Now that I’ve written the title of today’s post, I have that song running through my head. You too? You’re welcome, or I’m sorry–however you want to look at it. Today I’m going to tell you about my life. I’m hopeful that it will give you a sense of the writer behind the writing.
I think my life is pretty great, and I have memories of a happy childhood. I experienced just enough bumps and bruises during my 27 years of existence to make things interesting. My roots are firmly planted in the South, but my branches reach far and wide. My mom is a dear friend, my father a dedicated and hard worker, and my brother a confidant. When I think of my life, I see pictures of light and laughter, and episodes of anything less were generally self-inflicted. I have a huge capacity for joy.
I lived out my first 22 years in Knoxville, Tennessee. Growing up, I was known as the teacher’s pet, and collecting A’s in school was my forte. My friends love to tease me about a video taken during my 3rd grade year in which I proudly stated that one of my favorite activities was “making stories on the computer.” I loved writing even then. My mother believed that I would grow up to become a novelist. At the age of five, I won a story contest for a tale about two elderly folks and their magic garden (are you impressed yet?). My five-year-old imagination knew no limit. I was also five when I met Jesus. He has been my Savior, King, and best friend ever since.
As a child, music moved me. My father owns an extensive record collection, and I danced around our tri-level’s basement to his Bob Seger and Beach Boys selections. My dancing style mostly consisted of twirling about in circles. Wanting to add to my small repertoire of dance moves, I declared that I needed to take dance classes. My parents acquiesced, but the monotonous “tap, ball-change” and “plié, straighten” instructions from my tap and ballet teacher were not quite what I had anticipated. I persisted and found my niche in jazz, so dance became part of my life. Years later I would find myself teaching preschool ballet classes to pay for my dance class addiction and accepting the position of captain on my high school’s dance team. I suffered through my fair share of sprained ankles and damaged knee cartilage, but the thrill of performing was well worth it.
I found another identity as a flute player. When I started middle school, I joined the band. It seemed only natural that I would do so since my mother had been a clarinet player, and my brother played saxophone. This decision impacted my life dramatically. Not only did it ingrain my love of all things musical, but it also put my life on course to intersect with people who would become my most cherished friends. Lindsey moved to Knoxville from Washington DC for the start of our 8th grade year. Like me, she was a flute player. Lindsey sat beside me in band class, and our clarinet counterparts, Leslie and Brittany, sat across the arc. In jest, Leslie and Brittany used to tease that as flute players, Lindsey and I thought of ourselves as “all that and a bag of chips.” For years, and even to this day, those girls were my sisters, my security, and my partners in crime. On my wedding day, Leslie handed me a bag of Lays with the famous chips quote scrawled in Sharpie on the front. We laughed just like always.
I wandered through college discontent because I couldn’t find a path to spark my passion. I pursued an engineering degree because, in all honesty, I found it to be easy. I graduated and moved to Alabama for a job with the Department of Defense. I decided that if a fulfilling engineering job existed, it must be this one because I do care deeply about my country and our military troops. My job did prove rewarding but not in the ways I expected. During my three years in that job, I travelled the country. I watched the sun rise from a mountain peak in California, clambered over lava rocks in Hawaii, gambled my first dollar in Colorado, toured Harvard’s scholarly yard in Massachusetts, cheered the Braves at a baseball game in Georgia, and met the love of my life in Washington D.C.
When I first laid eyes on Josh, I assumed he was too good to be true. He was a self-declared Jesus lover and artist, and he was more than just a little good-looking. I let myself dream before dismissing the hope. This first encounter with Josh was actually a review of his online profile. He lived in D.C. while I still called Alabama home. We e-mailed back and forth, and miraculously, my job sent me to D.C.–multiple times! During the fall of 2010, we went through a most non-traditional dating whirlwind that consisted of airports, Skype, and many phone calls. We were engaged before the new year started and married the following July. Josh is many things and fills multiple roles, but most importantly, he is my friend. I packed up my apartment in Alabama and moved to D.C. where we started our life together.
I finished my M.B.A. degree in 2012, thankful that I no longer needed to juggle work, school, and my social calendar. In 2013, we moved to Abu Dhabi where Josh now works as an elementary school teacher. I no longer call myself an engineer, and I’m okay with that. Instead, I employ more of my business skills by working for a non-profit in the U.S. My longing for adventure and a healthy dose of change has been sufficiently fulfilled as I find myself a world away from home and family. I’m still finding my place here, but I’ve learned a great deal about myself. This summer we will move back to U.S. to begin the next chapter in our lives. Although there are many chapters in the past, I still feel as though my story is just beginning.