For many of us the holidays not only feel different, but look different. I haven’t been in much of a Christmasy mood this year and have done just about everything to get myself out of this funk. It’s been wonderful to see some bright lights with my husband, dog and friends in safe ways this month.
Our tree has been a much-needed focal point of our home. This will likely be my last Christmas in Michigan for the foreseeable future, which makes our tree even more meaningful. At the end of our neighborhood lies Linley’s doggy daycare, and Santa put him on the nice list this year 🙂
Campus Martius, Detroit
There’s nothing that screams Christmastime more than the tree and lights in downtown Detroit! Juan, Linley and I had a wonderful time exploring and grabbing some dinner in Campus Martius park (even if our glasses kept fogging up!).
Big Bright Light Show
Each year, downtown Rochester knocks it out of the park with their big bright light show. Every business has their own colorful lights outside and not only is this absolutely whimsical, but it’s also extremely helpful for local businesses. My friend Ter and I ordered some pouches of Bright Light Cosmos and enjoyed ourselves a little too much!
Drive Thru Light Show
I actually drove through this light show twice: once with Juan and Linley, and another time with my friend Ter. Both times were fun and full of cliche holiday music.
My friend Donna and I definitely took drinking in public for granted! We each enjoyed a cosmo mule on a heated patio recently and had a great time.
I hope you all have happy and safe holidays this year! ☺️
As 2020 comes to a close, this is a great time to reflect and donate to a local charity or two. With many nonprofit organizations’ funding being eliminated due to the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to help amazing charities in your area.
While there are many charities I care about, there are four that I have either participated in, heavily benefited from, or have grown to admire over the past decade. If you are interested in donating time or financially to any of these charities, please use the affiliated links or contact me for more information. And most importantly: thank you for your donation!
Big Brothers Big Sisters
I immediately tear up when I think of how much BBBS of the Great Lakes Bay Region (Michigan) has impacted me. Aniya and I have been matched for six years and to see her grow has been one of the greatest gifts I could’ve asked for. Aniya is gracious, strong and has truly grown up to be a phenomenal young woman. She is the sister I never had but always wanted. There’s no doubt that I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me! Please consider becoming a Big or donating a gift a money to: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E246618&id=1
Compass Dog Rescue
I’m pretty sure my first word was “dog,” and I impatiently waited 23 long, ‘’miserable” (😂) years to finally rescue one. Compass Dog Rescue is based in Royal Oak, Michigan but rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in southern states. My little guy Linley was saved in 2017 from a high-kill shelter after he was dropped there during Hurricane Harvey. This pup has helped with my anxiety and depression more than I could’ve ever anticipated, and your new best friend could be waiting for you at Compass! To donate or even rescue/foster a rescue dog, please visit: https://m.facebook.com/compassdogrescue/
The Camilla Foundation
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Camilla Foundation is focused on helping those in need at both local and global levels. Their global mission is to empower and grow the stability of an orphanage in Uganda. They are currently approving the salary of 20 amazing caretakers and funding self-sufficient food security for our growing children through the entire year. To donate, please visit: https://camilla-foundation.org/donate
The Barn Sanctuary
As a vegetarian transitioning into a fully plant-based diet, I want to end animal cruelty, live a healthier lifestyle and protect the environment from the dangers of climate change. Animals are friends, not food! To learn more and donate to the Barn Sanctuary, please visit: https://www.barnsanctuary.org/donate/
In the midst of a worsening global pandemic, a gut-wrenching American presidential election and the beginning of some painful family estrangement, I wanted to post about the people I’m especially grateful for these days.
I wanted to put a pause on my regular travel posts and write about something that’s been lingering in the forefront of my mind this year.
I’ve been struggling with long-term extended family estrangement and somewhat short-term immediate family drama, as well as some pretty upsetting friendship breakups. I won’t go into specifics in order to protect those around me, but I’ve been in a dark place for about a year or so now. As one can imagine, this has taken a toll on my mental health.
I recently heard a quote on one of my favorite podcasts that goes a little something like this:
“Depression is the greatest acting teacher. I can smile through anything even though I just want the ground to open up and swallow me whole.” If that doesn’t hit you like a semi truck, I’m not sure what will…
I’m not a therapist or licensed professional by any means, but I wanted to share some strategies I’ve been applying to help with the pain of broken friendships and family relationships. It’s important to note that all of these points coincide with each other and this is the “flow” as I see it. Remember: everyone’s journey is highly personal and individual.
1. Don’t change who you are for those around you.
I have a lot of people in my life – family members in particular – who will never be proud of me, no matter what I do. In the past and present, I have been laughed at or mocked for my dreams and ambitions. Family members have and will continue to make me feel small to build themselves up. About five years ago, I chose to let them go as opposed to clinging onto the gaslighting and the guilt (e.g.: “well, I guess it’s your choice if you don’t want to be here” comments when THEY were the ones hurting ME).
2. Create your own closure.
Oftentimes we find that friendship and family breakups seem abrupt, without true closure. I was best friends with someone for nearly 12 years and I’ve been thinking about our good times lately. But with that, I’ve also been thinking of the bad. The truth is that she was like an older sister to me, whereas I was her “plan b”/“second choice” friend for a very long time. Write a goodbye letter. Get rid of photos. Do something that allows you to create your own closure. Remember, don’t change yourself to fit others’ narratives of you.
3. Try not to hate the person on the other end.
It would be so easy for me to say, “She was a horrible person because of X, Y and Z.” Although there are times I’ve been hurt by family and friends (and honestly still am hurting from recent experiences), I try my damnedest to acknowledge that we all have flaws and shortcomings. I realize this is much easier said than done, but I’m hoping this will make me a better, stronger person in the end.
4. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings.
Conversely, it’s okay to be angry, hurt, frustrated or upset. As long as you aren’t taking it out on the other person, allow yourself to reflect on your feelings in the present moment. Thinking of a past memory you miss? Cry. Thinking of how good things were in the past? Smile. The more you hold back and shove your feelings into a corner of your mind, the longer it’ll take you to move on.
5. Focus on yourself and the great relationships in your life.
I may never have a best friend who reminds me of an older sister ever again, but I do have amazing friends in my life. I feel loved every day, even if it isn’t by a family member. I may never be close with my family, but I have several friends-turned-family relationships that fill my heart. Be around like-minded, supportive people who will always be there for you (and always be there for them, too!).
Every day of 2020 has felt like an overwhelming struggle, but I am much more resilient than I was before. “When life hands you lemons, they say to make lemonade, but you can’t make lemonade without any sugar.”
I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me 🙂
Three years ago today, three-year-old Linley was dropped off at my parent’s house. After a rigorous adoption application process consisting of filling out a packet and researching animal health problems, multiple reference calls, a meet-and-greet and a final home inspection, Linley instantly became my best friend!
I’ll be spending all day with our beloved pup, but I wanted to share some past photos and posts in the meantime 🙂
Our last evening at Pictured Rocks was by far my favorite. After some epic hiking, we returned to Lake Superior Beach to enjoy our final sunset and some good night’s sleep. Juan and Linley needed a quick nap in the Jeep when we arrived, so I re-explored where Linley was digging around the day prior. I was drawn into the creek and the way the light was reflecting off the water.
I went back to the car to wake Juan and Lin up from their nap, and we settled in to enjoy the sunset. We didn’t take many photos because we were living in the moment, but it was a wonderful way to end our time on Lake Superior!
I can’t wait for my next adventure with my little family 😊
Another dog-friendly activity we participated in during our time at Pictured Rocks was visiting the Au Sable Light Station. There was a nice trail between this point and our next attraction that called for some great views – and photos!
The three of us relaxed and had some Gatorade (Lin did not…) as the waves below us crashed into the cliffs. No photos can truly capture upper Michigan’s beauty, but they can always capture Lin’s attitude(s)…
“First they’re sour,”
then they’re sweet!”
After our snacks, we hit the trail and headed East for great views of the dunes. To Juan’s and my surprise, we didn’t even realize the upper peninsula even had dunes to explore!
One main viewing point was along the log slide trail, where they literally slide logs to freighter ships. We didn’t dare go all the way down because it took people (even hyper children and cross fitters) over an hour to climb back up! The views were worth the trek though.
After a (shockingly!) restful night’s sleep in the Jeep, we hit the beach for a morning walk. Lin and I were the first ones there, and we allowed Juan to get s’more beauty sleep.
There was a small creek flowing into Lake Superior that Lin and I wanted to explore (and by ‘explore,’ I mean dig around in for hours!). We obviously had Juan on photography-duty!
Watching Lin dig, sniff and mark his turf in and around the creek was thoroughly entertaining! Juan and I walked and sat with him for about two hours while he went on this little adventure. If only we could see the world through our pup’s eyes…
…and no day at the beach is complete without a nap!