In a recent blog post, I made a statement about people. How my trip and reflection about life and love and the world helped me “realize the importance of relationships and people, and connections I’ve made in only a few years. The people I need in this crazy life, and the people I should be spending more time with.”

I’ve always thought a lot about people- their life stories, where they’ve come from and where they are now, what they’ve experienced and been through, their personalities, why they are the way they are, and how they’ve overcome certain things or are still fighting to get over. Their attitudes and ability to see the positive despite the negative; the desire I have to be one of those people all the time- or that others see me that way at least. How you never know what others’ have been through – whether it’s someone you’re sitting next to at a restaurant or on a plane, walking down the street, or the co-worker sitting next to you in that meeting.

And too often, we’re so quick to judge. Judge when we know nothing. Judge when we’ve experienced something we don’t agree with. Judge to make ourselves feel better, to make ourselves feel more superior. I’ve done it, probably more times than I care to admit, and for that, I feel a sense of guilt. (Even though I know for certain I’ve been judged, too.) Either way – I’m sorry to anyone I’ve ever judged, anyone I’ve ever pretended to know when I had no idea what you were dealing with, anyone I’ve ever used as a means to make myself feel better. And thank you – thank you to the people who have made me who I am, helped shape me, taught me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, made me realize the type of person I want (or don’t want) to be, given me your time and energy when maybe I didn’t deserve it but probably needed it the most, for sharing your life stories and experiences, for being there.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today. “We all bleed the same. We’re more beautiful when we come together. We all bleed the same. So tell me why, tell me why we’re divided. If we’re gonna fight, Let’s fight for each other. If we’re gonna shout, Let love be the cry. Tell me, who are we. To judge someone, By the kind of clothes they’re wearing, Or the color of their skin? Aren’t we all the same inside? Only love can drive out all the darkness. What are we fighting for? We were made to carry one another. We were made for more.” 

So with that, let’s just say I like people. People make life worth living. And the older I get, the more I realize who my people are- the ones worth fighting for, the ones who fight for me, the new ones I meet that quickly become family, the ones who have never left. And this makes my heart so incredibly full.

[PS. I realize it’s been 8ish months since my last post, but whoa, LIFE. Life happened. More to come later…]

9 years ago, today.

It’s been 9 years. 9 years since Grandma passed away. She loved Scrabble, and doing puzzles, playing card games, and coloring. To this day, my obsession with puzzle season (aka: winter in Michigan) and my love for the whole “adult coloring” trend can be attributed to her. I miss her every day; we all do.

I still remember when it happened – April 2, 2008. I just had knee surgery that winter, going through PT and struggling with the inability to work out or play volleyball, at my heaviest weight ever, going through the emotions of her cancer (and finding out at the same time that my other Grandma had breast cancer – to which she’s a survivor!). I remember bawling, daily – curled up in my bed in a knee brace, wishing I could have just one more day. One more day with her. Regretting not spending more time with her.

Funny that today I spent crying too – but over what? Not over losing someone else in my life, but the feeling of losing myself a little bit. Who am I? Why are the highs so high, but the lows so incredibly low? What am I searching for? What am I missing? Why do I feel so lonely? Why can’t I stop comparing? Why do I feel like I should be “farther along” in life? 

I think about Grandma today – about her strength, her dignity, her honesty, her abundant love, her laugh. Gosh, that laugh. Walking into my grandparents’ house – a jar full of pistachios on the counter (always!), seeing her sitting in “her chair”, greeting us with THE BEST bear hug ever, trying to get us to eat everything in the kitchen. There was nothing like it. Nothing like the feeling you got when you saw her, hugged her, talked to her, received handwritten snail mail from her, got your butt kicked by her in Scrabble or card games.

Speaking of handwritten notes… my grandparents used to visit Ireland a couple times a year. After she passed, we used her [handwritten] journal that documented some of their trips to plan a 2-week Europe vacation of our own in June of 2012. We stayed where she stayed, ate where she ate, laughed at the comments she made about rude waitresses or less-than-impressive hotels (we avoided staying at those ones). We first visited London for a few days, then flew to Dublin to adventure around the country for 1.5 weeks, visiting her family that still lives there and meeting locals with adorable accents. Each day we made our way to another hotel that was awaiting our arrival, and on the second-t0-last night there, a castle was our home. It was beautiful, and it was emotional; we lived her adventures with my Grandpa, but also made our own memories – all of which kept me holding on to her. That felt like the closest I could get.

Back to today – and how my self-doubts and comparison mean nothing, how I need to stop worrying and live in the moment, be happy with myself and where life has taken me. How would she have handled this? If I would have called her today, what would she have told me? “You’re beautiful; you have gone so far and accomplished so much; you have your whole life ahead of you; you have the biggest heart; Grandpa and I are so proud of you; you’ll do great with anything you set your mind to; we love you more than you know.” 

So, when I call Grandpa, and his standard phone response is “my, you’re looking even more beautiful today” (like it always is) – that’ll do and that serves as a solid reminder of her, every time! These days, he’s always the closest I can and want to get- and I wouldn’t have it any other way. <3

Ireland, 2012

my life is my life.

“I hope you aren’t held back because of a number. And that you don’t rush into things because it feels like time is slipping by. I hope you do what’s right for you. Hold on. Slow down. And breathe in. Your age is your age. But more importantly, your life is your life. Don’t change your journey so that it matches someone else’s. We need to walk different paths so the whole world can be explored. Revel in the differences. And enjoy where you are, in this moment.” 

Too often I find myself saying, “But I’m almost 29…” or feeling like I should be doing this, doing that, or at a specific point in my life – a specific point in which I’m not. Family get-togethers are constant reminders that I’m 28, not married and without children, like some of my younger cousins. Being the oldest of 10 grandchildren on my mom’s side, Grandma telling me I’m next, and uncles questioning how I met the current arm candy. A lot of pressure to be where they are, or have already been there, but I’m not yet.

Those reminders aren’t it though; they aren’t the only things that make me think I’m “behind” sometimes. Baby showers, engagement parties, 30+ weddings in the past 7 years, cute little family cards from some of my best friends. I think about it on my own, all the time. Believe me; I thought life would have taken me down that path years and years ago, but it didn’t. So, I found myself rushing through life, jumping into relationships too fast, thinking that all of them were “it”, having baby fever, and too often wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else, sometimes being someone else. Completely forgetting that friends who are in that stage sometimes miss girls nights, solo vacations, first dates, a full nights’ sleep, to move across the state, to do whatever they want whenever they want – the things I’ve had the pleasure of doing for the last however-many years.

Don’t get me wrong; I crave the days I can wear a shirt that says “WIFEY” and go on trips with my husband and best friend, wake up with a 2-year old loving on me, book family photo sessions to send adorable Christmas cards of my family, cheer super loud at my kids’ sporting events, and finally use a majority of the ideas I’ve pinned on Pinterest. (Thankfully, I’m able to use all of the FOR THE HOME pins now.) But my life is my life. And I’m beyond thankful for the path that it has taken me so far – even though it’s different than expected and originally “planned” (word of advice: don’t try to plan life, it rarely works).

My journey didn’t involve marrying my high school sweetheart or knowing exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up (not that either of those are bad things!). Instead, I zigzagged through life, winding up and down so many different paths – good ones, wrong ones, life-changing ones, scary ones, new ones. I dated entirely too many people, worrying about who would be the one, and sometimes wishing I would’ve embraced the single life more. I moved across the state both for a long-distance relationship and for a new job (which in hindsight was a great decision!) I left a couple jobs after just over a year, hoping a new opportunity would bring me a little more satisfaction. I traveled to 3 new places in 2015 and 5 new places in 2016 – for work trips, to visit friends, to explore new places, to help me realize this world is much, much bigger than I. I moved back to West Michigan and purchased a home in an attempt to “catch up” to everyone so far ahead of me in life.

And here I am now – not 29 yet!, a single homeowner, with another good job, still no kids, but an extremely grateful attitude about where life has taken me so far. I’ve learned more about myself in the last few years than I ever imagined I would, and I can honestly say (despite a few moments of weakness or times I’m ready for what’s “next” in life), I’m truly enjoying where I am, in this moment. Holding on, slowing down, and breathing in.

my newest relationship.

I moved back to Grand Rapids from Ann Arbor in May, a little sad about leaving my job at the time but anxious to be closer to family again. I started a new job in May. I ended a relationship in early July. I bought a house in mid-July, and I’m literally dating my house. It’s stealing all of my money, time, and energy (along with my parents’) – and I also stole that analogy from my brother, who bought a little over a year ago. I laughed when he first said it, and now I TOTALLY understand.

“It’s an investment; it’s an investment, it’s an investment…” Keep telling myself that.

It’s now December, and with MANY thanks to my parents, we’ve successfully updated approximately 85-90% of the house – yes, in 5 months. Five months, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, learning to make immediate decisions, having multiple half-finished rooms, non-stop cleaning up dust, celebrating over finished projects. Bonding time with the fam has been worth the sweat, deteriorating bank account, increased stress, and unexpected 7am visits with a kitchen floor sander when you’re hungover like you haven’t been in 6 years.

Totally worth it, they say. But for real. The new carpet and wood floors in all rooms, 4 hours spent tearing off wallpaper, repainting the trim and walls in every room on all 3 floors, renovated kitchen, stained deck and fences and front porch, raking 18 bags of leaves 3 times, re-built front porch, automatic garage door installed, new gutters, new doors, new master bedroom and living room and office and guest bedroom furniture, cleaning and organizing the garage, using a lawn mower for the first time, dealing with a leak in the basement and spending an unexpected $6,000 to get a sump pump installed (after re-painting the entire basement), new interior and exterior light fixtures, removing the sliding glass door from the bathtub, adding a mud room!!!!

Not a bad relationship to be in. And as my brother says, the best part: you get your money back someday 🙂 #fingerscrossed

oh, the places i’ve been.

“You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. Act accordingly.”

I’m a bit late reflecting on yet another trip – NYC earlier this month was exactly what I needed. A solo, delayed flight to test my patience and provide way too much people-watching for anyone’s good. A visit with 2 close college friends. Sight-seeing and excessive picture taking, including the purchase of an extremely overpriced selfie stick. Good food, new scenery, beautiful fall weather.

Walking 16 miles in ONE DAY being an obvious tourist – taking the train along the Hudson River from Croton-on-Hudson to Union Station, winding throughout the city to check out Times Square, Bryant Park, Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, and eventually Central Park. Heading through Chelsea to walk the High Line and stop at Chelsea Market. Passing through Greenwich Village and Tribeca, eventually making our way to the World Trade Center Memorial and 9/11 Tribute Center. Walking along the Hudson River down to Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty, making our way to Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, and the Charging Bull, then crossing half of the Brooklyn Bridge. Taking the Subway back into the city, eating sushi, and almost falling asleep on the train back to Croton-on-Hudson. Spent my last full day in the city again – cheering on the New York Marathon runners, Bloody Mary’s and pizza, McGees Pub (yes, from How I Met Your Mother!), Times Square at night – definitely a more relaxing, let’s-not-walk-anymore kind of day 🙂

All of that leads me to thinking about all the travel I’ve done in 2016 – whether for work or personal – being a first-timer at all of them. Las Vegas in January. Austin in March. South Carolina in April. Lake Tahoe in September. New York in November. What a year!

New York City, 2016

slowing down.

Almost a month later, and I’m finally back…

Where did the last month go? It was filled with house projects, happy hours, too much driving, 2 nights of volleyball each week, baby showers, dinner dates, family time, trips up north, engagement and anniversary celebrations, spending too much money, gym trips and work out classes, packing and unpacking, yard work, tears, tailgating and football games, mentoring, appointments, staining the deck and renovating the kitchen, the last wedding of the season, checking out new breweries, church, laughing, and taking pictures. It was full of fun and exciting things, but I spent entirely too much time rushing from one thing to the next, updating my calendar to try and fit in everything, trying to be “present” everywhere and with everyone and doing everything.

It wasn’t filled enough with relaxing or reading or taking baths or lighting candles or deep conversations with friends. There wasn’t much time to try a new recipe on Pinterest, write, design, binge watch an entire series on Netflix, have a craft night; not enough time to unwind or reflect. And now I’m burnt out. The events and the to-do lists will never end. There will also be things to do, places I want to go, people I want to see.

This past weekend was spent at Crystal Mountain, celebrating my grandparents’ 55th anniversary with my extended family. I look forward to those weekends away and that family time more than anything – the euchre playing, the bonding, the laughs, the silly moments I’ll always remember, the food, the little bit of drama that always accompanies 25-30 family members together. The amount of love and honesty all in one place.

Honesty – accompanied with tough love – hit me most this past weekend, though. “Kayla, you need to slow down. Enjoy the little moments, little things, and take time to smell the roses. Stop rushing from one thing to another.”  True. So damn true. At first, I felt defensive. But then I agreed. It’s extremely difficult to be fully present, to really be there, when you’re tired and overwhelmed. Tired of packing and unpacking and always thinking about what’s on your schedule next.

The more I think about it, the more I question not only where the last month went, but where did the last YEAR go?! How long have I been rushing from one thing to the next, trying to fill my schedule to avoid feeling all the things – loneliness, stress, anxiety? Way. Too. Long. Avoiding those feelings also turns into avoiding true feelings of happiness, satisfaction, love, gratefulness, grace.

And while at Crystal, I remembered and reflected on what this life is really about. It’s about those feelings – the good and the bad and confusing and the hard. Without the sad, how do you feel the happy? It’s about people. Those people who have always been there and will never leave. Those moments of sincere honesty and love – even when tough love. Those laughs after too many drinks at the Lodge bar or while racing each other down the luge track. Those memories of the toast Grandpa made about family, of baby cuddles, falling asleep with headphones because your cousins snore too loud. The silly drama that won’t ever change how we feel or change how we’re just as excited for the next family trip.

But how? How do I slow down? How do I stop planning so much and too far in advance? How do I better say NO to things that won’t help me grow or fulfill me in the right ways? Finding my people and not losing sight of them so easily. Planning less and letting God plan more. Being okay with lazy nights alone on the couch (in moderation of course). Not feeling guilty about skipping a work out to consume extra calories at happy hour with close friends. Determining what my priorities are and truly making those things top of the list (because getting rid of to-do lists and my calendar probably won’t happen anytime soon!)

I pulled over on the way home from up north to take a picture of the color changing leaves. That’s a start, right?

Northern Michigan, 2016


This has been my hashtag since I moved to the east side of Michigan almost 3 years ago, and it continues to carry so much weight. I use it often and on a variety of life events – on 5 moves in less than 3 years, sporting events, checking out new breweries, broken hearts and happy hearts, meeting new friends and coworkers, going new places, starting new jobs, new relationships and lost loves, traveling back and forth across the state and around the country. Because life is an adventure, every step of it. Whether it seems good or bad at the time, I’ve learned so much about myself and grown more than ever in the last few years.

This specific adventure was beautiful (I’ve been trying to make this trip work for a couple years now.) Lake Tahoe is BEAUTIFUL. And I’m so thankful for the connections I made from that move across the state, which have allowed me to experience this place in the way I did. Airport shuttles, beer & water & vitamin water stocked coolers, local tours around the city, being in 2 places at once, vehicles to travel around the lake, lunches and dinners, boat rides, a place to stay at no cost (thank you, @cbctours, we owe you big time).

The world is such a big, beautiful place. And I’m looking forward to experiencing more and more and more. Here’s to #newadventures 🙂 

Lake Tahoe, 2016


So, I finished the book. I can’t begin to explain how perfect the words were and how almost all hit so close to home. (If you haven’t already, go read it now!)

On this trip, I realized the value of slowing down. The good in disconnecting to experience the world around me (although I admit I posted more pictures and checked my phone more than I should have; it’s a slow process.) I realized the importance of relationships and people, and connections I’ve made in only a few years. The people I need in this crazy life, and the people I should be spending more time with.

Reflecting on life, love, my last blog post, and all the adventures and opportunities ahead. I’ve reflected on how I ate entirely too much this vacation and can’t wait to get home and detox.

I thought multiple times a day about how big the world really is. And how I’ve never really felt stuck. Even with the recent purchase of a house and the beginning of a new job, I can go anywhere and I can do anything. So many opportunities in the past, now, and in the future- and for that, I am so incredibly thankful and blessed.

Lake Tahoe, 2016

airplane mode.

It was on a flight across the country that I finally “had time” to start reading Present over Perfect (a recently published book that I’ve yet to finish but already want to re-read.) A book that has me questioning my life and how I got to where I am- both good and bad, places of never-ending adventures, so many friends, a supportive family, a great job, a new house, but also a place of overwhelming doubts, insecurities, and often unhappiness.

Boarding another flight, heading on yet a another vacation, beyond blessed for these adventures and opportunities, for the ability to travel, and experience more than myself. Yet, I’m sometimes dissatisfied. Not always content, reaching for more, moving or leaving in an attempt to find true meaning or something different. Reaching for the right things instead of so many of the wrong ones.

It was in airplane mode, reading a book about saying yes too much, staying busy to numb all the feelings, and asking big questions about what I want out of life, that I disconnected – truly disconnected. I always feel a sense of peace during this time, and the same was true when I vacationed earlier this year to visit a friend in SC.

Why don’t I set down my phone, log off email, stop checking the number of likes on my most recent post, and ignore my iPhone notifications more often? Why don’t I say yes to more me time without feeling guilty? Why don’t I stop wishing I was elsewhere? Why don’t I quit with the nonstop to-do lists, and telling myself I’m too busy for the truly meaningful things in life?

It was in airplane mode that I promised to slow down, to enjoy myself and the people closest to me, and to worry less about the doing and more about feeling. Whether feelings of sadness and doubt or periods of utter joy and happiness, I’m all in.


A blog, huh? I’ve thought about starting one for years, but I’m not very funny and I’m not confident I give the best advice, so I’ve always disregarded the thought of it. But, I think too much and I talk a lot (!!!), so here I am anyways. Telling my story, sharing my thoughts, and reliving my adventures – the crazy ones, the boring ones, the sad ones, and the best ones I’ve ever had.

September already? I’ve been back in Grand Rapids for just shy of 4 months now. In those 4 months… I started a new job, ended a relationship, bought a house, reconnected with old friends, struggled getting back into my gym routine, started attending church again, celebrated new houses & new babies & 8 marriages of close friends and family, dropped a pant size, avoided dating, joined a new volleyball league, cried, laughed, and learned so much about myself.

I’m marking this as a season of fresh starts & new beginnings – blogger, homeowner, single woman, weekly church-goer. I also want to start cooking more, so let’s add that to the list.. a cook, but I didn’t say a good one 🙂