Thursday, December 29, 2011

Prologue to China 2012

The year 2011 was one of the best years of my life.  When I’m older and look back on this important year, my heart will feel full to the top. 
It was a year marked by loyal and sincere friendships, consistent people surrounding me when I needed them most.  It was a year of growing closer to my family and getting so much more quality time in with just the five of us.  It was a year of falling head over heals for a guy who still gives me butterflies every time I think of him.  It was a year-long balancing act of keeping both feet on the ground as I juggled the interchangeable feelings of being scared of the unknown future and remaining hopeful for what lay ahead of me. 
And above all, it’s been nothing like what I thought it would be - nothing like what I had planned for.
When I graduated college, I had this silly idea of completion.  I thought that I had everything set, that I would live happily ever after in West Michigan working for the company I started at right after Hope.  I never planned for twists and turns - and I am not saying I enjoyed the ups and downs - but I am definitely thankful for them.  
For all the doors that opened in 2011 and for all the doors that closed, somewhere along the way I found myself going in a new direction entirely.  One thing led to another, and now I am a week away from boarding a plane that will fly me half way around the world to Hong Kong, China.  
Yes, China.  
For six months, I will intern at a global communication consulting firm and get a once in a life time learning experience of living and working in Hong Kong. 
With one week left, I keep flip flopping on which emotion that I’m feelings is the most intense: fear or excitement.  
And I still can’t choose.  
But the other day I was humbly reminded about the origins of this blog and how it all started:  do one thing a day that scares you.  I may be able to find two or three things a day while I’m living abroad, but I know from past experience that being scared can only be a good thing.
So here’s to a new year, to the adventure that lays ahead of me and to documenting the whole experience through this blog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November: A month of giving thanks

Day 30: I am truly thankful for this blog.  Documenting my life and reflecting on all the good God has blessed me with has kept me a positive, healthy, creative person.  I honestly believe starting this blog a year ago was one of the best decisions I ever made and I am so thankful for all of you who have followed me along the way.  Thank you, thank you. 

Day 29: For the past year I've lived 30 minutes away from my boyfriend and I have been so thankful for that proximity.  Many surprise visits, spontaneous dates and late night drives after stressful days have been possible thanks to the proximity.  The last week of November marks his last week living in Grand Rapids- he moves five hours away to Ohio in December.  Without a doubt we are ready for the long distance relationship, but of course it will take a lot of getting used to.  For now, I will remind myself to be thankful for those 30 miles between the two of us in our first year together- it has created a strong foundation for our relationship.

Day 28: I am thankful for movie nights in with my roommates.  We watched Rio and it was a perfect and relaxing way to spend Monday night in.  I am also thankful we all share the same taste in movies- animation is the best.

Day 27: I am SO thankful for Ali Roth.  She was home over the holiday weekend and I got to steal her away from her family for a few hours Sunday night.  We caught up on everything going on in our crazy lives and discovered many parallels.  Ali is so good at listening and empathizing (after all we did take interpersonal communications together).  It's comforting to have a friend like Ali who truly understands me and knows what I'm going through.

Day 26: I am thankful for opportunities to catch up over great meals with really great friends.  I had dinner with Krissy and lunch with Julia over the holiday weekend. Krissy is on the verge of graduation.  I am so proud of her and excited to see what God has planned for her; there are many adventures ahead for this girl.  I got to see Julia for the first time since her last appearance on my blog and we had lunch on Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids.  We exchanged post grad anxieties and achievements and found that we can always pick up right from where we left off.  So refreshing!   

Day 25: I am thankful for life long friendships (and catching up over coffee).  These are my two oldest friends, Meg and Marta.  I consider both of them my sisters.  I met Meg in high school and we both share a deep love for Starbucks coffee and each other.  We have been there for each other through many life decisions and events that have shaped who we are to the core over the past five years.  It's helpful to have a friend who just knows, we don't necessarily need to explain.  I've known Marta all my life, she's the reason I started drinking coffee at age 14 and also the reason I preferred the Rolling Stones over anything they played on the radio in high school (the two year age gap at that age was very influential as a teenager).  I value these friendships with my whole heart and I'm excited to grow old with these two. 

Day 24: SO thankful for my family.  Over the years they have become my best friends, my support system, my travel partners, my therapists, my foundation and a huge part of my identity.  If you would have told me in high school that I would willingly choose to spend more time hanging out with my family rather than my friends, I would have told you you're crazy.  But they've grown on me- I love these people- and they are necessary to my delight.

Day 23: I am thankful for all the very good food I ate over Thanksgiving Day weekend.  The cranberry and stuffing, sweet potato casserole and apple pie, coffee cake and spinach quiche. Mmm. I am so blessed to have a family that provides me with such yummy food.

Day 22: Thankful for when the sunrise greets me in the morning.  November has been somewhat gloomy and the sunshine makes almost everything better- especially the getting up early and going to work part.  

Day 21: Bad picture but good story: I am thankful for when my plans don't work out.  I am a planner.  It gives me a sense of security and comfort to know how things are going to happen.  Monday night, I had planned on going to the gym.  I thought about it all day, it was a stressful day and I needed it to happen.  But when I went out to my car to grab my running shoes, I discovered only one of the shoes was mine and the other was my dad's shoe (it's sad they look the same size isn't it). So instead of working out, I hung out with my housemate, ate dinner with her and got to catch up.  I'm learning that sometimes, when my plans don't work out, unexpected and wonderful things can happen. 

Day 20: I am thankful for Christian radio (oh gosh did I really just say that?).  It's not that I'm ashamed, it's just that I never thought I would listen to the type of music my mom listens to.  In high school, I took great pride in my music taste; it was apart of my identity and listening to "cool" music made me "cool."  But God keeps sneaking into my life in small but important ways, shaping my heart and molding me into the woman I am today.  Somewhere along the way I started listening to Christian radio.  And I am thankful.

Day 19: I want to litter this blog post with PDA, but I'll try to refrain: 
I am so thankful this guy is in my life, so thankful.
Day 18: I am thankful for Friday nights in with best friends, good conversations, a fire place and being in bed before midnight.  It felt healthy.

Day 17: I'm thankful for my camera (Canon Rebel t3) and for it's ability to capture this shot.  Lake Michigan in November, it's an incredible site to see.

Day 16: I am thankful for Kaitlin, Caroline and SarahWright for making these pieces of artwork for me and my room. 

Day 15:  This month I've been reading Saving CeeCee Honeycup before bed every night.  Passages of this book keep jumping out at me and this particular one hit home.  So, I'm thankful I am starting to figure out what my "fire" is. 

Day 14: I am thankful for this view, for sunsets and for Lake Michigan.

Day 13: I am thankful that I believe in this.

Day 12: I am incredibly thankful for all the Hope College alumni in Grand Rapids.  Saturday was a blast, probably the best weekend of the entire fall (does November still count as fall?).  A few of our friends organized a house crawl and while we only made it to two houses, the day was spent outside, enjoying the 60 degree weather and playing games.  I'm so thankful to have this network of people close by.

Day 11: I am thankful for Lemonjellos and these people and for mobile working. 

Day 10: I am thankful (so thankful) for diet coke.  I am also thankful that I work in the same building as my best friend.  We schedule meetings every other week to discuss "social networking" but really we exchange stories from our day and drink diet coke.  It's so necessary. 

Day 9: I am thankful for the people in my life who believe in me and remind me I am going to do great things. 
I am also thankful for the person who gave me this magnet. 

Day 8: I am thankful for my precious Maggie.  She is my sister and she is also a dog. I love her.

Day 7: I am thankful for the time when my dad is home.  For those of you who don't know, my dad's job has him traveling 240(ish) days out of the year and the rest of the time he splits between Hong Kong and Grand Haven.  This November, he is home for the majority of the month.  On Monday night, my parents took Kevin and I out for an Italian meal in Grand Rapids.

Day 6: I am SO thankful for my brothers.  I love them so much.  They are wonderful and honest and creative and smart and goofy and interesting and super weird and good at everything they do.  They look out for me and I look out for them. And I just love this picture.  It explains so much.

Day 5: I am thankful I was a SIB.  The girls I met while being in a sorority at Hope changed my life and continue to change my life.  Having so many of them around during this time of change and transition has been an incredible blessing.  Whether they're holding my hand and telling me I am capable when I feel like a failure, or dancing around a kitchen to Celine Dion sining into kitchen utensils- they make my life better.

Day 4: I am thankful for this gorgeous tree.  It sits across the street from my apartment complex and is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  I drive past it every day and it reminds me of The Red Tree chapter in Cold Tangerines... 
"In the park across the street, one of the tallest trees, twice as high as a two-story house, was the brightest, most insane, lit-from-within red I have ever seen.  And it took my breath away, for two reasons.  First, because it was so beyond beautiful, and second, because I had not noticed one step of its turning.  I had been in and out of my driveway a zillion times in the last two weeks and could not have told you if the tree was even still standing or not.  As I stood in the driveway, I realized I had stopped seeing the most important things to see." 
This tree reminds me to see (and to appreciate) the most important things.

Day 3: I am thankful for my friend Faith (and for Jared and Doug too).  Faith and I first met when we were paired together as teacher and student at Special Education Ministries, and now three years later, we have developed a close friendship.  Once a week we see each other at SEM and just about every other week we go out to dinner together.  This past Thursday we went to Froggies with Jared and Doug before SEM to celebrate Doug's birthday.

Day 2: I am thankful for this chapter in my life.  Although it has been defined by uncertainty and fear, which can be horrible to endure at times, it has also teetered on the edge of excitement and adventure.  Every job I apply for, grad school program I look into, or conversation I have about what the future might look like makes me believe that anything can happen.  Which is truly frightening some days and exhilarating other days.    

Day 1: I am SO thankful I live with my best friends from college 
(none of them wanted their picture taken so this photo- minus their heads- was the compromise).  
Our habits have shifted from dancing on tables, going out every night and drinking cheap beer to watching our favorite tv shows together, dressing down every night and drinking good wine.  The shift has been much welcomed.  

Monday, October 17, 2011


October has been defined by a lot of highs and lows. The life I live is beautiful, why is that so hard to forget sometimes?  

It helps to be reminded: 

I (really) love obnoxious Halloween decorations.

I love the colors.

I love getting away for the weekend in northern Michigan, I love long walks in the woods, I love this picture.

I love apples & apple picking

I love fall leaves and blue skies 
(and I also love my big brother) 

I love when my whole family fits into one room.

I love random cat on Grand Haven pier (and the friends I found it with).

I love that I live with my friends.
I love when God reminds me everything is going to be okay.
I love that I'm thirty minutes south from my family and thirty minutes west from my boyfriend.
I love fall TV series.
(Modern Family, Glee and New Girl)
I love listening to Needtobreathe at work in the mornings. 
I love wearing equestrian boots and chunky scarfs.
I love horizontal stripes.
I love when old friends come to visit.
I love Parrots Lounge and alumni. 
I love the sound of crunching leaves.

I just love October. 
(More pictures to come soon. Promise)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 30: something you can't live without

I'm very sure I could live without Burt's Bees.  But I do get separation anxiety if I don't have one near by.  These three were the only ones I could find in my room.  I think I have two in my car and one at the office.

Day 29: modeling your favorite outfit

J Crew cardigan, Banana Republic blouse and belt, Forever 21 jeans, Nine West boots.  Favorite outfit, not exactly modeling it.  Oh! And disclaimer: only half of this outfit is mine, the lace top and belt are Dunning's.  

Day 28: what you wore on your feet

New shoes came in the mail and they were a size too big.  I was going for the instant gratification of retail therapy but now I have to wait another week for the correct size. Grr.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011