Umm…where have I been?

While neglecting this digital space, I:

  • Finished grad school
  • Visited Italy, India, and Canada
  • Traveled all over the US, ranging from Seattle to Washington D.C.
  • Solidified bonds between new friends and long-time friends
  • Found out my grandma has cancer
  • Ran a marathon (but SERIOUSLY when will I break that 4-hour mark?!)
  • Got a promotion
  • Cut back on marriage counseling (because we’re in a much better place)
  • Had a few dozen emotional breakdowns
  • Deleted Instagram
  • Started a podcast
  • Met a baby that made me consider having a baby
  • Almost finished Gilmore Girls and made a pretty good dent in The Office
  • Turned 30
  • Relearned how nice it can be to spend time in the real world, not online

I want to share so many stories on this space. I want to show you some of the things I’ve seen. I want to bring you into the emotions I’ve felt. Sharing the bad, tough moments alongside the good things is important to me; I’d want to show you the raw realities of life instead of some pretty lies.

But honestly? The thought of writing it all out overwhelms me because blogging can stress me out. So I haven’t blogged. It’s like, why stress myself out over something that’s supposed to be enjoyable?

On that same note, Instagram stressed me out. It stressed me out the way that Facebook used to stress me out. I’m over Facebook now but IG is a wholly different drug. It was an ideal platform to easily document my life while also keeping tabs on people I care about. (I jumped back on Instagram recently to promote my podcast and discovered three sorta-distant friends who got married, two people who had babies, one couple struggling with infertility, and like a billion trips that everyone took over the last eight months.) Oh, also, lots of great travel, food, and clothing inspiration. Not gonna lie about that.

The most important thing, though, was that I wanted to keep documenting my life. Practicing gratitude is something I’ve tried cultivating in my life and documentation helps me when memory and mindfulness fail. When times get hard, it helps me to see all the beautiful, good, wonderful things I have in my life by looking at pictures, watching videos, or interacting with friends via Instagram messaging.

Even so, Instagram was a major emotional and time suck for me. I felt addicted to it. Last September, I decided to quit it for a month and see what happened. Whatever happened must’ve been good because I didn’t log back on until May—over nine months later.

While in my off-IG phrase, a good friend told me about this app called “1 Second Everyday.” It captures 1-second clips each day and mashes them into a single video. (You can add two 1-second clips each day if you can’t decide on just one). My friend managed to do it every day (since January 2018!) when she told me about it in October 2018.

I downloaded (*bought) the app and started my own 1SE video literally as she was talking to me about it. Since then, I’ve used the app every day: nearly 9 months! WOW.

So, while I’d love to write about a lot of the things I’ve experienced in the last few months, I feel like this video covers the highs and lows. When I’m having a tough day, I watch this video and remind myself of everything I’ve experienced: both the highs and the lows. These one-second clips take me back to some of my hardest places and some of my happiest places all at once.

I feel the same fear, elation, anxiety, and love watching this video that I did at the moment when I captured it. It’s helped me see life as a continuous story: bad days, negative thoughts, and tough moments are not traps and they will pass. The joys are infinite and the sorrows are passing phases that teach important lessons.

Ok, enough already. Here’s the video.

(Don’t worry, I’ll probably write some stuff here eventually. But for now, I’m out living my life.)

Paris: Portraits

One of my favorite quotes is from Francis Bacon. Truthfully, I really fell in love with it after learning that photographer Dorothea Lange took it up as her credo:

“The contemplation on things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitute or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.”

There’s something invigorating to me about capturing people when they least expect it or when they aren’t paying attention. Is it an invasion of privacy? Eh, maybe. But in today’s Instagram-perfected world, I like photographing people when they aren’t posing, putting on the version of themselves that they want the world to see. I’d much rather remember (and see) people for who they are.

Here are some portraits from Paris (Note: Sam took the pictures of me ❤ )

Paris - pompidou artworkParis - pompidou centre overlook

Continue reading “Paris: Portraits”

Photos from Paris: Food

The food. Oh, the food. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of my most distinct memories of Paris were focused on food:

Slathering fresh butter on warm, perfectly crusted bread in an ex-pat bar while the red wine buzz came in strong.

The thick smell of fresh pig fat bubbling over in boiling water to make ramen broth.

Creative and artful delicacies, subtly sweetened, beckoning on every corner—and hardly ever resisting the temptation.

Sharing a cappuccino with Sam at the Musée d’Orsay’s Café Campana, a fluttering rush of joy in my chest from seeing him for the first time in over a week.

Culinary masterpieces artfully arranged in display cases, impossibly bizarre and enticing.

Scarfing a defyingly tasty vegan burger in the spring sunshine en route to the Centre Pompidou.

Cradling a warm, chocolately crepe in my hands after a night boat tour on the Seine, huddled together against the cold with my DePaul classmates on our last evening together.

Unassuming street markets filled with raw meats, aged cheeses, piles of spices, and fresh vegetables, the air buzzing with the soft, romantic loll of French.

Suffice to say, these photos don’t need explanation: they speak for themselves.

DSC_0315Paris - angelina dessert at louvreParis - oranges at the market

Continue reading “Photos from Paris: Food”

Photos from Paris: An Introduction; Places

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over six months (!!) since I went to Paris. The trip was a study abroad opportunity through my graduate school program. Together with 20 DePaul grad and undergrad students, I visited five different companies and learned about luxury marketing at the heart of this lavish city. After my week of studying abroad, Sam flew over to Paris and we spent another four or five days together.

Not gonna lie, folks: Paris wasn’t perfect. Sam and I were in a tough spot in our marriage. We tried hard to be normal while on this trip and, in the process, realized how drastically wrong everything felt between us. This trip was the peak of a volatile time in our relationship that lasted for months.

Continue reading “Photos from Paris: An Introduction; Places”

Thank you.

Since my previous post, I’ve received a tremendous outpouring of love, support, and insights from so many people. Believe me when I say that, aside from the day of my wedding, I have never felt such love and gratitude for all the people who share in our life.

My closest friends reached out and reassured me of their loyalty. Family members and relatives shared their inner demons and marriage struggles. Other couples (married or not) have reassured us that what we’re going through is not abnormal and worth fighting through.

Even people who lie on the peripherals of our social sphere have offered companionship, coffee dates, kind words, and a glimpse inside their own hearts.

To all these people and more, I can only say:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(And also, here is a photo of Grand Traverse Bay for you. It is one of my favorite pictures and it fills me with joy:)

Grand Traverse Bay Travers CIty Michigan Lake.jpg

Your words, gestures, and vulnerability make us feel less alone. You encourage us to turn towards each other and ourselves. You provide a safe haven during a very rough storm.

One thing I feel I must say, though.

Continue reading “Thank you.”

Confessions

DSC_0380

A friend of mine who saw one of my recent posts on social media reached out and asked if I was feeling better. He knew that I’ve been going through a tough time, and wondered if my recent upbeat post was an indication that things were looking up in my life.

“I thought it was universally acknowledged that people only show their best selves on social media,” I replied.

In that very moment, standing in my kitchen waiting for my tea kettle to boil, I despised the kind of person that I’ve become.

It’s unclear how long I’ve been slipping into this person. Maybe it’s been my whole life, the way everyone conforms a part of themselves to societal standards. Or maybe it’s been the last few years, navigating through the world post-college. While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, I think it’s happened slowly over the last 10 months. I’ve navigated a lot of difficult territory in the last 10 months, but I’ve not been very open or candid about that journey.

I don’t know how else to say this: I’ve felt very lost lately. It could be just your standard quarter-life crisis, but it doesn’t stop it from feeling real to me. It’s felt very, very real. Over the past few months, I’ve had some pretty monumental breakdowns. During that time, I’ve made an effort to dig deep, investigate the scary spaces in my heart, and ask myself hard questions. The result is that I’m lead further and further down into a space that I don’t often go:

Continue reading “Confessions”

Rural Idaho and Total Solar Eclipse Hype

We took the scenic route out of Grand Teton, climbing up and over the Teton Pass—and the entire Teton Rangeas we headed west. The panoramic vistas of the National Park and its surrounding area were our final parting gift from this place as we crested the mountains and wove our way down towards Idaho.

There’s a good chance that no one else in the world puts Idaho on as high of a pedestal as I do. For over a decade, I have dreamed of visiting Idaho someday and seeing it for myself, with my own two eyes.

Why Idaho, you ask?

Continue reading “Rural Idaho and Total Solar Eclipse Hype”

Grand Teton National Park: Death Canyon Steals Our Hearts

Not gonna lie: I felt like a pansy for sleeping in a hotel after abandoning our campsite. I felt weak, I felt soft, I felt very un-wildernessy. I couldn’t face one of my biggest fears which made me feel like I wouldn’t experience this magnificent place in a natural way.

But honestly? All those feelings dissipated the morning after I woke up in that hotel in Jackson.

I felt like an entirely new person. I popped out of bed at the sound of the 6 a.m. alarm, packed up all our food for the day, and corralled a still-pretty-sleepy husband out the door—all in 45 minutes. We had a sunrise to catch!

Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 6Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 3Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 2

Well, we mostly caught the sunrise. The sun was pretty high in the sky by the time we made it to Antelope Flats. The site was already crowded two dozen amateur and professional photographers. This historic Mormon community site is on the south side of the Grand Teton National Park, and the barns provide a quintessential sense of rustic living with the Teton range behind them. Photos of these barns show up all over the place if you Google Grand Teton. Even though it’s a little too “tacky postcard,” I’ll admit that it’s a pretty cool aspect of the park.

Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 5Grand Teton Antelope Flats Sunrise - 4

Even so, the barns weren’t our main objective (shocking, actually, if you know me). Hiking was our primary goal and we wanted to get on the trail. Since we skipped the main Moose Junction visitor’s center the first two days in the park, we stopped in and asked about trail conditions for Paintbrush Canyon and Death Canyon: both recommended by Ryan, our Teton-insider friend.

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Death Canyon Steals Our Hearts”

Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park- Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our westward road trip!

Adrenaline kept me upright for the first few hours the morning after listening to the bear (or whatever it was) battering away at a fellow camper’s food locker. I’ll still never know if it actually was a grizzly bear, but I couldn’t help but think about Paul’s warning that they had a grizzly that visited the campground.

As we inhaled our half-cooked hash browns and overcooked scrambled eggs at breakfast—they were warm and the air was a brisk 35 or 40 degrees—-we pondered our plan for the day. It was only a matter of time before my high-strung bear anxiety dissipated and I entered extreme sleep deprivation auto-pilot. If there’s one thing that I need, for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me, it’s at least six hours of sleep every night. I would be operating far under threshold today, and we were expecting a grueling day of hiking, exploring, and further altitude adjustment.

The thought lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to do it all over again for at least two more nights. We were debating staying at our campsite two more nights for the eclipse, making it a total of 5 nights in Grand Teton instead of our planned three nights. There was a solid chance this could shape up to be one of the most miserable trips of my life if I had to stick out five nights sleeping in a tent with a grizzly visiting the campsite every night.

Grand Teton - Hiking to Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake

We packed up and headed towards the park. Our plan was to hike String Lake around to Jenny Lake and up towards Cascade Canyon. When we parked the car, applied our sunscreen, loaded our packs with food and water bottles, and were just about to hit the trail at 8:45 am, we noticed a vital element missing. The bear spray. Sam remembered seeing it in the tent since we kept it there last night as a precaution, and it must’ve still been there. After the events last night and all the warnings we’d heard, there was no way we were hiking without a can of bear spray.

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon”

Grand Teton National Park: Signal Mountain and Camping Adventures

Grand Teton National Park- Signal Mountain Hike

Psst: looking for part one of this trip

We left Jackson with all our camping maps, making our way up to Moran Junction, far northeast of the popular Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. Per the US National Forest rangers, we drove east away from the park. A curvy road free from cars and filled greeted us with stunning views of the Blackrock Creek valley. Just when we were certain we took a wrong turn, we saw a sign indicating the Turpin Meadow campground was a mile ahead of us.

Turpin Meadow campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest near Grand Teton National Park

Instant relief overtook us when we saw a few open spots at this 18-site campground. We claimed a spot with plenty of shade, a fire pit (a huge relief: any fires outside pits were banned due to severe drought in the region), a sturdy picnic table, and a large bear locker for food. All smiles and joy, we unpacked everything and set up our beloved 2-person tent. The campsite was quiet enough to feel secluded from the masses in the National Park but there were enough people near us that we didn’t feel alone in the wilderness. This was a particularly important balance to me, as the presence of grizzlies made me feel queasy every time I thought about those big furry bears stalking around the woods. I tried to shake off my lingering bear anxiety and focus on how happy I was to have a campsite with other campers nearby.

Paul, the full-time campsite host at Turpin Meadow along with his wife Judy, greeted us and gave us the lowdown. He was frank about the presence of a grizzly in the area but said the bear never bothered anyone. Sam and I nodded, and I pretended to be ok with this information. We thanked Paul for the info and took off for our first hike in Grand Teton National Park.

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Signal Mountain and Camping Adventures”