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!

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Independence

Independence

You learn a great deal about yourself while living alone. You find an inner strength you may not have known was there. You find reasons to smile when your better half is hundreds of miles away. You find ways to share your strength and love through the distance that is  temporarily separating you.

Twenty-five days ago a new chapter began for Jason and I. A chapter that brought him to Southwest Florida, while I remained here in NE Tennessee.

I have gone through a slew of emotions in that time period. Emotions that have ranged from happy to sad and everything in between. Those consuming emotions even led to a few break downs that I had to push myself through … which sometimes took too long to conquer.

The best part of those emotions is the love I have for this man has never wavered or been questioned. Jason’s love is what helps me through each and every day a part.

We have grown “heaps” in this time span. We have shown each other that the foundation we created cannot be rocked even in the trying times we are experiencing right now. Our communication has only strengthened. Yes, even through the countless hours we are both working to make ends meet to close this chapter.

The first night he was away I started something that I now look forward to doing every day. This new routine shows Jason that my spirits are soaring even through a couple hiccups. This new kind of sharing, I know helps him through his 15 hour days of work.

One of my favorite times of the day is at the end of Jason’s work day when my phone begins ringing. It’s his comforting tone, his reassurance that carries me through another day. It’s those simple, but yet powerful words “I love you” “I miss you” and “see you soon” that continue to give us both the strength we need.

The beauty of all of this is I have become extremely independent. A kind of independent I have never experienced before. An independence that is invigorating, empowering and incredibly satisfying.

I am proud to say that I have not been confined to my home while Jason is away. Independence.

I am proud to say my appetite that was pretty nonexistent at the beginning has resurfaced. I have dived into a new-found passion of finding new black bean recipes and making myself an incredibly delicious meal. Independence.

I have found the strength to carry on. To continue one of my found loves – running! Yes, although I bring Lucy with me, Independence.

Lucy and I have been venturing down to the Greenbelt quite often, which continues to help me sort through my thoughts, while keeping the positive energy flowing through every cell of my body.

Today we ran 3.78 miles. I’m proud of us for going this distance, especially since it was one of the hotter days since the awful cold winter months.

LUcy 2Whenever we are done with our run, I let Lucy explore and sniff an area on the Greenbelt. Often times it’s the same area.

Lucy 3She loves watching the ducks, which were quite active today. They were quacking, splashing and making all kinds of noises drawing Lucy in and keeping her attention.

Lucy 4 I have to admit the picture below is my favorite of today.

LucyThat oh so long tongue . . .

Signs of spring continue to surface all over Kingsport. It’s such a beautiful time of the year.

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flower editI know we are nearing the end of our time a part and a new countdown will begin soon. A countdown of when I can see Jason in person. A countdown when I can go running into his arms. A countdown of when we will be in the same space again.

I truly believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish as a couple, and as two separate individuals.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

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

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

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

This place will forever stay in my heart.

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

It’s definitely bittersweet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rollercoaster . . .

Rollercoaster . . .

I have definitely been on a rollercoaster of emotions this week, which I have to admit is very exhausting.

Yesterday, although my day did not start with a phone call from Jason, nor ended with a phone call from him . . . well, it went okay . . . until sleep completely escaped me.

The highlights of my day yesterday, day four of Jason being gone . . .

A phone call from my mom and my older brother Bill, as well as an overdue much-needed run with my best little buddy, my puppy Lucy.

I had a ton of copy editing I had to accomplish for one of the newspapers I work for in Arizona, which kept me extremely busy.

A phone call from my mom prompted an escape from my computer. She knows me well and knows what will help.

Exercise.

Almost every single day since Monday, my mom has made it a point to call and check up on me. I look forward to that friendly phone call, even if there is not anything new to share. There’s a huge comfort that comes with just hearing her voice.

So, after she told me to go for a run, I listened. I threw on my running clothes and put Lucy’s collar on and we headed to our old stomping grounds. Thankfully that portion of the Greenbelt that we enjoy using was open.

It was however a muddy mess with portions of the path still underwater. Yesterday I just didn’t care . . . I needed that run more than anything.

Although the music was streaming through my headphones, I couldn’t tell you what I was listening to during that 3 mile run. My thoughts were jetting in every possible direction. That was exactly the therapy I needed. Sometimes you don’t fully know everything you’re holding in until you are faced with open space and a route you want to complete.

As Lucy and I embraced the 70 degree temperatures and occasional rays of sunshine, our speed was not fast, but consistent until my body told me no more.

I felt good when we called it quits. I was proud of myself for making it to the Greenbelt to go for a run.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday . . .

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20150312_170143 editI was on a runner’s high after we returned home. It stayed with me for quite a few hours. I was excited that my meal, a recipe I found on Pinterest, tasted great. A mixture of hard-boiled eggs, avocado, onion, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and pepper on multi-grain bread topped with a tomato. It was delicious.

With a full belly, it was back to my desk to finish the copy editing I put on hold. This is when I received a surprise phone call from my older brother. I absolutely love hearing from him. No matter how many miles separate us, he’s always there for me, always looking out for me, always making sure I am okay. There’s truly nothing greater than a love from an older brother. His understanding voice, his open ears, lifted my spirits enabling me to finish my work for the night.

I watched a few television shows before heading to bed. I have to admit I was really looking forward to my phone ringing once more. The phone call never came.

I ended up falling asleep, waking to a text from Jason. A text message I never answered.

Last night I only managed to get a few hours of sleep. I thought for sure with exercising and, well, being exhausted from the week’s events would bring on the sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Unfortunately I was terribly let down . . .

I wish Jason was here besides me, or I was already there besides him. I sleep so much better when I know he is laying besides me or in the same house.

My strength is there, although not as strong as I need it to be at times. My smile comes and goes as the tears take its place, still at the most random times.

This experience, although is still in the beginning stages has proven to be difficult, but not unmanageable.

I am beyond grateful I have Lucy, my sweet, affectionate, cuddly, beautiful puppy. There is truly no better companion than that of a dog.

Lucy makes me laugh, keeping my spirits high.

She gives me the comfort I need throughout the day and even while we are sleeping.

Ever since Monday, Lucy snuggles even closer to me in bed. Her body is curled up against mine at all times, never straying away. This comforts me in a way I cannot explain.

Today she has not left my side. She’s been asleep in my lap while I work at my desk, occasionally looking at me with those puppy eyes. I can feel her telling me it’s okay.

Every day is a new challenge. Every day I am faced with new and old emotions. Every day I pray that our time a part is almost over.

I love being independent, but I love having Jason here with me. I love sharing my life with him in the same space without hundreds of miles separating us.

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I only hope that the strength I know I have stays consistant from here on out. I need more of my good days that are filled with high spirits. Those feelings, those emotions, will make the time a part easier to handle . . .

Embrace them

Embrace them

Today marks the third day since Jason left for Florida.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are creatures of habit. Creatures of routines.

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

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

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

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

The events of today . . .

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

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

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

The positive momentum carried on throughout the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Today was a beautiful day.

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

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