Things I learned this summer

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One of my favorite bloggers, Kate from The Small Things Blog, posted an entry about things she has learned this past summer. I thought I'd reflect on the same thing here in my own journal.

The summer is coming to a close. August is just about over. It is finally not scorching hot across Europe (in fact it's started snowing in the mountains down south!). And school is starting back up. Henry starts kindergarten the Tuesday after Labor Day and he is so excited! I love that he loves school!

Our summer has been both long and short. You know how it goes! We have had lots of spectacular vacations and even a long-distance visitor!

As I reflected on what I've learned the past few months, I tried to keep it focused on myself. I pushed myself to think past my role as a mom with the kids. Part of this summer was finding out who I am outside of the kids. This exercise helped with that too.

Here's what I learned, as Jenelle the person!


I did some serious soul searching this summer. Have you ever made a big decision based on just a feeling? I did. After much of my life making decisions based on external input from other people, I reached into my gut and decided not to go back to work at the elementary school this year. I made this decision at almost the last minute, one week before teachers had to return to work. I went thought the self-doubt of my choice before declaring it out loud. Wondering if "a feeling" was a good enough reason to make such a big decision. Turns out it's a totally valid reason. After coming to peace that working for the sake of working isn't what I was meant to do, I allowed myself to want to be a professional photographer. I brushed off the new wave of self-doubt ("Am I good enough?") and decided that I love photography and if I am going to work, I am going to do something that I love. Photography makes me feel confident. I feel like my true self when I'm behind the camera! I am good enough! So this summer I launched Jenelle Botts Photography. I'm excited to see where it takes me!


I had a scary first half of the summer. Severe breast pain that I couldn't explain. One breast became larger than the other. It hurt to even put on deodorant. Google was my own form of personal torture. I was scared. I imagined the worst while I waited for answers. I told only a couple people about my pain. I didn't know what to say about it without any answers as to what was causing it. After tests, ultrasounds, and consultations with my primary care physician and a breast specialist, I was diagnosed with Fibrocystic Breast Changes. Pain that will continue until I reach menopause. (awesome...) I've been managing the pain with progesterone gel and it helps. I still do my monthly self breast exams and when I turn 40 in March I'll make an appointment for a mammogram. But I conquered the fear. I can get through hard, crippling times and stand tall on the other side!


Through all the fear, the pain, the hard choices, Seth has been my rock. He's my best friend! A lot of days we float through our lives on auto-pilot - kiss on the cheek good-bye, how was your day?, your turn to deal with the kids. But under the mundane of the everyday, is an deep and intense love. And a solid friendship. He supports me in everything I do and I support him. He's my person! And I work everyday to make sure that he's happy. I couldn't do any of this without him.


Ok so the kids snuck in the list! But after a hellish trip to Brussels and Amsterdam in June with my friend Stephanie and the kids I thought I would never want to travel with them again. Seriously, they were TERRIBLE! I'm sure I looked like a monster to people on the street watching us! Then in July we packed our bags for a week long cruise in the Mediterranean. One room. The 4 of us. One bed! But you know, it was actually a lot of fun. The kids adapted well to our sleeping arrangements and we all learned how to be flexible. We had a good time! They were actually delightful! The thing I enjoyed most was sharing all the new experiences and places with them. Seeing the world through their eyes is like seeing it with magic sparkles! It was a joy. I might want to go on another cruise with them next summer!


Being in adult relationships is hard. They take work and effort and tender loving care. You have to work harder at adult relationships because they are so much more complex. But they are also so rewarding. A genuine friend is the best gift you could receive. And when you put the effort there and when you get over yourself and just admit to making a mistake, you'll find that the friends that matter offer forgiveness. And then your friendship gets even stronger!

Some bonus lessons:
~~ I like wearing glasses.
~~ I can make an entire week of dinners without turning on the stove or oven.
~~ We went a week without internet in the house and it wasn't terrible.
~~ Saying yes to ice cream when ever the ice cream truck comes around is ok.
~~ I don't hate the way I look in a bathing suit.

What I read this summer:
True Colors, by Kristin Hannah (fun, heartwarming read about sisterly love)
The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss (breathtaking, moving, and beautiful about true love and the power of relationships and our place in the world.) 

What I listened to this summer:
West Cork, on Audible - a series on West Cork, Ireland's only murder which is still unsolved!

What I'm reading now:
Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

What I'm listening to now:
Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman (narrated by the author!)

What I'm watching now:
Stay Here, Netflix original (it's a fixer upper show for long term rental homes)