Lessons learned from girls’ week at the beach

I spent all of last week in Pentwater, Michigan, at Hilltop Cottage. I rented it from myself to celebrate my 40th birthday with my girlfriends. I spent a lot of time thinking and not thinking about stuff. I have to confess I didn’t miss Twitter, or Facebook, and I sure as heck didn’t miss my job. Girlfriends came in and out all week and then families joined us on July 3 for beach, s’mores, and fireworks. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

The rules were simple: There were no rules and no judgments.

In no particular order, here are some things I realized last week:

  1. Midwestern friendship circles are hard to break into. People grew up here and raise their families here, so many of their friendships are already established. This isn’t personal in the sense that it isn’t about me. But it is personal to me. Took me awhile to figure that out.
  2. I found my tribe. Now I need to nurture it.

    My Tribe.

    Find your tribe. It’s ok if it takes longer than you thought. Once found, hold on tight.

  3. I’m lucky that my job does not require me to check-in while I am on vacation. I didn’t check my work email or voicemail once. I don’t think that I want a job that would require me to do so.
  4. Be generous. If you have something fun- a cottage, boat, convertible, whatever-, share it with others. “Stuff” is just stuff unless you share it. Make memories together.
  5. Be grateful. Never walk into a party empty-handed. My girls came bearing gifts- drinks, dinners ready to go, and tons of snacks! And then, when they had to go home, they left the goodies with those who remained.
  6. Be gracious. Spend time with those who feed your soul. Spend real time with them. Look into their eyes. Say thank you for the gift that they are to you.
  7. Empty the dishwasher.
  8. Reload the dishwasher. And the ice trays.
  9. I deserve to be pampered. We can only give what is inside our own tanks. I am worth every ounce of luxury this week provided me and so are ALL OF YOU- especially my fellow mommas. As moms we are quick to celebrate others but not ourselves. This needs to stop.
  10. I will continue to resist mom-guilt. I will not allow myself to feel guilty for taking care of myself and I will continue to resist anyone else who tries to make feel guilty. I missed my boys while I was away. But I deserved this week. The end.
  11. 40 is no joke. It is a privilege denied to many. I made it this far. I’m going to work smarter to make the most of it. I’m content, satisfied, and no longer willing to play politics or games.
Content. Satisfied.

Content. Satisfied. 40th Birthday Bash. PTW. July 2015

(P.S. 40 is no joke….detoxing from all the sugar and booze was a little painful come Monday 😉 )

Happy 40th Birthday, Heather

Dear Heather,
Happy Birthday! I am thrilled and grateful to be here celebrating YOU!
I think you know that I stalked you on Facebook before you moved to Michigan. 🙂 I was so excited- and I will admit a little desperate- at the the possibility of a working mom friend in the area. Meeting people in suburbia can be very hard!
I was very nervous to meet you, though. Terrified actually. What if you hated me? What if our boys didn’t get along? You seemed (and are) very bright, energetic, kind, and very very involved in ACPA and our profession. So, I was a little afraid that I could not live up to your professional standards. Turns out you have no standards since we are now friends! Ha, ha!
I made up a picture of you in my mind. How I thought you would talk, the issues that you would care about, the way that you would look at me. I thought you would judge me. Because, isn’t that what women do sometimes? Most of the time? I don’t care about feminism, higher education, or professional organizations nearly the way you do. Turns out all of that was made up in my head. You have accepted me for who I am. You are passionate about things without forcing your views on others or making them feel like they must care about them the way you do. I think that is my favorite thing about you. Well that, and one time when I was over at your house I saw toaster crumbs on your counter and I was like, “Yes! She’s like MEEEEE!”
I remember meeting you in person for the first time. You, Ray and the boys were waiting for me and my boys at Patriarche Park. You were sitting on a bench. I remember being relieved that you were wearing jean shorts and Tevas. I remember our boys taking off immediately to go play. They played all afternoon. We wandered all over the park and at one point you taught my boys how to play horseshoes- horseshoes that you brought with you. Because, you are that kind of person. First, you own horseshoes and then you think to bring them to a play date because your new friends might want to learn how to throw them, too. Then, we all went to the MSU Dairy Store. It was the longest first playdate in history and it was great!
From that first meeting on we have connected and shared stories about motherhood, mothering boys, being wives and partners, and working mothers in higher education. I have truly treasured those conversations and am grateful for your thoughtfulness and your selfless friendship. I am thrilled beyond measure to call you friend and I look forward to many more happy years.
The attached picture is from when you and Kelley drove all the way to Detroit to support me in Listen to Your Mother. Thank you for that. It meant so much to me that you were there in the audience that afternoon. Actually, you watched the boys for me so I could go to the first rehearsal, so you were in my corner from the very beginning. And, that is just like you, too. You are loyal, kind, generous, and giving. Thank you for being my new friend.
Cheers to 40! Can’t wait to see where the years take us.
Love,
Monica
Thanks to my cheering section!

Thanks to my cheering section!

Sick of all this cancer?

Sick of all this cancer?

Nicole Scobie blogs about her adventures in “Cancerland and Switzerland.” This most recent post is spot on. Please take a few moments to watch Erin (who is battling DIPG) and then read Nicole’s post about Erin’s mom Amanda and the reaction of her “friends.”

Kids with cancer need your financial support. They need research for them. They need all of us to teach our children about friendship, love, caring for those who are injured or sick, and loyalty.

Parents of children with cancer need your compassion, empathy, and listening ear, not your pity.