Soul restoration

I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island, my island to restore my soul. It has always been this way. My life off the island is filled with good things, four kids, an incredible husband, friends, work, and a color coded calendar. It is crazy, busy, chaotic, stressful, satisfying and non stop. My island is my oasis, it my gift to me, it is the one place I completely relax. A favorite theologian of my husbands, Dietrich Bonehoeffer once said “My time with others prepares me for my time alone, and my time alone prepares me for my time with others.” The Island gives me the strength, courage and restoration that allows the life that I lead off island to be possible.

I have never come to the island alone, various amounts of family, friends and pets accompany me here. It is a small cabin, one bathroom, two bedrooms and a large deck. It is enough and I never feel crowded or claustrophobic. Island time is slower. Island life is a step back in time from all the communication breakthroughs, the social media, the constant background noise of a tv or computer or PS3. It is life unplugged by choice.

I have heard experts say you need time for yourself everyday, and though I know this is true to an extent, my life does not lend itself to this. My non island life is a whirlwind from the moment I get up to the time I hit the pillow once more. It is filled with teenagers, sporting events that need team dinners, stinky laundry washed, meal after meal made, a quick walk with the dog and then off to other wonderful, very necessary appointments and so the days go. It is a very fulfilling life, I really like my life, but I could not manage this pace, this frenzied atmosphere of 110 miles per hour if I did not get my island break.

Escape is not easy. Juggling the kids summer camp schedules, work, time with family and other obligations try to claw and plead and work on my sense of responsibility and prey on my need to please others. This year was especially hard. Two of my sons have full time jobs for the summer. They would not be coming with me to the island for the first time in 12 years. My best friend’s oldest son is getting married in Bend with lots of drama and the pull to stay and help and support Jen was strong. The hardest part by far this year, was leaving my husband who after eighteen months of living away from us during the week was finally home with a new job that started the week I left for the island.

A younger me, would have changed her plans. She would have given in to the belief that she was so important she must stay. A younger me would push herself to be everything for everyone and do it with a smile. A younger me would need the ego stroking accolades that would come from sacrificing my plans to serve others. It’s not like a summer in Bend, Oregon is a hardship, spending time with my husband and best friend is not difficult, or a burden. It would have been fine, but the older me is wiser now.

I chose me, I chose from a menu of good things, the best one for me. My understanding of this need is ultimately my gift to others for it allows me to have a reservoir of mental health and strength to give the rest of the year. I come to the sea to breathe. I come to the island to restore my soul.



Day eighteen, the last night



Sunshine warms my face, and Gus sleeps at my feet as I enjoy the breakfast/ lunch that Christian made for me. I slept in for the first morning of my time here, and had no agenda for the day. Christian had asked that we go to a beach since we have spent all our time working on the cabin. John wanted to work a few more hours on the property so the rest us took off for Bennett Bay. The boys and Gus venture down the beach to rock hop and climb to the end of the bay. Jessie, her friend Jas, and I sat down to soak up the sun.

It was hard to believe that this is my last full day on the island. I am so thankful for the time here, and the house is looking great. I created a little vignette of my grandmothers hats, purses, gloves and jewelry in honor of her amazing collection. I have loved seeing my children invest in the house that was built by their great grandparents. I am so proud of their hard work, and how their investment will pay off for future generations of our family.

We ventured down to jump off the dock, and even though Isaac and John did not jump, we all walked together down the hill and onto the dock. It is moments like this that I treasure. I etch the moment in my heart, and know that I will be able to recall this feeling, this smell, this special time in the future.

We end the night at the lighthouse. A beautiful sunset, a baby seal barking out to his mamma, and the waves slapping the shore. This is a perfect day, a beautiful night and fitting end to my special time on my special island.






Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off


Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

The Sun woke me earlier than I had hoped this morning but it is hard to complain about sunshine. I had arranged to meet my friend Kim at the bakery, and then we would hike Mt. Parke. I was ready for a break, needed to be away from the kids and be out of the house. Gus and I walked down to the bakery, I grabbed a pastry and sat outside. Kim is a wonderful woman I met on the island about ten years ago when our kids were all in a day camp the island had. Her daughter Jas is Isaac’s age, but Jessie and she bonded and became fast friends.

Now when I come to the island she is someone I seek out. We walk and talk and have a friendship built on intimate moments together in a short time, while we are both on island. They have just finished building their home out by the light house and it is beautiful. Kim and her family live in a suburb of Vancouver and also ‘Summer’ on Mayne. It has been a wonderful to have a friend and kindred spirit on the island to look forward to seeing.

We loaded Gus into her car and drove to the trail head. This particular climb brings you to the top of the island and the views are incredible. It is always a must do on my list when we come to the island, and the chance to hike, spend time with a dear friend, exercise, and get space from my wonderful children was just what I needed. We caught up on each others year, shared our hearts, moaned about getting older, having teenagers and finding time for ourselves. It was perfect.

The view from the top is breathtaking. You look out over the water to other islands, ferries, and other boat traffic, mountains in the far distance, and eagles soaring below you. It is hard for me to believe that there is anything any more beautiful anywhere on earth. We finished the hike, and had a wonderful lunch on her deck. Life is good and a day off is just what the doctor ordered.






Day sixteen on my island, contemplative



The sun sets on day sixteen over the island. A lone seal swims as a sliver of the moon rises. The water is rougher than usual, but the sun set one of the most beautiful. Today is the first day I have been seriously annoyed and ready for a break from my kids. Isaac especially. That is a pretty good record for us. We have been living, working, and playing together for over two weeks and today is the first I have raised my voice in pure annoyance.

Isaac, who loves to push all of our buttons has been relatively calm and amiable. He has been a hard worker and fun to play cards, and other games with. Today he reached his limit at the same exact time I reached mine. This is not a good thing. Fireworks fly as we both express our isolation frustration.

The majority of the projects are done, my dad told me the house and property look the best they have since my grandparents were alive, and living here on the island. Jessie and I finished our four-year sea glass mosaic project, and the sun which had been hiding for a few days, came out again.

Time seems to be catching up with me and I am tired tonight. I think about turning 45 next week, and for the first time ever I have mixed emotions about my birthday. I will have finished my goal of blogging everyday for a year, and our oldest son will be a senior in high school. I will be halfway to 90. This must be Isaac’s fault because my brain is in a negative space and he has been ornery today. That is one of the good things about having kids, there is always someone to blame.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I will spending time away from my kids, going for my favorite hike with a special island friend who I connect with once a year. We will catch up on each others lives, laugh, and enjoy the best view of the whole island. Maybe from the top of the island I will gain perspective, and find a new goal. Tonight I will fall asleep to the lullaby of ferry boats and the promise of another day.

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Day fifteen, games


Day fifteen, games

The seven of us sat around the table. John has been talking loudly about his strategy, confident of his plan and then gets saddled with the Queen of Spades. Jessie, poor girl, can not win at Hearts if her life is on the line, and Isaac always wheedles his way in the top three. One of the highlights of being on the island is playing card games and board games with the family. As I type this at the dining room table, Jessie and her Granpa are playing cribbage. I learned to play cribbage at this very table with my grandpa.

We have broken the table playing “PIT”, and I have been in tears laughing as our family tried to explain “Apples to Apples” to a new friend. Isaac is the games master and loves to win. He has a very strategical mind that serves him well in most games. Our favorite in the past few years has been “Settlers of Catan” and night after night here you can find us at the table trading for brick and building roads. It has actually been one game that the winning is pretty evenly divided among us.

This year I bought a new game, “7 Wonders” a complicated game that has us all a bit perplexed as to how to win. It is very fun, and I think a new favorite, but it is yet to be decided. Throw in a game of Hearts or a few hands of Casino and this family is set. I love to play because it is multigenerational, and traditions passed from one generation to another. It is a fun way for all of us to connect and find more common ground. I know that this will be one of the memories painted on their hearts when they think of these summers on the island.

“Well Granpa we are even for the night, one win each” Jessie says with a smile. “I was just taking it easy on you” Granpa replies with a smile. Isaac comes back into the room and asks what game are we all playing tonight. I laugh and say well if last night was any indication it does not matter because I will win. This of course sets in motion a heated and animated discussion about who wins the most. The final word being Granpa because he has lived longer than anyone else and therefore has more accumulated wins. Not a bad argument, I will have to remember it for the future.




Saturday Story Time: a love from the distance


Saturday Story Time:

I wandered through the gardens, meandering through the quilts and flowers. A quilt show of over two hundred quilts artistically placed throughout the Japanese Garden’s. I came by myself as the kids were not interested. I was happy to be alone, needed the space and the quiet. My mind was scattered and I was struggling to find my peace. I was in my favorite place, it was a beautiful day and I had even had my lemon tarts this morning. I sat down in the sun, on a bench in the garden,and searched my heart for the source of my discontent.

The answer came fast and sure like a splash of ice-cold water. I miss my husband. It has been two weeks without seeing him. Spotty Internet connections have made it difficult to Skype and texting is wonderful but not quite the same. It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this year has been a testament to the truth of that. We have chosen a life that puts us away from each other for most weekdays. Scott spends his weekdays working in Eugene, so the kids and I can stay at our home in Bend. It has been a sacrifice for all of us, but certainly the hardest for him.

When I am at home, in my routine, and busy with the life we lead in sports, jobs, and the chaos of four teenagers it seems a bit easier to be away from Scott. It is never easy and we both hate it, but time goes by quickly during the week. Now being here on the island, with time and stress on the slow side, my heart feels his absence in new ways. There is so much I want to share with him, so many little moments when I look up to catch his eye and realize he is not there. I reach for him at night and get a moan of surprise from my daughter.

This island holds amazing memories for the two of us. Scott has fallen in love with it as much as me, and together we have explored the beaches, water ways, and hikes as a couple, a family of three, four and six. We bought our canoe, arrived by boat, ferry and hopefully someday by sea plane. It is here we have dreamed together, walked together, and swam in the cold waters with eagles soaring over our heads. The island is my true north but the compass is useless without the magnetic force, my husband.

Sometimes just naming the issue is comforting. I text Scott, let him know my heart is hurting for his presence and remind us both it is just one more week. I get up from the bench and once again engage fully with my island. It truly is a beautiful day and I am loved. What a blessed woman I am.






Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style: Food


Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style: Food

Favorite breakfast food:

Isaac: French Toast with hash browns
John: Fried eggs and bacon
CJ: Scrambled egg and bacon burrito
Jessie: French Toast with bacon
Mom: Egg Benedict

Favorite restaurant for breakfast:

Isaac: El Farro in Ixtapa, Mexico
John: Pilot Butte Drive In,Bend OR
CJ: Pilot Butte Drive In, Bend OR
Jessie: Pilot Butte Drive In, Bend OR
Kari: Victorian Cafe, Bend OR

Favorite fast food restaurant for breakfast:

Isaac: McDonalds
John: McDonalds
CJ: McDonalds
Jessie: Subway
Kari: McDonalds

Favorite take-out breakfast:

Isaac: Rockin’ Dave’s Bagels, Bend OR
John: Safeway
CJ: Krispy Kreme
Jessie: Farmer’s Market on Mayne Island, Canada
Kari: Sunny Mayne Bakery on Mayne Island, Canada

Favorite lunch food:

Isaac: Quesadilla
John: Ham and Cheese sandwich
CJ: Pizza
Jessie: Chinese Chicken Salad
Kari: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Favorite restaurant for lunch:

Isaac: Chans
John: Pilot Butte Drive In
Cj: Red Robin
Jessie: Red Robin
Kari: Soba Noodles

Favorite fast food restaurant for lunch:

Isaac: Taco Bell
John: Taco Bell
CJ: Subway
Jessie: In-N-Out
Kari: Burgerville

Favorite take-out lunch:

Isaac: Tai on the Fly, Bend OR
John: Panda Express
CJ: New York Sub
Jessie: Jamba Juice
Kari: Tai on the Fly, Bend OR

Favorite dinner food:

Isaac: Lasagna and Caesar Salad and fresh bread
John: Baby Back Ribs
CJ: Burgers
Jessie: French Dip
Kari: Anything I don’t have to make, except broccoli

Favorite restaurant for dinner:

Isaac: Frank’s in Ixtapa, Mexico
John: TGIF
CJ: Springwater Lodge on Mayne Island, Canada
Kari: PF Changs

Favorite fast food restaurant for dinner:

Isaac: Dairy Queen
John: Taco Bell
CJ: Wendy’s
Jessie: Burgerville
Kari: In-N-Out

Favorite take-out for dinner:

Isaac: Long Board Louis’
John: Papa Murphy’s
CJ: Papa Murphy’s
Jessie: Pizza Mondo
Kari: Cebelli’s

Favorite family cooked meals:

Breakfast: Grandpa Darrell’s pancakes
Lunch: Mom’s quesadillas
Dinner: Grandma Ellen and Grandpa Gale’s holiday dinner
Dessert: Jessie’s strawberry shortcake

Breakfast: Grandpa Gale’s eggs
Lunch: Isaac’s Nachos
Dinner: Grandpa Gale’s enchiladas
Dessert: Mom’s brownies

Breakfast: Grandpa Darrell’s pancakes and eggs
Lunch: Mom’s sandwiches
Dinner: Mom’s BBQ drumsticks
Dessert: Mom’s strawberry shortcake

Breakfast: Aunt Diane’s sticky buns
Lunch: Mom’s turkey soup
Dinner: Mom’s chicken enchiladas
Dessert: Grandma Ellen’s Ginger Cookies

Breakfast: Grandpa Darrell’s pancakes
Lunch: CJ’s burgers
Dinner: Scott’s fresh caught fish
Dessert: Johnson’s Almond Roca