Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Song that Started My Blog

No better place on earth than the road that leads to heaven
No other place I'd rather be
No better place on earth than the road that leads to heaven
No better place to be.

I first heard this song on the radio in 2007. The lyrics stayed with me day and night, though I'd only heard the song once. I'd wake up in the middle of the night saying to myself repeatedly "there's no better place to be." Huh? Was I dreaming again? Shouldn't it be "no place like home"??

The lyrics stuck with me so hard and for so long that I eventually forgot where I even heard the song. Then, in early 2008, I felt a strong urge to start a blog. For no reason other than sharing the joy in my life that was overwhelming as I was preparing to marry my best friend.

I tossed around potential titles of a blog for 3 weeks.. It had to be catchy, yet not over-done. I wanted it to be a direct reflection of myself. It needed to be meaningful. For some reason "Emily's world" and "I love life" didn't sound great. Plus, they were probably taken.

After 3 weeks and close to giving up on ever needing a blog, I was driving home from work. I was almost home when I switched the radio station, and there it was. That song, again! It was almost as God was speaking directly to me.

"Don't give up. Here is your title. Now share your joy."

I went home, checked availability, yes! It was mine!

The initial goal of this blog was to share my joy, a joy that increases daily! I have the most wonderful life that anyone could ever ask for.

-A husband who encourages me, makes me laugh uncontrollably, and does his best to bring me closer to heaven.

-2 great dogs that keep us entertained with their two, very distinct personalities.

-A great house that I get to call home, in an adorable neighborhood that sits on a cute lake in Virginia.

-A wonderful job that fell into my lap that has opened so many doors and opportunities for growth.

-And last but not least, incredible friends. I want to say thank you to all of you who have been so encouraging the past several months! Thanks for all the notes and messages on the blog and elsewhere that you have shared. I love when people give me feedback. It's a reminder to me where the source of my joy comes; from these amazing people in my life, given to me by a wonderful God.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Graduation Day

Sadie graduated from puppy class today. What a fun 6 weeks! Her teacher was so much fun, and made sure to make it fun for the people too. She said that Sadie was one of the best dogs she's ever had. She also told us repeatedly that Sadie would make a great service dog. Her suggestions: work in a children's hospital, a nursing home, or even a search-and-rescue dog!!!

We're proud of our little pup. She's a joy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get Your Kicks (and Punches, Cursings and Middle Finger-Exercises) on Route 66!

[I have had this blog topic in my "what to write about" folder for over a year. And I'm finally motivated to actually write it, thanks to a few of my northern VA neighbors who I've met the past several weeks.]

It all started back in early 2007. A recent college graduate, I had finally found a job that consisted of something called a salary. The only thing was, I'd have to become a "commuter"; more specifically, a "Northern VA commuter".

This meant all kinds of life changes like buying a gas-friendly car, scoping out morning talk shows and learning to drink coffee in the morning rather than at night. I felt so important, getting up with an alarm and showering each day. As soon as I made that first morning merge onto 66 my first day at work, I felt complete. So THIS is what it was like to have a college degree! I was one of the masses, even following in my father's footsteps.

Driving on 66 each day to get into work was such an adventure. I quickly got used to tuning in to WTOP fm for the traffic reports. I'd love to call a friend or fellow-commuter to clue them in on any traffic. "Seventy-one-hundred is closed after the merge" would roll off my tongue as though I'd named the highway myself. This was wonderful.

A few months into my adventures as a "commuter", I started to notice certain oddities. A license plate that said "66 SUX". A radio DJ apologizing to his listeners who had to drive 66. My own friends asking me "How do you do it?"

I didn't feel right about letting the uncertainties slip in, but it happened anyway. Was 66 a bad place to be? Everyone seems so happy to be driving on it. Afterall, if you were driving on 66, you were probably going to work, which meant you were providing for yourself or a family. Wasn't that a good thing?

No sooner did I let the uncertainties take over than I started noticing a drastic change. It had seemed that my pride and quirky smile each morning was causing me to see the same on everyone else, even though it wasn't there. I quickly learned that 66 commuters were very angry people.

The first time I noticed it was last year. I was driving along, slightly above speed limit, with a convertible full of teenagers (clearly headed for the beach) behind me. Out of nowhere, the car abruptly pulled out and passed me, leaving mere inches from our bumpers. I slammed on my brakes and just missed a collision. As soon as I thought "whew, that's over!", they slammed on their brakes (although no car or thing in front of them), got in the other lane forcing me to pass them, and then all showed off their middle fingers at the same time. The words coming from their mouths were not clear, yet I believe they thought I was a truck, or duck? Regardless, they then proceeded to make it their goal to run me into the guard rail, which I narrowly avoided. It was insane, wreckless, and I wondered what they'd tell their daddy if they'd actually wrecked his BMW. Luckily we were all OK.

After this incident, more and more started happening to me daily. It didn't take me long to realize that driving on 66 was one of the most dangerous things anyone could do.

I have learned in the past 3 1/2 years that people want to rile you up, to make you have some sort of unhealthy reaction. They want you to scream back, to honk your horn, call them names. Because that gives them the go-ahead to do it back, and so on. As tempting as it is to yell back, I've decided that there's got to be some other way. Someone has got to break this pattern.

Last week, I was driving home. I was almost to the place where the city turns into country and all is safe again. I was doing the speed limit, had been in the same lane for 15+ miles and had cut no one off. I was slowly approaching a car who was driving in the right lane. The license plate was patriotic which instantly made me smile. "Ah, someone who loves his country would certainly love others." I looked over to see this nephew of Uncle Sam and to give him a smile. It turned out that he had a message for me too!

"@#$%^&*! YOU!!!!!" (something about a duck again).
(Middle finger exercises on both hands).

I had no idea what was wrong. So I decided to deliver my original message.

I smiled and I waved, using all 5 fingers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

27 going on 16

Today I woke up and had a very important decision to make.

To spend the day organizing various rooms of my house (namely the closets and offices), or to lay out at the pool. I decided on the latter. Organizing is supposed to take place between Labor Day and Memorial Day, anyway. Right?

To avoid the potential feelings of guilt that would probably set in as the weekend drew to a close, I decided to take a pile of dirty laundry out from the closet and place it in the laundry room. There. Done. No guilt can haunt me now.

I went straight for the bottom drawer of my dresser that housed my bathing suit collection from the past decade, give or take. I keep my swimsuits forever, or until one rips or snags. Lately I've been gearing more towards the suits in the back of the drawer...the way back. Back to the high school years, when swimsuits were not bought out of fashion, but out of comfort. I pulled out a modest tankini with a palm tree and tropical island print. I put it on and checked the mirror, making sure the suit was decent enough for the family pool, and also would not leave any harsh tan lines. I was satisfied, and smiled to myself as I realized that it was OK to wear bathing suits from circa 1999 as long as I looked older now than when I bought them.

Our neighborhood is made up primarily of children. There are approximately 5,000 children running around for each adult. To say that adults are outnumbered is an understatement. The pool committee took this into account and decided that for 15 minutes each hour, the pool would be available for "adult swim" only. So every :45, the lifeguard will blow a whistle, all children would whine, moan, take one last pee, and then exit the pool. The few adults scattered about the pool's perimeter jump in as fast as they can, their splashes taunting the children on the sides.

During "adult swim", all children ages 3-18 must remain out of the pool. Toddlers and babies are allowed to stay, well, because it's a calmer time for them to get used to the water. Children stay on the sides and test all boundaries: grab a squirt gun and shoot it at the closest adult, throw a ball in and then cry insisting that they must have it, push each other into the pool hoping to get someone in trouble. Ah, but to be the one in the pool during adult swim is the most relaxing feeling of all.

Today, there happened to be only 5 adults in the pool during adult swim. I jumped right in and soaked up all the chlorine goodness that my body could handle. This was the life. As I swam around and did a few laps, I stopped to take a breath next to the "5 feet deep" sign. Just at that moment, my ears tuned in to a brother and sister sitting on the pool's edge not 15 feet from me.

"It's just not fair!" complained brother.

"I know...I wish I was 3!" said sister.

"It's not just that, there's a 16-year old in the pool!" -brother.

"Where?!" - sister.

Yeah, where? I thought. I looked around, hoping to spot the rule-breaker and praying that the lifeguard would kick 'em out! For some reason, the other 4 adults in the pool looked to be in their mid-40's to me. Maybe the 16-year old was under water?

"Right there! By the 5 feet deep sign!" -brother

I looked around swiftly to find that sign. Then I realized, it was right next to me. No other adults around. I was the 16-year old.

I swallowed my pride, stepped out of the pool and headed home. My closets needed some attention. Specifically all items from the late 90's.