In praise of my neighbors

We just started on a journey. We’ll be away from home for nine weeks, traveling the world to teach seminars. It is quite a privilege and we don’t take it for granted. Preparing for such an adventure involves a fair amount of stress yet I managed better than ever and even completed all the packing without yelling at anyone. That’s because I had help.
The most important decision you can make is who you pick as your spouse. The number one factor to determine your level of happiness. Who you fall asleep with. Who you wake up next to. Day in. Day out.

The second most important decision you can make is where you choose to live. That will go a long way in affecting your level of happiness. Where you fall asleep. Where you wake up. Day in. Day out.

We are blessed. We live in a great part of our favorite town in our favorite state in our favorite country in the whole wide world. I would say we’re beyond lucky, except luck had very little to do with it. We chose to leave the security of a successful full time school in Los Angeles. We sold our one piece of furniture (our mattress) and our boxes of books and bought one way tickets to Honolulu. We packed two suitcases and boarded the plane with our boom box as a carryon. Despite everyone telling us we could never make a living teaching martial arts in Hawaii. Despite not knowing how we would re-arrange our busy seminar schedule (we used to travel every single weekend and knew this would no longer be an option when adding a 5 hour flight from Hawaii).
We rented for 10 years, drove one car, worked, saved, until we could afford to buy a house and make my teenage dream of living walking distance from the beach, a reality.
We picked a nice little house in a quiet little lane and that house and that lane have significantly increased our level of happiness.

Here is the third most important influence on your happiness: neighbors. That’s when luck kicks in, because you don’t get to pick your neighbors. Did we ever luck out! We are surrounded by amazing people. We see them every day and they are the closest thing to family that my daughter knows. (My husband and I don’t have any relatives living nearby). Getting ready for this trip only made me appreciate them even more. Today I want to introduce you to my wonderful neighbors.

Neighbors to our Left: A married couple with two grown children and a third about to graduate highschool (homeschooled all the way through). He is an amazing wood worker and has helped us on many occasions with fixing up our house. She’s our go to Costco helper and our usual ride from the airport. We respect and admire them so much, we have chosen them as our daughter’s guardians (and they graciously accepted). That says it all. For this trip, they took on the lesser (but nonetheless important) responsibility of taking care of our plants.

Neighbors to our Right. A married couple. No children. They’re the newest to move on our lane and the sixth set of tenants in that rental house. We connected right away. They are so nice. They host the best parties. I even celebrated my 41st birthday there (jacuzzi anyone?). They take us to the farmers market almost every week and let us jump in their pool whenever.
On my way to the airport, I realized I had left dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter and didn’t hesitate to ask this neighbor to please clean up behind me. Twenty minutes later, I got a text that it was done! For this trip, they’re taking care of our mail.

Neighbors behind. A married couple. No children. Their driveway goes right alongside our lanai. We see them every single day when they come back from work. We talk to him as he goes to grab the mail. We wave to her as she backs up to park right by our bathroom window. Yes, our two homes are that close; space is at a premium in Hawaii. Thankfully we love them! She makes the best fried rice. He cooks a mean deviled eggs. She leaves banana fritters on our table before she’s off to work. He hauls off our green waste to the dump in his big truck. For this trip, they’re taking care of our guns.

Neighbors two doors down to the Right. A married couple with two kids. (A girl 5, a boy 1). Our girls are best buddies and play together almost every day. They often take our daughter out to dinner and give her the best Birthday and Christmas gifts. They’ve looked after her an entire day when I wasn’t feeling well. They share coconuts from their tree and drive us to the airport.
For this trip, they’re taking care of our car. (Since their second car needs repair right now, it works quite well that we can supply them with a ride if they need it).

Neighbors immediately across. A newly married young couple. No children; both in the military. They remind us of our younger selves. They’re amazing with TQ and often play with her. For this trip, they’re mailing out bill payments. (Taxes don’t wait right?).

Neighbors two doors across. Another young married couple. No children. He’s military. She’s a student and our new babysitter. Yippie! She teaches our little one sign language and they make paintings together (something I don’t enjoy doing). She’s always laughing and a joy to be around. For this trip, she was a great help in giving me uninterrupted time to get our things ready.

Neighbors across to the Right. A married couple with two grown children and a young chocolate Labrador. They let TQ play with the dog whenever and bring us homemade corn bread for breakfast! ‘Nough said right!

To all our neighbors: thank you. Thank you for being our friends. Thank you for being our family. Thank you for making us happier. We treasure you. We treasure this community we have created.
Near or far, you have forever won a place in our hearts.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatian 5:14

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