Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Happy Heart

I love writing. It's one of my favorite things to do and one of my favorite stress relievers. Unfortunately over the last few weeks it's taken a backseat while I've been focusing on everything else - work, family, college football (you know...priorities). Both writing and running have been put on the back burner while I manage my completely insane schedule. 

Last week I spent the entire week with my lover....or at least one of the many cities with whom I am in love. I headed back to Marquette, Michigan for the third time this year for my work's annual convention. I love Marquette so much I can barely stand it. Being there feels like an alternate reality. I feel more relaxed. I love everything about the city - the downtown, nature, the way the rolling hills kiss Lake Superior. I arrive in Marquette and forget that it took a nearly six hour drive through the middle of nowhere to get there. All I think about when I'm there is how much I love it, and how much I'd live there in a minute. I even thought this when I was there in the dead of winter, so my Marquette love affair is obviously very real. 

The week was busy as a week-long work event tends to be. A lot of it is just being on for days on end. My face hurts from smiling, but I love every minute of it. I love our members. I love and believe in the mission of this organization to create great places. I hear about great projects happening all over the state, and it feeds my soul. 

With a friend/colleague during our convention. The fall colors were brilliant.
Despite the socializing and myriad cocktails consumed last week, I still managed to fit in two really solid runs on Marquette's bike trail. I picked up the trail on the hill behind our hotel, and it was a beautiful path. Even though it was dark both days when I ran, the trail lights highlighted the peak gold of the autumn leaves. Even with the the busy schedule my heart felt complete.

An early morning 5-miler in Marquette
On Friday I left Marquette, and I was barely out of the city limits before my attitude changed dramatically. It was a grey, rainy and windy fall day, and Lake Superior was angrily churning alongside the road. I drove more than five hours back to Lansing feeling frustrated and unhappy most of the way. I stopped in Lansing to pick up my husband and dogs, and we were off on the next 400 mile part of our trip to Morgantown, West Virginia.

We all know how much I love Morgantown, but I found myself wondering why on earth we were going there at the end of convention week. I slept in the car most of the trip, and we arrived early Saturday morning. My brother and sister-in-law were also in town to celebrate my nephew's second birthday. I hadn't seen any of them since Thanksgiving last year, so I was excited to see family despite my exhaustion.

Saturday morning we headed out in the rain to my happy place - Mountaineer Field. The Mountaineers were taking on 4th ranked Baylor. We tailgated with one of my oldest friends and his awesome wife, and headed into the game. It was a cold and dreary day, but my team was amazing. Our defense rocked it out, and despite the cold I couldn't make myself leave. We ended up winning the game, and I had tears in my eyes as the stadium sang Country Roads after the victory. The extra 400 miles was worth it.

Tailgating with one of my oldest friends
We had a fantastic weekend visiting with family. My nephew is the cutest, and we got to hang out and go to some great restaurants. A week in Marquette followed by a week in Morgantown was exactly what my heart needed. Now if I could just blink and be in either location without the travel, my world would be perfect.

We arrived in Lansing on Monday evening, and the madness began again. This week I have three presentations - in Livonia, Sterling Heights and Holland, Michigan (all at least an hour from Lansing). My head is spinning with busy, and I find myself looking into next week wondering if it will get less crazy. Spoiler alert: it will not. But my heart is happy and full with family, placemaking and the happiness hangover from having spent a week in two of my favorite places. When the busy is over, the happy is all that is left.    

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