July Gratitude

July was full of spontaneity, love and laughter. Here are some of my favorite moments from last month:

-my teammates are excited to meet me, and have been giving me pointers on where to live in the city

-good phone calls with great friends, and my favorite cousin

-going to an indoor party for the first time since February 2020

-exploring downtown Detroit; admiring the architecture and fireworks while Linley kept running into things with a big smile on his face

-hanging out on the lake with my best friend and her family (+fast boat rides!)

-overcoming family bullying and past trauma

-finally meeting my former coworkers and spending a lovely weekend with them in Asheville

-a lovely evening stroll through a local riverwalk with Juan and Linley

-my supervisors asking how the move is going and expressing their excitement to meet me in September

-spending the entire morning floating and drinking on the Huron River with one of my best friends

-long conversations with old friends

-taking Linley on spontaneous adventures

-becoming closer with coworkers

-Linley’s kiss attacks!

-laughing and catching up with my home girl Donna on a weekly basis (never a dull moment!)

-when a friend can turn a terrible day into a phenomenal one

-productive mornings

-Linley made an appearance on a company Zoom photo collage

-Linley trying to earn treats simply for being cute on a hot day (and sitting by Sommer and his treat bag on the bench!)

-spending time with the three sweetest kiddos who call me “Aunt Cate”

-Jaclyn saying “well, you’re my sister, so…” ☺️

-girls nights with a best friend in Ann Arbor (strong drinks in new places with old friends!)

-tolerating less bullshit

-a lovely day with Juan and Linley, full of walks and relaxation

-knowing that I will always overcome what’s ahead

Sunday Stroll

I’ve realized that the majority of my evenings have been consumed by river walks with Linley, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! There’s a beautiful park near our neighborhood which allows us to mix up our walking routine every now and then. How have you been changing things up throughout this year and last?

Photos taken Sunday, July 25, 2021

An Easy Evening Stroll

When people say “it’s the little things in life,” they aren’t wrong. A simple, easy stroll with my husband and pup was just what I needed yesterday evening. After a highly stressful day full of unexpected drama, unwinding by the river with two of my favorite fellas meant the world to me. I hope the three of us can have more spontaneous, relaxing walks together – before and after we move.

Photos taken Tuesday, July 20, 2021

June Gratitude

In continuation of my monthly reflections, here’s a random compilation of moments that made me smile this month ☺️

-my former teammates planning an entire weekend for me in Asheville, NC – which will go down in July

-the homeless man at the corner smiling at Linley in the car right after he got groomed (bow tie and all!)

-my new teammates laughing when I said “I’m a Phoebe in my personal life, but a Monica in my professional life”

-hanging out at the pub in my hometown with one of my best friends, and running into some familiar faces

-planning an amazing vacation with one of my best friends on the entire planet

-having people show up for me unconditionally through these difficult times

-learning to accept the things I cannot change, and learning to defend myself in challenging situations

-making progress on my tattoo with the most talented, friendliest artist I’ve had the joy of working with (who has become a lifelong friend)

-Linley gently playing with a five-pound, five-month-old puppy at the dog park

-spending the day in one of my favorite cities with one of my favorite people

-having another two-hour long Skype session and planning an adventure with one of my dearest friends

-spending one-on-one quality time with friends, even throughout the week

-taking a three-hour walk with one of my best friends and our dogs

-eating pub food and strolling a downtown river walk with my dad

-singing karaoke with one of my best friends and her three kids

-having one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time with a great friend

-trying new, creative vegetarian food in Detroit

-baby birds and bunnies frolicking in our backyard

Sunset on Grand Traverse Bay

After some much-needed beach time in Empire, Michigan, our little fam visited Traverse City and explored downtown. We enjoyed some food truck eats – which obviously included some ice cream for the pup!

My favorite part about walking around downtown was that Linley and I had been there the evening before, yet he was so excited and acted like everything was brand new. Linley was smiling, pulling and panting the whole time! It’s the little things he does that bring me so much joy ☺️

The three of us enjoyed one last sunset on Grand Traverse Bay, for now at least. This was our last up north trip in Michigan for the summer, and I appreciated our time snuggling on the beach more than ever. We listened to the waves crash against the shore, watched an air balloon travel past us and saw the sky change from blue to orange before heading home.

Photos taken on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Our Favorite Dog Beach

Dogs beaches are a pain in the butt to find in southeast Michigan – mainly because there aren’t any. I’ve ‘broken the rules’ by taking Linley to a few beaches in the Detroit area before, but I would rather hit up the west side of the state for the best views (and to avoid the risk of getting in trouble!).

For three years in the row, either with my husband or with my mom, we’ve taken Linley hiking on the Empire Bluff Trail followed by lounging at Empire Beach. The beach is smaller and the water is choppier, but it never impacts the amount of fun that we have here. And yes, the water was freezing – which never stops me from swimming underwater (so exhilarating!) It also doesn’t stop Linley from trying to eat the waves 😂

Photos taken on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Empire Bluff Trail

Last weekend, Linley and I hiked Empire Bluff Trail (a woodland trail to amazing views of Lake Michigan) for the third year in a row. Pulling up to the parking lot with Juan and Linley hit me pretty hard this year, because the last time I visited was with my mom. All of our memories together flooded through my mind – which left me feeling both grateful and depressed during my nostalgia. We no longer had the relationship we once did and as badly as my heart is breaking, I wanted to return to the bluffs once more before the summer ends.

Linley was smiling, panting and pulling his way uphill on the trail. All the passersby were awestruck by his cuteness! Linley was kicking back in the dirt once he marked plants and trees, mostly on Juan and myself. He was refusing to act tired in the woods, but plopped down in the sand as soon as we got there. I smiled and laughed more at his shenanigans than I have in a long time! No words can express how much joy this 15-pound pup brings me ☺️

The three of us lounged in the sand as we enjoyed the breeze, sunshine and incredible views before heading to the beach.

Here are some videos of Linley getting comfortable in the sand 😂

Old Mission Point Beach & Downtown Traverse City

Our weekend was going to be perfect: leave the house around 8:30am on Friday, get to Traverse City by lunchtime, have a nice afternoon and evening exploring before heading to the cabin in Evart… but things didn’t go as planned. Juan had to pull an all-nighter for work Thursday night into Friday morning, so he didn’t arrive up north until Saturday morning; it was just Linley and me for the first full day, and we still had a great time ☺️

Our first stop was Old Mission Point Lighthouse, which sits on the tip of a peninsula and provides visitors with amazing views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Since it was a Friday afternoon, the beach below wasn’t crowded whatsoever and we essentially enjoyed what was a private shoreline. Linley had fun jumping in and out of the water, and I indulged in a dip or two myself!

After a couple hours on the beach, we decided to head into Traverse City. We hiked the surrounding trails a bit more and I snapped a couple quick photos before getting back into a hot, sandy car.

It was a toasty 88°F on Friday – which made for a good beach day but not necessarily optimal for walking downtown! Linley and I still managed to enjoy a couple hours of exploring prior to arriving at our Airbnb for the evening.

Our cabin was about an hour and a half away from Traverse City, and was the perfect size for the three of us (or the two of us that night!) Linley was a happy camper! I brought four of his favorite toys that he could play with before bedtime ☺️

Photos taken Friday, June 18, 2021

West Side, Best Side!

If I were to tell you that I had the perfect holiday weekend, I’d be lying to you; seeing happy families – especially parents with their daughters or siblings playing together – hit my heart like a boxer punching their opponent. BUT it did make me smile when I was able to remove myself from my emotions, and I had a pretty great weekend with a dear friend and our pups!

On Saturday, I drove to Kalamazoo (on the west side of Michigan) to visit my friend Cass and their dog Meadow. I would visit them wherever they were located, but the west side of Michigan is quite beautiful and special in more ways than one. The four of us went to the dog park before Cass and I grabbed dinner and drinks at Taco Bob’s downtown.

Sunday was a lazy morning (at least it was by my standards!), and we headed for Saugatuck Dunes State Park for some hiking and beach time. Linley and Meadow enjoyed running through the woods and frolicking on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. As our dogs were smiling and living their best lives, we were too! Watching Linley jump in the waves and attempt to drag large branches out of the water and Meadow’s first time at the Great Lake put huge smiles on our faces. The little boy who kept coming back to pet Meadow and Linley while they were splooting in the sand also made our days! Feeling the sand between my toes, the sun kissing my face and the wind in my curls was the best combination of peaceful and whimsical.

Even though we all could’ve stayed on the beach for the entire day, it was time to explore the downtown area. Saugatuck is a charming beach town that screams quintessential Michigan: local cafés, boutiques and homemade ice cream galore. The best part of our downtown exploration was when the fire truck came by and Linley howled in unison (it was adorable!).

The last stop on our day trip with the fur babies was South Haven, because we had to see the lighthouse and have a little more time on the beach. We walked the pier, enjoyed time playing in the sand and grabbed some ice cream before returning to Kalamazoo.

The pups were tired, so Cass and I dropped them off and met our friend KayLee at One Well Brewery. The three of us used to work together in college, and I’ve been individually close with both of them even though they haven’t really hung out without me. We all relished in past work memories, exchanged profound conversation and shared several laughs! I love them both dearly and being around two of my favorite people meant the world to me. I hope us getting together helped KayLee and Cass feel better about hanging out more often (which I’m sure it did!).

Photos taken on Saturday, May 29 & Sunday, May 30

National Rescue Dog Day

…was yesterday and I wanted to thank Compass Dog Rescue of Michigan for bringing Linley and me together 🐶

Here are some of my favorite photos of the little guy!

Please contact me for more information on Compass Dog Rescue, or if you have any rescue-related questions 🙂

Another Outdoorsy Day

Last Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. As dramatic as that sounds, I mean it.

What could be better than spending over seven hours in one of your favorite cities with one of your favorite humans? Not much. And on top of that, my friend and I even brought our fur babies along.

Cass and I met at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor a little after 12:00pm, and took Meadow and Linley on a long walk. They were as happy as can be when they reunited (it’s been a couple months since the four of us spent time together) and continued to act excited on the trails. While Linley and Meadow sniffed around and took some potty breaks, Cass and I caught up on all things work and goal-related, and shared some profound words of encouragement.

After spending some time at Gallup Park, we ventured over to Zingerman’s Roadhouse for an outdoor lunch. Aside from some excitement from the pups, they were on their best behavior and the four of us enjoyed sitting outside as we chowed down on some delicious food! Once the wind made it too cold to tolerate, we returned to the car for some more hiking at the Nichols Arboretum.

During quarantine, I discovered the arboretum as a plan B birthday destination. I’ve been there several times now – with and without Linley – but there’s something special about this place that makes it feel brand new every time I’m there. We were hiking in and out of the deep woods for another couple of hours at minimum.

Cass and I both LOVE being on the water and wrapped up our day kayaking on the Huron River. Meadow had never been kayaking before, but she did a great job and I never would’ve guessed it was new for her (Linley, of course, was acting like he owned the river)! We barely made it back to the park for kayak rentals in time, but we loved how our spur of the moment decision paid off. After another two hours well-spent, we returned to shore, returned our kayaks and returned to our cars.

I was tearing up on the way home (as was Cass). We’re both going through a wide variety of changes and turbulence right now, and being able to support each other unconditionally and spend the day bs-ing was something we desperately needed. We always pick right back up where we left off, and we’re already looking forward to our next adventure 🙂

Photos taken on Saturday, May 8, 2021

P.S.: Ann Arbor is so good, that I took Linley kayaking at Argo Park this past weekend!