Friendship in February

I immediately thought of the infamous Spongebob song “F is for friends who do stuff together…” when I typed the title of this post!

In all seriousness, February has been one of the best months I’ve had in a LONG while. The quality time my friends and I have given each other is one of the best gifts 2021 has given me. I’m grateful because I know for many, February wasn’t as easy and giving for those in other parts of the country and world.

We can all (or at least mostly) agree that it’s hard to imagine that our lives were almost turned upside down one year ago; we’re still experiencing the whiplash of COVID-19, the restrictions and uncertainties of the pandemic, and the lack of normalcy in our lives overall. Any bit of sanity and time well-spent with friends is exactly what I’ve been craving and desperately needing!

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy!

Cate

Happy Birthday, Bethany!

One of my best friends turns 27 today, and I can’t help but reflect on our adventures together. From Kalmar to Chicago, Reykjavik to Cortez, Colorado, we always have a spectacular time together!

Bethany is always a consistent source of joy and happiness in my life, and I know she always will be. Every conversation is meaningful, every adventure is purposeful, and every laugh or inside joke is cherished. This gal is truly my best friend!

Happiest birthday to you, Bethany! You’re more than anyone could ask for 🙂

Nostalgia is Bittersweet

I’m thinking of Sweden on this Saturday morning…

A few days ago I Skyped my friend Bethany, who has been featured in several of my posts, most notably for our travel experiences together. We met in 2016 as two eager U.S. students studying in Kalmar, Sweden and we haven’t skipped a beat since! Bethany now lives in the Seattle area and I’m hoping to visit her as soon as possible. She’s truly the friend you can always rely on, no matter the distance.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been FIVE YEARS since we began our Swedish adventures. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with watery eyes. I have a love-hate relationship with looking at old photos. I reflect and feel myself in that moment again, sometimes with sweet nostalgia and other times with immense longing to be there again. But why?

1. I’m craving new adventures and memories (aren’t we all?). In all seriousness, travel is my decompression. It’s an escape from work, from people, from life at home. Those long weekend getaways with a close friend, my husband or parent, and lengthier international adventures mean more to me than any material thing.

2. I don’t love where I am right now. I believe people looking into my life (especially through photos) would want what I have: a husband, a dog, a home, a job… but I am not emotionally where I’d like to be. I know deep down that I need to rediscover myself and what’s important to me, which is why I’m in need of positive change.

3. Sometimes the past is more appreciated in the present than it was back then. Sometimes I’ll look at an old photo and think “wow, that was an awesome day!” and maybe I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s such a shame how our minds can trick us this way.

I’m trying not to beat myself up because all of us can experience these feelings. We can all look at old photos or reflect on old memories with a multitude of emotions ranging from sadness to warm-hearted joy.

I hope we can all create new memories – be it solo, with loved ones, or even strangers – this year and for many years to come 🙂

Friends are the family we choose

Today is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Saskia and I met ten years ago, and our friendship has proven the test of time and distance. I haven’t seen Sassi in person since 2016 (which is quite depressing to think about!), but we use WhatsApp to communicate on a weekly basis. She and I are closer than some of my family and friends who live close in proximity; she truly is my family right now. Although I love hearing her voice, I can’t wait to see Saskia again and give her the big hug that she deserves! Happy birthday, Saskia 🙂💛

Thinking of my friends in D.C.

I’m seldom at a loss for words; my heart goes out to the people who live and work near the U.S. Capitol. My best friend and her husband have lived in D.C. since 2016, which has easily been the most challenging four years for my friend’s husband as he is directly employed by the city. As protests sweep the nation, I always think about the safety of my close friends and hope that he returns home after chaotic days of work ❤️

D.C. October, 2020
Morristown September, 2019
Montréal August 2019
D.C. August 2016
Paris July, 2014

“Hindsight is 2020”

Last year, one of my closest friends from a past study abroad adventure stayed with us for ten days. We visited the Niagara Falls, enjoyed some live music in Toronto and went to a roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve party hosted by one of my dearest friends. It couldn’t have been any better!

Fast forward to December 31, 2020: another beloved COVID test, watching Portlandia and snuggles on the couch…

I hope 2021 is full of more adventures, quality time with friends, reading and career advancement. I also wish for less social media/screen time and self-doubt this year.

Happy New Year 🙂

Getting Christmasy During COVID

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.

Home

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.

Outdoor Drinks

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! ☺️

“Surprise Summer”

November 2019 in Michigan: snow, snow and even more snow…

November 2020 in Michigan: 70° sunshine!

As coldness and winter approaches, I encourage all of you to spend more time outdoors (safely of course) 🙂

The Arboretum, Again…

I took my beloved pup to the Ann Arbor Arboretum again for a multitude of different reasons.

1) It’s getting colder and the leaves are falling like crazy here in Michigan.

2) COVID cases are spiking and yes, I do believe in science and that staying home slows the spread!

3) There’s a likelihood that I’ll start a new job next month and won’t have the same amount of free time as I do now (stay tuned!).

4) There’s also a likelihood that we won’t remain in the area next fall and wanted to soak in the Michigan foliage (again, stay tuned!).

I believe every fall color makes an impact in its own way…

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue…?

Linley’s sweater counts, right?!

I invite you all to take a seat and enjoy nature 🙂

Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Michigan

If I could live anywhere (in Michigan, that is!), I would hands-down live in Ann Arbor. Not only is this trendy college town known for the University of Michigan, but there’s a special charm here that’s unforgettable.

Juan, Linley and I were supposed to wake up at 6:30am yesterday morning and head four hours north to Traverse City; I wanted to see all the fall colors near Lake Michigan and go on some epic hikes. Our plans abruptly changed as we discovered that it would be rainy all day, and because Juan pulled an all-nighter on Friday. I decided that we would all spend the day at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum instead. I’ve never been but am thankful we visited yesterday.

We all soaked up the fall foliage, miles of hiking and the crisp, autumn air. This goes without saying, but I think Linley enjoyed himself the most 🙂

Photos taken Saturday, October 17, 2020