It’s been over a year since I posted. 13 months.
I couldn’t tell you the all of what has happened in the last 13 months, but I can make a vague attempt.
The 2018 holidays came and went. My father was sick and my second oldest sister, M, came to visit. Time moved faster than I could keep up with. I started a new job a week into a new school year.
The Polar Vortex swept through the part of Michigan I live in and the second week of my new job was spent snow blowing my parents’ driveway after clearing their roof. The lowest this area reach was a windchill of -20. The combo of a new job and two classes meant that I spent a lot of January exhausted and sleeping a lot.
I did find that being outside – even though it was below freezing! – did make the winter more bearable. And I mentally committed to being outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.
In addition to committing to being outside more, D and I also committed to spend more time together laughing. With both of us working full time, me in school part time and him working part time, our time together often turns into what feels like managing business – schedules and bills and list of tasks. While we’re together because we handle those together well, we’re also together because we really like each other. Once a month we spend more than the typically dinner-date-night might cost and ride Go Karts or take a drive up north – something a little different than the usual.
In March, the snow lifted and the weather warmed up enough to be able to be outside more. I began to realize that I wasn’t sleeping well and focused my energy on making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I bought some faux fur on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and sewed it around a $4 pillow I got a Walmart. It’s amazing how quick and easy this was – and much cheaper than it would have cost to buy it.
I also decided – for the first time ever – to purchase tennis shoes / sneakers that were actually specific to my feet, rather than $20 grocery store ones. Y’all. I’m never going back again. These are the most amazing shoes ever.
The shoes took me through the trails by my apartment, and then the trails that lead to my parents house a few miles away, down bike trails, to new cities. At the end of the school year I told D I wanted to spend the summer getting my money’s worth out of the shoes, so we started the process of seeing all the lighthouses in Michigan. By the end of summer, we had only seen six, but everything else we saw made it completely worth it.
I tried to spend the summer both playing as much as possible and organizing as much as possible before the school year came again. My best friend and her kids spent a good amount of the summer exploring woods and having picnics – basically heaven.
I got this spice rack so that I could move the spices off the bakers rack in the pantry to create more space. Holy smokes has it made a difference! I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to throw away expired spices because I actually look at what I have, rather than just letting things I don’t use often get pushed to the back and buried.
I’ve also become completely hooked on tassel earrings so I bought this little earring rack and it quickly helped clear off my end table. Both this earring rack and the spice rack were under $15 and super quick ways to clear away clutter.
One of the hardest parts of being not in Florida is being way from the Ocean. D’s way of managing that is to put me near water as often as possible. This summer, we spent a lot of time in his hometown, about an hour away from where we live. It’s a small lake community surrounded by farms and where he actually lived backed up to a national park. We went there to go swimming, hiking, mudding and picnicking. We’ve been talking about going camping there this summer – I’m totally open to any recommendations for tents! We’d love to get one this winter, rather than waiting until the summertime.
We followed in the same vein all summer and learned how to kayak. Folks, let me tell you if you need to work through communication issues in your relationship, just get in a double kayak with your partner. I think D and I learned more in a four-hour ride than we have in four years of being together. It was amazing. We took six trips this summer, but the first was the most memorable.
D got super into bike riding this summer too. I like to ride bikes, but I would rather walk / run. So, he spent a lot of time riding and took me with him only for particularly spectacular trips. The trail pictured above isn’t far from our apartment.
Both D and I have birthdays in August and so we decided that we would take a trip up north. In Michigan, “up north” refers to anywhere that’s more than an hour and a half from the big city of Grand Rapids. We stayed at a delightful place called Caberfe and our only real goal was to get to Traverse City. We hiked around the Pine River, kayaked the Crystal River, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes and crossed the Mackinac Bridge. It was an amazing three days, packed full of more adventure than either of could have anticipated and I am itching for this summers’ trip!
The week school started, my sister, M, came to visit, which overlapped with my college best friend coming to visit. I worked while they were both here, but managed to get out on the river with both of them more than once. It was a beautiful end to the summer but playtime overlapping with school was much was a major challenge. Just before my sister arrived, my mother broke her shoulder. It was a jumble of things and I’m only just now feeling like I’ve caught up. I think much of the jumbled feeling had to do with resisting winter.
Last year, I did a better job of embracing it. This year, I still don’t believe it’s happening to me because I just want to be on the river.
I got sick in October – just your standard cold that knocks you on your ass for a week and lingers for another two. Ugh. So I spent a lot of it in bed, with Javier and my homework. At the start of the school year, D and I planned to take a Friday off at the mid-point of each semester. We rented a car and just drove up to Glen Arbor, MI for lunch. We ate at the Western Avenue Grill, in front of a fireplace. We stopped in a town called Arcadia just for the view. It was a gloomy Friday, but neither of us cared. It was nice to get a little time together where my head wasn’t wrapped up in school.
There were many amazing November things but none really hold a candle to registering for graduation. That’s right folks, assuming all goes well when I submit my problem statement for review this Sunday – and barring any emergencies – I will be graduating April 25, 2020.
I came down with the flu after Thanksgiving and missed a week of work and added in a hospital visit (for fluids) the first week of December. While I was sick, my father started to get confused. My mother thought he was having a stroke, so she took him in. It ended up being that he had major blockage in his Cortaid artery, which has since been cleared. It was scary and the surgery was two Mondays before Christmas. The holiday was a little off and we actually still have Christmas presents to give out and the tree is still up. All things in time.
It’s good to review the year. I haven’t had as many spaces for reflection as I might have hoped.
A friend of mine recommended creating an “After Graduation List,” to keep me going through my final project. On that list is developing this blog into something meaningful and helpful. So, I’ll be back again in a month, and another month and then April. And then after that, I’ll be back with much greater frequency.