Strangely beautiful animals

Strangely beautiful animals

This morning I had an interview on Captiva with Matt, a Florida Gulf Coast University grad student working on a grant challenge about American pen shells. We sat under an umbrella near the water during our interview, which provided such a laid back relaxing atmosphere. The interview was fascinating.

After learning about pen shells and the beautiful pearls they produce, he asked if I wanted to see his home, a sailboat out in the bay near Jensen’s Marina. Before we made it to the end of the dock, we stopped and watched a family of manatees swim around and come up for air. Matt said about seven manatees hang out at the marina, which included a few young manatees. A smile was plastered on my face the entire time. I just could not help it . . . they made me happy as I watched their every move.

I was mesmerized by these strangely beautiful creatures that were so docile. Today was the first time I have been so up-close and personal with these giant animals. It was hard to walk away because they kept drawing me in, which resulted in a slew of photographs.

This was definitely the highlight of my day.

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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.

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.

Fun in the snow

Fun in the snow

Yesterday was the first day in almost a week temperatures rose above freezing.

We started the week off with Winter Storm Octavia, which brought a good amount of snow on Monday that never really melted as the week went on. After we went to bed Friday, we woke up to even more snow the following morning, thanks to Winter Storm Pandora. A good portion of Saturday morning, the snow came down rather hard, leaving probably about 8 inches of snow on the ground.

After Jason got home from his day of work, Lucy and I joined him outside for some fun in the snow. The temperatures, although cold, were bearable enough to build a snowman, and let Lucy play.

Poor Lucy hasn’t had much exercise all week-long, well, besides running circles in the house. With the below freezing temperatures, I pretty much let her outside to go to the bathroom and then we were inside again.

Needless to say, she let loose once we took the leash off, jumping as high as she could through the snow.

The snow that fell Saturday was good packing snow, so I made a few snowballs and threw them in the air. Lucy took off chasing it trying to find where it landed. There was a couple of times she found the indent in the snow . . . The best part was watching her take a huge bite out of the snowball enjoying a rather cold drink.

So here are a few pictures of Lucy’s time in the snow . . .

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Lucy3 Jason found a stick, which Lucy enjoyed playing with too.

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Lucy and stick

It was pretty funny watching her chase after the stick, but not knowing where it landed. After the stick hit the top layer of the snow it sunk enough so it was out of sight.

So here’s the result, Lucy’s head in the snow.

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Lucy head in snow2We also built a snowman while we were out in the snow. Lucy thought the snowmen’s arms were her toys . . .

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Lucy and snowmanAfter being stuck in the house all week long it felt good to get outdoors for a little bit. I definitely had a case of cabin fever this week. I’m ready for the snow to melt, so I can head back out for my weekly running on the Greenbelt. This month has definitely been hard sticking to my weekly routine with the blast of winter!

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

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The life of two

The life of two

Ten-months ago my life forever changed when a little lost and scarred puppy captured my heart. I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

Lucy has been such a blessing, an incredible addition to our little family.

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It’s true, the love and compassion from a dog is like no other. I have received so much comfort and pure happiness from this little nine-pound dog over the past several months.

Every day, Lucy does something that has both Jason and I laughing uncontrollably. The way she plays, sits and stares at you with those beautiful calming eyes, or her cute little quirks, always puts a smile on my face.

The time we spend together away from the house, or even in the backyard, are by far my favorite. Lucy has such an incredible amount of energy that unfolds as soon as you take her off her leash in the backyard. The explosion of speed is hilarious to watch.

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This little puppy has helped in giving me the confidence to go running the Greenbelt path, both with her and now on my own. There’s a certain kind of comfort you feel knowing a dog is with you, no matter how small. She helped in carrying us to new distances while both of us enjoyed the fresh outdoor air. Now, when I know I want to run longer distances, I put on my running gear and head to the Greenbelt.

Lucy has also helped me appreciate the outdoors on yet another level. That appreciation becomes wrapped up in her excitement as soon as we reach a familiar place, the parking lot and then the path. Her curiosity always makes me smile.

When she was three-months old, Lucy also got the taste of going hiking for the first time. She was eager to lead us along the path and find new smells at the bottom of a waterfall that kept her entertained for quite some time.

This little puppy of mine . . .

We are inseparable during the day, yes the beauty of working from home. Lucy always has me within view. In other words, she is either cuddled behind my desk chair, or on my lap snuggled in a ball.

My recent trip to Fort Myers was the first time we were a part since we officially adopted her. The welcome home I received left me speechless with a big ol goofy smile on my face.

There was one point when I sat on the couch and she was instantly on my chest looking me straight in the eye. We both fell asleep on the couch after our reunion. Lucy laid across my neck daring me to leave as we both fell deep asleep.

I love the time we share together. I love how affectionate she is and how eager she is to be in my presence. My favorite part of the day is when we both relax at the end of the night with her cuddled on my lap.

Jason told me the other night that Lucy will never forget that I saved her, which is why she always has to be close by. That comment almost sparked a stream of tears. I think we saved each other. She filled a gap I didn’t know existed.

Although I do not know her history, according to the vet, she will turn a year old on Jan. 21.

I will leave you with this . . . an excerpt from the book I began writing late last year . . .


Jocelyn woke to Oliver’s worried voice asking for her help one brisk Monday morning.

After slowly yawning off the grogginess, she reluctantly climbed out of bed and put on a sweatshirt before heading downstairs to meet Oliver  on the  front porch.

She had no idea the life of two was going to change that day.


Finally a day of running

The weather has been the absolute pits all week-long with rain every day since Tuesday. I could not tell you the last time we actually had some sun.

Even though the sky was gray and showed no sign of the sun making its way through the darkness, there was no rain. I was in desperate need of a run, especially since the last day we made our way to the path was Monday.

I could tell Lucy needed some exercise too. She’s been stuck in the house a lot lately because the yard is really wet, with some standing puddles. She’s not a huge fan of getting her paws wet. Although, she is getting better about going outside in a drizzle to go to the bathroom.

So I bundled up and hoped for the best. No rain!

I was discouraged by the distance Lucy and I accomplished Monday and was determined to have a better run today.

I am very proud of us . . . we made it 2.78 miles with no stopping. Well, we had to stop at one point because the path was flooded, as well as the grass next to the path on both sides. We both tip toed through the mess and then picked up the speed again.

Jason helped me plot out where my turn around point was on the Greenbelt to accomplish 3 miles. Next time we go for a run, that point will be matched!

I gave Lucy the full  length of the leash today, so she could run at her speed and I could go at mine. We started off on a shorter leash, but she was pulling way too much. She was really excited to be outside.

It was adorable watching Lucy scoot around the puddles. Little short stuff was a mess when we were done running. Her belly was full of dirt that splattered during the run.

I’m glad it was just the two of us using the Greenbelt for 90 percent of our run today.

I’m already looking for the next 5K to run, which is one of the reasons why I want to further my distance. I was really proud of finishing my first race on Thanksgiving . . . but I want to run another without any stopping!

I told myself I would wait to register for another race in the spring when the temperatures warm up. But, the day after my first race I began looking for another one. I think I found the next one!

So, after our long run this afternoon, Lucy and I went for a longer cool down walk than normal. I of course took some pictures while she was exploring without her leash attached.

Cloudy, overcast days are the best days to go for a run because it’s rare we come across anyone else.

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20141205_134631I love spending time with this puppy of mine, especially when we are out in nature!

I’m in love

For a week now, I have been staring out my office window wishing I was hiking the trails at Bays Mountain instead of being stuck at my desk working. The  stunning fall colors were constantly catching my attention with the curtains drawn causing me to drift away from the work before me.

The outdoors were calling me . . . .

Instead of wishing I was there, today I decided to make it happen. It was a perfect day to step away from the four walls of my office and breathe in some of that fresh air.

I’m so glad I did.

With Jason working nonstop, Lucy and I went for a hike, just the two of us.

A morning that started off in the 30s warmed up to be an absolutely gorgeous day with the temperatures climbing into the 60s. There was not a cloud in the sky.

The layers I dressed in before leaving the house, slowly were removed as Lucy and I made our way around the Lakeside Trail. We ended up hiking 3.43 miles with an elevation change from 1,673 feet to 2,053 feet.

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I love this trail during the fall months. The trees are stunning, especially when the water is calm and you can see the reflection of the beautiful fall colors.

IMG_2489Today there was a slight breeze. Well to be honest, there was a good wind at times. As the wind picked up, it began raining leaves, which spooked Lucy just a little.

IMG_2560My thoughts constantly wandered as Lucy led the way around the lake. For starters, I was proud of myself for actually going out for a hike. Jason received a free pass to Bays Mountain a couple of weeks ago that he gave to me. I was holding onto the pass because I wanted to go for a hike with him. But, with him working two jobs he’s always tired. So, today was the day, he wanted to rest, and I wanted to play.

It was really an invigorating feeling to go, just Lucy and I.

As those thoughts came and went, I began to think about yesterday.

Friday I drove to Jonesborough to interview the executive director of the International Storytelling Center for an article I was writing for the Herald & Tribune. An interview that left me smiling. That interview inspired me even more to write a book, to become a true published author. The interview also may have possibly opened another door for me. Kiran asked me to send him my resume and some writing clips. I’m very excited to see where it all takes me.

That thought sent positive energy circulating through my body at a rapid speed as I looked at Lucy in front of me clearly enjoying our adventure outdoors.

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Life with a dog is incredible. Life with Lucy is completely fulfilling. This little 9 month old puppy is my little best friend, my exercising partner and often times the one who makes me smile.

As my mind cleared, the scenery became even more vibrant, more attracting, more enticing. I could not get enough of all the vibrant hues that surrounded the trail.

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IMG_2550Honestly, how could you not be on a natural high when taking in this kind of beauty?

The trail was stunning and more times than not covered in leaves creating a crunch as we made our way along.

IMG_2522Lucy was such a good sport today. When you get her going on the trails, she has one thing on her mind, “must keep going.” Lucy is really good about staying on the trail and walking at a good speed. But, with a camera in hand, she was asked to “stop” on more than one occasion.

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I took almost 100 pictures today.

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Instead of trying to take pictures with the leash still on . . . she had some freedom at one spot along the trail. So, what did she do, stop and pose 🙂

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My little beauty.

After we finished the trail, we headed over to the manmade waterfall.

IMG_2563And then continued to walk down the trail where we sat and listened to the water.

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IMG_2582It was an absolutely perfect couple of hours.

I’m in love with the fall colors. The colors are so much more vibrant this year than last year, my first year of experiencing the seasons as an adult.

I keep juggling which season I like more . . . the fall or the spring. Right now the fall is definitely my favorite season.