2022 Reflections & Gratitude

Although I am grieving my marriage and what I’d hoped was “home” in Chicago – and despite some of the hardship I’ve endured since being back in Michigan – there are several moments and people I am beyond grateful for.

It’s been challenging to put all of my emotions into words lately (both positive and sad), but I will say this: If you made me smile or gave me hope in these last few months, thank you from the bottom of my heart! 💛

Media taken August 15 through December 31, 2022.

My week with Linley

Linley is always my best friend, but lately he hasn’t been my “little white shadow!” When we moved back in with my parents in September, I knew he’d be sharing his love between my mom, dad and me; however, I’ve missed his and my bonding time that we had so much of in Chicago.

My parents left for Florida on Monday and return today, as they always do between the holidays. Linley was back at my side 24/7, and we had quite the fun and relaxing week full of snuggles! I even took him into the office and through Starbucks for a much-needed pup cup this week, where he made a new friend Sugar.

We’re super pumped to see my parents later this afternoon, but I’ll miss this little guy right at my side.

Media taken December 27 through December 30, 2022.

Fun in Florida

I feel like Florida is an extremely polarizing state in the U.S., but if you know where to go it can be a blast! I was there last Sunday through Wednesday for an on-site client meeting—my first business trip of this sort since joining the company in May. My boss, one of my favorite peers and I had a productive – and fun – time together in the sunshine state.

I arrived Sunday, a full day before Justin and Cosmo landed (yes, I work with the coolest dude who happens to have the coolest name!) and enjoyed some relaxation in the sun. There was a music festival right next to the beach resort I stayed at in Fort Lauderdale, so as I read my book I heard some punk rock bands going at it—giving me major early 2000s energy. Feeling the sand, salt water and base beneath my feet was (oddly) just what I needed.

Later that evening I took myself to dinner—which led to a good night full of great conversation. I met Cynthia at the bar, a woman from Montreal who is also experiencing the pain of divorce, and we spent probably four or five hours talking about life, travel and overcoming our current hardships. One of my favorite travel experiences is connecting deeply with a stranger-turned-friend, and my time with Cynthia is something I’ll always cherish. We’ve actually been texting ever since we met a week ago!

The rest of my trip was filled with last-minute preparation for my client meetings, working from a hotel room when I’d rather be order gin and tonics at the pool, and making fond memories with some of my favorite coworkers. The conversations, laughs and words of encouragement shared over nightcaps and good food was the kind of relief I so desperately needed in my life. In between the meetings and visits with our client, I was luckily able to enjoy the sunrise, warm water and “me time.”

Media taken Sunday, December 4 – Wednesday, December 7

Combating feelings of failure

29. Divorced. Living with my parents. May not be able to afford a home. Don’t know where I want to live, or if I even want to stay in Michigan.

“If I stay in Michigan, am I settling? Am I a failure if I stay here? Am I a failure if I move away again and hate it? Did I cause my marriage to fail? Will my heart ever be whole again?”

All of these feelings are flooding my mind lately. I have been feeding “the bad wolf.”

BUT I have also been feeding “the good wolf.”

“Maybe I need to be surrounded by some of my best friends and parents in Michigan right now. Maybe if I were living by myself I would feel even more alone. Maybe I don’t have to have all the answers on where to live yet, and maybe I can travel a bit to figure that out. Or stay put. I don’t have to do a damn thing if I don’t want to!”

Although being here (‘here’ means being around certain people) reminds of me times that I’ve been hurt, I’m also finding new and old friendships pulling me out of despair and into a feeling of inclusion and, dare I say, home.

Detroit Red Wings!
Facts!
Dive bar in Grand Rapids!
Bowling with Crystal!
A salty dog!
Linley the snow bunny!

Chicago probably isn’t in the cards; I gave that place and experience my everything. But if I stay in Michigan, I’m not a failure. If I move away and hate it, I’m not a failure. If I move away and love it, I’m not a failure. If I ever find love again and it doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, I’m not a failure. I’m not a failure for spending thanksgiving with another family other than my own. And I’m certainly not a failure for feeling all these conflicting emotions while I’m healing my broken heart. ❤️

Media taken November 1 – 16, 2022

When summer turns to fall

The past two or three weeks have dragged on and the days feel as though they’re blending together. I’ve been passed around from doctor to doctor – including a six-hour stint in the ER – to figure out whether I have kidney stones or a kidney infection, pancreatitis or gallstones. Every day I wake up feeling hungover even though I can’t drink, and have experienced similar symptoms to a UTI or kidney stones for the past 30 days or so…

On top of the health stuff, this period of limbo and transition has been extremely difficult—and eye-opening. With all the negative comes many positives, and I am grateful for the moments and people who have helped me through these past few weeks.

Enjoying the lake life with my second family
Planning a much-needed trip (this was from 2012!)
Linley gets ice cream after his grooming appointment
Reconnecting with my aunt and uncle
Finding light in the darkness
Solid music recommendations from the coolest coworkers
Hangin’ with the cutest kiddo!

As we enter my favorite month of the year, I’m going to focus on:

  • Speaking up
  • Saying no
  • Feeling empowered

Media taken September 13 – September 28, 2022

Empire Bluff Trail and Beach

Knowing that Labor Day weekend was probably the last glimpse of summer we would see in the Midwest, I dedicated a day toward hiking and soaking of the sun with Linley. We traveled north to the Traverse City area and did our fourth-annual Empire Bluff Trail hike together.

Having had Linley for five years now, I’m constantly researching the best dog-friendly areas for us to explore. Empire Bluff Trail was a gem I found four years ago, and we’ve made it an annual tradition to do a hike and lounge at the beach afterward. This year, it was just the two of us and we slept on the the dunes AND on the beach this time!

Feeling the sun on our skin, the sand in our toes (and paws!) and soaking up the last bit of summer was the perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend. The hike and sun beating down on us tired both of us out, but we enjoyed the sunset and quality time curled up on the beach together. I can’t put into words how much I love this little fella—and all of these moments we share!

Media taken Sunday, September 4, 2022

South Haven with Mom and Linley

“First my mother, forever my friend.” – Unknown

…this may not have always been the case for my mom and me, but all in all we have overcome some difficult times together. And despite whatever we have endured together and apart, we have always had deep love for one another. Boy did I need her last weekend!

A few weeks ago, my mom called me and left a nearly two minute-long voicemail (if you were born in or before the 90s, you probably have a parent or parent-figure who does this as well, haha!) about this dog dog-friendly “resort” in South Haven, Michigan. We love spending time together with my dog Linley, and we had the best weekend at the Sun and Sand Resort.

Friday was our busiest day with the nicest weather. We met at the resort, where my mom’s huge pieces of luggage exploded all over the room, then headed to Pilgrim Haven Natural Area for some swimming and relaxing on the beach.

Pilgrim Haven was quite rocky compared to other dog beaches we’ve visited together, but the three of us enjoyed it nonetheless. We strolled the beach which led to a cute “pool” and scenic river, found some cool rocks and camped out in a sandy, shaded spot for Linley. He spent the majority of the time in the water, but surprisingly splooted (what dogs do when they lay on their belly with their arms and legs stretched out) in the warm sand for a while. As simple and easygoing as our time was, we had so much fun and I really needed it – almost as much as Linley needed the stick from Lake Michigan!

The rest of our evening was spent in downtown South Haven and at the lighthouse. We ate at a cute local restaurant – where my mom even brought some cooked chicken for Linley. After some great cheesy bread, caprese salad, good conversation and the waitress giving Linley some love and attention, we quickly drove to the lighthouse to watch the sunset. This is where things got interesting…!

Without further ado, my mom face planted on a hill full of sand! She wasn’t hurt and is totally okay, but it was hilarious and had both of us laughing so hard we almost peed! Linley laid in the sand as though we were burdening him by making him wait for us to gather ourselves, which made the “incident” even funnier! Once we wiped sand off of my mom’s face and ears, we laughed our way to the ice cream stand for a much-needed treat. I continued laughing about my mom’s fall the entire evening, and my mom did too! I’m just glad she was okay and a good sport about all of it. A couple summers ago, we were walking Linley near her house and I completely wiped out – making us even now.

After the sunset and some scoops, we went to the front desk of our resort for some fire starters. We were craving smores and some time in front of a warm campfire. Of course we’re amateurs and didn’t use the fire starters correctly, so my mom grabbed a lighter from home. After smore laughs (see what I did there?) we called it a night.

The next day, we headed north about 20 miles to Saugatuck Dunes State Park – a place where I’ve taken Linley once before. It has a beautiful hiking trail to one of the prettiest dog beaches in Michigan, full of sand dunes and warm water. Although the weather wasn’t as sunny or warm as the first day, we enjoyed some our time lounging, hiking and people watching on the beach. After a few hours of that, we made grilled cheese over the fire for a later lunch, then repeated our first day by revisiting Pilgrim Haven and the lighthouse before the rain came in.

Instead of my mom wiping out again, we walked the pier and met some really friendly people along the way. Once we were near the car, it started to rain and we headed back to our resort for the evening. Even though it would’ve been great to see another sunset, we were content with calling it a day and playing cards in the room. The funniest part is when my mom wanted us to look at all the rocks we found from Pilgrim Haven. She pulled out this huge stone and said, “And here’s yours!” I, dumbfounded, said, “That’s not mine, it’s yours…” She used the rock to hold our sheet down in the sand, and had been carrying it around in her beach bag for two days! What a goof…

Sunday, our last day together, we pretty lowkey. It was another overcast day, but still nice enough to have a lazy morning and do some hiking. We found a nice trail nearby, where Linley made a new friend and peed on everything his heart desired. It was bittersweet because as nice as our walk was, I knew our weekend together was coming to an end. We wrapped up our two-mile hike with Linley not wanting to ride in his bike basket, and jumping out of it in the parking lot!

In 2020, we had taken two trips up north: Empire and Petoskey. In 2021, we had a falling out due to tension between my brother and me – with whom I still don’t have a relationship. Being able to spend time with my mom again this summer really meant a lot to me, and I hope we continue to navigate our relationship and a better path forward!

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

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:

Happy Birthday Day, Ter!

It’s my brother from another mother’s birthday! Happy Birthday Merman Ter Ter B! And most importantly, “SMOOCHIES!” 😗

Ter and I have grown closer over the years, and he is truly the older brother I never had but always wanted. Even before I moved, we talked on the phone every morning (7:15ET… 6:15CT!) and seldom missed a weekday check in with each other. We’ve cried together, laughed together, sat and did nothing but be in each other’s presence together, and built each other up in recent years—especially when I needed it most. ❤️

Ter is and HAS an incredible light that is one-of-a-kind. This talented human (and merman!) has the largest heart, soul and presence, yet is the most humble and grateful person I know. I can’t get through this post without crying, because he is and always has been a blessing to me. He sure knows how to live in the moment, and is the most giving, creative and hilarious fella I know! 😀

Thank you for making me laugh, crying with me, giving me the best hugs, wanting to take a million selfies with me (while spinning me around!), always knowing what to say and for making me feel unstoppable in an instant. You’re the bestest!!! 🥰

Love always,
Cate 💛

Third Anniversary

Nine years of knowing each other, eight years of schooling combined, seven job changes total, six states visited, five countries together, four years in Saginaw, three years of marriage, two homes and one cute pup!

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 🏡❤️