Experiences Over Stuff

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts this year.  Most of you know that I try to declutter, clean out and donate as frequently as possible.  In an effort to buy less stuff and experience more in life, I did some deep thinking about what experiences mean the most to me in hopes of being able to focus on those things more in 2018.

Quality time. When I think back to some of my favorite memories this year, I think of trips with friends, game nights, dance parties with my son, girls night out, tailgates, football games, celebrating birthdays, time with family, and being in a small group.  All of these times together have strengthened relationships, built memories and brought so much joy to my life!

Travels.  Some of the coolest places I have stayed while traveling are at airbnbs.  I stayed in someone’s basement in Alaska… doesn’t sound fancy… but you could see the Northern Lights from its window.  Pretty damn cool.  Or the house that we spent 4 days with good friends in Ireland… that was built over 200 years ago and every inch of architecture was amazing.  Traveling makes me have a greater appreciation of others, how small we all are in this big world, and a better understanding of geography/cultures/food/etc.

Sunsets.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a sunset.  You can watch a sunset every day for a week and none of them would look the same.  My favorite part is once the sun is down seeing all the colors reflecting off the clouds.  The best.  And if I can watch a sunset over next to a body of water, even better.

Fishing.  This experience is one that I don’t do nearly enough.  I love the feel of the sun and the wind blowing as I cast out my line and anxiously wait to see what I may bring in.  Fishing at low tide is my favorite.  You get to see so much in the water- blue crabs, sharks feeding, stingrays, and occasionally dolphins will swim by.  

Tennis. I can’t believe I am this old… but I have been playing tennis for over 25 years.  I love the competition, the sweat, the strategy, and the fun.  Plus, this year my baby sis has been my partner- so QT too!  I love that you can play 42 deuce points in one game and then when the next game 40-0.  I love that you might lose today but beat the same opponent tomorrow.  And the best part is it’s a lifetime sport- from young to old.

What experiences mean the most to you?  How can you fill your life with more of those and focus on less stuff?

love, brooke

It’s Been a Year

I know that many of us spend time being on the water- at the lake, river, beach, or ocean. I love being water side because it is so peaceful and relaxing. I still feel this way but our accident last year forever changed how I view the water. Yes, it is beautiful to look at but it can be incredibly overwhelming and never ending. Waves don’t stop, water gets deep quickly, and even though you may feel in control, you are not with that much water around you. Through this experience, I have gained a healthy amount of respect for the strength and magnitude of water.  

Our boat accident happened a year ago today. It was such a random and freak occurrence that I don’t think it could be duplicated if we tried. I’ve gone over that day in my head hundreds of times and each time realized or learned something new. I am also more sensitive to other’s boating/water stories and photos on social media. I wanted to put together my thoughts on what I have learned and recognized over the last year in hopes of helping prevent a similar accident again.

Life Jackets

  • I know many of you read my Plea for Life Jackets post several weeks ago. So I will just quickly say- all children who are on a dock or boat should be wearing an appropriately sized life jacket.
  • If you are on a commercial boat with your child, do not hesitate to request a life jacket for them. Even if the crew says you don’t need one… the seas are calm… blah blah blah- demand a life jacket. We went on a very rough sightseeing boat tour in Ireland and I am so thankful we demanded a life jacket for our son. The children’s life jackets were stored in the downstairs main cabin, behind a metal door, and inside a wooden cabinet. Once the crewman got that far, he still had to dig through several to find a child sized jacket. Personally, that is not an easily accessible life jacket location. My heart is racing just thinking about him struggling to find one. I can only imagine what would (or wouldn’t happen) if the boat was in some sort of accident. So, let my lesson be yours too- get a life jacket for your kid or get off the boat (which is what we almost did with the initial push back we got from the crew).
  • For adults, always know where the life jackets are kept and know how to access them.
  • If you ever are on a boat and feel uncomfortable, put on a life jacket. It can’t hurt.

Safe Boating

  • I am not really a big fan of boating on major holidays- Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends. There are a lot of people on the water and many of them have no clue what they are doing. If you do want to go boating those days, I prefer to go early in the morning and be back right after lunch. Cracking a cold one or two or seven on the boat is very popular but mixing alcohol, fast boats, and lots of people is a bad equation. Boating early helps prevent this scenario from occurring.
  • If for some reason you are on a boat that flips over, know that there is likely an air pocket under the boat where people may be trapped. Yes, this sounds scary (and it was) but they have air to breathe and can talk to one another there. It is important for rescuers to realize where this air pocket is under the boat so they can zoom in on where to look during the rescue. (Side note: When our boat flipped over, we quickly realized that some people were missing and were trapped underneath the boat. I immediately knew we had to get them out and the clock was ticking (I did not know about the air pocket). Thanks to watching Baywatch as a child, I knew I’d have to dive down under the boat to search for arms/legs. Who knew that Baywatch would be so helpful 25 years later?)
  • If you go out on a boat, know where you get on the boat (i.e., name of marina, boat ramp, house address, etc). If something happens and your original captain can’t drive you home, you will be able to tell someone else where you need to go. You may not know how to get there but will atleast have an idea of the general vicinity.

A year later…

I am happy to say that my son happily jumped back on this boat for a ride yesterday. He did not hesitate. I thank God for his resilience in being back on the water in that same boat again.  

We have not yet gone back to the location of the accident. I am not sure when/if I will. I know that time is helping to heal things though. For me, getting back on the boat several times over the last year has been a big deal. I will not let this accident scare me away from the water. But, I will take what I have learned to be even safer when boating. I hope you will all do the same!

love & learn, brooke

How to… Take the Perfect Easter Photo

After scrolling through social media today, I was reminded of how easy it is to take the perfect Easter photo with your family.  Here it is in 20 simple steps.

  1. Spend hours figuring out what each family member is going to wear.  Comb through closets to try to find something that has bright colors, isn’t stained, doesn’t have holes and might fit.
  2.  Remember to drop off dry cleaning 4 days before Easter Sunday.
  3.  If you are unsuccessful in finding something in closets, visit target and spend way too much money.  Be sure to buy two sizes of each item to find the right fit.  Convince yourself that you will return the unused size… one day.
  4.  Have each family member try on their potential outfits two days before Easter.  This will involve lots of eye rolling, complaining about how shoes fit, and trying to get distracted by a book or cell phone every 30 seconds.
  5.  While potential outfits are laying on a bed, remind family members not to sit nor jump on them.
  6. Hang completed outfits on hangers in doorways so they are easily available for getting dressed.
  7. Over the next 2 days, remember to crouch low so you can still enter your closet without knocking down the chosen Easter outfit.
  8.  Don’t forget to pick up your dry cleaning.  Be mindful of holiday hours/closings so you don’t get stuck without your coveted Easter garments.
  9. On Easter morning, make sure everyone has eaten breakfast before getting dressed to prevent stains.  And for the love of everything, make sure all Easter candy is hidden so hoarders can’t get into it while in their carseats on the way to church.
  10. Take pictures outdoors before going in to church.
  11. Find the perfect photo location requirements… outside, with perfect sun light, a green backsplash or flowers.  Try not to make your family hate you during this time.
  12. Once you find the right spot, try to find someone to take the photo.  Hopefully it can be someone who has held an iphone before and knows “which” button to press.
  13. Try to get your children to look at the camera and smile.  This can happen in a number of ways… swearing, bribing, and saying silly phrases… do what is most effective for your crew.
  14. Look at the photo and try not to offend the “photographer” with how bad it is.  Say something like “oh, it’s great… but do you mind taking two more?” (but really you mean five more)
  15. Repeat step 13 way too many times again.
  16. Thank the “photographer” profusely and wish them a Happy Easter.
  17. Rush your family into church to try to find somewhere IN side the sanctuary for the service and promise to fix the photos in post production.
  18. After church, frantically try to edit the photo while driving the lunch with your family.  Use all the tools you can; including filters and cropping.
  19. Pick the photo where you look the best and your family looks “eh, ok”.
  20. Be sure to crop any body parts out of the photo you don’t like.  Arms and bellies are a good place to start.

And that’s it… only 20 EASY steps to getting the perfect Easter photo! Be sure to post it ASAP on social media.  And if you really want to fit in, title the post with either “Happy Easter!” or “He is risen!”

Easter 2013

Here is my 2013 Perfect Easter Pic

laugh, brooke

Then and Now

MLK weekend 2016 was the absolute lowest point in my marriage (to date).  I was battling a painful kidney stone, severe constipation (TMI- I know), and trying to stay sane while taking care of a 3 year old over a long weekend without the help of my husband.  He was hard at work prepping for a major partnership.  I remember locking myself in the bathroom and crying from pain, exhaustion, and annoyance while my son tried to break into the room at the same time.  I was so frustrated with my body and my husband for being absolutely no help when I needed him most.  And the most annoying part was I saw no light at the end of the tunnel of my husband’s never ending work schedule.

Fast forward a year and life has changed significantly- thankfully!!  We spent a wonderful weekend together as a family playing with friends, going to church, taking in a basketball game, enjoying ice cream, and playing at the park.  Besides an occasional glance at his phone, my husband was able to be very present with us.  We were all so relaxed and happy spending time together and enjoying unseasonably warm temps for January.

I am not sure that I would have recognized this past weekend as “so wonderful” if we hadn’t been in such a low place last year.  It can be too easy to take “happy” life for granted when it’s the norm.  But, whenever it’s in jeopardy, we learn to appreciate it so much more.

We (ie, me too) need to stop and be grateful for enjoyable time with family, happy times with friends, and always celebrate good health.  Just like how much life has changed for the good in the last year, we need to also remember it can change for the not so good just as easily.

All of this serves as a reminder that the only thing constant in life is change.  Next weekend could become the 2nd worst point of our marriage, or it could be the best family day ever.  Life ebbs and flows.  We have to learn to be grateful for the good moments and remember that in our lowest points, we will rise again.

For me, I will continue to be so much more grateful for the good moments and try not to take them for granted in the future.  Life seems fuller and happier with that approach.

love, brooke