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.

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.

Greenbelt 121514 2

Greenbelt 121514 4

Greenbelt 121514 3

Greenbelt 121514

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.

 

 

A day in the rain

Today was the first day Jason had off in a while and I was determined to get us all out into nature, Lucy included.

So last night, I made the decision, we would head back to Laurel Run Park, a destination not too far from our house.

Although Lucy and I woke up around our normal time, a little after 7 a.m., Jason wasn’t too keen on getting out of bed just yet. I didn’t blame him, it was his first day off in I don’t know how long. So Lucy, Kimber and I curdled up alongside him in bed and fell back asleep until he was ready to wake for the day.

We finally headed out the door around 9:30 a.m.

With an overcasted sky, Jason, Lucy and I were the only one’s that ventured out on the trails today. Yep, this only meant it was going to be a great day. We love having the trails to ourselves.

As we began our hike, the sky opened up and the drops of rain began. Of course Jason asked if we should stop or keep going.

The nice thing about this trail is it’s pretty much covered with trees, so we weren’t getting too wet. I figured, since we were already out here, what’s a little rain going to hurt. (Yes, this of course came after some convincing on my part that it’s okay to get wet.)

So we kept on going, Lucy following Jason eager to keep up with his pace.

As we neared the first waterfall and made our way down to the bottom it began raining a little bit harder, so we took cover to the left of it. It turned out to be the perfect place to wait out the rain.

IMG_1703

After the rain stopped, we headed off in a new direction to seek out the second waterfall we read about online.

The climb down to this waterfall was a little more challenging. Jason of course helped Lucy make her way down (holding her the majority of the time), as well as helping me as he guided my feet in the right spots to make it down in one piece. This was the adventure for today . . . it certainly got my heart pumping a little.

The rewards, yes two, of making my way down to the bottom were amazing . . .

IMG_1747

We of course got to experience another waterfall, just the two of us.

IMG_1757It was a beautiful stream of water off the ledge that produced an incredible sound.

IMG_1743

The second reward was watching my puppy have the time of her life. There was sand near the base of the waterfall that got this puppy all riled up. Sand started spraying everywhere as she began digging. After digging to a certain depth she would take off, butt close to the ground, running before returning to the same spot.

Before too long, this is all we could see.

IMG_1746It was absolutely adorable. The amount of fun she had in this little area made the entire trip worth while.

Since the temperatures are warmer, Jason and I decided to wear our hiking shoes, which are extremely light weight with an incredible grip. We learned last summer that they are also great in water.

IMG_1758

So we walked in the creeks and Lucy followed, yes she followed us right into the water. Last time we took her to this park she wanted nothing to do with the water. It was cold at first, but worth it when spotting views like this.

IMG_1769I was beyond excited that she got her paws wet this time.

As we walked the trails, I remembered the start of our adventures in NE Tennessee last summer. The trails are lined with lush green leaves of every size and shape. It is breathtaking to take this sight in, and today take in the smells of the rain.

IMG_1754

Today was another day that reminded me why we chose this area to move more than a year ago.

IMG_1775

Before we started our hike today, I started the S Health app on my phone to record what we did for the day.

The lowest elevation was 1,117 feet and the highest elevation was 1,755 feet. We walked 3.95 miles at an average speed of .9 miles per hour. Our maximum speed was 5.3 miles per hour.

We spent 2 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds in nature today and I loved every single minute of it with the world’s best boyfriend and puppy.

Thankful

Some thoughts that struck me while exercising today . . .

IMG_1431

Do you ever wake up thinking you have a beautiful life? That the life you lead is because of the confidence you have in yourself to make it happen?

I’m not sure if these thoughts have bombarded me because I had a conversation with someone from my past, or if I’m just reflecting on how far I’ve come because I’m experiencing the daily change in new life right outside the window.

The life of nature, if you think about it, goes through some drastic changes before new life is born. That new life of spring, and the warm temperatures that also grace this season, has spoken to me.

I really cannot put into words the feelings that take over me when I spot that new flower presenting itself on a tree or on the ground for that matter. After seeing the trees bare for so many months, its eye-catching for sure.

Today, while I was out taking pictures, I heard lawn mowers running and the smell of new cut grass filled the air. This alone made me smile. Do you know how long it has been since hearing those sounds or smelling that fragrance?

Yeah, is all I have to say.

Reflection . . .

The best part of that conversation earlier this week, is it made me smile, instead of making me dwell on the life I decided to leave behind. It’s amazing how much your life can blossom when you have the right people in your life. Without support from my closest family and friends, those mountains that blocked my path seemed unbearable. With their constant encourgement, the mountains turned into little, tiny hills, bumps for that matter. It was easy to catch a glimpse of the other side of the hurdle and continue along this path of my life.

IMG_1434What I took as genuine happiness about how far I have come from this individual kind of left me speechless. I know it shouldn’t have because he was so encouraging when he was a big part of my life. Even as discussions were had about another person of my past, the feelings that used to consume me no longer did. The only feeling that grabbed a hold of me was sadness. The same conversation that was had almost five years ago, was the same tune I heard that day. It’s a shame when someone can’t or does not want to find the new light at the end of the tunnel to carry on and see the new beauty that presents itself.

Life is precious, you have to make the most out of everything. This of course can be hard on occassion. The daily stresses of life sometimes gets the best of me.

The statement below I found one day is very true.

“Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.”

I have found myself getting better at this every day.

New beauty . . .

IMG_1429New beauty is constantly presenting itself, if not in nature, in the daily happenings of my own life.

So, why not leave the worry behind, the unneeded stress, when you are in charge of your own happiness?

That one day struck me, it was time to grab a hold of that happiness and be in charge once again.

A huge turning point for me was moving back home to Fort Myers to be close to family and friends. The unconditional love and support often times took my breath away. I will never forget those days. I will never forget how my dad was my strength, how he carried me through one of the hardest times of my life.

The second best thing was rekindling that relationship with my first love.

I will never forget that conversation that started on Facebook almost five years ago after more than a decade of time passing by.

Strength . . .

That word can mean so many different things. I often find my thoughts turning to this word as I’m out in nature admiring its beauty. The more time we spend outdoors, as well as my time I spend at the gym, constantly reminds me just how strong I have become.

IMG_1423I have discovered a strength I did not know existed almost five years ago. I owe that discovery to my family and Jason.

Jason constantly pushes me, which I am so incredibly grateful for. He pushes me in every aspect of life. Every aspect in life.

When we are out hiking and an obstacle presents itself along our path, he pushes me forward, often times giving me words of encouragement, as I battle with the “I can’t do that” kind of thinking.

I have also found a strength inside as we continue this adventure in our new home state. Things, I won’t lie, were really rocky when we first arrived. I was an emotional mess for a few months, until I found my own footing. Found the confidence I needed in the new life we created for ourselves.

This morning as I chatted back and forth with my really good friend back in Florida through text messages, I was flooded with the thoughts of accomplishments. She asked how many papers I now contribute for . . . eight in Arizona, four in Florida and one in Tennessee.

Who say’s you can’t accomplish something when you have faith in yourself?

After telling her this information, my mouth kind of dropped open. I knew I contributed to quite a few, but until I wrote them all down, I guess I forgot the extent.

Independence . . .

IMG_1421I was taught to take care of myself through the years I was growing up. My parents raised all of their children to be independent, which I will forever be grateful for.

Unfortunately, sometimes through the course of life, you lose site of that “independence.” You believe life can only be fulfilled with that one person next to you.

Although I cannot look into my future and not see Jason there by my side, it doesn’t take away my independence. We built this relationship on us both being independent, but sharing a life with each other.

Through the course of last year and into this year, I have found that independence. My contribution to all these publications provides me with the independence I need.

You see . . . some of these things leave such an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. Often times it leaves me breathless, but in a good way, when I think about the beautiful life I have created and absolutely love living.

The outdoors . . .

Growing up, my brothers, sisters and I, spent a lot of time outdoors. It was just how we were raised. So, it really isn’t a mystery that I still love being outdoors as an adult.

I’m just thankful I have a new found love and appreciation for everything around me. When we moved to Tennessee, I had a feeling I would appreciate my surroundings a little more. Indeed, I have.

Jason and I have run into many people who have lived here their whole lives and not seen half of the places we have in the last year. Being with Jason has shed a light on exploring new places. I couldn’t imagine not exploring. I never want to take where we live for granted, especially when it provides so many great getaways only miles down the road.

So on that note, here are a few more pictures I took today while out and about. The pictures above are also pictures I took today of the simple beauties that surround me.

IMG_1432

IMG_1436

IMG_1439

IMG_1445

 

Spring is here

IMAG3042This morning when I went to the gym I had to stop and take pictures of the beautiful trees. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Spring is here, oh spring is here!

Although I enjoyed winter, well, let’s be honest, after we had our good snow in January I was ready for it to be over. Winter has its own beauty, especially when snow is covering the tree branches. But, after a while you want the trees to come alive again.

I want to see that stunning green that Jason and I experienced when we first moved to Kingsport.

So, with all that said, you can only imagine how excited I am to see the colors of spring. The light and darker pink tones against the dark of the branches is absolutely stunning.

I’m in awe once again. It’s breathtaking to see what nature is capable of producing.

I’m so glad Jason and I have had the chance to experience the seasons once again.

Needless to say after seeing and experiencing the beauty, that beauty of nature’s cycle of life, I was in a great mood before walking through the doors at the gym.

Phenomenal hike: Jones Falls and Elk Falls

I have experienced cabin fever this winter for the first time in my adult life. With temperatures sometimes as low as the single digits, Jason and I spent a lot of time indoors. This winter was definitely a change from what I’m used to as A Florida girl.

The last true hike we took was in September. That seems like forever ago, especially when we were used to going out at least once a week.

With Jason having the day off and the temperatures rising to the high 50’s, we laced up our shoes, put on a few layers and packed a few more and went for a drive. That drive took us to North Carolina.

IMG_1154As soon as Jason parked the car, I got out and walked towards the water. The sky was blue with a chill in the air. The sound of rushing water instantly grabbed a hold of me and reminded me why we decided to move to NE Tennessee. It had definitely been too long since we heard that sound.

IMG_1155

This is the beginning of Elk Falls in North Carolina. The parking lot sits alongside the water, which eventually turns into Elk Falls.

IMG_1156

IMG_1158Instead of heading straight towards Elk Falls, we decided to hit the trails and hike towards Jones Falls.

In order to get to Jones Falls, we had to walk  behind a gate in the parking lot area. This trail opens rather wide for a while and at times becomes hilly.

IMG_1159Once we started walking along the path, I remembered why I loved the hike to Jones Falls so much.

About a half a mile later, the trail opened to a river. We continued walking along the river on a narrow trail that was quite muddy in some places today.

The views, the sounds, what more could you ask for.

IMG_1160

IMG_1162

IMG_1163

IMG_1167

IMG_1216

IMG_1217We eventually caught up with the Appalachian Trail, which is marked by white blazes on the tree.

IMG_1172I love this hike because you start hiking in North Carolina and end up in Tennessee. We crossed the state line by foot.

IMG_1207When we saw the blue blazes, we knew we had to take that trail to get to Jones Falls.

I loved walking the trail. There was so much green everywhere, something we haven’t been used to since winter came. We even saw trees starting to blossom, which I have to admit made me smile.

IMG_1165

IMG_1170

IMG_1221

IMG_1222We started to hear Jones Falls and eventually saw it from a distance. It looked like there was ice, but we weren’t sure until we got closer to it . . .

I think both of our jaws dropped as Jones Falls came into sight. Wow, also left our lips. We couldn’t believe all the ice and snow  . . . a wish definitely came true today. Jason and I have been wanting to hike to a waterfall since winter hit, but don’t really have the proper winter gear. We wanted to experience the frozen waterfalls in person . . .

IMG_1176So when we saw this it was a nice surprise.

IMG_1180The temperature dropped quite a bit as we came closer to Jones Falls. It was nice at first because we were both warm from the hike to the waterfall.

IMG_1191

IMG_1193

IMG_1182

IMG_1183

IMG_1184

IMG_1186

IMG_1187

IMG_1188As I was mesmerized by the view, listening to the incredible sound, Jason found a trail that went up towards the top of the waterfall. Yep, I of course went up to join him. Well, he came back down to help guide me. It was steep in some places and slippery. Jason of course helped me.

The site was even better than below. The temperatures were even colder than below. With that said, it was worth the hike up.

IMG_1196

IMG_1198

IMG_1200

There was a break in some of the ice and you could see the water running below.

IMG_1205After our bodies had enough of the cold, we headed back down the trail to grab our backpack and headed back. Jason packed us some sandwiches, which we stopped and ate where the sun was shinning, so we could soak up the warmth.

Before we starting walking again, I gave Jason a kiss. I was outdoors with the man I love. I was beyond happy . . .

IMG_1209

Of course on our way back we headed off the trail and found a new place to play.

IMG_1224

IMG_1236

Some things just don’t change, I found a rock and sat down and took in the sound. Jason, on the other hand, found some rocks that he could skip in the water.

Now back in North Carolina we headed towards Elk Falls. As you hike down the path, there is a place where you can walk out on the rocks and view the waterfall from the top. This is always a great place to see a waterfall. The rushing water is powerful at this view.

Jason walked out closer to the edge and sat down for a while right over the waterfall.

IMG_1240

IMG_1246

IMG_1247

IMG_1249

By the time we made it to Elk Falls it was getting colder, so we didn’t stay for long. Last time we stopped here there were a ton of people swimming in the water and sun bathing on the rocks. This time we had the view all to ourselves.

IMG_1250

My mind instantly went to a different place as I sat and watched the water hitting the pool of water below.

IMG_1255

IMG_1253Today was absolutely perfect. A perfect day with Jason. Really, I could not ask for anything more. We were both in our element once again.

IMG_1237My mind is completely clear and the stress was left along the trail.

Fresh air, the sounds of nature and your best friend by your side does wonders. It felt good to smile all day long. It felt good to be outdoors for a few hours today.

Ducks still swimming

As I drove past the Kingsport Greenbelt after going to the pet store to pick up more food, the ducks caught my attention, so I had to stop.
image

The portion of the Greenbelt that I entered during the summer months looks completely different now. The trees have no leaves, which left the water that much more visible.
image

Nonetheless the ducks were still there as I snapped a few pictures before my fingers became a little too cold.

Whenever I hear ducks quacking it brings me back to my childhood. It brings me back to my mom’s pet duck on the farm that used to talk to her all the time. 
image

Like I always say, it’s the little things that bring a smile to my face.