Monday, January 4, 2016

Places I never thought I'd be.

Wow. What a year of changes. At the start of this year I never would have guessed by the last day of 2015, I'd have experienced so much.

The start of the year was much the same - work gets slow, and I did what I could to make ends meet. I got any random photo job I could, sold everything I didn't need - just to keep the bills paid and scrape by on groceries until the ice and snow melted and work picked back up. In my line of work this is pretty typical for winter. When you support yourself and rely on this as your sole income, things get iffy. The price you pay for waking up each morning to do a job you actually love. (Still worth it).

Springtime came and the money flowed - as did the rivers. Jamie and I got new kayaks and started spending warm sunny weekends out on various rivers in Middle TN. A day in nature cures most mental ailments. (most).

Come May, grief took control of our lives and we said goodbye to Jamie's Dad, after a battle with cancer. His sister made arrangements to get married as soon as she could so her father could walk her down the aisle. It was the most beautiful and bittersweet wedding I've ever attended, and no doubt will be for the rest of my days. Within a couple of weeks we lost him.....such a sweet, caring, loving, and genuine man. I promised him in his last days I would take care of Jamie for the rest of my life.....but it's like he already knew.

Shortly afterwards, I moved into his sister's townhouse (vacant since she got married) and Jamie moved in as well. We prepped his house for sale and it had a full price contract in less than a week.

We'd been talking about buying a house together, and I (the one who swore would never wed again) told him I wanted to be married before we bought one. No engagement ring, no formal proposal, so we planned a date for mid-August and opted to basically elope (with our family's prior approval). It poured down rain the entire drive out to our wedding venue - a rustic lodge with trails, old mills, etc. - as well as a stunning 100' waterfall which stood at the bottom of a slick and treacherous hike, made even more difficult as a result of the rain earlier that day. Once at the bottom the rain stopped. The setting was perfect, nature cooperated, and I didn't even get my $15 wedding dress dirty. This is what a wedding is supposed to be like. Simple, genuine, and perfect.

In late September, we finally took our first vacation together (nearly two years after we started going out). Rain again stepped in, and although we had to cut our trip short due to impending floods on the East Coast, we still had a wonderful time riding our bikes through downtown Charleston, visiting numerous historical sites, and staying in a hotel directly on the beach. Once again, we didn't let the rain dampen our spirits.

Shortly after that we finally had our wedding reception. A small gathering of our family and close friends with a bonfire and plenty of beer. Simple - it's what we do. (and it's working)

In November we finally started our house hunting - we tried to stay in Mt. Juliet, but for the money we could get a lot more house just 2 miles outside of town and into Lebanon. It felt like the closing took forever - I've never owned a house, so for me, this was a HUGE milestone. We closed on December 29th and rang in the new year exhausted from moving and barely making it to midnight....a tiring end to a hell of a year.

So many changes. So many adjustments - both good and bad of things we didn't know we would face - or face so soon. May 2016 be a blessed year for all my friends and family. Life is it to the fullest.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The big day


If someone had told me a couple years ago that I would ever be married again, I'd have thought them crazy. I'd ruled it out. Nothing but a string of bad luck when it came to my previous choices in 'men'. (and I use that term VERY loosely) I was so content living alone with my dogs and was convinced that Happily Ever After was nothing more than a myth - a term best used for children's fairy tales.

Was I ever wrong....

In November it will be two years that Jamie and I have been together. On August 17th of this year, we took a leap of faith and got married eloped at Carmac Falls out in Smithville. It was a small wedding - VERY small. We aren't very 'showy' people, we are awkward individuals - not overly social, and very simple. We decided it much easier to do this without parents, friends, etc. but we had their blessing from the start. My sister was supposed to be the witness, but ended up in the hospital just two days before, so my cousin and her husband who just happened to be in town stepped up.

If it's good luck to have rain on your wedding day - I know we will have NO issues in our life together. It poured monsoon like rains the entire drive there. My nerves shot between the weather woes and my sister's health. Our original plan was to do the ceremony at the base of Carmac Falls - I even made sure our Pastor and photographers were physically able to handle the hike and had hiking boots. Mother Nature thought we should have the ceremony on the comfort of a covered deck nestled among the trees instead, which turned out to be quite ideal. The rain let up a short time later and our group braved the steep and muddy trail to the falls to do photos, which turned out to be absolutely perfect. The rains stopped completely and the overcast skies made the conditions even better once we got down there.

I say we had no family there......but we did - in spirit. Our photographer Amanda said 'this butterfly just keeps hanging around you in all your photos; did anyone close pass away recently?' I don't know about Jamie, but I got chills, as we told her about losing his Dad just a few months before. I promised him in his last days that I would take care of his son for the rest of our lives - he told me 'I know you will....' Who knew one monarch butterfly could have such an impact.

It was perfect - all of it. The rain didn't dampen our spirits, the photos were amazing, and I know neither of us could have wished for a better day.

We are two incredibly quiet and awkward people in a sea of chaos. When they say 'the right one comes along when you least expect it' it's not just a saying. I'm still amazed every single day that I found someone this wonderful - and a true testament that even those who have given up on finding love can find perfection, and can be one of very few people in this world that truly LIVE the life of Happily Ever After.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The next chapter......

It's 11:45 on a Saturday night. My final evening on this couch, in this particular living room. While I'm happy to be moving on, there's so many great memories here that I will miss.

As I sit here looking at the blank walls and empty shelves, it reminds me of my first days here. While moving into an apartment might seem like a petty thing to reflect on, it stands for so much more. For me, it meant freedom. I remember nearly two years back how absolutely terrified I was when I committed to the idea of independence. Mustering up the courage to walk away from a verbally abusive marriage and start completely over, with very little to my name - I honestly didn't know if I would make it on my own. I kept worrying and wondering if this was the right choice.

My parents stayed here with me on the first night, as the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. New chapter - new plan.

So much has happened since then......leading up to the changes of now. As I go tomorrow to start the next phase of my life, it astounds me how things work out. I still cannot grasp how unbelievably lucky I am to have found someone so incredible - who I can say (for the first time ever) that I love with my whole heart, and without a single doubt in my mind. We don't control our fate - who we meet, and when. It's still so hard to believe that two months out of the hell I was living, I would meet the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

I can't even begin to think how things would be had I not pushed myself to find happiness in life. This little two bedroom apartment was my starting point. Where I learned again how to be 'me', without fear of judgement or criticism, and without even looking, managed to find someone so perfect for me, that it makes fairy tales seem credible.

So here's to the next chapter - one that I can say, without a doubt, will be the best one yet.......

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A more elaborate take on Facebook's 'Year in Review'

Yes.....the blog site. The one I never use anymore. Albeit somewhat neglected these days - it's still here. :)

I'm quite average anymore. A title I'm proud to take. None of the chaos and drama from a life I'm trying to forget. Things are just - good. I see many of my friends on Facebook summarizing their year, and I didn't feel that the Facebook Year in Review would even do mine justice. While it might not have been the most exciting, it was probably one of the best I could have asked for. The number of 'likes' might not automatically choose these moments for me, but I wanted to be able to pick out my favorite photos.....days......whether they be at the lake with the family, or sitting alone at 2am on the hood of my jeep photographing a meteor shower.

2014 has been nothing short of amazing for me. Work kept me busy and I can gladly say I supported myself this entire year by doing nothing but taking photos. Having escaped from my previous life with nothing in my pocket, I wasn't sure if I'd even make it. I have the most amazing bosses who stuck by my side and kept me busy, and sent me to the most beautiful (and sometimes interesting) properties you can imagine - I couldn't have gotten through this year without them. :)

I've had a few 'toys' this year - I still have the boat I purchased last year, which I'm so happy almost everyone got to use this summer. I bought it not for myself, but my family - to enjoy yet another season on the water - making memories with their families. My Grandparent's house on Lake Nottely holds years and years of magical summers. Cooking out, lounging on the dock, racing across the water. This place is where love lives - and grows with each summer.

I bought (and sold) the Jeep as well. Few things in life make me as happy as cruising the backroads here at dusk, listening to music, doors and windows off, with the warm summer air flowing through the cabin of the jeep. I can tell you now - at some point there will be a Jeep #3. Jeep = happy. One of my favorite days this year was when Jamie had a rare weekend day off - it had to be at least 90* out, but we didn't care. We grabbed some pizza, roamed the local car show, and the best part of that day was doing nothing but driving through the backroads of town. It's the little things in life. (and who you can share them with)

Jamie.....the most unexpected addition to this chapter in my life. They always say 'the right person comes along when you least expect it'. I wouldn't trade this man for anything in the world. For just over a year now he has been nothing but perfect. Respectful, caring, patient.....and just as weird as me. I already can't wait for next year's adventures with him.

The adventure phase of my life no longer contains 2 week beach vacations or (miserable) road trips. Instead it means more time with family, friends, and the outdoors. I get to hike again at my leisure. I've found a love with the rivers - I love kayaking and canoeing and was so grateful for the opportunity to do it so much this summer. Next year the boat will get sold (for a down payment on a house) and in that garage will be a pair of kayaks.

I'm blessed to have had so much time with family this year - most recently I thoroughly loved that my Grandad got such a kick out of our Christmas 'group selfie'. Many birthdays, holidays.....time that we sometimes take for granted.

...and I can't forget all my friends - crazy, maybe half lit at's been one fun friggin' year, and I cannot wait for next!! Between canoeing, brew bus tours, shiki sushi sundays, beer fests, you all are the absolute best, and for those that stuck with me through all this, I can't thank you enough. You are all so awesome. :D

...and most of all. I'm thankful I have time for 'me' again. The ability to allow me to roam and explore when and where I want is the most valuable of all. I will never again lose who I am in this world.