Storytelling town

I am now working in the storytelling capital of the world, Jonesborough, Tenn. One of my assignements at the end of October was to write about a new afterschool class that is taking place, “Story to Performance.”

Jules is teaching the youngsters what a story is . . .

It was really cute to see the kids turn their interviews into plays that included all kinds of props from the classroom. It’s a great class, one which the kids all said they enjoyed.

Students Learning through story

Published in the Herald & Tribune Nov. 12, 2013

Students from the afterschool “Story to Performance” class at Jonesborough Elementary School are putting together a radio show that feature stories and music they have created.

They will perform the play for the community at the McKinney center at Booker T. Washington School later this month.

Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts Outreach Program Director Jules Corriere began working with six students, ages 6 to 12, in the new “Story to Performance” pilot class in September.

The class was made possible through a two-year, $17,000 youth endowment grant program from the East Tennessee Foundation in Knoxville.

Last year the grant money went towards training staff. This year, the afterschool program was implemented.

“The project that we are doing is in association with EPIC Revolutions, an anti bullying program,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “It’s a character building program.”

Leaders decided to use story as a basis to help enhance self-confidence and self-esteem in the children.

“Being a storytelling town, we are tuned into the fact that the use of story can be a great vehicle to engage kids in community building and relationship building,” Browning said.

“Story to Performance” is held once a week for an hour at Jonesborough Elementary School.

The class involves special guests on occasion from the local Storytelling Guild, as well as many hands-on opportunities for the kids to learn the knack of storytelling.

“What’s amazing is the growth I have seen in all of these kids and the empowerment they are feeling and exhibiting,” Corriere said.

During one class session late last month, the students shared the stories they learned through interviews they conducted with individuals older than them. They dis so using such methods as poetry, skits and pictures they created on story boards.

Rhett Carver, 10 and his sister Ella, 8, made their homework assignment come alive through a performance that told a story of their father when he was younger.

In order to enhance the story, Rhett took charge as the director.
“I like to direct,” Rhett said.

What started out as a simple production, eventually included props found around the classroom and sounds of drums created by the students banging on objects to enhance the overall message of the story.

“We are teaching the kids what a story is – the important elements, how to tell a story and how to turn it into a performance piece,” Corriere said.

It seems to be working.

Jasmine Speer, 12, said her love of storytelling has expanded over the years and her interest in becoming an actress has intensified.

“I think it’s fun,” she said of storytelling. “It’s interesting and expands my knowledge of the world.”

Aisling Hagan, 12, has taken her love of writing and put it to use to create a family newsletter.

Now, Hagan also has a 30-40 second bit on the radio show “A Night with the Yarn Exchange,” providing her with writing and editing experience.

The students’ own production, “Junior Yarnspinners,” will be in the format of a radio show featuring real stories with real people, comedy skits and music written by students.

They will perform it on Thursday, NOv. 21, from 7-7:30 p.m. at the McKinney cente.r The public is invited to attend.

“The show will engage other community members  of different ages,” Corriere said. “It has provided the kids with all kinds of help and guidance.”

Browning said the town has established a mechanism that will allow them to continue the program even after the grant money is used.

“I am hoping to have a lot more students and engage a lot more students for the spring semester,” Corriere said. “I’ve had direct talks with some of the counselors and vice principal to see what students would be encouraged with this, would benefit from it.”

Snow falling

This afternoon as I opened our door the cold breeze kissed my face and sent a chill to my toes. My purse was slung over my shoulder, my mini computer tucked under my arm and keys in hand ready to lock the door. As soon as I turned around and looked at our trees, which are now almost empty of leaves, I saw little white speckles float through the air cascading to the ground. I instantly got my phone out so I could take pictures, which didn’t seem to be enough, so I started recording this beautiful site. It was snowing!

Well my fingers started to become frozen, so I walked to the car a few steps away in a rather rushed motion, so I could get out of the cold. I opened the car door, set all my stuff on the passenger side and looked at my black jacket, and my dark hair, both full of little snow balls. I couldn’t help it a smile crept across my face.

I turned on the car and my dashboard starting flashing telling me the roads may be icy, again a little smile spread across my face. Well, like they say there is no better time than the present, so I put the car in reverse and went on my way to Greeneville to do my in-person interview with an artist.

You see, although I lived in Illinois once upon a time, we moved to Florida when I was only 8-years-old, many years before getting my driver’s license, many years before the thought of driving crossed my mind.

So, as I drove down our driveway I was thinking, “oh my gosh I am driving for the first time in snow!” I have to admit I was a little nervous about it, but as soon as I turned down the road that took me to the interstate the nerves started slowly going away. I actually became emotional. The emotions started deep down and slowly made its way up to my throat where I fought back a few tears. You ask why? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because this is Jason and my first winter together in a state that actually has a winter, maybe because I was driving in snow for the first time, who knows.

It snowed the entire ride to Greeneville (40+ miles) and the farther I drove from home the larger the flakes became. It was an experience like no other.

I’m used to driving in the rain. After living in Florida for most of my life, it became second nature to flip on your lights, turn on the wipers and drive until you reach your destination.

It was crazy driving, and having these, what looked like little cotton balls, hitting my windshield. It was incredible really. I felt like a little girl seeing snow for the first time. It was almost like there was a little wind tunnel right in front of my windshield grabbing a hold of all these little white circles that hit the windshield before flying off the side or onto the roof.

As soon as I arrived at Lawrence’s house, I apologized for being a little late. Yep, I was a little cautious driving in these new conditions, so my lead foot drove the speed limit and at times a little below.

We instantly hit it off . . . he lived in Fort Lauderdale for 30 years after growing up in Chicago as a child. I love interviewing artist, especially this gentleman because of his love for animals. His paintings were incredible, each set of animal’s eyes drew you into the painting.

I have to be honest when the interview was over and I said my goodbyes, I was a little disappointed that the snow stopped.  But with that said, I made it home a lot faster.

I remember driving the entire way home excited to tell Jason about my new adventure. His excitement matched mine . . . he said he stuck his head out of the door at work a couple of times to look at the snow, which in Johnson City he said were a good size.

So now that I drove in my first snow, the next battle to tackle, the ice!

It’s in the high 20’s right now and I plan on getting up early to exercise before my hectic day begins with writing. I wonder what kind of weather conditions I will face then.

‘Adversity breeds character’

Yesterday I wrote an article for a newspaper, The Cape Coral Daily Breeze, which I started working at in 2009 after moving back to Florida from Arizona. It was the first newspaper that brought me as a reporter after moving back home from college. I will never forget that day when Val, the editor, called me and offered me the job. I was with Jason that day, it was shortly after we first starting hanging out . . . the excitement he shared with me was priceless.

Although I no longer live in Southwest Florida, I still remain on the Cape Coral Daily Breeze staff as a freelance writer. I mostly contribute articles to their publications, South County Community Lifestyles, Cape Coral Community Lifestyles and Bonita Community Lifestyles. I was excited when Val sent me an email asking if I wanted to do a phone interview with one of the five finalist of the Southwest Florida Blue Chip Award, who ended up winning the award.

Dr. Brown was fun to interview, she was filled with so much life, passion and so much excitement. It was a great story to tell. This woman has overcome so much adversity since opening her clinic in 2007. It is an inspiring story.

“When you have a failure, that is how you succeed by learning from it,” she told me during the interview.

East West Veterinary Care Center culls top business award

Published Nov. 7, 2013 in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze

East West Veterinary Care Center was named the winner of the 2013 Southwest Florida Blue Chip Award Thursday afternoon at Harborside Event Center.

“I’m honored, I kept blushing,” veterinarian Dr. Dixie Brown said when her name was called. “It was quite an interesting luncheon. Lots of very successful people. I think that’s what made it so honoring. All of them were really there to celebrate adversity.”

At first, when her name was called, she said she did not believe it until everyone at her table told her it was really her name, that she had won the award.

“I was super happy,” she said.

The annual award recognizes small businesses in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties who have overcome adversity while achieving success.

“In general, adversity breeds character,” Brown said. “I have had a lot of adversity. I believe the most successful people have.”

This year East West Veterinary Care Center, Ardent Manor, Direct Access Home Health, Gatsby’s Pizza and Purely You Spa were named finalists.

“I heard that we were nominated as top five finalist, that was plenty for me,” Brown said.

She entered into the veterinarian practice after graduating from Ohio State University in 2002.

“I had been an animal trainer in the film industry in my early 20s and trained animals since I was 14 and wanted more out of my life,” Brown said of why she chose the profession. “And somebody said to me, have you ever thought about going back to school to be a veterinarian.”

Brown began taking classes.

She purchased what she said was a failing enterprise in Cape Coral in June 2007. That’s when her business, The East West Veterinary Care Clinic began.

She started with about 30 clients and had maybe one or two appointments a day.

She also needed to immediately hire staff, Brown said, adding she had to hire someone over the weekend, so she would have another employee the Monday she opened.

“It was a very fun time,” she said.

The hours also changed after Brown purchased the business from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Unfortunately a month after she took over the business the economy turned.

“We opened up this clinic and who knew the next month the economy crashed,” Brown said. “The clinic wasn’t very strong, but I dug in and sunk my feet in and took baby steps until it was successful.”

Eight months later, the center was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for their clients if there was an emergency.

“We did that for many years and recently were able to get strong enough to get in a few part-time veterinarians,” she said.

When Brown purchased the business she signed a three-year lease to rent to own because she could not come up with the money to purchase it then.

“Literally the month after I bought this place everything was crashing,” she said. “It was pretty sad at that point.”

At the end of her three-year contract there was still a lot of money owed on the building.

The contract was renegotiated for another three years.

“They owed so much, I couldn’t get a loan. I could never work it out,” Brown said.

Everything fell into place after that. Although her dream of moving into a new facility was not an easy task, Brown eventually obtained financing to make her dream come true.

“It’s been a growing process. I have wanted this building for almost four years,” Brown said. It’s been a lot of patience.”

Now she is expanding the center to a fully renovated building three doors down, going from about 1,400 square feet of useable space to 5,000 square feet.

“We are excited about the new building,” Brown said, which is located at 3625 Del Prado Blvd on the waterside. “People can visit by boat or by car. It is so cool.”

The facility will have a new digital x-ray and ultrasound machine and new services like physical therapy.

“God willing, we will be seeing patients there in the next week or two,” Brown said.

In addition to the new building, the center is also expanding their hours.

“We are now officially open seven days a week until 9 p.m.,” she said, adding that they open at 8 a.m. “I am an emergency critical care vet. I know how scary it is. You don’t want to wait for two days because the animal is uncomfortable.”

The center, which started with two employees and Brown, has now expanded to 14 employees plus Brown.

“I foresee it doubling,” she said of the number of employees.

Her practice, East West Veterinary Care Center, focuses on eastern medicine, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care and western conventional medicine.

“It’s nice for me because I can put both hats on,” she said adding she can pick if eastern or western medicine is a better choice to improve the animals health. “It really makes for a well-rounded treatment plan.”

Throughout the years, Brown explained everyday to be rewarding.

“I like the interaction with people on a personal level because it is really truly their baby and I get it,” she said of the animals she sees.

“Elizabeth Brown demonstrates the determination and ingenuity required to succeed in today’s business climate,” said Scott Gregory, CIC, CRM, BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Company vice president and event director in a Prepared statement Thursday. “Through hard work and innovation she took a business in trouble and turned it into a thriving enterprise. By recognizing her today, we hope others will learn from her experience.” BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Company and BB&T Bank sponsor the annual luncheon at Harborside Event Center each year to recognize small business owners who have overcome adversity. Brown is a classic example of this intrepid breed of entrepreneur, Southwest Florida Blue Chip Community Business Award organizers said. The 2013 Southwest Florida Blue Chip Community Business Award is endorsed by the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Observer, Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Economic Development Office, Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida, City of Cape Coral Economic Development Office, Edison State College, Englewood-Cape Haze Area Chamber of Commerce, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Weekly, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce, Gulfshore Business, Hodges University, Lee County Economic Development Office/Horizon Council, Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

More opportunities have surfaced

This morning I drug myself out of bed a little before 7 a.m., so I could get a workout in early, rather than going later this afternoon. It was a great way to jump-start my day, especially since there was only me and two other’s working out that early in the morning.

That’s the nice thing about a 24-hour gym, whenever you get that urge to workout, all you have to do is swipe your key and walk in the door of opportunities.
imageI was a little skeptical at first that a staff member would not be present during the hours the gym was opened, but I now love that feature. That was the downfall about working out at the last apartment complex we lived at, I could only workout during the hours of the clubhouse, which was limiting at times.

I spent about an hour at the gym doing my typical run, some miles on the elliptical and some weights. I’m starting to feel those leg exercises I did, especially walking up and down those darn stairs 🙂

Once I got back in my car, I thought to myself, today is going to be a fabulous day. How could it not when I did something for me first this morning – working out?

So after getting ready, I drove to Jonesborough to meet with my editor and the publisher of the Herald & Tribune. It turned out to be a fantastic meeting, one that only lead to more incredible opportunities for me.

Kristen and Lynn offered me more work, which I gladly accepted. I am now covering the town hall meetings for Jonesborough, the school district, as well as submitting feature articles. I am beyond thrilled! I will now be submitting weekly articles instead of a few a month! My portfolio will be growing once again.

I really enjoy working for this publication. The remarks I received from both Lynn and Kristen about my writing were wonderful to hear. It’s safe to say that I am cloud nine once again.

I absolutely love what I do, and yes, I know I have said that a time or two. But really, never in my wildest dreams did I think my career would go in the direction it has! I am supporting myself doing freelance work, this is incredible! I am so fortunate to have found a career I am so completely passionate about. I am excited to see what other opportunities are waiting for me.

It just goes to show that it is important to follow your dreams!

Handsome little smiling faces

This was definitely a remarkable Friday . . . one that only built upon the day I had yesterday.

My day started off by driving to Johnson City to interview a woman for the Herald & Tribune about how couponing became a part of her life.

This interview was after I received an email from my editor yesterday asking me if I would be up to writing more articles every month for the Herald & Tribune . . . heck yes, count me in! This news was completely unexpected, which is the best kind. I have submitted only two articles for the publication so far, two which are expected to run next week. Yeah!

After arriving back home, the interviews continued, but this time for another newspaper, The SanTan Sun News.

Once I got off the phone with him, I returned another call – this call has left me smiling since early this afternoon. Christina, a great friend, and editor I work with in Arizona offered me yet another job. This, by the way, is two jobs in two days. I now have three editing positions, as well as a freelance writing position with Times Media Group alone.

Her phone call could not have come at a better time either. It’s always hard to establish yourself in a new area, which is something Jason and I have personally felt since moving to NE Tennessee. We have had some financial struggles since our move, but with that said, things are looking up once again.

I’m beyond excited. I never thought freelance work could become a true source of income, one I could depend on solely. I am having a blast. It’s an invigorating feeling . . .

I thought I was on top of the world when I landed an editors position for the Pine Island Eagle in Southwest Florida . . .

I remember the excitement that radiated off of me when I was offered that position. I remember calling my parents and Jason to share the excitement that I could not keep under control in the parking lot. I had a paper that I could call mine, one that was filled with articles and information that I thought was important for this little island. That time spent on Pine Island I will carry with me forever, an accomplishment that gave me so much confidence in my career.

With that said . . .

Do you know how exciting it is to contribute your work to various publications in three different states? I feel accomplished, I feel this is only the beginning of a career that keeps my enthusiasm building on a daily basis. On top of the world doesn’t even come close to the feelings that are running wild inside.

So . . .

The excitement doesn’t stop there . . .

Jason called and asked me to come out to the restaurant he now works at, The Troutdale Dining Room this afternoon. I always love seeing where he works, getting a tour of behind the scenes, so to speak, as well as meeting everyone he talks about when he comes home. Plus, who wouldn’t love seeing their boyfriend in the middle of the day? The great part of this out of the blue visit was I got to tell him my news in person, instead of through a text. The excitement I felt was written all over his face, which of course only built what was already brewing inside of me.

To think it doesn’t stop there . . .

While I was on my way home I received a text from Mom asking me if we could Skype.

This of course could not be topped . . . definitely the icing on the cake . . .

A beautiful, handsome little face filled my computer screen when our Skyping began. Yep, my heart filled with so much joy, which only brought my happiness to another level.

. . . and then there were two handsome smiling faces shining through my computer screen. This is when the adorable conversations began, as well as the dancing and singing. I felt as if I was in my brother’s home in the middle of it all.

It was a wonderful surprise. I completely forgot this was the weekend Mom and Dad were visiting my younger brother and my beautiful little nephews.

Before we ended our session, another surprise . . . I had the chance to talk to my younger brother, something I have not done in way too long because of our crazy schedules.

Today was absolutely perfect. There were so many wonderful surprises that has me smiling at the computer screen now as I write this blog.

I am loving life and loving all of the opportunities  that are presenting themselves . . .

The happiness is brewing from way down deep again.

What a good life

Although it has dawned on me before, this last week showed me more than once what a good life I have.

Sometimes you have to take chances, sometimes you have to move forward no matter how scary the idea can be. Trust, trusting in yourself and the ones you love, is all you need to put dreams into action.

My life has changed drastically since May 1, the day we moved to Kingsport, Tennessee from Fort Myers, Florida.

I have grown much closer to the man I love, Jason, during the many transitions we have faced since moving to NE Tennessee. I won’t lie, the stress got the best of me more than a few times, which caused a lot of anxiety. But time and time again, Jason was there for me, he helped guide me along a path that allowed me to get rid of that stress.

I took action and made all my worries disappear, which also included the stress and anxiety.

I’m living a life I had once dreamt about, one Jason told me I was capable of accomplishing.

Before leaving Florida I was able to talk my editor into keeping me onboard for a monthly publication I had been writing for, for more than a year. I was also named the reporter for three other publications that come out once a month. I was pretty excited, I had four writing gigs before moving.

A friend I have kept in contact with over the years has also continued my dream of writing for multiple publications.

I met Christina while working for my first weekly newspaper out of college. Although I was let go, due to the economy, and moved away from Arizona and back to Florida we stayed in contact. It’s been a great friendship because we both have a passion for journalism, so our emails are filled with our latest stories, the stresses of the job and an update about our personal life.

After we arrived in Tennessee I got a random phone call from her asking if I would be interested in freelancing for a few of the papers she is now the editor for in the East Valley of Arizona. I was beyond excited. With this gig I added a few more publications under my belt that I write for on a continious basis.

Just a few weeks ago she offered me a freelance section editors position, which I agreed to instantly. It’s awesome that I can do this job on my computer at home.

The best part is the great news doesn’t stop there …

Last Thursday I met the publisher of the Herald & Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Tennessee. I signed my paperwork and was given my first four writing assignments as their newest freelance writer.

I never imagined that I would be writing for so many different publications, all of which are in different states.

I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw my byline in print for the first time in my high school newspaper. Then in my college newspaper at Arizona State University. The best was seeing my byline in the paper of my first full-time paying job. That feeling never fades away, that excitement has only intensified over the years. Can you imagine what that level of excitement is now??

I am living my dream and the best part is that dream expands a little more everyday as I hope to accomplish more in this career that I absolutely love.

I have an amazing family, wonderful friends and a boyfriend that spoils me every day. Add a wonderful career and an absolutely beautiful state to live in too that line-up, wow I’m one extremely happy girl.

Jason and I began hiking when we lived in Florida, which turned into another passion for me. He wanted to show me the outdoors and what it had to offer and I was instantly mesmerized by its beauty. We saw many gorgeous places, but we wanted to see more.

The trails are endless here in Tennessee, as well as Virginia and North Carolina. At least once a week we go hiking to a different waterfall. Every hike has its own adventure, each hike leads us to another beautiful part of nature.

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This waterfall, Jones Falls in Tennessee, might just be my new favorite.

The sound of the water cascading down the rocks is a sound I will never grow tired of!!

What a good life, when I’m not writing I’m exploring nature with the man of my dreams, what more can a girl ask for?

This move to Tennesse has proven to be a wonderful decision for Jason and I!

Follow your dreams, you never know what is on the other side, you never know how much more your life will blossom.

After a day like yesterday I was inspired to sit down and write a blog. I often tines reflect on how far I have come when Jason and I sit at the bottom of waterfalls lost in our own thoughts.

Days full of writing

I feel complete once again … my days are full of writing … therefore full of my all time passion.

I love piecing an interview together to create a story that others can follow and hopefully enjoy. I love incorporating the emotions I feel from an interview to further portray their story.

My favorite conversations are those that move me, those in which I can feel their passion about a particular subject.
I just finished writing about a gentleman who lives in Gilbert, Arizona …  his passion for helping others was contagious as our conversation continued. Those ate the stories that give me the drive, those are the ones that I want to tell.

My opportunities for writing are soaring once again. I never thought I would be where I am at – have as many opportunities as I do. My calendar is once again filling with times for phone interviews.

Although my full-time job didn’t pan out the way I hoped, things couldn’t be better now.

I started working my editors position for the Neighbors section of the SanTan Sun News, a publication in Arizona, today. It felt good to sit down at my desk and organize and rewrite content that is beginning to trickle into my email.

On top of that, I was excited to dive back into interviewing people to do articles I love to write.

My editors in Florida and Arizona are keeping me busy, they are pushing a good assortment of articles my way. I should be adding Tennessee to that list as well, as I am waiting to hear back from the publisher about my first article.

When we first moved to Tennessee all I was doing was freelance work. After a while I needed a change, I needed to actually get out of the house and interview people in person. This is why I started looking for a full-time job. I believe I fixed that urge this time because of the partnership with the paper in Tennessee.

The ability to write is an amazing feeling, the opportunity to do it for a career is indescribable. I’m on cloud nine, I am beyond excited for what my future holds again.

A good decision

These last few weeks have been extremely rough and stressful, which finally led me to making a decision – a great decision for me.

I have learned from previous experiences that it is incredibly important to listen to your body, as well as what your brain is telling you. Stress can do a horrible number to your well-being, which reaffirmed it was time. 

Living in a new area can be difficult … working at a new job can be even more difficult… but trying to get along with personalities unlike your own is not always worth the headache.

“Feel better. You are a solid reporter and a good employee.”

These words rang loud and clear as I walked into the office yesterday, a note from an editor I still have the pleasure of working with. An editor who always found work for me no matter what cuts the company made. An editor who I have learned from.

Those words were accompanied by an emotional conversation I had with my mom. An incredible feeling I will never be able to describe in words … the love of a mother and the deep understanding she has for her children. The mood I was in set my mom into motion, which immediately went into a conversation of what had to be done. Although I hate calling her upset, I know I will feel better by the end.

Last but not least, the support from Jason with my decision was what I needed to put things into action.

Yesterday marked the start of yet another journey …

I am grateful I was given the opportunity and proud that I gave a beat outside of my comfort zone a try. A conversation by both of us (my editor and I) was exactly what I needed, a conversation that ended in “no hard feelings” and smiles by all, lifted the weight off my shoulders. I felt like I floated back to my desk. I finalized a decision I consciously made weeks ago.

Next week is my last week at the paper. I gave my notice after realizing the police beat was not for me.

Now it’s time to get back to what I know and continue a passion that began many, many years ago.

The best part is I was given another opportunity to write earlier this week for a weekly newspaper in Tennessee. Hopefully the conversation with the publisher next week will continue along the great path that we have already laid.
 
I am so glad I listened to myself and made the decision I knew I had to make.

Let the journey continue … 

Thoughts

It’s extremely easy to become flustered when trying to fit too much into a limited amount of time.

These past few weeks have been extremely crazy with all of my freelance work and full-time job. Poor Jason has felt every minute of my lack of sleep and constant writing.

That feeling of being overwhelmed has got the best of me from time to time.

With that said, I love writing all of these articles because it’s pretty neat to have my name printed in three different states. That is what keeps me going, that is why I say yes everytime I am asked to write an article. This is my passion …

It also feels great to be able to add money to the pot in supporting us with all of this work I have accumulated.

May 1 we arrived at our new home … some days it feels like we just arrived yesterday.

I’ve made a big move before, a big move that ended up not being right for me. Although this has been hard, mostly financially, I know deep down that this is what Jason and I needed.

When you surround yourself with positive people only good things happen.

I still struggle with missing my family. It hits me the hardest on my days off, days that Jason is working and I am home. It’s different when you can’t jump in the car and arrive at Mom and Dad’s house a few minutes later. It also hits when pictures of my nephews are posted or shared … they grow up so fast!

It’s weird, I really don’t miss Fort Myers, I miss my family and friends.

I miss my afternoon lunches with a great friend and her kiddos. I miss the surprise visits at work from another great friend. I also miss the best co-worker a girl can ask for, I miss her everyday I walk into the building of my new job.

I don’t miss the area of Fort Myers though because Jason and I found a new beauty, one that leaves us both in awe all the time. Tennessee is our playground, well Virginia and Kentucky too.

I love the hills and mountains, the rugged trails we hike and the beauty we find in the lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls.

I had the opportunity to do an assignment out on the South Holston Lake in Virginia a few weeks back.

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As I sat on the police boat and took in the surroundings I found peace, which I often do now when I’m out in nature. The smell of the lake, which brought me back to when my Grandpa took us out on the water, was incredible. I couldn’t get enough of it.

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The surroundings also grabbed my attention. A lake is much different than the Gulf of Mexico.

This journey of ours has taught me a lot in such a short amount of time. This journey has brought me closer to nature. This journey has shown me over and over again why Jason is in my life.

I know I have said it plenty of times before, but Jason is a wonderful person to have by your side. He is patient with  me when I know I can be a pain in the butt.

Almost four years … it blows me away with how well he knows me, how he has taken the time to understand me. When I think of him, of us, I always find myself smiling. It’s wonderful to have someone who only wants the best for you in your life. 

Jason has shown me a new beauty, one that will always be a part of my life.

I got the job

I received the best email today, an email from the editor of the Bristol Courier Herald letting me know the police beat reporter position is now mine.

The communication began in March when I sent out multiple emails to newpapers in the Tri-City area of TN. Once I arrived I called a few papers to see if there were any freelance positions available.

When I called the Bristol Herald the editor told me about a full-time position that needed to be filled. That initial question, “tell me about your experience” sparked her memory of my resume.

I remained persistent throughout the whole process, which landed me an interview and eventually a job.

What an invigorating feeling, I arrived in Tennessee without a full-time job … and a little more than a month later I am employed at a daily newspaper. The best part was within the first two weeks of arriving I got my foot in the door.

I now have quite a few writing gigs – a few in Southwest Florida and Arizona. Wow!

I am beyond excited to start this new job next week. I’m most enthused about the challenge of getting to know a new area, covering a new beat and working a night shift the same days every week.

It just goes to show you are capable of doing anything … It’s all about having a positive attitude and drive to make your dreams come true.

Jason and my mom have been amazing throughout this whole process. I don’t know what I would do without them.When you surround yourself with positive people only good things happen.

The possibilities from here are endless …