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  • Writer's pictureCamp Goldston Publishing, LLC

My Happy Place

Olivia and Patti on the dock of the Bay

Inspiration. I spent a lot of time thinking about this and what to write. Many things inspire me, but it really boiled down to happiness. Many things bring happiness, but being around water is my inspiration and happiness.

One of my core values is happiness—finding satisfaction, joy, or pleasure. When someone is down, I like to make them smile if it is appropriate. When there is a problem, I like to think of a solution or offer advice if it is wanted in the hopes that it will bring relief and, ultimately, some happiness. I’m inspired when I advocate for something or learn about acts of kindness. Many things bring joy, but being around water always inspires me and brings happiness.

I write this from my happy place, my home on the Potomac River in Virginia. I look at the water, kayak in the water, watch the sunrise and sunset, have drinks with friends on the dock, and feel the presence of God much stronger when I am here by the water. It’s peaceful, and in those moments, I am inspired by its beauty. The calm environment quiets my mind, and I receive direction on what I can do to be of service. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do after a job layoff, be a better parent, wife, friend, co-worker, and more. I’ve let go of some unimportant things and focused on more critical issues. Water makes me better.

I’ve always loved water—being in it, playing on the shore, staring at it. It’s all wonderful. All my favorites trips have been those when we visit a body of water. As a child, my family vacationed on a lake in northern Michigan with relatives for a week every summer. It was my heaven; Wandering the shores with my brother and cousins, shining a flashlight from the dock on the crayfish at night, jumping in the water, floating on rafts, and playing in the sand.

Since I was a teen, I dreamed that I’d have a small cottage on the water for family and friends to relax, heal, and laugh. When I was in my 30’s that dream was about to come true. My husband and I were looking to buy waterfront property for a second home. My husband didn’t want a fixer-upper. I just wanted something where I could enjoy the water. A fishing shack was fine with me. After months of looking, we found the perfect lot for us. It was a secluded almost one-acre lot with mature trees and wide views of where the Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

We made an offer to purchase it. Then began our two and half hour drive back to the Washington, DC suburbs where we live. About two hours later, the real estate agent called. Someone else had made an offer, and it was accepted two days earlier. I cried one of those loud, sobbing cries where my nose ran, my speech was blubbery, and my shirt collar was getting moist from the tears. Just after I got my hopes up, my dream wasn’t coming true.

A week later, my husband told me that we could buy the lot next to the same lot we wanted. They were virtually identical lots. “What,” I said. My Mr. Wonderful had looked at the county property records online, found the owner, and contacted him. As luck would have it, that lot was for sale a year earlier, didn’t sell, and was then taken off the market. The owner was excited to have a buyer, and I was ecstatic. This time I cried again, but they were tears of joy.

For 14 years, we visited the lot, had picnics on it but didn’t build because our weekends and holidays were filled with our daughter’s travel soccer games. We were too practical to pay for a second home that we wouldn’t regularly use.

In 2015, tragedy struck. My cousin’s husband, Scott, died of cancer at the age of 55 only a few months after his diagnosis. He said he didn’t have any regrets. He loved spending time with friends and family at their second home on Lake Erie in Ohio.

Soon after his funeral, my husband, teenage daughter, and I visited the waterfront property, or as we referred to it, “going to visit our piece of waterfront dirt.” We sat there watching our dog play in the water. It brought us joy, but we were also mourning Scott. Our daughter said, “Why don’t we build? Why are we waiting? I want to enjoy it before I graduate high school!” We looked at each other and unanimously agreed since our weekends were now free. We had house plans from a decade ago and quickly updated them. Eight weeks later, we broke ground with my husband as the general contractor.

While he managed the construction, I busied myself with furnishing the home on a budget. We had plenty of things in our main residence, taking up space in the basement that we could use. We “inherited” a nice outdoor sofa, chairs, and end table from friends who were divorcing, a blender from a friend who somehow ended up with two and many other things we found at discounted prices like a clawfoot tub at Home Depot. It was marked down because it had a scratch on the side. Lucky for us, it was on the side that would be against a wall! We had a nice mix of new items and furniture that I upcycled with sweat equity. It’s amazing how paint and wood filler can breathe new life into dented dressers and end tables.

Every time I am there with my husband, I thank him for making my dream come true. I love this place. He’s heard it so much that he now rolls his eyes at me. But I know that on the inside, he is smiling as much as I am. We all love this place, and our dog does too.

If I mention River House, our dog is ready to jump in the car to go there. She swims, digs, and has a spot on the sofa where she can look out the glass door and watch the waves. Our daughter loves it too—she fishes, paints, and cooks when she visits. A friend described it as a magical place of healing—a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I agree.

We are getting ready to celebrate our fifth summer at “my happy place,” and the inspiration continues.


-Patti Boerger

After a rewarding career in public relations and marketing at major corporations and trade associations, Patti Boerger now spends her time consulting and helping businesses grow.  She also loves working with children through her church where she gets to see their eyes light up when they understand what they have just learned. In addition, she is a Reiki master, a method of energy healing, who uses this gift to help heal others.

She spends her free time with her husband, college-aged daughter and her spoiled dog.

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