Sunrise at Montrose Dog Beach

There’s nothing like putting your toes in the cool sand and hearing the waves of Lake Michigan at sunrise.

My favorite time to take Linley to our favorite dog beach is early in the morning during the week—when it’s practically all for ourselves. He loves to play with other dogs but can get overwhelmed when it’s crowded, so watching him run and play before I begin my workday is equally rewarding for me.

And the view certainly doesn’t hurt, either! ☺️

Media taken Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Kayaking in Chicago

Crystal and I were finally able to get on the river and kayak downtown last weekend. When I say we had the best time and shared tons of laughs, I’m not kidding! We walked around downtown with our Vitamin Waters and Kettle One peach vodka mixes and headed to Urban Kayak. We were definitely the rule-breakers and tipsiest ones out there – and we may or may not have been reprimanded a couple times – but had the best time and really needed it.

After kayaking, we took ourselves to Caffe Oliva, a beach restaurant right on Lake Michigan with the best view of the city. We instantly felt like we were transported to Miami or something, and of course grabbed another peach vodka cran.

Crystal and I have both been struggling with relationships – and our dynamic with Chicago lately, due to said relationships – and really needed a girls day and quality time together. We’re going through heartache now, but we’ll both be okay in the end. ❤

Photos taken Sunday, July 31, 2022

Lollapalooza Weekend 2022

The one thing I love as much as travel is live music. Going to concerts and events where the music is blaring and the energy of the crowd is contagious pumps me up like no other.

Lollapalooza is a huge Chicago music festival that takes place in Grant Park every summer. I was finally able to attend this year, and it was worth every penny. On Thursday night, I saw Royal Blood at an indoor venue (The Vic, my favorite in Chicago) at a Lolla after show and was by far one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent years—and maybe of all time. I’ve loved Royal Blood for a few years now, and hearing Trouble’s Coming along with some of my other favorites was exhilarating beyond words. I had a blast and met some nice people in the crowd, and stayed up way past my bedtime!

I took the following day off to attend the actual Lollapalooza event and loved every minute of it. I’ve been planning who I wanted to see and when for quite some time, and was thrilled with yesterday’s lineup.

Genesis Owusu is someone I’ve recently discovered and loved instantly. He’s super political and progressive, and all his songs are as meaningful as they are bops!

I obviously had to see Royal Blood again. They’re one of my all time favorite duos and I can’t wait to see them again. Seeing them at an intimate venue and at an outdoor event were two completely different experiences—and I appreciated them both in differing ways.

After Royal Blood and King Princess for a drink and sit down session, I saw another longtime favorite: Glass Animals. Juan and I saw them back in March and have loved them since 2015 or 16, but going alone was my way of reclaiming them for myself. I danced with other loyal fans in the crowd and I had the time of my life. Dave Bailey delivered yet again!

Last but certainly not least was Machine Gun Kelly. One word: OBSESSED! I’ve attended somewhere between 50 and 100 concerts in my lifetime, and can easily say he and his band were the best performers and knew how to work the crowd.

I love that he raps and is punk—which led to the best surprise of the night…

AVRIL LAVIGNE performed with him!!! Oh my god, my ten-year-old self would’ve died knowing that this would happen in my future! We all screamed and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Thursday night and yesterday evening were full of memories that I’ll never forget, and I look forward to feeling more of this ❤️

Media taken Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, 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.” 💛

Feels like summer in Chicago

There’s something really magical about June in Chicago. It’s sunny, warm with a nice breeze from Lake Michigan, not too humid… it’s magical. Some of my favorite, childhood summer memories took place here and it’s been great to relive some of these experiences in adulthood.

Montrose Beach

This should come as no surprise to those of you who have read my recent posts, but I’ve been loving the sunrise and sunsets on Lake Michigan with Linley.

Comedy!

My all-time favorite thing to do in big cities is see a comedy show. Improv, stand up… it doesn’t matter as long as I’m laughing and having a good time. I’ve been to Second City, Laugh Factory and Zanie’s lately and have no plans to slow down.

Kayaking

Being out on the water has always been one of my favorite summertime activities, and doing this with such an amazing view can’t be beat. My friend Jes visited from North Carolina over the weekend, and we had to kayak in Lincoln Park!

Festivals

Chicago is home to some of the best summertime festivals, including a super fun Midsommar Swedish festival that took place in Andersonville a couple weeks ago!

Riverwalk

Chicago’s Riverwalk is so much fun, especially when I take Linley and we grab some gelato on the way home!

Baseball

I’m not the most athletic or sports-orientated person, but there’s something about going to a baseball game and sitting under the sunshine that’s so much fun! Jes and I enjoyed some Wrigleyville brunch and a fun Cubs game at Wrigley Field against the Braves.

Millennium Park

A quintessential part of Chicago! Tourist or resident, you can’t say that you’ve seen the city without taking an obligatory stroll through Millennium Park.

Media taken June, 2022

Letting It Out & Letting It Go

Yesterday evening we ventured over to the AIDS Garden Chicago, memorializing the HIV epidemic and honoring those who live with the disease today.

I hadn’t had a good cry in a while, until yesterday. I’ve been putting a smile on for my new team at work, my neighbors, myself… and the tension I’d been feeling was building up to more I could handle.

Darkness covered us as we enjoyed some cheese and crackers along Lake Michigan when Juan started talking about all our good times together. Knowing that we may not have more of those times together broke me in ways I couldn’t imagine possible—and I just cried. Cried so hard and didn’t have any support from him—not even a hug. I was angry and hurt and scared and alone… until Linley comforted me. He sat right next to me and gave me a hug (yes, my small dog can give hugs!). I made me laugh so hard, and even during one of the saddest moments I’ve had in quite some time, he gave me hope that things will be okay—even if they aren’t right now.

When people say things like “animals don’t have feelings” or “animals aren’t that smart,” I wholeheartedly disagree. I was never allowed to have a dog growing up, but I’ve had my fair share of rodents, and even those little critters had personalities! But Lin is different. He’s the most intuitive fella I know. Others (Airbnb hosts, my friends, complete strangers…) even say that he knows me so well, that we’re a good pair. Even as I type this as I sit at my desk, this is how close he is:

I don’t know a better way to channel my love – and receive it – than being with this guy 💛

Media taken Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2022

I want to live like Linley

…try saying that five times fast! 😂

Lin and his new friend/doppelgänger, Bowie!

Linley makes friends wherever he goes, is content being lazy inside or exploring outside, and loves life in all its simplicity.

He’s always up for an adventure!
Another Lake Michigan sunset 🧡
Mocking Lin’s poses
A new illustrative tattoo of my little guy ❤️

I thoroughly enjoyed my Memorial Day weekend with this little guy—and am looking forward to more summer adventures together!

Media taken May 27-June 1, 2022

It’s a walk in the (dog) park

Something that always brought Linley and me joy was hanging out at the dog park. We’re a 45-minute walk to the dog beach (which really takes over an hour with all the times Lin has to mark his territory) and about a 20-minute walk from our local dog park here in Chicago. It’s great to be close to a dog park, but boy do we miss our old one in Troy, Michigan!

The Daisy Knight Dog Park felt like such a sense of community for both Linley and me: long-lasting conversations with strangers-turned-friends and their dogs, Linley getting all the love from neighborhood kids and other dogs… but here feels so different. The past two times we’ve went to the dog park here, we haven’t really been welcomed. Granted, there are a few nice people who say hi and make small talk, but overall it doesn’t bring the same welcomeness that I’ve/we’ve felt in the past.

But Linley and I remain persistent and positive! We always make the most of it, arrive and leave with smiles on our faces, and enjoy the quality time we have on our long walks together.

“Sun’s out, tongue’s out!”

Once my car’s back from the shop (TBD), hopefully we can hit the beach instead 😉

Photos taken Thursday, May 26, 2022

Warm Weather, Warm Heart

Spending so much time outdoors last week made me exponentially happier 💛

Linley and I spent five days at the dog beach, including one morning at sunset. We also met some new neighbors on our block – both human and dog! – and enjoyed some lemonade stands along our afternoon walks. These kids are gets salespeople around here! Chasing Lin at the beach and watching him play with other dogs and kids was incredibly heartwarming—and exactly what I needed 🙂

Here are several photos and videos from our week:

A very “Chicago weekend”

Week one of work is in the books—and so far so good! But admittedly, working after going seven weeks without it took extra focus and determination, leading to feeling extremely tired after a long week of onboarding. This, as well as some personal things, made me excited for a nice, “Chicago weekend.”

And by that, I mean good food downtown, a comedy show and a fun afternoon at the Montrose Dog Beach.

We stayed in and watched some comedy while munching on McDonalds fries and Chicago Diner vegan shakes on Friday evening. Saturday morning started off with a nice, warm morning walk followed by driving downtown and grabbing Mediterranean food at Ema (10/10 would recommend). After stuffing our faces, we walked around West Loop a little before heading back home. Linley was so cute on our late afternoon/early evening walk because he wanted to head into every restaurant and bar in Wrigleyville! 😂

While we were at lunch, Juan and I decided to book comedy club tickets for that evening, so after Lin’s and my walk, we got ready to laugh some more. Listening to three hilarious comedians, including fellow Michigan native Steve Iott, while drinking some cucumber lime martinis couldn’t have made for a better night!

Channeling my inner Midge Maisel

Sunday morning was a little more lazy; we ordered breakfast in and hung out before heading to the beach in the afternoon. Linley enjoyed himself at the dog beach, and seeing him have so much fun made our day, too! He’s the best… 🙂

My evening ended with a great phone call with one of my closest friends, and some Survivor before heading to bed.

Don’t forget to follow Linley on Instagram! westiepoo.linley 🐶

Photos taken Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8, 2022

Life’s a (dog) beach!

My beloved dog-turned-best friend, Linley, and I are blessed to live so close to the most popular dog beach in Chicago.

Note: “Close” in Chicago terms means either ~an hour walk, or a ten minute walk plus two train stops followed by another twenty minute walk (Or an 11-minute drive…).

Regardless, it’s nice being so close to what we love: Lake Michigan, the sand and the sun!

I’m taking a little sabbatical from work—giving Linley and I more opportunity for fun in the sun. Over the past five days, we’ve gone to the dog beach twice. Watching Linley smile and make new friends, prance around the shore, get the zoomies in the sand and let the sun hit his face instantly warms my heart. I forget about all my problems when I’m around him 💛

On Monday, my friend Andrea met us at the beach—followed by a lovely stroll around Uptown, her soon-to-be new condo and an outdoor dinner. We ordered burgers (mine was vegan of course!) and I asked for a plate of grilled chicken for the little guy. Linley was such a good boy—per usual. I’m also lucky that he’s great on long walks and the CTA trains.

Photos and videos taken Wednesday, March 16 and Monday, March 21

A very “Chicago” St. Patrick’s Day

The obligatory, quintessential way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day in Chicago? Checking out the green river!

Having visited Chicago several times before relocating here, I hadn’t seen the green river since I was six years old. Fortunately, we are just a quick drive from downtown and we were able to stroll the Riverwalk when it was calmer from all the weekend’s parade shenanigans. Seeing this tradition without the rowdiness of the typical parade setting is a blessing in my book 💚