Inspired by Life

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hiking in Carderock Park, MD

“Hiking is sort of like strip poker: by the end, all the participants are hot, sweaty, and nearly naked, and the winner is the person who wore the most layers.”
― Winona Dimeo-Ediger, Closet Confidential: Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way

On Saturday, Aaron and I decided to go hiking. I am of the belief that one hike a year is good for my soul, and if it were up to Aaron, he would live in the mountains, hiking all day. I am trying to be more active before this year ends and I realize that I am still very much in the sedentary box. So, I suggested we go hiking in Great Falls, VA. 

However, while at a church breakfast, our good friends, the Kachers, suggested we go to Carderock Park in MD. We invited them to go with us, and after driving around for 20 minutes, we finally made it and met up with the Kachers. Our plans for a good hike were derailed by a two-year old, who insisted on jumping in every muddy puddle along the tow path that we were on, abandoning her shoes at random, and picking weeds for me to smell. :) We didn't mind, though. We walked a short while and very soon, the murky waters of the canal started to look very enticing as the sun climbed up in the sky quite rapidly, its heat bearing down on us.  

Since the Kachers had to get the girls down for their nap, they left. Aaron and I decided to continue our hike. It was HOT, muggy, humid, HOT, and did I mention, HOT. I was a good sport, however, and did not complain. We traversed the tow path along the canal, and chatted about life, and other things that couples talk about. 

Despite the heat, there were several people and children and dogs out and about. After about a mile and a half, Aaron and I decided that we were done for the day. The heat had gotten to us and we began to see the mirage of a large swimming pool. It was time to go home!

 We had a great time getting out of the house and communing with nature, albeit, a very muggy, humid nature. We also decided that if we did not get out of the house before 9am, we might have to choose another activity for the day besides hiking in  the midday sun. 

We love spending time with each other and I cherish these moments whenever I can get them.

 I love the area we live in! So much to do and see!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On my way to work.

It has been said that DC has the worst traffic. I am not sure who said that, but I am sure they have not driven in Los Angeles traffic. Granted, what should take me twelve minutes, actually takes sixty minutes each morning. NPR is my constant companion, and I call my family on my drive in to work. When I cannot reach my family, and when NPR is not really exciting that morning, I turn off the radio, place my cell phone in the cup holder, and look out the window as I painfully crawl to work.

However, there are a few things that allow me to cope with this killer commute each morning and evening.  The view on either side of the street. Here are just a few of those distractions:

National Aquarium
The National Mall
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
The Capitol Building 

US Holocaust Memorial and Museum
Jefferson Memorial
Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Sunday, May 13, 2012 of humility.

 "Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility."
 ~ St. Augustine
 This morning, Aaron invited me to listen to Music and the Spoken Word via iPad. I have always loved this LDS program that has a central message for that day, accompanied by the choir of angels—The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I accepted his invitation, and tuned in to it. Usually, I have so many things happening at the same time, but today, as Lloyd Newell delivered his message, the word 'humility' caught my attention.  This was something that had been on my mind this weekend, and it was perfect to hear the lovely words spoken on this very topic. 

Below is a transcript of the message I listened to this morning:
In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin tells of his strong desire to develop a worthy character. To do this, he made a list of the 12 virtues he most wanted to achieve and then came up with a systematic plan to practice each one. After learning of the plan, a friend suggested that he add one more virtue to his list, one that many felt he needed. He agreed and added—humility. Later on in life, Benjamin Franklin wrote that it was the virtue of humility that allowed him to have such great influence for good.
As St. Augustine said: "Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
Humility is not the exclusive possession of any particular class or type of people. Anyone can be humble. We can start by carefully listening to what others have to say. A humble person knows that we all have a lot to learn and that we can learn something meaningful from almost anyone. A person with humility sets aside personal interests in favor of careful attention to the needs and wants of others. A humble person doesn’t care who gets the credit, as long as the right thing is done.
As Ben Franklin tried to be humble, he found that he was less inclined to judge others before hearing them out. He was less likely to argue that his opinion was the only one that could be right. He was more gentle in his efforts to persuade others and more open to new ideas.
 It’s hard to know if you’re humble—it’s a lifelong quest, but if you truly look upon others as equals, if you try to think of those around you before yourself, and if the feelings of other people really matter to you, then you are likely well on your way to developing the virtue of humility.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 again like morning.

“Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning. ” 
~ Pablo Neruda

Last weekend, we set off on a seaside adventure to Southern Shores, NC. Our good friends, the Kachers, had found this incredible deal for a beach house, and we decided to go for it. Little did we know, our adventure was about to start a lot earlier than expected, as it involved a "fell asleep at the wheel" incident that left us both a bit shaken and convinced of divine intervention. 

Arriving in the wee hours of the morning, we were greeted by Bonnie, and a sleepy Piper, unloaded the car, and crashed. The next morning, after breakfast, we grabbed our beach gear (a camera, a book and sunscreen), and walked about 3 minutes down a shady path, up some wooden steps, and could hear the sea roaring at us. 

I had not yet seen the ocean but my soul leaped for joy just to hear the crashing of the waves and its noisy welcome. We reached the top of the stairs and the picture you see above, was my first look at this beautiful, powerful, creation.

 I love the sea! 

Despite the fact that I cannot really swim, I love the ocean, the water, the waves, the sand, the surf, the sea shells, the crabs, the smell of the ocean, and so much more. Combine this passion with the fact that we had the beach all to ourselves, with not another soul in sight— it made this reunion of soul and sea much more special than I had even dreamed about. 

The minute my feet hit the sand, all other movement, sound, people, became instantly muted, and I approached the sea with an open heart, taking in long, deep gulps of air—and it thundered its welcome. Its waves rushed into that hole in my soul, filling it with cold, refreshing comfort—reconnecting, flowing freely, making me whole. I have always had a relationship with the ocean—unlike any other. 

Its ability to wash clean the clutter that fills my brain, body and soul is 
instant, swift, and complete.

It was perfect, and for a long, suspended moment...I felt perfect.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Date Night: National Harbor & Thai Pavilion

“We clear the harbor and the wind catches her sails and my beautiful ship leans over ever so gracefully, and her elegant bow cuts cleanly into the increasing chop of the waves. I take a deep breath and my chest expands and my heart starts thumping so strongly I fear the others might see it beat through the cloth of my jacket. I face the wind and my lips peel back from my teeth in a grin of pure joy.”
L.A. Meyer, Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber

 We drive into the sunset, down windy roads, catching a glimpse of the National Harbor as we approach its banks. Tonight, we just needed to get away for a few hours—shake away the stress of the work week, breathe in some fresh air, stroll along the banks of the harbor, take in the sights and sounds, and explore a new place.

We have lived in Virginia for two years now and have not been to this part of town—The National Harbor. It was the perfect evening to explore, to window shop, and to grab a bite to eat. We parked and walked over on the beachfront sidewalk, turned the corner and were greeted by this: 

The Awakening (1980) is a 70-foot (21 m) statue of a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself, located at National Harbor in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA, just outside the District of Columbia. It was created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. and originally installed at Hains Point, Washington, D.C.. (taken from Wikipedia). Kids love to play on this giant, and tourists and native alike, love having their pictures taken near him. 

We walk past the giant, and stroll the harbor for a few minutes, absorbing the night air blowing across our faces, and loving the fact that it was a beautiful night to be out near the river. As we walk further away from the water and closer to the shops and restaurants, Aaron spots the Peeps store and had to go in. I had never seen an entire store dedicated to these squishy marsh mellows before. Only in America! 

 After our exploration of several restaurants, we decide on Thai Pavilion - pricey $$ but interesting atmosphere. These guys accompany us as we eat our meal of sushi and crab meat fried rice.

Once we have eaten, we walk outside, peep in the windows of the stores strewn along the walking path, and sit on a bench for a few minutes. It is a magical night—the trees are strung with lights, there are hardly any people walking around, a brisk breeze wafts over us, caressing our faces, and causing the jacket-less Aaron to snuggle up to me. There we sit for a few minutes, peaceful and quiet and content. 

A lovely ending to a lovely evening.