thanksgiving in denver

Scott and I just returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving in Denver! It was bittersweet to be apart from my family in Atlanta, but it was special to spend the holiday with him for the first time and get to meet so many more of his family members and friends.

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Spending Thanksgiving Day together! 11/23/17

We flew from San Francisco to Denver extremely early on Wednesday morning (November 22), and much to my pleasant surprise, had no delays! We met up with Cindy (Scott’s brother’s mother-in-law) at the airport, and Eric and Dave picked the three of us up to head home.

The days that followed were full of lots of Rummikub, Bang, college football, and food! Lori and Dave hosted Thanksgiving at their house for a whopping 14 people—Scott + me, Lori + Dave, Kalley + Eric, Kalley’s mom Cindy, Cate + Justin, Erin + Cesar, Amy + Jim, and Scott’s BFF Jeff. (I’m exhausted just typing all that…I don’t know how Lori does it!)

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My favorite tree cutter!

On Black Friday, I got to participate in the 13-year-old Anderson tradition of going to a national forest to cut down a Christmas tree. Lori and Dave made a big pot of chili and bought permits for the whole group—there must have been 20 of us there to cut down trees and have lunch in Buffalo Creek! While I was hoping for some Colorado snowflakes this trip, it was actually in the 70s most of the time (warmer than San Francisco).

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Ready to cut down the Andersons’ tree! 11/24/17

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We didn’t stay this bundled up for long.

We did a little shopping on Saturday and I got to eat Chick-fil-A for the first time in 6 months. (I was more than a little bit excited.) We ate at an awesome restaurant on Saturday night called Hop Alley. It was so neat to have Scott’s whole family (and everyone’s partners) around the table. And Kalley’s mom joining us was a great addition—she is hilarious and a true extrovert after my own heart!

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The whole crew around the table at Hop Alley! 11/25/17

All in all, I feel so lucky to have a better half whose family is fun, easygoing, and kind to each other. They’re a joy to be around and I can’t wait to ring in the new year in Denver. But before that, we’re joining my family in Florida for Christmas!

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happy friends for a happy life

I mentioned in my last post that over the last year, I discovered who I want in my corner – people who build me up, make me smile when I see their name pop up on my phone, encourage me and support me…that is, the people who make me happy.

These are people like a former boss, a mentor in West Virginia, a really amazing guy in Utah, my grandparents…the list goes on.  Well, it doesn’t go on too much.  That would defeat the point, which is this: working more than 40 hours a week while trying to focus on overall wellness (including prioritizing healthy sleep, eating and exercise habits) makes it hard to keep up with the hundreds of friends I made in college.

While I do thrive in having a large network and keeping in some sort of continued contact with about 100 folks (whether by snail mail, Facebook, text messages or phone calls), that’s not sustainable in everyday life.  The person I call to seek advice on a problem at work, the person I call when I’m walking from my car late at night…those are my people. The ones who make me happiest and the ones I should, therefore, invest the most in.

I’ve always had such a hard time letting friendships and relationships go.  I felt like a failure when in reality, two people just simply grew apart (usually for good reason).

I now know that having peace with letting people go is not admitting defeat or failure.  It’s not saying I don’t care about them or their happiness; it’s just realizing that our relationship might no longer be a part of their (or my) happiness equation.

One of my other goals for 2015 was to be debt-free, and that became a reality today.  Now, I think I’ll call one of my people – my happy friends for a happy life – to share the good news.

a weekend to remember

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about what an amazing weekend I had.  Every single part of every day was wonderful!  I am sharing about it here partially because there may possibly-but-not-likely be someone out there who is interested in hearing about why my weekend rocked so much.  More so, I want to be able to reference this post and remember fondly what a great last full weekend I had as an undergrad at the University of Florida.

Friday

On Friday, one of my best friends, Cameron, turned 21.  Cameron is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met.  We ate dinner at the Swamp restaurant (classic Gainesville) and then went on to the stadium (also known as the Swamp) to watch the sunset.

After that, I went with my friends Blaire and Nicole to see a movie called “The Other Woman.”  Since I don’t have cable and I never go to movies, I rarely know what’s in theaters, but I went on a whim to this one with the girls.  IT WAS THE FUNNIEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME.  I loved it so, so much and want to see it again as soon as possible.  I officially have a girl crush on Leslie Mann.

After that, I met back up with Cam and our friend Joanna and we went line dancing!  We had a great time laughing our butts off attempting to keep up with what seemed like a bar full of professional line dancers.  It was pretty funny because, although I own two pairs of cowboy boots, I wasn’t wearing them this particular night.  So, surrounded by boot-clad girls, I line danced in my gold sandals.

Saturday

On Saturday, I slept in and met up with my friend Blaire for a Publix sub.  I am convinced that the best days always start with Pub subs.

We went on to the pool where we met up with about 10 other Cicerone seniors for a relaxing day of sunshine and daiquiris.  (Our friend Tyler literally brought a blender to the pool. It was 50 percent hilarious and 50 percent genius.)

After the pool, I went home, showered and changed and Drew picked me up for what would be the most random, spontaneous night of adventures.  First we got snow cones; then we snuck into Sam’s Club to sample foods.  Yes, you read that right.  We’re rebels.  Well, Drew is a rebel.  He walked in like he owned the place.  I, meanwhile, went with the “Wait up!” method of chasing after two random strangers and their baby past the card-checker and into the store.

After an underwhelming selection of samples, we went to the La Chua trail to see the wild horses/hogs/alligators and a stunning sunset.  It’s always crazy to me to find places of such open, natural beauty so close to a crowded college campus.

We then went and played beach volleyball which was an event in itself.  We met what might be the weirdest, goofiest kid to exist at the University of Florida.  He dove into the sand on every play and spent time saying things like, “I’m going to grab this sand so hard it’s going to turn into diamonds!”  What time I didn’t spend trying to serve or hit the ball, I spent laughing at this little oddball named Nate.

After that, we went to a late dinner at Outback (another entertaining event–there was plastic in the Bloomin’ Onion) followed by a spontaneous (and incredibly complicated) card game with some friends and watching Pride and Prejudice.  It was my first time to see that movie and holy mackerel did I love it!  My favorite part was, of course, at the end, when he was kissing her and calling her Mrs. Darcy.  Sigh.  So sweet.

Sunday

On Sunday, after a great church service with friends and lunch with my Cicerones executive board replacement, Cynthia, I went to play a modified game of backyard softball with friends.  It was called sloshball, and it involved drinking beer while you play.  I partook in the softball but not the excessive beer drinking; 2 p.m. on a Sunday just isn’t really my ideal time for that.

Afterward, I baked chocolate chip cookies and went to our Cicerones Bible Conversation, which had a record turnout!  It has been so cool to see this group grow from 3-5 people meeting sporadically to a group of more than 30 people gathered to discuss the Bible and share life together.  I feel so confident leaving the organization I love so much in the hands of the new leaders that are stepping up.

After Bible Conversation, a Cicerone named Avery and I went to the Black Community Awards.  Several of our friends were nominated for awards, and we went to support them.  It wound up being one of the most entertaining events ever.  Between seeing our friends on stage, laughing about various A/V problems and taking in an array of performances (including a rapper named “Bandz” who had two hype men on the stage with him), we had a fabulous time.  I sat right between my friends Reggie and Brianna, and that seat is one I would choose again and again for every show I ever go to!

Avery and I went for a spontaneous milkshake after the event was over.  We had what turned out to be such a memorable conversation as we sipped on our shakes.  One of the things I like about Avery is that he’s able to have such a good time and be so goofy and confident (we were changing the lyrics to “A Whole New World” and singing them out loud as we ordered in Baskin Robbins) but then shift into a serious, far-below-surface-level conversation.  I am someone who thrives in the balance of these two dynamics, and it was special to find someone else who can switch so easily between the two.

One of the things Avery and I wound up talking about was our mutual love for Cameron (see Friday night’s birthday festivities).  This, of course, led us to going over to Cam’s place to see him.

I scooted Avery home and then found myself thinking about how much I’m going to miss the people I’ve become close with during senior year, one of whom is leaving today.  Before I knew it, I was outside Leah’s door waiting for her to let me in!

We had a great late-night chat, discussing the summer she’s about to spend in the Middle East and our uncertainty about the future.  We also decided that the skirt I was wearing, which is long enough for her to wear in Qatar, would become a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt.”

At last, around 1 in the morning, I went home and slept blissfully with my fan on full blast.

I am so thankful for this place and the friendships I have formed here.  To say I had a stellar weekend is an understatement.