Friday, November 2, 2012

November: A month of giving thanks

November 30: This seems like an unceremonious way to conclude November, but I've learned the value of small successes and figured this picture was worth sharing.  This is Lola. She's my brother's cat who rarely makes appearances outside of Jon's room and has made it very clear she's uninteresting in accepting my affection.  Friday afternoon, five hours into working on my social policy final paper, Lola jumped up into my lap and I practically froze in shock.  Searching for my phone, I had to snap a picture of the moment because I was unsure how long it would last.  Judging by Lola's expression, I still don't think I've won her over, but regardless I am thankful for successes (big or small).      

November 30: Sometime over the past semester, my cousin and I got into the habit of exchanging highs and lows and sending selfies to one another.  Morgan has always been an anchor of support for me, but she's been especially wonderful as I near finals week in grad school.  I'm so thankful for Morgan.

November 28: I'm thankful for impromptu dinners with Kevin.  I'm thankful we live in the same city and can make any random Wednesday night "taco night" and sip on coronas and dance around the kitchen.   

November 27: I am thankful I get to study a subject I am deeply interested in learning.  I came across this passage in a reading for my direct practice class and felt a surge of gratitude that THIS is what I get to do with my life.      

November 26: I didn't have classes Monday so I stayed in West Michigan one extra day.  My brother convinced me to join him in Holland to do homework at LJ's and attend chapel at Hope College.  I felt so grateful that two years prior, this used to be my normal routine: coffee, homework, chapel, sibs.  Undergrad was just so good and I am thankful for my experience at Hope.  

 November 25: I am thankful for lazy Sunday nights with Lauren Bell, for honest conversations over dinner at snug, for snuggling up in front of the fire place and watching Revenge like we always used to.  The only think missing was Kat Carlton and a bottle of wine.

November 24: I'm thankful for this precious dog. Especially in the moments when she greets me when I come home: tail wagging, waiting at the top of the stairs, anxious to say hi.

November 23: I am thankful for my family.  I treasure every moment I get with these people (and dog).  Over the past year, I've lived with all of them: in China with dad for four months, in Grand Haven with mom, Eric and Maggie for three months and have lived in Cleveland with Jon for just about four months.  I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to form relationships with my family outside of being brothers and sister and parents and daughter.    

November 22: I am thankful for the McMahons.  I spent Thanksgiving morning participating in a long standing family tradition of touch football with Kevin, his family and a bunch of friends.  Although I was among the last to be chosen to join either team (low point), I somehow managed to score the first touchdown (high point), and after a very close game, our team won!  I'm grateful for feeling capable, for family traditions, for encouraging words and for a family who loves me like I'm their own.

November 21:  These are some of my best friends from college and I got to see all of them in one day.  My heart nearly exploded with happiness.  There's so much history and love intertwined in these friendships.  I lived across the hall from Ali and Kaitlin my freshman year and lived in the same house with Emily and Lauren for two years in a row. Three of them are my sorority family, one of them is my actual family.  I stood in Kaitlin's wedding last summer and will stand in Emily's wedding next fall.  I plan on knowing these people until I'm old.  I'm SO thankful for Anne, Morgan, Ali, Lauren, Kaitlin and Emily.  

November 20:  I am thankful for Meg Johnson.  After a four hour drive from Cleveland, I stopped in Grand Rapids to get dinner with Meg.  Later that night, when I was back home in Grand Haven, I realized I forgot to take a picture with her for this blog.  Then I remembered I took a picture of this quote earlier in the night when Meg and I had stumbled across it on a blog.  It instantly made me think of our friendship.  It sums up our night, our conversations and our relationship.   

November 19: I'm thankful for bittersweet anticipation (not so grateful for the damage done to my nails because of it).  Tomorrow I drive home to Michigan and I'm SO excited to see Dimnent Chapel, Lake Michigan, downtown Grand Rapids, best friends, Maggie and my family. 

November 18: I am thankful for finally finding a church that feels like a good fit.  Church shopping in Cleveland has been somewhat discouraging and disappointing.  I'm still apprehensive about settling on a church because the bar was raised high in West Michigan, but for now Kev and I are thinking we'll go back to this one.

November 17: I couldn't choose which part of Saturday I was more grateful for, so I included them both.  First, I'm thankful for lazy Saturday afternoons with my two favorite guys.  While Kevin and Jon watched football, I put my headphones in and watched The Vampire Diaries on hulu.  Honestly, why hadn't I thought to tune out football with hulu before? It was the perfect compromise. AND second, I'm thankful for friendsgiving.  When did friendsgiving become a thing!? I thought my friend Christa invented it (this group of friends hosted the same event last year) but apparently it's trending this year. Regardless, we ordered these ridiculous thanksgiving sandwiches from Melt and enjoyed the delicious prelude to thanksgiving.

November 16:  I'm thankful for complicated fall coffee orders and productive days of homework.  I have to admit, I saw this coffee order instragramed by my very best friend and had to recreate it myself!

November 15: I'm thankful for this perfect shade of blue sky.  I realize roughly a third of my pictures have been about the weather, but really- I get giddy when it's this beautiful out.

November 14: I am thankful for new friends!  I'll be honest, over the past year of moving around I've had this irrational fear that all the cool people in the world are located in West Michigan and I would have trouble finding people I like in a new city.  However, I've been pleasantly surprised to find these lovely girls in Cleveland.  We celebrated Courtney's birthday Wednesday night and I felt grateful for how effortless our friendships have formed over a few short months. 

November 13: I'm thankful I got to experience the glory of fall weather all over again in Georgia.  Who knew the leaves turned in the south? Not me.   

November 12: Thankful for the opportunity to travel!  Early Monday morning I flew down to Atlanta, Georgia to be apart of a facilitation team for a corporation's annual sales meeting.  The sales team spent a portion of their time together working with horses while building relationships and completing a series of team building exercises.  I am so grateful I get to work a job that combines corporate leadership, relationship building, horses and travel (someone pinch me).

November 11: Terrible picture quality but such a fun night.  It was 65 degrees when Kevin and I pulled into the parking lot of the tennis courts Sunday night.  We got one last chance to play tennis under the lights and I'm thankful for the warm weather.

November 10:  I am SO thankful for these two.  They volunteered to be "clients" on Saturday afternoon as part of a learning experience at my field placement site.  It meant the whole world to me that they got a chance to see where I work and dive into my world.

November 9: This is Toby (isn't he handsome?). Toby and I spent a few hours together Friday afternoon as we prepared for a volunteer group to come in on Saturday.  My field placement is with an organization that does individual and group counseling/coaching with horses.  I am incredibly thankful I get to work with horses, especially this guy.

November 8: I am thankful for Shauna Niequist and her words.  She recently spoke at Willow Creek and I got a chance to listen to her message on the long drive to work Thursday night.  If you get a chance- I urge you to listen.  It was just so good.  At the end of the video I was bursting at the seams with gratitude for my friendships with heat and force.

November 7: My mom came down for a brief visit to see Jon and I.  I'm so thankful for her, for our conversations and for the way our relationship has evolved over the years.

November 6: Being a social work grad student in a presidential election year has been an interesting experience.  I'm grateful I was involved and informed and I'm thankful this is the last day.

November 5: I'm thankful for strong social ties and I'm thankful I make time for the people who are important to me (near and far).

November 4: I am thankful for visitors.  Our friends from college were in town for a short trip and the four of us spent the day touring Cleveland and catching up.  Seeing Brett and Erin's familiar faces in Ohio was refreshing and comforting.  

November 3: I am thankful for creativity (and fun).  Kevin and I attended our friend's Halloween party Saturday night dressed as Billy Madison and the imaginary penguin he sees in the movie.  We were thrilled people caught on to our costume duo and had such a fun night out with friends.  

November 2: When I saw light streaming through the blinds of my apartment this afternoon, I leapt up from the couch, scrambled for my camera, and ran outside to document the proof of sunshine in Ohio.  Although the clouds only parted long enough to get this shot and to enjoy roughly eight minutes of sunshine, I am thankful- nonetheless- for sunshine (and that beautiful blue sky).  

November  1: I am thankful for my rain boots.  The first of November marked the seventh day of rain fall in Cleveland.  Ohio managed to feel the wrath of Hurricane Sandy: trees have been uprooted, boats have sunk in the marina on Lake Erie and power has been out around town since Monday night.  As trivial as it seems, my rain boots provide comfort and warmth.  For that, I am thankful. 


For those of you who don't know, this post is officially my second annual "month of giving thanks" photo challenge.  One photo a day during the month of November to capture all that I'm thankful for.  Join me! Keep a gratitude list, be intentional, acknowledge the small things that make life sweet. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The I-don't-want-to-forget-a-single-thing-about-July Photo Challenge

July 31: I put my watch on this morning and panicked when I saw it read August 1.  My first thought was how in the world did I miss the last day of July?! After checking my phone and resetting my watch to the 31st, I found it interesting that- even for a brief moment- I actually believed I skipped over a day.  But that's how every day in July has felt for me, the days have flown by.

July 30: Monday was the first day of orientation for grad school.  It was surreal and slightly overwhelming but overall so exciting.  I cannot wait to begin this next chapter of my life.  I'm going to be a social worker (eeee!!!)

July 29: For Kevin's birthday in April, I purchased Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw tickets thinking I was such a great girlfriend for sacrificing my music taste just for one night in order to experience some country music I know my boyfriend loves.  Before this summer, before Nashville- but most importantly- before Kevin McMahon, I never (ever) enjoyed country music.  And now I love it.  Sunday was a blast.

 July 28: Wedding season with this guy is the best.  From goofing off to twirling around on the dance floor, he always makes sure we have a good time.

July 27: Finally got to see Kaitlin (!!!) Kevin and I had a wedding in Birmingham over the weekend and stayed the night with the Greene's on Friday.  She and Perry just moved into their new home and we were honored to be their very first house guests.  It was SO good to see her and catch up!  I could hardly recall the last time I was with Kaitlin but we never have a problem picking up right where we left off. 

July 26: My past roommate and future roommate putting a computer chair together. Tedious process, which is why I was watching instead of helping.

July 25: Moving day. Miraculously, my mom and I managed to pack up the u-haul all on our own without any other family member's help- unless of course Maggie counts- she was there for moral support. Oh, have I mentioned I'm moving to Cleveland? 

July 24: This is Lily.  She's a percheron draft horse and was donated to the barn I'm working at earlier this spring.  Lily is one of my favorites- not only because she's a sweetheart but because she's always so patient with the kids. 

 July 23: Last summer my exercise of choice was tennis.  This summer it's long walks on the beach.  Sounds cliché but I love it.

 July 22: Sunday evening I drove down to Saugatuck to have dinner with the Bells.  Hayley cooked us dunner, she made gnocchi mac and cheese and a blue berry balsamic salad (which was SO yummy) and after we tuned in for the finale of The Bachelorette.  I've never felt so emotionally invested in a season and was super excited to see Jef and Emily together in the end.  

 July 21:  I joined the Johnsons in South Haven for a long, relaxing day.  We spent Saturday by the beach, played with baby Orrin, had a delicious dinner, went out for ice cream afterwards and walked the pier.  South Haven is darling, I want to go back asap.

July 20: Went to Dark Knight Rises with my mom and brother Friday night. It was incredibly good but difficult not to think about the horror that occurred in Colorado the night before.   

 July 19: Cooked dinner for Kevin and everything turned out SO good. Usually we cook together but he had to work late so I ended up preparing it all on my own, which left me feeling super accomplished and appreciated.

July 18: Not the best picture, but a great story.  I was in Cleveland on Wednesday to meet with my field placement advisor and on the way back to Kevin's apartment I got lost and flustered and wound up paying double for parking.  By the time I got back to his place I was in tears and Kevin happened to have these glasses waiting for me to unwrap.  It was a complete surprise and quickly turned my mood around.

July 17: I get to see these two when I go to the barn each week and they're the cutest. I've considered smuggling one or both of them into my car a few times but have decided against it.

July 16: Lucy's chicken salad sandwich, a long walk down the beach, Dairy Treat ice cream and The Bachelorette: Men Tell All with my besfrenn was the perfect way to spend a Monday night.

July 15:  We had Glen Lake all to ourselves Sunday morning: boating, water skiing, wake boarding and tubing.  We left Glen Arbor exhausted and worn out- aching for more time but thankful for the weekend up north.

July 14:  I love Glen Arbor.  I love time spent with Kevin's parents and good friends. I love beach days that last into the evening and I love sangria, homemade salsa, packed lunches, gossip magazines and goofy card games.  I love Arts Tavern.  I love weekends at The Homestead. 

July 13: Friday morning walks around Reeds Lake have become a regular occurrence for me this summer.  Meg joined me Friday morning (along with a few iced lattes) as we walked the four miles around the lake. 

July 12: Warm summer nights spent outside are my favorite.  I drove into Holland Thursday night to catch up with my ex-roomies.  We ended up walking around 8th street, talking on the porch and grabbing a few beers out on the deck of Boatwerks.    

July 11: A spontaneous trip to the mini-golf course ended up being WAY more fun than we all anticipated.  Meg managed to consistantly shoot the ball off the course, Eric got a few hole in ones, I accidentally hit a car (the ball flew past the course and beyond the fence) and we all learned a little something about one another's competitive side.  

July 10: Lazy afternoons on the couch, hanging out with maggie and chatting with my momma: a few perks of living at home this summer.  

July 9: Twice a week I volunteer at this facility that does equine therapy.  Not only has the exposure been a good learning experience but working around horses and kids has been so much fun. 

July 8: Spent the entire day driving home from Tennessee.  I had this beautiful sunset to keep me company on part of my way home.

 July 7: The day started with a surprise lunch date with an old friend I worked on Young Life summer staff with and ended with the most beautiful wedding I've ever seen.  Too much happened in between: I met up with Steph Kahn (no photo evidence) and our trolly broke down on the way to the wedding (which ended up being way more fun than it should have been).  Lots of long stories short: the day was absolutely wonderful, packed with good friends and good times.         

July 6: Exploring downtown Nashville, relaxing by the pool, playing yard games, eating delicious southern bbq, hanging out with Kevin's college friends, watching live music, smoking cigars, singing karaoke and twirling around in circles with Kevin McMahon all night long. The. Best. Day. Ever. 

July 5: Driving to Tennessee Thursday night was the perfect start to an even better weekend.  Kevin and I met in Indiana and drove to Nashville from there.  We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks and had the best time driving late into the night, finally arriving in Nashville around four in the morning.

July 4: Growing up, my family spent a week each summer vacationing in Grand Haven at a cottage down the street from where our home is now.  Throughout the years we've become very close with a group of families and this year the majority of us where in town for the fourth.  We celebrated with a big dinner and fireworks down town.  I cherish this group of friends so much and we've been fortunate to remain so close over the years.

July 3: Meg Johnson has been tightly woven into my summer and I've been so grateful for the short 40 minute drive that separates the two of us.  The night before the 4th, Meg and her friend Amanda came into Grand Haven for an impromptu night out on the town. 

July 2: On my last day in Colorado I went on a short hike through the mountains with Caitlin and I captured THIS view.  Denver was such a blast, catching up with close friends, wandering in and out of boutiques, eating from food trucks and getting a chance to relax was the perfect way to spend a vacation.

July 1: I was in Colorado visiting Ali on the first of July.  It was my fourth day in Denver and with tempuratures teetering near 100 degrees, we decided to create a make-shift slip and slide.  Caitlin joined us as we spent the day in the sun and things quickly escalated into a college-style Sunday Funday.