What’s Making Me Happy This Week

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Each Thursday, NPR has a podcast called Pop Culture Happy Hour – a roundtable discussion from various NPR contributors on their theme of choice, all focused on pop culture. At the end of each taping, they have a segment called “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” and the only rule is that it has to be something that others might be able to enjoy, too.

I thought I’d borrow from them and do my own version. Just a few things that have put a smile on my face the past week and hopefully it might do the same for you!

1.) One of the perks of being home every day is taking advantage of some shows I used to miss. My current favorite is The Ellen Show. I cry about every episode. Ellen is always doing random acts of kindness for viewers and their stories never fail to tug at my heartstrings. But it also makes me laugh. Ellen is funny, and her sense of humor seems to draw out the same in each of her guests. Here’s one of my favorites from this week.

2.) I’ve been listening nonstop to “Bones” by MS MR. It’s been featured in Pretty Little Liars, Grey’s Anatomy, and the trailer for Game of Thrones Season 3. If you need a new tune, I definitely recommend checking it out.

3.) Okay, I’m breaking my own rule with this one. I don’t think the fact that I got tickets to the Legends of the Summer Tour will benefit you in any way, but I can’t not mention it. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. IN CONCERT. It’s making my teeny bopper dreams (and let’s be honest, my adult ones, too) come true. I love that man. Have for 13 years. And it’s been number one on my bucket list to see him in concert. (Nope, not ashamed.) Oh, and Jay-Z isn’t bad, either.


4.) When I first heard about House of Cards I thought, how good could a Netflix-produced series be, right? I was wrong, so very wrong. Mike and I have been watching a couple episodes a week since it came out and are very impressed. If you like David Fincher’s style (The Social Network, Fight Club, Seven), or compelling, well-made dramas, give it a shot.

In the words of the fabulous Linda Holmes, and that’s what’s making me happy this week.

Readers, what’s making YOU happy this week?


The Year of Change

by Maria Linz Photography
by Maria Linz Photography

First, a big thank you to all who stuck around for my “return to blogging.” I lucked out with some truly wonderful readers, and you guys are what keep me coming back here.

I have some new ideas in the works for this space, and I’m excited to start rolling them out this week. In the meantime, let me catch you up on life outside of the blog since I’ve been gone.

2012 was quite a year. It started off in a very sad place, but was followed by something great.

A few weeks after we got engaged, we took a 10-day trip to California. Mike’s dad had requested that we spread his ashes off the beach in Santa Monica, so that’s what we did. A trip to celebrate his life. It was truly special for us. And cathartic for Mike.

Big Sur
Big Sur

April brought a visit to see my sister in NYC, which meant lots of food, wine, and sister time. It was the perfect getaway before my next trip – a hospital stay. My lung function wasn’t stabilizing like my doctors hoped, meaning two nights in the hospital to get a picc line, followed by two weeks of home IVs. I could write a whole post about that, but I’ll save the details for another time. I will say this: It was a humbling experience. I spent quite a few years rebelling against my diagnosis, and it caught up with me. But it also made me realize how blessed I am. Plenty of CF patients are all too familiar with hospital stays. For me, this was only my second. I left there determined to make that experience a rare one.

Just days before I was admitted to the hospital, I learned I’d been named one of the top 10 to watch under 30 in Baltimore. It was one of the biggest honors I’ve received. And I was excited that it gave me another opportunity to spread awareness.

In May, my lung function reached 73% – the highest it had been in over three years. Mike and I were thrilled. And I was crossing my fingers and toes it would stay there.

We put an offer in on a house the first weekend in June. It was soon accepted, marking another milestone for the year. Later that month I took a trip with my sister and dad to the Pacific Northwest, which was filled with lots of food, pictures, and memories made with two of my favorite people. It’d been a long time since we’d taken a family vacation, but this one more than made up for it.

Canon Beach, Oregon
Canon Beach, Oregon

August brought more fun. We closed on our house (taking plenty of “Look! We bought a house!” pics) and my bridesmaids threw me a fabulous bachelorette weekend. I’m lucky enough to have the BEST group of girlfriends. And seeing these girls from different stages of my life come together for the first time and not just get along, but really enjoy each other, was indescribable. These girls make my life better. Period.

Me and Katie
Me and Katie

On September 26, just one month and one day from our wedding, I turned 28. Drinks with friends, dinner at Woodberry with Mike, and reflecting on what I accomplished (and all that’s to come), made it one of the best birthdays yet.

September also meant moving into our new house! With a kitchen still under renovation just a few weeks before the wedding, things were a bit chaotic. And while I wasn’t the most pleasant person during that time, we got through. (Largely due to Mike’s patience and positivity. Just two of the reasons why I married him.)

Two days before hurricane Sandy hit, on October 27, I married Mike. And as the cliché goes, it was one of the best days of my life. To share a moment like that with everyone you love is truly special. Like everyone says, it was over too soon, but I’ve looked at photos and videos enough times to help make that day feel not so far away.

The weather was perfect. Sandy delayed our honeymoon for a few days, but we ended up getting extra time in Hawaii. Then it was back to Baltimore and time to start our married life.

Lavender Farm in Hawaii
Lavender Farm in Hawaii

In November I decided to leave my job, for a variety of reasons. It was a very difficult decision, but the right one. And I’ve been taking some time to figure out what’s next. For now it means more time on this blog. Building my freelance portfolio. And seeing what jobs are out there. I’m looking very forward to whatever comes my way.

We topped the year off with a very cold but very fun trip to Wisconsin with some of our dearest friends. Footie pajamas, champagne, sledding, puppies, and Pitch Perfect were just a few highlights.

Other notable events of 2012: two good friends welcomed baby girls; found out a another good friend is pregnant; Liz and Cam’s wedding; a work trip to Park City, Utah; another successful Great Strides walk; my bridal shower hosted by my godmother; my first Ravens game; a Bon Iver concert; friends’ baby showers; a pre-wedding beach trip with my mom; celebrating the nuptials of Krista and Spencer; Thanksgiving in Richmond; a second trip to NYC; spoke at CF’s 35 Finest of Baltimore; and my favorite holiday – Christmas!

Phew! See? It. Was. A. Year. And I loved it.

If you made it to the end of this, I applaud you. I think I needed to write all of this out just to see it. To remind myself of what an exhausting but delicious year 2012 was. I find that during stressful times, I just barrel through, not always savoring. Looking back allows me to do that. This year held deep heartache, but deep joy, too. Both of which have changed me as a person, and made me more grateful than ever.

2013 has been much quieter, and I’m ready for that. Writing, my husband, my loved ones, and my health are my focuses this year. And I can’t wait to share it with you.

An Emotional Night

I’m here. And with a lot to catch you up on. But not just yet.

Last night I attended the annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation dinner. Each year, the local CF chapter and CF care team, supporters, ambassadors, and volunteers get together to talk about the progress we’ve made the past year and what we’re hoping to accomplish in the years ahead.

And it was exactly what I needed. Earlier in the day I was in a funk. No particular reason, just feeling down and unable to snap out of it. But it’s impossible to be in a room full of people all fighting for the same cause and NOT feel better.

I fought back tears the whole time – tears of fear, excitement, sadness, appreciation.

Fear because this can be scary as hell. The statistics of this disease can leave you breathless (pun not intended).

But I’m excited, too. Because new drugs are making a difference. One little girl using Kalydeco got to celebrate her 12th birthday much different than her 11th – out of the hospital.

These drugs being developed are incredible. Life changing.

Sadness because of the CF patients who are struggling to stay healthy. And for those who didn’t make it to see this day.

But I can’t forget appreciation. The CF Foundation is a group of dedicated and passionate people. Everyone involved – from patients to families to sponsors – give their whole hearts. They believe a cure WILL be found, and the energy is contagious. I’m never able to express how thankful I am for each and every one of them. Their efforts have allowed me to be where I am – 28 years old and leading a normal life.

We are so close to finding a cure – a CURE! And I’m going to use this space to help us get there. To spread awareness. Answer questions. Share my story. And I can’t wait.

Thanks for still being here. I’ll be back very soon.