Linley’s Gotcha Day

Four years ago, I saw Lin’s sweet face on PetFinder and we rescued each other. The poor fella was abused, abandoned and had two days until euthanasia in Texas. He has been through so much, and I’ve been trying to make his life a brighter place ever since September 9, 2017.

Each Gotcha Day (birthday for rescue pups) I’ve tried extra hard to make his day even more special. This year, we kicked off our day with an hour-long hike in the woods. He enjoyed marking his territory, and we even saw some deer!

While I worked, we spent the entire day snuggling on the couch – which is one of our favorite pastimes 💛

After work, Juan and I took him to one of our favorite downtown areas and strolled along the river. Per usual, we had a great walk as a family.

We wrapped up our lovely celebration by running around with puppers at the dog park, treating Lin to some ice cream, and snuggles before bedtime ☺️

I can only hope that Linley is as happy as he’s made us throughout these past four years 🐶

August Gratitude

August was, admittedly, a month full of turbulence, and was my last full month in Michigan. Despite all of this, there’s always light in the darkness. Here are some highlights that made me smile 😌

August 1 – kayaking, hiking and dining in Ann Arbor with Juan and Linley

Hiking at Gallup Park

August 2 – dinner and hot coco with my favorite cousin who visited from New York

Reunited with Katy

August 3 – an evening on the lake with one of my best friends

August 4 – Linley enjoying himself at Home Depot (and loving all the attention!)

August 5 – back to Home Depot!

August 6 – a good night with a great friend

August 7 – profound conversations

August 8 – checking out the Chicago home

Wrigleyville here we come!

August 12 – a night out with an old friend, and some new ones

August 13 – meeting Mindy, Tom and Autumn at the dog park

Lin’s favorite spot

August 14 – heading to Detroit’s infamous Eastern Market with one of my best friends, and being a friend’s plus one to the greatest wedding I’ve ever attended

August 15 – lots of small pups for Lin to play with at the dog park

August 18 – Linley getting Bark to School photos taken at camp, and playing with his friends at the dog park (again!)

August 19 – a dear friend taking my late-night phone call, and making my evening brighter

August 20 – a fun night in downtown Detroit

August 21 – Linley finally cooperating for a bike ride

August 22 – an afternoon at Belle Isle and eating ice cream

August 23 – getting to know my friend’s new boyfriend and having a little too much to drink on a Monday evening

August 25 – dinner and drinks with a bestie

August 26 – a best friend being a great listener

August 27 – celebrating Juan’s “big promotion” at our favorite jazz club

August 28 – reuniting with two of my best friends and spending the day together

Gonna miss Rochester Brunch House!

August 29 – family bonding in Ann Arbor

August 30 – seeing Lin run around with his friends at the dog park

August 31 – dinner and drinks at my favorite speakeasy with one of my closest friends

Speakeasy in my hometown

And, Lin was just grumpy all month long 😂

Cliff Bells

With heaviness in my heart, I reminisce about my times at my favorite Detroit jazz club. After moving to the Detroit area a few years ago, Cliff Bells instantly pulled me in with its allure and 1950s Art Deco. Now that we’re moving to Chicago next month, we won’t have the luxury of visiting every so often. I wish I could bring Cliff Bells with us, as selfish as that sounds…

Juan and I almost got married here.

Some of the better moments with my parents were shared over dinner and drinks here.

The best live music I’ve ever heard was played here.

Milestones were celebrated here.

Here, I laughed more than I’ve ever laughed in my life.

Here, I truly felt alive.

How can anywhere else compete with all that this jazz club has given me? Has given us?

I am beyond grateful for this incredible place, and hope to find something similar (not a replacement!) in Chicagoland 🥲

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

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

The Hardest ‘Goodbye’

One of the most difficult, heartbreaking parts of moving away means saying goodbye (or ta ta for now!) to loved ones. Aniya, my Little Sister of seven years in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, is probably my hardest goodbye.

Entering BBBS, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would become a ‘mentor’ for a young child or teen, but didn’t know what to anticipate aside from that generality. At age 20, I was matched with the sweetest, funniest, most adventurous 10 year old I’ve ever known, and am blessed to call her my friend and sister today. I’m not going far, but it still hurts because she has truly taught me more than I could ever teach her. Aniya is my best friend, and I’m going to miss her more than any words can express ❤️

Here are some of our many cherished moments we’ve shared over the years. I’m so proud of the young woman she’s become, and am grateful that Aniya will always be in my life, as my Sister 🥲

Lake Life

There’s nothing better than a Michigan summer evening on the lake! One of my best friends, Donna, invited me out on her dad’s boat and we had the best time together. Her family has become a second family to me, and we enjoyed an evening speeding on the lake and floating with the best view of the sunset. Nothing feels better than this ☺️

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

Memorial Day Memories

For those of us in the United States, Memorial Day weekend can mean a variety of things, even though its main purpose is to celebrate those we lost in service. I strongly disagree with the reasons why we enter into war, but I support those who defend our nation for the right reasons, and heavily reflect on my family members and friends who have served overseas.

With that being said, I’m not only reflecting on my loved ones who have served today; I’m also relishing in past memories with others who I’m not as close with anymore. For some reason, I’ve traveled somewhere on or around Memorial Day weekend in recent years and cannot stop wishing to be back in those places, with those individuals, during those exact moments in life.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (May 2018)

One of the happiest days of my life

Empire, Michigan (May 2020)

One of my favorite days last spring

I wish things were different with my loved ones. Maybe things will be better again or maybe they never will be, but either way I can cherish these memories and plan future adventures with friends.

I wish all of you a safe, healthy and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!