The boy in the blue shirt

It was in 2011 that I first met Evan. I met him in the driveway of my childhood home. I remember it well, because while the four of us (my friend Julie and I, and Evan and his friend Steve) were going out for the night to meet up with other friends, I was supposed to like Steve. Imagine a world, where you’re supposed to like someone? I wish I could go back then and kick myself for allowing myself to feel like I had to do anything to please anyone else. Anyway…

I remember Evan because I thought he was cute right away. His shirt though, it was bright blue and two sizes too large. I knew he knew that too because the arms were rolled up and he kept tugging at it. He didn’t like it either, our first agreement was within seconds.

We went out that night and met a few other friends at Ladder 133 in Providence. I drove us all, in the cute little blue Audi I had, and it turned out to be a great night. We laughed all night. But the person I was focused on was Evan. He made me laugh the most. It would be the first, and last, night that I saw Evan for three years. I hung out with that same crowd of people we were mutual friends with, but we always missed each other. Whenever I was there, he wasn’t, whenever he was there, I wasn’t. Eventually, the boy in the blue shirt slipped out of my mind, after all … he was never supposed to be in my mind to begin with, or was he?

Three years later, I had recently moved to Boston. I was shopping after work one day, looking for the perfect throwback outfit to wear to a theme party I was going to that weekend. I had never been shopping where I was that day, and usually just went for a run or walked Cooper after work. But not that day, that day I went over to the BU area, and shopped around longer than I expected to. I was ready to head back home. I walked over to the MBTA train (the ‘T’), and waited for the next green line to take me back to my Cleveland Circle apartment. It came quickly, but was jam-packed with people heading home after work. I was deciding which car to get into, but they were both equally packed, I just picked one. I went up the stairs to the standing-room-only T, and found myself face-to-face with Evan Matzell.

He looked different but the same. He was wearing a light jacket this time. It fit. It looked great. He looked great. We talked the whole train ride. As people got off at each stop, seats opened up, but we just stayed there, face-to-face, talking. We talked all the way up until it was his stop. But it was also my stop. We learned that we lived within two blocks of each other. A week or two later, Evan and I went out on our first date. We quickly went on our second, then our third, then I met his mom, and then it was my birthday and he met my whole family. We quickly became a huge part of each others lives and neither of us wanted to slow down.

Over three years later, I still don’t want to slow down. I’ve never felt so right with someone, so at home. Who would’ve known, all these years later, that I’d be marrying that boy I met in my driveway. Life is funny that way. You never know when it’s going to zigzag and take you through a journey you wouldn’t have imagined. You have to trust your journey. I am so grateful that I’ll never go three years without seeing Evan Matzell again. My journey and his journey are now one, and I’m so excited for where it will take us.

Friday finds

I found this mask on Amazon for $19, and love it! In the past, I have always bought the masks that come with the thin sheet that you put over your face and let it sit. I still like those, but was looking for a mask that just goes on almost like a lotion. This is it! You rub this onto your face until the gel turns white, which happens fairly quickly. There isn’t any burn feeling, it is good for sensitive skin. In fact, it is so gentle that you can use it several times a week. You leave it on for one minute, and then rinse off. It helps your skin to feel smooth, gives you a glow, and detoxifies for healthier looking skin. I’ve used this several times now, I’m trying, at the very least, to participate in #MaskMondays. I love the way this mask leaves my skin feeling!

Ireland

If you know me, you know I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I have been to Ireland a handful of times now, and each time I say “okay, this is the last time for awhile, I need to explore other places.” But, I keep going back. Maybe it’s the beautiful countryside, maybe it’s the friendly locals, it could definitely be the peat fires, or the cozy bars playing traditional Irish music, it could even be the brown bread (which I never liked until this most recent trip!). I think though, it’s how I feel when I’m there. I’m not sure if my body knows that it’s where my roots stemmed, but it certainly knows I’m home when I’m there.

Evan and I went back, for our second trip together this past June. I am ashamed that I am just getting to write about it now, but I have been so busy and honestly, overwhelmed, since we returned, which I’ll get to later.

We flew into Dublin, rented a car, and drove around the beautiful country for six days. Flying from Boston, you arrive at 8am their time, and I don’t sleep on planes. That first day is always difficult but you have to push on through or else you won’t get on their time.

DAY ONE

We arrived in Dublin, and went straight to brunch at The Bakehouse in Dublin, which was recommended to me by my best, Rachel. It was delicious. We had a longgg day ahead of us, so from there we got in our rental car (which Evan drove the whole week, God Bless him), and headed three hours across the country to Galway. Looking back, this was unsafe. It was literally difficult to keep my eyes open during this drive, I don’t know how Evan did it.

Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel, The House Hotel, which was lovely and extremely central. We went to dinner that night to arguably the best fish and chips restaurant in the country, McDonagh’s. We both got fish and chips, obviously, and Galway Hookers (it’s a beer, thank you very much). From there, we went to Tig Choili for a pint of Guinness and a traditional music session.

DAY TWO

The next morning, we woke up refreshed. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Evan and I got up, and headed down the street to the cutest cafe, Coffeewerk+Press. I loved their “take-away” cups. (Side note: I always feel like we wake up too early in Europe. We’re always the first ones out on the street, at 9am! That’s not even early and makes me feel extremely American.)

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and go somewhere neither of us had been. We took a one-hour ferry over to Aran Island. It is a beautiful, small island right off of Galway. We rented bicycles to get around the island, and stopped at the beach and saw a dozen seals right on the beach! The bike ride was truly breathtaking.

We had heard that there were cliffs on the islands, similar to the Cliffs of Moher, but rockier. We headed toward the cliffs. It was quite a hike up the cliff, but when you got to the top, it was so worth it. Evan and I found a secluded area, and took a picture together with the ocean and the cliffs in the background. When I turned back around, Evan was down on one knee.

This was the moment. It was our moment. And I, of course, said yes. Forever yes.

I can hardly remember the rest of the day on Aran Island. We didn’t stay much longer, actually.

We took the ferry back to Galway in the afternoon, and made a few phones calls to loved ones. We went out for a celebratory dinner that night. Irish food wasn’t in my mind for celebrating our engagement. I needed champagne and I needed it fast. We walked down the streets of Galway, and stumbled across a French restaurant called Rouge, which looked promising. It was delicious, and perfect! Afterwards, we went to Taaffes for a pint, after all, we were still in Ireland.

DAY THREE

The next morning, we drove three hours down to Killarney, one of my favorite areas of Ireland.

We stayed at The International Hotel, which is the same place we had stayed before and I really like it there! It is also very centrally located. I had scheduled us a couples massage at Muckross Spa, and it was amazing. We got there early to use the vitality room, pool, and lounge area they have, then we got a couples massage and facials. We then got to relax with champagne and chocolates. It was lovely, and just what we needed after all of the traveling we had been doing. An afternoon of relaxation that I would absolutely recommend.

Afterwards, we freshened up and went out to dinner at Cronins. I was in my element at Cronins and had the most delicious brown bread, the best shepherd’s pie (ever), and a Bulmers Irish cider.

DAY FOUR 

Day four, we woke up and drove an hour to Dingle. Dingle is one of my favorite places in the world, it is just that beautiful. The drive to Dingle is amazing with the rolling green hills. In Dingle, we took a boat out and saw Fungi, the Dingle dolphin. It was my first time ever going out to see him, and we saw him a lot! He was everywhere! Afterwards, we went to lunch and walked around the town. We also got ice cream at Murphys Ice Cream, which is handmade in Dingle. I got Dingle sea salt. It started pouring out, so we headed back to Killarney for dinner.

DAY FIVE

This was our last day in Killarney, and we did the Killarney Falconry. It was SO cool. We got to walk around with a hunting falcon, and hang out with three of the coolest owls. I love owls and this was really just an amazing activity that I would do ten times over again.

Afterwards, we drove almost four hours back to our original, and final, destination: Dublin. We checked into our hotel, Clontarf Castle Hotel, which was incredible. It is just about 20 minutes outside of Dublin city centre, but so. worth. it. It’s an actual castle, and they treat you like royalty. Next time I am back in Dublin, I will be staying here again.

That night, we met my family at Arlington Hotel for dinner and a show of traditional Irish music and dance. It was so great to see them and have Evan meet some of my family who still lives over in Ireland.

DAY SIX

This was it, our last day. The next morning we would head to the airport and go back home to start our new lives together.

Our last day in Ireland, we spent exploring Dublin. We walked through Trinity College, Temple Bar, St. Stevens Green, and Grafton Street. We stopped to get cheeseburgers at Bunsen Burger, mmmm. Then, we walked over to the Guinness Factory, which neither of us had ever been to before. It was great, we went through the whole tour, and got to pour our own Guinness’s. It really is worth it.

This past trip to Ireland was a dream, and I brought home the best souvenir, a fiancé. I swear, this will be our last trip to Ireland for a while … maybe …

Happy birthday Louie

I’m unsure why Google isn’t celebrating by replacing their letters with handbags, BUT today is, in fact, Louis Vuitton’s 196th birthday.

Who was Vuitton and how did he change fashion forever? This household name today, had a very different beginning than what you think of this luxury brand to be. Vuitton began his career as a poor and uneducated child, with few options.

His mother and father both died when Vuitton was 10. At the age of 13, he left home in eastern France, alone and on foot, bound for Paris. He walked 292-miles for more than two years, taking jobs to feed himself along the way and staying wherever he could find shelter.

In Paris, he became a boxmaker. During the Industrial Revolution, box-making was a highly respectable craft. In a market that only had rounded tops on their trunks, Vuitton introduced rectangular shaped trunks. Imagine, just making one small change, changed the world of fashion?

The  Empress of France, Eugenie de Montijo, loved this new design and hired Vuitton as her personal box maker. She complimented his work by saying he packed the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way. De Montijo provided Vuitton with a gateway to other elite clients who provided him with work for the rest of his career. Vuitton continued working until his death at the age of 70.

The next time you purchase a brand new Louis Vuitton and smell that warm scent of leather, think of Vuitton, and all of the dedication that he put in through his entire life for you to be holding that bag. Think also that you, too, could someday make one small change, that changes the world as we know it.

Cheers, to my favorite Frenchman!

Friday finds

Happy Friday! We made it through another week. This one seemed to fly by, TBH.

I’m starting a new series called “Friday finds.” It’s going to be anything new to me, that I am excited about and I am starting with this new candy I found. These ‘Squrtz’ are made by CVS’ brand (yep, that’s right), gold emblem.

Evan and I discovered these, and I swear the squrtz sales in Massachusetts have doubled in the past month (CVS, if you’re wondering, it’s all just one customer). If you try them, soon enough you will also be addicted. I’m not sure how long this candy has been sitting on the shelf being overlooked, but not anymore. They’re seriously GOOD.

I’ll take a summer hiatus with a side of change, plz

As you may or may not have noticed, I accidentally took a hiatus from writing. Whenever this happens, I start to get antsy about writing again, because it is truly my outlet. A lot happens each summer, but especially this summer – it has been a major time of change in my life. Pretttty much everything changed, actually — most of which I plan to catch you up on.

But first I want to just talk about change for a minute, because I’ve experienced a lot of it lately and it can really be overwhelming. I am pretty accepting of change. I hate to feel stagnant, so I urge change quite frequently.

Over the course of your life, you will change, change and change again. But, it is important to remember that no matter what change comes about, you have the power to walk away if it does not suit you. Never allow yourself to be in the passenger seat of your journey. It is yours, remain an active participant. It is kind to please others but never in the dispense of yourself.

I urge you that when you are going through change, to look at who you are, and where you want to go. Ask yourself if the change in your life supports your core values, your vision for your future, and also your wellbeing. And if there is any doubt in your mind that what has just come along will hurt who you are in any way, it is completely fair to stand up and respectfully walk away.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Brené Brown

Rules to live by

Life is challenging in so many ways. I think of myself as rather optimistic going through life, but it’s still not easy. I see it every day — people who just aren’t happy. And it breaks my heart because whatever they’re dwelling on, LET IT GO. Don’t think about things that make you unhappy, don’t DO things you hate, and STOP going through life like it’s not YOUR OWN.

Thinking about that, I came up with some ways that I live my life. Here are some of the “guidelines” that I live by:

  1. Treat yourself very well. I don’t rely on anyone to make me happy, besides me. I try to cover all the fields: my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I’m good to myself and I try to do all things in moderation. I’ll eat ice cream one day, and then go for a run the next. I’ll buy myself a massage every-so-often. If I’m feeling in a funk, I’ll take a vacation day and have a “me” day. If I want something I’ll go light on spending the month before, and then buy it for myself. As they say, life is about moderation, and it’s true. Through life, be sure to take good care of yourself. If you don’t, it will come out in ways you don’t want it to – you’ll act negatively to your loved ones and through your work and then it’s a revolving cycle that you don’t want to be in. Treat yourself well.
  2. Be specific in asking for what you want out of your life. This is funny and I just learned it in the last 4-5 years. If you want something in life — to reach a goal, get a new job, change a B+ to an A-, improve a skill — find someone close to whatever it is and ask them for advice. Important: Don’t ask for it to be handed to you. Just ask for advice. And they very likely will help you way more than you imagined. The hard part is still on you, because you need to first figure out exactly what you want before asking. If you don’t know exactly what you want, the passion won’t be there and you’ll sound needy. No one likes a needy-someone. But everyone likes a determined-someone. Be that someone.*
  3. Don’t hurt others, even if they deserve it. Some people truly suck. Truly. If and when you think about being vengeful, just remember that we’re all human. Human isn’t a very easy thing to be for all of us. Some days are really bad, and for some people, you just never know how deeply wounded they can be from something else in their life, that in turn made them hurt you. Realize that life is hard enough, and you get out what you put in. People will have their own challenges — always. They don’t need you to add to them. Take your energy and put it into something else. Don’t waste it on bad people.
  4. Say thank you for your blessings before seeking what else you need. This is so important. Pretty much on a daily basis I say — out loud — “thank you for my blessings.” I feel like the luckiest person in the world, but I’m really not anymore than the next person. I just choose to look at all of the positives in my life, before looking at what I could have or do. I went to a Catholic high school, and I remember in faith class one day we were tasked with writing down our prayers and then asked to share them. People asked for health, wealth, stress-free days, solutions to drama, etc. I was the only one whose prayer was of thanks. I had listed all of my blessings and was simply saying thank you for them. I recall being so surprised to find that this wasn’t how others started their prayers. But to this day, I say aloud how thankful I am for everyone and everything I have in my life.
  5. Build your foundation and don’t let anyone touch it. Everything in life needs a solid foundation for it to be durable — your career, a new house, a relationship and your being. All of your experiences, successes and failures have led you to exactly where you are right now. Whether you like it or not, you have built your foundation. The important piece is making it strong, and making it true to you, and only you. It is very important to know who you are at your core. I have a solid knowledge of who I am, no matter the circumstances in my life (I think this is why I am so stubborn, lol). But seriously — I know who I am, and no matter what happens in my life, I have that, and that ensures me that I will always be okay.
  6. Be there. The people who you love, the ones who you call friends and family, they matter more than anything. If they need you, be there. The only thing I would ever regret in my life is letting down someone I love.

*Some extra motivation to get you to the weekend:

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”