Hello to September, where you can squeeze the last bit of summer out during the day and then come home and build a fire at night. Where the air turns a bit crisp in the morning, yet you reminisce about those summer days while sipping your morning coffee.
Me? Well, I will hold on to summer as long as possible. Fall used to be my favorite time of the year and somewhere between about three or four years ago my favorite season was replaced by long summer days and laughter into the summer nights. My heart literally yearns for pool days, summer hikes, and laying in the grass yelling out cloud animals with my girls. It’s the season where I take patio living to the next level. I live on my patio in the summer and I garden until my heart is content out there. Not much else compares to this for me.
At the beginning of this summer, I was charged with creating a summer bucket list and Mellisa you might not ever know how hard I loved that challenge with every single fiber of my body! So, I did just that and created my summer bucket list. I started checking things off, adding a few more, and sharing my desires with my family. My husband may have laughed a little too hard at my wish to paddle board, I mean with neuropathy and having balance issues these days, this wasn’t the most graceful idea I’ve ever had!
We live at the pool during summer, no seriously, I am pretty sure they keep the chlorine going just for us. I do not let the mom-bod insecurities creep in during this time. I jump in like a 5 year-old doing a cannonball for the first time in their life. Life is just better in the water. I can honestly say I was not like this prior to cancer. I used to be the mom who sometimes waded through the pool hoping to not get her hair wet. Then, when I became bald it really didn’t matter. I think that was when I realized how much better it was to laugh and I mean truly laugh. Teaching them how to do handstands, somersaults, and playing marco-polo without a care in the world, that’s so much better than giving a crap about my hair. My hair is growing out now and I still get in the water, gasp! Give me chlorine filled hair and I will share with you an afternoon well-spent!
We hike during the summer, too! I conquered my fear of Starkey Nature Park in Zionsville, IN this summer! Some of you might be wondering why a fear? Let me paint a picture for you. A year ago in July of 2017 I had the bright idea we should hike at Starkey as we had never been there before. We pulled up to a tiny parking lot, a pretty sad looking picnic table, and no people except one man putting on fly fishing gear. Piece by piece in what felt like a lifetime, he put one lure on at a time, tugged on his fishing pole line, and fastened his fishing basket. We sat our Subway lunch down on the picnic table and began to eat. All of a sudden, the fly fisherman disappeared into the tall grass lined with telephone poles for as far as the eye could see. What we didn’t see was water. I slowly gazed up at my husband and said, as a lover of all horror movies, I’ve seen way too many to head out on a hike. I’m out! He was already packing things up before I could even finish the sentence. He knows that if I am terrified, we all should be terrified! This year though, we headed back there and conquered the trails, found the water, and had a blast. Our fear was conquered and nothing creepy or horror film likeness ensued!
Summer truly is just a little sweeter than the rest. With trips to The Scoop, Fundae’s, and of course our Michigan favorite, Cabana’s! This summer was no disappointment! Something about ice cream on the beaches of Lake Michigan tastes just a little sweeter! I had this moment in Saint Joseph, Michigan where I was sitting on a dock eating some ice cream listening to the crashing waves while watching my girls play on the beach. Blissfully enjoying a nice summer breeze. Summer doesn’t really get much better than that! Three years ago we discovered Saint Joe and it’ll be a soul favorite of ours for a lifetime, we will go each summer for the rest of our days!!
Holiday World is a time where we literally lock our phones in a locker and don’t look at them until we leave the park. I snap one picture and only one the whole day. I wouldn’t have it any other way! When I look at our one picture, I can feel the laughter and excitement of the day! This year we spent a good portion of our day at Splashin’ Safari (the waterpark) riding a crazy amount of water slides. We ate our weight in pizza and breadsticks. We laughed, we rode rides, and we rocked that park like we owned it!
I wrapped up with friends for fish taco dates, wine dates, and early dinner girlfriend dates. What I didn’t do was say no to those opportunities or make up some excuse as to why I couldn’t go. I made the time, didn’t feel guilty, and enjoyed some amazing laughs with some pretty amazing company over equally great food! Say yes to tacos and yes to friends! Make time for friends, you won’t be disappointed!!
I dated my husband this summer. This is so important and likely my favorite thing of summer. Sometimes those dates were in our backyard. Sometimes those dates were on the couch catching a movie. Sometimes those dates were to a brewery where we tried 5 different kinds of beer and both ate triple patty cheeseburgers. Sometimes we dressed up for a night out. Sometimes we hit golf balls for way too long at Top Golf, laughed way too hard at ourselves, and put away a crazy amount of queso cheese dip. We loved each other’s company once again.
I took in equal amounts of lazy days laying on one of our patio couches or laying in the grass peering up at the sky. A couple times this summer I needed the existence of doing nothing, tunes playing, and thoughts racing. This summer I lost two friends who I battled cancer with. One of those being the only other person I knew locally with ovarian cancer and the other being diagnosed within 10 days of me. My heart literally shattered twice this summer. I had to deal with that and sometimes the only way I can deal with it is crying my eyes out and laying on my grass staring up at the sky. I don’t move, I don’t speak, I just exist. Cancer has brought a depth of emotion I didn’t even know existed prior. Pain that can be unthinkable yet an existence that is beyond harmonious.
There was a lot of rejoicing this summer with the results of clean scans and great blood work!! I found some relief from neuropathy in my feet with Neurontin. It also gives me the best sleep of my life, like before kids kind of sleep! I am slowly working my way back into being a runner, slowly. Also, celebrating being one full year into the clinical study! Speaking engagements and advocacy work were also introduced to me this summer and I will embark on those this fall.
We swayed to the sounds of Tom Petty at Symphony on the Prairie this last Friday night. It was magical, whimsical, and family filled with just the four of us. When I close my eyes and think of the summer of 2018 I will think of that night. We danced, we ate, we put our feet in the grass, and we laughed and loved as a family. We might have been sweaty from the dance floor, but these days, it’s my idea of perfection.
This summer had all of the feels! Give me all of the summer feels!
Raise those cabernet glasses to summer, laughter, love, loss, and carefree days!