Acceptance…Not an Easy Road

Recently Other Half asked me why I go weeks without writing. Without thinking I responded, “Because I’m sad.” My response surprised him. It also surprised me.

For the most part, my life is pretty great. We live in a Big Rig with all the amenities. We travel to beautiful places. We spend time with our family and friends all over the country. We laugh a lot. Most importantly, we have the gift of time.

So why was my immediate response, “Because I’m sad?”

When I responded, it was the first time I’d acknowledged my feelings out loud. In truth, it was the first time I’d acknowledged them to myself.

So what gives? Why am I sad?

I think my real problem is acceptance. I’ve always thought of myself as an accepting person. A person that – goes with the flow, rolls with the punches, doesn’t sweat the small stuff — and all other appropriate cliches.

What I’ve come to realize is that I am an accepting person – as long as what’s happening is what I want to accept – when it’s not – I’m a sad person.

My beautiful sister, Mary

My beautiful sister, Mary Miller.

If you know me, you know I lost my sister Mary last year. September 21, 2015 to be exact. I didn’t want to lose my sister. I didn’t want her four kids to live their lives without their Mom. I didn’t want her grandchildren to miss out on knowing her. I didn’t want her husband to find himself retired and alone.

I didn’t want the hole in my heart her passing left.

Here I am, months later, covertly struggling with sadness and resisting acceptance of our changed reality. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. There are many of us who loved her. 

In a weird way, acknowledging my sadness is helping me. But it’s still hard to figure out where to put it. Intellectually I know Mary would want me, and all of us, to be happy. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Obviously, there’s no changing what happened. The only option is to accept life as it is now. 

When it comes to acceptance, no one lived it more genuinely than Mary. Many times she helped me find acceptance – even when that’s not what I wanted at the moment. I would call her and rant about whoever or whatever I was upset about. She would listen and then gently remind me, We’re all doing the best we can. It’s your job to love and accept them – just as they are.

It would take a couple days but eventually I’d come around and realize she was right – We are all doing the best we can.

Here’s the thing about sadness – it makes people uncomfortable. It shows up in unexpected ways and at inopportune times. When someone you care about is sad, it’s natural to want to cheer them up. I understand. I’ve been on both sides. It had been awhile since I’d experienced sadness this profound. This isn’t the kind of sadness you get cheered up from. I’m grieving. I thought I should be “done” by now, but not so much.

I want to apologize to anyone I’ve ever expected to “get on with life” after losing a loved one. I’m sorry for my insensitivity. I’m sorry for thinking an arbitrary amount of time was “enough.” I’m sorry for not recognizing the depth of your sadness. I’m sorry for being an idiot.

I get it now.

Grief and the sadness it brings have a powerful grip. There’s no getting over it. It changes you forever. I’m changed forever. Our family is changed forever. Acceptance is our only option. It’s the road back. I’m working on it. We’re all working on it.

We’re all doing the best we can.

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Plymouth – Family, Fun and Oysters

There’s a lot to love about Plymouth Massachusetts. As “America’s Hometown,” it’s the site where the Pilgrims landed the Mayflower in 1620. That means it’s home to Plymouth Rock, the traditional spot where the Pilgrims hopped off the boat.

Our camp at Pinewood Lodge, Plymouth Mass.The historical stuff is incredible and worth a visit for sure. For us, visiting Plymouth is more about family and a great campground called Pinewood Lodge. If camping in the woods appeals to you, this place is ideal. We stayed here last year – and will again next year. My sister lives nearby and her significant other has a Camp at Pinewood.

urt at Pinewood Lodge, Plymouth MassYLike usual, Other Half and I meandered the campground and took in the sights. Across from our campsite were several Yurts. Per Wikipedia, a traditional yurt is a portable, round tent covered with animal skins. These yurts were sans the animal skins, but cool just the same.

My sister, Other Half, her beau and his MomWe hosted a cookout at the Big Rig and enjoyed the company of my sister, her beau, and his super cool Mom. His Mom is in her 80’s and is as sharp and with it as any of us. We had the pleasure of meeting her last year and look forward to spending time with her next year.

My sister with longtime friend.Sister's dog and longterm friendMy sister had us over to her home for a seafood cookout. She prepared scallops and swordfish on the grill. YUM. Two of her longtime friends joined us. We look forward to seeing the guys every visit.

Sister's DIL and grandsonSister's grandson
We also got to spend time with two of her grandsons and her daughter-in-law.

A highlight of our trip was the Mirbeau Oyster Dinner. My sister is the General Manager at Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Plymouth. Knowing her B-I-L, Other Half, is an oyster connoisseur she invited us to come along.

This was not your usual fancy sit-down dinner. This was an adventure that started with champagne and appetizers on a boat from the Plymouth waterfront. The first boat took us to rendezvous with a smaller boat.

Oyster pots as the tide goes outAs we waited for the tide to recede the rows of oyster cages became visible.

Heading to the flatsThe smaller boat took us into the now shallow water. We disembarked and walked to the waiting tables set up on the flats. Cooking on fire on wet sandThe Mirbeau Executive Chef, and his team, were busy preparing amazing entree after amazing entree – on an open fire – built on wet sand.

Other Half loving the oystersThe meal started with shucked Plymouth Rock Oysters – Other Half’s favorite – followed by Grilled Plymouth Rock Oysters, and the most amazing chowder we’ve ever experienced. The food kept coming – Cast Iron Roasted Sea Scallops, carved tenderloin, Maine lobster and grilled vegies – all prepared on an open fire on wet sand.

Plenty of MusselsAnd huge bowls of farm raised Mussels.  We finished the feast with Strawberry Shortcake A La “Maison.” I happily set aside my Fitbit Frenzy for the day.

My sister serving the wineThere was also no shortage of beverages available, served up by my sister.

Oyster educationAfter we were sufficiently stuffed, we spent some time learning about oyster farming. The young man whose farm we were enjoying explained the lifecycle and farming process of raising oysters. As Ohioan’s, we’re familiar with agriculture – aquaculture is a whole new thing.

After a day like this – we have a new appreciation of oysters and the farmers that raise them.

She said YES!One more thing happened before the tide came in and we had to leave – a surprise engagement. The good news is she said YES!

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Loving Maine, Just Like the Locals

Let’s talk about Maine. One of the things I so appreciate about this state and the people who live here is this – the people of Maine love Maine. It’s inspiring to be in a place where the locals love it as much as the tourists. Other Half and I make regular trips to Maine. We enjoy the personality and natural beauty of the area, but the real reason we come is right here: Grandma & Grandkids

We are staying at Wassamki Springs Campground. We stayed here last year. It works for us as it’s only 10 minutes from the kids.

Wassamki Campground, MaineThe campground is wooded with a beautiful lake at it’s center. The campground owners have it figured out – during our stay we’ve seen youth groups, birthday parties, ball teams, tour buses and lousy bands come through. (I think the bands required serious alcohol to appreciate.) It was also Halloween in July.

"Glamping" spotted in MainePart of the fun of camping is walking the campground. You never know what you’ll see. This year we spotted a super cute “glamping” trailer. I spoke with the husband. He said it was “All his wife’s doing.” If you ask me, she did a fine job of capturing the vintage quaintness.

Tiny House in MaineWe also spotted our second ever official tiny house. We spotted one in Texas earlier this year. We walked by the tiny house numerous times but never once saw anyone there. I was planning to politely ask for a tour – but no luck.

Family enjoying ribsThe kids joined us for swimming and a cookout. Other Half has become darn good at smoking baby back ribs on his Traeger. We finished the day with a rousing game of UNO. The first of many during our weeklong visit.

Harbor Fish Market, Portland MaineWe also made a stop at our favorite Portland fish market, Harbor Fish. This place is walking distance from where the boats come in. Now that’s fresh.

Lobster with familyGotta have a lobster dinner when you’re in Maine.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes!Complete with Snickerdoodle Cupcakes made by the grandkids.

Wolfe's Neck State Park, Freeport MaineOn our last day in Maine we went to Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport. Freeport is also the home of LL Bean. Wolfe’s Neck Park is an Osprey habitat. Osprey are a large fish-eating bird of prey. They are also called fish eagles. The nests are huge and remind you of Bald Eagle nests. We picnicked on the rocks and took in the shoreline views.

The whole crew at Wolfe's Neck Park, MaineWe also had fun taking pics.

Selfie Fun!And more pics. Leaving Maine is always bittersweet for us. We’ll be back. Next stop Plymouth Mass.

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Inspiration in Upstate New York

We’ve been spending our summer at Deluxe Park in Walbridge, Ohio. Staying in Walbridge puts us within a stones throw of our “old life.” That’s both good and bad. The good part is being able to spend time with family and friends. That’s the best part. The bad part is being so close to our old life that it kicks up nostalgia and a serious comfort zone pull.

Other Half and I have lived our entire married life in one zip code. He’s lived his entire life in one zip code. I think we both underestimated the gravitational pull of the area. To get back on track and give our adventurous spirit a good swift kick — we both needed to hitch up and hit the road. 

So here we are heading east. We have family on the the east coast and one of my best friends in upstate New York. Over the years we’ve made this trip on a motorcycle, in a car, with a fifth wheel camper and now in the Big Rig. The Big Rig wins.

turning_stone_img_1042_2Our first destination is Turning Stone Resort Casino and Campground in Verona, New York. We made the trip from Walbridge in one day, over 400 miles. In Big Rig terms, that’s a BIG day. Turning Stone is about an hour drive from my GF in upstate NY. She drove in to spend the first full day with us at the casino.

Whenever I find myself in a casino — no matter where it is — I text one of my Besties back in Ohio for slot machine tips. She has a MUCH better track record with slots than me. I figure it never hurts to ask. My text goes like this: I’m standing in Turning Stone Casino, any vibes on which slots I should play?

Big Money Turning Stone Casino NYShe responded to look for a machine with MONEY in the name. That’s all my NY GF and I needed to set us off on a quest for a MONEY slot machine. And guess what – we found one! My GF got down to .47 before the Money slot came through and got her up to $77.97. When it was my turn, I got down to $3 and then Money kicked in and got me up to $71.50.

With our winnings in hand we headed to the resort spa. My GF treated me to an early birthday gift of a spa day. The massage was heavenly and gave us both a false sense of our slot machine skill level. It didn’t take long for our luck to turn at Turning Stone. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. 

Spectacular view - New Berlin NYOn our second full day at the Turning Stone Campground, I left Other Half to his own devices and drove the hour to my GF’s mini-farm in New Berlin, NY. If you enjoy rolling hills, winding roads, small towns and endless greenery this drive is spectacular.

Lap pool view, New Berlin NYMy GF has a beautiful piece of property, 11 acres complete with a lap pool overlooking the vistas. Guess where we spent most of our afternoon.

Two Besties, Carolyn & KrisI left feeling recharged. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling something less than inspired lately. Time with my GF in the beautiful hills of upstate NY (and an IPA or two) did wonders for me. Next stop Maine. 

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