Stories from a Mom with Soul


Are you a Mom with Soul? Send us your stories, triumphs and epic fails! 
This week's story submitted by Jama Smith from Fort Wayne Indiana. Jama is a working mother of 5 and a freelance writer. 


My husband rides a bike like a girl. 

I can happily announce this, and although I should have checked with him on the wording before making such a proclamation, I think he would agree with me on it.

I hope he will agree with me on it. 

Before I launch this one, my usual "blog disclaimer" is necessary to ensure I don't receive the normal, "But not ALL of us...." emails. 

Who am I kidding, I'm going to get them anyway. Which, thanks to the scrambling my brain has been through after five kids, leads me to a completely different tangent.

Yes, I am aware, like with every blog, that NOT ALL of whom I'm speaking of are applicable.

Not ALL camping enthusiasts are judgmental, condescending nature freaks who insist on converting the masses to their sick, outdoor fetishes like a twisted organic cult. (But I stand by my opinion that if you begin to find wildlife sexually appealing, you're venturing down a moonless path.) 

Not ALL mothers who defend their right to stay at home are judging me for working a full time job while raising my children. (But I must take this moment to remind you that if you say things like, "Well, I just believe in putting my family before my own career choices..." in your argument, you're being a jerk-face.) 

Not ALL mothers of multiples have crying fits, anxiety break downs, grown woman temper tantrums, wine binges, and solitary rocking in a corner on a monthly basis. (In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who handles it so poorly.) 

Thus begins this disclaimer: NOT ALL MEN....

Having started my career in an industry dominated by men, I was maybe one of two females. And always the youngest. As such, I had a tremendous opportunity to see how men mentored, trained, and co-existed in an environment while dealing with the opposite sex. Eventually, I left this area of the work force and found an environment ridiculously pink and feminine in a fabulous retail chain (Yes, NOT ALL WOMEN are overly feminine or like pink, have to like pink to be feminine, I know.) Which gave me an amazing comparison to being surrounded by women and the vast differences in how they work together verses their male counterparts. 

This long winded and insanely wrong-turned explanation leads me back to the beginning statement: My husband rides a bike like a girl. No doubt.

A few months ago, my husband purchased me a bike as the warmer weather set in. I had been moaning about how I needed to find a workout that didn't take me from the kids for too long but still delivered some results, and I had to like it enough to not want to set myself on fire when an upcoming workout came to mind. Bike riding it was. Strapping a trailer for the little ones to ride, then bringing the older kids riding behind was perfect for our family.

When I say "perfect", I mean I struggled with it but had no excuse to give up. It was everything I had asked for...but it was still a workout, and my thighs protested loudly with every pedal. Working my way up from one mile, two miles, steep hills, through traffic filled streets or thick mud, a few more miles...it's definitely an endurance builder. My husband was right beside me, biking it like a woman. Here's how:

1. Women Identify the Struggle.
As we were riding up "Bitch-Ass Hill" the other day (That's the land-given name for it, really.) my calves were in a particularly grumpy mood, and not at all cooperating with the 100 pounds of child and trailer I lugged behind me. And somehow I think that hill had gained a few feet of incline with the rainfall...I'm sure of it. I was gargling my heart half way up and my husband said from behind me, "You're doing good, doing good. You're almost there....almost done..." and immediately after I finally got to the top, he hailed me with, "Way to go, baby! That hill's a killer but I think you're even getting faster at getting up it."

From my experience with male co-workers in positions of authority, the number one objective of any effort is to just GET IT DONE. Doesn't matter how. Doesn't matter at what lengths it took, what sacrifices were made, what grueling leg work had to be done to get there. Just that the job was finished. And in some respects, that makes a very effective leader who looks at the simple, unemotional bottom line. 

Whereas when I worked with women, I found them as equally vested in the involvement of what it took to get to the end of the line. What made it hard? Did it improve you or damage you? And most importantly, the encouragement throughout the process to validate that you're struggling but you're supported. Not everyone likes or needs this. But I do. And my husband knows it.

2. Women Identify the Success
So my husband and I alternate between who has the kids to pull along behind them. The last time we went our usual distance, and when we got home I remarked about how that uphill boardwalk was intense. He agreed and added, "You did awesome, though. You didn't even break stride." 

I DID do awesome, but that's not what the part that I found interesting. What I found most interesting about this was that he had done the EXACT same thing a few days before when it was his turn to haul the twins. He had every right to say, "Um, yeah....remember a few days ago? That sucked for me too." 

In fact, most of the time in working with men in large corporate settings, I found that any issues I had would be most likely met with "Yeah, I did that. And I did it better. And, might I add, faster." or "You found that hard?? I hate to see how you weather the next year!" 

Mind you, they don't mean any offense. It's their way of telling each other they can do more, better, faster, stronger. In a way of challenging each other to be the best, maybe. Even an encouraging "You can do it!!" with a huge splash of machismo. 

Whereas females I worked with were much more likely to take that path of, "Oh, that was tough, wasn't it? I had that project last year and I barely survived it." Even when I under performed, fellow co-workers gave me the benefit of the doubt. "Well, yeah, we had a higher volume. But you're average dollar is up, isn't it? See, that shows a greater investment per customer and that's a great thing to build on." 

You can see it as sugar-coating, or empathizing. Either way, I need it. And my husband knows it.

3. Women Understand Silence. 
Then came the day when my bike was jacked up. Something happened with my gears and  a few miles into the ride, they stuck in the highest most anguish-filled resistant state imaginable. I couldn't make it to the end, had to turn around and head those awful, stretched out miles back home, pulling the girls in a condition that made every second feel like pure torture thanks to the unyielding chain. 

I was panting, straining, pushing against the pedals with all of my might to get enough motion going to create a movement. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was the humiliation of people who passed me; I imagined that since they didn't know the situation, they merely saw a fattie mom who was so weak she couldn't muster enough energy to pull her kids on a bike down a flat path. Tears started to well up in my eyes. That wasn't me! It wasn't my fault! I WAS strong, physically stronger than I had ever been, but this was impossible! I wanted people to KNOW what was happening...but I just put my head down and pushed until I got home. Once there, I had a meltdown in the kitchen, sobbing and shaking as I conveyed what had happened to my husband.

"Hey, it's okay," he soothed. "Look, it's not worth getting this upset about. I can go out right now and fix your gears." 

I screamed back, "It's not about THAT!!!!" And he clammed up.

He understands, unlike a lot of men, that when females have a problem, we're not always looking for a solution. In the cases of many men I know, it's in their nature to be a fixer, a supplier. A problem solver who can help us through things; that when we bring them something broken, it's in their nature to want to patch it up. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all. Things need fixed sometimes.

In this case, I didn't want a fix because the bike wasn't what was most broken at the moment. My self-esteem was broken; my sense of worth. I felt weak and judged. I couldn't express to others that what they were seeing wasn't actually what has happening under the surface.  But I was helpless against it. I was hurting, and I just wanted someone to feel it with me. That's all. Just sit with me and feel what I felt. 

My husband knew that. And most women do too; they understand that silence is not only necessary to healing, it's essential to one's growth to administer to another person. So instead of giving me explanations for how I shouldn't feel that way, how the situation would be remedied, how it wouldn't happen in the future...he just listened. I ranted, cried, blamed him a little for messing with the brakes in the first place, apologized, sighed and finally stopped. When I was done, he quietly grabbed his tool box and headed out to the garage to fix my bike. 

Like I said, things need to be fixed. But things need to be given attention first. My husband knows it. 

While I understand that not all women stick to the above when dealing with others, I'm very happy to say that they are qualities that I've seen when working with so many of them over the years. And I'm even happier to say that I have a partner who follows the approaches of my fellow females.

So I can happily say this again: My husband rides a bike like a girl, and he should be very proud he does. It's the only thing that keeps me pushing forward down the path, that keeps me headed home. 








Soul's Spotlight



AT ART & SOUL, OUR INSPIRATION COMES TO US FROM THE BEAUTIFUL LADIES WHO BRING OUR DESIGNS TO LIFE.


EACH WEEK, WE SPOTLIGHT A SPECIAL "SOUL" WHO EMBODIES THE SPIRIT OF THE DREAM WE TRY TO ILLUSTRATE IN EVERY CREATION.



This Week: EMILY 


Q: Emily, how old are you now?

Emily: 11, almost 12.


Q: What do you do in your spare time, 
especially over the summer when school is no longer in session?

Emily: If I'm not hanging out with friends, 
I'm probably at cheer practice.

Q: Can you tell us one ambition or goal you have for yourself? 

Emily: One not too ambitious goal is to get taller!

Q: That's a great starter! Do you have any causes or charities that you're really passionate about?

Emily: Yes, the March of Dimes. I like that they help so many babies with their health.

Q: They're a great cause, making the world a better place. Speaking of which, what would you do to make the world a better place?

Emily: I think the best way we can make the world a better place is just by being more accepting of others.

Q: Sounds like the words of a role model. You've actually modeled before Art and Soul, haven't you?

Emily: Yes, I've modeled for Vera Bradley.

Q: So, being a seasoned model, we have to ask...how did you like modeling clothing for Art and Soul Boutique?

Emily: I loved modeling for Art and Soul Boutique! It was quick, fun and the dress fit super well!

Q: We hear that a lot. And we never get tired of hearing it!


***


GOT SOUL?
Send your photos, stories and feature
ideas to artandsoulboutique@aol.com





Stories from a Mom with Soul


Are you a Mom with Soul? Send us your stories, triumphs and epic fails! 
This week's story submitted by Jama Smith from Fort Wayne Indiana. Jama is a working mother of 5 and a freelance writer. 


The high road, the road less traveled, the rocky virtuous path...

I find myself traveling these more and more the older I get (and although I stumble along the way) I find that it's mostly an uphill walk and it's one of the many things that has yet to get easier with age.

Case in point this week: The Mutual Friend.

Before I launch into this, I'll start by saying that I've learned not to be a martyr in my friend and family relationships. While I believe all relationships require equal effort, love, compassion, tolerance, and a fair share of disagreements and sometimes breathing space, I've also found that some people simply cannot be kept in your life without infecting you with their brand of poison. And that simply means that you have to cut off the infected area, suck the poison out, and do your best to avoid future infections. 

With those relationships that fall into the category of "friendship", it's a bit less complicated than family, albeit still a sharp sting when it comes to sucking that poison out. In most cases, I've tried to take the high road with a conversation that goes something like, "Look, the relationship we have has become toxic. And if it's that way for me, it has to be that way for you too. So there's no need for us to keep it going if it's hurting us both. I'm not saying I never want to be friends again. But I'm saying that right now, you're causing me pain and I can't keep putting myself in the position to keep feeling it." 

And it goes over really well, right? The person respects your honesty, your feelings, and admits their own part in the blame, vowing to be a better person while allowing you space and time, right?

Of course not. That would be too easy for that walk. No, most likely you're selfish, a bad friend who thinks they're perfect, judgmental and taking everything the wrong way. 

It is what it is. I don't linger on what that kind of person thinks, as chances are, if I'm having the "poison" talk with them, they've already proven they can't handle the responsibility of mutual consideration. 

Let me take a moment to point out this: I'm no saint. I'm not above venting, anger-talk and coloring armpit hair on a yearbook picture. It's all within the bounds of being human. I just try to keep that within my own circle of friends, who have no relationship with said Poison Person. I don't take it to anyone who has a flourishing relationship with she who spews poison, which in my non-saintness, allows me the right to vent without guilt. 


The problem seems to be (see above) the mutual friend. They stay loyal to both sides, they vow allegiance to no one. They are Switzerland in the province of your life. 

While this could complicate things, I've always rather preferred it this way. I state to the mutual friend that so-and-so and I are not speaking right now or we're taking a breather as we've experienced some drama within each other, but I don't expect them to stop being friends just because I am. I promise that I bear their friend no ill will, and I will not speak badly about them, as I have no wish to cause them any awkward feelings of being caught in the middle.

And that's exactly what the other person does too, right? Your ex-friend completely does the same thing and takes the high road right with you, just on a different map, right?

Of course not. Again, too easy for your walk. 

Irrevocably, ex-friend cannot help but share their grievances (imagined or real) with Mutual Friend and as a result, Mutual Friend cannot help but mention or relay feelings, or just plain discomfort at the situation you may or may not have initiated. 

This is where I find the high road so damn detestable. 

I was recently in a disagreement with someone (let's call her Rita), and a Mutual Friend from out of town came to my home for a pleasant visit. After a bit of fun conversation, a subject came up that I knew Rita was very displeased with. Trying my best to "high road" it, I tried to glaze over it, but Mutual Friend was having none of that. They wanted to know why I was trying to hurt Rita, why I had intentionally said/done things...of course "Rita" had left out quite a few details and unflattering truths in her version of the story about me, and for a moment that seemed to stretch into forever, I was very tempted to deliver the same blow that had been dealt to me.

I could stretch out on my couch and talk about her actions, list her faults and flaws, paint a horribly ugly picture that in my mind was very true and very deserving. And it would just be self-defense, would it not? Didn't she start it by trashing me to Switzerland? Aren't I justified in returning the favor? 

Sure I was. But I didn't. I said, very solemnly, that I wasn't willing to discuss that situation. That it was private between me and Rita, and I was sorry she felt the way she did but in the future she should come to me and not people outside the situation. Particularly people with whom we were both friends with.  But otherwise, the topic was closed.

Did I run the risk of letting her paint the more vivid picture? Pave a slicker road, a smoother path than my own? You bet I did. And it's a path more people want to follow based on the reflections of our society. A road where they will find many companions, but perhaps no one really worth sharing the trip with. 

But it still isn't my path. So although I hate the high road, and I secretly detest always having to take it, it's really the only road worth traveling.  

Soul's Spotlight



AT ART & SOUL, OUR INSPIRATION COMES TO US FROM THE BEAUTIFUL LADIES WHO BRING OUR DESIGNS TO LIFE.


EACH WEEK, WE SPOTLIGHT A SPECIAL "SOUL" WHO EMBODIES THE SPIRIT OF THE DREAM WE TRY TO ILLUSTRATE IN EVERY CREATION.


This Week: REAGAN 

Q: Reagan, how old are you?

Reagan: Six

Q: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Reagan: I have two sisters, Arianna and Grace,
and one brother, Cooper. 

Q: It's summer time, so what's your favorite thing to do in the warm weather?

Reagan: I love to go swimming!

Q: How about when you grow up? What do you want to be?

Reagan: I want to be a teacher when I grow up.

Q: You looked like you had so much fun during the shoot. Have you modeled before?

Reagan: For charity fashion shows and pageants, yes. 

Q: So how did you like modeling
for Art and Soul?

Reagan: I loved it! My favorite part was posing for the camera!

Q: How did you like wearing a piece from Art and Soul's new line?

Reagan: I loved the dress! I asked my mommy to buy it for me, and another one in pink too! 


***

Got Soul?
Send us your pics,
stories and feature ideas
for upcoming Spotlights to:
artandsoulboutique@aol.com 


Soul's Spotlight


AT ART & SOUL, OUR INSPIRATION COMES TO US FROM THE BEAUTIFUL LADIES WHO BRING OUR DESIGNS TO LIFE.



EACH WEEK, WE SPOTLIGHT A SPECIAL "SOUL" WHO EMBODIES THE SPIRIT OF THE DREAM WE TRY TO ILLUSTRATE IN EVERY CREATION.



THIS WEEK: DEB





Q: Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you, and what is your occupation? 

Deb: I'm 30 and work for Parkview Health Systems as a Telemetry Monitor Tech. I watch heart rhythms of inpatient people with heart issues. If you've ever been in the hospital with a portable heart rhythm monitor, I am one of those people on the other end. 


Q: You're a mother, also. Tell us a little about your son? 

Deb: My son, Michael, is just over 2. He is the love of my life I never dreamed possible.


Q: You recently received news that changed your life dramatically. Can you share some of it with us? 







Deb: On Monday, May 12, the day after my second Mother’s Day, I had a CT scan that was ordered due to my 3 months of 24/7 headaches and occasional nausea and vomiting.  My CT scan happened at 0845.  The moment my life changed forever was at 1054.  I received a call from my doctor telling me they had found a 3cm (golf ball sized) mass in the front right side of my brain and that he was referring me to a neurosurgeon.  After meeting with the neurosurgeon, he told us he wanted to schedule an MRI for the next day to get a better picture of the mass in my brain.  After getting the results from the MRI, Dr. Walter Jacobsen with Fort Wayne Neurology scheduled brain surgery for 0730 on Tuesday, May 20, a mere 8 days after finding out that my headaches were due to a diagnosis I did not think possible.  After removing the mass and the lab did their testing, Dr. Jacobsen told us it was a very aggressive form of cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).  A cancer normally that happens after 50 years of age, and very rare for those under 30, which is ironic, due to my most recent birthday. 



Q: How has this impacted your life, and the decisions you're making? 

Deb: At first I was very scared this could be hereditary to be passed onto my child.  But since being told this was a primary brain tumor over a secondary tumor, meaning coming from elsewhere in my body, there is no chance my parents gave it to me and likewise, it cannot be passed on to my child.
Before going into the hospital for my surgery, I made sure my Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and Living Will were up to date.  I made sure my husband knew what to do in case the doctor cut too much of my brain and left me in a vegetative state.  If my only means of staying alive was artificial respirations and beating my heart and a burden to my family, I did not want them to have to take on that responsibility.  I recommend everyone making out at least a Healthcare Power of Attorney and having those people know exactly what you want in times when you can’t speak for yourself. 
We want to make sure Michael’s future is taken care of if my prognosis isn’t a good one.  My husband, Derek, and I have talked before about finding a guardian for Michael.  At any time, any one of us might be in an accident.  After my diagnosis and the prognosis, the question of my mortality loomed over us as never before.  Knowing that I might not live to see Michael graduate from kindergarten or high school or college, or get married, or see my grandchildren guarantees I will be making sure to take care of his future.  I went through that wide range of years because we don’t know if or when my cancer will come back.  There’s no cure for GBM.  GBM is an underfunded cancer.    


Q: Has it effected the way you see yourself 
as a person, or as a mother?

Deb: This question is a hard one for me.  I definitely have changed.  Those changes could be from a variety of causes: the tumor that was taken out; the cancer cells that were left in; the radiation and chemo I am currently undergoing; the fact that the tumor was pushing so hard on my brain there was swelling and constant pain; etc.
As a woman, this was not the same experience I’m sure for someone with a breast cancer diagnosis.  But looking back on my life (and the doctors telling me it has been in there for years) could explain why I am the way I am.  The tumor had grown and was pushing on my personality and fine motor skill areas.  I joked with a few people about how I might have to be doing fine motor skill activities with my 2 year old soon.  I can be short tempered, which had caused a rift in my relationship with my husband, but was it from the tumor or was it all me? 


As a mother, it affected us all in one area.  Michael, my son, is slightly delayed in speech.  We had started the process of starting speech therapy, but no actual sessions yet.  My husband, concerned he would have to take on speech therapy appointments along WITH all that was going on with me, decided we should hold off on the speech therapy.  Since I would be off work for a while, I told him I did not want Michael’s speech to suffer because of what his mommy has going on.  I would work out times for him that worked with my appointments and schedules so I could sit back and observe the speech therapy happen.  Michael is 2.  He might know his daily schedule was off there for a moment, but once I got home, we were right back into the swing of things.  




Q: What is your advice to women who have been diagnosed or may be diagnosed in the future?

Deb: My first advice would be not to ignore headaches for longer than a couple of weeks, if accompanied by nausea and vomiting, changes in speech, vision or hearing, problems balancing or walking, changes in mood, personality or ability to concentrate, problems with memory, seizures or convulsions, or numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.  Some of these symptoms could be due to other factors.  Some might not present at all.
Deb, modeling A&S Paradise Dress
I had headaches 24/7 from February 20, 2014 until the day of my surgery three months later.  I had random nausea and vomiting, which I could link to possible food poisoning incidents (later realizing it was not food poisoning, but my body trying to tell me something).  I had no changes in speech or hearing.  My vision for the last month before my surgery was double and blurry all the time.  I had to close my left eye to be able to see only one object before me.  I had no problems balancing or walking.  My husband noticed a greater change in my mood and personality after I had our son, so he attributed it to hormonal changes.  I’ve always had concentration or train of thought and memory issues.  Tumor related?  Unsure.  I did not have seizures or convulsions.  I also have not had numbness or tingling in arms or legs. 



If you feel as though there is something wrong with you, and the doctor you currently have will not order a CT or MRI scan, I truly believe you should find someone that will work with you.  Doctor shopping if you will.  If a CT scan will make you feel better, by all means, ask for one to be ordered.  Explain your reasons.  If you have researched your symptoms, chances are you will find multiple explanations for your exact symptoms. 
We had so little time to react to my diagnosis.  The day we found out until surgery was only 8 days.  I don’t think I truly cried about it until the week after getting home from my 4 day stay in the hospital.  To all the women (and men) who receive this diagnosis, stay positive, keep positive, research foods, medical alternatives, try to keep as normal a life as your diagnosis allows you to, seek counseling or group therapy, seek couples counseling as this turns your dynamic completely upside down, ask questions. 
  






To learn more about Deb's story, or to learn more about what you
 can do to support, click here.




***

Got Soul?
Send us your stories, ideas
 and pictures for upcoming
Spotlight features. 



Stories from a Mom with Soul...


Are you a Mom with Soul? Send us your stories, triumphs and epic fails! 
This week's story submitted by Jama Smith from Fort Wayne Indiana. Jama is a working mother of 5 and a freelance writer. 



Camping can suck it. 


I contemplated adding quotation marks around the above sentence and pretending it was a quote from Maya Angelou. But I'll just go ahead and claim it as my own.

"Camping can suck it." -Jama Smith

There are several things I hate about camping, but none are really unpredictable enough to write about. 

I hate dirt....shocker.
I find mosquitoes intolerable...who likes them? 
That last batch of trees we hiked by look just like the ones we're hiking five miles to go see....just proves I'm cynical as well as lacking in athleticism. 

But what I find even MORE intolerable are the camping enthusiasts who refuse to give up on me, who cannot leave me to my nature-hating ways before either converting me or shaming me into submission.

I stand fast in my camping hatred as firmly as those trees whom I wish a horrible demise upon. 

I find that people usually fall into one of three categories: 

1. Crazy, insane, ready to breed with a bear in love with nature.
2. Crazy, insane, scared of bear and wants the hell out of the woods.
3. Sane, not too in love with the bear but pretends to be to escape scorn of group #1.

If you're scratching your head and thinking, "I never thought of a bear that way before...but now that you mention it, there is a certain regal beauty to them..." Chances are, you're part of group one. And just to clarify, I by no means judge your love for the things I dislike so vehemently...I simply want to explain why you all piss me off so much. 

Camping Enthusiast Jerkism #1: You don't understand real beauty. 

If I had a nickel. There is something that you all see when you look at the greenery of the trees, the trickle of the water flowing down to the lake, the sun baking the rocks as it rises serenely over the cliffs and the wildlife that dwell in it. I get it, really I do. I just don't get the same feeling as you do when I see it. 

And that doesn't mean I don't understand beauty. 

I've birthed four children. I've watched them take their first breaths, the rise and fall of their tiny chests while they slumber, the joy in their face as they pop a soap bubble, the scrunched puckering of their lips when they smack a kiss on my face. That's beauty to me.

I've choreographed contemporary dance. Watched a ballerina's limbs twist and contort as she is lifted effortlessly onto the strong shoulders of her partner, whipped around fiercely into the air then set down on a single toe with the precision of a scalpel. That's beauty to me.

I've photographed a woman fighting brain cancer, young ladies modeling vintage beaded head-bands, and historical buildings that have survived wars, earthquakes, and a fight of the ages. I've watched designers create masterpieces from their minds, to a sketchpad, to a model on a runway. That's beauty to me.

Do I expect everyone to appreciate the things I find beautiful? Nope. Chances are a lot of people would get bored after twenty minutes at the ballet, let alone sitting for six hours watching endless runway shows. But that doesn't make it any less beautiful. 

Camping Enthusiast Jerkism #2: You're too spoiled to appreciate nature. 

This one probably grinds my gears the most. I mention to a C.E. that I don't particularly care for the outdoors in the habitat-sense and immediately get a snort, "What, can't make it a few days without a place to plug in your hair dryer?" 

Oh, you are soooo hilarious. Really. And creative! i've never heard myself stereotyped that way at all! Please, mention my love for my vanity table and my addiction to room service. 

Jackass.

In actuality, I have no problem giving those things up. I rather enjoy time away from my phone and computer. One of the best (quite possibly the ONLY) things about camping to me is the quality time I get with my kids. 

As for the hair dryer, the make up, the showers...okay, yes, I like being clean. I don't like to smell myself in that nasty, sour scent that arises after a few days of simmering in my own juices. I wouldn't call that spoiled though; I'd call it 'considerate' or perhaps 'hygienic'. 

Usually on any vacation I take, whether it be a cruise or a quick trip to Wisconsin, I don't bother with make up or any of the million things C.E's seem to think I'm pining for. It's just that my element in nature is more likely to be a beach setting. Isn't that nature? 

"NO!" C.E's have told me. "A beach is NOT the same!" 

Is it man-made, the ocean? Isn't it functioning, in all ways, naturally? 

"It's not the same!!!"

Whatever. In any event, I could spend all day in that kind of nature; the salt on my lips, the grit between my toes from the warm sand, the gentle, consistent roar of a churning tide..ah, I'm sighing even as I write this. 

"A beach, huh? Someone gonna bring you a frosty drink too, princess?"

Jackasses.

Camping Enthusiast Jerkism #3: You're too Lazy to Appreciate Camping. 

You know what? You've got me on that one. I work 40-60 hours a week. I'm a mother to five 24/7. I do volunteer work. I have a photography business on the side. There never comes a time when I am NOT working, and working hard. 

So when I go on a vacation, I like to, you know, NOT work. 

I don't want to hike ten miles for water, because I've hiked a million miles from the upstairs kids' rooms to the kitchen in the middle of the night at the cry of "Mom!!! I'm thirsty!!!" 

I don't want to sleep on the ground. I've slept in my office, slept in a chair in countless Emergency Rooms, slept in a Cirque du Soleil style contortion to ensure I don't wake a infant so that I might be able to get just ten minutes of slumber before the next feeding. 

I don't want to have to leave behind the modern conveniences that make it easier for my toddler's constipation or my ten year old's allergies...it's hard enough when they have it at home! 

I want the things I CAN'T get at home in a way that makes it easier for me then when I'm there. Does that make me lazy? Fine. As hard as I work, I'm entitled to a vacation of laziness.

So where does all of this whining lead me to? 

If it's anything like my other blog posts...no where. But that's okay. Just a vent to let me get off my chest that if you are a CE, that's fine. I respect your love of the art of camping and all things it involves. 

Just please don't judge so harshly the people who don't share your love, or think us shallow and spoiled for not doing so. Chances are, we find beauty in the last place you would seek it...

And THAT is beautiful.