February, March and April were – and will continue to be – filled with new adventures, travel experience and growth. I can officially cross two more of my 2023 wishes as complete!
I’m still discovering a passion, but I’m making significant strides in healing. I wrote what I call “burn letters” early last month—which really helped me get my feelings out and heal. I wrote letters to friends who haven’t been there for me, Juan and people who have recently hurt me when I trusted them most.
Linley has been a big part of my healing progress. We’ve gone on some familiar trails, he’s been my buddy at work and we’re planning some new adventures together!
The cooking, reading, saying “no” and “yes” at the right times, setting boundaries, creating new adventures… it’s all happening and I’m setting the foundation so it continues to happen. I’m really excited about this—and it’s needed to happen for so long now.
And as far as community goes, I have the best coworkers-turned-friends in my current job. I LOVE IT HERE! There are certainly some difficult days with clients or our partners, but I never expected to “belong” as much as I currently do (I felt like I had to change to “fit in” elsewhere). Don, Giacomo, Baylen, Justin… are all becoming close friends, and Catherine and Veronica already are! KP and I even saw Don and his girlfriend Jennifer in NOLA over the weekend, where the Viagra Boys tee shirts from Thursday evening made an appearance!
Things are difficult and turbulent and hard and beautiful and hopeful and bittersweet, but I’m slowly seeing the clouds parting. I’m seeing who my truest friends are – and were this entire time – and I’m feeling like the best is yet to come. 💛
My time with Andy and Shawn was everything I needed in one weekend: Relaxing, fulfilling with both profound and hilarious conversation, explorative and engaging. I desperately needed a weekend like that with two people I have recently been able to call friends.
As soon as Andy and Shawn picked me up from the airport, I knew I was in for a great weekend! Andy and I became closer during our in-person team on-site back in August, and Shawn is an absolute gem. They both have been married before and have found true love in each other—which really inspired me as I somewhat begin my journey to find my true love and begin anew. The three of us stayed up until one or two in the morning catching up, and the rest of the weekend was full of laughs, great conversation and time outdoors.
Between exploring new places with somewhat new friends, spending time breathing in what felt like crisp, autumn air and spending hours laughing and learning with their South African friends, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend with better people!
Photos taken Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22, 2023
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.
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! 💛
Linley is always my best friend, but lately he hasn’t been my “little white shadow!” When we moved back in with my parents in September, I knew he’d be sharing his love between my mom, dad and me; however, I’ve missed his and my bonding time that we had so much of in Chicago.
My parents left for Florida on Monday and return today, as they always do between the holidays. Linley was back at my side 24/7, and we had quite the fun and relaxing week full of snuggles! I even took him into the office and through Starbucks for a much-needed pup cup this week, where he made a new friend Sugar.
We’re super pumped to see my parents later this afternoon, but I’ll miss this little guy right at my side.
Media taken December 27 through December 30, 2022.
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. 🖤
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
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.
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. ❤️
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
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
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.