A beautiful life

A beautiful life

My heart is singing. I have the love of a man who would move mountains to make me smile. A man who would do absolutely anything to make my life even more beautiful.

That feeling has consumed me since I returned home from my trip to Fort Myers. A trip that left us apart for almost a week, the longest time spent a part in more than five years.

They say it’s good to spend time apart . . .

I knew that week was going to be hard, but did not know to what extent. There were a couple of things I truly missed while we were apart. Jason kissing me goodbye in the morning before leaving while telling me to have a great day. Surprise visits during the day. Most of all, us not sleeping in the same bed at night, was by far the hardest thing. I sleep so much better knowing he is peacefully laying beside me, or even knowing he is in the same house.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of my trip because I was surrounded by family and friends. It was a trip I needed to take, a trip that was long overdue. A trip that was filled with nonstop laughter as every single one of my siblings gathered together with their loved ones and children.

My parents watching a sunset on Fort Myers Beach. The love these two share is inspirational.

My parents watching a sunset on Fort Myers Beach. The love these two share is inspirational.

The Monday after Christmas, my family had its family Christmas. Mom had 19 people under one roof. All of her kids together for the first time in five years for Christmas. Sometimes it was so hard to hear someone talk because of the booming of laughter that filled a room. New memories were definitely made that day.

Towards the end of the day, we all gathered outside, so my Mom could have pictures with her family. This was specially hard on me. Mom and Dad stood waiting for each one of their children and significant others to surround them, as I snapped a shot. I, of course, took that picture without Jason that day. Although he was not standing beside me, I could still feel the love we share with the hundreds of miles that separated us. I could hear him saying, “I’m glad you are spending time with your family.”

Throughout the week, Jason and I would talk through text messages. Yes, I still received my good morning. Often times we had the opportunity to catch up at night before we both went to bed. I loved those moments because I had the chance to hear his voice.

Our week apart was definitely confirmation that I have truly found my soul mate. I found the love of my life.

Jason was a part of many conversations and in my thoughts as every day unfolded.

The night I met a great friend at the beach to watch a sunset, he was with me. Charlene and I watched the sunset in almost the exact spot that Jason and I have shared many times while enjoying dinner on the beach. I sent him a picture of the sunset. His reply, “Very nice. I can feel it.”

Fort Myers Beach sunset

Fort Myers Beach sunset

Those seven days a part showed me yet again that I have true love from a man who loves me to pieces. Although I know he missed me, he was always sending me messages sharing how happy he was that I was with family and friends.

My favorite text was sent the night before I returned home. He had a countdown going of when I was going to be “stuck” with him again. 12 hours and counting . . . that warmed my heart in ways I cannot explain. Jason missed having me home.

When I came around the bend at the airport and saw him standing there, a smile swept across my face in a speed I could not control. I was home. I was in the presence of my man once again. I could tell he was just as equally as excited to see me.

I feel a new kind of closeness to Jason. A new kind of appreciation for one another. The laughter I felt at my parents house, is the same kind of laughter that has filled our home the last couple of nights.

It’s an unexplainable feeling to have that kind of love. A feeling that is sometimes overwhelming. A love that has opened my eyes to all kinds of beautiful moments that were once clouded before.

Jason continues to show me how to appreciate every moment for what it is worth.

This man has helped in creating a beautiful life for the both of us. A beautiful life that continues to excite me as new days unfold.

I am beyond grateful I met this man 19 years ago. It was a true blessing to be reunited with him again more than five years ago. Jason has helped me become a better person. The support he shares often times leaves me speechless.

It’s truly a powerful thing . . . how much someone can impact your life. A positive impact on every aspect of my well-being.

This year has started off with a bang, as I continue to share my life with a man I know I will grow old with.

Fort Myers Beach sunset

Fort Myers Beach sunset

 

Surprise road trip

Yesterday was absolutely perfect.

I woke to Jason climbing into bed telling me he had a surprise for me.

His internal alarm clock still wakes him up before 5 a.m. So yesterday, while I was still asleep, he ran up to the store and bought some supplies to change the oil in his car. On his way home, he stopped by Dunkin Donuts and bought our favorite tasty treat, blueberry donuts.

It was the perfect treat to get the day started. While he went to the shop to change his oil, I jumped in the shower and got ready for our day.

I was excited to spend the day with Jason.

Although Jason is no longer working two jobs, he’s still working really long days, six days a week. Those days sometimes start as early as 4:30 a.m., which means we are both in bed pretty early the night before.

The nice part about this new job is he now has every Sunday off. Lately we have just hung out at home, doing yard work, or being lazy, so he could catch up on his sleep.

Yesterday, being lazy was not the case.

I knew about some of our plans, but he surprised me with a road trip.

We started off the day by going to a flea market that was kind of disappointing.

Ever since Saturday afternoon I have really been in the Christmas spirit. Jason called me Saturday morning asking me to meet him at the store. We picked out stockings for us and our three animals, as well as more Christmas lights for the tree because our puppy destroyed one set.

Yeah, Christmas decorations!

After he headed back to work, I decided to keep the momentum going and drove to another store in search of some soft ornaments that I could hang on the bottom of the Christmas tree. The cats broke a few of our ornaments since putting up the tree, which meant all the breakable ornaments slowly got hung higher, leaving the bottom pretty empty.

I had success at the second store and found four soft ornaments. The best surprise was when I got to the register and one of the ornaments was free.

When Jason got home later that afternoon, he suggested that we check out the flea market Sunday morning. That maybe they would have some homemade Christmas ornaments that we could put on the tree.

Although we did not find any ornaments, we were able to catch up with some of our friends that have a stand at the market.

While we were walking around the market, Jason asked me if I wanted to go to Gatlinburg and shop for some Christmas decorations there.

I love when Jason is spontaneous. I love when we take surprise road trips.

After going back home to do some research of shops in Gatlinburg, we hit the road.

Of course on our way to Gatlinburg, we took a small detour to a place he has been telling me about. Jason took me to a cute little apple orchard in Cosby, Tennessee called Carver’s Orchard & Applehouse Restaurant. It’s one of the places he delivers such items as produce and nuts to a few times a week.

We walked into the candy store and our mouths dropped open. Jason bought us a  small box full of homemade chocolates with an assortment of nuts in them. While savoring the delicious taste we walked through the store next door. As soon as Jason opened the door for us, a delicious aroma of apples filled my nose.

With a box of half eaten chocolates in our hand, we decided to hit the road again.

One of the many things I love about our surprise road trips is the conversations and nonstop laughter that fills the car. He’s always doing something or saying something to make me laugh.

Now, we were getting closer to Gatlinburg, closer to the store we wanted to check out, Santa’s Claus-et.

It took a couple wrong turns before we found the store because it was no longer located in the same place the internet told us before leaving home.

The store was adorable and full of Christmas ornaments and figurines of every size to add to your Christmas cheer.

Yesterday, as Jason and I were talking about Christmas decorations, I told him every year I wanted to buy something new, so we could build our collection for the holidays. Right now all we have is ornaments.

So before leaving, we decided we would collect a different Santa Claus every year.

This is the first of our collection . . .

IMG_2690 I felt like a little girl after we chose this cute Santa Claus. We were adding to our Christmas tradition.

Now that the Christmas spirit completely took hold of me, we decided to head to downtown Gatlinburg. This area is definitely touristy with an array of t-shirt shops, fudge shops and any other little trinket you could think of.

My favorite part about walking downtown was looking at the buildings. I really liked the brick structures. The downtown area was also decorated for the Christmas holiday.

Before leaving Gatlinburg, we had some dinner, which was needed after all of our sweets.

Although it was nice walking around downtown, experiencing the atmosphere and walking into some of the shops, we both shared the same thought. We have definitely become outdoors people. We would have rather hiked in the mountains, then shop the strip.

Once the weather warms up we will most likely take a trip back to Gatlinburg to enjoy the scenery, in the outdoors, in the way it was indeed to be, in nature.

I can only imagine the hiking and the waterfalls.

Yesterday was a perfect day. Full of laughter. Full of new memories, all with my best friend and love of my life.

Yesterday was spot on. It was a day we both needed. A day we both needed together away from the house, away from our daily grind.

I truly have found my soul mate, my pefect match.

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.

Long over due

I find myself missing his laughter, his beautiful smile and his presence at home. Most of all I miss sitting on the couch with him and eating dinner together.

I love what he is doing for us . . . I am grateful he is taking care of us.

I miss him tremendously though . . .

Last night showed me just how much I miss spending time with him. It was definitely long over due . . .

The last couple of weeks Jason has been working nonstop doubles, starting his day early at one job, coming home sleeping for an hour at the most, before leaving for his second job. This week, he worked doubles Tuesday-Friday, which meant I barely saw him.

I treasure Jason for this simple fact, his work ethic, but boy do I miss him.

His last full day off was a week ago and we spent the day moving.

He came home in good spirits all week-long, considering how much time he spent on his feet and how little sleep he has had. With that said, I know it’s taking a toll on him. I know he is super sore, tired and ready for a day where he can be lazy and catch up on some much needed sleep.

So in an effort to tell him how thankful I am, I have been taking care of everything at the house. I have made sure everything we needed to get accomplished with our move has been done, as well as making sure he has clean clothes for work. To top that off, I make sure I have something for him to eat when he gets home, either dinner he can warm up, or making him something once he returns home. I want him to relax as much as possible when he is home. Plus, it’s kind of fun spoiling him.

The appreciation in his voice as he tells me thank you for everything, or the smile when he sees something is done, is all worth the effort.

The anticipation of last night was brewing all day long, especially after I got a text from Jason during the day asking me about an interview I had scheduled yesterday afternoon. I had to drive to Jonesborough to interview a 5th grader who is in the running of winning a contest – a $250 scholarship.

When I returned home from the interview, I was more than ready for our dinner date. Yep, a night out with my baby, there is nothing better than that!

As soon as we sat down at dinner, so many thoughts went rushing through my head as I looked at him from across the table. I love this man so much and I am beyond lucky to have him in my life. Sometimes that feeling consumes me in such a great way.

I feed off of Jason’s energy, I feed off of his good vibes. Sometimes just being around him, calms me and makes my whole body relax.

Laughter instantly started our night as Jason asked me “so how have you been?” and “Who are you?” Those comments set the momentum for the rest of the night.

It was then and there that the overwhelming feeling of how much I have missed him this week washed over me.

The conversation as we ate dinner was great, something I believe we both needed.

The stress of the week vanished at that moment. I was spending time with my best friend, the love of my life and loving every minute of it.

Jason always knows when I need time with him, just the two of us.

Last night was perfect, our service was excellent and the food was pretty good. The Bacardi and coke wasn’t too bad either 🙂

The whole way home, the car was full of nonstop laughter.

As the night dwindled down, we both laid on the couch, my head nestled on his shoulder, as we both started drifting off to sleep. As his breathing deepened and his body starting to relax, I got us up and to bed where we would both be more comfortable.

Before going to bed, I told him I loved him. The look in his eyes and the compassion in his voice made my heart skip a beat. Still after five years, hearing those words . . . .

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.

New route = success

Today has been an incredible day so far.

I woke up and lazily began my day. While sitting at my desk writing an article, I received a surprise phone call from Jason. He was calling to ask me out to lunch, well an early lunch, during his break. Unfortunately the time he was going on break was the same time I had an interview set up for the Herald & Tribune. What are the chances? I hated to decline his sweet offer, especially since I have not seen much of him since he started working two jobs Tuesday.

After we said goodbye, I sent him a text telling him I wish I didn’t have an interview, would have loved to see him, and thanks for the call. I love his reply, “It will be alright. I just need to center myself and hanging with you does that.”

That simple reply still has me smiling. It definitely brightened my day.

A couple minutes later I interviewed country singer Suzy Bogguss for the International Storytelling Festival, which is held in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It’s always interesting to interview artistic people and see just how their career had begun.

After we got off the phone, I was now on a new natural high from a great interview. So, I got dressed in my running clothes and Lucy and I headed to the Greenbelt.

Today we changed up our routine. Instead of going our usual route, I decided we would head right instead of left from the Petsmart parking area. What a great idea. We ran 2.54 miles today, our longest run so far this week.

At about half way through I decided to give Lucy a small break, so she could enjoy the outdoors too, puppy style. We headed down towards the water, where she sniffed and explored the new territory.

20140919_114810I love watching her check out a new area.

20140919_114305She never stands still for long, as a new scent takes her on a different little trail.

Today, the weather was absoltely perfect. It was in the mid 70s, instead of 56 degrees like yesterday, and the sun was out. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. That I have missed. It has been so overcast lately that I was starting to miss the sun.

20140919_114151The best part about our route today is it is far less traveled. We passed maybe a half of a dozen people, some on bikes, others walking. When we head in the other direction there are always a ton of people. Although everyone is friendly for the most part, it’s nice to enjoy the path, just Lucy and I.

20140919_114655So this is where Lucy and I stopped and enjoyed a little bit of nature in the middle of our run. Why rush a good thing, when you can stop and enjoy the view? I know Lucy is capable of running 2 miles, probably more, without stopping, but I still don’t want to push her too hard. She still is, after all, a puppy.

So far this week we have ran four days, 9.2 miles. Our mile marker to beat for the week is 10.1. Looks like we will be heading back to the Greenbelt for another run tomorrow.

 

Another chapter begins

Another chapter will soon begin for Jason and I in Kingsport. A new chapter that was unexpected, but very exciting nonetheless.

On Sept. 4, Jason and I headed to Bays Mountain for a morning hike outdoors on one of the many beautiful trails. On our drive back home Jason turned into a driveway, which I was not expecting at all. This cute little house had a “For Rent” sign in the front yard. Since we had Lucy with us, I stayed in the car, while Jason peeked through the windows and walked around back.

Ever since we moved to Kingsport last May, the houses on the way to Bays Mountain have always caught our attention. I think it’s the nicer part of town, for sure.

Before we left the house, I plugged the phone number that was written on the sign into my phone and we were on our way home. It never hurts to call, right? The lease on the place we are living in now is up in October, so timing was, well, perfect.

I decided to give the number a call and spoke with a nice older gentleman, Bobby, on the phone. My excitement grew as we were talking because it sounded doable. There were no restrictions regarding the number of animals we had, just a separate pet deposit for each one. A separate deposit that was cheaper than what we owed when we moved into the townhouse and we only had two animals at the time. The last time we were apartment hunting, it was hard to find a place that would accept cats. If they accepted cats they had to be de-clawed, which Jason and I don’t agree with at all.

When I told Bobby that we have two cats and a puppy, he didn’t skip a beat. He just asked how large the dog was.

The conversation continued on the positive side. The rent was not much more than we are spending now on a two bedroom townhouse. A two bedroom townhouse where we can hear our neighbors through the thin walls. Early in the morning when the world is still sleeping I can hear Jasper, our neighbors cat, digging around in the litter box on the other side of the wall while working in my office.

Privacy and having neighbors further away has been a part of our plans for quite some time now. We had a glimpse of that privacy when our good friends in Estero let us rent their house. We lived there for about six months before we moved back to Fort Myers.

Royal Poinciana Tree

Royal Poinciana Tree

The yard at that house was absolutely beautiful. Everywhere we looked there were gorgeous flowers and numerous royal poinciana trees.

So the following day, Jason, Lucy and I met Bobby at the house and had a look around. It’s a cute little two bedroom, one bathroom house with a decent kitchen and living room. The living room is larger than the one we have now, as well as the guest bedroom. There are also more windows in the house AND it’s one story.

Our last apartment before we left Fort Myers I miss from time to time because of all the windows. It was such a bright, sunny and happy apartment. I miss that natural sunlight. Our townhouse now often times feels like a dungeon because of the lack of natural light.

So, the house had all that going for it . . . but there is so much more.

We both instantly fell in love with the porches. There is a half porch out front, where I am already picturing rocking chairs, and a porch the length of the back of the house overlooking a gorgeous rather large yard. Yep, we were sold.

Ever since Lucy entered our lives, there has been a ton of discussion about having a backyard. I’ve always said I will not own a dog until I had a backyard. Well, with that said, Lucy was very unexpected. Although she is a very small dog, barely 9 pounds, she still deserves grass to play in and run around, space that she can call her own.

When we stood on the back porch and walked in the backyard, I was already picturing Lucy and I playing.

The porch, oh my gosh, the porch. When Jason and I left the house, the discussion had already begun of how much time we would be spending outdoors. There would be chairs, tables, a fire pit, you name it . . . Jason could also barbecue on the porch next to a table where we could eat. The best part is there are outlets on the banisters, so I can work outdoors!

10389088_850300231654723_2340627226820874762_nWe stood in the front yard and talked with Bobby for a while and let him know that we were really interested in the house and we would be in touch.

I was sold, Jason was sold, we had to make this happen.

So after crunching numbers, we decided we could afford the home. With the generosity of both of our parents, we got the ball rolling.

I have to be honest, it was a hard week while the planning, nonstop discussions, were had about moving into this home. We had some great conversations about staying where we are now compared to living in a home.

Jason, like always was my rock this past week. He knows how to calm my nerves.

He simply made it happen.

When he called me Thursday afternoon telling me we were meeting Bobby at the house, that we were going to give him a deposit, my heart sang. I think I asked him “really” a few times.

To make sure we could afford this new chapter in our lives, and to live a little more comfortably, Jason is taking on a second job waiting tables at The Texas Roadhouse. His orientation starts tomorrow. This is what I love about this man. He saw how much it meant to me, to be fair, it meant a lot to him as well, to move into a home that he is doing what he does best, providing for us.

A week later, Sept. 12, we met Bobby back at the house and put a deposit down after taking another walk through, meaning the “For Rent” sign came down, and this house is now ours to move into come Oct. 1.

I haven’t been this excited about moving into a new place in a rather long time.

The possibilities of how we can turn this house into a true “home” is what is making me excited. There are places in the backyard where I can start a garden. There is a tree in the backyard where I can hang a bird house. There are places where I can plant flowers.

Endless.

On Sept. 9, Jason and I celebrated five years of being together.

Photograph by Dorene Lowe Photography of Jason and I in 2013

Photograph by Dorene Lowe Photography of Jason and I in 2013

Although I can go on forever why those five years  have been among the best five years of my life, there is one thing that stands out the most.Jason will do anything and everything to make me smile. The best part, as a team, the sky is our limit. Whatever we put our minds to we find a way to make it happen.I am so excited to see what our future has in store for us.

I’m going to finish this post by pasting what I wrote on Facebook the day of our anniversary . . .

I never thought a friendship that started 18 years ago would turn into a relationship with a man who I would want to spend the rest of my life with. It’s hard to believe five years have already passed, five of the best years of my life. This photo is my all time favorite because it’s a symbol of our relationship. (a photograph of both our heads leaning back laughing uncontrollably) I love all the laughter we share, all the great memories we have created. I love you more than words can ever express. Here’s to another five years of wonderful memories . . .

 

A beautiful morning hike

IMG_2368In an effort to get out of the house after a rather stressful day of work yesterday, Jason and I took Lucy to Bays Mountain for a morning hike. I guess I needed a change of scenery from our usual morning run at the Kingsport Greenbelt. With that said, hiking today was by far much more of a workout than Lucy and I running 2+ miles.

Who needs a gym when you live in NE Tennessee? My legs are still kind of sore from our hike this morning.

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We hiked 3.74 miles on a trail that took us from an elevation of 1,667 feet to 2,206 feet. When we hit that incline, a rather long incline on Cherry Knobs, my calves were burning something fierce.

We started our hike alongside the Kingsport Reservoir on the Lake Side Trail, which took us to Cherry Knobs Trail after crossing a bridge. We usually just follow the Lake Side Trail around the reservoir, but decided to try another route today.

Wow, that route sure got our heart rate up. This trail eventually took us to Lake Road which led us back to the Lake Side Trail.

The scenery was breathtaking along the trail. The best part was we were the only one’s hiking this trail today, so Lucy had the freedom of being off her leash for a good portion of the hike.

IMG_2378I found it interesting that once Jason and I began hiking up the trail the change of leaves was not as frequent. I only spotted a few red and orange leaves.

Most of the pictures of the leaves changing were taken along the reservoir.

IMG_2369As we began walking alongside the water, I began to remember just how pretty Bays Mountain is in the fall. After that thought filled my head, it was exciting to think that now we have something to compare everything to, since we have lived through all the seasons of NE Tennessee at least once.

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Last year we visited Bays Mountain on Nov. 1 and almost all of the leaves had changed.

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I’m so glad we are getting out into nature earlier this year to see the transition take place.

IMG_2373Just when I think one color of leaves is beautiful, I spot another hue that makes me stop in my tracks.

IMG_2383The best part is seeing the change of color against the beautiful sea of green that I absolutely love about this area.

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As always, I’m so glad we took just shy of two hours out of our day to get the sense of balance that nature seems to provide. My head is clear and I am ready to tackle the day, which includes a rather long school board meeting tonight that I have to cover.

There were some flowers along the trail too.

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This picture below is my favorite of today.

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Fall is upon us

IMG_2317Wednesday was a perfect day. Jason had the day off and I was pretty much caught up with all of my writing, so we headed to Steele Creek Park for an afternoon outdoors.

Steele Creek Park is located at 4 Little Lane in Bristol, Tennessee. According to its website the park has more than 2,200 acres, with more than 24 miles of trails, and opened to the public in 1964. The park has a 52 acre lake, which on Wednesday was filld with a ton of ducks, geese, turtles and fish.

More information can be found at: http://www.bristoltn.org/166/Steele-Creek-Park

Although Lucy and I have been heading to the Kingsport Greenbelt daily for our morning runs, Jason and I haven’t had our time outdoors together in a while. So when he suggested we head to the park, I was game.

The only downfall, was my allergies were a little extreme that day . . . It wasn’t too hot until we were more than half way through the hike.

Jason and I have walked a good portion of the path around the lake at Steele Creek Park, but never the entire trail. Since we weren’t pressed for time, we decided to do some exploring and take the long way around the lake.

We were both surprised with what we found. The smooth, paved trail had changed.

IMG_2321As soon as we started walking the path, Jason spotted a sea of red across the lake. I instantly smiled, fall is upon us.

I remember last year Jason and I were so busy that we really did not have a chance to get out and experience the beginning of the changing of seasons. I was shocked to see, Aug. 27, the leaves were changing. It just seems a little early to me, especially compared to last year.

IMG_2326It was really pretty to see patches of the trees scattered with red leaves against a contrast of green. Some of the leaves still had shades of light green mixed in with red.

IMG_2327I love watching nature at work. It has been so much fun experiencing the change in seasons again.

IMG_2331As I was snapping picture after picture, Jason and Lucy kept walking the path until they found a bench to sit and wait until I was finished. I know I can get out of hand with stopping every few minutes because I want to capture that piece of beauty that caught my eye. Although the image was engraved in my memory, I want to have that image captured with my camera as well.

What better way to re-live a certain moment than by having a picture jog that memory?

IMG_2336So what did I do . . .  I stopped and took quite a few of pictures of Lucy and Jason sitting on the bench after I was done taking pictures of leaves.

IMG_2338This manmade waterfall is usually where we stop and start heading back to the car. But, if you keep following the trail and head towards the bridge it will take you to another trail that becomes a little more adventurous. Hence, why Jason, Lucy and I were the only ones on this trail.

IMG_2344Our walk turned into a hike. A hike that had changes in elevation along a narrow path. (According to an app on my phone, the elevation went from 1,492 feet to 2,065 feet, before it stopped recording our walk/hike.) For a good portion of the hike, Lucy led the way until Jason made his way to the front. At one point I took Lucy off the leash and let her trail Jason’s heals as he hiked.

IMG_2347Along this path we spotted more leaves changing, but this time shades of oranges made its presence instead of reds.

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IMG_2343We even spotted a few deer, which I wasn’t able to capture with my camera. It took me a while to find their white tails and by the time I gave Jason the camera they were already heading towards the ridge line.

We eventually made our way to the golf course and a bridge that took us to the opposite side of the lake.

IMG_2352We walked a good 5+ miles that day. It was definitely a walk that worked up a sweat.

IMG_2359Jason and I have been talking a lot about our move to Kingsport last May lately. I’m so glad we decided to make that move. Yes, things haven’t always been easy, but we found a love that is undeniable. That love . . . nature.

The best man

As I lay in bed, my thoughts go wild, which instantly warms my heart.

Jason and his childhood best friend are out camping tonight, out in the wilderness bonding and creating lifelong memories, which I’m sure they will forever cherish.

I truly cannot put into words of how happy I am that he had this opportunity to be outdoors in this beautiful state that we now call home. After working his ass off, he has a night of peace in nature. I cannot wait to see how refreshed he will be when he gets home today. There’s a certain kind of calmness that takes a hold of him with just a few hours of hiking.

This is the first time Jason and I have been apart, other than work, since March 2013 when I went to Tampa to spend time with my brother and his family before moving to Tennessee.

So, as I try to fall asleep, my thoughts fill with wonderful memories that began again almost five years ago.

Yesterday we went hiking to Laurel Falls, one of Jason’s favorite waterfalls, to show John and Jen. It was a beautiful day and everyone seemed eager to be outdoors and experience those beauties that surround us.

The beginning of the hike was a little hard on me, due to car sickness I just couldn’t shake. On top of that, I questioned myself a lot yesterday, due to the two really hard falls I took the last two times we were out hiking.

Jason of course was understanding,  supportive and encouraging. We decided to hike up alongside the waterfall to check out some campsites where he and John could spend the night.

At one point, the anxiety struck,  my heart instantly sped up as I sat frozen unable to continue. Jason was right there. The embrace he gave me when it was all over meant a lot to me. The patience he shows me is incredible. Patience I lack in myself when those moments of fear grasp a hold of me, squeezing tight making it hard to breathe.  I hope one day those fears and anxiety will subside. I know what I’m capable of, I know there is nothing to fear when we are out hiking.

Today, August 16th is Jason’s birthday, a day that means a great deal to me. This day, this wonderful man who has completely captured my heart, entered this world. Every day since, he has impacted hundreds of lives along the way with his beautiful, giving heart. To say that unselfish heart loves me unconditionally makes my heart skip a beat.

I was and still am one lucky girl to have this man enter my world. To think after almost five years, he still makes me fall in love with him a little more every day, I believe speaks volumes of the relationship we have.

It’s the little moments when he makes my heart smile, those little moments when he has my best interest at heart.

To have a best friend as my boyfriend, my life’s companion, is by far the best thing.

I smiled this morning as Lucy woke me, knowing that as you opened your eyes you would be looking at a beautiful blue sky. That you would be kicking off your birthday with another adventurous hike with your best friend. I can’t wait to hug you and wish you a Happy Birthday when you get home.

Jason you are my whole world, the very best thing in my world. You have shown me and taught me so much over the years.

Happy Birthday baby. I love you more than you’ll ever know.