A Welcome

Hi friends, welcome!

Since this is my first post after the site’s name change, I thought I would tell you a touch of who I am.

My name is Hannah Innis, and I’m 30 years old, just shy of 31. I am wife to Ryan – my strong and steady, my big spoon, my life love – and mother to, Samuel – my one and a half year-old, bursting at the seams with energy, big lover of life, all boy – my son.

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Photos by Kaleigh Simmons Photography

I am a part-time working, mostly staying at home mom, but when I do partly work, it’s at my beloved fine dining restaurant cozied up in a historic building in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. I adore being part of others’ experiences and that’s what people expect when they dine there. Many are celebrating something, and I have found deep joy in making memorable evenings for others. I love food, I love wine, and I love everything that involves time around a table. If I ever leave my job, I’ll leave a piece of me there.

When I tell you about my love for time around the table at my job, it seeps right into my love for time around the table anywhere. Food and wine are a big part of who I am away from the workplace as well. I think the best conversations are spent at a table with good food paired with a good glass of wine. Some of my favorite memories are these moments, these sacred times with people I love with soft music in the background, quiet lights, and usually loud and real talk going on endlessly. Change that table to a paper plate on your lap and a cold sparkling water with lemon on a hot summer day and you have just as much of my attention as a detailed dining production. If you sit me down with good food and good people my soul is overflowing.

I live in a small town, the one I grew up in and said I would never live in again. We moved there four months ago after searching all surrounding areas for 6 months. I’m endlessly grateful to be back, to raise my family in this friendly, small town, on this quiet cul-de-sac, where I grew up.

 

 

 

I am very much a family person. I am my parents’ youngest of five daughters and each of us are married to incredible men, with beautiful babies ranging from growing in the womb to almost 15 years old…fourteen grandbabies to be exact. Ryan, on the other hand, is the oldest to six siblings, with three brothers and two sisters. Throw in my Ryan’s parents, one sister-in-law and their sweet baby boy, just four months younger than our Sam, and you have my family. Big, loud, loving, supporting each other’s dreams, encouraging one another…that is my foundation. I am very much obsessed with these people, every single one of them. Each of their unique personalities and passions, their hurts and joys that make up the stories of who they are…just obsessed with them.

 

 

 

As for the one growing in the womb, that one is mine. We will welcome our second child this summer, expected to arrive sometime around June 20. I’m nestled somewhere in between fearing for my sanity and overwhelmed with excitement. Aside from these emotions, we know we are beyond blessed to be parents and bring this child into our lives.

There’s no telling you about who I am without telling you what I believe, because those go hand in hand, heart in heart. I am in love with Jesus, who saves me daily with grace. Who brought me back to Him time and time again in big and small ways.   He is my reason for everything. I have been through the dark and the scary without letting my Savior near me, and it was indeed the hardest years of my life. Never again will I choose to walk through the years of this beautiful, challenging, sin soaked, beloved life without the One who offers me hope in every grief and joy. My biggest prayer is that I may seek Him daily and shine His light with my words and actions. And that He continues to rescue me each time I fail.

 

Aside from food, family, faith, and friends, my passions rest mostly in the creative. I love to photograph and have been pursuing this as another part time job. I photograph families and kids, and am learning more and more the love of capturing life through a lens.

I also love to write, but have been doing most of it in my head over the past year and half. The pen and paper and the laptop and been sitting patiently on the back burner as I learned to parent and discover what this new life looks like. Writing in my head doesn’t feel as good as the physical exhale that is getting it onto paper or a screen, and so, with great effort, I’m putting my fingers to keys and rediscovering this life long passion of mine.

 

This is my little space to share stories and experiences that cause me to think, learn, live, parent, and in the meantime, maybe we can connect on some topics. I don’t know, but I need the exhale, and this is my favorite spot for doing so.

 

My first year of living my thirties has been beautiful and life giving, and entirely different from my twenties. But if you’re interested in that too, keep scrolling. Lots of lessons learned there.

So, this is me. Just a touch of me. I couldn’t give you the rest if I tried, because I’m still learning.

 

Life is wild, isn’t it? We imagine that some day we will reach a moment where it all clicks, and then instead we realize we are actually re-learning and re-shaping everything we’ve ever known. I’ve come to see that if we aren’t growing, changing, evolving, then we are stagnant. We settle for complacency in what we think is probably the best it’s going to get for us. What if we keep going, even when the change and the questions are scary?

I want to chase after and demolish things that scare me, and then move on to the next one. My twenties were great and all, but so far, I’m absolutely in love with my thirties.

Happy Weekend, sweet friends!

Cheers!

 

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Drunk Tattoos

I have two tattoos.

One is a celtic knot, which symbolizes the Holy Trinity.

I had thought about this tattoo for years before getting it.  I did research of the symbol and daydreamed about where I wanted it on my body.  It represented my faith, and I wanted is as a constant reminder.

But seriously, let’s be real.  I was 20 years old and could barely afford rent, but could always afford beer and apparently permanent ink.  I cussed the entire time.

This tattoo was about as deep as my faith was…barely below the flesh.

Still, I’ve always loved and wanted this tattoo and it truly has been a great reminder of what I believe.  I never had a regret.

Then there’s the second one.

I  also had a vision for this one, and daydreamed about it, etc.  I wanted the phrase ad petendam pluviam, a Latin phrase translated, “to ask for rain.”

I read it in a book that I couldn’t finish because the author didn’t use periods and it drove me absolutely nutty.  No periods, just commas. It was like a giant run-on sentence that was totally unnecessary and I never had any idea who was talking, and now there’s a new character and maybe someone’s speaking and there’s a totally new topic, but no one will ever know because there are NEVER ANY PERIODS (OR QUOTATION MARKS)!  My sweet readers, I solemnly swear to ALWAYS use periods (and quotation marks).

But anyway, this phrase stood out to me in this period-less book and became my muse for my next tattoo.

 

This Latin phrase, for me, represented hardships in life that make you stronger.  Just as those who originally said this phrase were asking for rain in order to grow a thriving crop, I felt that we should also ask for these painful times since we would in turn grow in our character, and there was a Flood Watch in my life at that time.  I wanted to feel stronger and bigger than the struggles I was going through, and I felt like this would be a reminder of that.

So one beautiful morning in the mountains, my good friend asked if I wanted to get brunch.  No matter the season, rainy, sunny, or muddy, I freaking LOVE brunch.  You can have all the goodies of breakfast without feeling badly or needing an excuse that it’s well passed breakfast time, because it’s brunch!

Brunch also allows you to sleep in.  And this girl adores sleeping in.  (Ryan said to me yesterday that there are 2 Hannah’s: one before 9:30am and one after…the one before is slightly more difficult.)

We arrived to our favorite spot and indulged, as we usually did, in all our favorites.  Starting with coffee and bottomless mimosas.  (This restaurant no longer offers the bottomless mimosa deal…and I have a feeling we may have been a reason.)

After brunch, our buzzy brains got the brilliant idea to get tattoos since there was a tattoo shop just across the street.  What a perfect time to get my Latin phrase, and I decided I would like it on my wrist.

When we got to the tattoo shop the artist has you fill out and sign a waiver stating that you are not being forced to get this tattoo and that you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Away I signed!

When the tattoo artist asked what I would like I paused and thought.

I couldn’t remember how to spell it.

Thoughts went through my mind:

It’s freaking Latin, no one would know if you get it wrong, just go for it!

You just had 84 mimosas.  Don’t get the tattoo right now.

You know how to spell it, remember?  It’s ad petandarmquirwod….was there a number in there somewhere?

Get something else, duh!

I responded, “I would like the word ‘grace’ in cursive right here on my wrist.  It’s the meaning of my name.”

I had never come up with this backup idea before, but the tattoo artist wrote up a nice swirly little ‘grace’ and away he buzzed with his permanent skin engraver.  (Thanks for stepping in here and stopping me, Cole!)

As the mimosas wore off I got more and more aware of what I had done and was furious.

GRACE???

YOU COULDN’T JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU WEREN’T DRINKING???  THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU WANTED YOU FOOLISH MIMOSA CHUGGING, BRUNCH LOVING IDIOT!

What about my reminder to be strong through the struggles in life?  To ask for these times so that you can come out a better person?

How stupid, right?

 

I actually think that God had an angel with me that day, holding the tattoo ink pen.

 

Looking back, I don’t think I would have been as happy with that Latin phrase.  Had I known how long the depression would last and how hard that rain would fall I don’t think I would like a reminder to ask for it.  Why would any of us ASK for hardships?  What I should have asked for was No rain ever, k thanks.

What I needed more was exactly what I got, grace.

I needed forgiveness from a lot of people, and they gave it gracefully.

I needed healing in myself, to show myself epic grace.

I needed to move on from a dark time and I didn’t need to depend on how strong I was, but I needed to depend on the grace of God that is bigger and stronger than we can ever imagine.

That’s my reminder when I look at this drunken tattoo.

That a girl was lost and scared and was brought out – still imperfect, still damp, but WHOLE – through grace.

 

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I hope it never fades, and I’m confident it won’t. (His grace, that is.)

Keep swimming, loves

Cheers!

Why I Need Goals and Goals Need Me.

I won’t bring up taxes if you won’t, deal?

Deal.

Instead let’s talk about goals.  They can be our greatest accomplishments in life and also our truest struggles.  

I’ve told you all about my friend Ryan, who writes a list of goals to accomplish every year.  Kind of like resolutions, but without the “this is what I want to change” and more “this is what I want to do.”  Right now, he’s cruising all over the U.S. in an RV building his business and living day to day, adventure to adventure.  

His goals on that list were more important than any money a 9-5 job could offer.  So he quit his 9-5 job.  He became an entrepreneur (a huge goal of his) and is currently in Utah, hiking in Moab and daring his fear of heights to get the best of him.  

Ryan and I aren’t super close, but his stories inspire me all the time, and I love giving a shout out to those who either directly or indirectly impact me.  So, Ryan, THANK YOU!

When it comes to my own list of goals, I want so badly to be able to do such daring things like Ryan.  But instead, especially lately, I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to do all of the grown-up things 27-year-olds like me “should be doing” like updating my resume and looking for a 9-5 job/career, saving for a house, getting approved for a home loan, fixing and cleaning my car, and totally not doing my taxes because we said we wouldn’t talk about them.

But then I sit down and see my List of Goals that I wrote 4 months ago sitting wrinkled and dusty on my nightstand and wonder how I could let them become so neglected?    

oh sure I’ve crossed a few off my list like going to Costa Rica and zip-lining through the jungle and getting good grades in school…but there are so many more that I’ve set aside and forgotten about, and now I’m craving that warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishing something you’ve wanted for so long.

For instance, a couple from my list:

  • take a road trip
  • save $______
  • become a morning person
  • be a clean person
  • go skydiving
  • visit mountains
  • pay it forward
  • drive a stick shift 
  • travel across the ocean

All quite Earth-shattering, I know.

It’s easy to look around and wish for your life to be like this or that, so it’s no wonder I feel like I should be at a certain point or have more accomplished. 

For instance, I’m currently sitting in a dear friend’s house after spending the weekend here taking care of her dog while she and her husband are away for business/pleasure.  It’s a gorgeous home complete with crazy stuff like furniture and decorations, stuff I haven’t had to think or worry about in what seems like way too long.  And I could very easily get sad/depressed/angry at myself/steal all of their things, but what would be the point?  It won’t change my situation one bit (except for that hat that I’m stealing…it changes up my head wardrobe a little).  

What would change my situation, however, would be to keep getting after my goals.  Without purposefully accomplishing the small, specific goals on my list  ( i.e. save $_______) I will never reach any of the big ones (purchase that home on the street that starts with a T, fly across an ocean, etc.).

I’m happy I updated my resume, and cleaned my car, and signed away all my money to the government on time.  And I would still love to buy a house, but I’m not going to be complacent with that.  I’m not cool with letting my age or society tell me I have to be a certain way at a certain time.  There is no real set of rules for how to live your life other than the rules you set for yourself. 

So here’s to getting back to the List and always striving to be better than the day before, 

Cheers!

P.S. You could cross off another one today for me.  (ahhhh so suspenseful!)

 

Why I am a Terrible Birthday-Haver

February in Michigan is arguably the gloomiest, most depressing month available to the human race.  It’s a stream of days without sun, a mix between harsh snowstorms and wet, icy rains.  It’s cold in your bone marrow.  Then there will be a day full of sun and the temperature will sky-rocket to 35 degrees and everyone hugs and rejoices in the end of winter and we go running outside in our tank tops, and then the next day we wake up to schools being closed due to a fresh foot of brown snow.  Brown snow, people.  It exists.

But February is my birth month, and if you know me, you know how much I love my birthday.  Sometimes I even get too excited to enjoy it.

For example, last year:

Three of my work friends had won hundreds of dollars to spend at our gorgeous establishment that I’m honored to work at.  They also won rooms at the JW Marriott hotel in Grand Rapids.  These friends invited little old me to dine with them on behalf of my birthday and invited me to stay with them at the hotel.  We are talking concierge floor with free drinks, food, killer views.  I mean, come on.  

You can read the full post here (ooooh, someone learned how to add links…and yes, I’m aware that that should be basic computer knowledge), but I ended up getting so excited that I made myself sick and had to leave dinner early, missing out on savory bottles of wine and even better company.  

A couple years before that, when I still lived in Jackson, I woke up to my roommate and dear friend, Betsy (she is an incredible photographer, find her webpage here) who had made me breakfast and mimosas.  It was the perfect birthday morning.  After that I did a little dog-walking (yes, it was one of my many professions there) and went home to take a nap.  Again, Betsy woke me up to remind me we had dinner plans before our night on the town.  I was still a little goofy from the mimosas, but managed to pull myself together to go to dinner.  

I again was so excited for my birthday night that the wine flowed a little to smoothly.  We left dinner and crossed the street to a sports bar to play some pool.  At one point I stood up from my stool, the wine went straight to my head as the blood drained from it, and I fell face first, smashing my head into the side of the pool table.  Thankfully, I had two wonderful gentlemanly friends carry my home, tuck me into bed and set a bag of frozen peas on my head.  It was 9pm.

Birthdays man, I love them a little too much.

This year, however, I did everything I could to remain calm.  I went to class, got a manicure, pedicure (thank you, Ryan), and then relaxed as I gussied up for the evening.  (I love any excuse to get fancy).  Ryan and I had dinner plans to eat at one of our favorite seafood spots downtown, but as the afternoon led to evening, February took hold once again and transformed a partly cloudy morning into a disastrous snowstorm of an evening.  Ryan got stuck in stand still traffic.  

I called the restaurant to see if they could push back our reservation a half hour.  The lady on the other line informed me, “We are hoping to close early, so just get here whenever you can.”  No pressure.

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Good news, people.  I didn’t smash my head on anything, I was able to eat my entire meal, and I only broke one glass.

I was nervous about turning 27, because if you’ve been following this at all, you know that I’m not at the same place in my life as most of my 27-year-old friends, and there are still some times when I’m hard on myself about it.  But the fact of the matter is that, if my life had gone the way my mind sometimes wishes, I would have missed out on so many of the best things that life has brought me to. 

I know I’m being vague and wishy-washy, but I hope that when you start thinking about the shoulda-woulda-couldas in your life, you also remember that every single thing happens for reasons we will never understand.  The things you think are terrible in your life right now could ultimately lead you to happiness you never thought existed.  Just wait, and then thank me later.

To Birthdays, because they’re secretly just another day,

Cheers! 

….

Also, nine days….that’s it….just nine more days…..

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I’ll take you with me in spirit.