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 💚

Cousinly Quality Time in NYC

The last time I saw my cousin in New York was summer 2017—far too long ago. But all that changed last weekend as we finally spent time together in The Big Apple.

My flight got in late Friday evening, so we grabbed a nice dinner and a quick night cap. We went back to Katy’s place—which was super cute and exactly what you would expect from a New York City apartment—and got ready for bed. Being with her again meant the world to me!

We attempted to take a stroll that Saturday morning, but the weather told us otherwise. Katy found a cute little cafe where we mixed up our coffee orders (totally my fault!) and then made our way through Columbia’s campus—en route to brunch in Times Square.

At Friedman’s, Katy, her sister, dad and I had the best potato-filled brunch of my life. The gluten free chocolate chip pancakes and sweet potato fries were to die for, but the conversation and that feeling of picking up right where we left off were even better.

No matter how stuffed we felt, Katy and I were determined to make our way to her friend’s birthday celebration, which was full of crafting and watching Broad City. I’m incredibly lucky to have met Katy’s high school, college and now grad school friends—because we have always lived in different states and I’m a few years older than she is. Katy and her friends are always welcoming, which was really nice and led to a fun, lazy day of candle making and painting. I definitely made everyone laugh when my paint exploded all over the table, but at least I can say that I predicted the future 😉

Still full from brunch (no joke!), Katy and I grabbed dinner at an awesome vegan place called JaJaJa—where our bartender Mario called us twins and handed us each a free shot. One of many reasons why I love my cousin as much as I do is that we can go from the most profound conversation to laughing and joking around. Our meal was full of that, which is something I’d missed very much and very deeply. We ended our night out with another drink at a different bar, playing a game of “What’s Their Backstory?” and me guessing one of our bartender’s names on the first try.

As much as I love the city, my favorite moments with Katy are always the simplest ones. I cherished our night of listening to Leo P on the sax, hearing her tell me more about her partner Ben and drinking tea until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. And it’s truly all of those “in-between” moments (taking the subway, walking to a destination, etc.) that make me love and miss Katy as much as I always do ❤️

On Sunday, our last day together, we started at a gluten free bagel and sandwich shop, and a stroll through Central Park. It was cold—especially with my iced coffee—but it was so worth it! Seeing people out and about because of the weather and our semi-decent coronavirus situation was something that didn’t go unnoticed, and something we certainly didn’t take for granted. We braved the cold until we couldn’t anymore, so we relaxed at Katy’s apartment, enjoyed more tea and life/family-related conversation, then ventured off to find more delicious vegan tacos!

Our time together always flies by and feels too short. I wish Katy and I lived closer together because she’s truly a sister to me. I don’t know who or where I would be without her in my life.

New season of life

On Friday, September 24 we said hello to our Chicago home. And on Sunday, September 26 we said goodbye to our first home. What an emotional “changing seasons of life!” Seeing it empty reminded us of our first time viewing 747, and made us realize all the memories shared over the past two years. Saying hello and goodbye simultaneously is never easy, but the memories will always be cherished and it’s not a goodbye to our neighbors: simply a “see you later.” Wherever the three of us go, the house will always become a home 🏡❤️

A spectacular September in Michigan

As my last couple of weeks in the mitten come to a close, I move into my new season of life with a full heart. I was able to spend time with my best friends and although no time spent is ever enough, I’m heading to my new home with happiness and peace in my decisions. I could think that my time in Michigan was filled with “lasts,” but I’m truly elated for all of the upcoming “firsts” to be experienced with my small family unit 😌

September 1 – spending the evening with an old neighbor/friend, and our dogs

September 2 – celebrating a friend’s birthday with sushi and cocktails in Ann Arbor

September 3 – a long overdue phone call with one of my best friends from Asheville

September 4 – all-day quality time with one of my best friends and our dogs, filled with much needed conversations and exploring

September 5 – breakfast with a dear friend who instantly makes me feel at home, and floating in Ann Arbor with two friends and Linley

September 6 – a morning walk along the river

September 7 – floating down some rapids with one of my best friends, right before the storm

September 8 – spending nearly all day on the couch with Juan, watching Never Have I Ever while I worked

September 9 – Linley’s “Gotcha Day!” festivities

September 10 – we received an offer on our house and took Linley on a nice afternoon walk

September 11 – Linley’s third Doggie Splash and dinner with good friends

September 12 – our last hike at the arboretum

September 13 – morning snuggles with Juan and Linley before work and a much-needed phone call with a dear friend

September 14 – a night on the town, all on my friend Donna

September 15 – another great night with a friend in Detroit, and watching Lin run and play with his friends

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