About

I was born in New England, reportedly at an Ivy League school (thus allowing me to, in one sense at least, peak at birth), but spent most of my childhood and adult life in the Midwest. That is, until well over a decade ago, when, while pregnant with my second child, my husband and I got the crazy idea that we wanted to live on an island somewhere south of cold. So we sold our house in the Chicago suburbs, birthed a baby in a temporary apartment (not literally – I’m all about natural until it involves pain, and then I’m all about the epidural), and six weeks later, we took off for coastal Carolina.

In Chicago, we were professionals. My husband did some engineering/sales/GM gig that I still don’t really understand. I do know that it involved ties and pressed shirts as well as an office in a suburb far, far away. I taught high school English and reading to very large children who often questioned the necessity of my discipline. For pleasure, we indulged with near religious fervor in cuisine from various Chicago steakhouses, honed our wine palate, and traveled internationally.

Once we moved to an island, things became a bit different. My husband had recently become self-employed and worked largely out of the house, doing something even more nebulous to me than his previous job. I focused on educating the small people who lived with us on social norms (going potty on the inside of the toilet, most people don’t touch fire, etc.). For pleasure, we began drinking our morning coffee while watching the sun rise over the Atlantic, pairing our wine selections with fresh seafood, and walking the beach, often to collect shells, sharks’ teeth, and sea glass.

In truth, many parts of our daily life were much the same as they would have been had we stayed in Chicago. In the early years of island living, we learned that diapers on the island are as malodorous as they were in the Windy City, and we explained the perils of toys in the toilet with the same frequency.

But much became profoundly different. Instead of living right outside the third largest city in the country, we began living in a place far removed from malls, big box stores, and masses of humanity. I began crossing a bridge to go to church, to go to my favorite grocery store, and to take my kids to school. The two parks we began frequenting both overlooked the Intracoastal Waterway. While doing dishes, I would often watch a dozen or more dolphins swim leisurely along the coast. It turns out that pelicans, who I always knew were big birds, look from close up like they could airlift my firstborn. It also came to pass that a quick run to the store without makeup and all the recommended steps of personal hygiene would always result in running into multiple people I knew.

Here’s the thing. Smart, intellectual, accomplished people said we were crazy to do it. And at three o’clock in the morning, the night before the move, I even feared they were right. They said things like, “Why are you doing this now, with a newborn and a toddler?” Or, “Do they even have things like medical care in remote places like that?” And, “It’ll be like vacation at first, but eventually you’ll hardly even notice that you’re living on the beach.” And my answers, all these years later, are as follows:

  1. We did it now because now was when we could. Later doesn’t always come.
  2. In a strange twist of fate, medical personnel enjoy the beach as much as the rest of us, so yes, y’all can find highly qualified doctors here.
  3. I can’t speak to other people’s experiences, obviously. But in my own, I can tell you that it is exceedingly rare, indeed, to walk up the stairs into my living room and see the Atlantic Ocean, with all its sweeping splendor, and not have that second of pause. There are things that are momentary distractions from that, of course, like strange, ill-placed rashes, projectile-puking children, and the like. But for the most part, that little thrill, that one I felt when we first moved here and I couldn’t believe that a little Midwestern girl with a modest upbringing could ever end up someplace like this – that thrill remains.

 

For an updated About, try here.

 

18 Comment

  1. Christine Passchier says: Reply

    I found you! Love it already. Can’t wait to read more about what your life is like down there. And I’m jealous.

  2. Island Mom says: Reply

    Thanks, Chris! It’s been really fun writing it. My daughter keeps asking, “Mommy, what are you laughing at?” when I’m sitting at the computer writing.

  3. Aloha!
    I’m not sure how I even stumbled upon your blog, but I love that I found you!
    I’m an island mom also–but in Hawaii…and I have recently been blogging about my life. I relate to so much that you say here–the choice to do things differently, and the joy of going for it as a family! I will definitely be back to check out your life. I can tell we would have much to share!
    Take care,
    Monica

    1. Island Mom says: Reply

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you found me. Hawaii’s a magical place – you must love it there. When I was first looking for a teaching job, Hawaii was doing a great deal of hiring, and I seriously considered applying to teach there. If I wouldn’t have had to uproot my husband in his career at the time, I probably would have. I’m looking forward to following your family’s journey in Hawaii!

  4. Lee Ann Lewis says: Reply

    I am sooooooooooo jealous. I have always wanted to live on an island, love warm weather and hate the Ohio weather. Want a less complicated life and again, love warm sunny days with any body of water. I was looking online basically fantasizing about moving to a florida island and found your site. I have tried finding a job somewhere near a beach so I can move but not such an easy task. Best wishes to you and your family. I only hope to one day (sooner rather than later) be able to do the same.

    1. Thanks! I’m so glad you found my blog. I know, it took us several years to finally make it happen, and we were very fortunate to be able to do so. Finding jobs in smaller, coastal areas can be difficult.

      In terms of selecting our island and area, we started by researching and visiting coastal cities from Virginia to Florida and slowly narrowed it down. Actually, I’m planning a series for this summer that will explain the process we took to get here.

      Best wishes to you in your quest for the island life!

  5. Love your blog! I just discovered it and found a kindred spirit, albeit farther up the coast. We live in coastal Georgia on the marshes across from the sea islands that give our CVB it’s marketing schtick. We never grow tired of the ocean, even after 10 years here. We’ve also learned to go during the “off-season” for even more adventures than the tourists get.

    1. Thanks! I’m so glad you found it. Off-season is the best-kept secret, isn’t it? We love the Georgia coast too, by the way. We could have easily settled there too and been thrilled. You’ll have to tell me more about your island.

  6. Lisa says: Reply

    I’m not sure how I found your blog, but I love it. I’ve been reading posts for over an hour. I just want to say that I am completely jealous!! You are living my dream. My husband, son and I rent a house on Isle of Palms (near Charleston) every summer and it just breaks my heart to have to pack up and leave. I would move there in a heartbeat if I could get my husband to agree to it.
    I don’t know exactly which island you are living on, but I’m glad you are enjoying living there. Keep up the terrific blog.

    1. I’m so glad you found my blog! And I’m very flattered. Isle of Palms is a beautiful island, and Charleston is a lovely historic town, so that’s an ideal vacation spot. I can see why it would be hard to leave. We looked very briefly at living in places like Raleigh and Charlotte when we first headed to the Carolinas, figuring we could spend weekends at the coast, but I realized my heart would always be at the coast. So in our case, if we were going through all the motions to move from Chicago to Carolina, we figured we should just go and live right at the beach, since that’s what we were really coming to Carolina for anyway.

      I’ll be sure to send positive island living thoughts your husband’s way, just in case! 🙂 And thanks again for the encouragement!

  7. Judith says: Reply

    “… it is exceedingly rare, indeed, to walk up the stairs into my living room and see the Atlantic Ocean, with all its sweeping splendor, and not have that second of pause.”

    I love the way you describe this. THAT is how I feel, after 18 years in the mountains of East Tennessee, followed by 12 in the Tokyo metro area (where I longed for the mountains), now when I walk down the stairs and turn the corner into my living room and see the vista of sweeping bean and corn fields behind our house here in the Midwest. My “happy hour” is between 4 and 6 PM (depending on the time of year) when the afternoon sun is hanging low, turning the fields golden, and the red barns in the distance glow.

    1. Wow, that picture of your world makes me want to head your way! My grandpa grew up on a farm in Kansas, and I remember him saying something about how there was something so beautiful about standing in a field of corn or wheat as far as the eye could see. That’s always stuck with me, and even though I’ve never lived on a farm, whenever I visit one or drive by one, I always think about that, about the beauty in the vast openness of it all. And the mountains, well, I can see why you’d miss them after moving to the city. We actually seriously considered moving to Montana for a while, because of the mountains, before deciding that what we wanted most was to end up at the coast in Carolina. I’m glad you are back in a land that holds a “happy hour” for you.

  8. Ellie says: Reply

    Hi
    I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.
    http://emeraldpie.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/versatile-blogger-moi/

    1. Thanks so much. You are so sweet! 🙂

  9. Andi says: Reply

    I just found you. How brave you are! And I’m so jealous of that! Good for you, willing to be able to take the path less traveled for the good of your family, and knowing what is right for them. We are facing a similar decision (though maybe not quite so drastic) and it is sure a scary place to be, but I know once the decision is made, then we will be at peace with it, because decision making is the hardest part of it!

    1. Good for you! It is a scary step to take, for sure. In fact, my next post in the story of how we got here, under “Prequel,” will talk about some of the struggles we initially faced coming down here. Now we love it, but we certainly had our moments in the beginning. 🙂 Good to hear from you and best wishes to you and your family!

  10. Lynne says: Reply

    Seems like everyone just found you…ditto….one second I was reading about manure tea on scoop.it and then you and the snow on the beach caught my attention…..
    Great post, I am hooked. We are near coastal now in FL hoping to go up coast to more water less people….

  11. Awesome! I think I was meant to find you. I LOVE your give away. 😉

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