Thursday, January 6, 2022

Goodbye, Illinois

Over the past three months, Ian and I have been living in central Illinois visiting family and friends. We decided last year we were going to save up and come home during this transition period to spend time with loved ones over the holiday season. The past few months have flown by, and we have absolutely loved every minute of it!

In October we visited Shenadoah National Park, New River Gorge National Park, Cuyahoga National Park and Dunes National Park. My family participated in our first 5K together where Ian took 6th place. Our friends Kitty and Garrett got married, Ian's mom hosted a cookout at her place. My friend Haley married her lovely husband and Ian and I joined my dad and brother in Colorado and Utah to visit some family members. It was a great first month home!

November slowed down a bit. We had dinner with friends and visited with college roommates. It's really nice having a home away from home with them. Ian and I headed to
Arkansas to stay with his grandpa and grandma. We stayed for two weeks and helped then with things around the house, including building a patio. One of the weekends we were down there, we held a celebration of life for Ian's great-grandpa, Pappy. He lived to be 99 years old! It was wonderful to see family and spend some time with everyone.

December picked back up. I scheduled all my doctor's appointments for this time. We celebrated Wyatt's (cousin) 3rd birthday and Andy's (friend) 26th with parties. I was able to see one of my favorite Christmas shows, the Nutcracker, with my mom. It was absolutely lovey. Ian had his wisdom teeth removed this month. Luckly everything was fine, and he had a quick recovery. I was able to be with my grandma, mom and aunt as we remembered the life of my uncle Tom who passed away 39 years ago. He is still near and dear to us all. Dad, Ian and I then went and saw Spider-Man: No Way Home. Needless to say, it is now my all-time favorite movie! I spent the day with my grandma and aunt babysitting my little cousins. It was really great getting some one-on-one time with them. We all live so far away from each other. Christmas was spent going to different family's homes. Ian and I haven't seen everyone since last year and the time spent with them was much needed. 

This last week spent in Illinois has consisted of saying our goodbyes, packing and applying for new jobs. I am pleased to say Ian and I are doing well in the job department. I'll post more on them when things become more official. We leave tomorrow morning for this new adventure. We really don't know what's in store for us, but we are hopeful. We have always wanted to lie in Colorado and hike its beautiful mountains. We are truly blessed with the lives we've been given.

Thank you to everyone we have seen and who have supported us these past three months. We are truly grateful for your love and kindness. We will keep you updated and share what we can. We love you dearly.



Monday, September 27, 2021

We're Moving!

 For the past 3.5 years, Ian and I have been living in Black Mountian, North Carolina. To say this place has shaped us would be an understatement. Black Mountian has allowed for us to find ourselves; people we thought we could never become. We are whole. The community and loved ones we have gained will be hard to top. We have truly found some of our best friends while living here. 

My journey here began the summer of 2016 working a summer collegiate program at YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. The following summer Ian joined me here and things started to fall into place. We began our lives here together the summer of 2018. We shared our first home, met amazing people, jumped into new hobbies, tried new adventures, went on many hikes and learned how to live during a pandemic. Needless to say, many memories were made. There is no doubt that I love him and the life we have created. 

We have said our goodbyes and we are finishing up at work. The house is empty of items but seems to grow in love. I will forever be grateful to this home and the parties and gatherings, life lessons, quite moments and guests we had. Ian and I became a family in these walls. We began our adult journey. The ones we hold dear know this goodbye is hard and we will see them soon enough. I cannot begin to put into words how much this chapter of my life has meant to me...

On Friday, October 1 we will be leaving. Although my heart is heavy, I am excited for this new adventure. We have always wanted to live in Colorado, and the time is now! We will be going on a road trip to visit Shenadoah National Park, New River Gorge National Park, Cuyahoga National Park and Indiana Dunes National Park* (with a stop to see our friend Anthony in Ohio). We will be with family and friends in the Illinois/St. Louis area for the holiday season. In January 2022 we will finally call Colorado home if/when the next adventure calls. 

Thank you dearly to our family for your endless support and love as we grow into adulthood. We are learning as we go and your support means everything to us. To our Illinois friends, thank you for your endless facetime calls and trips to come see us. We are so excited to spend some quality time with you again! Thank you to aunt Mary Ellen and uncle Dave who are allowing our dream to live in Colorado to become a reality. And, thank you to our North Carolina people. You have shown us true kindness and friendship, and that is hard to come by. You will be missed dearly but forever in our heats. We are excited to come back and visit as time goes on. Who knows. We may even be back some day...

That's all for now. I will try my best to post more blogs for family and friends to read and keep up with our lives. Social media can be a really cool thing if we use it for good. 

My heart is full <3



*We are aware of the feelings National Parks may bring. Please feel free to reach out to see how we keep safe while hiking in the parks.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Granny

"The reality is that you will grieve forever.  You will not get over the loss of a loved one.  You will learn to live with it.  You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.  You will be whole again but you will never be the same.  Nor should you be the same.  Nor would you want to." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & John Kessler

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Jerusalem: Week One

Hello World!

What an adventure I have had.  I have been home from Jerusalem for exactly one week.  I miss it terribly, especially the people.  The purpose of these next three blogs will be for me to better explain why I was there, places I went, and lessons I learned.  I hope you enjoy!  Please pass this information on to anyone who is young and ready to help non-profit companies grow and make connections.  This trip was a dream opportunity, and I will forever be grateful for the YMCA and what it's done for me and many others.

I left for Israel on Sunday, August 12th and arrived on August 13th.  I was so tired when I arrived.  the first friend I made was Hassan.  He was the one who picked me up from the airport.  I tried so hard to stay awake on the ride to the Y, but I did end up sleeping a little.  When we arrived, Hassan made sure I entered through the front so I could see the Y and all it's glory.  I was amazed!  The Jerusalem International YMCE (JIY) was the most beautiful building I had seen in a very long time.  It was huge and felt so welcoming.  There is so much history that comes along with it.  I was just speechless.

The next day I was asked to sit in on a Development meeting.  I was nervous to jump right in but eager to learn.  I was very surprised to see that everyone spoke English and there were people who had grown up in the US!  I felt a lot better about being in that meeting after I made that connections with some women.  What really blew my mind was how kind everyone was.  They weren't being polite to be because I was there was YMCA Blue Ridge, but they actually wanted to know me and make sure I was adjusting.  I could feel how much they cared even though we had all just met.  It was in that meeting that I knew I was going to be okay...

Later that week I was foraminate enough to work with a youth summer camp.  I had a blast with that.  The kids seemed to be around middle school aged.  I say that because they spoke Aerobic and I speak English.  I tried my best to study body language and keep up.  I took a Zumba class with them and played basketball.  I then was able to watch them perform dubke.  I loved working with this group of kids.  They were so welcoming and loved having me.  They would invite me to play and reassure me with a sweet smile.  I will always remember them.  They had the most amazing time at the Y.  They touched my heart...  

I remember I was really jet lagged the first week.  I felt really bad because I wanted to seem alert and ready, but I was so tired.  Everyday I would fight it.  I wasn't about to let it take time from my experience.

I met Raed my first full day there.  I like to think of him as the "Bruno" of JIY, in the way that he took care of me coming there.  He was so great.  He was excited to have me and wanted to make sure I had the most amazing time.  He was the one in charge of my scheduling and outings.  I will forever be grateful for all he did for me.  He helped make my trip unbelievable and I will miss him dearly.  I was even able to meet his wonderful family.  He works very hard to make sure the hotel, 3 Arches Hotel, connected to the JIY is perfect.  And let me tell you, 5 stars.  If you ever get the chance to visit Jerusalem, stay at this hotel.

JIY has a kindergarten and summer camp program that's non-profit.  They also have a hotel and restaurant, 3 Arches Hotel.  They are located in the center of the city and have a huge tower you are able to go up in.  There is a 360 view and I would highly recommend going up (Hassan took me).  It was the coolest thing!  I saw all of the city and then some.  I would go back in a heart beat.

I worked almost every morning as their checker.  I would great the guests at breakfast and make sure their stay was going well.  I really liked doing this because I go to interact with the guests.  It forced me to learn new words and phrases.

Another friend I had while there was Afif.  He is their event planner, and I got to work an event while I was there.  I was also lucky enough to meet up with Lina!  We came to Blue Ridge last summer and we became friends.  I was so so happy to see her again.

My first Saturday there, Hassan, Afif, and Lina took me to the Dead Sea!  That has always been a bucket list item for me.  Before we got there, I was able to ride a camel! It was so cool!  What I didn't know was that there was a pool area before the sea for people could cool off from the hot sun.  It was cool to see.  We ate lunch and swam in the pool for a bit.  When we went down to the Dead Sea, I was speechless.  I was beautiful.  I couldn't believe I was really there.  The sand was extremely hot so we kept our sandals on.  When I first stepped into the sea, I was shocked.  It was hot! I was not expecting that at all.  The water was hot and thick from all the sand.  Hassan told me to sit on the water, and I did just that.  All of a sudden I was floating.  I didn't have a care in the world at that point.  I was floating in the Dead Sea.  Afif found some salt crystals and I brought one home for JT (my brother).  Lina also was eager to cover me in the mud!  I actually hadn't heard of that before.  She painted the sea's mud all over my body.  It felt amazing.  My skin was so soft and smooth and felt so clean.  I am so glad she forced me to take pictures so I could remember that day...

So that sums up my first week at the YMCA.  I will be writing about the next two weeks later.  I hope this has helped give you a better understanding of my adventure.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask(:

Polly Keen

Monday, April 16, 2018

College is Coming to a Close...

It's wild to think about college coming to an end.  I remember touring my dorm room for the first time and moving into my freshman dorm.  This time last year, if you would have asked me about graduating I would have told you i was scared and never wanted to leave.  However, has senior year comes to a close I find myself excited to close this chapter and start a new one.  I have a secure job until August, and with prayers I will be in a more solid position very soon (:

I have learned this year to take chances with life, and I have learned that it's okay to not have an answer when someone asks, "What is your plan after school?"  I use to hate this question and it made me so anxious.  Now, I feel confident when asked and, even if I don't have an answer, I say it proudly!  I owe everything to my family and know I am blessed because of where I have come from.  

I graduate May 13, 2018 at 1:00 PM.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me along my journey.  I really like the woman I am becoming, and I am excited to see where God takes me...


Monday, March 19, 2018

Living my Dreams

Hey Everyone,

This past semester has been flying by.  From classes, working, and finishing up my year with Phips, I have not had a lot of time to myself.  I am currently planning our Family Day and Greek Week.  Ian and I just celebrated our two years yesterday. He took me to West of Wise Winery in Petersburg, IL.  It was so cute and the wine was soooo good. I am thankful for him everyday.  
                                        *photo by Shawgo Studios*

I have a little less than two months left on the hill top.  I am excited to be starting a new chapter in my life.  I think I will miss living with my best friends the most.  We are all going in different directions and that can be scary.  I just ordered my cap and gown, so it's getting real.

Now for the more exciting new.  I will be heading back to Blue Ridge this summer.  I have landed the job as their Summer Staff Coordinator! I am so excited for this opportunity.  I will also be traveling to Jerusalem for them in August!  I will be going to the YMCA over there to observe and see how they work compared to Blue Ridge.   My dream as always been to travel for my job.  I am 21 and this dream has come true.  I am so blessed and so lucky to have this in my life. And, to top it off Trees, Water, & People have started their mission to plant 1,000,000 tress in honor of Lucas Wolf.  I feel him always...

To end this blog, "remember to feel the transition and spread that sunshine." #LiveLifeLikeLucas   



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Blogging Again...

Hello World,
   It has been a while since I have posted on this blog.  I honestly just haven't been in the mood to blog and my laptop wasn't working the best but I have gotten a new one, and I am hoping that 2018 is a better year for blogging!  I have a lot of really cool events coming up this year, and I would love to share that with all of you.  
   So far, this month has been quite.  I start my final semester of my undergrad on Tuesday!  It will be nice to get back into a routine and keep myself busy.  I am hoping to blog once a week like I use to do so be looking out for those.  Until then, I will be working a lot at IC's bookstore and Twyford's BBQ.