Not So Wordless Wednesday.

On day we looked at our new house, Sean and I came home feeling lot’s of emotions. The biggest was a shared need for escape from the city. The sun had been tucked behind clouds for days, and suddenly seeing it in the sky we had to grab our coats and hats, and go play under it! So where do we go when things get tough and need fresh perspective? Pickerel Lake, of course.

I have never hiked hiked the lake in the fall before. And this time, instead of taking the path that winds around the lake, we went higher into the woods, where I quickly learned that Sean’s long legged pace leaves me gasping for air and running to catch up. The entire time we hiked we talked about the house we had just seen. We talked it about like it was already ours. I said to Sean that we should be careful about getting our hopes up like it already happened. And Sean told me to think positively and send our confidence into the world through our speech habits. I smiled, remembering how we had met in a literature class, and how this part of our beings will always find a way into our lives. Even in conversations about houses there is language to discuss.

Leaving Pickerel Lake we felt content. We had found the peace we were seeking. And the next day, we got the house.
232230228226

Silver Linings

morning sunThere is a stop light on the road where I work, that if you hit at just the right moment, it seems to stay red forever. But the other morning when I got it, I wasn’t bothered. Not one little bit. In fact, I was pretty grateful once I came down the hill and saw this view. The clouds had been heavy with rain for many days in a row. I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t function anymore. Being trapped inside with two very busy three year olds was getting hard. I was just done with it all. Then, I got stopped at this red light. And as I looked into the sun, I realized life is pretty freaking amazing. The sun is out, I have a car that works, a job to go to, a finance to come home to, a bed to snuggle up in, and a coffee pot to give me fresh brew each morning. What did I have to complain about? So sitting there, I snapped this picture, as a reminder of how great life is. And it is true after all, that silver linings only come on cloudy days.

My Favorite Things/// Grand Rapids Downtown Market

I love our city. I love it so much. And here’s reason number five::: our downtown market.

A new addition to our Midwestern city, this market, nestled under the highway and filled with fresh vegetables, local fish & meats, all sorts of sweets & coffees, and cute shops, is hands down one of the coolest spots our city has to offer. Wandering the shops and aisles with a three year old in hand, I couldn’t help but become as excited as she was, pointing and saying “look at this” and ‘check out that”. Sometimes when you’re with a kid, it’s hard not to act like one, you know? We tried breads and smelled coffee. It was, in fact, a lovely, lovely morning with a great little friend.eating area cupcakes city produce fresh flowers greenhouse roof

How lucky we are to have this little niche in the city. Spoiler alert: I’m doing all of my Christmas shopping here this year.

My Favorite Things::: Harvest Gathering

Harvest Gathering was about to take place again. Sean and I went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth about going. Then, I got a text two Friday nights ago from my friend, Nicole, who said, “man you just gotta go! You must experience this. I promise you’ll love it.” So I told her I’d talk to the boss and see what he thought. It wasn’t hard, of course, to convince Sean to go to a local music festival, but I still did a little dance of victory. We woke up the next morning to conquer and divide our duties. I made a giant batch of burritos. Sean packed our camping gear. Then we grabbed Sean’s favorite reggae CD’s, a coat (just in case) and sunglasses, and started our drive North. Like earlier this month, the further North we drove, the nastier the weather became, until we were driving through a corn field in a down pour, wondering how long the skies would stay gray.

But as we pulled on to the property, a shift came over our moods, and suddenly, it didn’t matter what the weather was. It didn’t matter how cold we were. It just didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was being there; and we had made it!

We listened to music in the barn. absorbed by the warmth from strangers’ bodies. People everywhere were carrying beers and indulging in conversation. And for as many people as there were, there was nothing but kindness and friendliness. Everyone was happy, there was no way around it. Standing by bonfires people warmed their bodies. Sitting at wooden tables, people huddled in closely, eating organic Michigan popcorn and discussing what music they had heard. We hopped from stage to stage, soaking in as much local music as we could get. As we watched one band play late at night, the skies let loose and the rains came down. A representative from the tribe who spoke earlier that evening at the water blessing ceremony had said that thunder meant our ancestors were present. When the people in front of us raised their hands to the rain, I watched it roll from their palms in the light off the stage. I remembered what he had said at that moment, and I think he was right. I believe our ancestors were there in that moment. I could feel them in the souls of my boots. And it all felt very good.

Around midnight, we left the woods from were we had been watching The Appleseed Collective, holding hands and feeling very good about the life we live. Zipping ourselves into our tent, shivering and exhausted, the rain feel hard and then even harder. We had made it just in time. And I was feeling very thankful for that. And most of all, I was thankful that we made to Harvest Gathering as a whole. Nicole was right, I did love it. And I can’t wait to go back next year, and the year after that and the year after that…hg 4 hg 3 hg 2 hg 1

Happy Monday, friends. May you have a good memory to get you through the week!

PS: Oh, and that cute little family is Mike & Ruthie. Sean and I thought they were pretty great and totally inspiring! Who doesn’t want a family band!?

Stopping Along the Way/// North Country Trail

Sean and I had a great adventure planned some weekends ago. We packed our hiking bags and meals late Friday night, then woke up early Saturday morning, bound for the Manistee National Park for a weekend away. But further North we drove, the darker the skies became. Then miles from our destination, the clouds let loose! I mean it was really raining. And I hate being wet. And I don’t like carrying heavy things and being wet. And I mostly don’t like having to sleep in the rain after carrying heavy things in the rain and being wet all day. So we decided to make a plan B

We kept on 131, driving North to Traverse City. I had a a carload of things for my mom and sister’s, so we decided to just meet up with them for lunch and a drop off. After a good meal at a great fish joint, we got back in our car and started driving home.  Driving South we we encountered the sun again. So we took a short detour to the North Country Trail, deciding to stretch our legs and at least get a small adventure out of the day while we still could.

This forest was unlike I’ve hiked in Michigan. It was the kind of forest where children see fairies and adults feel small again. I can see why Sean loves it here so much. The mist between the trees, the moss along the path, branches reaching into the clouds, crooked trees and croaking frogs… all of it together creating magic.

forrestnorth country trail signsquiggly treessean by signfallen treeI might be a little partial, but probably Sean’s the cutest guy to have hiked that trail all year!

Have you hiked the North Country Trail before? Isn’t it incredible!  I just cannot wait to go back!

Happy Monday, folks. Stay safe, wherever you are reading out there. And remember: positive thoughts have the power to spread thick, so send ’em if you got ’em!

 

On Our Roadtrip/// Harrisville, New Hampshire

The final and actual destination for our trip out East, despite our stops along the way, was Harrisville, New Hampshire. We were there for three days, celebrating the marriage of Sean’s older brother and wife. It was pretty amazing. All of Sean’s lifelong friends were there, in one house, playing games, preparing meals, sharing old stories, making new stories, setting the tables, manning the grill, watching the sun set, practicing yoga, basking in the hot tub, admiring the mountains, taking walks, watching little goats prance, dancing, camping, hiking through the woods, sharing an experience we will never forget. It was so much fun to get away and simply be! We didn’t have to work or worry, we just had to be present, to celebrate, to love.  yogamountain top viewme and sean on hill   fencesean adn smilingyellow flowers in field tree at sunsetI’m hoping this week away will lead to a regular trip somewhere each year with this group of friends— that we can take time for each other once a year, no matter how crazy life can get for us (because dang, being in a house with all of these people was one hilarious experience!). I already take a weekend each summer with my girlfriends and I know what a relief it is to have our special trip each year. Hopefully this trip is the start of a great tradition! Do you and your knit of friends have fun traditions?

More Travel Stories…Niagara Falls

If you are driving from Michigan to New Hampshire, halfway there is Niagara Falls. Very convenient for Michigan travelers. What better place to stretch your legs and spend the night than here? falls close up of falls sean and i at falls rainbow at niagraWe had wanted to take the boat ride at the Falls. Okay, I had really wanted to take the boat. It was kind on the top of my most-do list. But unfortunately I feel ill and wasn’t able to muster the strength for it. We made the best of it, though. Took some pictures, got sprayed by the mists and smiled about how kind Mother Nature was to bring the sunshine and rainbows for our visit. Then we got back in the car and I slept until I was rudely awoken by a pothole– a clear indication we were back in Michigan.

Next time I’ll ride the boat! For now, I’ll enjoy the memories of what we were able to do.

Happy Monday, friends.

Jamaica State Park, Vermont

Last week, Sean and I spent the night in Jamaica. Jamaica, Vermont that is. And it was perfect! We drove into our campsite a little later than we anticipated. But as the sun was setting and Sean set up the tent, I raced over to the nearest town for some pizza. After replenishing our bodies with grease and a beer, we walked down the steep hill to the river, dodging trees and holding hands. As we stood in the cold, rushing water, watching the river flow, it came upon me: this idea of how quickly everything passes; of how like water, our lives roll over rocks and into valleys, moving out of the way for new water, unknowingly caught in the current of river’s center, where it moves quickly and with intent, molecules into molecules, the unseen becoming the whole, simply because of the power they have as a united grouping.

I was thinking about how my relationship with Sean is so like this river. Standing together in that river, I couldn’t help but feel this metaphor run over my skin. I couldn’t help but feel how intimately I was connected to everything in that moment. And mostly, as I watched Sean jump from rock to rock like a mad wilderness man, I couldn’t help but feel how hyper-sensitive I was to this connection simply because he is in my life. Sean has shown me how to feel alive, everyday. Everyday we spend together, whether we are home or far away, we are growing into our life together.  That evening by the river, I began to understand the path our life is taking as a couple, as a family. My and Sean’s roots, I realized, have become entangled with one another, deep beneath the dark soil of a riverbank with water, running wild above us. You see, we are all connected: him and me, and this great world around us. But for now, in this instance we are safe, steadfast, and most of all together. Jaimaca State Park Rivertent shoes by the riverwoodpileriver through the treesThis was such a great campground. Very quiet and secluded! I highly recommend it to anyone traveling the East Coast!

Visiting Blackrocks Brewery

While we were visiting The Northern Walkabout, we went up to Marquette for the evening. Right on a great lake, this city offers a plethora of things for people to do inside and out. But my highlight was visiting Blackrocks Brewery to hear one of my favorite Michigan musicians and songwriters Michael Waite. Man, do I love his music! And man, do I love good beer. Needless to say, with this thrilling combination, I was beyond excited to hear him play live.

Walking into Blackrocks was a completely unique experience. Established in a house, this brewery is really unlike any other brewery that I have been in before. As I told everyone at our table, “I could totally live here.” And the best part of it all…remember my favorite mug that I am completely obsessed with? Well, they were hanging everywhere as part of their mug club. It was so awesome to look up and see the beauty that can come from the hands of this Michigan potter. Yeah, Michigan is a rich place to live with so many talented people and beautiful areas surrounding us.

blackwaters 3 blackwaters brew 1 Blackrocks Brewery had one of the most delicious stouts I have had in a long time! But to top my night, the greatest moment for me was leaning on Sean’s shoulder as Michael Waite played his song ‘If I’m Not Strong Enough’… without a doubt, one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard– and even more powerful in person. blackwaters brew 2There are few things better in life than snuggling up in a booth with your guy, listening to music and laughing with friends. It’s about the little things, right? So, cheers to you and your friends, wherever you are.

Life at the Northern Walkabout

Life at the Northern Walkabout was many things last week. But foremost, it was peaceful. After the building and hammering was done each day, we gathered around the fire, sipping homemade wine, singing original songs and laughing. There were so many hilarious conversations and classic stories told. And the power that came from singing aloud outdoors cannot be described. While Sean and I have nights at our apartment playing music, I don’t typically sing in front of other people. It was definitely a first for me to join with others in making such joyful sounds. At the end of the night, I felt so liberated, so myself, so strong from stepping outside my comfort zone and projecting myself. Playing Music at NWASean playing Guitat at NWAAs the sun set one night, Sean and I found ourselves alone on a canoe, drifting across the lake.  When you’re in the middle of nowhere with a quiet soul next to you, the only thing you can feel is “present”. I felt so very present. As we rocked in the waves and I watched Sean fish I thought, this is what living really is… this exact moment. I think that people have many defining moments in their lives and for me, squinting to see Sean through the sunshine behind him, defined our place in life right now. This is what our relationship is: inspiring. And I hope that even as the years ahead of us are chaotic we can go to the lake to be present and find ourselves.  Sean FIshing on Canoe at NWADock at NWACanoe on DockAnd so our week came and went with hot coffee in the morning by the fire, hiding under the canopy during rainy afternoons, making sweet potato hobo pies for lunch, watching the elk on a nearby farm, crawling atop new rafters for a night-cap, not checking the internet for days, falling asleep on a wooden swing, reggae music playing from a Jeep, chickadees singing, woodpeckers pecking, a little dog barking, hammers hammering and skills saws sawing, with love acted out and gratefulness spreading.Coffee at Northern WalkaboutCooking at NWAelk on nwaLike I said, our week at Northern Walkabout was many things. But foremost, it was peaceful. tammy and sharon at nwa