More than crumbs

On the boys’ last day of school, I posted this photo on facebook and instagram:



100+ people liked it.

I was not one of them.

When the weekend was over and the high of the first days of summer waned, I looked at this photo. I didn’t see a happy mother whose arms are full of boys. I saw make-up that needed re-touching, crow’s feet, and gray roots. I saw all that was missing. Or, what I thought was missing.

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and the first thing I had to do was step on the scale. Blerg! The numbers staring back at me were high. Higher than they have been in a long time. I texted a friend and said “Must exercise. Now.”

All of this is happening as I prep to go back to our cottage in Pentwater (where the above photo was taken ) tomorrow and spend a kid-free week (A WHOLE FREAKING WEEK!!!!!) with some girlfriends to celebrate my 40th birthday. I am hoping for some sun and naps on the beach. That will require a bathing suit and usually involves more self-loathing.

Not one of my friends will say anything to me about my appearance in my suit. And if they did, screw them. That’s not a friend! They are coming to have fun, to also have some kid-free down time, to drink wine, and laugh. As well they should. As well I should.

Not one of my friends commented on what was “missing” from the photo above. Because, nothing is missing. I am complete and whole and worthy just as I am.

So, why am I saying these things to myself? Why am I quick to uplift friends and support them unconditionally, but just as quick to tear myself down? There is a meme that circulates that says, “How you speak to your children become their inner voice.” The same applies to me.

My goal for the rest of 40 is to really focus on being kind with, and to, myself. I am worth it. I can no longer give and give to others and leave the crumbs for me. No one made me do this. No one has guilted me into acting and feeling this way. I have done this to myself, as I know many other women (especially moms) have as well. I got myself into this and it is just as important for me to dig myself back out.

Yes, I need to exercise again. But, I need to do it for me. I need to do it because it helps me mentally. I need to do it to relieve stress and have fun. Exercise is free therapy and a great salve for depression. I know this. I need to focus on this. If weight loss happens as a result, great. Just like I would say all these encouraging things to a friend, I will start saying them to myself.

Must haves: Outdoor showers, porches, and patios

June 8
What are your favorite decorative items/pieces of furniture/household features?

As I mentioned before, I grew up going “to the shore” for our annual summer vacation. Two glorious weeks in Sea Isle City, NJ. It really was the most innocent time in my life. During the day, my siblings and I would swim in the salty goodness of the ocean, feed (or get attacked by) seagulls, build drip castles (mine were best!), and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which always managed to have sand in them, too.When we tired of the beach, we would attach playing cards to the spokes of our bikes with clothespins and ride all over the island in search of penny candy or soft-serve. At night, our family would go out to dinner or drive up the island to the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.

Part of the getting ready ritual always involved an outdoor shower. I looked for pictures of some on-line. This one is the closest I could get. All of the houses we rented had an outdoor shower. None of them were this nice! Picture more rickety wood, chipping white paint, and pure vacation perfection. Blue sky above you, salt air, the roar of the waves in the background, and your favorite shampoo all mingling together.

The best part of the outdoor shower was taking one at night. Replace the blue sky with stars…ahhhhh! Now that I am older, I think all future outdoor showers will involve cold beer or red wine to complete the sensory experience.

I live in Michigan now. While there is no ocean here, we do have a pretty big lake that has just as much to offer, minus the salt. My new favorite place is Pentwater, MI. It is a small, lake town with a quaint main street, no chain restaurants, lots of bikes, and places to make memories with your family. Through the very generous help of some family friends, my husband and I recently purchased a rental cottage business in Pentwater. Check out Hilltop Cottage here!

When our son was in treatment, we could not go anywhere or do anything. Ever. The summer of 2010 marked the beginning of us reclaiming our new life. We did everything that summer that we couldn’t do during treatment, including swimming in that gorgeous Lake! That summer, we discovered Pentwater. The goal in purchasing this home is to give families who are just coming off childhood cancer treatment a week’s vacation at the lake.

The best parts of Hilltop Cottage are the front porch and screened in patio on the side of the house. There are comfortable chairs for rocking, speakers for the tunes, and hopefully, lots of family and friends for conversation and laughs.

I will always be within driving distance of water! It is good for my soul.