Loving Life as It Is

Driving home yesterday after an especially productive day in the office, I noticed (as I often do) the fine weather and beautiful scenery in my hometown of Frederick.  I was excited to see my family and hear about their day.  I planned out dinner in my head and thought about the week’s schedule.  I listened to an audiobook, downloaded from the library.  I thought about my recent workouts and my plan for fitness for the week.  I felt calm and peaceful and connected with my life, exactly as it is.

I have not always felt this way.

For much of my teen and adult life, I felt compelled to leave whatever life I was living for something better.  I think I was trying to escape myself.  While I remain interested in self-improvement, I believe that my most profound progress has come through diving deeply inside my existence as it is–in seeking contentment, not distraction.

Yesterday was a moment where I felt that connection deeply.  I will keep working to seek those moments.  The habits I am developing (I cleaned out my car as part of my December Declutter project and focus on acceptance as part of my meditation) are part of allowing me to feel that content more often.

Attitude of Gratitude: Thanksgiving Edition

This is a picture from my wedding photo shoot in January 2010 in Korea.  Pictured are my brother, mom, sister, dad, me, and Min.  It was cold and had snowed the night before. I didn’t want to do a wedding shoot because I was still on steroids (long story) and thought my face looked bloated.  My brother, mom, and sister had caught a terrible cold during the week they’d been traveling in Seoul and weren’t fully recovered (not mentioning the bachelor/bachelorette shenanigans either).  My father was still in treatment for his cancer.  We were running late, and I wasn’t sure we’d have enough time to get everyone food before making it to the dance hall we’d reserved for the ceremony.

This picture is a miracle–all the things that led to these people I love–all being in the same place at the same time to support my marriage in a foreign country to a man they didn’t know.  It’s miraculous.

This year has taught me to appreciate how miraculous life really can be.

Many of the people I hold close in my heart have had a difficult year.  I have had close friends experience grave illness and permanent disability, lose family and close friends, lose their homes and vehicles to fires and accidents.  I have helped file a missing persons report remotely on a dear one who was planning to end his life, and I have given more money to GoFundMe’s than ever before.  I lost three friends, very suddenly–one just last week.  Two of them had young (under age 10) children.  My heart aches and my eyes get moist thinking about loss this year.

I am so grateful for the chance to live this beautiful life  To have the love of a kind, supportive husband and two healthy, funny children.  To have a career where I am paid enough to do something useful for students and to have an employer who challenges and supports my growth in this role.  To live in this wonderful home, this friendly neighborhood, this beautiful little city, in this great state of Maryland.  To have more than enough to meet all my basic needs and be able to engage in meaningful hobbies, side hustles, and financial goals.  To be able to travel with my family.  To have my health and my love and my intellect and the time to reflect on my enjoyment of these things.

I am trying to spend more time developing my gratitude for these beautiful things in my day to day life–without the need for the universe to show me loss to sharpen my appreciation for what is there.

This Thanksgiving, I hosted family and friends in my home.  This was not our plan.  Our plan was to travel to visit family and be guests.  When the plans changed at the last minute, gratitude is what made me appreciate the change and the opportunity–to welcome what is beautiful and work hard to make everyone’s holiday a bit more joyful.

Last minute Thanksgiving table with friends and family (and no Turkey–haha!)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  Enjoy your miraculous blessings!

Ways We Save Money: The Public Library

We are very lucky to have a wonderful place for our children to get lost in books (see above).

Other than the YMCA, our local library is the main source of our frugal family entertainment.  Earlier this year, Forbes published a (now removed) op-ed suggesting that libraries were no longer a meaningful use of public funds and should be replaced by privatized competitors.  The outrage in response to this article was swift and fierce, but I will add my own little voice of support for libraries here.  This blog post is a love letter to the public library–the institution and ours in specific.

Libraries have changed a lot from the shushing librarians and musty stacks still portrayed in movies.  Modern libraries serve as community resource centers, childhood literacy pioneers, and access points for all kinds of media technology.  Personally, I regularly check out audiobooks on a library app, which allows me to “read” on walks or while driving.  I use the library’s reservation system liberally, enabling me to quickly collect books–even ones at nonlocal branches–once a week to read without browsing the stacks (although I still love browsing stacks of books…).  I have attended library writer talks and book programs–all for free.

Our kids have grown up in library storytimes, playgroups, and STEM workshops.  One visit to our library will keep our kids entertained for hours.  The children’s area has toys, games, books, tablets, and workstations for learning.  The last few years, we’ve participated in the summer reading program as a family; the program not only encourages reading, but also exploring your local community and engaging with other resources in the world.  We’ve discovered some of our favorite parks, kid-friendly musicians, and activities through the encouragement of library programming.

And we don’t even use all of the library’s resources–like checking out music and movies, exercise classes (not kidding!) or technology/science programming.

The library is one of the few public, welcoming spaces for families that doesn’t ask for an entrance fee or purchase.  I don’t know if I would be as voracious a reader without the existence of libraries (either as a child or now); I’m sure my kids are better readers because of the library.

I used to avoid libraries because I worried about having to pay fines, but I’ve realized that the $10.00 or so in fines I’ve racked up in five years of heavy library use (most of which was due to a lost book on a camping trip last summer), has saved me a ton of money and dramatically improved my quality of life.  And even if the fine was too much, they have a weekend every year where they’ll waive your fines if you come in and ask them to do so!

Check out your library.  You won’t be disappointed.

Teaching as a Career: Getting Right with Getting Paid

Time published a feature this week about the state of teacher pay in America.  The story of teachers being underpaid for their level of education (usually master’s degree or equivalent) and hours worked is nothing new.  The story highlights the ambivalence teachers feel about their jobs–the powerful, emotional, almost spiritual call to educate young people and the humiliation of being unable to live as a respectable middle class professional.   The major flaw of our educational system is that it cannot function without the extra contractual contributions of those employed by it.

The system depends on the personal (and financial) sacrifice of teachers.

I am in my 15th year of post-collegiate full time employment; I have spent 13 of those years in a classroom as a teacher (although three of them were in another country).  I absolutely love teaching.  There is no greater feeling in the world than having a front row seat to kids learning and knowing you were a small part of that process.  However, in recent years, I often felt that I had to choose between giving to my students and to my own children.  I don’t think teachers should be in that position; I certainly don’t want my children’s teachers to feel burdened by that choice.

Why teach?

When I was growing up, I believed that making career (or any) decision based on anything as crass as “salary” or “benefits” was inferior to idealistic pursuit of passion, artistic vision, and altruism.  I wanted to make the world a better, more beautiful, more intelligent place.  I thought people who accumulated wealth and pursued high salaries were morally flawed.  I recognize now that this kind of belief is bred from growing up in economic abundance and educational privilege (both of my parents had Ph.D.s), but also my parents fostered a healthy sense of idealism about work.  They volunteered with Peace Corps and worked in careers that served the public good, rather than for commercial gain (though offered lucrative positions to work for tobacco companies or in weapons development).

As my college graduation loomed, I became more practical.  I didn’t want to continue to be economically dependent on my parents, but I had followed my intellectual passions and chosen courses of study that were less financially rewarded than the sciences.  I realized that as much as I would love to be an artist (writer or theater at the time), I couldn’t survive without consistent health benefits and was crap at competitive self-promotion (a component of success in those fields). I was interested in becoming a college professor in the humanities, but the cutthroat nature of graduate school for many years, only to end up not being able to have much control over where you lived or worked (because only three tenure-track positions in your area exist in the country) was unappealing.

There is a cultural pressure on young people to view work and employment as spiritual fulfillment rather than contractual exchange.  It can lead to exploitation.

I spent some time figuring out what I could do that would allow me to work with the passion I valued and still eke out a reasonable lifestyle (I was fine with frugality, but health benefits were a nonnegotiable for me).  I decided I would try public school teaching; if I hated it, I would stop.  I loved it.  However, teaching in America, like the professionals profiled in the article, burned me out (more than once) with its extreme demands and compensation that necessitated second jobs.

Why leave teaching?

I recently accepted a promotion to a leadership position in education, coordinating a large program for my school district.  A major reason I pursued leadership positions outside of the classroom was the need to increase my salary to remain the sole income provider for our family.  (Yes, younger me would have said I was “selling out,” but that’s too simplistic).  While I know I am still contributing to the good of public education–and in some ways I have greater influence, my new position more appropriately compensates the time and expertise I provide, thus taking fewer resources (emotional and financial) from my own family.

Our culture has not yet changed the commonplace expectation of personal sacrifice for the average teacher.  If anything, this expectation is worse than when I started teaching 15 years ago, because now teachers are supposed to be human shields against gun violence in schools while also educating every student to pass demanding tests of skills that build on skills they never mastered in previous grades.  As a teacher, I saw minimal changes in salary or benefits from when I began, despite my increased skills and experience.  While this has been true of other middle class professions during this same time period, few professionals are so demonized for stating this truth out loud.

How do we fix it?

I believe our country could reform the duties and compensation of teachers to enable educators to do their jobs without disadvantaging their own families, thus making it a more attractive profession to talented, ambitious young people from a variety of backgrounds.  It’s simple: increase salaries and planning time; reduce class sizes and testing.  This would require a significant commitment of public funds, which we are unwilling to give.  For now, teaching will only be attractive to people who do not need to care about supporting families (or even themselves unless they are frugal) through their work.  I fully support educators’ efforts to use collective bargaining to obtain appropriate compensation and more reasonable working conditions.  Unfortunately, most of the people in power right now don’t care much about changing the status quo of education.

Students deserve educators who are treated and paid like the highly skilled professionals they are.

Until then, I will continue to balance my idealistic commitment to public education with the very real need to support my own family (and sanity) through work.  However, I no longer judge those who leave the profession to pursue more lucrative careers.  They aren’t less committed to the students they educate, they just can’t sacrifice any more.

Korean Summer 3: Connecting with Relatives

H with Min’s brother (Jakkun Appa) and mother (Halmoni).

We have just one week left before we are on the plane back to the U.S.  I am trying to savor my time with the people here that I love and who love my husband and children.

Visiting Korea is enjoyable and relaxing like a vacation in many ways, but world travel alone is not the reason we come here.  I lived here for three years, so I’ve already seen and done much of what I’d want from a “travel” experience.  Korea is where all of Min’s family still lives.  We have tried to cultivate the relationships between our children and their Korean family as much as possible.  When we are here, the main goal is to connect with family and friends.

Gomo Halmoni playing “airplane” with H.

Including this trip, Min has visited Korea five times since we moved to the U.S. in 2010 (once with J and once alone, so I’ve only come back 3 times).  We also hosted Halmoni and Gomo Halmoni (Min’s aunt, and one of my favorite people in the entire world) for a month in the U.S. when J was an infant.  In fact, the emotional pull of remaining connected with our Korean family through frequent visits has almost certainly contributed to our debt problem, though I don’t regret a single one of those trips.  This trip is bittersweet because we are committed to not incurring debt for anymore travel, including Korea*, so it will probably be at least three years (all consumer debt paid off and adequate savings accumulated) until any of us are able to return.

Something about this trip feels different in other ways, a kind of subtle emotional shift.  The heat has prevented us from enjoying many of the outdoor activities we love to do in Korea (hiking, temple visiting, sightseeing, festival-participating, etc.). More of my friends have moved away from Korea (or even just Daegu) and our old swing dance club is defunct as of June this year; those that are here are in a similar phase of life and busy with the demands of young children and in-laws.  We went downtown, and my favorite restaurants there are gone (replaced by what seem to be great places, but they aren’t “mine”).  While I’m visiting old haunts and enjoying the familiarity of this foreign culture, it doesn’t quite feel as much like a second home for me as it has in the past.

At the same time, Frederick feels more like home than ever after J’s first year of school, and my enjoyment of my new job.  Min even mentioned this feeling, though it is making him feel more anxious than me.  We love our home (new roof and all) and our life there.  We will always miss our friends and family in Korea and other parts of the world, but I feel happy thinking about spending the next 5, 10, or even 20 years in the same place.  I’ve never really felt quite that way before; I used to yearn for the life of the postmodern nomad.

I want to grow plants and keep routines and deepen my friendships and community ties in my chosen hometown.  I want my children to feel grounded in being from Frederick.  I still want to travel more (when out of debt, with my family), but I want to come home when I’m done.

* The declining health of a Korean family member has forced us to discuss possible emergency travel situations for Min alone; we are making plans to increase the emergency fund while paying down consumer debt to accommodate.  However, should the worst happen before we have the full amount, we will do what we can, even if it means a setback to our financial progress.

Korean Summer 2: Sibling Bonds

When I first arrived a week ago, after missing my kids for the three prior weeks, I was struck by how very, very American (in the ‘Muricah kind of way) they seemed in a foreign country.  They were loud and exuberant when other kids were more shy and retiring; they were grumpy about adults correcting their manners and became almost belligerent about properly greeting their halmoni (grandmother); and they required peanut butter sandwiches and hot dogs almost daily.  I was horrified.  I mentioned it to Min, but he just laughed and said that they were just kids.  I relaxed a little and realized he was right.  And, of course, my children are American; why would I expect them to be otherwise?  But their “outsider”-ness has remained something I notice and contemplate on this trip.

Working side by side at an interactive art installation at the gallery opening we attended for a friend.

My children have transformed into really excellent playmates while in Korea.  Today on the playground, they were making up a story about the different colored areas on the pavement (red was lava, blue was water, etc.), running and jumping and swimming around–throwing in sharks and random objects and whatever else, and it struck my heart:

This is the summer I wanted for them.  A summer where they are imaginative and close and take joy in their relationship outside of competing for parental resources.

H doesn’t just follow J around, doing whatever he says, she contributes and objects with shocking independence.  J genuinely values her companionship, not just tolerates it with annoyed beneficence because Mommy said to play nice.  Don’t get me wrong, they still squabble and quickly get under each others’ skin in that way only siblings can, but there is a shift.

They are a team.

Something developmental is happening (I noticed this tendency to play together more for the last six months), but I think the trip has significantly contributed to this pleasant development in the following ways:

  • H was without Mommy for three weeks in a row for the first time ever.  This develops independence and deepens her relationships with the people she is near.
  • Korean kids are still in school, so almost none are around to play with during the weekdays (only babies and toddlers).  They have to play with each other or by themselves.
  • They have fewer toys here than at home, and what toys they have are new and different.  The experiences they have while traveling inspire creativity in them, just as they do in adults.
  • Finally, the way they stand out in Korea makes them more like each other than like the other kids around them.  For example, while they speak Korean, they are more comfortable and deft with English and most Korean kids don’t even try to speak Korean with them.  They are close because they share a powerful cultural connection in a strange situation.

On this last point, it was similar to the instant bonding of the expat community in Korea.  When I lived here (2007-2010), a common discussion among English speaking foreigners living in the country was how rare we were (less than 2% of the population of Korean is ethnically non-Korean), so those of us with white or brown skin were gawked at like celebrities in our neighborhoods.  I mostly found this amusing (like when one shocked middle school boy exited the subway in front of me, pointed, and said “David Beckham!”), but there were times it ranged from embarrassing (I bought my birth control far from my local neighborhood, where literally everyone knew who I was and where I worked and lived) to freaky (being followed for blocks by men who wouldn’t take “no” for a “coffee” invitation, if you catch my drift).  Some expats would be driven mad by the attention to waegukin (foreigners) and retaliate with bitter anger at Korean culture–often while still dating Korean people.  At the time I thought they were overreacting, but now I realize–they probably felt extremely lonely.  Their bonding over their “hatred” of the host culture was probably more desperation and sadness than the small-minded bigotry (as I once saw it).

I think my children are experiencing the above to a smaller degree.  They have family here, so they have greater insider status, but none of that family are young children and no one else treats them like Koreans.  (And being treated like Korean children is sometimes no picnic–J and H have both recoiled at relatives manhandling them to fix something about their appearance or manners without asking permission first.)

I wonder how they will recall this summer in their memories as they get older.  I hope (as a mother hopes) that if they remember nothing else, they’ll remember their friendship.

Korean Summer 1: Asan Trip

Living as an international, bi-cultural family is rich and rewarding.  However, one major challenge is that our family is spread about 7,000 miles apart across two continents and an ocean or so.  Video calling is great, but there is really no substitute for spending time with people you love and building those relationships organically.  Furthermore, J and H are bilingual, but their Korean language exposure is basically limited to their father–who is great at teaching them, but it’s not the same as immersion.  We try to travel to Korea as often as we can for those reasons, but it is quite expensive and time consuming.

This summer, Min took J and H to Korea in late June.  I joined them a few weeks later.  With our commitment to repairing our finances, this will probably be our last trip to Korea for at least a couple years.  While we are focusing on frugal travel practice, we are taking advantage of our time here to bond with friends, explore a different culture, and enjoy different experiences.  I will blog about some of those experiences here.

J and H with their new friends.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we rented a van with another family (Min’s close friend, wife, and two daughters) to travel to Asan, a small coastal city famous for hot springs and for being a place where Admiral Yi Sun-sin lived for a time.

We spent most of the first day at a lovely water park, Paradise Dogo Spa. The kids loved the variety of pools, slides, and activities. Given how crazy hot it has been in Daegu (the city where we are staying), it was very refreshing to spend most of a day swimming.  Going on a random weekday when most Korean students were still in school meant that the park was not crowded.  I learned that J is a crazy daredevil about water slides and wave pools, like the younger daughter of the family we were with.  H passed out on the floor of the bathroom from exhaustion as we were preparing to leave.  It was amazing!

Model of a turtle ship with the dragon head (hiding a fire cannon) in the museum.

The second day, we decided to go to Hyunchungsa, a temple dedicated to Admiral Yi (the picture above is of the old temple).  Admiral Yi is one of the most beloved figures of Korean history.  In the late 1500s, Japan attacked Korea (as it was wont to do periodically), and Admiral Yi gained fame by improving the design of a kind of war ship called a Turtle Ship because it could tuck all the extra bits behind its heavily armored hull and smash other boats like a battering ram while suffering very little damage.

Battle configurations for Yi’s ships.

I knew that part already, but I was very impressed with the other reason for his hero worship status as a military genius–his impressive tactical strategies.  The display included extensive details from his personal diary where he designed formations that lured the enemy into a small area where the Yi’s Turtle Ships could circle around and destroy the enemy force with shocking efficiency.

It was scorching hot, so we only explored a small part of the beautiful temple grounds, but luckily the air-conditioned museum had lots of fascinating pieces from Admiral Yi’s diary and other artifacts.  There was also an animated 4D movie demonstrating how the ships and attack strategies worked in real life battles.  H loved it, declaring “Let’s watch that again!”  J was very impressed with the strategy involved and the engineering of the boats (and, of course, the famous swords).

Along the trip, we also indulged in some of my favorite Korean tasty treats–rest stop fried potatoes, spicy tofu soup (sundubu jjigae), roasted fish (seonsangui), and sushi buffet (chobap)! Yum!

Korean road trips are great fun.  When I lived in Korea (2007-2010), I frequently enjoyed this kind of trip, but with kids you see all of it in a new way.  The enjoyment of this experience is an awesome reminder of why I am so interested in pursuing my financial goals.  Our family is happiest when it engages with this kind of experience–building great friendships, learning about history, enjoying physical activity.  This is worth giving up some less fulfilling spending and getting out of debt.

Challenge Day Twenty: Connections

Why is it that sometimes the things we are most afraid to do, are the things we need to do the most?

In late December, one of my closest friends and colleagues, Jessica Bowers, suffered a traumatic brain injury when she fell down a flight of stairs.  It was a terrible, random, life-altering accident.  It’s hard to look back at that time because for a few weeks, we weren’t sure she’d survive.  She did, but she’s still dealing with a host of medical problems and limited abilities.

I’ve been struggling with being unable to communicate with my friend as we once did; mourning the loss of our friendship, even though my friend is still here and fighting for her recovery.  We used to speak daily, go out for coffee/wine once or twice a month, and exchange witty commentary on Facebook.  We spoke about being parents of young children (her son just turned 4), great literature, and political injustice. She is a lively spirit with a wonderful sense of humor (see the bumper stickers from her previous car above), a musician and teacher, and a wonderful mother.  Her new limitations and staying in a rehab facility almost an hour away have made it difficult to visit.

The ugly truth is that while visiting Jess is inconvenient for my busy life, that is an excuse.  The real reason I have only visited her once is that her condition is emotionally draining for me.    I love my friend.  I want to comfort her and support her, but I allow my fear of feeling awkward and inadequate stop me from doing what I could to help.  I know how lonely and sad she must be, how important it is for her to see friendly faces, and how much greater the loss is her to her and her family than it is to me, but I am a selfish, timid, weak human being most of the time.  I am trying to change these things about myself I don’t like.

Today, two friends and I made the trip out to visit with Jess.  She was tired, but she roused herself and reached for each of our hands.  We read her a story written by a student who wanted to be sure she got the story.  She mouthed, “How are you?” and refused to let go of our hands and looked us in the eyes as we talked about life, students, friends, and how much we miss her.  She smiled a few times when we talked about Frederick and people we all love.  It was very emotional; I’m so glad we could make the trip.

It was hard.  I’m probably still going to struggle to give Jess as much as she’s given me through her friendship.

I had a vision last week, while I was walking around downtown Frederick for an outdoor art festival with music in the sunshine, of Jess–perhaps a year from now, further along her recovery, and present with her family and friends for this experience.  She would love it so much.  I will keep holding to that.

Tomorrow’s Challenge: Final Day, Reflections

Challenge Day Eighteen: Shock and Grief

Today did not go as planned.  Letting the feelings come…

The last time I heard his voice, he was laughing, but I don’t remember the last words he said to me.  Because they were the normal, cheery pleasantries of a Monday morning, important but not particular.  I didn’t expect to have to remember.

This is not how it goes.  You don’t wake up in the morning and go to work and greet your wonderful co-workers as usual, talking weekends and summer lightness, and then have one of them drop dead of a heart attack in the middle of the morning.  That happens to other people, not to you, not to your colleague, your friend.

You see the ambulances and fire trucks pull away and the hushed voices as you return from a meeting.  You go to the room where there will be an update.  There are tissues on the tables and everyone is somber and before the grief counselors even join you and your coworkers in the room, you already know.

“He didn’t make it.”

Those words, you will remember.

And the image of your friend blurs with the last time you saw your father.  His lifeless body, tube still in his mouth, so small, so without laughter.  Not your father at all. Not anymore.

Not for the first time, you wish you’d convinced your mother to have a funeral so that the coworkers and friends who loved him as I love my friend, could have said goodbye.  The raw shock of mortality jars with the meeting room.  Everyone is crying and asking each other if they are ok, but no one is really ok.  He was here, just two hours ago, fully alive.  And now, not.

Your instincts (what you really, really want to do):

  • Leave–escape somehow so that you can avoid the memory and the pain
  • Eat–stuff your body full so you will not feel the emptiness inside
  • Spend–don’t go home to the empty house, go to the restaurant
  • Isolate–keep your feelings in; others are hurting more than you and their pain is more important
  • Shut down–do nothing, cry, avoid, avoid, sleep

What you do instead:

  • Talk to co-workers, family, friends, and write this–share the vulnerability
  • Persist–finish what you can at work, even if you aren’t very productive
  • Eat a (mostly) healthy meal as planned, at home
  • Read a good book for a bit of escape
  • Dance at your exercise class as planned, punch out the pain with the boxing.

You don’t feel any better, really, but at least you don’t feel worse.

After all, your favorite thing about him was the little joy he brought by showing up with a smile every day and a kind word.  Being light is not as easy as it seems, but it is the least I can do to try.

Tomorrow’s Challenge: Get Back Up and Try Again

Challenge Day Sixteen: Frederick Swing Dance

Performing a dance at our wedding in Daegu, Korea.

I started swing dance (lindy hop) in 2007, shortly before I met Min.  On the day of our first date (hiking), I had plans to go to a big swing dance party in downtown Daegu after the date.  Our daytime date went so well, Min wanted to continue the date, so I told him about my plans and asked if he wanted to come.  He did not know what to expect, but he ended up liking it as much as I did and took lessons with my swing dance club.  We’ve been enjoying dancing together since then.  Our 2010 wedding even took place in our local swing club!

When we moved to the U.S. later that year, we hoped to continue our shared hobby, but we always lived 40+ minutes away from the closest swing dance clubs/lessons.  After we had kids, it was very hard to justify that distance for regular dates, so we didn’t have as much chance to dance together regularly.  We went a couple times to some DC events with Gottaswing, but not often enough for it to be a regular event for us.

Finally, in 2016, Mark and Danae Tavenner began teaching lessons in Frederick through Gottaswing, and have continued to build the Frederick Swing community with monthly dances on the first Saturday of each month.  It’s local, affordable ($5), and fun!  Min and I go to the social dances just about every month (although this month, he can’t join me), and have taken a round or two of the intermediate lessons (less frugal, but worth it for the enjoyment, exercise, and benefit to our relationship).

I will go tonight.  I love getting to see my friends and develop a skill while getting some exercise.  I recommend social dance to anyone looking for a hobby that is active and naturally builds friends (one of the reasons I started when I was single and living in a new city).  It makes a fantastic date night for us, too, and we took our kids last time–they seem hooked as well.

If you are local to Frederick, I highly recommend giving swing dance a chance.  You won’t regret it!

Tomorrow’s Challenge: Prepare the House for Vacation

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