Posts Tagged ‘life lessons’

Let’s start with the simple fact that I am not a natural when it comes to golf. Mini-golf has taught me that much. But, I thought to myself, how hard could it be to just go to the driving range and smack the shit out of the ball?

Answer: very.

As part of my 30th birthday weekend, Husband surprised me with plans to do several things that I’d never been able to cross off my past birthday lists – including a trip to the driving range.

We got our clubs and basket of balls, and Husband started giving me simple lessons on stance and swing. “See how my hands are here?” he explained, holding the driver, as I stepped in closer to get a better look. “This is how you want to hold it, and then you bring it back, like this.


It turns out that I was paying such close attention to how he was holding the club, that it took me by surprise when the end of it crashed into my face.

Luckily, he wasn’t gearing up with full strength, otherwise this fun birthday trip may have ended with broken teeth and a trip to the hospital. As it was, we finished our brief lesson (through tears, on my part), and I finally found out first-hand how unnatural a golf swing feels for me.

drivingrange - terrible swing

Photo courtesy of Husband, naturally

For every decent hit I got (and there were a few), it seemed that I also had a number of bloopers. One blooper in particular dropped barely a foot from where I was standing.

Just go ahead and pick it up,” Husband said. “You can reuse it.

So I did.

And as I was bending down, a baby bee stung me right in the center of my top lip.

In that moment, I realized that I’d forgotten how much a bee sting (baby or not) can hurt. Especially in such a sensitive area. That had already been hit with a golf club.

But after a brief rest and a well-placed ice pack, I was back in the game. And I only asked Husband to make sure my lip wasn’t swelling every other minute or so.

I found my stride toward the end, and hit at least a few balls past the 100-yard mark – a vast improvement from the complete misses and bloopers that I started with. And despite the minor injuries, the outing was ultimately a fun way to celebrate 30. Which is probably why Husband suggested: “Why don’t you take a ball to remember the day?

Oh, baby,” I told him, “after all of this, I really don’t think I’m going to have trouble remembering our trip to the driving range.

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To the thief/thieves at the Herndon dog park on Sunday:

I hope it was worth it.


I hope the whopping $20 in my wallet and the $10 in coins (meant for our son’s first piggy bank, by the way) completely made your day and changed your life.

And while you were at it – rifling through my bag, and likely tossing everything you couldn’t spend immediately (hopefully you didn’t overlook the Home Depot and Crate and Barrel gift cards) – I hope you took a minute to appreciate the things that you acquired in your crime of opportunity.

  • I hope you appreciated all my old school IDs and licenses, that I kept as a little trip down memory lane. And good luck trying to pronounce my name if you decide to try to use it for anything.
  • I hope you appreciated the family photos in my wallet. I had senior portraits of my parents and my brother, and one family photo of the four of us. Not to mention Husband’s baseball card.
  • I hope you appreciated the sonogram photos of our first baby. You now have his very first picture – the one that I cried happy tears over when I found out I was really, truly pregnant.
  • I hope you enjoyed the magazine article I kept tucked in my wallet: “10 Reasons You Still Need Your Mother.” And I’m sure you’ve noted that breaking someone’s car window is not on that list.

And I hope you enjoy the other odds and ends that you found – the sunglasses that I’ve had for seven years without sitting on, losing, or breaking them in any way (a record!); the purse itself, that I got while studying abroad in 2005; the planner that took me forever to buy, because I’m just that picky; and the Kong that I was going to give Manny on the way home from the park. Congratulations – you stole from a puppy, too.

I hope all of that is useful to you, because none of it is worth anything at this point to anyone but me (and Manny).

I know you won’t read this. I know you won’t give me a second thought. But I will think of it every time I drive to the dog park and there are no other cars there – I’ll turn right around so that I’m not a sitting duck.

I will sink into myself a little bit more whenever someone sidles too close.

I will lock the front door when I take the dog for a walk, even though it’s only 15 minutes.

And I will startle easily if I hear a strange sound outside, when before I would have attributed it to nature or the neighborhood.

I will remember that these are not the suburbs I grew up in, and that might be the most upsetting part.

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Western culture especially seems to think of children as needing constant protection. And perhaps there is some truth in that. But, because we are always so careful about what kids do or see or experience, I wonder if we sometimes forget how strong children can be, how resilient many of them truly are. If I’ve learned nothing else from my time in Nepal, I’ve learned that much.

I learned it from the former street children that we visited, who are now in school instead of sniffing glue and begging for money. They could easily have stayed on the street, intimidated by gang leaders, hooked on glue, and unwittingly encouraged by well-meaning tourists handing out food and money. But they didn’t.

They accepted the offer of a refuge away from all that, and they continue to thrive. And when you see them interact with adults, and with one another, it’s difficult to believe that they once led such hard and seemingly hopeless lives. The smile and the laughter and the excitement at visitors would imply a much happier past. But, in truth, it just proves how strong they are.

I’ve also learned about resilience from each and every one of my boys in Umbrella, and from the Umbrella kids overall. In the first month I was here, I would catch myself thinking how much fun it must be to grow up in a house with so many brothers and friends. My boys love each other so much and are so constantly entertaining themselves that it was too easy to forget the circumstances that brought them to Umbrella in the first place.

It was too easy to forget that some of them were rescued from poorly run and exploitative children’s homes – ones that were doing more harm than good. It was too easy to forget that some of them had witnessed a parent take his or her own life – or the life of a spouse. It was too easy to forget that some of them had no parents at all, and no family willing to take them in. It was too easy to forget that some of them served as house servants, a position little better than a slave.

And yet, even knowing all of that, and even thinking it as I look at these kids, it seems like an entirely different lifetime for them. If I had seen or experienced the horrors they have, I imagine I would find it nearly impossible to smile, laugh, talk, or trust. But these kids do that every day.

They are strong and they are resourceful. They are determined and intelligent and deserving of the brightest futures. They are welcoming and friendly and trusting, when they have every right not to be.

These children are more resilient than I could have imagined, and more inspiring than I even believed possible.

I have spent nearly three (short) months learning from them, and I realize now that that’s not even close to long enough.

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Husband and I were talking a while back about the fact that a friend of ours had asked me to pass along his hello to someone else. (Follow all that?)

Why? Does he like her or something?

Not like that,” I replied. “She’s an adult.

Well, what does that make us?

Oh. Good point.

I seem to be stuck in the thinking that everyone older than me is an adult, and everyone younger is a kid. It’s incredibly self-centered and simplified, and not really accurate.

But is there a word for being in your 20s and 30s? Or rather, is there a word to distinguish that age group from people in their 40s and 50s? And that age group from older ones, and so on, and so forth?

Sometimes the age differences – particularly regarding life experience – seem vast, necessitating a way to differentiate.

But other times, age is truly just a number.

So maybe it’s the terminology.

Maybe it’s the mindset.

Or maybe I just need to get more sleep and stop overthinking adulthood.

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I predicted that 2012 would be a very good year, but it wasn’t a hard prediction to make. There was a lot to be excited about.

Graduation, marrying the love of my life, and a Hawaiian honeymoon, to name a few things.


Wedding - afterparty


But this past year was also about more than the big things.

It was about battling old demons, learning new things, pushing myself, embracing the ugly, and starting new traditions. Plus a million other little things in between.

What I said for 2011 holds true, too, for 2012: this year has once again exceeded my expectations.

(Minus my Philly teams imploding, of course. Though, one could argue that I should have expected that, too.)

Regardless, 2012 was fantastic, but I know that 2013 will offer up its own adventures.

And I can’t wait to embrace them.



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Five years ago today I started my first (and current) big girl job.

I remember the feeling of getting up early and taking the metro into DC from Ballston.

I remember the outfit I wore.

I remember the welcome lunch I was taken out to – at a downtown restaurant that no longer exists.

I remember the newness of it all.

And while I may still be at the same job – a rarity for my age group – many more things have changed over those five years.

Five years ago…

…I thought that Ballston was close enough to DC.

…I didn’t have a blog.

…I hadn’t yet met Husband.

…I hadn’t even considered grad school.

…I hadn’t run one marathon, much less three in three months.

…to be fair, I hadn’t actually run any races.

…I’d never flown through the air – with or without a net.

…I wasn’t even close to being considered a local.

Now, I still wouldn’t consider myself a local – and I’m not quite sure when you get to that point – but I do consider this city home.

And that’s something else that I didn’t imagine happening five years ago.

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I don’t do a lot of research before I set my birthday goals. They’re kind of a gut decision – things I want to do, ideas I’ve had. That kind of thing.

So when I added “Take a bike ride out to Mount Vernon,” I wasn’t thinking of how far it was, I was thinking, A bike ride! That sounds lovely!

Turns out, it was beautiful, but I don’t know if I’d call it lovely.

You see, Mount Vernon is about 20 miles (a little more, as we found out) away from the apartment.

The longest ride I’d ever done was also about 20 miles – and that included a wipeout.

I did not think about these things in conjunction until we were already on our way to Mount Vernon.

Husband had done the Mount-Vernon-and-back trip before. He told me it would be about 40 miles total, but I must have just let that wash over me, not registering that 40 miles is SO FAR.

I was also anticipating that this would be more of a leisurely ride, where we would stop and rest and relax for a bit along the way. You know, no hurry to get to the end.

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

But, for the first 10 miles or so, I was peachy. We rode down Rock Creek and picked up the Mount Vernon Trail. We passed the airport, which was as far as I’d been on that trail before, and ventured into new territory. And it really was beautiful.

We had a perfect day for riding and only minimal crowds on the trails, so we weren’t dodging people left and right.

Just after we passed under the Woodrow Wilson bridge, however, I started to feel it. We’d been riding for more than an hour, and my butt was beyond sore. If we’re being honest here, that whole general region was sore because my bike seat, while comfortable enough for a daily commute, was not built for use for hours at a time.

That, and I still haven’t bought padded bike shorts. And that’s on me.

Regardless, the next ten miles to Mount Vernon were filled with me alternatively shifting in my seat, cursing myself for this idea, and wondering how such a beautiful ride could be so painful.

But we made it.


I was stalling, trying to prolong getting back on the bike for the ride home, so we wandered around the visitor center for a bit, trying not to collide with the tour groups.

Eventually, we had to go. It was getting cooler and windier and, by that point, we both wanted to be home.

I’d be lying if I said the ride back was easy. It was still painful and made me appreciate the cushy-ness of our couch more than I ever have before.

But I did it. And now I know what 40 miles feels like.

And I know that if I ever want to do it again (which seems unlikely right now), padded shorts are a necessary investment.

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But that’s probably because I have a blog.

And let me tell you, now that we’re in broadcasting mode, I did something drastic.

For a lot of people, haircuts are pretty standard, run-of-the-mill procedures. A few inches off here and there; add some layers; keep it fresh.

I, however, decided that I wanted a new look overall, and that, while I was at it, I might as well donate to a good cause.

So, last night, I went from this:

To this:

And apparently now I have to worry about my tag sticking out…

Now, I’ve had short hair before. But I’d either forgotten or didn’t realize how nervous I would be to chop it all – again.

Yes, I know it grows back, but what if I hated it immediately? What if my face looked too round? Or it made me look too young? Or any number of inane scenarios? The what ifs are endless.

MJ encouraged me. “Even if you don’t like the cut,” she said, “you’ll still love it because you were able to donate your hair.

And she’s right.

do like the style (though it will absolutely take some getting used to), but more than that, I’m glad that someone else will be able to use my former ponytail.

Plus, as an added bonus, with hair this short there’s a significantly lower chance that I’ll be compared to a horse.

Though, I’m not ruling anything out.

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I was standing in the kitchen, starting dinner when I heard it.

So, do you want to go to Ikea on Saturday?

And before I could even turn around and express my glee, Husband was slapping his forehead, saying, “Dear god, what have I done?

You already said it! You can’t take it back!” I wanted to yell. What I actually said, trying to play it cool, was, “Sure. I mean, do you want to go?

As he begrudgingly nodded (because he understands the no takebacks rule), I immediately started envisioning our cart. And after supper, I began to Pin my little heart out, noting all the delightful things that Ikea has to offer to make an apartment a home.

(Which, consequently, does not have the same ring as “to make a house a home,” but you get the idea.)

This time around, though, I’ve been notified of some new ground rules.

Because, while I would love nothing more than to buy all our [totally necessary] new furniture in one swell foop, apparently we have to think about things like “our budget” and “not overpacking the car.”

Where’s the fun in that? Lord knows I love a good challenge.

But they say that marriage is all about compromise.

So perhaps this trip we’ll stick to one piece of furniture (plus, you know, all the little things that the ground rules are fuzzy on), and I’ll content myself with not having to hang on to our purchases, lest they fly out the window.

That, and the prospect of another Ikea trip in the near future.

Husband is really just prolonging the inevitable.

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Hear me out.

Before you scoff, think about all the life lessons you can learn from the Mighty Ducks franchise. (And by franchise, I mean the first two movies. The third was forgettable, at best.) They may be more applicable than you realize.

1) Ducks fly together. It’s simple, really. Your friends have your back through thick or thin, peewee hockey or the Junior Goodwill Games.

2) Don’t quack at your boss unless you’re prepared to forfeit your job. It’s generally frowned upon in the work place, though I don’t know that for a fact since I’ve been too nervous to try it out on El Jefe. Quacking with friends, however, is an awesome way to get fired up. I’ve debated trying to encourage it on my softball team, but I don’t think it would fly. (Ha!)

3) Contrary to what Will Smith sang, the bad guys always dress in black. The Hawks, Team Iceland – both in black, both bullies. Coincidence? I think not. That said, there’s always hope for them. Even Gunnar Stahl had a nice word for the Ducks after the game.

4) “Two minutes, well worth it.” Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. And be prepared to defend your convictions, even if they put you in the penalty box.

5) Learning in the classroom must be supplemented by on-the-street experience. It teaches you to think outside the box and embrace new ideas – like the knucklepuck.

6) Being called a “cake eater” is not a good thing. To me, this is counter-intuitive. If you call me a cake eater and I’m actually eating cake, I think, “Indeed! And it’s delicious!” If you call me a cake eater and I’m not actually eating cake at the time, well, then it just feels like you’re being a tease and I start thinking about cake. So I probably wouldn’t have responded appropriately to Terri’s insults.

7) And finally, sometimes awkward ducklings really do grow into very attractive swans.

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