His patience, his love

Every road I traveled,

eventually led me back to you. 

In the ten years we spent apart, you crossed my mind from time to time. Your face filled my thoughts at the rarest moments, as I wondered where you ended up and how you were doing.

Unfortunately because how things ended when we were younger, a void I did not know needed filling, stayed that way for way too many years. That void was the friendship we built in high school, a foundation that I now know never could be broken even during the years we did not speak.

At the young age of 16, you left an everlasting imprint on my heart. You showed my heart the power of love, the impact a friendship could have on someone. You were my high school sweetheart, the first boy I let into my world.

Still to this day when I hear Metallica playing on the radio, it brings me back to you and the times we spent playing cards on the patio. And to think, that is just one beautiful memory that often times leaves me smiling.

Fast forward to 2009, as a man, you have changed my world completely. I have grown leaps and bounds because of you.

A breakup that I once thought was the end of the world turned into the biggest blessing. That breakup brought me back to you. That foundation we started a decade earlier, quickly resumed as we filled each other in on the time we spent apart.

The healing began. You let me lean on you through a very trying time. Because of you and your patience, the old me resurfaced again. The old me that went into hiding for almost a decade gained her confidence.

I will never forget the embrace you gave me when we finally parted ways the day we went out to lunch. That hug sent me on a journey back to my teen years in a matter of seconds. That hug reassured me that everything was going to be okay.

Jason you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You have shown me unconditional love. A love that has opened my eyes. A love that continues to guide me as we ride this journey of life together.

One of the many reasons why I love this man, his attention to detail.

Sometimes he can sense how I’m feeling before it hits me by knowing and understanding how I react to situations, the shift in my mood, the looks I give without realizing, my demeanor and the tone in my voice.

Because Jason know’s me so well, I always feel safe when I’m with him.

He knows how to calm me down. He knows just what to say to make whatever I’m feeling in that moment disappear. The patience he showcases in those situations is why the calmness takes hold of me. I can feel the love radiating from him when I hear his calming words, or his touch.

Last night was just another example of how in-tuned Jason is to my world, my experiences, my overall well-being.

Jason and I went to an acoustic Nonpoint concert at Capone’s in Johnson City. It was an amazing show for so many reasons.

When we started dating again in 2009, Jason introduced me to Nonpoint for the first time. A month after we began dating we went to a concert in Cape Coral after I got free tickets. We still talk about that night. Most of the time all we have to say is that Nonpoint concert and we both start shaking our heads and laughing.

Although Jason took me to my first concert while we were in high school, that Nonpoint concert was the first concert I really felt. The sounds of the drums and guitars really grabbed a hold of me, as the lyrics spoke to me.

Last night’s show was amazing. Usually Nonpoint puts on a high energy concert, but last night it was low key as they transformed their music into an acoustic version. I heard every lyric as I watched fingers strum the guitar creating a sound that triggered my feet to begin moving and my hips swaying to the beat.

There truly is no better feeling then listening to music live. I love watching a band translate the songs meaning during a live show.

After the concert ended, the band made a presence near the front door of Capone’s. A line quickly formed as the band posed with one fan after another for a picture. Yep, Jason took my picture with the band, which was awesome. I had the opportunity to tell them that I loved their music and it is great motivation while I run!

It was a great night with Jason. Another night we will talk about for years to come. Another memory I will hold close to my heart.

I will forever be grateful that I was blessed with such a caring, loving, funny man who fully enjoys life.

New best running distance!

New best running distance!

Since the temperatures started to climb into the high 40’s, I went to my favorite place with a goal in mind.

A running goal . . .

Yesterday was my off day from running, so my legs felt good as my feet initially met the pavement. I was ready to set some new personal records today.

Jason’s playlist started streaming into my ears, setting the mood. As soon as I hit play the rest of the world vanished. It was just me, my thoughts and the path ahead of me.

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It’s been awfully cold this past week with temperatures dipping into the teens and 20’s. With the wind, it felt even colder. One day the newscast said the wind chill had the possibility of reaching -15. Yep, running conditions I wasn’t too fond of, which meant quite a few days off. There is still a little Florida left in me.

I ran one day last week when the temperatures were in the 20’s, with wind. More than half of the time the wind was to my face. I was not a fan. It was challenging to keep going, but somehow my legs carried me on to put some more miles on my shoes. My body was warm that day due to the numerous layers. My hands were toasty, thanks to my gloves, and so was my head because of my beanie hat. My face, on the other hand, never warmed.

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The photo above is of Reedy Creek, which runs alongside the Kingsport Greenbelt. Just a glimpse of how cold it really was that day. I was pretty proud of myself for heading out for a run, even though it was cold.

Today, however, there were smaller clusters of ice attached to tree trunks alongside the creek, and inside the creek.

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I ran to my normal stopping point before heading back in the direction where I started today. The difference, however, was how far I ran in the other direction. My legs felt good and my body was warm, so I kept going.

After reaching another typical turning point, I kept going. I was thrilled.

I finally turned around and kept running towards my starting point. Once I hit that point, I gave myself another stopping point. This is where I finally called it quits for the day.

I knew I had run further, but didn’t know how far until I took my phone out of my running belt.

4.52 miles!

Wow!

My previous running distance was 4.03 miles.

I found my passion. That passion, lacing up my running shoes and seeing what my body is capable of achieving.

4.52 miles . . . that, I have to say was incredible therapy!

I’m happy to say I signed up for my next 5K race at the end of February in Downtown Kingsport. I am beyond excited for this race. Now that I know I can run more than 3.1 miles, it’s now all about how much I can beat my last running time.wpid-img_20150111_154632.jpg

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Achieved a new distance

Achieved a new distance

I no longer look outside and hope for clear skies and warm weather . . . now I just put layer upon layer on and go for a run.

Today we were blessed with clear skies and temperatures climbing to 46 degrees. Half way through our run I had to take my sweatshirt off and tie it around my waist. It’s crazy how my body is finally getting accustomed to the cooler temperatures. I was worried that the colder winter weather would keep me indoors this year. But, so far I have been pretty fortunate.

I’m so glad because last year I really experienced cabin fever. I’m determined not to feel that way again this year. Our runs have definitely helped so far.

It’s been kind of neat. I’ve experienced the summer, fall and winter months on the Greenbelt so far. There are far less people on the Greenbelt during the winter months, which I won’t lie is kind of nice.

Saturday morning I ran for the first time in 20 degree weather and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. I left Lucy home for this run.

I’m so thankful we invested in some new running gear. It has truly been a lifesaver since my race Thanksgiving morning. Yesterday I bought some gloves, the only thing I found to be missing during that crisp run. My body warmed after 2 miles, but my fingers were still a little cold.

After a productive morning of writing, interviewing people and turning two articles in, Lucy and I took advantage of the beautiful day. We of course headed to our favorite place, the Kingsport Greenbelt.

Although Jason’s wonderful mix of music kept us moving today, my thoughts drifted to eight years ago when I walked across the stage at Arizona State University. I cannot believe it’s already been eight years since I graduated, since I finished that chapter in my life.

The career I choose, journalism, has been the perfect fit for me. I’ve worked with some great editors over the years, some of which have taught me a ton about my profession.

It’s exciting to think where my career can still take me.

That chapter, although was a rollercoaster more times than not, was an experience that helped me grow as a person and as a writer. I am beyond grateful that my mom was always a phone call away. Even with more than 2,200 miles separating us, I honestly could not have done it without her amazing support. She was definitely my rock during school and after when the true job searching began.

As those thoughts consumed me, we achieved our longest distance to-date. We ran 4.03 miles with an average speed of 4.5 mph and a maximum speed of 9.2 mph.

WOW.

WOW.

My legs carried me to a new personal best.

I used to think two miles was a great achievement.

Now I’m shooting for 4.5 miles . . . .

We passed our starting point, continued past our typical stopping point at the foot of a bridge and kept going. We kept going until the path curved on the Greenbelt and we slowed our pace to a walk.

This was Lucy’s opportunity to explore. She’s becoming a little more adventurous, making her way closer and closer to the water. I of course took advantage and took some photographs.

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As soon as we finished our run and I saw our distance, I instantly became excited about the next time we make it to the Greenbelt. It’s true, whatever you put your mind to you can achieve.

 

 

First 5K in the books!

This morning started off kind of rocky as my nerves completely took hold of me and would not let go.

Although my alarm was set for 6:15, I woke up for the first time at 4:30 and every 30 minutes or so thereafter.

Anxious was an understatement. I was afraid my alarm was not going to wake me up. I was nervous about my first race.

You would think my nerves would settle a little when I took Lucy outside this morning and saw there was no snow on the ground. Yesterday the meteorologists were predicting a 70 percent chance of snow this morning.

It was, on the other hand, quite wet from the rain. Nonetheless, with overcast skies it was in the 30s and bitter cold.

I’m so thankful Jason and I went to the store yesterday and picked up an Under Armour sweatshirt and beanie hat for me to wear today. It’s amazing how warm those two items kept me.

Before walking out the door to go to the race, I put on two more layers of clothes. Good thinking on Jason’s part. Considering how cold it was this morning, with all the layers and having my entire head covered including my ears, I was as comfortable as I was going to get.

We arrived at Meadowview Convention Center 10 minutes before the race started to a slew of people in the parking lot. Before Jason dropped me off, he turned on his MP3 player and made sure the sound was just right before I stepped out of the car, yes still a bag of nerves.

Last night after I went to bed, he set up his MP3 player with music he knew would keep me moving – a mixture of some Sevendust, Nonpoint, Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat. He could not have put together a better playlist if he tried.

So, as I walked into the middle of the crowd that gathered my nerves slowly diminished as the cold began kissing my face making my knees shake. This was from the pure cold, no longer the nerves.

I cannot fully put into words what kind of feeling consumed me at that moment. I was standing in the mix of runners; I was minutes away from starting my first race. I was so proud of myself for taking on this challenge by myself. Although I was running it by myself, it was comforting to know that Jason was in the crowd cheering me on, waiting for me to cross the finish line.

The 5th annual Chase the Turkey was definitely a family affair. Everywhere I looked a couple was standing shoulder to shoulder, parents and their youngsters standing in a circle, or a group of friends laughing amongst their small crowd.

I smiled at that moment; I was making my own memory by myself, which was so incredibly empowering. So incredibly gratifying. So incredibly independent. That alone was a huge undertaking for me. Years ago I would never have thought I could do something like that on my own.

Before the race began the organizer spoke and said they had 700 people registered for the race. I now cannot remember from how many different states, but it was impressive. It was good to hear that Chase the Turkey has grown every year. He was saying that last year the course had a lot of ice. This year there were a good amount of puddles, which I could handle.

Before the race began a prayer was shared by one of the local pastors and the song “Amazing Grace” came streaming through the speakers. By this point the nerves had completely disappeared and the excitement washed over my entire body. I was ready; oh I was so ready to start running.

All at once I was in the middle of a human stampede. As the lines of people picked up their feet and began running, it was like a domino effect as everyone behind them did the same thing. Eventually the fast runners made their way to the front of the line and everyone went into their own stride from the parking lot of Meadowview Convention Center to Meadowview Parkway.

Although there were people all around me, I was in my own little world. I was running to the beat of the music. I followed the hundreds of people before me as we made our way down the parkway to the stop light at Wilcox Drive. The cold completely diminished as the excitement heightened again as I rounded the median of Meadowview Parkway in the direction we just came.

I felt as if I had a good speed, I was not becoming tired.

After leaving the parkway I took a few strides on the grass before my feet hit the pavement of the golf course. The pathway went under the parkway up a little hill and then around a bend before hitting a straightaway back towards Wilcox Drive.

As some of the other runners came to a stop to walk, I maneuvered around them and kept my stride as the music filled my ears. I made it past the 2 mile marker and kept running smiling on the inside. You got this. The path along this stretch had puddles that everyone ran around. Unfortunately this was not the case the entire way to the finish line.

I made it a good 2.5 miles before the hills got the best of my legs. I stopped and walked as fast as I could until I reached the point where I told myself to pick my legs up and keep running. So, I was off again . . . this is when some of the puddles reaching the length of the path came into view detouring everyone into the grass.

Of course my foot hit a puddle and one foot instantly became cold as the water soaked through my shoe and sock.

At this point it started to drizzle a little, but I was still warm with my new running gear!

I got this . . . until another hill kicked my butt and my pace came to a fast walk again. The spot in the near distance that I chose to start running was a lot shorter this time before my speed picked up again. It helped that one of my favorite songs blared into my ears. (I’m thinking now when I run with my puppy Lucy music is going to be added to the exercise again. I love how it motivates you.)

I’m happy to say after this I ran all the way to the finish line. Yes, even with a pretty steep incline before making my way to the Meadowview parking lot again.

Shortly after climbing that hill, Jason came into view. I was so excited to see him . . . I knew the finish line was close by.

This part of the race was such an incredible feeling. I started to hear music other than my own and people cheering as the finish line arch way came into view. It was an invigorating feeling when I rounded that last curve, I was about to finish my first 5K.

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When I crossed the finish line . . . wow! Words cannot describe that feeling at all.

When I saw Jason walking closer I couldn’t contain my excitement. I could feel my face light up as a smile spread, Jason capturing the moment as he walked closer.

I did it. My first 5K is in the books.

I cannot wait to sign up for another 5K. That was such an incredible experience. Incredible experience. Now I know what I need to work on. Now I have a time to shoot for and pass.

According to the State of Franklin Track Club I was 17 out of 26 in my age category with a time of 34:42. Overall I came in 366th place out of 594 finishers.

I am proud of that time!

Wow, talk about a runners high!!

It was the perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving! A perfect way to jump start a day with the love of my life.

That high continued throughout the day, as Jason and I prepared our Thanksgiving feast together at home.

I truly have so much to be thankful for . . .

Blast from our past

My phone started ringing a little before 9 a.m. yesterday morning, which was a great, yet unexpected surprise.

Jason’s face filled my screen, as I slide the arrow accepting his phone call. He left for work around his usual time, 8:15 a.m., so I was a little confused when my phone started ringing. It’s unusual for Jason to call before he walks into work. I’m lucky if I hear from him at all some days because the kitchen gets so busy.

For the past couple of months, I have had the itch to go to a concert. For a while, it seemed like Jason and I had the opportunity to go see one of our many favorite bands on a pretty frequent basis. But, with the move to Tennessee, our spending was limited due to us saving all of our funds. Every time a band travels near to our new location of Kingsport, I tell Jason . . . . so needless to say he knows my desire.

Jason took me to my very first concert in Fort Myers while we were in high school. A country concert at the Civic Center. Jason is an absolute blast to go to a concert with. We have created some unbelievable memories at the many, many shows we have attended. He always finds a way to get us as close to the stage as possible. (Yes, there has been a few times we couldn’t hear anything for quite a few hours after leaving a concert.) I love the way the music moves him, how into the words and instruments he becomes. He definitely showed me a new way to appreciate concerts.

So back to the phone call . . .

Jason said he was listening to the radio and heard an interview with Fuel. The band was going to be playing at Capone’s in Johnson City. My smile instantly overtook my office.

Was he really going to suggest what I thought he was?

Jason said why don’t you go online and see how much tickets are. I’ll leave it up to you, if they aren’t too expensive go ahead and buy them.

This man is so good to me. I love his spontaneity.

So I go online, tickets are only $15. Yep, that was an easy decision. I went ahead and bought two tickets and clicked the button that we will pick them up at will call once we arrive.

So, I send Jason a text message telling him what time the show starts. His response “Nice.”

When Jason and I dated in high school he introduced me to a lot of music. Fuel happened to be one of those bands. So our first “date night” in I don’t know how long was a blast from our past.

Did I mention how good this man is to me? He’s always finding ways to surprise me and make my wishes come true.

Before we arrived at the venue, we stopped and got a bite to eat. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A. Once we opened the packages to our sandwiches I noticed that they forgot to put it on a multi-grain bun. Jason, on the other hand, received the right bun. So what did he do? He took the top off his sandwich and told me to give him the top off of mine. This cracked me up.

After having some good laughs, we were on our way to the concert venue.

Capone’s was not that bad of venue. It had a very intimate setting, so we were able to get pretty close to the stage. The only bad thing about the space the band played in, was it got really warm very fast. I could only imagine how much warmer it would have been if the room was jammed packed with people.

Once Fuel took stage my energy rose. I could feel Jason’s energy rising as well. The band played a great mix of old and new music. Some of the old songs took me back, took me back to 16 years ago.
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I remember listening to those tunes with Jason, wow, 16 years ago.

My body started swaying and my feet started tapping, as the words flew out of my mouth when a familiar tune filled the air. The sounds of the guitar often times raised the hairs on my arms as a chord was struck or a certain beat of the drum overtook the room.

Oh how I love live music.

It was such a great night. I loved every minute of our night out. If felt good to go out, to get out of the house and spend some time with Jason.

Nights like last night remind me of the history Jason and I have created. It’s hard to believe we have known each other for 18 years. Where does the time go?

I love this man to pieces and am so fortunate to have such a caring man who, yes, will do anything to make me smile.

“Won the lottery”

Over the course of the last few weeks I have had the chance to interview a few U.S. Presidential Scholar’s. It’s inspiring to see what high school seniors are accomplishing. These students are going to go far in this world.

Chandler student a U.S. Presidential Scholar

Published in SanTan Sun News June 7, 2014

Named a U.S. Presidential Scholar, Arizona Virtual Academy senior Anna Han feels like she “won the lottery.”

“I never thought it would happen,” Han says. “There is no way to say who is going to get it and who is not. I knew a lot of people who were contenders and thought they were amazing.”

The Presidential Scholar in the Arts will travel to Washington, D.C., this month and perform at the Kennedy Center during the award ceremonies. The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the president, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars.

Arizona Virtual Academy Head of School Cindy  Carter says she is proud of Han.

“She is an example of how this particular academic environment worked for her,” Carter says. “It wasn’t an easy road. It was rigorous for her.”

Han says she began attending Arizona Virtual Academy when she was in eighth grade because the school provided her with the flexibility she needed to focus on her academics while pursuing her musical interest.

Longtime musician Han took up piano 13 years ago when her parents enrolled her in extracurricular activities.

“I started out with group lessons and developed an appreciation for music,” she says.

The 18-year-old has been with the same piano teacher, Fei Xu, since she began. She cites Xu as one of her influences.

Han says for most presidential scholars, their eligibility is based on ACT and SAT scores. Han, on the other hand, was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar through her participation in the national program YoungArts. She explains that she sent an application to YoungArts and was invited to Miami for a week last January where she participated in workshops, master classes and performances.

While Han was in Miami she performed a basic 10-minute piano audition, before being paired into chamber groups to learn a piece of music.

“It was really fun. We got to know all the teachers there and learned a lot,” she says of her experience in Miami. “I got paired with another pianist. We did a dual piece.”

Because Han was a junior when she participated, she was evaluated and considered as one of the 60 high school seniors to be nominated for this year’s scholar award.

“You get nominated for the presidential arts program, then you apply,” she says. “That application gets sent to the presidential scholar committee.”

Han will be honored in Washington, D.C., during National Recognition Weekend. She, along with the other scholars, will receive the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a White House-sponsored ceremony. She says a show with a storyline will be put on by all the performing arts scholars in the Kennedy Center.

“I have never done something quite like it, so I am excited,” Han says.

She says she is most excited to meet the other scholars because she is sure each one is amazing.

This fall, Han plans on pursuing a bachelor’s of music degree at The Juilliard School, which is located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

“Ideally I would like to perform. Music has been something I have been working towards since I was really young,” she says. “It’s a really difficult career to sustain. I want to bring it to more people. I am also interested in teaching.”

 

 

Home away from home

On average I travel to my home away from home four or five times a week. I have to admit I feel a little lost when I do not get in ny car and drive towards Snap Fitness in Kingsport.

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Snap Fitness Kingsport

My day does not feel complete without the gym. It’s true, working out becomes a way of life, becomes an obsession, becomes second nature. I know I’ve said this a million times before, but it’s my stress reliever, it’s my me time, my breath of fresh air when the stress becomes too much.

Today for the majority of my workout I had the entire gym to myself, which I won’t lie, I absolutely loved. I definitely got lost in my music a little more than usual as the tunes streamed through Pandora and into my ears. Shuffle mode kept all the right music flowing today. Although I was looking at the flat screen in front of me,  I couldn’t tell you what I was watching. Today’s workout completely cleansed my soul …

More times than not people start going to the gym because they want to improve their body. Yes, that was true for me at the beginning, but now it’s more to keep me going. Yes, I would love to continue to make some improvements. But, I try not to get upset when I don’t see the instant or gradual improvements. It’s just motivation to do a little more the next time I walk through the doors.

Today, instead of running I did 5 miles on the elliptical and about 7 miles on the bike, with some weight exercises in-between. Oh, the stretching felt wonderful after today’s line-up.

So, after I left I treated myself to a delicious smoothie when I got home. It was a tasty, filling post workout snack.

The best part about the gym, is every day is a new day, which only allows you to push yourself a little more, as well as set new goals.