Saving Adams County’s power plants North Adams High School announces annual Science Fair Winners Board of Developmentally Disabled holds Jan. 11 swearing-in ceremony Peebles Elementary honors December Students of the Month Adams County villages receive Bike Racks and Fix-it Stations College Credit Plus Program available to high school students Wenstrup selected as Chairman of Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health 2017 Manchester Homecoming is ‘Super’ Lions put damper on Manchester Homecoming West Union athletes honored by OSSCA Senior Profile: Story Kremin Bickett, Runyan lead Lady Dragons to victory in Manchester Indians improve to 8-3 with Saturday night rout of Portsmouth West Farm Bureau scholarships available to HS seniors Wilbur named to the Wilmington College Dean’s List Opal Van Hoose Ruby Yazell Chris Volk North Adams High School holds annual Homecoming ceremonies Six workers injured in power plant explosion Commissioners hold proclamation ceremony for 4-H Week Senior Profile: Shyanne Tucker Coach Young Classic is Saturday at NAHS Helen Kerr Anna L DeMint The garden that got us through the winter months Virginia L Fricker JV Devils top Northwest 51-34 Senior Profile: Caitlin Young North Adams moves to 7-5 with 16-point Homecoming win over Northwest Held to a higher standard Claudia J Purtee Shaylee E Prewitt Questions still linger in Stuart explosion Richard Holsinger J Ruth Madden Frank E Swayne Robert Bechdolt Sara D Hatfield Barbara Goodwin Jeffrey Frederick Grace E Myers Johnny A Sullender Sr. Senator Joe Uecker sworn-in for second term Wenstrup sworn in for third term in House Ronald L Chochard Patrick P Clift Samuel W Freeland Senior Profile: Casey Mullenix Lady Dragons win ugly, taking Classic consolation game over Manchester, 48-45 Greyhounds roll by West Union to take Classic consolation game, 82-58 History made as Ward takes oath of office Peter A Bennington Tangela R King McDonald’s Classic crowns 2016 champions MVP Arey leads Peebles to McDonald’s Classic title, Indians outlast North Adams 82-76 in double overtime thriller Lady Devils get Classic three-peat, make it 10 of 11, 14 titles for Coach Davis Senior Profile: Raegan Dick Teaching students the power of giving Kids at Children’s Home gifted with shopping spree Marion Liming Dorothy Huff John R Murphy Michael L McAninch Rita Rogers Edward L Combs Ronald W Staggs Mary H Grooms Gladys Wilson Donald Barnhill Monda Van Vorren Deborah Spires Senior Profile: Andre Wolke Indians pull away in second half, get past Manchester 71-58 in Classic semis On home floor, Lady Indians move to Classic title game North Adams handles West Union, Devils move to Classic finals with 68-53 victory Lady Devils roll into Classic championship Beth E Rowley Leatrice Lewis Senior Profile: Justin Aldridge Mary Helterbridle Wanda Huffman PES Performing Arts entertains at Hometown Christmas Adams County Manor sends holiday wishes Peebles Lions Club hosts Christmas breakfast Elusive Elf on a Shelf makes a return visit to PES Santas in blue spread Christmas cheer in a very special way Senior Profile: Aubrey McFarland WUHS holds Hall of Fame induction ceremonies WUHS Academic Team has undefeated season Serving those who served their country From Pearl Harbor to ‘America’s Got Talent’, 93-year-old WWII vet is still going strong Yester Years brings a touch of old to the new Merry Christmas to you all North Adams Elementary announces Spelling Bee winners Peebles High School hosts Homecoming ceremonies Children in need receive gifts at PES Adams County Manor holds annual Door Decorating Contest WUHS celebrates with numerous Christmas activities Halftime lead quickly vanishes, Dragons fall to Northwest 73-62 in Saturday night non-conference match up

What makes you happy?

I’m generally of the mindset that a vacation doesn’t truly start until I’ve reached my destination. I will not be happy until I am sitting with either a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in my hand on the other side of the long drive. I want to get there as quickly as possible so I can just relax. But looking back, it brought to mind a vacation I took a few years ago when I was a single mom. I threw all the kids in the car, and headed to our family home in northern Wisconsin.

I could either take the 11-hour route that went through all of the major cities along the way, or I could take the 16-hour route that was more scenic and went over Mackinac Bridge and along the Great Lakes. Now, if you’ve ever driven for any length of time with five kids in the car, you understand my hesitation of adding five additional hours. I was afraid I would either be in tears or minus a couple of kids before we got there, but I chose the longer route. I told myself that for once, we were going to enjoy the drive.

This time, vacation started the minute we got in the car. If we got in the mood for ice cream, we stopped and got some. If I saw a pretty barn, I pulled over to photograph it. We stopped in Grand Rapids to visit friends and swim. We stopped to splash in the lake at sunset. We hiked when we got to the other side of the bridge and had a picnic dinner. We enjoyed the ride. The right now. The drive ended up taking 18 hours. I was exhausted when we finally arrived, but I still had my sanity, and all of the kids. The inside of the car was covered in sand and sticky napkins and empty wrappers, but their faces were covered in chocolate and smiles. It was totally worth it. I realized that I got it right this time and I realized that in my rush to just get where we were going all the years before, I missed it. I missed the joy that can be found in just slowing down and noticing the remarkable things around us along the way.

It makes me wonder. How often are we so focused on getting to the next point in our everyday life that we forget to see the remarkable things in the right now? Maybe we feel like we’ll be happier when we can get a bigger house or newer car. Maybe we want to just get through the ball practice so we can get home and sit in our favorite chair and relax. Maybe we think we’ll be happy when we can just finish the errands and get home. Heck, sometimes I think I’ll be happy if I can just get through the day so I can have a re-do and start over the next. (Yes, we’ve all had those.)

If that is the mindset in which we live our lives, we are missing it. We are missing the joy that can come in rolling down the windows, cranking up the radio, singing to our favorite songs, and having an impromptu dance party in our old car while on the way to run errands. Great conversations can be had on the way to and from ball practice. A compliment to the person running the cash register at the grocery store could brighten the day for both of you. Even on days when you might be sick and don’t go outside, you might notice deer in the yard, or a neighborhood child picking flowers. (Hopefully not out of your flowerbed like my kids have done to our neighbors – sorry!)

Your house might be small and not the one you envisioned yourself retiring in, but it has likely been the place of many blessings and memories, had the aroma of many home-cooked meals, and welcomed many people through its doors that love you. Let us not be in such a hurry to get to the next thing that we think will make us happy that we miss those small moments. In the end, those are the things that matter.

I am reminded of that every time I see my framed pictures of the pretty barns that I took time to stop and photograph along our vacation route that summer. And every time we’ve driven to Wisconsin since then, my kids request that we take the same route, and we do. Because to them, the longer route doesn’t mean five more agonizing hours in a car anymore. Now it means they’ve been given permission to slow down, enjoy the ride, and create memories that last a lifetime.

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Denae Jones

Contributing Columnist

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2016 People's Defender