Five Things I Learned at the Beach

Written By: Kim - Aug• 16•13

This week, my daughter and I spent a few days at the beach. Here are the five things I learned.

  1. If we lived near or on the water, I would ride my bike or walk every day. There is something about a body of water, but especially an ocean, that makes me want to get up and go. While I saw a few people using the indoor treadmills (which made me wonder at their sanity), the boardwalk was more than wide enough to accommodate everyone. This particular beach front even had a separate bicycle path. Maybe it was the constant ocean breeze, but it was a perfect way to incorporate healthy activity in to our
  2. At the beach, almost anything goes. Where else can you see someone waiting for the bus in a bikini? And holy cow, the trashy t-shirts. We haven’t been to an American beach in three years. I had forgotten about the tacky shops. Really America, we can do better.
  3. Dogs do not belong in baby strollers. If your dog cannot make it down the boardwalk, leave him or her at home. My daughter and I almost fell off our bikes from laughter when a 60-something woman was pushing her purse-size dog in a child-size stroller.
  4. The beach umbrella or cabana is worth the rental fee. It sounds like opposite day, but if I am mostly in the shade, I will stay on the beach longer. As you can see, I am not a sun worshipper. Despite my Italian mother, my fair skin, blue eyes and small amount of natural red tint comes via my German father. After I worked for a year at a cancer surgeon’s office, I am fanatical about sunscreen, hats, and shade. Interestingly enough, I don’t mind tanning my legs, with sunblock of course. So, if you want me to stick around the beach or the pool, then find me an umbrella or cabana.
  5. My daughter makes a great travel companion. Our trip this week was a girl’s retreat. She is enthusiastic about travel and is not afraid to let you see that. She likes to have an agenda. I often wonder if she will end up in meeting planning. The association world could use more people like her. The only complaint I have is that she likes to completely unpack and spread her items everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean within an hour of getting inside our room, the entire contents of her suitcase, backpack and beach bag are in the closet, bureau drawers, desk, bed, chair and bathroom.

Maybe it’s because my children are both teenagers now, but the summer just seems to fly by. My husband and I only have three more before our son goes off to college and five more before my daughter heads to college and we are empty nesters. Maybe then, we will trade the suburban house for a beach front place.



A True Open Door Policy

Written By: Kim - Feb• 17•13

My daughter plays basketball for our church’s youth league. Because our gym is two inches smaller than the specs for older children to play upon, we spend a lot of time during basketball season traveling around Northern Virginia. We were at a parish in yesterday. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. I am directionally challenged and often make wrong turns even with a GPS. I always try to allow for extra time just in case.

Once the gym was open, the team ventured inside to warm up. I walked over to the church to see what it was like inside and to grab 10 minutes of peace. The church is fairly new. The copper bell tower has not even weathered yet. It was still bright and shiny, even on an overcast, cold winter day.

┬ęKim Howard 2013

┬ęKim Howard 2013

When I finished my prayers, I quickly snapped a picture of the alter at St. Theresa’s. While places of worship vary in their majesty, what I often marvel at the open door policy. You would be hard pressed to find a locked church door in the US. When we vacationed in Italy, the church doors were open as well. I suspect that you will find this policy world wide. I also suspect the attitude about open doors includes synagogues and mosques. There are valuable items inside a place of worship yet the doors are always open. But the regulars understand there is something more valuable than the material things. I am talking about the openness; the quietness; the ability to reflect, pray and quite frankly, decompress.

I don’t pretend to know all the tenants of my faith. Catholicism is not only steeped in tradition, it has also been marred by controversy and scandal of its own doing. But when I enter a church, my time there becomes about my relationship with God. To be honest, I am just glad the rafters don’t cave in. While I have not committed heinous acts, I am not always a good Christian. I just keep on trying to be better. The trappings of the building do not matter. Some would argue that the building is not even necessary. I disagree. I believe that worshipping as a community brings a huge benefit to all those involved. Your faith is never about “them” it’s about you and your God.

So, if you have pondered what would happen if you entered a church, synagogue or mosque, never fear. The roof will stay in tact. What matters is that you have made the journey to be open, quiet, reflective, prayerful and yes, even to find some peace. The journey starts with the first step.