2022 Reflections & Gratitude

Although I am grieving my marriage and what I’d hoped was “home” in Chicago – and despite some of the hardship I’ve endured since being back in Michigan – there are several moments and people I am beyond grateful for.

It’s been challenging to put all of my emotions into words lately (both positive and sad), but I will say this: If you made me smile or gave me hope in these last few months, thank you from the bottom of my heart! 💛

Media taken August 15 through December 31, 2022.

New Friendships

Many people warned me that my friend circle would change during and after my divorce. I pondered that and thought there was no way my friendships would change during that process, mainly because I felt that I would need a good tight knit circle of support around me. However, I found that some of this is true; certain people I thought would be by my side haven’t been, whereas others have (or have tried). I’ve also been guilty of closing myself off and not being as vulnerable around certain friends. I think this has to do with the fact that I’ve been pleased with newer friendships that have emerged from my new phase of life. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, really, but I’m loving the people I’ve met in recent months who make me feel at home.

Work and travel to Florida and Toronto have brought me the majority of these beautiful, new friendships. From Veronica, Mer and Jenna, to Catherine, Baylen, Giacomo and Cosmo, to Cynthia and Mina… I’m beyond grateful. Wherever I end up moving in 2023, I look forward to meeting new people – and making new friends – along the way. 🖤

Fun in Florida

I feel like Florida is an extremely polarizing state in the U.S., but if you know where to go it can be a blast! I was there last Sunday through Wednesday for an on-site client meeting—my first business trip of this sort since joining the company in May. My boss, one of my favorite peers and I had a productive – and fun – time together in the sunshine state.

I arrived Sunday, a full day before Justin and Cosmo landed (yes, I work with the coolest dude who happens to have the coolest name!) and enjoyed some relaxation in the sun. There was a music festival right next to the beach resort I stayed at in Fort Lauderdale, so as I read my book I heard some punk rock bands going at it—giving me major early 2000s energy. Feeling the sand, salt water and base beneath my feet was (oddly) just what I needed.

Later that evening I took myself to dinner—which led to a good night full of great conversation. I met Cynthia at the bar, a woman from Montreal who is also experiencing the pain of divorce, and we spent probably four or five hours talking about life, travel and overcoming our current hardships. One of my favorite travel experiences is connecting deeply with a stranger-turned-friend, and my time with Cynthia is something I’ll always cherish. We’ve actually been texting ever since we met a week ago!

The rest of my trip was filled with last-minute preparation for my client meetings, working from a hotel room when I’d rather be order gin and tonics at the pool, and making fond memories with some of my favorite coworkers. The conversations, laughs and words of encouragement shared over nightcaps and good food was the kind of relief I so desperately needed in my life. In between the meetings and visits with our client, I was luckily able to enjoy the sunrise, warm water and “me time.”

Media taken Sunday, December 4 – Wednesday, December 7

Combating feelings of failure

29. Divorced. Living with my parents. May not be able to afford a home. Don’t know where I want to live, or if I even want to stay in Michigan.

“If I stay in Michigan, am I settling? Am I a failure if I stay here? Am I a failure if I move away again and hate it? Did I cause my marriage to fail? Will my heart ever be whole again?”

All of these feelings are flooding my mind lately. I have been feeding “the bad wolf.”

BUT I have also been feeding “the good wolf.”

“Maybe I need to be surrounded by some of my best friends and parents in Michigan right now. Maybe if I were living by myself I would feel even more alone. Maybe I don’t have to have all the answers on where to live yet, and maybe I can travel a bit to figure that out. Or stay put. I don’t have to do a damn thing if I don’t want to!”

Although being here (‘here’ means being around certain people) reminds of me times that I’ve been hurt, I’m also finding new and old friendships pulling me out of despair and into a feeling of inclusion and, dare I say, home.

Detroit Red Wings!
Facts!
Dive bar in Grand Rapids!
Bowling with Crystal!
A salty dog!
Linley the snow bunny!

Chicago probably isn’t in the cards; I gave that place and experience my everything. But if I stay in Michigan, I’m not a failure. If I move away and hate it, I’m not a failure. If I move away and love it, I’m not a failure. If I ever find love again and it doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, I’m not a failure. I’m not a failure for spending thanksgiving with another family other than my own. And I’m certainly not a failure for feeling all these conflicting emotions while I’m healing my broken heart. ❤️

Media taken November 1 – 16, 2022

My week in Norway

I miss visiting Kjell and his family—who have quickly become my own over the years. I miss Kjell’s and my hiking adventures, laughing and sharing memories in the car, our time spent fishing and reminiscing about the last time I visited—all while creating new memories together. Mangus, Markus and Hildegunn made me feel incredibly welcome and one of their own during Kjell’s mom’s 82nd birthday party—where I was surrounded by at least 30 or 40 other Norwegians! Mangus and I spent an entire day strolling around Bergen and having a nice breakfast together. I miss joking around with Markus about things 17-year-old boys joke about (it made me miss the times I’ve shared with my own brother at that age!). I miss laughing with Hildegunn over chocolate cake and “brown cheese.” I fucking miss all of it. Until next time. 💛

Media taken Sunday, October 23 through Sunday, October 30, 2022

My week in Germany

I’m slowly waking up from a deep sleep—that I needed ever so desperately. As work, family and personal stress come to a head, I needed rest and have been reflecting on the pain I’m feeling this month. Juan and I would’ve been married four years in a few days (and went on our first date almost ten years ago today). The holidays are painful without him, and without being close to some of my immediate family. I’m feeling so lost when it comes to my health problems and with some of the difficult conversations I need to have with others—including the one(s) I need to have with myself.

When I reflect back on my week in Germany last month, I was obviously feeling some of this physical and emotional pain, but I was able to live in the moment and feel the love of friends-turned-family; I didn’t realize how much I needed that until I was there living it.

Here are some of my favorite moments from my week with Saskia and her parents—full of love, laughter and happiness. 💛

Photos taken Monday, October 17 through Sunday, October 23, 2022

October

The first month being without a husband, the first full month of being away from Chicago, the beginning of losing people left and right, my body shutting down on me and my first full month of not being at peace with my current circumstances.

HOWEVER, what an exciting month it has been! AND what incredible people I have in my life—who have showed up like none other.

Here were some of my favorite memories last month, and hope this kind of support and hope continues into November.

Celebrating my best friend’s birthday at Ren Fest!
…and spending time with new friends, too!
Supporting and celebrating my friend’s tattoo shop grand opening!
Leading the way in the scariest haunted house
Veronica’s and my first RHPS!
Our third annual Witches Night Out!
Celebrating my best friend and her little one!
…and my parents watching Lin while I was away!
Reuniting with my best friend and her parents in Germany!
Saskia surprised me with the best sushi dinner!
…and the sweetest birthday brunch!
Clubbing, just like the good ole days!
Parting ways at the airport
Saying hello to my Norwegian Uncle, Kjell!
Bergen: My happy place!
Fishing for my dinner
“Getting arrested” by Kjell and his partner!
…and finally meeting his oldest son, Mangus!
Always good to reunite with Markus!
Parting ways with Kjell at 4am
Reuniting with Lin!
Handing out candy with dad!

When summer turns to fall

The past two or three weeks have dragged on and the days feel as though they’re blending together. I’ve been passed around from doctor to doctor – including a six-hour stint in the ER – to figure out whether I have kidney stones or a kidney infection, pancreatitis or gallstones. Every day I wake up feeling hungover even though I can’t drink, and have experienced similar symptoms to a UTI or kidney stones for the past 30 days or so…

On top of the health stuff, this period of limbo and transition has been extremely difficult—and eye-opening. With all the negative comes many positives, and I am grateful for the moments and people who have helped me through these past few weeks.

Enjoying the lake life with my second family
Planning a much-needed trip (this was from 2012!)
Linley gets ice cream after his grooming appointment
Reconnecting with my aunt and uncle
Finding light in the darkness
Solid music recommendations from the coolest coworkers
Hangin’ with the cutest kiddo!

As we enter my favorite month of the year, I’m going to focus on:

  • Speaking up
  • Saying no
  • Feeling empowered

Media taken September 13 – September 28, 2022

Bark in the Park, 2022

Last week, my parents and I took Linley to his third-annual Bark in the Park—a dog-friendly baseball game at Detroit’s Comerica Park. We weren’t able to attend in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID, but it was great being able to take my little guy again this season! Plus it was my dad’s first time tagging along, which was also fun ☺️

Linley grabbed a seahorse toy, some treats and a bandanna at the vendor booths. The three of us grabbed some snacks, kicked back and relaxed as Linley took in all the sights and smells. We look forward to taking him again next year 🤗

Media taken Monday, September 12, 2022

Michigan Renaissance Festival

Last weekend, my dad and I were looking for something fun to do nearby. We were originally thinking a golf trip up north, but we were both exhausted from the previous week and wanted to spend more time doing something fun instead of driving far away. When I saw signs for the annual Renaissance Festival, I knew that’s where we belonged!

Although it was such a hot day and the humidity was making us unbearably sweat, we had the best time strolling around, grabbing a couple drinks, watching some incredible performances and of course—people watching. Oh man is the people watching great at the Ren Fest! We enjoyed a “wenches” show, where two women pulled men on stage to do embarrassing things, bought some attire (a corset and kilt to be exact!), mingled with vendors and even saw some jousting. My dad and I felt like little kids again, and it was awesome spending the day with him!

The following day, I wore my full attire and visited my friend Terry in the mermaid tank. Between visiting him and hanging out after his shift, I watched another wenches show, saw a little more jousting and witnessed some cute birds disobey a falconer—all while sipping on some peach lemonade. Even though I was having some health issues over the weekend, feeling like a kid again at the Ren Fest was the perfect distraction! ☺️

Media taken Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11, 2022

Empire Bluff Trail and Beach

Knowing that Labor Day weekend was probably the last glimpse of summer we would see in the Midwest, I dedicated a day toward hiking and soaking of the sun with Linley. We traveled north to the Traverse City area and did our fourth-annual Empire Bluff Trail hike together.

Having had Linley for five years now, I’m constantly researching the best dog-friendly areas for us to explore. Empire Bluff Trail was a gem I found four years ago, and we’ve made it an annual tradition to do a hike and lounge at the beach afterward. This year, it was just the two of us and we slept on the the dunes AND on the beach this time!

Feeling the sun on our skin, the sand in our toes (and paws!) and soaking up the last bit of summer was the perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend. The hike and sun beating down on us tired both of us out, but we enjoyed the sunset and quality time curled up on the beach together. I can’t put into words how much I love this little fella—and all of these moments we share!

Media taken Sunday, September 4, 2022

Charmed by Charlotte, NC

I was expecting a nice, low-key weekend with two of my closest friends who just relocated from Asheville to Charlotte, North Carolina. I anticipated some fun at sporting events, some good eats and tons of laughs—but my weekend was much more than that. I had one of the best weekends of my life.

Last Friday, I flew to Charlotte from Detroit (my parents wanted to watch Lin!) and was exhausted. I was exhausted from the week I’d had—both physically and mentally. Although I was sleepy, I napped during my flight and couldn’t wait to be around Carolina and Matt again. They picked me up around 1pm then grabbed some lunch and margs at an amazing Mexican restaurant. Between lunch and our evening baseball game, I took an hour-long nap while Carolina and Matt ran some errands. As I got ready for the game, I decided to leave my phone at their place—to fully immerse myself in the moment and not feel anxious about incoming text messages.

The Charlotte Knights played two games downtown, and the three of us had the best time. We grabbed a couple drinks, some snacks, walked around and shared tons of laughs and stories. Carolina and I have been close since 2020 and I love spending time with her and Matt. The games flew by, and we even saw some fireworks at the end.

After the games and fireworks, we grabbed nightcaps at The Cotton Room downtown. It took forever for us to get our drinks, and while Carolina and I were waiting at the bar, Matt made a new friend. Nick, the one person who is as obsessed with their dog as I am, joined us for a drink and we all ended up making plans for the following day.

On Saturday, we hung out in NODA—the coolest neighborhood in my opinion. I felt like I was back in Asheville, Portland, Ann Arbor and Chicago all in one. Everyone had tattoos and dogs, and were super friendly! Nick brought his dog Jax along for the fun, and everyone was petting him as we grabbed coffee in the afternoon. We dropped him off and the four of us made our way to Optimist Hall, an old mill-turned-market where we enjoyed some tacos.

Going to the soccer game was so much fun, and I didn’t think my weekend could get any more exciting! Boy, the atmosphere with the crowd and the booing and the throwing things was so much fun. We all got right into it!

The game ended, but our night certainly did not. We grabbed dinner and drinks nearby, and made our way back to The Cotton Room. We cried laughing and shared stories just like the night before. It was so fun to spend time with two of my best friends—and make a new one who is so much like me. We all went back to Carolina’s and Matt’s place, where we stayed up until 3:30am (about five hours past my normal bedtime!). What a great night.

Sunday was also great, mainly because I had a later flight home. The four of us were extremely lazy in the morning, but eventually grabbed even more tacos (see the theme here?) for lunch. Before heading home, we went to a dog park/bar and were joined by Carolina’s brother, Matt’s parents and his sister. The eight of us – plus Koko and Matt’s parent’s dog – had the best time. Nick and I hugged goodbye, followed by Matt and Carolina hugging me at the airport. Once I made it through security, I teared up because I missed them already—and can’t wait to make my way back to this amazing city with even better friends.

Media taken Friday, August 5 – Sunday, August 7, 2022