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.

Perfect couple of weeks

My to-do-list is finally reaching an end, relieving some of the stress that has been building these last few weeks.

A week ago today Jason and I moved into a quite little house that, so far, is a perfect fit for us and all of our animals. The picture below is one of my favorites. Lucy is so little that she could not see out of our front window in the living room, so I put something under it that she could climb on and view the world outside. Now every time I come home, I see her little face peering out the window.

Oct. 2, 2014

Oct. 2, 2014

The last few weeks have been nonstop . . . with that said, I wouldn’t change a thing. My parents flew into town on Sept. 23 and spent a few days with us before Jason and I drove them to Maryland, so they could end their vacation with my brother and his family.

I had begun a countdown as soon as my Mom told me she booked the flight to the Tri-Cities airport. I felt like a little girl as the excitement at times was uncontrollable.

I remember waking up that morning, Sept. 23, with a huge smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Although I was busy working all morning, the time still couldn’t go by fast enough. I was eager to leave the house and be on my way to the airport.

Jason called me as soon as I got off the interstate that afternoon and he too shared my excitement for the simple reason that I was going to see my parents in a matter of minutes. He told me he was excited for me to give them both hugs, which only made me smile more. When that time finally came I parked in the lot at the airport . . . I just couldn’t control it anymore. I was so giddy!!

The giddiness was because it had been quite some time since seeing my parents.  I won’t lie, from time to time it has been a struggle for me being so far away from my parents, especially when I was only a 10-minute drive from them for a long time in Fort Myers. The last time I saw my Dad was the day before we left for Tennessee last April. I was able to spend time with my Mom in Chicago last year when Jason and I drove to Illinois for my cousin’s wedding.

It was long past due to spend some time with my parents. I was beyond thrilled that after a year that time spent with them was at my new home. I had so much fun showing them around and taking them to some of the destinations that Jason and I have come to love since last May.IMG_2399

On Sept. 24, Jason, Lucy and I took Mom and Dad to Laurel Falls for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, something Mom had mentioned she wanted to do. The weather that morning was cool, making for a perfect day to be outdoors.

I loved every minute of that hike. Mom and Dad had the opportunity to experience what Jason and love to do on our days off, finding beautiful waterfalls. Although Mom has been following my blog and seeing where we have been through pictures, you fully do not experience the sight unless you are there taking in the sounds and scenery.

It was fun to experience the hike through their eyes. Everyone seems to take in the hike in a much different way. My parents were constantly trying to figure out the vegetation that surrounded the trail and the waterfall. Although I notice the trees, I spent more time looking at it all while hiking with them.

It appeared that they enjoyed themselves on the hike. They even had the opportunity to take in the fall scenery, which of course was a treat coming from Florida.

IMG_2416The following day while Jason had to work, I took Mom and Dad to Bays Mountain for a late morning hike. We followed the trail around the lake, which was a perfect path to show off some more of the beautiful fall colors. Mom even enjoyed picking up acorns for her grandkids . . . of course those included the biggest ones we could find.

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Bays Mountain was the first place Jason and I visited when we arrived in Kingsport last year, so you could only imagine how excited I was to show where our first adventure began. It seemed like Mom and Dad enjoyed another morning outdoors.

After we finished the hike, we went back to my place for a while before heading back out later that evening for a walk on the Kingsport Greenbelt. This was the only place on my list that I really wanted to show Mom because every time Lucy and I run the path she is constantly in my thoughts because of all the ducks we see. Since our walk took place around dusk, we saw a ton of deer that night, which is always cool to see.

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Friday morning, we hit the road early because we had a long drive ahead of us to Maryland. After being in the car for about 9 hours I think we were all ready to stand on our own two feet and stretch. I loved seeing Mom and Dad see their grandkids for the first time in almost a year. I have sweet pictures of my parents smiling, and my nephew Caleb while in the middle of a conversation. It’s those tender moments that I love to capture.

It was a lot of fun to spend Friday and Saturday with my parents and Tom and his family. I love seeing my nephews and spending time with them. The last time we saw them was in May and it’s amazing how much they grew up . . .

We ended up leaving earlier than expected on Saturday because of Lucy, our puppy. She’s usually a perfect little angel, but that day she was showing us a completely different side. A side that I was not too fond of. A side that had me stressed and rattled to the bone. She began barking at everyone that passed her or came in close proximity to her. This was rather strange because she seldom ever barks. So to keep her quite and calm I tried to take her away from everything, which did not give me the time I wanted to spend with my family.

It was bittersweet when I hugged everyone goodbye. I’m surprised I didn’t shed a few tears as our goodbyes were shared.

On our way back home we stopped at a friends house, a friend I have known for more than 20 years. A friend that Jason has known for almost just as long. The last time Anna and I saw each other was in 2003 or 2004 when I came home from college. It was so good to spend time with her and her family. So many good memories were brought up, even some yearbooks were opened, which provided a vision from our past as stories were shared.  I sure hope so much time does not pass before we see each other again.

When we arrived back home on Sunday, reality sunk in .  .  . moving day was right around the corner and we still had so much to do.

Tuesday was the big day . . . a day that started way too early and ended way too late. This of course is a trait that I love about Jason. When he has a vision we accomplish it, or surpass the goal. We ended up renting a UHaul, which helped tremendously. In two trips we were able to load all of our furniture and washer and dryer, as well as some boxes. We finished moving about 90 percent of our apartment in one day.

To say we were both tired and sore is an understatement.

The benefit of getting all that accomplished  . . . sleeping at the house a week ago for the first time.

I absolutely love living in this cute little two bedroom house with a beautiful backyard.

20141001_171845Except for a house we rented for no more than six months when we first started dating, Jason and I have gone from one apartment to another over the past five years. It feels great to have privacy once again. I cannot describe how good it is not to hear our neighbors through the thin walls, or to keep our voices down because we don’t want to disturb them. I can now play music in the living room while listening to it in my office without worrying about being too loud for our neighbors.

The list goes on and on of why I enjoy living at this house.

Sunday morning Jason and I headed back to the townhouse we were renting to clean and make sure we had all of our belongings. When we sat in the car a sense of relief washed over the both of us. We were beyond ready to say goodbye to that little place that we seemed to outgrow in a year.

Another chapter begins . . .  one that seems to be off on the right foot.

Thankful

Some thoughts that struck me while exercising today . . .

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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.

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Outstanding weekend

Jason and I had such a good weekend – one full of laughter with his friends and family.

We left home early Friday morning, on Jason’s birthday, and headed to Jasper, Indiana. It was a place he called home for many years – one I was happy to finally see. It was a cute little area with tons of corn fields.

It’s always a lot of fun to see all the places Jason has explained to me over the years – the jobs, the homes and the different landmarks. It was also nice to finally put faces with names of friends he spent a lot of time with during those years.

Definitely a good way to celebrate his birthday, surrounded by friends.

I love hearing the stories that come with friends seeing each other after many years of going their different ways in different areas. So many hysterical memories, so many everlasting moments were shared between Jason and his friends.

We also paid our respect to one of Jason’s friends who unfortunately passed away, way before his time while in Indiana. Jason gathered some of his friends and we met his buddies sister at the gravesite.

A line of three cars pulled into the cemetery, which moved his friends sister to tears. As Jason and his friends stood around the grave nonstop laughter filled the space as everyone shared a funny story about their friend. What a great way to celebrate the life of their friend.

It was a great night.

We started Saturday off extremely early, an hour I am definitely not used to rising, so we could arrive in Robinson, Illinois early to start visiting with his family.

The drive was much, much shorter than the day before. We witnessed a stunning sunrise on the way into town, which only added to what turned out to be an amazing day.

As soon as we walked into his grandparents home I felt like I had been going there for years. I was greeted with countless hugs and sincerity of everyone excited to meet me. I was overwhelmed with how nice everyone was, how welcoming they were. I felt like I instantly became a part of their family.

A moment that stuck out the most was when I was standing between the kitchen and the living room. Wyatt, Jason’s nephew, came running up to me and threw his arms around me giving me the longest hug. Yep an instant smile spread across my face. Throughout the two days we were with his sister’s family he constantly came up to me hugging me or snuggling close by. Wyatt definitely stole a piece of my heart.

His niece Jorja was the same way … we spent a lot of time building towers with blocks, or just being close by to each other. She always seemed to find me no matter where I was.

It felt great spending time with the kiddos.

Before all the festivities began, his grandparents, brother and fiance, sister and family and mother all gathered at the park for pictures. I was included in almost everyone of them, which again made me feel good because I again felt like I was a part of the family.

Jason’s family touched me this weekend …

Almost 40 people gathered together last night to spend time together as hotdogs and sausages were grilled over a fire. It was a great atmosphere, lots of laughter, lots of reminiscing and lots of new memories made.

I caught myself looking at Jason many times over the past few days, he was so happy. It always touches my heart when I see him around kids. He is always playing with them, always making them smile and laugh. I also enjoyed watching his interaction with family, it was great to see …

I thought of my family often these last few days … large family gatherings are always fun. I always walk away with a smile that never fades away.

It was great to get to know his aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and mom … a wonderful group of people. It was also great to see his sister and family again, as well as meet his brother for the first time.

What a phenomenal weekend … one that again makes me feel closer to Jason.

As we drove away, I told Jason we have to go to more of these huge family gatherings with both of our families.This weekend only reminded me of what I already know – family is extremely important to me.

My heart is smiling …

After enjoying lunch with some of the family who was still in town, we said our goodbyes while sharing we hope to see them all again soon, and headed out of town.

Jason and I reminisced about the events that unfolded over the past few days while driving to our next stopping point. So much joy!