Forty-six

Forty-six

Friday, April 24, I woke up beyond excited. My countdown was nearing the end. My countdown of when I could leave to pick up Jason.

As the morning progressed, my mood enhanced. The excitement was hard to control.

Friday marked the 47th day since Jason left. I was finally able to greet this man I love face-to-face at the Asheville airport.

On March 9, Jason left for Florida to start working on Sanibel at two jobs he was offered.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I remember the emotions that took hold, well to be honest, consumed me. That morning, March 9, was one of the hardest things I was ever faced with. You ask why?

Jason was leaving me in Kingsport, more than 800-miles north of his final destination.

My best friend, my boyfriend, my rock was leaving until we could make ends meet. Our goal was to work countless hours and get enough money together, so he could come back to get me and all of our animals and head back to Fort Myers.

The 46-days we spent a part had many high and low points.

It’s truly inspiring to see what you are capable of doing when faced with a situation like that. A situation where I was living by myself in a state where I had no family or good friends to lean on when needed.

I found such an incredible amount of independence deep down that I had no idea was there. I stayed true to my plan . . . I continued to live without the best part of my life right next to me. I found time to go running with Lucy, my puppy, reaching distances that made me proud. I even found a new passion of cooking healthy meals that were absolutely delicious.

The best, truly gratifying part, was the amount of work I was able to accomplish doing freelance writing for the three papers that hired me. I wrote enough articles and did enough editing to pay all of our bills for the entire month of April. All of our bills were paid by the second week of the month. That spoke volumes. It only reaffirmed that I could take care of myself, truly take care of myself while keeping a roof over my head and food on the table. That accomplishment set the ball rolling in the right direction. All of the hours Jason was working could completely go towards our move back to Fort Myers.

With that milestone met, I was able to book a plane ticket for Jason on April 7, Day 30 of us being a part.

Even with all the positive thoughts I tried to keep in check, I still had a few breakdowns, a few more than I hoped while Jason was away.

It’s crazy how many emotions you go through. I found myself crying at such random times, and also smiling when I least expected. The daily phone calls from my mom on her way home from work were comforting. My older brother also called often checking in on me.

My favorite part of the day was when Jason would call. I could not fall asleep until I heard his voice, to hear how he was doing, to hear he was okay.

I remember one breakdown as clear as day. It started one Friday night while Jason was away. I completely broke down. Lucy, our puppy, helped tremendously that night. She instantly became concerned as the tears violently fell. Lucy began licking the tears away before cuddling in my lap, helping me to gain composure again. I remember walking to bed, but was unable to sleep well at all. The next day my anxiety reached its highest point leaving me paralyzed.

That day was awful. I felt helpless. Everything I tried didn’t help.

Through it all, I felt an incredible amount of closeness to Jason as I lived my life in Kingsport, and he lived his in Fort Myers. Although we were living our separate lives, I felt we were still sharing our life together. We became closer. He remained my rock. He gave me tough love when I needed it to break through when I got the sinking feeling.

Jason shared how much he loved me and missed me on a daily basis. I felt how hard it was for him, as well, through our conversations. I knew, without a doubt, that he was doing everything in his power to come back to me sooner. Although he sounded exhausted on more than one occasion he woke the next day and worked another 15+ hour day, all so he could keep that promise he made before leaving.

So, back to Friday, April 24.

I arrived at the airport at 12:27 and he was supposed to land at 12:32. It was absolutely perfect timing. I had enough time to make a quick bathroom break and then stand where I could see Jason come into view.

It never fails. Six minutes turned into the longest 45-minutes of my life. Jason’s plane was delayed leaving Punta Gorda.

As soon as I saw him, I felt my entire body relax. I felt complete again. My true love was now in my presence. He was now standing in front of me. I was able to hug him, kiss him, see his smile instead of hearing the smile form over the phone.

I was giddy as all hell.

The relaxation that flowed through Jason’s body told me our decision to be a part was more than worth it. It was worth it because everything was coming together for us. Almost like it was meant to happen the way it did. Jason has been able to find work and continues to find more work. The stress we felt about making ends meet in Kingsport, I could sense was vanishing. He almost looked stress free. I didn’t even have to ask if we did the right thing.

The rest of the day was absolutely perfect. It was spent one-on-one, as well as with some of the friends we had made in Tennessee. I must have told Jason a hundred times how nice it was to have him back home. Well home, for the next 24+ hours until we headed south to Fort Myers.

Leo and Lucy at one of the many gas stations we had to stop at to fill up the truck.

Leo and Lucy at one of the many gas stations we had to stop at to fill up the truck.

After the truck was packed and we said our goodbyes to Frazier, we slowed down and fell asleep for a while before we hit the road at 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Those early morning hours finally ended as we arrived in Fort Myers around 8 p.m.

It was an incredibly long drive, especially when traveling with three animals.

Our poor Leo had a difficult six or seven hours before he finally calmed down and found some comfort with our puppy Lucy. Kimber was frightened and let us know she wanted out of the truck hours ago.

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Leo

 

Kimber

Kimber

 

Lucy

Lucy

 

Leo finally relaxed as Lucy layed on him.

Leo finally relaxed as Lucy layed on him.

Even through the constant desire to be out of a moving vehicle, Jason and I had some amazing conversations, especially as we neared 17 hours on the road.

Our connection only intensified. Our connection only strengthened, as we had those deep conversations of our present circumstances, our future plans and goals.

A cloud came into view that resembled a heart as we neared Fort Myers.

A cloud came into view that resembled a heart as we neared Fort Myers.

Time a part definitely makes the heart grow fonder. I feel so much closer to a man I had already felt a deep connection with.

Now we are in the limbo stages staying with my parents until our new place is ready this weekend. I’m looking forward to making us a new home once again. I’m looking forward to getting us to the point where we can both relax with all of our belongings and animals all under one roof again.

Another chapter has been closed. Another chapter is already well on its way. Our lives are intertwined again in the same state, under the same roof.

We are living in Southwest Florida once again surrounded by family and friends.

Two years ago tomorrow, we traveled to Kingsport to start a new life. We arrived at our new home on May 1. Who would have thought we would be back in Fort Myers so soon?

Flood of memories

Flood of memories

A flood of memories took hold this morning after Lucy and I went to Bays Mountain. The first adventure Jason, Lisa and I had after we arrived in Kingsport almost two years ago.

This morning I needed more than just a run. I needed to get lost in the woods for a little while. So around 11, we started getting ready to go for a hike.

As soon as we arrived I spotted a chipmunk, which I haven’t seen since one of the first times we went hiking at Bays Mountain. The best part was Lucy had no idea what I was looking at, so I was able to capture a shot. A picture with food in his mouth.

I knew it was going to be a great hike after that.

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We first headed to the spot where that adventure took place. That adventure almost two years ago. An adventure that led us to a waterfall.

waterfall 3As soon as I heard the noise I became emotional. As soon as I stepped out near the top of the waterfall memories came flooding back.

I felt Jason with me . . . wishing he was beside me instead of hundreds of miles away.

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waterfall 1All of my memories from that day in May 2013 consumed me as I found a rock to sit on and take in the scenery. We had so much fun that afternoon exploring the outdoors of our new home.

IMG_3141 editWe created so many of our own little adventures that day. So many adventures that made me begin to beat my fear of heights, all with the help of Jason by my side.

The laughter filled my veins as I looked around, really looked around, and remembered the fun we had that afternoon.

IMG_3144 editI sat there on that rock for as long as Lucy let me.

IMG_3145 editFor as long as she allowed me to listen to the rushing water while sorting through my thoughts.

IMG_3146 editOf course those thoughts began tugging at the tears I somehow managed to prevent from falling. Happy tears. Happy tears of how far Jason and I have come since that day. Since that first adventure.

IMG_3151 editLucy finally had enough, so with a heavy heart we kept on hiking.

There was a smile on my face from that moment on, especially when the flood of memories continued of everything Jason and I have seen since we moved to Kingsport in May 2013. The smile was because a relationship that was already strong when me made that move together, has only grown leaps and bounds since then. That smile was because I have the heart of a man who will do anything to make me happy. This time a part has proven that on so many levels.

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IMG_3171 editThe further we hiked the Lakeside Trail the deeper in thought I became. There is just something about the outdoors that fully allows your mind to wander. Although I was deep in thought, the noises of the outdoors still captured me, as well as the beauty that lined the trails.

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IMG_3176 editI’m so glad I had Lucy with me. She brought me back into the moment as she too enjoyed the outdoors.

As always, here’s our hike through Lucy’s eyes.

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One of my hopes before leaving the house this morning was spotting signs of spring. I was so excited when I saw a tree along the water that was showing life again. The only tree along the path we decided to hike.

My trip was complete. I’ve been excited about spring all winter. It is one of my favorite seasons. There’s something special about watching nature come back to life.

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spring 2It’s hard to believe that tomorrow marks two weeks since Jason packed his car and headed to Florida to get us ready for our move. A move that would bring us closer to family and friends.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss Jason. There is not a day that goes by that I wish he was here with me, or I was there with him.

This transition period, however has shown me what I am capable of . . . what kind of strength I have. I have become independent on a level that has made me proud. A level of independence that has shown me I am much stronger than I have ever thought or gave myself credit for.

Today was a great day. A day that made me think of all the beautiful moments Jason and I have shared since moving to NE Tennessee.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

The last two days I have been stuck in doors because of the rain. So, this morning after a good night’s sleep, Lucy and I headed to the Greenbelt.

The weather was gorgeous with temperatures climbing into the 50’s. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect morning to go for a 3.21-mile run.

As Lucy and I ran our old route, emotions were definitely tugging at me as I took in the scenery for all it was worth. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the pure beauty of Northeast Tennessee.

This place will forever stay in my heart.

This area has given me a sense of peace that I cannot fully explain.

It’s definitely bittersweet.

So, half way through our run, we stopped, so Lucy could go to the bathroom, and I could enjoy one of my favorite places on the Greenbelt . . . a waterfall that was flowing pretty good today.

20150315_113227 editThis is one of my favorite sounds. The rushing of the water, the cascading of water down the rocks. The sound, and sight, pulls you in, clearing your thoughts, giving you a sense of clarity, all while mesmerizing you making it hard to look away.

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Although I know I will find a new favorite spot to run in Fort Myers with Lucy, I’m truly going to miss my home-away-from-home.

It’s my go to place, my therapy, my path that cures all stress.

I’m so happy Jason and I decided to move to Kingsport almost two years ago. It was a move that brought us closer as a couple. A move that gave us a deeper appreciation for the outdoors.

Our run this morning was so good for my soul. It gave me the clarity I needed once again to get through this time Jason and I are spending a part. Time that neither of us want to spend a part . . .

As always, here’s a glimpse of the Greenbelt through Lucy’s eyes.

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Lucy

 

Embrace them

Embrace them

Today marks the third day since Jason left for Florida.

Emotions can be a tricky thing from time to time. Sometimes they are easy to keep in check, while other times they leave me feeling completely paralyzed.

Yesterday started off great . . . I talked to Jason on the phone shortly after we both woke, and I had plenty of work lined up to keep me busy.

Unfortunately as the afternoon progressed, my emotions rapidly raced out of control. Before I knew it, my chest began to hurt, the tears started streaming and I couldn’t budge. No matter what I tried, who I talked to, I was an emotional mess.

The work that I should have been doing quickly became an after thought as my mind became cloudier as the minutes passed.

Text messages from Jason slowly got me out of my mindset. A phone call before he went to bed helped even more.

So, last night after I finally forced some food into my stomach and watched one of my favorite shows, the tears stopped, the smile slowly surfaced.

Today I woke up exhausted from the emotions that took hold yesterday. The exhaustion was also because I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since Jason left.

It’s so hard being away from your best friend, your one true love. The hardest part of it all is not knowing exactly when he will return.

We are creatures of habit. Creatures of routines.

I’ve come to love receiving a goodbye kiss while hearing have a good day from Jason before leaving for work. I got used to him popping in throughout the day when he had a minute, which was always a highlight of my day. I have fallen in love with having him home at night, while we enjoy dinner together, watching our favorite shows.

Our routine changed drastically over the last few days. Although we hear from each other often, phone calls and text messages, it’s not the same as having that person right there in front of you.

But, our new routine quickly shook off some of the groggyness when I was greeted with my good morning text today. After our phone call, I was determined to keep my emotions in check and have a good day.

Tomorrow it’s going to be another challenge to overcome. Jason starts working at one of the jobs he was offered. Yes, I’m ecstatic because that means we are one step closer for him coming to get me. Unfortunately, this means he’s going to be super busy and our communication won’t be as frequent.

The events of today . . .

I started my work day and got a lot accomplished before taking a break for a trip to the grocery store.

My stomach growled. My stomach was actually telling me to eat. This alone was huge. So I listened.

I made a grocery list of a few new recipes I found on Pinterest and headed out the door. I treated myself to a burrito, which I actually finished. I was stuffed for the first time since before Jason left.

The positive momentum carried on throughout the day.

My good friend of more than 15 years called me today to check up on me, which completely made my day. It was so good to hear a familiar voice. It was so good to hear from a friend that I have known for years.

Shortly after we finished our conversation I received a surprise message from another friend who I have known forever.

It’s those types of out of the blue calls and messages from friends that kept my spirits lifted today.

Sometime after 6 p.m. a ray of sunlight came bursting through my office window. For the majority of the day I could not see Bays Mountain in the distance because of the cloud coverage and the rain.

I didn’t think twice. I saved everything I was working on, and headed into the living room to put on my shoes. I changed Lucy’s collar and we were out the door.

I needed a breath of fresh air. I needed to keep my thoughts clear. I needed to keep my great day going.

We headed to our normal spot on the Greenbelt, only to find a sign stating it was closed. The beauty of the Greenbelt is there are lots of different entry points throughout Kingsport.

We headed to the Boatyard portion of the Greenbelt. I’m so glad I decided to go for a walk with Lucy tonight. The temperatures were in the 60s, and although it was still somewhat cloudy, it was exactly what I needed.

We walked a little more than 2 miles. Well, Lucy ran as I speed walked behind her trying to keep up.

The sunset was absolutely stunning. I took more than 40 pictures tonight . . .

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Today was a beautiful day.

I proved to myself that I am strong enough to make this time a part work. I showed myself that I can keep my emotions in check, while getting important things accomplished. While enjoying this “me” time.

Emotions are a tricky thing. Emotions are a good thing.  I’m slowly learning how to embrace them, while still keeping them in check.

I finished . . .

I finished . . .

Today was the big day, the day of my second 5K race.

I woke up feeling good, nerves free and excited to tackle my second race. I’m happy to say I was granted my wish . . .  completely blue skies with temperatures climbing into the 40s by the time the 12 p.m. race began. Although there was sunshine, snow still lined the streets that took us the 3.1 miles. It was pretty running with a blanket of white surrounding us.

Jason took off for work around 8 a.m. kissing me good bye, wishing me good luck and telling me to have fun. After watching him drive away and Lucy letting me know she was ready to go back inside, I felt completely relaxed. I had about 3 hours to kill before I had to get ready. I had some breakfast, and well, I put on my running gear because I was so excited.

The hours started to tick away, leaving only minutes until I had to get everything together. I am happy to say the nerves were still gone. I got Jason’s MP3 player ready with the playlist he made me for my first 5K and then finished putting the last layer of clothing on, before putting on my running belt, and was out the door with a smile on my face.

Today I had to drive myself to the race because Jason was working. It felt good to make that drive. It felt good to be independent. I arrived at the Renaissance Arts Center  and Theatre just a few minutes later and found a parking spot. As I climbed out of the car I saw some of the runners stretching, others doing short sprints getting their bodies ready for the race.

I checked my phone one last time before I zipped my running belt close to after the race. I had a good luck message from my mom. I was ready.

There were only 63 runners for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5k. The runners ranged in age from youngsters to older men and women. There was even a cute puppy that joined its owner in the race. (I wish I knew, I would have brought Lucy with me. She definitely would have helped with the outcome.)

The same feeling consumed me. The same feeling of “you did this by yourself, be proud.” I stood amongst friends chatting with each other and family members getting each other ready for the race.

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I stood behind a few rows of people from the starting line. After a brief message from the organizer of the race, the countdown began for the race to begin.

As the clock struck 12, the runners in front of me picked up their feet and before I knew it I was doing the same thing.

I don’t know if it was the excitement that I was finally running or the adrenaline you get when you’re around other runners, but my speed was pretty fast as we started running on Yadkin Street on the left side of the Renaissance Arts Center and Theatre. I started to slow down my speed once we turned onto Oak Street. As I rounded Forest Street I felt as if I had my stride in check. It must have been a pretty slow stride because a lot of other runners were passing me.

With that said, I felt good. I was outdoors, the sun was shining and I was listening to some great music.

As we made our way to Myrtle Street my body was telling me to slow down. I slowed down to my first walk of the race.

The 17 days of not running caught up with me. The 4 to 5 miles my body got used to running on a weekly basis was no longer the case. I had to listen to my body. I picked my speed back up and then got hit with a hill on Catawba Street and got slowed down to a walk once again.

By this point I was giving myself pep talks.

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I managed to pick up my speed once again and ran almost the entire distance of Center Street before my body couldn’t take the hill anymore.

The route took us along the same roads until we hit Oak Street to make our way back to the beginning point on Yadkin Street.

Unfortunately Oak Street was where I had a mishap. The cop who was standing at this point was talking to someone and didn’t see me go by to direct me down this street instead of continuing along the same route we took the lap before. Fortunately I had a feeling something was wrong and decided to turn around. I rounded the corner onto Oak Street and saw the finish line in the distance.

I crossed the finish line two minutes past my first race’s time. I was hoping I would beat my last time.

Today’s race had its ups and downs. I was frustrated and a little disappointed by the time the race was over. After I grabbed some water and a banana I looked at my phone and saw a message from Jason nine minutes before the race began “Good luck baby, I love you.” That made me smile before I shared “Well good news is I finished.” His response, “All that matters.”

After I left and returned home I became emotional. I became emotional because I know what I am capable of and I didn’t meet my own expectations . . . to finish the race without any walking.

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Nearly all runners know the voice in their heads that tells them to back off when the going gets tough. Part of training is to help you get better at ignoring this voice and continuing to push even though the voice gets louder and louder as you get more and more fatigued . . . Don’t hope that the race feels easy. Expect it to be hard and know that you’re going to have to repeatedly challenge yourself to ignore the voice in your head that wants you to slow down.

After talking with Jason later this afternoon it really hit home when he told me how proud he was of me.

Bottom line, I ran in a race today. Yes it wasn’t a pretty race. Yes I struggled more than I like to admit. But I finished the race 34th out of 63, 15th out of 36 overall female and 7th out of 12 in my age group for women.

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The lesson learned today . . . even if it’s a 5K you still need to train. The bigger lesson . . . I’m not ready to run races in the winter. A very unpredictable winter. A winter that started off manageable turned into a frigid cold February. The only thing that kept me from training for 17 days was the bitter cold, below freezing temperatures, and the snow and ice on the ground. When you no longer have a gym membership to run on the treadmill you rely on the forecast for outdoor running.

With that said, I ran today despite the long time of no training.

The good news . . . Jason lifted my spirits. His words made me cry, yes the good tears. Then later today text messages back and forth from my mom started the water works again. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own thoughts and listen to other people’s words. Words you were telling yourself, but having a hard time believing.

We definitely are our own worst critics. But once we get out of our thoughts, it’s amazing how much positive energy runs through your body again.

I’m happy to say I have already found my next race, a race in May. Yes, May when I know the temperatures should be bearable and the training should be limitless.

Today’s experience did not detour me, but gave me the determination to run another one.

Another layer of snow

Another layer of snow

This morning we woke to an absolutely gorgeous winter wonderland.

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For the first time so far this winter, the tree branches hung onto a pretty thick layer of new fluffy snow. I have to admit that is my favorite part about snow. There truly is nothing prettier than white covering the darker hue of the branches.

IMG_3047 editWithin a few hours the snow began falling from the trees making it look like it was snowing again. IMG_3053 edit IMG_3060 edut

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I’m so glad Lucy and I woke when we did this morning, a little after 7 a.m. to witness the beauty and quietness of a fresh snowfall from the night before.

We probably received another 5 inches of snow. This of course was on top of the layer of snow, yes even ice, that has been on the ground since Monday, Feb. 16. We have had snow on the ground for 11 days!

I’m so proud of Lucy. She is getting the hang of going outside running crazy in the snow and even going to the bathroom IN THE SNOW! This morning when we ventured outside the snow was a little deeper than we both expected. Her legs disappeared as she walked to find a spot to go to the bathroom. My little short leg puppy.

IMG_3064 editShe loves eating the snow, which is comical. Her new favorite game . . . chasing after snowballs.

Here are a few pictures from this morning. She needed to go outside and let off some steam . . . and well I needed to walk away from my desk.

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And then the running began .  . . my favorite picture of today . . . her running mid-stride towards me with her ears flapping . . .

IMG_3069 editPoor thing was covered in snow once she reached me.

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Here are a few more pictures from this morning of the snow that blanketed our backyard and the fence that runs the distance of the yard.

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IMG_3063 editThe snow is absolutely gorgeous to look at . . . but I have to admit I am ready for the spring to come, as well as the sunshine and warmer temperatures.

 

Blanket of white

Blanket of white

20150218_164759 editI’ve been pretty fortunate this winter . . .

Well, that all changed when the temperatures plummeted and a blanket of ice and snow-covered the area.

There are certain temperatures that I just won’t brave the elements and go for a run. When you add a layer of ice and snow to the mix, I hang my running shoes up.

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I’m okay if a couple of days go by without going for a run, as long as I go at least three times a week.

Unfortunately our wintry mix has left me indoors. My last run was Feb. 10 . . .

The need to hit the Greenbelt took hold with a fierce grip yesterday. My body desperately needs its outlet to wash away the stress of everyday life. My body needs the blast of fresh air while my feet hit the pavement carrying me through much-needed miles.

I miss my “me” time. I miss letting it all go while running and taking in the scenery.

Yesterday in an effort to kick my winter blues, I asked Jason to stop by the Kingsport Greenbelt, so I could take a look.

The walk, which was not a long one because of the cold, was just a tease. I felt like I was home when Jason parked the car and I saw the sign for the Kingsport Greenbelt.

It was breathtaking to see snow covering the path and the outskirts of the creek. It was, however, quite cold as the gust of wind rushed across our face.

20150218_164820 editAs we walked a little down the path our feet stepped on a layer of ice that was beneath a layer of snow. Definitely not ideal running conditions. Definitely not safe running conditions.

In an effort to release some of what has been bottled up inside for more than a week, I breathed in the crisp air and looked, really looked at my surroundings.

Here are a few more pictures of what I was able to capture with my cell phone before the temperatures got to be too cold to bear.

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Hopefully the single digits will disappear soon taking the severe wind chills with it, so I can go back to my weekly routine. I have learned through this dry spell of running, that exercise is extremely important!

With all that said . . . .

My next 5K race is Saturday, Feb. 28, a little more than a week away. I sure hope the temperatures improve, or that is going to be one brutally cold race.