My summer break has finally come to an end and I’m back to school – which means back to work. When I tell people about my summer, it’s really hard for them to feel sorry for me when I tell them it’s time for me to go back to work. Lenny and I used to have very different and very demanding jobs, we both intentionally chose to work for our local school district because the jobs were much more family friendly. Working for the school district has allowed us to put the focus back on our family. It’s become more important to us for our children to have good memories of time spent together as a family versus money to buy them things.
My summer break used to consist of taking a week off work to go to the beach, visit family, or a short trip to the amusement park. Before we knew it, the break was over and it was back to my corporate job. My former job was pretty demanding on my time and although I spent a few of those years working from home, I was never really “home.” There’s a common saying now that talks about “being all there” – I wasn’t. I simply thought that working hard, being good at my job, and making money to buy all the things I thought my family needed was what I was supposed to do. I longed to spend more time with my family, but I couldn’t see how I could do that and make enough money to support my family. My job came first. I had to have my job to survive, pay the bills, buy new shoes…. the list goes on.
I’ve since found a better way. A way of life that allows me to truly put my family first. The funny thing is, no one is doing without even though we are making do with a lot less income. I feel like I am rich beyond compare. I have my family and my family has me. All of me. I owe this “being all there” lifestyle to my husband. He was actually the first one to jump the corporate ladder climbing ship and he is the one who reminds me that what really matters most in life has names like Heather, Stephanie, Brandon, Phillip, Morgan, Kristen and Owen. (They also have names like Jordan, Pearl and Cora.)
Back to my summer break. Since Lenny was a little boy (so, years and years ago), his parents and grandparents paid a little visit to a vacation expo and picked up some information on the French River in northern Ontario, Canada. So, after making reservations, his parents and grandparents loaded up their cars and headed to the great north for a family vacation during the week of July 4th. Lenny was only about 5 years old the first time he made the trip to French River with his family. As it would happen, the second year when Lenny’s parents tried to make reservations at the same location, they didn’t have any cottages available that week and referred them to Meshaw Falls Cottages on the French River. They made their reservations, traveled the 650 miles (one way) and have been vacationing in this same location at least once a year, for nearly every year, for the past 50 years.
I made my first trip to the French River about ten years ago. I’m a newbie in comparison to Lenny. But, I can tell you this. I fell in love with the place from the moment I took that very first boat trip up the river. It was even more amazing than I had imagined. It’s serene, fierce and beautiful all at the same time. For the past eight years, Lenny and I have spent most of our summer on the French River. We either stay in a cottage or do some primitive camping along the river in one of the designated Provincial Park campsites.
The French River has really bonded our blended family, especially for our two youngest “children.” When we visit the French River, we leave all electronics behind and we look to one another for entertainment. Trust me, our kids have provided plenty of entertainment over the years. Some of my fondest memories involve Kristen and Owen tubing on the river. We used to tube them for hours. Lenny always drove the boat and I was always the spotter. I had the best job and the best seat. Those kids would laugh, scream, talk to one another (really), push one another off, hold on to the other person for dear life, and simply forget about the cares of the world and be all there – in that moment. Real. Genuine. Laughs. Smiles.
There is no place like the French River to our family. Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing a lot more about the French River with you.
Til next time…