Circling back around to this space.

It seems every year around January or February, when the snows come and life slows down a bit, I'm drawn back into this space. And every year, I hope that as the weather warms up and the sun stays out longer into the evenings, that I'll still be drawn back here. Maybe this is the year, maybe it's not. I've decided that life is cyclical and I'm okay with that. So while I have the time, I'd like to fill this space. Realistically, I may not be writing in here too often as Adrian and I have made some major changes that impact the time I have to write and create.

For starters, we moved to Maine back in July. We had been mentally planning the move for quite some time. We always said that once (if) Adrian was granted permanent residency, that we wanted to move to Maine to be closer to my family. I had never intended to stay in Chicago for the long term, though year after year, it started to feel like maybe I should revisit that notion. Chicago felt more and more like home, but ultimately we decided that we'd like to be with my family for a few years and re-evaluate after that.

We set a timeline of working towards moving in June of 2016. At the time, June 2016 felt so abstract that the possibility of having to say goodbye and start again somewhere else barely even registered. But we soon found ourselves in the throes of "this is the last time we'll do this..." and "we should get back here one last time...". The school year moved quickly and we found ourselves packing boxes and planning goodbyes.

Coming home to family lightened the sting of goodbye. While we drove away from Chicago and loved ones and friends and careers, we were also driving to Maine and family and the ocean and new opportunities. We were in this odd middle place of sadness mixed with excitement mixed with fears. Undoubtedly, leaving our communities in Chicago was difficult. Six months later, I still miss the evenings in our apartment spent with friends and the sleepovers with our nephews and the sounds of our neighborhood. I miss the street vendors and the music and buses and run-ins with old students.

When we moved, I decided I'd give myself six months to settle in to life in Maine. And I'd give myself the space to adjust and forgive myself if I wasn't the best friend, daughter, sister, aunt, wife because transitions are hard and I would give anyone else that space, too. During those six months, I focused on finding a job, studying for the LSATs, applying to law school, getting into law school (!!), and figuring out how I fit in here.

Because I'll be going back to school and also because my parents are wonderful people, Adrian and I have moved in with them, into the home I grew up in. Inevitably, it's taken some adjusting. These six months have given me a chance to just be with my mom. We spend Saturdays together running errands and evenings during the week eating dinner and chatting. I don't have to rush back to an airport and I am so appreciative of that. My dad has no sense of personal space but I can't even complain much about it. We laid in bed with Alexia watching Charlotte's Web the other night and I wouldn't have changed anything.

Adrian graciously offered to make dinner for my grandparents in their home once a week. To have been away for them so long and to be back with them now is something I value to no end. We eat, we look at pictures and they tell us stories of when they were younger. I am fortunate to have my grandparents and I absolutely cherish the time I get to spend with them each week.

In addition to all this, I work with my sister. On the same floor. I see her multiple times a day and when she's not in the office, I call her on the phone to talk about work. We eat lunch together and decompress. If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be so thrilled to be with Erin every day, I'd have laughed. My aunt used to tell us that eventually we'd become friends and I am glad that she was right. Erin was on a work trip the last few weeks and it was so odd to not see her daily. I am glad that being together is my new normal.

And Alexia. How do I even begin? She comes in my room, tries on my heels, plays with my makeup and snuggles up to watch our favorite movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's. She knows the beginning lines by heart and loves the opening song. And better than that, she knows about Frida Kahlo, too. She dressed as her for Halloween. Not a princess, but Frida Kahlo. Alexia is smart and imaginative and sassy and far too spoiled. But at just three years old, she is one of my best companions. I am honored to be such a big part of her life and to share these formative years together. She is this incredible little sponge who observes everything, processes it through her own lens and makes these connections that astound me. Seeing her grow and change and become so perfectly herself, it gives me life.

Despite all this wonderful good, there are most certainly parts of my old life that I miss. Namely, the quiet. I miss having an apartment to myself where I could read or write or create photographs alone without interruption. I think eventually, as I continue to work out who I am here and how my life fits into those that were here before, I'll circle back around to this, mostly out of sheer necessity. In Chicago, I'd embraced more of my introverted tendencies and I miss that. There is always somewhere to go and something to do here and I love that my family is everywhere. But it makes it hard to say no and to say yes to just being alone. Once I start law school, I know I will have to spend lots of time alone and I will miss these days of endless freedom with family. So for now, I'm embracing it, knowing that it will inevitably come to an end.

All of this is to say, transitions are tough and good and challenging and beautiful all at once. I am so thankful for everyone's patience and grace as I've worked to settle into this new life. Above all, I am thankful to Adrian who seems to inherently understand the ebbs and flows of life and who never pushes me to move against them. I am appreciative of his kindness, selflessness, and willingness to move to this new place, so far from where he grew up. And I am still awed that somehow he saw me as a lawyer before I could even begin to imagine it for myself. Thank you for giving me the space to figure this out for myself even when you knew it all along. And thank you for making this all seem possible.

Here's to 2017. A year of transitions and opportunities and a hope that's anchored.

You're a Gem: An Animated Galentines Day Brunch Invitation

Now that the invitations have been officially sent out, I am super excited to share them here on the blog!

I love paper invites sent through the mail, but I was running a touch behind and mail service in Chicago isn't always reliable so rather than risk them being lost in the mail, I decided to do e-mail invitations. I've seen Paperless Post and I love the idea of e-mailed cards and invitations that feel more special than e-vites. 

While I found a couple suitable options on Paperless Post, I had too strong a vision of what I wanted on the invitations so I decided to tackle them myself because I am that delicate balance of crazy and challenge-seeking. 

So here's how I did it:

  1. I created the gemstone background by photographing little gemstones on white poster board.
  2. I designed the actual invitation in photoshop, using the gemstones as the background and adding in the text to the right.
  3. I cut a quick envelope liner, glued it in, and then photographed the envelope in various positions: facing up, facing down, and open. I photographed it on white poster board.
  4. In photoshop, I copied the envelope onto the gemstone background and made jpegs for the envelope in each position.
  5. I added the invitation file to these jpegs.
  6. Using this tutorial, I turned these various files into a gif on photoshop.
For the actual invitation e-mail, I slowed down the last frame so that it would stay on screen a bit longer so the recipient would have a chance to read it. I also included the invitation as an attachment just in case they had any trouble with it.

So far the response has been pretty great! This just may become my new go-to invitation style. It's convenient yet still retains that special touch of paper stationery.

To see more of this year's "You're a Gem" Galentine's Day party preparations and to see last year's "Parks and Rec Inspired" party, click here!
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