Sometimes I feel a little guilty for not blogging more about weddings and wedding related paraphernalia here, as many of my posts are more about lifestyle, design, fashion, beauty, or musings on whatever's circling this brain of mine at the time than our most recent wedding, or tips for planning your wedding, or wedding anything really.  Yes, I am a wedding planner & designer, and yes you can see some of my work here on this blog {or on other fun time blogs like Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, The Bridal Bar, and Style Unveiled, etc.}.  But where I come from as a wedding planner & designer is so much more than just what is implied in my official title of "Founder + Director".  I want you to see my work {for lots of it visit the Shi Shi Anthology}, but more importantly I want you to get to know me, because I'm not really sure there are many other businesses that are as personal as wedding planning.  And while it's important to be professional {this is a business}, it's equally important - if not more so - to connect with you on a personal level {because that's where the magic happens; cliche, but also totally true}.  So if you ever wonder why I don't publish post after post of our recent weddings, that's why.  I hope it helps you feel a part of my world and that you'll like it here and want to stay awhile.  Today, we're talking about travel.

For me, travel is the one thing that is fundamental to the broadening of one's mind.  It is in my opinion the best way to become; become inspired, become carefree, become an advocate, become yourself again, become a new version of yourself.  It is everything.  And I've traveled...a lot.  I've taken well planned out trips, spur of the moment adventures, planes, boats, cars, trains, and buses to get to all kinds of little nooks in this beautiful world of ours.  Many of the memories that fill my heart the most happened while I was traveling somewhere with someone {or many someones} I love.  All my life though, I've dreamed of taking a few weeks off and traveling cross country {for real in a car, road trip style} with my love just doing as we please.  As luck would have it, I'm about to do just that.  Three weeks, just us.  No email.  No work.  Just us, this gorgeous country of ours and a couple of suitcases; I can't believe it.  It's still so surreal to me that as my bag sits packed and ready in our bedroom, I don't think it'll actually feel real until we're well on our way.

The plan is that we'll take Megabus to Chicago, the train from there {we have a sleeper car - which is blast and you should definitely try it one day} to Seattle, and from Seattle we'll rent a car and drive down the California coast and across the southwest hitting Arizona, Texas, and up through Arkansas to Tennessee before returning home.  There are no words for the amount of joy and feeling blessed that overwhelm me with anticipation.  I am just happy, and excited, and thankful.

I'll be doing my best while I'm away to keep you posted on our journey.  You'll find updates on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram {I'm "Gina Shi Shi"} for sure.  So if all of this sounds like a good time to you, make sure you're following me there!  And don't you worry about all things Shi Shi, Katie's here in the office for the duration holding down the fort and keeping things running.

"Oh The Places You'll Go" isn't my favorite Dr. Seuss book for nothing.  See y'all!

P.S. To Joe Schigel: Of all the travels in my life, the best journey I've ever taken is the one I'm on with you.  I love you.  I can't wait for this adventure; one in a string of many crazy strange wonderful before and I hope many more to come.

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{FF} Gratitude

Personal photo taken while hiking in Upstate New York
We Clevelanders know the instant it's begun.  It's the morning you grab a jacket because it's just a little too cold without one, or the moment you cave to the reality it isn't going to warm up enough again to not need it so you turn the heat in the house on.  Autumn is definitely upon us.

I would be lying if I said I didn't love all of the seasons here in Cleveland {yes, even the grayest, snowiest, most blustery of winters are loved}, but fall always sticks out as one of progression, momentum, and most of all, gratitude.  Maybe you're grateful for all that you've accomplished thus far this year.  Maybe you're grateful that a tumultuous year is almost over, or that Christmas is coming, or you're adding a new member to the family, or you're finding comfort in the love and giving thanks for the legacy a family member recently left behind.  Fall is indeed a time of transition and in all its triumphant displays of color, it reminds us how important gratitude is to carry in our hearts everyday.  It seems the season lends itself quite naturally to cozying up with loved ones on chilly days to share a meal, a story, a laugh, a new adventure.

When I think of what makes me feel most grateful, there are the big ones; my husband, my family, my Robie, my friends, my health.  Then there are the ones I've worked especially hard to achieve and maintain like a career that fills me up with joy and contentment and artistic expression, or pushing a small business to grow and survive, or keeping myself in shape.  And there are the intangibles, the way warm fall sun feels on my face while I'm driving in my car, the long line that goes unexpectedly fast, flowers in the garden that continue to bloom though they should've been gone months ago, walking in the door with the last bag of groceries just before it starts to rain, the way that rain sounds hitting the windows of my house, the fact that I have a house.

I find expressing sincere gratitude for a gift, an act, or a presence in my life never gets old.  And it certainly feels fantastic when someone expresses their gratitude to me.  Whatever.  It all just feels wonderful and warm and lovely.

And tonight, in this season of gratitude, I just feel thankful for all of it.    

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