More than a month ago

It’s hard to believe I returned to Southwest Florida more than a month ago. I have spent a great deal of time with family and friends since returning, something that was hard to live without for almost two years.

One of my new favorite routines happens every Saturday. I spend the week looking forward to my early start that morning.

In an effort to train for my third 5K race, which took place on Memorial Day, I ran with my mother and younger sister Maureen, who were also participating in the race with me. I was so excited to recruit two people to run with me, especially since it was Mom and Maureen’s first race. I’m happy to say I beat my best race time by more than three minutes that morning even in the awful heat. Mom and Maureen finished before me making their first race a memorable one. Although we did not cross the finish line at the same time, it was encouraging to know that they were running the same race with me. I kept my pace going and am happy to say I finally ran the entire 3.1 miles without stopping, making it truly an awesome achievement.

Every Saturday, we meet at Maureen’s house to run along McGregor. I still cannot put into words how much that first run meant to me. I have spent the majority of my time running by myself, or with my puppy Lucy. To run with other people, well it felt incredible, even if we all are not running at the same speed. Even though the race is over, we still meet every Saturday morning. Yes, it’s still a highlight of my week. This past Saturday as I pulled up to Maureen’s house, I saw Dad standing with Mom and Maureen, which made me smile. Our running group is expanding . . . I love spending that time with family first thing in the morning.

As I sit here and reflect on some of the highlights of my time back in Southwest Florida, a trying time, a time that kept me apart from Jason for 47 days already seems like a lifetime ago. I smile when I look back. I smile because of the strength we both had during the time he was in Fort Myers and I was in Kingsport. I smile because that is now a distant memory.

The best feeling in the world is being in the same state, the same city and living under the same roof again. Now we are back to our old routines, some that I love and will never grow tired of . . . a kiss before he leaves for work that is accompanied by have a great day.

I am now a firm believer that the heart grows fonder when you are away from your loved one. I have seen a new side of Jason that I cherish since returning. Our relationship is stronger than before. Jason’s affection and expression of how he feels comes more often making me feel even more loved.

For the first time in a longtime, I really feel like I am home. That feeling is not just because I am living in the area where I grew up surrounded by friends and family, but I am living my dream once again.

As a freelance writer, there is good and bad. I absolutely love the freedom of making my own schedule. I enjoy working from my home having the luxury of walking into my kitchen to grab a snack or cook lunch. I also love having the opportunity to be in the same vicinity as my one year old puppy.

What I was lacking did not show its presence until I moved back to the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area.

I am now spending more time out in the community, interviewing people face-to-face, making my passion for writing truly surface once again. There’s something special about living in the same community in which you work. I did not know how much I missed that interaction until the first assignment my editor gave me took me out into the community.

My passion is in full force again. My passion of writing has taken on another dimension.

Our move back to Southwest Florida was one of the best decisions we have made, especially because of the opportunities that we have found. Jason and I continue to grow as a couple, I’m writing more for editors I truly love working for, I’m spending my weekends with Mom once again and my best friend is only 30-minutes down the road.

Although our lives have been enriched with so much beauty here, I still find myself thinking of Tennessee. I miss the mountains. This past week it hit me pretty hard. Oh, how I miss the pure beauty of that state.

The hiking, getting lost in the woods, is what I miss the most. The clarity the hills and mountains gave me was truly special.

The cats struck

After I returned home from my solo run Saturday afternoon, Jason and I went to Lowe’s and picked out our Christmas tree.

This year we chose a Douglas Fir that is absolutely perfect. Since we have a bigger living room, the tree is taller than last year!

I love that we have purchased a real tree almost the entire time we have been together. Growing up, my parents always had a live tree decorated every year, something I wanted to carry on as a tradition for Jason and I.

The smell of a Christmas tree is among one of my favorite parts about this holiday. I love that aroma.

Our first Christmas together, Jason surprised me with an invitation to spend it with his family. Since that invitation was a trip to Illinois and we were not living together at the time, we did not buy a tree.

The second year, Jason surprised me with a little table top Christmas tree that was absolutely adorable.

The third year he took parts of my parents Christmas tree and made us a wreath. Jason even strung some lights on it, which of course touched me beyond belief.

Last year, our first Christmas in Tennessee, we went out and bought a 5 foot Christmas tree. It completely made my holiday. We bought ornaments, a tree skirt and tree topper. It was all incredibly special to me because we began collecting memories that were going to be added to in years to come.

Jason is so good to me. I know he enjoys picking out a tree too. Even if it involves picking out one tree after another, hitting the stump to the ground, so I can see the branches, while making up my mind.

The best thing about Christmas this year, since we are renting a house, we even strung lights outside. Jason absolutely loved adding some holiday cheer outside. I’m sure we will be buying more lights before Christmas to add to the collection of lights outside.

So, after we got home on Saturday, we put the tree in its stand, put the skirt around it and put our adorable reindeer tree topper on. Due to hanging the lights outside, we ran out of Christmas lights for the tree, so it remained half strung before heading to bed.

Night one a success . . . the Christmas tree was still standing the next morning.

I ran up to the store yesterday morning and picked up another box of lights, so we could finish decorating the tree. The ornaments, which are mostly various colored balls, made its way on the tree.

Night two . . . epic fail.

IMG_2681The cats struck while we were asleep. We had one shattered ornament and two more of the balls scattered around the living room. Now the bottom of our tree is bare.

I knew it was going to be a challenge with the cats, but really the first night?

I’m going to have to buy some soft ornaments to put on the bottom that the cats can swat around and play with. Ornaments that I don’t care if they are ruined.

IMG_2679I’m so thankful we put our nice ornaments towards the top of the tree. I would be really upset if they got a hold of those.

Oh the life with so many animals.

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Lucy and our beautiful Douglas Fir.

Best surprise!

I received an amazing surprise from my mom Saturday afternoon. One that I am truly grateful for, one that completely shocked me, one that of course has me smiling still.

I’m going to be with my family for the holidays AND my birthday!!

My mom asked if I wanted to fly home (Fort Myers) for the holidays, her treat. My answer of course came without hesitation, other than let me talk to Jason first.

I cannot fully put into words how excited I became after hearing that offer. I will be in the same state with my family as we all come together to celebrate Christmas!! That right there is the best Christmas present I could receive.

Jason’s response when I told him Mom wanted to fly me home for Christmas left my heart singing. His response too was without hesitation. “Go, go spend Christmas with your family.” This will be the longest we have been a part since we started dating. One full week. That week will include my birthday, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, our first time of being a part on those specific days. I wish Jason could make the trip with me, but I am beyond thankful he is so understanding. He knows I need to spend time with my family.

This will also be the first time I will be a part from Lucy, our puppy. Mom told me I could bring her along, but after looking into a plane ticket for her, I had to rule out that decision. I have a hard time spending $100 one way on a ticket for an animal. I will miss her.

I left Fort Myers April 30, 2013 and haven’t returned since our move to Northeast Tennessee. Although I have seen the majority of my family in either Illinois, Maryland or here in Kingsport since then, I haven’t seen my little sister Maureen and older brother Bill since leaving.

This trip also means I get to see my friends who I miss terribly!

With my excitement fully overtaking me, I sent a text to my great friend Dorene telling her when I will be in town. Her response “Yay! Yay! Yay!” I cannot wait to see her.

I also sent a text to Charlene and Judy, who I also miss like crazy!

Then the texts continued to all of my brothers and sisters.

I loved what response I received from my little brother Tom when I told him I will see him in Fort Myers next month. Tom too moved away from Florida . . .  he lives in Maryland with his wife and two boys.

Within a few minutes my phone rang . . . it was my nephews on the other end. After catching up for a few minutes and sharing our excitement of seeing each other again, Caleb, my 3-year-old nephew got on the phone. What he said melted my heart. “I’ll see you soon.” I can never get enough of spending time with my nephews!

Although I talked with Erin about her recent trip to Florida’s east coast through text messages, we didn’t talk about me traveling to Fort Myers. I was laughing to hard at the description she gave me of the time her and Alex had! I’m excited to see her and her family, including my two nephews!

Later in the afternoon, my brother Bill called. With his hectic schedule we don’t have a chance to talk as much as I know we both would like. It felt great to tell him I will see him soon.

If a phone call with both of my brothers was not enough,  I also talked to my younger sister Maureen for more than an hour last night. That conversation was a perfect ending to my day.

Wait . . . I also talked with Emily, my younger sister through a few text messages before finally going to bed. I could hear and feel her excitment of the news as well.

I actually talked to all of my siblings in one day. I cannot tell you the last time that actually happened. Those conversations only made me miss them more. But, knowing that I get to see them in a little more than a month, priceless!

Thank you Mom. You always seem to know the perfect present to give! I cannot wait to spend time with you and our entire gang!

Perfect couple of weeks

My to-do-list is finally reaching an end, relieving some of the stress that has been building these last few weeks.

A week ago today Jason and I moved into a quite little house that, so far, is a perfect fit for us and all of our animals. The picture below is one of my favorites. Lucy is so little that she could not see out of our front window in the living room, so I put something under it that she could climb on and view the world outside. Now every time I come home, I see her little face peering out the window.

Oct. 2, 2014

Oct. 2, 2014

The last few weeks have been nonstop . . . with that said, I wouldn’t change a thing. My parents flew into town on Sept. 23 and spent a few days with us before Jason and I drove them to Maryland, so they could end their vacation with my brother and his family.

I had begun a countdown as soon as my Mom told me she booked the flight to the Tri-Cities airport. I felt like a little girl as the excitement at times was uncontrollable.

I remember waking up that morning, Sept. 23, with a huge smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Although I was busy working all morning, the time still couldn’t go by fast enough. I was eager to leave the house and be on my way to the airport.

Jason called me as soon as I got off the interstate that afternoon and he too shared my excitement for the simple reason that I was going to see my parents in a matter of minutes. He told me he was excited for me to give them both hugs, which only made me smile more. When that time finally came I parked in the lot at the airport . . . I just couldn’t control it anymore. I was so giddy!!

The giddiness was because it had been quite some time since seeing my parents.  I won’t lie, from time to time it has been a struggle for me being so far away from my parents, especially when I was only a 10-minute drive from them for a long time in Fort Myers. The last time I saw my Dad was the day before we left for Tennessee last April. I was able to spend time with my Mom in Chicago last year when Jason and I drove to Illinois for my cousin’s wedding.

It was long past due to spend some time with my parents. I was beyond thrilled that after a year that time spent with them was at my new home. I had so much fun showing them around and taking them to some of the destinations that Jason and I have come to love since last May.IMG_2399

On Sept. 24, Jason, Lucy and I took Mom and Dad to Laurel Falls for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, something Mom had mentioned she wanted to do. The weather that morning was cool, making for a perfect day to be outdoors.

I loved every minute of that hike. Mom and Dad had the opportunity to experience what Jason and love to do on our days off, finding beautiful waterfalls. Although Mom has been following my blog and seeing where we have been through pictures, you fully do not experience the sight unless you are there taking in the sounds and scenery.

It was fun to experience the hike through their eyes. Everyone seems to take in the hike in a much different way. My parents were constantly trying to figure out the vegetation that surrounded the trail and the waterfall. Although I notice the trees, I spent more time looking at it all while hiking with them.

It appeared that they enjoyed themselves on the hike. They even had the opportunity to take in the fall scenery, which of course was a treat coming from Florida.

IMG_2416The following day while Jason had to work, I took Mom and Dad to Bays Mountain for a late morning hike. We followed the trail around the lake, which was a perfect path to show off some more of the beautiful fall colors. Mom even enjoyed picking up acorns for her grandkids . . . of course those included the biggest ones we could find.

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Bays Mountain was the first place Jason and I visited when we arrived in Kingsport last year, so you could only imagine how excited I was to show where our first adventure began. It seemed like Mom and Dad enjoyed another morning outdoors.

After we finished the hike, we went back to my place for a while before heading back out later that evening for a walk on the Kingsport Greenbelt. This was the only place on my list that I really wanted to show Mom because every time Lucy and I run the path she is constantly in my thoughts because of all the ducks we see. Since our walk took place around dusk, we saw a ton of deer that night, which is always cool to see.

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Friday morning, we hit the road early because we had a long drive ahead of us to Maryland. After being in the car for about 9 hours I think we were all ready to stand on our own two feet and stretch. I loved seeing Mom and Dad see their grandkids for the first time in almost a year. I have sweet pictures of my parents smiling, and my nephew Caleb while in the middle of a conversation. It’s those tender moments that I love to capture.

It was a lot of fun to spend Friday and Saturday with my parents and Tom and his family. I love seeing my nephews and spending time with them. The last time we saw them was in May and it’s amazing how much they grew up . . .

We ended up leaving earlier than expected on Saturday because of Lucy, our puppy. She’s usually a perfect little angel, but that day she was showing us a completely different side. A side that I was not too fond of. A side that had me stressed and rattled to the bone. She began barking at everyone that passed her or came in close proximity to her. This was rather strange because she seldom ever barks. So to keep her quite and calm I tried to take her away from everything, which did not give me the time I wanted to spend with my family.

It was bittersweet when I hugged everyone goodbye. I’m surprised I didn’t shed a few tears as our goodbyes were shared.

On our way back home we stopped at a friends house, a friend I have known for more than 20 years. A friend that Jason has known for almost just as long. The last time Anna and I saw each other was in 2003 or 2004 when I came home from college. It was so good to spend time with her and her family. So many good memories were brought up, even some yearbooks were opened, which provided a vision from our past as stories were shared.  I sure hope so much time does not pass before we see each other again.

When we arrived back home on Sunday, reality sunk in .  .  . moving day was right around the corner and we still had so much to do.

Tuesday was the big day . . . a day that started way too early and ended way too late. This of course is a trait that I love about Jason. When he has a vision we accomplish it, or surpass the goal. We ended up renting a UHaul, which helped tremendously. In two trips we were able to load all of our furniture and washer and dryer, as well as some boxes. We finished moving about 90 percent of our apartment in one day.

To say we were both tired and sore is an understatement.

The benefit of getting all that accomplished  . . . sleeping at the house a week ago for the first time.

I absolutely love living in this cute little two bedroom house with a beautiful backyard.

20141001_171845Except for a house we rented for no more than six months when we first started dating, Jason and I have gone from one apartment to another over the past five years. It feels great to have privacy once again. I cannot describe how good it is not to hear our neighbors through the thin walls, or to keep our voices down because we don’t want to disturb them. I can now play music in the living room while listening to it in my office without worrying about being too loud for our neighbors.

The list goes on and on of why I enjoy living at this house.

Sunday morning Jason and I headed back to the townhouse we were renting to clean and make sure we had all of our belongings. When we sat in the car a sense of relief washed over the both of us. We were beyond ready to say goodbye to that little place that we seemed to outgrow in a year.

Another chapter begins . . .  one that seems to be off on the right foot.

Clarity

Life sometimes can throw you curve balls and send you on a winding road that is hard to navigate.

The outcome of your destination is completely up to you.

Things for me have been a little stressful lately and it’s been somewhat of a struggle to juggle everything.

It hit me hard yesterday. It became crystal clear that something needs to change when I went to the gym to relieve some stress and I walked out the door not feeling any better. This was an eye opener. The gym is my get away,  my piece of mind, my clarity.

My thoughts were muddy, a little scattered.

I came home and started working and was pleasantly interrupted by a phone call. My mom was calling.

As soon as we started talking, I let it all out. It’s amazing how much I really needed to get stuff off my chest. That’s the beauty of talking to mom. Everything is revealed, everything is laid out on the table. My shoulders became a little less tense and a smile and laughter filled the room.

Two-hours later we finally said our goodbyes.

This conversation of course made me miss family. We are going on 13 months since leaving Florida.

When I moved to Arizona, I was able to visit home at least every six months. At the end of every semester at Arizona State University, I was packing my bags and heading to the airport.

Things are different now.

The difference is, I haven’t had that overwhelming urge to leave, to get away from the life I am now leading.

That just goes to show I’m in a much better scenerio, a much better relationship now. I havent wanted to flee . . .

For the first time in my life, my home is where the love of my life is. My home is where Jason and I are.

I still want to head back to Fort Myers, not to go “home,” but to visit friends and family. I hope we can make a trip back south soon.

After mom and I hung up, I started to work again. Although I felt better, my thoughts were still a little scattered.

So, I put Lucy’s collar on and we headed to the Kingsport Greenbelt. We both obviously needed to be outdoors.

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As Lucy led the way, it became easier to get a hold of my thoughts. I began to smile as her trot became a full run.

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My life changed pretty drastically after we adopted this little pup in April. She has had such an impact on my life.

It’s true there really is a special connection with a dog.

I absolutely love having her with me all day, but my life has changed.

My routine . . . .

My gym time has been cut back immensely because of her fear and anxiety of being alone. We still haven’t conquered her “okay” of being in a crate while I’m gone. So, I have a hard time leaving her home alone.

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While we were out on our walk, well run a good portion of the time, Lucy made me smile. I became carefree, living in the moment. Her excitment for the  outdoors, well it was a breath of fresh air. The breath I needed.

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After more than two-miles we decided to head back home.

Those thoughts that I thought were sorted out became jumbled again. As Jason and I talked later that night, well rather early this morning, it all came out again. He has a way of making me look at things in a new light. He makes me dig deep and calls me out when I give him an answer he knows not to be the full truth. We got down to the nitty gritty, the solution of what has been hanging over my head. That solution of course didn’t come without a bag full of emotions.

We finally made our way upstairs.

This man means the absolute world to me. The love, unconditional love he has shown me, takes my breath away. He loves me regardless of my faults. He loves me for me. It’s apparent he will do anything and everything in his power to make sure I’m okay. To make me smile, laugh and get the most out of this life we are sharing.

I woke up smiling this morning. I have refocused my energy and thoughts,  thanks to my mom, my forever companion Lucy and Jason.

My mom starts to break down my walls as best as she can over the phone, while Jason jumps in her spot and  completely destroys them.

I am grateful that I have two such wonderful, caring, loving people in my life. Jason and mom work as a team without even knowing it to get me to better grounds.

So as the new day unfolds,  Lucy and I are going to part ways for a few hours while I take another shot at the gym today. Yesterday I bought her a kong to help keep her busy while I’m away. I hope it works.

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Loved by all

This past weekend we took Lucy on her first real road trip to Maryland to visit with my brother’s family and celebrate his oldest son’s 3rd birthday.

20140509_135432This poor pup had a hard time as soon as we started our journey. We made it a few miles down the road and she got sick. Jason and I stopped at a Walgreens to get some supplies to clean up the mess. As he went inside to grab some paper towels from the bathroom, I took Lucy for a little walk in the grassy areas giving her yet another opportunity to go to the bathroom. After she went and the mess was cleaned we were on our way again.

Unfortunately after we kept on driving gaining some distance in Virginia, this poor thing got sick again. Thankfully an exit was approaching that had a Wal-Mart and Petco. Jason went into Wal-Mart and bought some paper towels this time, in case we needed them again, and I sat on the curb next to the car trying to get Lucy to drink some water. Jason cleaned up the mess yet again. We drove over to Petco and purchased some medicine that said it would help the car sickness. Of course the pills were huge, and with Lucy still being a puppy, we had to break it down and put it in water to make it easier for her to chew.

After another bathroom break, the three of us got in the car and we were on our way again. This time Lucy remained up front close to us as the shaking subsided. I don’t know if she ever actually fell asleep the entire 8 plus hours we ended up being in the car, but she curled up either on Jason’s lap with her head in the middle of our two seats or on my lap.

The medicine seemed to help, it mellowed her out and she never got sick on our journey again. What should have been a six and a half hour drive to Maryland, turned a lot longer due to our longer stops at rest areas. We both wanted to make sure she had a chance to eat and drink, and well, just get out of the car for a little bit.

When we finally arrived at Tom’s place, after sitting in awful traffic outside of D.C. for a while, we were instantly greeted by my brother. Lucy happy to be out of the car, greeted Tom with her friendly licks before Caleb spotted that his daddy was home.

Lucy and Caleb became instant friends. They started chasing each other . . . it was a sight that made me smile as this little three-year old and a four-month old puppy ran through the thick green grass.

When the running stopped Lucy and Caleb gave me the perfect photo opportunity. I quickly grabbed my cell phone and snapped away as my nephew and puppy shared an incredibly sweet moment. With the numerous pictures I took this weekend, this remained my absolute favorite.

Caleb and LucyThis picture pretty much sums up our two days in Maryland . . . After this moment Caleb and Lucy were always close to each other.

As the night went on, Tom put his two sons to bed and Jason and I remained on the porch with his wife’s best friend’s boyfriend talking about dogs and life in general.

After a while Tom reappeared and asked if he could borrow Lucy for a while.

Of course I said sure. Tom put Lucy in bed with Caleb. By this point, I’m sure Lucy was waiting for a moment like this, a quite time where she could get some sleep after her exhausting little day. So, what did this little pup do, curled up with my nephew and helped put him to sleep.

You never know how puppies, well dogs in general, are going to act around kids. My little Lucy was such an angel.

Throughout the two days we spent in Maryland, Lucy was the topic of everyone’s conversation. It was so much fun hearing how well-behaved and cute she was by Lisa’s family. She loved everyone and soaked up all the attention she could get, which really was not that hard. I heard from numerous people that they wanted to take her home.

I’m so glad Jason made this trip happen. Although it was an exhausting ride there and back, he made it happen.

I got to spend two days with my adorable nephews and little brother, as well as catch up with Lisa and her family.

This weekend also showed me why I love Jason so much. He has shown me time and time again that he will do just about anything for me to make me happy. Well this weekend was no exception. His patience with Lucy was amazing to see as we tried to make her as comfortable as we could on the car ride to Maryland and home.

Whenever we make trips, Jason 99.9 pecent of the time drives the entire distance, which he did again this trip on the way to and from Maryland.

We didn’t leave Maryland until almost 9 p.m. Saturday night because Jason wanted to make sure I got to spend time with my family. With that said, we didn’t arrive back home until after 4 Sunday morning. This incredible man then got up and went to work before 10 a.m. that morning.

The entire time we were visiting with my brother, Jason was hard to find. He was constantly in the kitchen helping prepare the party’s meals, at the grill cooking the hamburgers and hotdogs, making popcorn and cotton candy or cutting up the cake after we sang Happy Birthday to Caleb. Jason was also quick to help move that or clean up this the entire day. I love that he helps when we are at family functions.

Since we brought Lucy, I wasn’t in the mix of all the preparing because I wanted to keep her out of the kitchen. So every chance I had I helped with the boys, which was easy. Caleb and I walked Lucy, played with Lucy and had some incredibly sweet conversations.

Although we came home exhausted I am so glad we made that trip. Lucy too, she slept almost the entire day on Sunday.

You don’t realize how much you truly miss family until you get to spend some quality time with them. The last time I saw Tom and his family was in October. His boys have grown so much. His son Colton just turned a year old and has such a sweet personality. He eventually warmed up to me, as we both made each other smile.

This trip filled a gap that I didn’t know was growing. May 1 marked a year since we moved to Tennessee. Although we had the opportunity to see Tom and his family in October, as well as my mom and younger sister, I miss the rest of my family something fierce.

I’m truly fortunate to have a man who understands how incredibly important family is to me . . . and will do anything to make sure I get to spend some quality time with them when we can make it happen.

 

Thankful

Some thoughts that struck me while exercising today . . .

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Do you ever wake up thinking you have a beautiful life? That the life you lead is because of the confidence you have in yourself to make it happen?

I’m not sure if these thoughts have bombarded me because I had a conversation with someone from my past, or if I’m just reflecting on how far I’ve come because I’m experiencing the daily change in new life right outside the window.

The life of nature, if you think about it, goes through some drastic changes before new life is born. That new life of spring, and the warm temperatures that also grace this season, has spoken to me.

I really cannot put into words the feelings that take over me when I spot that new flower presenting itself on a tree or on the ground for that matter. After seeing the trees bare for so many months, its eye-catching for sure.

Today, while I was out taking pictures, I heard lawn mowers running and the smell of new cut grass filled the air. This alone made me smile. Do you know how long it has been since hearing those sounds or smelling that fragrance?

Yeah, is all I have to say.

Reflection . . .

The best part of that conversation earlier this week, is it made me smile, instead of making me dwell on the life I decided to leave behind. It’s amazing how much your life can blossom when you have the right people in your life. Without support from my closest family and friends, those mountains that blocked my path seemed unbearable. With their constant encourgement, the mountains turned into little, tiny hills, bumps for that matter. It was easy to catch a glimpse of the other side of the hurdle and continue along this path of my life.

IMG_1434What I took as genuine happiness about how far I have come from this individual kind of left me speechless. I know it shouldn’t have because he was so encouraging when he was a big part of my life. Even as discussions were had about another person of my past, the feelings that used to consume me no longer did. The only feeling that grabbed a hold of me was sadness. The same conversation that was had almost five years ago, was the same tune I heard that day. It’s a shame when someone can’t or does not want to find the new light at the end of the tunnel to carry on and see the new beauty that presents itself.

Life is precious, you have to make the most out of everything. This of course can be hard on occassion. The daily stresses of life sometimes gets the best of me.

The statement below I found one day is very true.

“Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.”

I have found myself getting better at this every day.

New beauty . . .

IMG_1429New beauty is constantly presenting itself, if not in nature, in the daily happenings of my own life.

So, why not leave the worry behind, the unneeded stress, when you are in charge of your own happiness?

That one day struck me, it was time to grab a hold of that happiness and be in charge once again.

A huge turning point for me was moving back home to Fort Myers to be close to family and friends. The unconditional love and support often times took my breath away. I will never forget those days. I will never forget how my dad was my strength, how he carried me through one of the hardest times of my life.

The second best thing was rekindling that relationship with my first love.

I will never forget that conversation that started on Facebook almost five years ago after more than a decade of time passing by.

Strength . . .

That word can mean so many different things. I often find my thoughts turning to this word as I’m out in nature admiring its beauty. The more time we spend outdoors, as well as my time I spend at the gym, constantly reminds me just how strong I have become.

IMG_1423I have discovered a strength I did not know existed almost five years ago. I owe that discovery to my family and Jason.

Jason constantly pushes me, which I am so incredibly grateful for. He pushes me in every aspect of life. Every aspect in life.

When we are out hiking and an obstacle presents itself along our path, he pushes me forward, often times giving me words of encouragement, as I battle with the “I can’t do that” kind of thinking.

I have also found a strength inside as we continue this adventure in our new home state. Things, I won’t lie, were really rocky when we first arrived. I was an emotional mess for a few months, until I found my own footing. Found the confidence I needed in the new life we created for ourselves.

This morning as I chatted back and forth with my really good friend back in Florida through text messages, I was flooded with the thoughts of accomplishments. She asked how many papers I now contribute for . . . eight in Arizona, four in Florida and one in Tennessee.

Who say’s you can’t accomplish something when you have faith in yourself?

After telling her this information, my mouth kind of dropped open. I knew I contributed to quite a few, but until I wrote them all down, I guess I forgot the extent.

Independence . . .

IMG_1421I was taught to take care of myself through the years I was growing up. My parents raised all of their children to be independent, which I will forever be grateful for.

Unfortunately, sometimes through the course of life, you lose site of that “independence.” You believe life can only be fulfilled with that one person next to you.

Although I cannot look into my future and not see Jason there by my side, it doesn’t take away my independence. We built this relationship on us both being independent, but sharing a life with each other.

Through the course of last year and into this year, I have found that independence. My contribution to all these publications provides me with the independence I need.

You see . . . some of these things leave such an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. Often times it leaves me breathless, but in a good way, when I think about the beautiful life I have created and absolutely love living.

The outdoors . . .

Growing up, my brothers, sisters and I, spent a lot of time outdoors. It was just how we were raised. So, it really isn’t a mystery that I still love being outdoors as an adult.

I’m just thankful I have a new found love and appreciation for everything around me. When we moved to Tennessee, I had a feeling I would appreciate my surroundings a little more. Indeed, I have.

Jason and I have run into many people who have lived here their whole lives and not seen half of the places we have in the last year. Being with Jason has shed a light on exploring new places. I couldn’t imagine not exploring. I never want to take where we live for granted, especially when it provides so many great getaways only miles down the road.

So on that note, here are a few more pictures I took today while out and about. The pictures above are also pictures I took today of the simple beauties that surround me.

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