ClaytonGerard.com: A New Chapter

______________________________________________

Hello all! I am pleased to bring to you all the launch of the project that I have been working on for the last few months. After starting my blog in 2012, I knew that I wanted to expand down the road by taking the blog to my own domain. I knew that I wanted to create a domain that featured my own work and was just simply my name alike the name of this blog. I am pleased to announce the start of a whole new chapter of my life as a blogger. While this is as exciting as it is, this also brings a close to a current project, being this blog.

No worries though, I’m just moving homes! This blog will now function as an archive for the most part, as I am moving to a new domain. I thank you for all who have supported my blogging on this journey and I cannot wait to post more! Have a good one and see you in the new digs!

CLAYTONGERARD.COM

Advertisements

2013: Year In Review

December 31st, 2013

______________________________________________

Hello all! Yes I am sitting in front of my computer screen on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve as I rummage through my photos from my “2013” file and I am really reminiscing on all of the marvelous things that this year has brought me. Of course, it has not been perfect, but things are really looking up for me. I am finding a confidence building in my work and being as a whole which is bringing a pleasant close to this year. Here in this post you will be able to find my favorites endeavors within this year along with some extra photos I never shared with you! A little behind the scenes, if you will… Here we go!

EARLY SPRING: GRAND HAVEN

I made sure this year that I would try to see more of Michigan, and viewing Lake Michigan during the Winter was no exception! While much colder then it was inland, the views were spectacular along the mitten’s coast!

SPRING: CHICAGO 

I have always found an attraction to the city even from an early age. Chicago has held a special place in my heart which is why I adore this photo overlooking the Chicago river.

SPRING: GR FLOOD

Early April definitely brought the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” to a whole new level when a flood hit the Grand River in Grand Rapids flooding much of the banks along the river. Nothing dangerous to the city other then property damage, but the event brought plenty of Grand Rapids’ citizens downtown to view the impact of the flooding.

BIRTHDAY ENDEAVOR

As a birthday present, my close friend Becca took me out to a local cabaret dinner to listen to some high schoolers perform their own chosen pieces which made my birthday pretty kick ass!

SUMMER: PENNSYLVANIA

The first weekend of the Summer break for American students brought for me a long weekend at my sister’s home in rural Southeastern Pennsylvania! The drive was long but once we were winding in the Pennsylvania mountains, the views were definitely worth it!

EARLY SUMMER: NEW YORK

June of 2013 also brought my little meet and greet with the fabulous city of NEW YORK! I fell in love from my first step off the train onto the Manhattan pavement. I couldn’t wait to return.

EARLY SUMMER: WEDDING

On June 21st, 2013, Annmarie and the love of her life Bradley were joined in marriage in Grand Rapids! The day was so wonderful and the family could not have asked for a better day!

MID SUMMER:

Working a week on the Mississippi at Quad Cities was spiritually cleansing and rewarding to do some charity work.

MID SUMMER: MACKINAC

The annual family vacation to Mackinac Island did not cease to impress my standards of Michigan.

LATE SUMMER: DOWNTOWN SWING

I spent many Tuesday evenings with the gang downtown to find new places to chill and enjoy GROSS(Grand Rapids Original Swing Society)

LATE SUMMER: NEW YORK, AGAIN!

In mid August, I got the chance to reaffirm my love for New York during a week’s visit to my sisters abode in Pennsylvania!

INY

FALL: CARNIVAL

Fall is a great time for any sort of festival with friends!

LATE FALL: THEATRE

Late fall brought the busy, yet amazing few months of working as a lead for The Princess Bride: On Stage!

WINTER: CHI-TOWN

From a Wander-Lust junkie I felt very blessed that I got to travel to my two favorite cities twice this year! It was a great cap to the year of 2013.

______________________________________________

I know that I couldn’t include every single event that I took part in the year of 2013, but I know for sure that I was grateful to have so many to choose from and these were some favorites! I am ready to relax this evening with some sparkling cider and contemplate about what I want the year of 2014 to bring for me. I hope you have a great, and safe New Years and that 2014 brings you more than you could ever dream of❤

On Giving Thanks

November 28th, 2013

______________________________________________

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that’s importance comes along with the contemplation of the importance of the holiday itself. As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade I am reflecting on what I am actual thankful for in my life. When I open up a new tab for my blog I shudder at the most recent post date is November 4th. I have not even been able to get myself to formulate a cliche post with excuses about why I haven’t posted.

That is when I stopped. Excuses? I should not have to feel sorry for the other accomplishments I have been focusing on my lifetime for my senior year. I gave way to turning my excuses into positive means of things to be blessed with.

Here are some things I have be thankful for on this day:

  • Performing for a lead role in my last high school, fall play.
  • Receiving A’s on all of my school work this past trimester.
  • Maintaining photo jobs throughout the season.
  • Performing in choir for a choral festival across the state.
  • Developing a portfolio for school.
  • Getting accepted to all of the universities I have applied to for school.
  • Still keeping a strong relationship with my recently-moved sister.
  • Being able to stay close with friends.
  • Enjoying my senior year!

______________________________________________

So while these are only some monumental things I highlight to be thankful for today, I have come to love Thanksgiving every year when I take a step back  forgetting all of the great food, following sales of the day, and remember the true importance of the holiday and reflections that come from it. I hope you all have a great holiday and I am glad to be back in my writing game. Don’t eat too much turkey now. Happy Thanksgiving!  xxoo

Cheers To The Senior Year: An Open Letter

September 16th, 2013

______________________________________________

This is an open statement, letter, or reflection to make the most out of the school year to come. Already a few weeks in, and this school year has already been pleasant. My confidence has quadrupled since I was just a small freshman, and I am really starting to figure out what I want to do with my life. I know this year will already take me by storm, and it will be over before I know it, so I know I today have some things I want to make sure I remember to tell myself.

First being, this year will end, and once the year ends the relationships you have spent building these last four years will now all have a different dynamic which includes distance and different priorities, so do not take the the time you have with them this year for granted. Secondly, do not forget that the year still matters and do not let age hold you back from aiming towards success.

Finally, while it may be more fun and angsty to deny school spirit, get crazy and dress your school colors. Go to the football games, and get involved. You’ll be too busy to care about school spirit in college.

Things are about to change for you, and you need to not realize anything about that. Yes, a plan is definitely necessary, but enjoy the time you have in high school, and leave behind the things that will keep you from making amazing memories for the months to come.

______________________________________________

Going through senior year is a definite sign that a new chapter in my life is about to be written, and I am trying to reflect and taking time to slow down and make sure I live in the moment, staying spiritually balanced. I hope you got something out of this whether you are entering your senior year as well, or things are changing in your lives as well. Have a good week readers.

 

 

MI ✈ PA

August 5th, 2013

______________________________________________

Yes! Yet again, I will be off for another week of adventure during this wonderful Summer! I will be heading to the East Coast along with our family friend Erin(Annmarie’s Maid Of Honor) to reunite with Annmarie and my brother in-law Brad! I cannot wait to spend some time in one of my favorite regions of the U.S.!

I will be getting to experience the Pennsylvania Amish first hand, visit the city of my dreams, and spend some time as siblings! It’s going to be one hell of a week! xxoo

Summer Nights: Deck Party

July 22nd, 2013

______________________________________________

+Hello all, happy Monday! This past week I spent a lot of time getting back into the swing of things after a week of service at the Quad Cities. I have also been catching up with a lot of friends, and that included an evening around home at Matisse’s house.

+We spent the evening just chilling on the deck with some music, and laughs. Matisse and I discussed blogging a bit and attempted to make a video that definitely did not turn out, haha! But nonetheless, considering the heat the past week, this evening was very chill and not to hot. I really thought about it, and appreciate Michigan Summers for days just like this.(especially in my hamburger socks from Target!)

+Now that it is already creeping towards the end of July, I have really thought about how fast this Summer break is going, and still all I want to get done. I still have a week up in Northern Michigan, a week in Pennsylvania, and there is only about a month left. That previous thought left me wondering about what I want to do with the rest of my Summer. I want to be as productive as possible, while still being able to look back on cool experiences. I know I still have a lot of things on my mental-bucket-list for the Summer I still want to cross off, and this night was something that wasn’t even on it, but it was very sentimental to me all in all.

______________________________________________

+I know we all, especially in my age group run into this situation every year during the midst of the Summer season. I will now be basking in the week I have up North, and also the last month I have of this wonderful Summer. I encourage you to do the same! Have a good one readers! xxoo

Quad Cities! What I Learned At The Quad

July 15th, 2013

______________________________________________

Hello all! I am back from a week from the Quad, working back and forth across the Mississippi River, in the collection of towns making up the Quad Cities. I have been chilling this past weekend and getting back into the daily routine, and I think I can finally reflect on this past week.

We left a week ago Sunday, and drove 5 hours to reach Quad Cities. Upon arrival, you could already tell it was going to be a hot week. We were more southern, and the more west you get, the more drier it gets as well, but we were ready. The first night I already knew what my projects were going to be for the week, and for Monday and Tuesday, I’d be working in a community center that dealt with seniors and mentally disabled. For Thursday and Friday, I would be working in a neighborhood in Davenport that had a food pantry, clothing closet, shelters, and community gardens. Between these days, we stayed in the basement of a Church, sleeping on air mattresses in crammed bible school rooms. I was ready to take it on.

The first two days of my trip consisted of working at an adult-daycare community center. We kept the elderly company, played cards and serviced them at the best of our abilities. On Tuesday, I spent time in a location of the Community Center known as “The Unit” which was for the lower functioning of the clients that came daily. Most of them either had dementia, or Alzheimer’s and I kept company with them and helped them through lunch and so on. The woman on the left in the photo above’s name is Evelyn. She didn’t say much and kept to herself, but she smiled at anything I asked and I couldn’t have appreciated more helping her for the day, even if she didn’t have much to say.

For the second half of the week, we spent it in a neighborhood in Davenport. The neighborhood features a clothing closet, food pantry, food kitchen, and community garden along with shelters. These amenities to the area are a lot thanks to the works of Sr. Marilyn (pictured above, lower right). Sr. Marilyn is a nun who moved to this area sixteen years ago to do works throughout the church order, a feminist ahead of her time I think! She spoke to us about how the area had much higher crime when she arrived and on the same street these services are now, used to have an after hours club. I got the vibe that it used to be a lot rougher. She definitely has turned this neighborhood around and I have mad respect for her.

I felt that out of the mission trips I have attended throughout high school, I definitely learned the most from the community rather then from the works done at the sites I was assigned. We met a boy Johnny(pictured above) who lived in the neighborhood we were working in. He loved piggy back rides, and he was there waiting in the community garden, waving to us as we came in for our second day of work. He was so smart and at one point said he would rather help then go play! To see the potential of the youth in that area puts hope in your heart that he will seek positive influences as he grows up.

On the other hand, we also observed the life of poverty firsthand in Quad Cities. At the clothing closet, we were handing out clothes and met a woman who was expecting a child in January, and lived in a PARKING GARAGE. She was in fact at the clothing closet looking for clothes for her child. There were others coming by for clothes, and we had to turn them away due to the fact that we didn’t have clothing in their size because they are donated. Their attitude involved walking away with smiles and “better luck next time.” They live these lives every day, and it really puts things into perspective.

I could go on about the fact that I am so fortunate for the lifestyle I live compared to those less fortunate in Quad Cities, but I would be lying if I said that was the only thing I took away from Quad Cities.

The thing that adhered to me the most was the fact that there was such a diverse group of people that made up these communities that are overlooked by society, yet have so much potential and worth in this world. The fact that these people keep heads held high, and live a way more positive life then I and have offered up so much more wise advice, I can’t thank Quad Cities enough for that. I spiritually feel balanced with what I experienced and saw the past week, and the hope is that I can take what I learned and can spread it through my own community.

______________________________________________

I hope you found something inspiring at least once somewhere through this post and I hope it inspires you to give back, and see the most you can get out of people rather then labeling them poor. I know I will be trying to as well. Have a good one readers! xxoo