January 2023 Progress & Gratitude

2023 Wishes

On New Years Eve, I sat with a couple girlfriends on the west side of Michigan, as we wrote down our “resolutions” (I put that word in quotation marks because I like to think of it as more ‘aspirational’ than specific, quantifiable ‘goals’). January has been an exceptionally hard month: seeing my ex-husband for the first time since our divorce and leaving Chicago, losing my dad’s best friend who we weren’t able to see prior to her passing, no longer being able to trust one of my male friends because he led me to believe he was someone he wasn’t, and my depression overall rapidly getting worse. Each month, I’m going to track my progress on each of my wishes for no one other than myself — but feel free to tag along if you wish.

Wish #1: ???

I decided to keep this one to myself for now, but plan to write more about this when the time is right.

Wish #2: Travel to South Africa, & plan other trips…

One of my best friends and her husband recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Johannesburg. Andy and I have worked together since the spring, and we became extremely close after all the project managers got together in person in August. Andy and Shawn are the kindest, funniest, most supportive people I could ask for in my life right now — both as individuals and as a couple. They’ve both been through difficult divorces in the past, and inspire me and give me hope that my true love exists — and that I’ll find him someday soon, without settling or compromising my beliefs or self worth. I visited them in Atlanta last weekend and I seriously needed all the laughs, time outdoors, lazy mornings watching TV and meeting more of their South African friends in the area.

Coincidentally, I’ve wanted to visit South Africa since I was about 10 years old. Andy and Shawn really want me to tag along with them the next time they return home. Whether that’s this summer or sometime in 2024, I look forward to my time with them, and to the other adventures abroad that are on the horizon for 2023.

Wish #3: Figure out my health bullshit!

As it turns out, I did indeed have a kidney infection, NOT a gallbladder or pancreas issue. Thank goodness I visited the Women’s Hospital of UofM, or else I probably would’ve had my gallbladder removed unnecessarily. If I still experience symptoms, I’ll be returning to the urologist for further testing, but for now I should be in the clear and my levels – and pain – are stable. I also made an appointment for my back problems and although my spine will never look the way I’d like it to, it was a relief to know that it “isn’t noticeable” to the average person — and now I can start planning for a new tattoo.

Wish #4: Find home in a physical place the way I have found home in myself…

I love who I am: I love how I look, I know what I deserve and I wouldn’t change anything about who I am as a person. HOWEVER, I do not feel at home here in Michigan. I left Michigan for a reason (or, several reasons…) and just because Chicago wasn’t my home either, doesn’t mean that I have to settle for less than I deserve here. Sure, some really good things have come out of me being here again, but my time here has been full of letdowns, false problems, and physical, emotional and mental pain. Maybe I’ll receive a permanent residency permit so I can live in Toronto. Maybe I’ll move somewhere closer to one of my best friends on the east coast. Maybe I’ll move to Charlotte, North Carolina because I had the best time with some of the best people this summer. Or maybe I’ll go somewhere totally new. The overwhelming possibilities are endless, but not all those who wander are lost.

Wish #5: More ink!

As previously mentioned, I’m planning my next tattoo, but am also working on finishing my foot/ankle and really want to get my dog’s paw print on my other ankle soon.

Wish #6: Find a passion – new or old.

I’m definitely getting back into music. As a kid, I was able to play three or four different instruments and found that music was a great outlet for me. Maybe I’ll get back into the piano or play something totally new — either way, I’m excited to explore this more. I also want to start swimming laps at a local gym every day, but am waiting until I relocate because figuring that out is like swimming laps in and of itself!

Wish #7: Heal from my marriage, time in Chicago, friendships ending…

It’s nearly impossible to put a timeline on this one. Progress isn’t linear with this one! Some days I feel on top of the world; others I feel like I’m drowning in my own depression, feeling like the universe is kicking me while I’m down. Seeing my ex-husband earlier in the month was necessary for my own healing, yet it was one of the saddest, heartbreaking things I’ve done. Being around someone you loved and who loved you for nearly a decade… and not being able to be with them in that capacity anymore… unless you’ve tried remaining friends with the person you thought was your soulmate is… hard to explain. It’s soul-crushing. I would give anything to go back to the good times where we both were happy — but my ex-husband doesn’t exactly feel the same way. I had to stare acceptance in the face and truly accept that things will never be as they were. Typing that even now – nearly a month later – feels daunting and depressing.

However… I am opening my heart where and when it needs to be open. I’m not only setting boundaries, but am finally adhering to them. I’m creating space for new friendships and new love, and although I’m losing hope, I haven’t fully given up yet. I wish I didn’t have to struggle this much and feel all this hurt within my heart — but I can only hope it all has to be worth it on the other side.

Wish #8: More bonding experiences with Lin!

I majorly need to step this one up. Because I live with my parents at the moment, Linley has shared the love between all three of us — making it hard to have that quality time I need with him. I hope to plan more adventures with Linley: before, during and after we relocate somewhere new. He’s the best dog in the whole world, and is my favorite adventure buddy!

Wish #9: More reading, cooking, exploring, saying “yes” and “no” when I want…

Saying “no” – even when it’s best for me – is still something I feel extremely guilty about. This is probably one of my biggest personal hurdles I need to jump leaps and bounds over this year. The good news is that I’m reading and cooking much more than I have in the past, and the exploring is still going strong! Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, my dad and I made homemade gluten free calzones and fish and chips. I’m excited to try even more recipes with the people I love most!

Wish #10: Finding community who loves and accepts me for me…

For the first time in my 29 years of life, I finally have this at work. I can be myself, crack my jokes, bring my personality to all of my projects, consultants and client teams, and feel valued for my contributions. I have never had community in my own family, or in my physical location. I hope to find this when I leave Michigan as well; I want to find that group who I feel deeply connected with and not for the sake of “fitting in” — but truly belonging as I am.

Montrose Dog Beach in videos and photos

Linley and I have enjoyed many mornings at the Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago, and we wanted to go every morning last week. The 5:30am wake ups were totally worth it because we arguably had the best views of the sunrise to date—especially last Wednesday and Thursday.

Here are some videos and photos to better tell the story of these magnificent views!

Tuesday, August 30

Wednesday, August 31

Thursday, September 1

Friday, September 2

Sunrise > Sunset

One major perk of living on the east side of Chicago is seeing the sunrise over Lake Michigan!

There’s something really beautiful and special about a sunrise. Sunsets are pretty and all, but it symbolizes the end of something, whereas sunrises are the start of a new day—and being awake before the rest of the city is something to cherish.

To make things even better, I get to cherish these moments with Linley. What a perfect start to both our days!

Media taken Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Chicago has “lost its magic”

Allow me to explain… and disclaimer: this is my personal experience, not a generalization of the city or Chicagoans as a whole.

During yesterday’s therapy session, I was vulnerable with Erin about my grief. Grief of my marriage/ten-year relationship coming to an end, grief of a city I’ve always wanted to live in and will be leaving soon, and grief of a life I wanted to live and share with the love of my life.

For several months, I struggled with emotionally and physically absent loved ones, manipulative and rude coworkers, a few friends who have proven to be more about status and materialism than the “warm hug” feeling I receive from my friends who live elsewhere, and not feeling a sense of community or belonging here in Chicago—despite all of my efforts. All of these situations and feelings caused me to question the validity of my marriage, my newfound friendships, and decision to move here in the first place.

When I was six years old, my mom, brother and I took the train to Chicago from Flint to see my dad who worked here at the time—as we did most weekends. I saw big city lights, lots of diverse people, the bustling streets with seemingly important and busy people heading to work and looking stylish, and heard new noises as we approached the city. I turned to my mom and said, “I’m going to live here one day.” Despite many of my favorite childhood and college memories taking place in this incredible city, it has lost all its magic.

“What does it feel like to you, Cate?” Erin asked me. “Why do you need Chicago so much?”

To which I answered, “It feels like I’m relearning that Santa isn’t real and never has been. And I guess I needed Chicago because this used to be my happy place, and I’m sad that it isn’t anymore.”

BUT the world is my happy place. The memories I’ve shared here with friends and family (including Lin of course!) can never be replaced—and nothing can ever take that away from me. I have also had incredible memories in the 24 countries I’ve visited (three of which have held addresses in) and the over 30 states I’ve explored within the US.

I look forward to reclaiming this city as a staple favorite when I move—whether that be one, three, six… months from now. Tomorrow I will start by kayaking downtown with a Michigan friend, but today I need some space from her (her being Chicago, NOT my Michigan friend haha!).

As a 28-year-old young woman now, I would hug six-year-old me looking out the Amtrak at the big city, and say “You did it. And now it’s time to go on even bigger adventures.” 💛

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

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 🙂

Getting Christmasy During COVID

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.

Home

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.

Outdoor Drinks

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! ☺️

The Arboretum, Again…

I took my beloved pup to the Ann Arbor Arboretum again for a multitude of different reasons.

1) It’s getting colder and the leaves are falling like crazy here in Michigan.

2) COVID cases are spiking and yes, I do believe in science and that staying home slows the spread!

3) There’s a likelihood that I’ll start a new job next month and won’t have the same amount of free time as I do now (stay tuned!).

4) There’s also a likelihood that we won’t remain in the area next fall and wanted to soak in the Michigan foliage (again, stay tuned!).

I believe every fall color makes an impact in its own way…

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue…?

Linley’s sweater counts, right?!

I invite you all to take a seat and enjoy nature 🙂

Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Michigan

If I could live anywhere (in Michigan, that is!), I would hands-down live in Ann Arbor. Not only is this trendy college town known for the University of Michigan, but there’s a special charm here that’s unforgettable.

Juan, Linley and I were supposed to wake up at 6:30am yesterday morning and head four hours north to Traverse City; I wanted to see all the fall colors near Lake Michigan and go on some epic hikes. Our plans abruptly changed as we discovered that it would be rainy all day, and because Juan pulled an all-nighter on Friday. I decided that we would all spend the day at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum instead. I’ve never been but am thankful we visited yesterday.

We all soaked up the fall foliage, miles of hiking and the crisp, autumn air. This goes without saying, but I think Linley enjoyed himself the most 🙂

Photos taken Saturday, October 17, 2020

Zip Lining and Problem Solving

My love for zip lining began in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on a family vacation. The freedom and thrill associated with it is empowering and so exhilarating!

I’ve been zip lining a few times since our Smokey Mountain adventure: once with my Little Sister and twice with a friend in metro-Detroit.

If you’re looking to overcome your fear of heights, for a family-friendly activity, a team-building exercise or something fun to do outdoors, zip lining might be the perfect pastime for ya!

If you live in Michigan or Tennessee, feel free to message me for company suggestions and additional information 🙂

Media taken August, 2019 and October, 2020

What will you do with your “hyphen”?

While listening to one of my favorite people on one of my favorite podcasts (Mayim Bialik and Freakonomics, respectively), I was moved by every word she relayed to her listeners.

Mayim discovered that our lives are hyphenated (e.g.: Catherine Olivia Spader, 1993-20??). She asked us, “What will you do with your hyphen?” My jaw dropped. It’s never been explained so simply.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal: this is our one chance to do something amazing. Although 2020 has been the most challenging year of my life – and has been for many others – I’m going to focus on exploring sights unseen, as well as the true passions of “my hyphen.”

A Smile for your Saturday

Politics. Protests. Pizza cravings for the seventh time this week. Oh my!

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a cluster…! My husband took some photos of me and had me pose according to his scenarios. I hope this makes you smile and laugh today 😅

“Look like you just won an Oscar, but are trying to remain humble” pose:

“You accidentally dropped your Oscar in front of millions” pose:

“Did you really think I’d drop this precious Oscar?” pose:

“Who am I kidding? I’m not even an actor!” pose: