Hopefully routine will stick

Hopefully routine will stick

I felt alive this morning as Lucy and I headed out the door shortly after 6 a.m. to go for a morning run, something we have failed to do for way too many weeks. This morning I was reminded why I need to stick with this running routine of mine.

I was spoiled for two years. I had the opportunity to walk away from my work whenever my heart desired because I worked from the comfort of my own home as a freelance journalist. Since we were living in NE Tennessee at the time, it was not crucial to go running first thing in the morning to beat the heat. We usually went mid-morning to  mid-afternoon when the temperatures were comfortable to run in .

Now I am faced with a new challenge . . . beating the Florida heat, which means going super early in the morning before the sun becomes too intense.

As of June 8, my freedom became no longer as I started my full-time job as the editor of The Islander. I will be completely honest, it has been extremely difficult putting myself on a schedule that included both exercising and giving myself enough time to complete my work without being at the office for all hours of the day and night.

With Jason and I working completely different schedules, I stay up later than I should to spend some time with him, which makes it hard to get up super early the next morning.

So, setting all my excuses aside, Lucy and I went for a 3-mile run last night around 6 p.m. The sky was overcast and there was a breeze, so I thought why not, let’s go for a run. Lucy took off at full speed as soon as we rounded our corner, which became almost a crawl by the time we finished our 3-miles. The run was sticky and buggy, which was a new experience for me. When we got home I had bugs stuck to my arms, shirt and in other places that surprised me. It was gross running through windows of bugs, but I was determined, so we kept on going.

I felt energized in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. I know running is my outlet. I know running is what clears my head. So, this feeling of energy was welcomed with open arms even when the exhaustion hit.

With the motivation in full swing, I got out of bed before 6 a.m. this morning so I could put some more miles on these running shoes of mine that are still brand new. I figured I would head out by myself this morning to give Lucy some rest after last night’s run. When she saw me putting on my running shoes, she went running into the bedroom and laid in bed with Jason. So, I continued to get everything ready. I unlocked the door and this little puppy reappeared at my feet eager to go with me. After putting her harness on she was ready whining because I was not opening the door fast enough.

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Our run started in the dark and ended with a beautiful sunrise painting the Florida sky an array of oranges. It was by far the perfect way to start a Monday. I was thankful I dragged myself out of bed and started a routine that will hopefully stick.

I’m pretty proud of Lucy and I. In two days, we have ran 5.39 miles after taking 13 days off.

Maybe I needed to take some time off to fully appreciate running again. I know both Lucy and I need that 30-minutes or so workout.

Since we are now starting a new month, I am determined to go running at least four or five times a week like I used to in Tennessee. Time to get this body back into shape!

My morning paradise

My morning paradise

This morning I visited Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel to take photographs for one of my paper’s features called Faces.

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I arrived shortly after 8 a.m. with my camera in hand ready to capture wildlife. The clouds kept the sun away for the entire hour I stayed. With clouds built as far as I could see, I still walked away with more than 130 pictures.

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Although the sun did not beat down on the beach, the wildlife still made its presence. I had so much fun watching the birds every move while capturing their hunt for food in the water and on the sand.

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Most of the birds did not pay any attention to me. I tried to give them their distance as I used my zoom to capture them.

The osprey, perched on the side of the lighthouse and in their nest were the most intriguing.

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The highlight of my trip to the beach was of course the dolphins. Spotting a dolphin will never grow old, never! There is truly something special about watching them play in the water. Today there were three or four of them swimming together.

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I swatted away many sand fleas while trying to keep the camera steady to take photographs of the dolphins.

I thought of my puppy Lucy when I spotted this little lizard. She would have gone nuts trying to chase it.

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The pictures below were taken on a sunset cruise Jason and I took last month of the Lighthouse Beach. It was a completely different perspective . . . a beautiful way to see the shoreline.

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Next month will mark two months since I started on Sanibel as the editor of the Islander. The excitement has not gone away . . .

I work in a beautiful place, a place where I get to explore on a more intimate basis.

 

 

 

Incredible day

Two completely different schedules often times makes it difficult to see one another for more than a few hours every day. Hours that are usually had through sleepy conversations at the end of the day.

Oh, the life of a journalist and a cook. . .

I find myself missing him through the week even though we live in the same house. I find myself wishing he was right next to me on my days off, especially on those days when the family gathers and everyone is joined by their significant others.  Although those feelings surface I push them aside knowing that we are both working towards the same goal. Knowing that he wishes he was next to me instead of working countless hours.

As we near our anniversary of six years, I find myself thinking about us as a couple more than usual. Jason has made me believe there are soul mates. He has opened up my heart and showed me what true love is all about. When viewing and living the world through Jason’s eyes . . . magical, simplistic adventures are always a short distance away.

Every opportunity Jason has he finds ways to make our time together special. Not a moment goes by where he isn’t trying to make me smile, laugh, or just enjoying every moment for what it’s worth.

Last week we shared a candle lit dinner together before taking a walk with our puppy. The thoughtful and romantic gesture filled my heart with so much love.

Yesterday, oh yesterday, was one of the best days we have had in a really long time. After some convincing on Jason’s part, I took the day off from work and well . . .

Our day began early, but not as early as we both hoped. His incredibly generous parents let us borrow their kayaks for a much needed day of relaxation.

Jason got us a double kayak, which we are still in the process of purchasing parts for . . . which led us to borrowing his parents.

At the last minute we decided to take Lucy, our year and half old puppy, out on the water with us. She’s been on every outdoor adventure with us since we adopted her a year ago April, so why not bring her along for our Florida adventures?

I have to admit Lucy made me extremely nervous on more than one occasion as she became more curious and courageous in the kayak. We began our trip with Lucy in my lap or directly in front of me between my legs. The further we made it down the river, Lucy decided to walk around the kayak making her way to the kayak’s edge.

After a moment of dreading Lucy falling over board, led us to putting Lucy’s leash on, which resulted in her sitting on my lap for the rest of the trip. She’s not a fan of water, so I’m not sure how she would do swimming.

All in all, Lucy did fantastic and I can’t wait to take her out on more of our adventures.

On more than one occasion I looked at Jason throughout our kayaking trip. The amount of relaxation that radiated off of him was incredible. He needed a day out in wilderness so badly. At that moment I knew taking a day off of work was beyond worth it.

I forgot how relaxing it is floating on the water under the blue Florida skies. I forgot how exciting it is to see wildlife . . . turtles – fish – birds . . . right before your very own eyes.

Yesterday was the first time we paddled in separate boats. Yes, I was super spoiled back when . . . Jason did all the paddling as I enjoyed the scenery.

I had a new appreciation for the river yesterday as I took in my surroundings, especially since I was the one directing the boat. It was incredibly challenging to paddle with a dog on my lap, but somehow we made it work. Well, after going into a few branches . . .  But, let me tell you how incredibly sore I am today from that workout yesterday. Wow, I ache in places I didn’t know I used.

Our adventure yesterday ignited a new excitement inside. I cannot wait to take our kayak out on the water. The adventures we can have are endless. I’m already planning sunrise, sunset and everything in between kayak trips!

The day only improved once we got home and continued to enjoy each other’s company. It felt incredible to have this man by my side all day long . . . just him and I together.

I will never be able to put into words how lucky and fortunate I am to have him in my life. It’s crazy how much more I fall in love with Jason each and every day. Our bond, our relationship is like nothing I have ever experienced. He is my world, my everything.

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.

Race #2!!

Race #2!!

I have been worried about my Saturday, Feb. 28 race all month long because of the frigid temperatures and the tons of snow we have had throughout February.

Unfortunately, the second week of February was the last time I laced up my running shoes and went for a run. This of course adds to the worry because I haven’t been out there running, practicing, training, getting ready for my second race.

I guess this is what happens when you cancel a gym membership and live in a state that although does not get a ton of snow, has the potential of having a white winter.

It’s been pretty downhill since last Monday when the first true snow storm blew through and the snow has remained on the ground since.

I read on the local news website this morning that the Tri-Cities area has had 15.5″ of snow, breaking the season average of 13.3″ inches.  This is why I haven’t been running . . .

With all of this said, I traveled to the Renaissance Center here in Kingsport this afternoon to pick up my race packet for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5K.

IMG_20150227_142550It wasn’t until I walked out the door that the excitement for tomorrow completely consumed me. I left the worry at the door . . . I signed up for the race and I will brave the elements, whatever they may be tomorrow afternoon.

I just wish Jason didn’t have to work. It was comforting last time knowing he was on the sidelines waiting for me to cross the finish line.

I’m not nervous for this race, like I was for my first one Thanksgiving morning. I’m more excited that I have the opportunity to run!!! I’m going on a 17 day dry spell and it’s eating me alive!!

The sun has been shinning for the majority of the afternoon, hopefully melting some of the snow. Tomorrow’s forecast, a high near 39 degrees!!! Whooohooo above freezing!!!

 

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.

Lucy’s first snow experience

Lucy’s first snow experience

Yesterday, Feb. 16, Kingsport received its first good snow this winter as Winter Storm Octavia crossed our region. It started snowing yesterday morning and remained pretty consistent into the evening after the sun went down.

There were numerous times throughout the day that the falling snowflakes caught my attention, distracting me from working on my articles at my desk.

The best part of the storm has been watching Lucy, our year-old puppy, try to figure out what’s going on. She doesn’t quite understand that she can go to the bathroom on top of the snow. She’s been desperately looking for her grass.

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So here’s last night’s snowy conditions through Lucy’s eyes . . .

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Lucy’s paw prints . . . IMG_2922 editBefore the sun went down they closed off our road right in front of the house to the left of us. It was probably for the best, it gets pretty windy after our driveway.

IMG_2920 editJason, Lucy and I walked down the road, so I could take a few pictures, which of course was after Lucy ran around the backyard in the snow.

The result . . . priceless . . .

IMG_2923 editLucy snuggled on Jason’s chest fast asleep.

This morning after Lucy and I woke up we ventured back outside into a little deeper snow. Our poor little girl didn’t quite know what to do. Every step she took, she sunk covering her belly in snow and covering her poor paws. She instantly went to all the corners of our property where she normally goes to the bathroom and couldn’t find the grass.

Again . . . here is our snowy morning through Lucy’s eyes . . . .

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IMG_2957 editWe came inside and I bundled her up near our little space heater where she fell fast asleep.

Here are a few more snow pictures from around our house.

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IMG_2910 editI would guess we got between 5 to 7 inches yesterday. Hopefully we can make a snowman later when Jason gets home.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

This morning Jason stopped by the house with a van full of apples and avocados that he had to deliver to Asheville. He stopped by the house on his way out to ask if I wanted to go along for the drive. At first I said no thank you, which quickly changed when he said the mountain tops might have snow.

This I could not turn down, especially since all we’ve seen is flurries and nothing that has really stuck to the ground.

So, I quickly threw on a few layers, grabbed my camera and we were off to Asheville. As we drove I-26 the scenery really did not change from where we just came from, Kingsport. Some of the roofs had a light layer of white, but nothing much.

Well that was until the elevation increased close to the North Carolina border. Our view instantly changed to a winter wonderland that was absolutely breathtaking.

Jason pulled off the road at a scenic overlook spot so I could take pictures. I only had five minutes to snap as many pictures as I could, so we could make it to his delivery spot.

As soon as I stepped out of the van I went from toasty to freezing. I guess I did not put on enough layers for this! But, with a camera in my hand my thoughts went from cold to I have to take a picture of this, and this, and this.

I loved hearing the crunch of the snow under my feet and seeing the branches holding onto a layer of snow.

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On our way back from Asheville there was another scenic overlook that Jason stopped at, so I of course could take more pictures. This time, the temperatures felt as if they dipped 10+ degrees. So it was a quick click, click before jumping back into the heated van.

I downloaded a new photograph program, Corel PaintShop Pro. I had fun editing some of the pictures.

IMG_2863 Look at the difference between these two photographs. I love the enhancement!

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IMG_2867 editI’m so glad Jason stopped by and picked me up. The views were incredible once we hit the higher elevations.

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Our little puppy turned a year old today.

Lucy and I woke lazily this morning long after the sun rose. My thoughts instantly became clouded as I came to with a million little things running through my mind. Those thoughts were the same that consumed me the night before.

Lucy helped put a smile on my face erasing them all for a few minutes.

As I began to stretch my legs, Lucy woke and slowly walked alongside my body showing her nose at the top of our sheets. This little black nose poked out before she fell into my body, curled close, ready for some affection. Lucy dug her nose into my neck, as I scratched her belly for a few moments.

We eventually dragged ourselves out of bed, so we could both go to the bathroom.

The sun was shinning and the temperatures were cool, promising a beautiful day. After Lucy finished doing her business, we came inside, so she could go back to sleep, and I could begin my work day.

As the day progressed, I started to knock a few things off my list . . . feeling a little better, feeling a little less overwhelmed.

After bringing Jason some Gatorade, I knew it was time to completely clear my thoughts and grab a hold of the day. I instantly thought what better way to achieve that then to bring Lucy with me to keep me smiling the entire distance.

I got ready, put Lucy’s running collar on, and we headed to the car. As we neared the Greenbelt, Lucy’s whimpering filled the space. She started walking circles in my lap after siting too long waiting for the light to change. The whimpering increased as we turned onto Lucy’s favorite road, the one that takes us to the Greenbelt.

The whimpering changed into full-blown crying as soon as we parked. I could not get my stuff together fast enough for this little girl.

Lucy was an absolute delight today as we ran mile after mile. She did not pull once. Lucy ran either a little ahead of me, or right alongside me in the grass as my feet hit the pavement.

I pushed her to her newest distance. She is such a little rock star. My little nine+pound, 1-year old puppy, ran 5.24 miles with me today!! What a little trooper. Her previous longest distance was 4.03 miles.

I think she needed the fresh air as much as I did. I know the hour we spent outside completely cleared my thoughts.

As soon as we were done with our cool down walk, we walked to Petsmart, so I could treat her on her birthday. She made friends with everyone she encountered, as they sang how cute she was.

Lucy loved her birthday bone. I’ve never seen her eat a treat so fast. She even warned the cats to keep their distance as she chewed every piece.

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Once again, Lucy helped improve my mood. Helped put a smile on my face as I watched her little legs running in front of me.

She changed my life on April 7, 2014, when she appeared at our doorstep.

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet puppy.