Another chapter starts

Another chapter starts

At 6 a.m. I slowly crawled out of bed as my alarm woke me Monday. Pure excitement washed over me as I got ready for my first day as the new editor of the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.

I was leaving to go to work. I was heading to an office where I would be working with others. My streak of working only out of my home doing freelance work came to an end that morning.

The hardest part of Monday was saying goodbye to my little puppy who I have spent pretty much every day with since we adopted her in April 2014. The look she gave me as I closed the garage door made me smile as memories flooded of the time we have spent together. My heart broke a little knowing that she will now spend a good portion of the day alone.

The goodbye with Jason carried me through the jitters of my first day. He always knows the right thing to say at the right moment. His excitement shined through his sleepy words and his sweet smile as he looked into my eyes. For the first time in two years, I was the one who kissed Jason goodbye, wishing him a good day as I left and went to work.  As I walked out of our bedroom, a smile swept across my face.

It’s true I have the support of a beautiful man. A man that has continued to share how proud he is of me through my career changes over the past almost six years.

That morning reminded me of a day in September 2009. I moved back to Fort Myers from Arizona a few months prior and began a job search. After a few months, I found a listing for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze and went in for an interview. I was at Jason’s place when I got the phone call . . . I was hired as a new reporter for the paper. The excitement he shared with me that day was beyond supportive. A memory that still makes me smile.

The sky was blue with typical Florida temperatures engulfing the car as my drive to work began before 7 a.m. earlier this week. It was the most relaxing 40-minute drive. As soon as I crossed the toll for Sanibel my shoulders relaxed and my back hugged the seat a little more as I took in the view of the water. Cars were already parked along the causeway as another beautiful day unfolded. I stopped where no other cars were parked next to the water, took a picture and breathed in the salt water before continuing my trip to the office.

First day at Islander

I did it. I was offered a full-time position, a position that will allow my passion of writing to continue.

The same smile I had after walking out of our bedroom surfaced again as I opened the door to the office. It remained as I introduced myself to Craig who I am replacing.

We shared information about ourselves before diving into the responsibilities I will be taking over come Monday morning.

I honestly felt like I was home again. As I sat in his office, soon to be mine, the passion of my craft consumed me. I am faced with another challenge . . . well opportunity . . . of making another newspaper into a great weekly sharing the news and stories of the island.

One of the true beauties of this career is the endless opportunities it provides in getting to know, fully diving deep into the character of a community. Although I grew up in Southwest Florida and have spent time on Sanibel, I really do not know the community well. Now, working on the island I have the opportunity to really get to know what makes this area a destination for so many.

My first day sped by relatively fast. It was absolutely perfect. That smile remained throughout the entire day. I was introduced to people, got some leads on stories and had the opportunity to see some of the beautiful island.

That night Jason, Lucy and I went to Fort Myers Beach to embark on one of my favorite past times. We stopped at Publix and I ordered us subs before we headed to our destination. We used to eat dinner on the beach while watching the sunset before we left for Tennessee.

Before we left the house it started raining, but since we live in Florida we ran to the car and hoped for the best. It rained on and off the entire drive to the beach. We ended up eating dinner in the car waiting for the showers to finish.

Fortunately the rain stopped and an incredible sunset covered the night sky.

rainbow

That night was the first time Lucy truly got to experience the beach. Although she was extremely hesitant of the water, Jason and I eventually encouraged her to get her feet wet.

IMG_3370 edit

IMG_3383 edit

IMG_3392 edit

 

IMG_3382 edit

Lucy and Jason edit

 

IMG_3377 edit

 

IMG_3378 edit

IMG_3367 edit

IMG_3384 edit

 

sunset edit

IMG_3409 edit

IMG_3435 edit

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

The next few days were just as successful as the first.

There is truly no better feeling than working in an office with others who have the same passion as mine. It’s nice to be surrounded by others, instead of being isolated in my home interviewing people over the phone.

Another perk of working on Sanibel came to fruition Thursday night on my way home. For the first time since Jason and I started dating we work in the same area. So, before I left the island I stopped by Jerry’s where he cooks and said hello.

With our hours, most of the time we only get to see each other at the end of the day, when I’m falling asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home.

Although it was a brief visit, it was great to see him.

With a smile on my face I began driving off the island when a rainbow caught my attention. The water began calling my name, so I decided to stop on the causeway and get out of the car. The weather was perfect at that moment as my hair started flying in every direction with the wind coming off the water. I stood there taking in the scenery, smelling the salt water and listening to the wave’s crash against the shore. I probably stood there for 15 to 20 minutes.

causeway

 

061115

 

causeway 061115

As I climbed back into my car I was completely relaxed as I drove the rest of the way home. It was at that moment that I truly felt grateful for the life Jason and I have. At that moment I began thinking about my journalism career here in Southwest Florida.

Since September 2009, my editor Val has taken care of me. I have gained heaps of experience as my duties change as a new position opened.

When I shared I would be moving to NE Tennessee in 2013, she kept me on as a freelance reporter. A phone call sharing that Jason and I were moving back to Florida offered her word in keeping me busy with freelance work until something full-time popped up. Val kept to her word. My workload tripled for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze as a freelance reporter.

Last week my world changed when I received an email from Val asking me to call her. That phone call, which led to a meeting in her office, was another promise kept.

I love what the beginning of this new chapter has offered so far. I’m excited to fully dig in next week when I no longer have to shadow the editor who is here now.

I firmly believe that our move back to Southwest Florida was meant to be. I continue to feel myself relax while the stress diminishes.

This week, although has worn me out, has been one of the best week’s I have had in a long time. I’ve met some really nice people, have seen some beautiful places and have contributed articles to a newspaper that will soon be filled with my byline.

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 . . .

 

Endless phone calls

As soon as I woke this morning I began calling endless apartment complexes in the Tri-City area, so my boyfriend and I will have a place to live once we move.

Although the internet is a wonderful thing to have, I become hesitant from time to time because I do not know exactly what the property or surrounding area looks like. This is one of the reasons I wanted to call each complex and get a feel for those working in the office, as well as ask questions about the area.

So, as I went down the list we had comprised of what we found, I slowly began crossing some off as they did not accept pets or wanted the cats to be declawed before moving into our new home.

After making six phone calls, I decided to make one more before taking a break and going for a run.

That seventh call gave me all the hope in the world. I left a message on the answering machine of this particular complex in Kingsport. About an hour later I received a phone call back from a girl who was born and raised in the area. She was incredibly sweet and her accent was adorable. We spent a good 15-20 minutes, if not longer, on the phone not only talking about the monthly rent, security deposits and what the complex had to offer, but also what the community that had to offer.

As she found out a little more about Jason and I and what our plans were, she instantly began giving me websites of places to look for jobs, as well as information of where we could go hiking and enjoy the outdoors.

Before we got off the phone, she told me she would email me information, as well as send my contact information to her three sister properties in the same area, so I would have that information as well. She also encouraged me to call her if I wanted any additional information about this community.

If she is an indication of what the people are like in the Tri-City area, I am ready to make it my new home. Her personality kept our conversation going, it kept the questions flowing, which in turn helped me find out a little more information about the area.

My excitement of the area instantly grew as she shared the endless opportunities to go hiking and explore the outdoors. I only wish I could share that excitement with Jason in person, instead of through texts, since he will not be home until much later.

The excitement builds as the countdown of seven weeks before we move continues . ..

Excitement is building

The days are slowly counting down to when my boyfriend and I will be departing from a home we have grown to know, a home that has been a part of our lives for quite some time and a home that brought us together after going our separate ways for more than a decade.

I have moved only twice, the first time from Illinois to Florida with my family and the second time to Arizona to attend Arizona State University, which led me eventually back to Southwest Florida.

A move to another state can be both sad and exciting. The exciting part stems from wiping the slate clean as a new beginning is mapped out at a new destination.

backyard111The hardest part about this move is of course leaving family behind, since I am one of six children and an aunt of four adorable boys. A drive down the street to my parents and sisters’ homes, as well as a couple hour drive to my brothers will no longer be an option, as we will be 14 hours away. The beauty of course behind this is we are an incredibly close family who talks often and a drive back to Southwest Florida or a plane trip is extremely doable.

Family will always be there through thick and thin, so even though we may be a farther distance away, they will forever be close because they are a phone call, text or short trip away.

Although this is constantly flowing through my mind, the excitement of this new adventure grabs a hold of me . . .

As we pulled up Google Earth and highlighted the area of NE Tennessee – our destination – the pictures were incredible, which only increased the excitement of our soon to be new home. The change of seasons, hiking trails, mountains, lakes and farm house pictures, which graced the computer screen, grasped our attention as smiles spread across our faces. The endless possibilities and the new areas to explore are incredibly exciting to think about.

I am beyond thrilled to experience a new state and discover all it has to offer with this man who has become an incredible part of my life. What a journey to take with someone you love and share everything with. Our new journey is on the verge of beginning, a journey I know we will both make the most of, due to his incredible love for finding new areas to explore.

The excitement for the end of April is building, as we put in final notices at work and to our apartment complex, as well as making plans of how we are going to get from point A to point B with all of our belongings.

A new journey

backyard25Today I made a rather large step toward a new journey my boyfriend and I are going to take at the end of April.

Although we have been planning a move to NE Tennessee for the past two years, it was put on hold once I received a promotion in November 2011. He wanted me to gain experience as an editor before we traveled to a new destination, which I will forever be grateful for because of his incredible support.

With a good deal of experience under my belt, our conversation about moving came to fruition once again and was put into motion as the height of season took off.

My boyfriend is now working two jobs . . . 15 hours away from home almost every day of the week. Although I miss him dearly and only see him for a few hours a day, I admire him for working so hard. The beautiful thing about this man is once an idea crosses his mind he puts everything he possibly can into motion to turn a dream or idea into a reality.

His excitement for starting our life in a new location has become contagious, which eventually shed all of my concerns and fear of moving away from everything I know.

That enthusiasm led me to sharing my notice with work this afternoon, making our move that much more real! It was both invigorating and nerve racking as I shared that I will be leaving at the end of April with my executive editor. Her reaction was complete surprise and bummed all at once.

It felt wonderful to share the news of our move because it brought everything out into the open. I can now talk freely of the excitement that builds every day with others besides family and close friends.

The last couple of weeks I have found places to live, as well as newspapers to apply for, which is promising as we arrive in a new state. It is extremely exciting to search for a new home, to think of a new beginning and everything it holds.

The next few months are going to go by in a blink of an eye as we both work a crazy amount of hours to stock away as much money as we can.

Although I am going to miss my family beyond belief, as well as my friends, it is truly exciting to think of our future in a different location.