Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

It’s cold. More accurately, it’s 50 degrees but the Internet weather site states that it feels like 44. My logical brain tells me that if we were just leaving the icy grip of winter, this weather would be warm enough for short sleeves and rolled down windows, but it isn’t the break of winter and instead we’re coming off a few days of 80+ degrees. My fingers are nearly numb from the cool air and open windows!

Today’s “fall weather” prompted me to take the long way home from work so I could stop by Baker Book House. Baker Book House is a wonderfully modern looking bookstore that I’ve only recently discovered sells Christian books. I’ve been meaning to stop by and today’s weather offered the perfect excuse. I entered, knowing that I was going to pick up a book by Shauna Niequist, and began perusing the aisles. Imagine my delight when I came across a soft cover book written by none other than my church pastor! I picked it up and walked around until I could flag down an employee to point me in my intended direction.

Here is what I like about Shauna Niequist and her books: 1) She’s delightfully honest and charming and raw; 2) She writes the way I hope to write. I love her ability to jump from subject to subject but keep the reader engaged; 3) Much of her descriptions are filled with Grand Rapids staples which makes me feel connected, like we share in some great West Michigan secret together. Having already read Cold Tangerines, I had the choice today between Bittersweet and Bread & Wine. I chose Bittersweet because this period of life is more focused on finding beauty within the sorrow for me and because I don’t have a kitchen table to gather friends around – so Bread & Wine will have to wait.

Now I’m 61 pages in and have just finished a beautiful chapter on friendship and girlfriends and making time and my head is full of things to think about…

Engagement pictures posted, compliments of Karyn May Photography!

We love them.

The pictures, YES, but we really love these photographers!

Karyn May Photography is based out of Grand Rapids and I cannot say enough good things about our photographers, Karyn and Joe! They photograph as a (MARRIED!) couple and the moment you sit down with them, you’re hanging out with friends. They put us at ease, cracked jokes with us, sat patiently while we scarfed down Subway breakfasts sandwiches in the car, and even offered to help us in the wedding planning chaos!

We are so fortunate to have been sent in their direction and we cannot wait to celebrate with them on the big day!

Check out the sneak peek here:

Back into Wedding Mode

I cannot stop flipping through my planner at work!

My weekends are filling to the brim with exciting events and things to do. I have a feeling my wedding day is going to be here before I know it! And because of that, I used today to kick myself back into gear. I sent some e-mails, scheduled some appointments, and picked up our wedding bands. They’re beautiful. I’m so glad Fred chose to work with Metal Art Studio; it’s like stopping by to see our friends!

I’m convinced that my heart has started pumping faster with anticipation. Man, I am too excited to be Freddy’s wife! His wife – are you hearing that?!?

It still doesn’t seem real.

And then there are times when I’m working myself up over the planning decisions we’ve made or haven’t made and feeling like I just want to start over with everything when Freddy calmly reminds me that we’ve carefully chosen every detail so far so that our wedding can be a reflection of who we are as a couple – and then it feels real. And right.

Very right.

Great Friends and Founders.

I love Founders. I always run into so many people there! It’s a great gathering place. An excellent watering hole.

Feeling blessed to have such amazing people in my life. Months pass until you’re face to face, and then it’s as if no time has passed at all. That’s when you know you’re lucky.

Positive attitudes are contagious. And magnetic. And when you get good enough, you can catch your own.

I have an exciting week planned! Founders catch-up with a great friend: Check. Left to go this week? Driving range. Rollerblading with friends and “Wine and Pizza Wednesdays” with the roommate, rock climbing, and quite possibly a BBQ and Blueberry Festival! All with friends. All in fun!

I love Grand Rapids.

I also miss my family’s company. I need to make a trip home soon. If only there weren’t so many fun things to do in this city!

Life List 2010: Frederik Meijer Gardens (CHECK!)

I was so productive yesterday that I’ve slacked off already today. I’ve really enjoyed waking up early but today I didn’t even come to consciousness until about 10:30am. Haha. Figures. I will say, however, that yesterday was a great day!

This is how it started: I got a phone call from a friend telling me that he was outside of my house ready for our run. I quickly threw on my running shoes and we hit the pavement. It’s so nice to have a running partner! I held out for way longer than I would’ve on my own and I’ll admit my legs were sore mid day.

I’ve been doing a lot more moving lately. I’ve ready Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet more than once and his advice is that for the first stage of the healthy lifestyle transition, you move more and cast aside your worries about modifying your diet; that comes later. I’ve done a little of both but I have definitely put more focus into movement. It’s a good way to go about it too, because exercising makes me want to eat healthy. On the reverse, eating healthy (first) makes me a) hungry and b) less inclined to work out because it doesn’t seem as necessary. Justification at its finest.

After our run, we went up to Biggby for a coffee and got in some small talk before I came back home to make a small breakfast (eggs and toast) for my roommate and me. I’m not a great cook and she is, but it’s nice to offer the skills that I have when I can. I got ready for my day and drove downtown to meet a friend to discuss bringing a non-profit from the east side to the west side of the state. I parked almost on the opposite side of town and walked over. Admittedly, I was more distracted than focused about the project but I did receive an e-mail about another job interview. I have my favorite college professor to thank for that. She left me a message a few days ago regarding a job opportunity she thought was a good for me. Thank you!

After the coffee shop, we headed over to Kendall to see his friend’s jewelery on display. She’s good and she brings such a unique perspective into creating. From there, we decided to hit up Gaia Cafe, a vegetarian eatery in Grand Rapids. Our meal was delicious. I could probably eat there every day. Picked up some good reads and caught up on the happenings of GR before heading to Frederik Meijer Gardens.

I have wanted to go there for years.

It’d never worked out in the past so when my friend suggested it spur of the moment, I thought it had to be right! We spent hours there and took ridiculous pictures (which I love) of art work, our imitation of artwork, and our interactions with art work. It was so nice to be outdoors and walking around appreciating everything there was to see (and there is a lot to see!). The destination was on my 2010 Life List and I’m glad to be able to put a check mark over it. It should not have taken me so long to get there, but I’m glad to have such good company for my first time. Museums and gardens are much more fun for me when I have people who can appreciate both the beauty and playfulness of art and history. Overall, I suggest you go if you get the opportunity. Make a day of it and appreciate the art work in any way you see fit; I certainly did.

By the time we wrapped up at Frederik Meijer Gardens, it had been a full day, but it didn’t end there. I went from the Gardens to a disc golf course to meet up with a friend and his friend (now my friend – I love the way that works!). 18 holes and probably an equal amount of mosquito bites (per person) later, we grabbed a bite to eat together. I must say, I’m getting pretty good at disc golfing.

I had left my computer in the car with my friend when we went to the Gardens so I met up with him at an indoor climbing gym where he instructs before calling it a night and heading home. A full day and a great day!

I love Grand Rapids and the people here. I love being active and enjoying the outdoors. I know, I know… I’ll get down to business soon. In fact, that’s my plan tonight after getting a new phone and before my roommate’s and my first weekly “Wine and Pizza Wednesdays.” But for now, I’m throwing on some work-out gear and heading to the park to rollerblade with a friend!


Bold Brews. Bold Thoughts.

Last night, I got to share conversation with a dear friend of mine. He’s the friend that I met with months ago who inspired me to move to Grand Rapids first and look for things to fall into place second, the friend who believes that visualizing your goals leads to achieving them. We sat down together at Hopcat and it didn’t take us long to get right back into the kind of discussion that initially led me to Grand Rapids.

First, he asked me how living in Grand Rapids felt. How does it feel? Here I was, sitting outside on Hopcat’s patio on a beautiful night, in the heart of downtown, coming off an amazing weekend of cottages, wildlife, friends, disc golf, church, and fresh air and I knew. What I feel is peace. I love living here. The house that I ended up in isn’t in the heart of downtown, but it’s right across from a park. It’s 10 minutes from downtown. It’s 10 minutes from my favorite breakfast joint. It’s 10 minutes from church. It’s 10 minutes from the mall. It’s in such a central location that it’s almost better than I had imagined. He told me that his mom made a similar move. She moved to Grand Rapids because the energy felt right. Since then, things have fallen into place for her. I think there’s something to be said about that feeling of positive energy. It’s not new age but it’s a sense of being home.

After asking me how living in Grand Rapids felt, he asked me about my next step. I told him I wasn’t sure. I know that I want to graduate officially. I know that I want a job. Other than that, I don’t really have anything on the list. He suggested that I make a vision board. I asked if it had to be pictures and he said I could use words, since I’m a word person. What interests me about this notion isn’t necessarily the vision board, because I’ve heard of that before as a suggestion for motivation. His explanation of one intrigues me. He told me that he typically creates a vision board every 3 to 6 months to see where he wants to be in the next 6 months. In fact, he just created his for the rest of 2010. My worry was that I would be unrealistic about it and it would be discouraging or not realistic or specific enough and it would be useless and this is what he told me: Project out six months. You have your list. Does it feel good to be doing those things in six months? If not, is it too stressful or taxing or perhaps not challenging enough? If it feels good, it’s realistic. If it doesn’t feel good, throw it out. It might sound too simplistic but I think that this notion of measuring goals by the “feel good” method is exactly what we ought to be using.

Then I started talking about my life list for 2010. He looked at me and laughed before saying, “Meg, that’s a vision board!” It is? Yeah, I guess it is. It’s a small-scale vision board. Here’s the best part: I was telling him the story about seeing the bald eagles, right? I thought it was a crazy coincidence. He sees it as putting out those “2010 life list” thoughts out there and drawing things close that allow me to realize my list. It’s not random. It’s intentional. We have the ability to cause things to happen in our lives.

When I first sat with my friend to discuss moving to Grand Rapids, I thought he was immensely inspirational but a little bit of a dreamer. Now I know that he’s 100% a dreamer but he also has the prowess to make those dreams a reality. I’m living proof. I’m in Grand Rapids. So when he talks, I listen. I think he’s consistently right too because I’ve begun to see patterns in my own life that reflect his beliefs.

When I was on the east side of the state without my support system around me, I became very deliberate about the people with whom I interacted. I wanted to be surrounded by positive people. Next thing you know, they were coming out of the woodwork! Once I made that decision, I was open to the type of people I wanted to meet and I appreciated them when I came across them. I began to act in such a way that I would draw those people to me.

When I made a life list, I started crossing things off my life list. It’s simple but then again, what are the chances that I would happen to accept a trip out to a cottage from a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year, sit down with her boyfriend’s parents, and spark a car ride to an eagle’s nest only a half hour north of Grand Rapids? That’s wild. But I put it on the list, I envisioned it, and it came to pass.

My friend says that you can do that with all sorts of things. Play the parking spot game, he says. You pick a lane you want to park in and a spot will open up. I’d doubt him except that my dad has the ability to get front row every time we go out. We call it his gift. Thought we don’t articulate it in the same manner, my friend attributes those parking spots to personal power. Be a mover and shaker in your own life. Envision it. Put an idea of what you’d like to see happen out in the world. Here’s where he wins me over entirely: Seek “this or something better.” Always leave yourself the ability to adapt and be open to greater things that may come your way – and they may be in an entirely different direction. Be open, be deliberate.

I wish I recorded our conversations. He has a way of saying that makes you say, “Yeah? Yes. Yeah! Of course!”

It’s so good to have friend who is well on his way to being a life coach!

Greater Grand Rapids & Four-Leafed Clovers.

Aside from four small bags and one box, I’m moved in. My room is tidy and I fully intend on keeping it that way. It’s peaceful here and I think utilizing my futon for a bed was a good choice; open spaces are cleansing.

I feel like a lot has happened this week, more things than should be able to fit in the description of one week. I received a phone call today from another company in Grand Rapids regarding an interview too. I’m scheduled to go in Thursday evening to discuss the position. All these job opportunities make my Honors paper seem really important and really insignificant at the same time. The paper isn’t teaching me anything new. It adds no value to my life, skill set, resumé, nada. The degree, which is contingent upon the completion of this paper, does however. It’s a shame.

I feel really good about things though. I can’t find the post right now but quite some time ago I wrote about my friend’s inspirational pep talk about following my heart. He was such an advocate of me moving to Grand Rapids because he had gone through something similar with his move to Ann Arbor. He decided to move without really any plan of how things would work out and things just seemed to fall into place. He thinks those sort of things just happen when you’re following your heart or, as Paulo Coelho would say, your personal legend. I thought he was lucky.

Maybe I’m just lucky too.

Naps Make Me Sleepy.

I never take naps, except today it seemed like a good idea. I got up at 4:30am to volunteer at the Detroit Zoo for the Scleroderma Foundation (scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that effects the growth of skin cells). The Foundation hosted a walk/run to raise money for finding a cure and I was invited to set up and sign in participants by the Live to Give Foundation (L2G) (check out this non-profit if you haven’t yet – started by two U of M graduates who are currently 24/25 years old and doing amazing things!). I’m driving to Grand Rapids later in the evening so a nap seemed appropriate. But now that I’ve napped, I’m feeling more sluggish than before. What is that?

I’m days away from moving back to Grand Rapids and I think that God has been doing a lot of heavy lifting lately. What I mean to say is that I think God wants to be able to watch me use the skills and abilities He has given me to seek out opportunities, to let me take the initiative and be proactive. Lately, however, He’s been the proactive one and I’ve been the recipient of His hard work. I’ve done some amazing things in the past 10 months but I wonder if the majority of it hasn’t resulted from someone else’s action, urging, or initiative. On the plus side, I believe that God sees when we’re struggling to keep our head above water so He sends us people to help us swim. Even so, I feel incredibly blessed by His action through others.

What I have had to do on my own, however, is remember who I am. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but it has taken me quite a while to get back to a positive starting point. Some things, in particular, that I’ve recalled?

  • I’m strong. I’m not some faint flower who can’t do anything on my own and needs the constant support of those around me. In fact, I want to be strong enough that I can hold myself up and share the yolk of my friends and family. I think I unknowingly put a lot of pressure on the people around me by always needing them to hold me up. Like a wet noodle. And we all know…There’s only one thing a wet noodle is good for and that’s spaghetti! What does that mean? Hell if I know.
  • I’m funny. Really funny. I actually think I’m hilarious, which I think is funny in itself. But the truth is when I forget that I’m funny, I wait around for someone else to make me laugh and I stop looking for humor in my own life. Life is much more fun when it’s humorous.
  • I’m smart. It’s easy to overlook my own intelligence when I’m surrounded by people who are “at my level.” Think about it. Above average feels average when everyone around me is above average too, right? But here is what I’ve realized: Someone else’s intelligence does not negate my own.
  • I’m competent and I’m capable. During my internship, I went from furrowing my brow over a Michigan state tax return to completing multiple state returns and filing changes in accounting. I’m able.
  • I can beat my fears. Go back to being strong. My fears don’t own me. And they can’t paralyze me unless I let them. I’ve also come to realize that most of my fears have less to do with the actual challenge at hand and a lot more to do with the fear of being embarrassed (except when it comes to bugs and collar bones *shudder*). Being embarrassed really is a silly fear. Mind over matter. “I’ll be embarrassed if I try this and flop.” No. “If I try this and flop, I’ll be proud of myself for trying and it’ll give me something to laugh about in the future.” It’s easier said than done, but it can be done.
  • I’m adaptable. Put me in a situation (within bounds of reason) and I’ll figure it out. New surroundings or challenges don’t have to derail me. I’ll adjust. I can be okay with changing my plans, whether or not I’d like to.
  • I’m fun! I’d hang out with me. Would you hang out with you? (Hint: The answer should be yes.)
  • I’m a positive person. This is the second to most important thing I’ve remembered about myself. I think (Okay, okay. So I know. But who really wants to acknowledge that?!) that I’ve been a negative Nancy for too long. Arms folded. Bad attitude. Debby Downer. WHAT?!? That’s SO. NOT. ME. I mean, sure, it was me. But it’s not me! At my core, I’m a positive Polly. And I don’t know how I came to take on this negative persona. I think maybe it started as some attempt at being a hard ass and just spiraled downward. Haha, because I’m soo incredibly tough, right? Please.
  • #1 on the list? I have a lot to offer and I am worthy. I can recall multiple situations where I met people and suddenly forgot that. I stood like a wallflower as people passed around exciting stories because I thought I didn’t have anything to add. Seriously? I may only be in my 20’s but I have a lot to offer and I am worthy.
  • I feel like it sounds pompous to list it out like this, but go through the list and tell me if you feel the same about yourself. You should.

    5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

    Set the countdown.

    There are five days left until I drive over to Grand Rapids, meet my friend with a trailer and move my belongings into my new home. There is chance, through all of this, that I will have to rent a storage unit for the bigger ticket items that I know will not fit into my room (I have acquired a lot of furniture over the past few years).

    Here is what I have sitting in my friend’s garage right now, waiting for my arrival: one queen-sized bed with frame, headboard, and footboard; two night stands with double drawers; one desk; one stand up dresser; one long dresser with large mirror; one futon; one couch with pull-out bed; and a bike. My room, if a size 12 men’s shoe is an appropriate ruler, is approximately 11′ x 9 1/2.’ I happen to think it’s smaller. I saw it  this past Sunday; it looked smaller and it was empty at the time.

    So here’s what I’m thinking…

    The house is located just down the street from a beautiful park with water, softball fields, a frisbee golf course, and green trees. It is located not far from the city when traveling back roads, which is a perk. (There is a big difference between 10-15 minutes expressway and 10-15 minutes street driving). My rent will paid on a month-to-month basis, giving me plenty of freedom to look around for work. My future roommate and I have already planned out our bike rides AND she owns a beautiful (bull?)mastiff. So I can manage with the smaller bedroom. To be real, it is ridiculous to think that I will find a setup similar to that which I’ve had in the past. My last lease set me up in a bedroom with enough room to house all of my bedroom items (and have room to spare). I had a large closet and attached full bathroom. It was glorious. But alas, it’s not reality. It was college off-campus housing and I’m no longer in college.

    So for my new bedroom, I’ll get rid of my queen-sized bed. For those of you who know me, you know that this is a huge deal for me. I LOVE my queen-sized bed. When I moved into my townhouse my sophomore year of college, I had the dads literally bend my box frame to get it around the cornered stairs. Sweat, blood, and foul language were smeared across the walls during the feat and I had to use quite a bit of spackling when I moved out. No joke.

    But I don’t want to go back to my sophomore room where I had just enough room to walk around my bed. So I’m getting rid of it. I’m keeping the frame/headboard/footboard (they’re beautiful and match the rest of the set), but I’ll put it in storage until I move to a bigger place. I will attempt to sleep on my futon instead. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but I’m hoping a mattress pad will help. And it will give me a little more room to move if I can set it up like a couch during the day. Whatdya think?

    It’s so exciting to me to approach this blank canvas and decide how to fill it! When I was little, I used to use a piece of paper to represent my room and I would measure out all of my furniture to draw up different ways to arrange them on the paper. It was probably not accurately to scale whatsoever, but it was a lot of fun. Anyway, there you have it. The countdown to the move date. I hope I’m ready.

    And So It Begins… (Part I)

    The Recap: Weekend Tales, As Condensed As Possible

    This past week has been utterly fulfilling/captivating/inspiring/frustrating/testing/liberating/breaking/and satisfying. My last post sounds a little dramatic for how excited I feel about life right now but the subject matter hasn’t lightened any. I haven’t had any new revelations or results (though I should know more by Wednesday), but I’m choosing to put it out of my head until I know more. Just know that my positive outlook doesn’t mean that my “dramatic moment” has all but dissipated. It just means that I’m really choosing to just focus on the positive things in my life – and I’m grateful for any prayers you may send my way. 🙂

    Having addressed that, let me just say that leaving my computer home this weekend was probably one of the best things I could have done – although I did wish I had it every night to recap but it would’ve either left me dragging in the morning or cutting my nights short. THAT, my friends, would’ve been a true loss.

    I came back up to Grand Rapids on Thursday after enjoying a lovely morning spent with my mother, knocked out a necessary conversation and caught up, beat a friend in putt-putt golf before spinning out on a go-kart race track, made an appearance at the annual “Trash Bash” party hosted by one of the fraternities (made up of good friends of mine), and ended the night in the duplex community where I sent my checks to all this semester to pay for my empty room. I saw a ton of familiar faces, touched base with many friends, and shook my head several times at the stereotypical “waste-cases” who were seen flaunting or stumbling from party to party. I also took some time to reflect on where I’ve been. Let’s be honest; it hasn’t been that long since I was right in the midst of the celebrations! Ahh, college life! I’m lucky to have gone to GVSU. I learned a lot from this place and I made a lot of great friends (and great mistakes! haha).

    Friday began just the way I would want to begin my last day before graduation – with a few beers, close friends, a shared cigar, sunshine, and meaningful conversation (My mom is probably scoffing and ruffling her feathers at this knowledge – regretting telling her friends that I blog, but there you have it! 😉 Haha). I moved out of my duplex and moved all of my stuff into a friend’s garage before meeting up with my parents, aunt and uncle, cousin and cousin-in-law at a tapas bistro downtown. My sister came out after she got off work and my immediate family shared some dessert together on the concierge level of our hotel before I headed out with my sorority little. She, my little, and I went out for the first time in Grand Rapids together (she just turned 21) and spent a relaxing evening together at some of the tamer bars downtown. …It’s amazing how much she teaches me, even though I am supposed to mentor her; I’m fortunate to have her in my life.

    Saturday morning – I graduated! I hadn’t talked to anyone about sitting next to each other so I was a little nervous about just getting thrown into line and swept up among the masses without anyone to share the experience with, so imagine my surprise when I saw one of my first and favorite friends from freshman year sporting a cap and gown! Yes! I quickly squeezed in line with him and am glad to say we cracked jokes throughout the whole ceremony. I couldn’t even tell you what the speech was about. Just the way I had imagined it 🙂 THANKS, MOM AND DAD!

    After graduation, I snapped a few quick photos before walking over with my mom, dad, sister, and godparents (aunt and uncle) to Founder’s. I’m obsessed. It was the perfect afternoon. We got right in, got a table outside, shared some brews, appetizers, and sandwiches and just appreciated one another’s company. It was a little “non-traditional” to go there instead of some nice, higher-end restaurant, but I’m so glad everyone was willing to try something new. After that, my parents, godparents, and I headed down to Holland to check out the Tulip Festival. We had some photo shoots, shared a ton of laughs, and left when it started to sprinkle.

    The night – ideal. I went out with my sister to Z’s and met up with some of my all-time favorite people. My parents came out! We headed over to The B.O.B and I got to introduce my parents to the people they’ve been hearing stories about for five years. I can’t describe it but it was just such a good night. Everyone was in a good mood. There wasn’t any drama. I got to catch up with friends from GVSU/former students/friends from the past/etc. I just felt like I was surrounded by amazing, caring, positive people the whole night. Who wouldn’t love that?!? 

    The night ended with three of my friends walking me back to my hotel so I wouldn’t have to walk home by myself. I didn’t even having to ask them! Gentlemen. I like that they look out for me so I thanked them by bringing them to the concierge level for cookies – but the cookies were gone 😦 We caused mild trouble before calling it a night – a good wind down from the excitement of the evening!

    Sunday morning came extremely early but we (family) packed up our things and headed to Mars for church. Rob spoke and, as usual, I loved the message. The whole point centered around repentance in the literal translation – seeing something in a new light/redefining your thinking/etc. Afterwards, we went out to breakfast.

    Side note: Grand Rapids hosts the best breakfast joints – PERIOD. I think you may think you know of a better breakfast restaurant in particular, but Grand Rapids has to beat yours out; the entire city is populated with them. Restaurant chains, be damned – GRap offers unique cafes and restaurants on nearly every corner!

    Following breakfast, (my apologies if this is starting to drag – I did a LOT this weekend and although it’s all worth mentioning, I’ve just lived it!) my family headed home and I headed back to Allendale to pick up a friend for our road trip to the east side to celebrate the birth of our mutual friend. Let me tell you – I love road trips and the insights you gain when on them. I also love spontaneous decisions, such as this was, that throw people together with not much more than an idea of how the trip will go. It holds some sort of promise that you don’t get when every detail is planned.

    When we arrived, we headed out to play some disc golf. I’m terrible. Atrocious. But I gained a new disc from a new friend to use for practicing. He got it for free so he didn’t mind passing it off. It’s now spending time in my trunk so that whenever anyone wants to play, I’m ready! (That thought will lead into Part II which will follow this blog, so enough about that now). During our game, it started downpouring. Unfortunately, we did end up with one phone casualty but it was a blast to play through the storm. We came back drenched to the bone and had to scrambled around for clothes before heading to a friend’s house to watch the Red Wings game. The birthday boy’s friend provided food, a pool table, darts, and ping-pong. We also met up with some of the people we had disc’ed with earlier and were introduced to some new friends. We eventually called it a night at a decent hour (though not too soon to feel short-changed). I dare say it was one of the most enjoyable “birthday parties” I’ve been to in quite some time.

     And that was my weekend. Fast forward to now and you’ve really only missed a lunch and a road trip back in terms of location changes. But I’ve started to gather ideas for a new project – to be continued in Part II…