Last days with some gratitude

Me currently: nursing an iced mocha and a hurting knee at one of my favorite spots in Chicago. It’s not quite time for my Chicago cafe crawl article, but I’ll give a bit of a sneak peek with Bru. It’s a coffee shop/cafe/co-working space in Wicker Park, and easily accessible through the blue line. It has everything you could ask for: sandwiches, spacious tables, window seats (where I can usually be found), protein shakes, coffee, pastries and free Wifi. Not to mention it’s located right next door to Myopic Books, which is a giant and incredible secondhand book shop. If you live in or around the Loop, there should be no reason you go to Barnes & Noble when Myopic is so close-by. I’m all for supporting small businesses even if that means bringing down Big Books.

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It’s my last lazy Sunday in the city and I don’t know where the time went. If anyone is the queen of rising out of bed at 1 PM, it’s me. In my defense, it was a full weekend of friends and laughter. Yesterday I went to Lollapalooza and it was INCREDIBLE. I would actually say one of the top 10 days of my life. I saw one of my favorite bands (The Head and the Heart!! Go check them out), and a few other great artists and the weather was great and the company was greater. I went with one of my best friends from college, Kim, and we spent most of the day running around, napping, dancing, eating and saying we were old women now.

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The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I also just spilled coffee on myself. It’s a typical Sunday. I don’t think I own a single article of clothing that hasn’t been spilled on. My mother finds that hysterical considering the amount of white clothes I own. Thank goodness for bleach pens, am I right? I may love spring and summer, but I am wishing for fall right now so I can start drinking hot coffee again. There is really nothing like the feeling of a warm mug cradled in my hands, it’s like a hug in a cup. Also, I think I single-handedly keep the Dunkin’ off Lake in business with my daily purchase of a medium iced coffee with almond milk and sweet hazelnut. Don’t make me calculate how much money I’ve spent on coffee this summer, it will only make me sad. This also goes for how much money was spent at Zara or lunch takeout from Catch 35. These topics are unspeakable.

Last weekend my dear friend Brad came to visit, and it was his first time in Chicago since high school so I had to make sure we covered all the bases. It was a terrific Saturday. We started with brunch at Homeslice in Lincoln Park (one of my favorite places now), followed by Wrigleyville, drinks with a view at Londonhouse (I have never felt so adult or poor), Grant Park/the Bean, stumbling upon a street fest in Wicker Park and a quick trip to Target. My heart was so happy to show Brad around, and we walked 10 miles that day. The rumors are true – you really do make some of your best friends abroad. I know he can’t wait for me to torture him all year since we will be neighbors.

After Brad left, I saw more lovely friends that evening and finished off the weekend with the fastest 13 miles I have ever run. I’ve done three half marathons now, and the high after that kind of distance is unbeatable. I wish I could say I wasn’t mildly addicted but I think I am. The high wore off pretty quickly when I woke up Monday to some of the worst knee pain I had experienced in months. The pain dissipated through the week, but one knee is still sore. It’s put me a week back in my marathon training, which is disheartening and stressful, but I know it’s better to ease off than risk a harsher injury. I’ve scheduled yoga twice this week, and I’ll also be going home this Friday (wow!), where I’ll have my second pair of running shoes and I’ll be able to switch between the two like the ladies at my running store told me to – and, of course, my sweet Stray Dog yoga!!! I cannot WAIT to get back to my favorite yoga studio in the whole world.

I can’t believe it’s my last week at HDMZ. HDMZ is an ad agency that specializes in life science marketing. I was lucky enough to spend 11 weeks this summer as their intern, learning the ins and outs of healthcare marketing, brewing the perfect cup of coffee and even some web design. I went in with basically no marketing experience, save for my design work, and will be leaving with a greater understanding and appreciation for the advertising world. It’s a world I hope to return to post-graduation, and I’m thrilled to know there are good fit careers for me outside the lab and law school. I worked with passionate, kind and incredibly smart people who inspired me each day and kept me laughing and learning.

Alright, now that I’m done going through my last days (sorry if this makes me sound like I’m dying in five days), I’ll end today’s post with some gratitude. I am an infrequent journaler, but something that my journal has a lot of are “I am” affirmations. It was a technique suggested to me by my counselor of three years, for whom I am eternally grateful. She is an extraordinary soul that has seen me at my very worst and laughed with me at my very best. For the days I feel down or unsure of myself, I write a page of “I am” affirmations. I am patient. I am kind. I am beautiful. I am strong. I have pages littered with these statements, and re-reading them is something that brings me a good deal of strength and peace. I wrote a lot of them when I first moved to the city and was unhappy. I was unhappy with the noise, the hustle and bustle, the fact that it wasn’t Dublin, that I was going it alone for the first time in two years. I wrote more of them when I settled in, found places I loved, met people I loved, and started running long distance again. I looked over them this morning and all I can say is how grateful I am for the people I met this summer and the experiences I had these past ten weeks in the city. I couldn’t have predicted the friends I met and the ones I hope to keep when we get back to school. I really recommend trying “I am” affirmations if you are struggling. They may sound kitschy and silly but I really do believe in their effectiveness.

And you know what? I’m grateful for the ones I met this summer who made me doubt my self-worth, who tore me down and who played with my emotions like I was a doll. In those moments, I hated that I wore my heart on my sleeve, but looking back, it says nothing about me and everything about them. Ladies and gents, if someone treats you like trash, remember that you’re not trash. You are far from it. You are worthy, brilliant and good. Your existence brings a lot of value to the world. I love you and I cheer for you every day, and you are in my prayers.

I’m pretty damn proud of myself for staying soft in a world that grows harsher each day, and for the compassion that drives me every day, in my career and in my education. I can thank Notre Dame and the humans I’ve met at school for deepening that compassion and my desire to do good.

How big of a sap am I? I can’t help it, not when I sit and think of how much good still exists. It exists through smiles from strangers, random acts of kindness, living with intention, beautiful homilies at mass, laughing until you cry, purposeful vinyasa at power flow, great cups of coffee, fantastic coworkers, friends who lift you up at any hour of the day, family that checks in every morning and night (and who send emails when McDonald’s shows up too often on credit card statements), running without injury, good books and soft blankets, big mugs of tea, dancing into the night, the feel of a newly pressed white shirt (just me?), tearing up listening to favorite bands live and breathing and sharing the same air and space as other incredible humans.

I am not always well. I will admit that. I struggle like any other person. I do not live a perfect life, even if my social media suggests it. There are still days when I cannot get out of bed, when it takes all my energy to keep smiling through work when I am really counting down the minutes until I can safely retreat back to bed, when I cry myself to sleep because I am so exhausted from the fight. All I can say is, the fight is worth it. I hate that there are still days, weeks even, when it hurts to breathe easy, but I honestly wouldn’t choose to live my life any other way. I know struggle and I know darkness, but damn does my heart know light and joy and love as well.

Keep going.

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The light in me honors the light in you,
xo Sus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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