As I prepare to head off into my last official vacation to Maine this summer (though likely some shorter ones into September, never fear!), I want to capture every moment, and sear them into memory because Maine has been my savior this summer, that one place where I’ve let go completely and just let myself be. It’s been a mental, emotional and physical boost and given me a layer of serenity I’ve needed for some trying times this summer. And let’s face it, Maine has been ridiculously amazing, and I couldn’t feel more blessed.

So, today’s quote Friday quote:

β€Ž”See your surroundings with fresh eyes…the best way to find yourself is to discover where you are.”

I plan to do just that (and this)- plant myself firmly and really, really, really discover where I am and what I want to do with my life. I firmly feel as though I am at the cusp of something wonderful and I want to capture that and take control of where life’s leading me. I need this vacation for that, almost more than anything.

And as Erika aptly pointed out, sometimes life just ‘gets in the way’ of seeing things and enjoying them on a daily basis, and it’s hard to break out of that with all of the daily “clutter” there is. I couldn’t agree more. Vacations are meant for recharging, seeing your life with fresh eyes and soaking it all in.

And hell, while I’m at it, I’m going to nap, read, eat, drink wine and bask in the sun lakeside (with my sister and brother in law, and also so excited to have one of my favorite couples coming up this weekend – it’s going to be epic!!). But you knew that already πŸ˜‰

Have a wonderful weekend/week everyone! I’ll have a couple of posts (and guest posts) coming, and promise to be drafting my blog series on my father as well. Stay tuned…

As each weekend passes this summer, I realize more and more that weekends truly are moments. It’s been an amazing summer despite some ups and downs (namely, Nala) and even though it is flying by, I can count so many, many things that have made me smile this summer. And it’s no secret that many of the best moments have fallen on weekends simply because of being able to fully embrace and enjoy them.

So, here are some of the moments that I’ve captured this weekend, in Maine, and here at home.

…a relative “congratulating” my Grampa on soon-to-becoming a Great Grampa. His response? “yes, they tell me in about 7 weeks or so…” (grin on face)

…my Grampa recounting my Gram’s excitement purchasing a baby gift for Jen’s shower next weekend (which my sis and I are hurriedly in final planning stages for!) and when she wanted to buy some things that may seem a little impractical at this moment in time, he says “it’s just an infant!” (and Gram’s response…yes, and there’s always Christmas!). Insert another grin on faces…theirs and mine and Jess’s. Beautiful and fun moment!

…watching Grampa take the jetski for a little spin on the lake. Rarely see him do it, but when I do, I watch every moment. It’s the best!

…napping lakeside, book on my lap, waves lapping at the shore (funny, this moment seems to re-occur in my Maine recaps, don’t they?!)

…Nala and Kayla opting to play use-mom-as-a-runway all night on Friday night. Race across my back, over my head, under the bed and back. Meowing and growling and playing all night. As much as it kept me awake, I loved it. A month ago I couldn’t have imagined Nala having that much energy!

…feeling a baby bum and little toes – touching my sister’s belly for the first time (I know, I can’t believe I hadn’t before!) and feeling my soon-to-be-niece moving around…wow. I’m going to be an aunt so soon, I better study up πŸ˜‰

…watching Jen open some baby gifts at my dad’s today – a rare moment where everyone’s getting along with dad (believe me, it’s been touch and go the last few months even since we reunited, but that’s a story for another day!) and seeing how excited dad is about becoming a “Nonno” (grandpa in Italian). Jen’s always been ‘daddy’s girl’ and I love seeing him this way.

I hope your weekends had moments and you captured them….sometimes it’s the best to just lose yourself in the moment. Take a step back. Breathe it in.

Dad (aka soon-to-be-Nonno) and Jen

Jen, Jess and me at Dad's for mini-shower

Grampa jetskiing!

the lake shore this morning - how gorgeous...

Okay, maybe I’d just *date* you…don’t want to jump in *too* fast now, do we? πŸ˜‰

Wow, what can I say? Maine was again, amazing, and exactly what I needed. From Friday afternoon until last night, I was in an utter state of happiness, relaxation and appreciation. Growing up, I think I took for granted the little piece of heaven that is Maine, and the fact that it’s a wonderful way to spend some quality time with my grandparents, too. Every day, I realize how lucky I am to have them both in such good health, and to have a close relationship with them.

For example…

Gram joked with me that “we” need to find me a man (and then proceeded to tell me about the cute man at her church…who’s actually twice divorced. Um, that’s a wee bit more baggage than I’m looking for, but it was cute and funny and I loved it).

We played a mean game of dominoes complete with de-lish blueberry cake that Gram made from the fresh blueberries we picked the day prior (pics below, take a gander!).

Gram and Gramp shaking their heads in half-teasing, half-‘shame’ at our forgetting to take our floaties in before a big thunderstorm and away they flew (but, Jess and Scott managed a successful search and rescue mission on the jetski and found two of them, so all was not lost).

Gram sharing a story with me from childhood, a story I had never heard before, and I’ll never forget it, the perspective, the hindsight, too, and well, the real-ness of the conversation.

Gram and Jess and me taking an impromptu mini-hike up the street and into the woods on the hunt for blackberries (which weren’t ripe, sadly, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle that was Jess as she ran and screeched away from a bunch of horse flies that seemed to love hovering over her head. I did, however, manage to thwack a few of them right on her head, killing them!).

…those moments were moments I loved and appreciated and capture here, and in my memory.

A few others?

Spending a wonderful, fun, reminiscing, wine-filled long weekend with Amy and Eric. We had a blast. We played Balderdash (which was hysterical. if you have never played it, definitely do!). We played Trivial Pursuit (boys vs. girls, and um, for the record, it’s not our fault we kept getting questions with multiple choice answers!). We just enjoyed the time together. If they lived here, we’d be together all the time. I’m convinced. They rock.

Reading “The Lovely Bones” from cover to cover in two days. Amazing book. Loved it.

Taking an impromptu nap on the dock on the one cloudy afternoon we had. Hearing the waves lapping the shore, boats chugging by, and the birds chirping was the perfect recipe for a nap.

Enjoying many an afternoon glass of wine or frosty cocktail, because, why not, right?

Running to the foot of the lake and back a few times, trying to channel my inner runner, focus on nature and not on my screaming lungs (half-successfully!).

Blueberry picking with Ames, Eric and Jess (and again, Jess gets bombarded with horse flies – wtf perfume were you wearing sis?! ;-))

Doing a bootcamp-type workout on the dock with Jess on Tuesday morning. So awesome to do, as the lake with our backdrop, smooth as glass.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the vacation I’m sure I’d marry if it were a man πŸ˜‰

Blueberry picking!

Blueberry picking!

see that vat? we got three of those bad boys - yum!

see that vat? we got three of those bad boys - yum!

Jess posing with the berries ;)

Jess posing with the berries πŸ˜‰

stuffed burgers anyone?

stuffed burgers anyone?

Kayla gazing out the window post t-storm

Kayla gazing out the window post t-storm

Nala cuddling with her mom - I love this pic.

Nala cuddling with her mom - I love this pic.

As I am just a few hours away from heading back up to my serenity – Maine – with my sister Jess, and my brother-in-law Scott, and one of my bestest, Amy, and Eric (woohoo!), I’m feeling pretty damn good, so I thought today’s quote Friday perfectly states it:

“Kick off your shoes, spread your toes, and ground yourself in the present.”

I plan to do nothing but that over the next 6 days and breathe it all in. I leave you with this pic – on the dawn of the last morning from my Fourth of July trip – it’s breathtaking, isn’t it? Serenity…is almost mine.

PS – this is my 500th post! Amazing. Go blog, go!

On a summer weekend that was relatively low-key (save for that 9+ mile run that I am STILL feeling today…I feel like my body was run over by a truck, that then proceeded to back up and run over me again), I’ve made some interesting, newfound self-observations, in part as I think about moving in just about two months (sure, it’s just to a different building in my complex, but it’s still moving…and I am just realizing, my move date is one day after my “divorcesary” on September 11, kind of cool timing.).

Here goes:

  • I claim to be *almost* as type A-clean as my sister Jess, but I think I’m harboring my inner “messy girl.” While I love having a clean home, and it is very clean, with minimal clutter, I actually don’t love to clean. There, I said it. I love the end result, but I hate the process. Sometimes I even half-ass my cleaning – gasp, I know, Jess you are shaking your head in shock, aren’t you? πŸ˜‰ My “messy girl” totally comes through…in my closets. They’re a mess. Yes, even my walk-in clothes closet. Given they all have those neat contraptions called doors, I can *hide* any mess or clutter I want. Imagine that! (moving will hopefully de-clutter me again…I do love a good de-clutter, though, lest not forget).
  • I hate bridal showers. Okay, so hate is a strong word, maybe I don’t hate them, I dislike the tradition, barring-on-hokiness and stuffiness of bridal showers. I went to one today, for one of my really good friends (my college roommate) in Maine, and as I looked around, I realized two things a) how showers seem to be something you “just do” as you march towards the big wedding day, and b) how obligatory they seem to appear or feel, to an extent. I love celebrating love – don’t get me wrong – I just feel as though the “bridal shower” could stand some evolution. And if I ever marry again – a big if, or at least a big unknown – I will NOT have a bridal shower. I didn’t have one the first time around and I certainly won’t do it the second time around. Just not me.
  • I’m almost certain I’ll go un-traditional wedding again, if I ever marry again – again, a big if/unknown at this point – for the very same reasons. For me, a wedding signifying marrying the (hopefully!) love of your life is such a personal thing that a huge wedding, lots of fanfare and fancy dresses just isn’t me. I am almost certain I would hate every second of it (though, oddly, I LOVE attending weddings! I have a few this summer and though it’d be nice to have a date, I know I will still have fun…and hey, they aren’t till the fall, so maybe I will, who knows…). I joke that I’d be the best fiancee ever…any man’s dream, right? No shower? No wedding? Arm pump, right?!
  • I don’t know how to “sleep in” anymore. I used to love sleeping in, at least till 8 or 9, on a Saturday or Sunday to catch up from the week of getting up at 5 or 5:30, but now, I just don’t know how. Sure, it might be the fact that my kitties (okay, Nala!) loves to wake me up for breakfast in the morning with a “loving” face pat with the paw/claw, but I tend to wake naturally earlier now. Might also have to do with not having someone to cuddle up next to that would make me want to sleep in? Maybe. But I’m leaning more towards my inner clock shifting as I age πŸ˜‰

So there ya go – a mix of humorous and more serious self-observations that have come to the surface recently. Having some downtime has allowed for that, I think, this weekend, which I really needed. I love the summer for busy jam-packed weekends of fun parties, cookouts, Maine, beach etc., but a lower key weekend without a lot of activity is also much-needed sometimes, to regroup. I’m feeling (relatively) ready to face the week ahead, complete with an afternoon nap today and two sleeping kitties next to me.

~~

Oh, and did I mention only 5 working days until Maine for a 5ish days?! AND that one of my bestest friends – Amy (who needs a new name since getting married last month! The one I spent an ‘epic weekend’ with in Florida in April) opted for an impromptu/surprise visit this weekend so she and Eric will be joining us “upta camp” for 4 of those days? Couldn’t be more excited and touched that they want to visit and spend the weekend with us…and mark my words, it will for sure be another epic weekend. πŸ™‚

I went into this weekend hoping to capture serenity (and peace) amid the storm.

I came away from this weekend with serenity amid and despite the storm.

In short, not only is Nala continuing to improve, totally loved being in Maine (as did her sister Kayla), I got a pretty promising report back from the vet today. Bloodwork came back negative, and urinalysis came back noting an infection, perhaps bacterium in her bladder or kidney, but hopefully (and possibly likely) something that is treatable after all. Treatment is to stay in antibiotics for now, possibly ultrasound in the next few weeks. Needless to say, I am beyond happy about that, I feel some sense of relief and it was a full-circle weekend for me in that regard.

Now…as for the weekend itself?

Pure bliss.

Plain and simple, it was exactly what I needed.

It was filled with relaxation, floating across the lake in the best floatie around (note pictures below), jetskiing, reading dockside, and even a nap or two.

It was filled with calm, peaceful mornings, a few good runs, lots and lots of fresh, crisp Maine air.

It was filled with family. My grandparents summer at the lake and they love when we visit. We played a mean game of dominoes (so much so that when my cousin called from Minnesota, that we didn’t stop playing, we merely played pass-the-phone-when-its-your-turn – heh.), and ate cake (because ya know, Gram can’t go a weekend without baking some treat for us, and it would be rude *not* to have any, right?). My mom and Mark came up for the night with their dog Pepper, and my sister Jen and Josh came up on Monday for some sun, lake and dinner (with their two pups, Liam and Ladybug).

It was filled with wine. Mmm. Lots of it.

And food. The best Maine lobster roll Ever. EVER.

It was filled with moments that I will forever keep in my mind, as one of the best – if not THE best fourth of July weekends I can remember.

Most memorable? This morning...we decided to stay one more night, and leave super early for work. Got up at 5, the sun was juuuust rising over the lake and it was breathtaking. We did a quick 2ish mile run just to get something in, jumped in the lake at 6 am, drenched in sweat (it hit 100 here today!!), packed up and drove home. And it was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

I captured serenity.

I leave with you a few pictures…enjoy. And if you can capture serenity on a quick vacation, day trip, even and unplug and just flow…it’s so worth it.

Jess and me - first night at the lake!

Jess and Scott - at Ted's Fried Clams awaiting our feast πŸ˜‰

Oops - almost forgot the lobster roll pic - mmm mmm good!

Me…also awaiting our feast πŸ˜‰

Jess and me - jetskiing!

me and Jess floating!

me - attempting to get Nala to look at the camera

The breathtaking sunrise...ahh bliss.

Happy Quote Friday everyone!! This week started out relatively low, with Nala‘s latest vet visit, but has progressively gotten better, as I’m still riding the high of her weight gain and hoping it continues (she feels heavier and filled out, so maybe she’s gaining again! Still no word on bloodwork though).

Today’s quote is my mindset right now as I am about an hour away from heading up to Maine for a long weekend of much-needed serenity. Maine is my mecca for that, and my family will be there at various points of the weekend as well, and I can’t wait to just spend time with them, and unplug from it all (this goes back to simplicity!). So, today’s quote:

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”

I’d be fooling myself if I say that I’m “escaping” the underlying worries in my brain about Nala (aka the “storm” in this quote), but I’m feeling hopeful right now, as she sits curled up in my lap, purring and looking at me lovingly (she may not have the same demeanor in the car for two hours, however!), but I am going to try my best to release myself from the storm of that, and the storm that life generally feels like right now and just enjoy every moment.

Why?

Because Maine…it truly is “the way life should be.”

So, my friends, I will unplug for the weekend, but will be back on Monday or Tuesday, with daily ruminations from the weekend, pictures a’plenty, and hopefully, a refreshed mental focus and one hell of a tan.

I leave you with my definition of serenity…the lake, in all its beautiful glory.