Friend & Family Breakups

I wanted to put a pause on my regular travel posts and write about something that’s been lingering in the forefront of my mind this year.

I’ve been struggling with long-term extended family estrangement and somewhat short-term immediate family drama, as well as some pretty upsetting friendship breakups. I won’t go into specifics in order to protect those around me, but I’ve been in a dark place for about a year or so now. As one can imagine, this has taken a toll on my mental health.

I recently heard a quote on one of my favorite podcasts that goes a little something like this:

“Depression is the greatest acting teacher. I can smile through anything even though I just want the ground to open up and swallow me whole.” If that doesn’t hit you like a semi truck, I’m not sure what will…

I’m not a therapist or licensed professional by any means, but I wanted to share some strategies I’ve been applying to help with the pain of broken friendships and family relationships. It’s important to note that all of these points coincide with each other and this is the “flow” as I see it. Remember: everyone’s journey is highly personal and individual.

1. Don’t change who you are for those around you.

I have a lot of people in my life – family members in particular – who will never be proud of me, no matter what I do. In the past and present, I have been laughed at or mocked for my dreams and ambitions. Family members have and will continue to make me feel small to build themselves up. About five years ago, I chose to let them go as opposed to clinging onto the gaslighting and the guilt (e.g.: “well, I guess it’s your choice if you don’t want to be here” comments when THEY were the ones hurting ME).

2. Create your own closure.

Oftentimes we find that friendship and family breakups seem abrupt, without true closure. I was best friends with someone for nearly 12 years and I’ve been thinking about our good times lately. But with that, I’ve also been thinking of the bad. The truth is that she was like an older sister to me, whereas I was her “plan b”/“second choice” friend for a very long time. Write a goodbye letter. Get rid of photos. Do something that allows you to create your own closure. Remember, don’t change yourself to fit others’ narratives of you.

3. Try not to hate the person on the other end.

It would be so easy for me to say, “She was a horrible person because of X, Y and Z.” Although there are times I’ve been hurt by family and friends (and honestly still am hurting from recent experiences), I try my damnedest to acknowledge that we all have flaws and shortcomings. I realize this is much easier said than done, but I’m hoping this will make me a better, stronger person in the end.

4. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings.

Conversely, it’s okay to be angry, hurt, frustrated or upset. As long as you aren’t taking it out on the other person, allow yourself to reflect on your feelings in the present moment. Thinking of a past memory you miss? Cry. Thinking of how good things were in the past? Smile. The more you hold back and shove your feelings into a corner of your mind, the longer it’ll take you to move on.

5. Focus on yourself and the great relationships in your life.

I may never have a best friend who reminds me of an older sister ever again, but I do have amazing friends in my life. I feel loved every day, even if it isn’t by a family member. I may never be close with my family, but I have several friends-turned-family relationships that fill my heart. Be around like-minded, supportive people who will always be there for you (and always be there for them, too!).

Every day of 2020 has felt like an overwhelming struggle, but I am much more resilient than I was before. “When life hands you lemons, they say to make lemonade, but you can’t make lemonade without any sugar.”

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me 🙂

Back to the Beach!

Our last evening at Pictured Rocks was by far my favorite. After some epic hiking, we returned to Lake Superior Beach to enjoy our final sunset and some good night’s sleep. Juan and Linley needed a quick nap in the Jeep when we arrived, so I re-explored where Linley was digging around the day prior. I was drawn into the creek and the way the light was reflecting off the water.

I went back to the car to wake Juan and Lin up from their nap, and we settled in to enjoy the sunset. We didn’t take many photos because we were living in the moment, but it was a wonderful way to end our time on Lake Superior!

I can’t wait for my next adventure with my little family 😊

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020

Mont-Saint-Michel (2014)

Almost exactly six years ago, Juan and I had a weekend getaway in Mont-Saint-Michel. Prior to our weekend together, I’d never heard of this magical place and I couldn’t wait to explore!

Mont-Saint-Michel is in Normandy, France and serves as a mainland commune. Back in the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, the tidal island was founded and used to protect against the Vikings. Its rich history is something to be experienced in person…

Today, tourism is its sole source of economic stimulation. It’s estimated that only 25-50 people sleep on the Mont each night, which includes monks who live on the island. This made our time here extra special!

If you’re ever in northwestern France, please take time to visit this wonderful place!

Lake Michigan with mom and Linley

Yesterday I decided to take my dog, Linley, up north to hang out on the beach and do some hiking. Luckily my mom was able to join us and we had a fun, all-day adventure!

Linley and I picked my mom up early and we headed north around 7:00am. Before we headed toward the beach, we found a unique cafe where everything was gluten, dairy and soy free. We had to sip some iced coffee, indulge in morning pastries and take some photos on the butterfly bench!

Once we replenished, we ventured toward Empire Beach. This took as longer than we’d thought, however, because our GPS didn’t take us to the dog-friendly area like I’d hoped. We may have lost an hour of time, but we made up for it elsewhere.

I may be a prepared dog mom, but my mom is the prepared human mom! She brought us so many snacks and even some matching hats. I would’ve traveled north with Linley myself, but it’s always better when she’s around, too!

Linley had so much fun in the sand! We found a cool place where he had plenty of shade and could dig to make himself even cooler. We were on the beach for about an hour or so; we even put Linley’s life jacket on so he could swim a little!

After my mom and I had enough of the heat, we headed toward Empire Trail where we could all experience some shade. The trail is tucked back in the woods and once you reach the end, you’re in the midst of pristine sand dunes. My mom was intrigued by markings in the trees, where as Linley was busy leaving his mark on all the trees!

I didn’t capture many photos from yesterday; simply being with my mom and pup meant the world to me. Thankfully my mom took a sweet photo of Linley napping under our bench…

After we rested on the bluffs, we headed back down the trail, enjoyed a nice dinner in downtown Traverse City, and were back on the road again. Linley was fantastic in the car, on the beach and during our hikes; I can’t imagine going on these adventures without him (or without my mom for that matter)!

Happiness in my Marriage

2019 was challenging to say the very least; I was tirelessly searching for happiness and inner peace amidst the chaos around me.

At least I could (and still can!) say this: there is always happiness in my marriage, even on the not-so-good days. Why is this? I married my best friend, the person who allows me to be weird, and actually loves me unconditionally for being my dorky self!

Find yourself, and embrace who you are. And if you’re searching for your soulmate…

1) it truly happens when you least expect it.

2) don’t try so hard!!! It’s not authentic if you do…

3) allow your partner to be weird, too. Life’s more fun that way 🤗

Depression

I’m going to come right out and say it: I have depression. I’ve known that something was “off” since I was about 10 years old, but things really took a turn for the worst when I was 17. And at 26, things are REALLY BAD and have been since late 2018.

During my routine spring cleaning in November, I decided to go through some old photos. While recalling memories of how my family once was, I felt numb. I kind of shrugged it off like, “well that was nice, but it’s in the past now.” What really hit me were the photos of how happy I was as a child. I was outgoing, genuinely excited about everything, and didn’t have a care in the world if others thought I was crazy. I was unapologetic 100% of the time.

When did she go on vacation and never return home? How can I get her to come back and visit me, or even stay forever? These are the necessitous things I’d like to know…

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Cousin!

Katy, who is three years younger than me and lives miles away, has been a sister to me for a very long time.

I’m not close with a lot of my extended family members (for reasons I won’t mention here), so having a third-cousin who is more like a sibling means the world to me. Every single time we reunite, we pick up right where we left off.

Words can’t express how much I love this lady! Katy, if you’re reading this, I’m blessed to know you and call you a friend and sister. Happy birthday!

We’ve had many amazing memories over the years, and we’re guaranteed to have many more 🙂

The Dynamic Duo Takes Detroit

Living 20 minutes from downtown Detroit is a blessing and a curse: it’s great for our sanity but a detriment for our wallets!

Muse in concert (April, 2019)

James Bay in concert (March, 2019)

Cliff Bells – our fav! (January, 2019)

December in Detroit!

3OH!3 in concert (November, 2018)

November 16, 2018: Wedding Photo Essay

Juan and I went on our first date Friday, November 16, 2012 and were married Friday, November 16, 2018; it was truly a night to remember.  Being his wife is my biggest and best adventure yet…

All photos were taken by the lovely David Lucas at http://www.dsphotomi.com/index2.php#!/HOME

My husband is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.  He has shown me love since the beginning, as others did not.  He has taught me to feel confident in myself, even when I have not.  Juan is my best friend and I am incredibly proud of the man he is today.