Changes Come in Waves


February 2018 will be a month for the record books, at least in my little corner of the world. The wave of change is upon me, and it has brought joy, devastation, and the anxiety that comes with both of those extreme emotions.

The month started with accepting a job offer. The moment this offer came to me, I immediately felt elation, which was promptly followed by a slight twinge of guilt. I have worked at a wonderful company for the past three years in Chicago–a company that took a chance on a new girl and truly let me make something special with my position, all the while being able to work with dogs! I am forever grateful to this company and the people there, and I will very much miss working with them. However, I felt the time coming when I could not continue on that path much longer.

In came a dear friend of mine who let me know that her workplace was hiring, and I took a chance by applying. This chance paid off, and I was offered a position very quickly! I am beyond ecstatic to have a position at a company that focuses on helping others while also providing its own employees with positions that help them live a balanced life. I am so incredibly excited to start on this new path, and I am so thankful not only for my friend Emily, but also for all of the people who helped me get to this point, including my most recent employer.

I am such a lucky person to have so many wonderful people and experiences in my life, professionally and personally, and I can’t help but think that the universe was leading me in this direction for a while.

After accepting my new position, another wave of change hit me very hard. My dog, Missy, who I have had since I was fifteen years old, passed away very suddenly the day after my mom arrived to visit me in Chicago. Missy was my true animal soulmate, and we went through so much together. She was with me throughout all of my education (high school, college, and graduate school). She was there when Sam and I got married and moved all across Middle Tennessee and eventually to Illinois. She was the matriarch of a brood of dogs we had at one time, all of whom have now passed away.

Lauren Missy Sam 10 Years

Missy, Sam, and I celebrating her adoptaversary 4 years ago.

Her absence is deeply felt in my life, and nothing will ever replace or repair the hole she left in my heart. I had the privilege of caring for her for over thirteen years in this existence, and she will forever be a part of me. She was truly one of a kind–a special girl who made an impression on everyone she ever met.

Through all of this change–leaving one position, accepting and starting another, losing my beloved furbaby and doggy soulmate–I have been on a true “rollercoaster” of emotions during this second month of 2018. What has been so evident to me throughout the highs and lows, however, is how many fantastic and caring people I have in my life. From the people who gave such glowing referrals to my new company that I teared up listening to their voicemails, to the people who commiserated with me and shared in the grief of Missy’s passing, I have been reminded that I have led a full, fun, and fortunate journey through this world.

Every experience in my life has led me to this moment, and whatever the next wave brings, I am glad to be here, living it with Sam, our kitty Mister, and whatever furry creatures may enter our lives in the years to come. I’m also glad to be living this life with you, whoever you are. May the waves crash gently for both you and me in the times to come.




Before I moved to Chicago, I never really knew what it meant to “wear out” a pair of shoes. Sure, I have had shoes that I thought were too impractical, that I completely ruined through accidents (i.e., dropping an entire can of wood stain on them), or that I grew to dislike the style of, and I eventually parted ways with them. That is not the case anymore.


Two of my favorite pairs of tennis shoes. (If you notice, I do have a favorite brand. I promise this isn’t product placement for New Balance.)


The soles of the shoes are worn flat and have completely disintegrated in some places!


They have holes, so if there is any moisture on the ground, my feet know it.


The holes aren’t confined to just the outside of the shoes either–multiple hurried trips out of the door mean bent heels.


All of my shoes like to have holes in the same places apparently.



The destruction doesn’t stop at tennis shoes–my Sperry’s used to be a go-to as well.


I guess you can say I “walk hard.”

As you can see, I seem to go through a lot of shoes. However, I had the three pairs of shoes shown above for anywhere from 4 to 7 years before moving to Chicago in 2014, and they were in pretty much pristine condition when I first arrived in the city one year and nine months ago.

Since moving to Chicago, Sam and I have sold our car. We use public transportation, our own two feet, and occasionally a taxi if it’s really needed to get around the city. Of course, this makes for a lot more wear and tear on our shoes since we generally walk to get anywhere and everywhere. I treasure this privilege, and I am so happy to be able to explore Chicago in such an intimate way: walking around is so much more personal and connecting than driving.

Also since moving to Chicago, I began working for a dog walking company, Windy City Paws.ย Working there has always been about walking (obviously), and as my role has changed over the year and a half that I have been there, it still is! As Field Supervisor, I shadow all of the company’s walkers on their routes and get to meet all of their dogs, which is really the best job ever. Since I’m out shadowing someone at least three to four days a week (or more), I am on my feet a lot!

My after-work hobbies and activities require lots of walking as well. I spend a few hours per week learning to be a dog trainer through a wonderful partnership that Windy City Paws has with a training facility called Collins Canine. Sam and I also make a point to walk on the Lakefront Trail and downtown river walk as often as possible as well as visit museums, go to the movies, and spend time outdoors with our pup Missy (in ALL weather).

All of this activity is such a drastic change from the way I used to live life: walk 10 feet to the car, drive to work or school, sit down for a few hours, walk 10 feet back to the car, drive home, take out the dogs for about 5 minutes or so. Repeat. It’s no wonder my shoes never really experienced any true wear.

I tend to develop unusual attachments to inanimate objects, locking them in my mind with certain memories and meanings, so these shoes actually represent much more to me than footwear.ย (One of those pair of shoes–the blue and pink checkered sneakers–I wore on my very first trip to Chicago in 2007, in fact, so that is of course why I can never get rid of them no matter how ratty they may become. I’ll stop wearing them, but they’ll be there.) What these shoes represent to me now is a total change of lifestyle and direction. Whereas I used to be, for the most part, sedentary and also seemingly “stuck” in a certain way of life, now I’m active and mobile. Wearing out those shoes meant that I had moved on from something that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore.


New (New Balance, of course) shoes at Lake Michigan.

So now I have a new pair of shoes. I spent more money on them than I usually do (and that I like to do), but I see it as an investment in my lifestyle and my work. And after having this new pair of shoes for a grand total of three days, they have already walked a couple dozen miles and have had their laces chewed on by two different dogs. That’s the existence they’ll have to endure belonging to Lauren, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wouldn’t have it any other way.

11 Years of Adventure


As of today, September 28, 2014, Sam and I have been a couple for eleven (11!) years. It all started with 16-year-old Sam passing a note to 14-year-old me that said, “Will you go out with me?” in the middle of a church service. (Cue “Awws”) Those teenagers had no idea what was ahead of them–good times, bad times, and a lot of crazy fun in between.

Since we are about to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives thus far with our move to Chicago in three (OMG!) days, I wanted to take a look back at all of the adventures we’ve had over our eleven years together.

SamLaurenAwards 2004

Young Sam and Lauren in 2004. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gatlinburg 2006

Gatlinburg, TN June 2006

Wedding 2007

Married in Pigeon Forge, TN, June 2007

Ken Lake 2007

Fishing in Kentucky Lake, September 2007

Chicago 2007

First trip to Chicago in 2007–when our love affair with the city began. ๐Ÿ˜‰ October 2007

DC 2007

Hanging out with Honest Abe in Washington, DC, December 2007

Myrtle Beach 2008

One year wedding anniversary in Myrtle Beach, SC, June 2008

Chicago 2008

Second trip to Chicago in October 2008

NYC 2009 (1)

New York City, February 2009

Kings Island 2009

Cincinnati, OH, June 2009

Chicago 2010

Third trip to Chicago–May 2010. ๐Ÿ˜‰

London 2010

First trip to London, June 2010

Paris 2010

First trip to Paris, June 2010


Celebrating at the Bellagio-Las Vegas, May 2011


Universal Studios in Los Angeles, CA, May 2011

Boston 2012

Boston, MA, May 2012

London 2013

Second trip to London, at the National Gallery, January 2013

Amsterdam 2013

Touring the Heineken Factory in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, January 2013

Cologne 2013

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany, January 2013

Brussels 2013

Snow and a medieval castle in Brussels, Belgium, January 2013

London July 2013

Standing among the throngs of (drunk) well-wishers outside of Buckingham Palace after the birth of Prince George, July 2013 (Third trip to London)

Brighton 2013 (1)

Sam trying to throw me into the English Channel in Brighton, England, July 2013

Paris 2013

Second trip to Paris, France, July 2013

NYC 2013

Christmas in New York City, December 2013


San Fran 2014

On Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA, July 2014


After so many great experiences we’ve gained both by ourselves and with friends and family, we are now setting off on our most daring venture yet–living in what is clearly our most favorite (US) city on this list! I can’t think of a better way to start off our next decade together!


Outside of our new apartment complex in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago!