Passion ignited again

Passion ignited again

I’ve been on cloud nine since June 8 when I started working full-time again as the new editor of the Sanibel-Captiva Islander on beautiful Sanibel Island. Every day as I drive over the bridge there’s a calmness that takes over as I take in the scenery. On more than one occasion I have stopped on the causeway at the beginning and at the end of the day, just to take in the beauty, take a deep breath.

My passion for my craft has ignited again. I absolutely loved working from home creating my own hours, well running my own show. But . . .  I have to admit that I love working in an office outside of my home even more. It’s nice having that interaction with others face-to-face instead of just over the phone. It’s nice to leave work and officially leave my work at the office.

The best part are some of the assignments I have given myself to fill my paper.

My assignments have been fun over the last month, especially when they take me outdoors to further enjoy the tranquility of the island. This week I went on the Tarpon Bay explorers nature cruise and loved every minute of it because of the wildlife I was able to capture.

Here are a few pictures of what I was able to capture . . .

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FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers1P1050858FACES_Tarpon Bay Explorers7The best part was spotting dolphins, which are in the above two pictures.

Fall is upon us

IMG_2317Wednesday was a perfect day. Jason had the day off and I was pretty much caught up with all of my writing, so we headed to Steele Creek Park for an afternoon outdoors.

Steele Creek Park is located at 4 Little Lane in Bristol, Tennessee. According to its website the park has more than 2,200 acres, with more than 24 miles of trails, and opened to the public in 1964. The park has a 52 acre lake, which on Wednesday was filld with a ton of ducks, geese, turtles and fish.

More information can be found at: http://www.bristoltn.org/166/Steele-Creek-Park

Although Lucy and I have been heading to the Kingsport Greenbelt daily for our morning runs, Jason and I haven’t had our time outdoors together in a while. So when he suggested we head to the park, I was game.

The only downfall, was my allergies were a little extreme that day . . . It wasn’t too hot until we were more than half way through the hike.

Jason and I have walked a good portion of the path around the lake at Steele Creek Park, but never the entire trail. Since we weren’t pressed for time, we decided to do some exploring and take the long way around the lake.

We were both surprised with what we found. The smooth, paved trail had changed.

IMG_2321As soon as we started walking the path, Jason spotted a sea of red across the lake. I instantly smiled, fall is upon us.

I remember last year Jason and I were so busy that we really did not have a chance to get out and experience the beginning of the changing of seasons. I was shocked to see, Aug. 27, the leaves were changing. It just seems a little early to me, especially compared to last year.

IMG_2326It was really pretty to see patches of the trees scattered with red leaves against a contrast of green. Some of the leaves still had shades of light green mixed in with red.

IMG_2327I love watching nature at work. It has been so much fun experiencing the change in seasons again.

IMG_2331As I was snapping picture after picture, Jason and Lucy kept walking the path until they found a bench to sit and wait until I was finished. I know I can get out of hand with stopping every few minutes because I want to capture that piece of beauty that caught my eye. Although the image was engraved in my memory, I want to have that image captured with my camera as well.

What better way to re-live a certain moment than by having a picture jog that memory?

IMG_2336So what did I do . . .  I stopped and took quite a few of pictures of Lucy and Jason sitting on the bench after I was done taking pictures of leaves.

IMG_2338This manmade waterfall is usually where we stop and start heading back to the car. But, if you keep following the trail and head towards the bridge it will take you to another trail that becomes a little more adventurous. Hence, why Jason, Lucy and I were the only ones on this trail.

IMG_2344Our walk turned into a hike. A hike that had changes in elevation along a narrow path. (According to an app on my phone, the elevation went from 1,492 feet to 2,065 feet, before it stopped recording our walk/hike.) For a good portion of the hike, Lucy led the way until Jason made his way to the front. At one point I took Lucy off the leash and let her trail Jason’s heals as he hiked.

IMG_2347Along this path we spotted more leaves changing, but this time shades of oranges made its presence instead of reds.

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IMG_2343We even spotted a few deer, which I wasn’t able to capture with my camera. It took me a while to find their white tails and by the time I gave Jason the camera they were already heading towards the ridge line.

We eventually made our way to the golf course and a bridge that took us to the opposite side of the lake.

IMG_2352We walked a good 5+ miles that day. It was definitely a walk that worked up a sweat.

IMG_2359Jason and I have been talking a lot about our move to Kingsport last May lately. I’m so glad we decided to make that move. Yes, things haven’t always been easy, but we found a love that is undeniable. That love . . . nature.

Loved by all

This past weekend we took Lucy on her first real road trip to Maryland to visit with my brother’s family and celebrate his oldest son’s 3rd birthday.

20140509_135432This poor pup had a hard time as soon as we started our journey. We made it a few miles down the road and she got sick. Jason and I stopped at a Walgreens to get some supplies to clean up the mess. As he went inside to grab some paper towels from the bathroom, I took Lucy for a little walk in the grassy areas giving her yet another opportunity to go to the bathroom. After she went and the mess was cleaned we were on our way again.

Unfortunately after we kept on driving gaining some distance in Virginia, this poor thing got sick again. Thankfully an exit was approaching that had a Wal-Mart and Petco. Jason went into Wal-Mart and bought some paper towels this time, in case we needed them again, and I sat on the curb next to the car trying to get Lucy to drink some water. Jason cleaned up the mess yet again. We drove over to Petco and purchased some medicine that said it would help the car sickness. Of course the pills were huge, and with Lucy still being a puppy, we had to break it down and put it in water to make it easier for her to chew.

After another bathroom break, the three of us got in the car and we were on our way again. This time Lucy remained up front close to us as the shaking subsided. I don’t know if she ever actually fell asleep the entire 8 plus hours we ended up being in the car, but she curled up either on Jason’s lap with her head in the middle of our two seats or on my lap.

The medicine seemed to help, it mellowed her out and she never got sick on our journey again. What should have been a six and a half hour drive to Maryland, turned a lot longer due to our longer stops at rest areas. We both wanted to make sure she had a chance to eat and drink, and well, just get out of the car for a little bit.

When we finally arrived at Tom’s place, after sitting in awful traffic outside of D.C. for a while, we were instantly greeted by my brother. Lucy happy to be out of the car, greeted Tom with her friendly licks before Caleb spotted that his daddy was home.

Lucy and Caleb became instant friends. They started chasing each other . . . it was a sight that made me smile as this little three-year old and a four-month old puppy ran through the thick green grass.

When the running stopped Lucy and Caleb gave me the perfect photo opportunity. I quickly grabbed my cell phone and snapped away as my nephew and puppy shared an incredibly sweet moment. With the numerous pictures I took this weekend, this remained my absolute favorite.

Caleb and LucyThis picture pretty much sums up our two days in Maryland . . . After this moment Caleb and Lucy were always close to each other.

As the night went on, Tom put his two sons to bed and Jason and I remained on the porch with his wife’s best friend’s boyfriend talking about dogs and life in general.

After a while Tom reappeared and asked if he could borrow Lucy for a while.

Of course I said sure. Tom put Lucy in bed with Caleb. By this point, I’m sure Lucy was waiting for a moment like this, a quite time where she could get some sleep after her exhausting little day. So, what did this little pup do, curled up with my nephew and helped put him to sleep.

You never know how puppies, well dogs in general, are going to act around kids. My little Lucy was such an angel.

Throughout the two days we spent in Maryland, Lucy was the topic of everyone’s conversation. It was so much fun hearing how well-behaved and cute she was by Lisa’s family. She loved everyone and soaked up all the attention she could get, which really was not that hard. I heard from numerous people that they wanted to take her home.

I’m so glad Jason made this trip happen. Although it was an exhausting ride there and back, he made it happen.

I got to spend two days with my adorable nephews and little brother, as well as catch up with Lisa and her family.

This weekend also showed me why I love Jason so much. He has shown me time and time again that he will do just about anything for me to make me happy. Well this weekend was no exception. His patience with Lucy was amazing to see as we tried to make her as comfortable as we could on the car ride to Maryland and home.

Whenever we make trips, Jason 99.9 pecent of the time drives the entire distance, which he did again this trip on the way to and from Maryland.

We didn’t leave Maryland until almost 9 p.m. Saturday night because Jason wanted to make sure I got to spend time with my family. With that said, we didn’t arrive back home until after 4 Sunday morning. This incredible man then got up and went to work before 10 a.m. that morning.

The entire time we were visiting with my brother, Jason was hard to find. He was constantly in the kitchen helping prepare the party’s meals, at the grill cooking the hamburgers and hotdogs, making popcorn and cotton candy or cutting up the cake after we sang Happy Birthday to Caleb. Jason was also quick to help move that or clean up this the entire day. I love that he helps when we are at family functions.

Since we brought Lucy, I wasn’t in the mix of all the preparing because I wanted to keep her out of the kitchen. So every chance I had I helped with the boys, which was easy. Caleb and I walked Lucy, played with Lucy and had some incredibly sweet conversations.

Although we came home exhausted I am so glad we made that trip. Lucy too, she slept almost the entire day on Sunday.

You don’t realize how much you truly miss family until you get to spend some quality time with them. The last time I saw Tom and his family was in October. His boys have grown so much. His son Colton just turned a year old and has such a sweet personality. He eventually warmed up to me, as we both made each other smile.

This trip filled a gap that I didn’t know was growing. May 1 marked a year since we moved to Tennessee. Although we had the opportunity to see Tom and his family in October, as well as my mom and younger sister, I miss the rest of my family something fierce.

I’m truly fortunate to have a man who understands how incredibly important family is to me . . . and will do anything to make sure I get to spend some quality time with them when we can make it happen.

 

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

Pictures arrived

While at work this afternoon, my phone sounded letting me know I had an email waiting for me in my inbox.

I was pleasently surprised when I opened that email because it was the one I had been waiting for since Friday …

We received a breakdown of payments, as well as our official address and apartment number for our home in Tennessee. Pictures also graced that email, nine taken from various angles of every room of our soon to be new home. I was so excited to see the wood burning fireplace in our living room, a luxury not needed in SW Florida.

imageI instantly sent Jason a text letting him in on the excitement, a boost both of us needed today. His response was the icing on the cake, a few words that made me instantly smile.

imageUnfortunately for our kitties, the porch is open instead of screened. They will miss their time outside enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Only 37 more days until we arrive at our new home, a home that has been put on hold with the simple submission of an application. To see pictures of our apartment that we will not see until we move to Kingsport the first of May was just what I needed.

The countdown continues, the excitement builds and the planning moves forward as we slowly say goodbye to a home that brought us back together, SW Florida.

Excitement is building

The days are slowly counting down to when my boyfriend and I will be departing from a home we have grown to know, a home that has been a part of our lives for quite some time and a home that brought us together after going our separate ways for more than a decade.

I have moved only twice, the first time from Illinois to Florida with my family and the second time to Arizona to attend Arizona State University, which led me eventually back to Southwest Florida.

A move to another state can be both sad and exciting. The exciting part stems from wiping the slate clean as a new beginning is mapped out at a new destination.

backyard111The hardest part about this move is of course leaving family behind, since I am one of six children and an aunt of four adorable boys. A drive down the street to my parents and sisters’ homes, as well as a couple hour drive to my brothers will no longer be an option, as we will be 14 hours away. The beauty of course behind this is we are an incredibly close family who talks often and a drive back to Southwest Florida or a plane trip is extremely doable.

Family will always be there through thick and thin, so even though we may be a farther distance away, they will forever be close because they are a phone call, text or short trip away.

Although this is constantly flowing through my mind, the excitement of this new adventure grabs a hold of me . . .

As we pulled up Google Earth and highlighted the area of NE Tennessee – our destination – the pictures were incredible, which only increased the excitement of our soon to be new home. The change of seasons, hiking trails, mountains, lakes and farm house pictures, which graced the computer screen, grasped our attention as smiles spread across our faces. The endless possibilities and the new areas to explore are incredibly exciting to think about.

I am beyond thrilled to experience a new state and discover all it has to offer with this man who has become an incredible part of my life. What a journey to take with someone you love and share everything with. Our new journey is on the verge of beginning, a journey I know we will both make the most of, due to his incredible love for finding new areas to explore.

The excitement for the end of April is building, as we put in final notices at work and to our apartment complex, as well as making plans of how we are going to get from point A to point B with all of our belongings.