand Traverse Bay

After some much-needed beach time in Empire, Michigan, our little fam visited Traverse City and explored downtown. We enjoyed some food truck eats – which obviously included some ice cream for the pup!

My favorite part about walking around downtown was that Linley and I had been there the evening before, yet he was so excited and acted like everything was brand new. Linley was smiling, pulling and panting the whole time! It’s the little things he does that bring me so much joy ☺️

The three of us enjoyed one last sunset on Grand Traverse Bay, for now at least. This was our last up north trip in Michigan for the summer, and I appreciated our time snuggling on the beach more than ever. We listened to the waves crash against the shore, watched an air balloon travel past us and saw the sky change from blue to orange before heading home.

Photos taken on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Our Favorite Dog Beach

Dogs beaches are a pain in the butt to find in southeast Michigan – mainly because there aren’t any. I’ve ‘broken the rules’ by taking Linley to a few beaches in the Detroit area before, but I would rather hit up the west side of the state for the best views (and to avoid the risk of getting in trouble!).

For three years in the row, either with my husband or with my mom, we’ve taken Linley hiking on the Empire Bluff Trail followed by lounging at Empire Beach. The beach is smaller and the water is choppier, but it never impacts the amount of fun that we have here. And yes, the water was freezing – which never stops me from swimming underwater (so exhilarating!) It also doesn’t stop Linley from trying to eat the waves 😂

Photos taken on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Empire Bluff Trail

Last weekend, Linley and I hiked Empire Bluff Trail (a woodland trail to amazing views of Lake Michigan) for the third year in a row. Pulling up to the parking lot with Juan and Linley hit me pretty hard this year, because the last time I visited was with my mom. All of our memories together flooded through my mind – which left me feeling both grateful and depressed during my nostalgia. We no longer had the relationship we once did and as badly as my heart is breaking, I wanted to return to the bluffs once more before the summer ends.

Linley was smiling, panting and pulling his way uphill on the trail. All the passersby were awestruck by his cuteness! Linley was kicking back in the dirt once he marked plants and trees, mostly on Juan and myself. He was refusing to act tired in the woods, but plopped down in the sand as soon as we got there. I smiled and laughed more at his shenanigans than I have in a long time! No words can express how much joy this 15-pound pup brings me ☺️

The three of us lounged in the sand as we enjoyed the breeze, sunshine and incredible views before heading to the beach.

Here are some videos of Linley getting comfortable in the sand 😂

Old Mission Point Beach & Downtown Traverse City

Our weekend was going to be perfect: leave the house around 8:30am on Friday, get to Traverse City by lunchtime, have a nice afternoon and evening exploring before heading to the cabin in Evart… but things didn’t go as planned. Juan had to pull an all-nighter for work Thursday night into Friday morning, so he didn’t arrive up north until Saturday morning; it was just Linley and me for the first full day, and we still had a great time ☺️

Our first stop was Old Mission Point Lighthouse, which sits on the tip of a peninsula and provides visitors with amazing views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Since it was a Friday afternoon, the beach below wasn’t crowded whatsoever and we essentially enjoyed what was a private shoreline. Linley had fun jumping in and out of the water, and I indulged in a dip or two myself!

After a couple hours on the beach, we decided to head into Traverse City. We hiked the surrounding trails a bit more and I snapped a couple quick photos before getting back into a hot, sandy car.

It was a toasty 88°F on Friday – which made for a good beach day but not necessarily optimal for walking downtown! Linley and I still managed to enjoy a couple hours of exploring prior to arriving at our Airbnb for the evening.

Our cabin was about an hour and a half away from Traverse City, and was the perfect size for the three of us (or the two of us that night!) Linley was a happy camper! I brought four of his favorite toys that he could play with before bedtime ☺️

Photos taken Friday, June 18, 2021