Happiness Highlights from Week 2 in DC

Last week was our second in the Washington, D.C. area and we learned a valuable lesson:

Staying at least two weeks in one place is awesome.

We were less rushed and we had the luxury of going back more than once to visit people and places we loved. Staying put an extra week gave us the freedom to make time for pool days. We’re in the Philadelphia area now and have decided we’ll stay put in this campground just inside the New Jersey border for another two weeks as well, and from here on out we’ll probably take things much more slowly. The more slowly we move in life, the more time we seem to have for happiness.

Happiness Highlights: Washington DC Week 2

kimberly and britt This picture was actually taken the first week in town at the lovely Kimberly’s house. We hung out at her house and swam for hours, taking short breaks to eat and drink. It was so glorious and the moment we got home Emma began asking when we could go back. When Kimberly invited us back this week, we couldn’t grab our suits fast enough.

swimming in Virginia And that’s exactly what my soul felt like.

One of the things I miss the most on this family trip is time with my girlfriends. I love my husband and kids, but I also need time with girlfriends. It was so good to get that spot filled up this week, and it was an important reminder that the people are just as important as the places.

Barbara and Britt If you had seen this pair of women on the streets of Washington, D.C., or wandering the halls of the National Portrait Gallery together, you might not assume that they would have much in common, but Barbara and I share similar souls. I‘ve been inspired by her for years. In fact, she was one of the people that inspired me to take this trip. We share a love of travel and a passion for writing about what we see and learn from the world around us. She gets me.

Although we’ve only met in person once before, she met me with a warm embrace outside the Verizon Center in Chinatown. We didn’t do much catching up, but went immediately to the gushing and the commiserating about the challenges of relearning old life lessons in new lives. When we were hugging goodbye, I heard her tell my husband that I had been encouraging of her in her travel writing career. I have so much admiration for Barbara that it was odd to hear her talk about getting anything from me; it made me want to believe her when she told me I was good enough to be published in print.

This week was a clear reminder for me that happiness comes, in part, from being near good women.

signers island We left Barbara to tour the many monuments of Washington, D.C. We visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I was predictably moved at each of these locations, and unexpectedly moved to tears at the Vietnam Wall. I don’t know how a place commemorating soldiers who died in a war I’m too young to remember could touch my soul so deeply, but it did. According to Twitter and Facebook, this isn’t an unusual reaction at all.

What you don’t hear much about is a place called Signers’ Island. It sits just off Constitution Avenue between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial, a small manmade island accessed by a wood footbridge. The signature of each signer of the Declaration of Independence is engraved into large stones set in a semi-circle beneath the shade of small trees. It appears to be almost an afterthought amid the massive granite and marble monuments, but it was perhaps the most important place I visited in the DC area.

Their signatures are engraved in gold.

Those 56 men whose names live permanently in stone risked everything, their very lives, by putting their names in ink on paper more than two centuries ago. They weren’t just ensuring a byline on a popular piece of political writing, they were sealing their fates. What we see today as the brave start of a nation was, in fact, an act of treason for which every single man could have been hung.

The memorial to their heroism didn’t bring me to tears. I was, instead, move to silent awe and reverence. I was encouraged. I was hopeful. I was left wondering what I would put my name to and for what I would risk my life.

DC Monument Day 145 I think maybe this.

Get More Inspiration & Encouragement

Sign up to get my weekly(ish) email with personal stories, practical tips & links to recent blog posts. You'll also have access to exclusive discounts on products & events and a handful of freebies I've made just for you.

I save my best stuff for subscribers! Join us.

Your email will never be sold or shared, because I aspire to not be a jerk.

  1. Suebob says:

    I visited the war memorials one day. Then the next, I went and saw the constitution, where I began sobbing so hard the guards came over. I gasped “This…this is what all those people were fighting for…”

    I loved visiting DC. It gave me a sense of being an American like nothing else.

  2. jodifur says:

    I’m so sorry I didn’t see you.

  3. Nanna says:

    I remember when Nanna the First always said that 10-14 days was a minimum for vacation because it took you that long to slow down enough to actually enjoy it.

  4. i have never heard of signers’ island. it is now, however, very important for me to add to my list of things to do when i go to dc. i love so much about this post, but the knowledge that such a place exists is making my heart ten shades of happy.

  5. Jared says:

    I think maybe a family of flag-wavers……………..

  6. muskrat says:

    More time in a great place is always a good idea!

  7. I love seeing DC through your eyes!!

  8. Sarah says:

    This is beautiful, Britt. And I love this idea of “Happiness Highlights”. It’s really something we should all do, whether we’re traveling around the country or not, isn’t it?

  9. Suzy says:

    Why would we assume you and Barbara wouldn’t have much in common by looking at you two? Was that a crack about age disparity you young whippersnapper? As an older woman, I represent that insinuation!!

  10. Summer in DC without melting into a big puddle o’ sweat is happiness, indeed.

  11. “This week was a clear reminder for me that happiness comes, in part, from being near good women.”

    I love my husband and daughter to the moon and back, but they are no substitute for the company of good women. It’s so easy for us to cocoon ourselves into our little family, but I have to remind myself to extract and go be around other amazing people. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Never knew about Signer’s Island. Will have to visit the next time we go back. For an interesting look into American history, watch the musical 1776!
    When you consider what so many have given, our lives and our quest for more seems so trivial!
    Choosing the best for your family

  13. Loukia says:

    I wish I was in D.C. when you were there! Oh well, I get to see you in TWO WEEKS! (OMG!) Love the pictures… you look so pretty and happy in all of them! :)

  14. Loukia says:

    P.S. I linked to you in my BlogHer post today. :)

  15. Lisa says:

    I am in desperate need of some girlfriend time right now! I’m glad I get to see you in acouple of weeks!

    I love D.C. I wish I had been able to spend more time there when I visited.

  16. naomi says:

    LOVE LOVE that you met Barbara! You two are cool cats …

  17. Oh, girlfriend, you are SO good enough to get published. Send you tons of love and a big, energetic hug right now!

« « How to Ask for Help | Today I Choose Enough » »