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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Coal Mine Tour


Can I tell you how amazing my wife is? I know I have said it a million times in a million different ways but I am, as usual, completely in awe. Over my holiday break I got to do something not a lot of people get to do, I took a walk in my wife's shoes...well boots actually.

My wife is a coal miner. A bad-ass, hardworking coal miner.

Just to fill you in, when Loretta Lynn sang her song about a coal miners daughter, she was talking about me. My dad, grandpa and uncles were all coal miners; so I have been raised with a hearty respect for the work they do and the lives they live. The hours are long, the schedules are crazy and the work is back breaking. But until recently, I had never seen what life underground was like until I got to tour the coal mine where my wife works. What an unbelievable experience.

In order to be able to even step foot on the elevator that drops you hundreds of feet below the earth; I had to complete an hour of hazard training. "Hazard training" was an hour of guys giving you a healthy dose of reality by explaining the dangers you are about to embark on in the world beneath your feet. The hour was basically here is what you need to do in order to not die underground. You get a thing called a rescuer, which is basically the only source of oxygen you will have if shit hits the fan, basically your lifeline in the worst case scenario. They explained a rope that's used to guide your way out in case you have to escape, since transportation in and out is a bit limited to say the least. So, if you have to feel your way out while you panic and pee yourself, just follow the rope with the little cone on it. Sure. Along with a rescuer you have a little device that will let you know when you are in an area where the gas could kill you, awesome. They give you clothes with reflective on them so you don't get run over, thank you. To finish off the training you get a mining hat with a light on it so you can see when one of the rocks try to crack your skull when they fall on you, fantastic. By the time I was finished I was nervous and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. Too late now, I refused to wimp out when this is what my wife has to do every single day. So, I put my big girl panties on, and I put on the coal miner gear.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
Me and the Mrs'

My whole life, I have heard stories and even been to the face of a coal mine. I have seen videos and pictures and I thought I knew what I was going to experience. I'm here to tell you, videos and pictures do not do a coal mine justice. A coal mine is a whole other world, underground. There are huge pieces of machinery, tools and vehicles; all in this little space that's no bigger than the equipment inside of it. And here the coal miners are, spending 10 plus hours every day somewhere they are completely cutoff from the world wearing their lifeline on their belt. I'm in awe. I spent the tour trying to wrap my brain around the environment and around the fact the person I love most in the world goes to this harsh place every single day. I found a new appreciation for her and I fell in love with her all over again...
her strength...
her work ethic,
her complete bad-ass demeanor,
and the humble way she sees herself.

I have always known what an amazing woman she is but, I think talking a walk in her boots this weekend gave me perspective to a side of her I never get to see. If you have never took a moment to walk in your spouses shoes, I highly recommend it. I think it's possible to be a little aloof as to what others deal with on the day to day, especially those we love. I'm grateful for the experience to see what life for her is like every day. But most of all,  I'm grateful to have a wonderfully amazing wife who I hope knows how incredibly loved and appreciated she is.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In Good times and Bad.....

Six months in, amidst the busy chaos of our lives I find myself thinking back to this summer when we were road tripping through a foreign country with nothing but sight seeing on the agenda. I long to have completely full days of her and I. But, like all good things the honeymoon had to come to an end. I have always read the first year of marriage is the hardest. Together, you work on finding a rhythm and finding your place in their world. The first year is a balancing act and I have learned a few things so far I thought I would share..

Communication is essential. There have been numerous times after the fact,  when I thought she was thinking one thing and she thought I was thinking another, only to find out we were both completely wrong. I learned it takes work to have an open line of communication and isn't always easy.

Expectations are different. Marriage therapist Jill Whitney says, "getting married is like going on a picnic where you each bring a basket that was packed by someone else, if one person has eggs, you can only hope the other one has salt". We each have had our own experiences and have our own traditions and unique ways of doing things. She may put the toilet paper roll on the wrong way or fold towels in a bizarre way, but those are things I love and we blend to create your life together.

The honeymoon phase doesn't last forever. Knowing it's unrealistic for the two of us to live in our own little bubble day in and day out has been a tough lesson for me so far. I loved the first days of not keeping our hands to ourselves and spending an entire day cuddled up in bed. But, life does have to be lived and responsibilities cannot be ignored. But, I will continue to create snippets of those days as often as I can.

Connecting every day is essential. Taking time every day to make some sort of physical and emotional connection to your partner is important. Even when the honeymoon is inevitably over, I try to make an effort every single day to kiss, hold hands, hug or just touch her to maintain that connection that got us to where we are now.

Everyone loves differently.  I'm sure everyone has at some point seen the Love Languages book, I whole heartily believe each person has their own language that communicates love to them. Identifying your spouses language and never forgetting to communicate to them in that way is apart of the work required in a happy marriage.

Everything takes time. Even if you have lived together before, it takes time to learn someone and all of their quirks. With marriage comes comfort and permanence. Even if you have lived together,there will be new behaviors that appear you didn't notice before. Enjoy them and roll with them.

Marriage is commitment. No matter what we have been through and will go through, I know I have someone I can turn to. I know the crappiest day will always end with telling her all about it and feeling her arms around me to make it better. I am hers and she is mine. Best lesson learned so far.

Families are now blended. Once we got married, we both inherited a bunch more family. She inherited my sons as her step-sons, my parents as in-laws and a whole bunch of conservative southern folk I'm not sure she knows what to do with. I inherited a stubborn-ass father in law who I adore, a sweet mother-in-law who can cook like nobodies business and a ton more family who treats me like I have been in Jackie's life for decades. I'm extremely lucky in the family blending department. Her... I wish her the best..

As time rolls on and our lives unfold I have no doubt I will learn many many more lessons, and maybe some I will be willing to share. No matter how many years go by, I have no doubt I will be completely in awe of this amazing human who chose to live life with me. I know we will have ups and downs and maybe even some rocky times, but loving her has been one of the best things I have ever done. To be married to her is an privilege, and I absolutely know that.








Thursday, November 30, 2017

I am enough

Trying to find your self worth in the eyes of another is setting yourself up for severe disappointment. Being a people pleaser I know this more than anyone.

During yoga last night I was instructed to look inward, to close my eyes and only see myself. To look inward toward myself for satisfaction.  I spent the entire hour with my eyes closed just doing what felt right in my body and not trying to compete with the girl on the mat next to me. That simple choice to keep my eyes closed and look inward was incredibly awakening. It inspired me.

Now a days, there are so many ways to compare ourselves to others. Television and social media being the major avenues. I don't think its terrible to compete or having a desire to better yourself but, I think somewhere along the lines of ambition and aspiration, we stop really examining ourselves and finding what's best for ourselves. Looking inward gets forgotten somewhere along the way.

But, last night, I spent the time on my mat reflecting about the journey inward. My journey inward. That journey, for me, has been the longest and still continues everyday. I have spent my life looking outward, striving to keep everyone around me happy and trying to do what I should do. Until I started running and doing yoga I don't think I ever took a single minute of my life to look inward. I never looked inside to see myself, to see what I needed. To examine who I was.

Oscar Wilde once said, " Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives mimicry, their passions a quotation".

How much of yourself is formed from other people's opinion of you? How much of you is really what you truly are? We live a life today of uber connection. We have the ability to like and comment and basically judge other people's lives. Thanks to social media, it's out there for everyone to see. I am no exception to this. I share and post and talk about my life, usually the happy but I try to keep it honest. I see pictures and have caught myself being envious of people who have the ability to run way more than I do, or who seem to have endless amounts of money and I struggle with finding satisfaction in the daily grind of a 9 to 5. But, I don't know if its the yoga or just growing as a person, the older I get the more I am learning to look inward at myself. Its not something I was ever taught as a child. It is something I have learned as an adult and realized in order to be truly happy, I have to know what I need to find joy. That joy can only come from inside of me. That joy can only come when I am completely myself and can be satisfied with that person.

I have talked about love and motherhood and all of the adventures I find myself going on, but the one thing through all of this has been learning myself. I still have to consciously make myself close my eyes and shut out the world around, to listen to what I need. Throughout the past year or two I think it's what has kept me happy despite the turmoil and big changes in my life. I have closed my eyes to the judgement and the belief that my life has to look a certain way or be like someone else's to be meaningful. I am happy with where I am in life, and with who I am in this life. I know I am flawed and restless and can be a little scattered at times. I know I am hopelessly optimistic but deep inside I have dark corners that can suck me in without warning. I can be impulsive but I am never dull. And despite the hurt I have felt and the hatred I have seen reflecting back at me, I can appreciate love and tenderness and give it in return.

Because I look inward,  I am unapologetically myself and I am enough.





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

In the thick of it....

How did I get to this place?

Here I am, the day of my Family Court, about to go in front of a Judge to decide how often my children should see me. I'm terrified and my heart is breaking.

The whole thing absolutely blows my mind. Mine and my kid's future is being decided by a man who knows nothing about my children or the circumstances that led us here. Never would I have imagined when I saw their little faces for the very first time that I would end up in court years later fighting to see them every second I possibly can. I don't blame the Judge, he is a good man given limited information trying to do what's best for kids. Family court is absolutely necessary.

But, however inappropriate, I want to go into court asking where was their father when I was up feeding them at 3 AM, or trying to sooth my oldest who had colic. Where was their father when I was going on day 2 with 1 hour of sleep and trying to hold everything together? Where was he when I was cleaning up puke on the floor when my youngest was up all night with a stomach bug? Where was he when I was cleaning poop out of the bathtub when one of the boys decided to poop in the middle of bath time? I was knee deep and alone. Their dad worked, sure, but I did too and I made no excuse. I spent an entire day at work and then came home to two little boys who needed me like they needed the air they breathed. I made career decision based on being able to be there for them and I made sacrifices because that's what love is. I don't for a second look back and think I could have done more. I have done it all, every day and did it without a single solitary complaint.

No, now that they are older and they need me less it's time for the "hero" of the day to step in. Now that they are more independent, I'm being told my work is half done and now he is here to swoop in and save the day. Forget the days where I shuttled them to my work when they didn’t have school, took off work to care for them when they were sick or bring them along to a track to hang out with me just so I could get a workout in. My life has always revolved around those little boys and its devastating to have them yanked away half the time because the hard part is over and now the other half of the parenting side can actually step up to the plate. I guess the times I was told "when they get older" he will step up, is finally here. So, why does the time up until now get discredited? Why does the fact that I no longer want to fight every day and live in constant anxiety because of their dad's temper become punishment that takes me away from my boys half the time?


I know sons need their fathers, I do, but you know what? Mom is just as important as she has always been. Who do they call when they need something? Who still wipes every tear and handles every embarrassing moment? Who is there for every ache and doctor appointment? Mom. She always will and she will always want to. I have not been waiting in the wings for things to get easier. I have been in the thick of it since the day I read POSITIVE on that pregnancy test. Being in the thick of it has never been an option for me, I jumped in head first when I knew I was growing those little boys and no matter what the Judge decides or what their father demands, I am Mom and I always will be through all stages of their life and through every battle.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Real

"Marriage is not about religion.
Atheists get married.
Marriage is not about reproduction.
The infertile get married.
Marriage is about love. That's it.
And that all by itself is beautiful."
-Unknown

With all the talk going on about marriage equality in Australia, I thought it was time to talk about and maybe even open a discussion about gay marriage. Lucky for me, and my wife it is recognized in America. But, I have mentioned my upbringing in the past, and the fact that I was raised to believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Little did I realize, when hearing these things, that I would find myself deeply in love and married to a woman when I grew up. Falling in love with someone from the same sex, really puts a dent in those childhood teachings. Regardless, even when I am told as an adult, by family, that my marriage isn't real that doesn't change the fact that I love my wife to the very depths of my soul. It doesn't change the fact that I sought happiness and commitment just like any other couple who want to marry. How is my marriage not "real"?

I know my perspective is kind on the other side of things but, I never really understood the big fuss over why gay people shouldn't be allowed the same rights as straight folks. Are gay people another species? Are we not entitled to the same laws and rights as every one else? I completely respect the people who are devout to certain religions and the beliefs they hold. I admire faith in all of it's forms. I also respect the fact that those people see marriage as a deeply religious ceremony. I believe marriage surpasses all religion and is so much more. Marriage is so much more than two people holding a ceremony or filing paperwork with clerks. Marriage is it's own kind of faith; faith that through everything life throws your way, you will still be loving your spouse.. beyond this life.

Marriage is about becoming a team.

Marriage is finding a way to get through life; the bad times and the good times.

Marriage is overcoming obstacles together and enduring stressful challenges, knowing every burden that comes along will not have to be carried alone.

Marriage is something that isn't entered into lightly by any one from any religion.

Marriage is two people choosing to become something greater than they were before.

Love and marriage go hand and hand and has throughout history. Love is about love, plain and simple. Every marriage is different just like every relationship is different. Every marriage has it's very own trials and tribulations and it's very own joys. Every marriage is real, every marriage should be celebrated.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Our Story.. My version

So, as I was writing a submission for a wedding publication, I thought I would share it with you guys as well. So, here is our story......

"Our love story started with a meeting that would change both our lives. I was new in town and didn't know a soul. I met Jackie through a guy I was with at the time. I was in my 30s with two kids. I had never been in a relationship with a woman. I had spent my entire adult life married to a man. But, the day I met her, I swear lightning struck.
We went from strangers, to acquaintances, to friends, within no time. The more I got to know her the more I couldn't get enough of her. Fast forward through some really messy and awful breaks ups in both our lives, we thought we would give it a whirl. I was pretty clueless when it came to dating anyone, much less a woman. But I jumped in with both feet.  I was head over heels and I fumbled my way through the first days of our relationship completely inexperienced. But, I would spend the rest of my life figuring it out, just to get to kiss her lips or feel her touch.
You know, it's amazing how you read and hear songs about someone lighting a fire inside of you or butterflies; you never consider for a second that mumbo jumbo is real. But, it is. Since I met her, I have experienced every love song, every poem and then some. I never knew a love like this was even possible.
After knowing deep down in my bones she was all I was ever going to want, I decided I to commit myself to Jackie in every way possible. I planned for months how to do it, what the ring would look like and what I would say. I played every scenario out in my head. We had talked about marriage in the past, and it was something she had never really thought was for her. So, I went into my proposal thinking, she may very well say no and tell me to hit the road. Let me tell you, I am terrible at keeping secrets and being sneaky. I blush like a school girl and cannot tell a lie to save my life, so I knew hiding this from her would be a challenge. But, I knew I wanted to be the one to ask. So I did, Christmas of 2016, I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life as my wife. She said yes. I felt absolute joy in that moment.  
Now, the planning began. We looked at colors, we looked at venues, and we made guest lists. We started buying table arrangements and making invitations and it became stressful. So, one night cuddled up on the couch scouring through Pinterest, we decided we were going to make this about us. We decided we were going to elope.
Jackie was in the Navy and had been all over the world. I had not even been to the west coast, so I had no idea where to even begin looking. We looked at all of the countries we actually could get married and started narrowing down the list. I think the final decision came down to Jackie finding me a race to run in the right time frame. So, Iceland it was!
Once we picked the country, I immediately started researching what paperwork was needed and what the process was to legally get married in another country. After emails and lots of internet reading, I found out what we needed to have and the required time period we needed to be in the country before the ceremony. The paperwork was not fun, but the Iceland government was so wonderful by being very specific about their requirements. Finally, after a lot of work, everything was a go.
We arrived 7 days before our planned ceremony, to allow the proper timeline for the documents Iceland needed. We spent those days sight-seeing in the most beautiful country. Words cannot describe the beauty of Iceland. During our entire trip, we stayed in contact with our celebrant, Helga. She found an isolated and breathtaking spot for the ceremony, and even recommended a fantastic local photographer who captured the wedding.  I will caution those who plan to elope though, getting married in a foreign country you have to be flexible. Like any other wedding day, things will go wrong. Being unfamiliar with the area our ceremony was being held, we spent the first several hours of our wedding day in the car just trying to reach our destination. We dressed in a museum bathroom and I purchased and created my flower arrangement with flowers from a local grocery store. The day was a blur but it was magical. I wouldn’t change a thing about that day for the world because on July 17th, 2017, I married the love of my life.


And they lived happily ever after…. "


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

First isn't always the best

Divorce is an ugly and catastrophic personal experience. In the thick of divorce, you get a glimpse behind the curtain and see people's true selves. If you have been there, you know the destruction two people can do to one another. But despite the tears and screaming matches, you can survive divorce and actually find happiness. You have to find a way to let go of the past and move forward; learning from what you have been through. The next relationship will be scary, the possibility of finding a happily ever after will be dismal. But you will. Finding happiness is worth the risk of letting someone in.

I have had conversations with people who survived divorce, and most say they would never do it again. They would never put themselves through that again. How incredibly sad. Since, I have withstood divorce and came out on the other side, I thought I would give you a few reasons why you shouldn’t give up on love or marriage after divorce.

Here are 8 reasons your second marriage is better than your first…

1.      You are older and wiser.
      Most (but, definitely not all) of us grow wiser as we get older. We go through periods of self-exploration and personal growth.  Eventually figuring out who we are meant to be. When I got married the first time, I didn’t know who I was. I honestly didn't have a clue about the person I would become in the next 10 or 15 years. As I have gotten older, I have started to figure it out. Learning more about myself has made me a wiser person who knows what I want in life. You shouldn't be afraid of growth, you and your partner should grow together and you realize that the second time around.

2.      You know what you want out of a partner.

You aren't looking for someone who is perfect and without flaws. By now, you have found out there is no such thing. Now you know what you can live with and what you can't live without. So, by the time the second marriage rolls around, you know what kind of person you want to marry. You know what things you want out of your spouse. You have higher standards and don't want to marry someone who you aren’t willing to spend your life with.

3.      You know what marriage is like; the good, bad and the really ugly.

Having survived divorce, you know every day isn’t going to be daisies. You are fully aware there will be days when you fight and don't get along. There are days you have to put in more effort. There are days you are in complete bliss. The difference is, this time around you begin your marriage without rose colored glasses. You ditch the unrealistic promises and you look at one another on your wedding day and promise to endure the good and the bad that you know is inevitable. You go into your second marriage wide awake and ready.

4.      You have figured out marriage is a choice.

You have lived the struggle, you have been through the worst case relationship scenario. So, you begin your second marriage knowing love is a choice. You know you have to show up every day and make the choice to be there in every way for your spouse. Marriage is waking up every day of your life together and choosing your spouse. Through the fights and stubbornness and everything in between, you still promise to choose them every day.

5.      You are more yourself.

One thing I have realized through the whole messy process of divorce is the fact that I don't know if my ex really ever knew me as a person. When I first got married, I was 18 years old and a kid.  I was completely naive about what loving someone really meant. I tried very hard for a long time to be who he wanted me to be and not who I actually was. I hid parts of myself that he didn't like and felt like being me wasn't okay. This time around I am completely myself. I went into this marriage not being afraid to be who I am. At this age, you know who you are and you want someone who is going to love you for you. Love is genuine and real the second time around.

6.      You know you can't change your spouse.

I'm sure you tried the first go round and look how that turned out? People are who they are, they change and grow but, essentially if someone is an ass, they will always be an ass. You can’t always mend the broken and you can't make someone grow a heart. Your second marriage, you have to take on what you can handle. You stop assuming it's going to get better because marriage can be ugly. Marry the person you want to go through the ugly with.

7.      You know how hard THE END really is.

You have survived the death of a marriage and because of that, you begin this marriage with the confidence that you will give it everything you have to never be there again. You know the pain of divorce and you know what happens if you don't give your spouse your all every day. Having lived through divorce you can really really appreciate marriage.

8.      Marriage #1 changed you.

Not in a good or bad way but, just in general. You look at life different now and that's okay. You have seen how awful people can be and how someone you promise to love can be your complete demise. You have seen what happens when people get lazy, or people stop trying. You have seen more than some have and it changes you. Let that change help you grow and move forward. 

I know not every scenario ends this way. But, I grew up a child of divorce and I have seen first marriages fall to shreds. Hell, I lived through it. But, I have also seen first marriages go the distance. My point is, just because your marriage failed does not in any way make you incapable of love. Divorce doesn't mean you won't get your happily ever after, on the contrary. Now, you know how to fight for your happily ever after every day.  Like all experiences in life, you learn from the bad parts of your life and you move on. Don't give up on how amazing happily ever after can be. 

My happily ever after...


Monday, October 16, 2017

Blessed are the meek

Image result for beatitudesI can remember as a child, going to bible school at church and hearing the Beatitudes. I can hardly remember any of them but one has always stayed with me, "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth".

False.

Coming from someone who has been cursed with meekness, this is a complete load of poo. Being meek is what I have fought my life to overcome. You see, I have a natural disposition to make people happy. I want to please everyone and will do this to my demise. Every relationship in my life has been this way. But, if there is one thing that has come out of this god awful divorce, it's the fact that I am learning how to put my meekness aside and be more assertive. This fight that has been going on for the last year over child support, custody and parenting plans has completely zapped the little angel that sat on my shoulder. Pretty sure the little red horned guy gave her the boot once I paid the retainer for my attorney. No matter how much I try to compromise and try to keep things peaceful, I get knocked back down. I'm so beyond sick of the score keeping and fights over the tiniest things. I swear to god this has become a "mine is bigger than yours" competition. Every decision is an act of congress and both parties end up being a loser because it's impossible to make both sides happy all the time. Meekness, bye bye. I have got a good hard lesson on how to assert myself, the hard way. Maybe there is a silver lining in all clouds.  I'm learning how to speak up for myself on a pretty regular basis.

I have always called my meekness a lot of things trying to church it up a bit; empathetic, optimistic, good at compromise but honestly, it's just my inability to assert myself. I have finally started figuring out thanks to pure necessity. You can only push someone so far. I have stopped being the martyr and just saying "yes" and "sure". I have learned to say "no" and "I want". If you are meek like me and are going through or have been through a divorce you know what I am talking about. Both parties have to compromise but don't let it get to the point where you are always the one bending over backward. Don't be the person to eat crow in every situation. This is the time, more than any other, to say what you want.  It's your life, and if there are kids involved it's their lives too. Yes, you have to figure out a way to have a business relationship with the other parent but, do not do it at the expense of your sanity. You have to live with the outcomes and decisions you make. You have to see past the immediate battle and look toward the future. You know what you want and what you can handle. Don't let the fear and anxiety control your conversations. You are stronger than you think and the worst thing that could happen is a fight, but if your situation is anything lie mine, that is going to happen regardless.

I know being meek is always going to be apart of my personality; I see it in my oldest son and I feel so bad for him knowing how much of his life will be spent being stepped on and taken advantage of and I hope he can overcome it.

I don't want to sound like its the worst thing ever because I think being a little meek and humble is what makes you kind; but I also think its very easy to spend your life doing things you don't want with people who take advantage of you because of your meek nature. Walk the line between kind and strong. I'm learning the hard way but like all things in my life, better late than never.


Image result for strength

Sunday, October 8, 2017

First Ultra Marathon Recap

I am the kind of person who enjoys pushing limits. I have slowly through the years set goals and completed them only to turn around and set another bigger goal. This year my goal was to finish an ultra. For those of you who don't know an ultra marathon is any race past the 26.2 mile marathon distance. I have been training and trying since January to complete this goal. It has been a tough year physically and mentally for me and running. After being pulled and getting a big fat DNF in Iceland, I went into my 40 miler this weekend completely terrified. I didn't know if I could do it, I didn't know if I was ready and I was so afraid  I would fail again. The mental monsters that invade after not finishing something you work so hard for are hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been there. To sum it up, I put a lot of pressure on myself.

My training for this race has honestly not been the best, life got in the way big time. I missed far too many long runs and even some weekly miles and I was sweating it come taper time. I went 30 miles at one point during the training. I didn't know if that was too much or not enough.  I had just happened to piece a training plan together based off a 50K plan and tweaked some things here. I was clueless if the miles were even going to be enough. Come race day though, I just showed up and hoped for the best.

Here is my recap:

4:00 AM- Alarm clock goes off. Oatmeal and half a cup of coffee goes down; poop comes out. Thank goodness. Clothes on, race number pinned and running shoes laced up ready to go. I kiss all the important people in my life and hit the door toward the race.



6:00 AM- Race begins in the dark. My third time running with a headlamp in complete darkness, it made the beginning of the race even more exhilarating. The race is 3 loops around a 13.1ish mile trail. The trail cuts in and out of Barkcamp State Park and it is by far one of my most favorite places in the world. It's where I started my trail running fun and where I always look forward to running. First loop I kept myself slow and easy, felt good. I drank my water, ate my clif shots, drank my Gatorade and enjoyed 60 degree temps. Since there was around 16 runners who were running the ultra I enjoyed solitude for a good portion of the entire race.

9:00 AMish- Loop 1, done. Start lap 2 of 3 around the course. I knew I had to stay pretty steady as I had to be finished by 1 with the second loop, to be able to continue. I still felt good, I was eating and drinking. The ascents were starting to hurt, the temps were starting to climb but I kicked on my audible to keep myself mentally in the game. I lost myself for a while listening to the book and just trudging a long. The end of this loop got hard. I mentally struggled to keep going. I battled with myself because my head kept making excuses of why I should quit when I reach the end of this loop.  But, I made it to 26.2 within the time constraint. I got to the bag drop. I changed my shoes. I ate a pb&j and set off, giving my head a big giant eff you in the process.

1:00 PMish- Oh god it started out hard. I immediately regretted changing shoes. I went from Hoka's that are like little pillows on your feet to a neutral shoe; stupid mistake. My feet ached and they didn't the rest of the race. At the start of this loop, it was hot out. I was sweating and losing salt at an insanely fast rate. I drank my Gatorade I had packed in my drop bag somewhere around mile 29. I kept taking Endurolyte's every 40 minutes to keep myself from bonking out from dehydration. I think they helped tremendously. I was in new territory. I had never ran this long or this far so I honestly had no clue what to expect. I hurt like I had never hurt before. I'm not going to lie, I cried a time or two and I came super close to shitting myself around mile 32. Good lord I was in pain. I stopped listening to my audiobook somewhere around mile 35 because I was in a bad way. My head couldn't process the book and I was having a hard time focusing. I think at this point in the race I was down to a walk and a little shuffle run where my feet barely left the ground. My legs were done and my head had quit hours ago. I got to the last aid station and the guy told me 3 miles left. Now on any given day that's easy peasy but I honestly cried when he said that. I didn't think I could make it the last 3. Thank god my wife text me at the right time. She talked me through mile 37 and 38. I was at the verge of quitting. I just wanted to lay down on the trail and wait to be found. Then around mile 39 or 40 (my watch had died somewhere around the start of loop 3, so I had no clue where I was) I heard my name being called and my phone rang, it was the race di
rector Rod. Seeing him and Cindy (the other race director) and then my son and mom in the middle of the woods was fantastic. They kept me going that last mile.

5:00 PMish- 11 hours later, I finished! Coming around the corner to see the finish line was instant tears. Scratch that, I sobbed. The emotions that hit me at that moment is the reason I do this crazy stuff. I felt complete elation and accomplishment. I have worked so hard all year. I have sacrificed so much time and energy and to see the finish line makes me tear up just talking about it. Words cannot describe. Waiting at the finish line were members of the trail group I run with, handing out high fives and hugs. Solidifying the fact that runners are the best and most genuine people you will ever met. I never knew how awesome a sweaty finish line hug could be until spending 11 hours running around the woods in 85 degree weather. Even though it was hard, I am so glad I did it. My first ultra completed and I am so freaking proud of myself. I am glad I didn't listen to the crap in my head, I'm glad I didn't give up when my mind was screaming for me to. I'm glad I stuck it out. I'm glad I completed my first ultra with the barkcamp crew.

Thank you Rod and Cindy for an unforgettable experience and for being there with me through that last mile. You two put your heart and soul into that race and it shows. Thank you to the runners who I have trained with or talked to and who were waiting at the finish line with arms open, without the advice from you guys I would still be running on the road and missing out on the trails.

Lastly, thank you to my amazing wife who I could never do this without. I put so much time into training and she is there with me encouraging me every single mile. She has ran training runs with me and sacrificed time just to be there for me. I hope she knows what her support means to me. She listens to all of my complaints and pulled me out of the dark place my mind was the last few miles of the race. She is always there and takes amazing care of me when I am barely able to walk after a race. I know not many people have someone like her in their lives, who will spend hours in a running shoe store or who will run in the middle of the night in the woods because you have 5 more miles to fit in. She is amazing and I am nothing without her.

Now, it is time to recover and rest this body and reflect back on an incredible experience.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Misconceptions

Identifying yourself as gay lends itself to so many stereotypes and preconceived ideas. Here are a few misconceptions:


1. All lesbians are butch. There are girly lesbians, it's a thing. I'm absolutely girly; I paint my toenails, occasionally wear skirts and love my femininity. There are gay girls who don't and that's okay. Not all gay girls are the same, just like all straight girls aren't the same. Everyone has their own style and I think butch girls look cool as hell and are confident in themselves and wear what they want. You don't have to look a certain way to love women. Your appearance has nothing to do with your sexuality or who you are attracted to.


5. Just because I am attracted to women, does not mean I am attracted to you. I have honest to goodness been asked this and even had women feel uncomfortable because of this. Attraction goes beyond that, straight people are not attracted to everyone they meet, why would we be?

6.  This is not a phase. I am not going to wake up and change my mind. I am attracted to women. I married a woman. I love women. I love sex with... you guessed it, women. I could ask you, is your straightness is a phase?

7. There is not a "girl" and "guy" in the relationship. Neither of us is a dude or like a dude, that's kind of the appeal to the whole thing.

8. I don't want to know your lesbian fantasy.  I don't want to have a threesome with you; I don't want you to watch me and my wife. Just don't, thank you.

9. I don't know every gay person. Do you think we have a secret club? Do you know every straight white middle aged guy? NO. Dumb question.

10. I don't hate men. Quite the contrary, I have lots of guy friends and usually I get along with dudes better. I don't hate them, I just don't want to have sex or be in a relationship with them. That's all.

11. Stop asking about scissoring. There are lots of ways to have lady sex; buy a book, look it up. Genitals do not have to make contact to have sex.

These are just a few of the misconceptions I have come across. Most of them are just plan ol' ignorance and that's totally okay. But, I think generalizing everyone is never good in any scenario and gay girls are no exception. I think sexuality is one part of who you are. The awesome thing about people is we are all different, that's what makes us interesting. So, don't assume gay girls are going to look a certain way or act a certain way.




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

That's the truth

Another training cycle is done and I am so freaking happy. Today, on my last long training run, I thought about honestly talking to you guys about running and training for races. Like the real truth.

For me, I work best and stay motivated when I set a goal which typically comes in the form of a race. I always try to challenge myself with a distance or course just so I have a reason to push myself beyond my comfort. Otherwise, I get complacent. But, I think as much as I post pictures on social media of amazing views and awesome runs there is another side of it; running is freaking hard. That's the truth.

Deciding on a race is the easy part. Yes, it's scary and takes courage to sign up but that's where the journey begins. The hard part is the months and months before a race. The hard part is researching a plan or creating a plan then sticking with it. A plan takes commitment from yourself to put in the work and commitment from your family and spouses to share their time with the road or trail. It's hard and can be borderline selfish, that's the truth.

Once you put in the miles, check off most of your scheduled runs, it's time to put your training to the test. The second hardest part is making it through the last two weeks before your race. Taper, as it's called in the running world, is the last two to three weeks leading up to the race. Taper is when you slowly decrease miles and rest your body and legs for the big day. Oh my goodness, the mental monsters always take over my brain. My taper is filled with doubt and anxiety, questions of whether I ran far enough or fast enough. The time before a race is when I have a hard time not beating myself down. Not everyone goes through this, but most do. The mental aspect of training is so tough, that's the truth.

When the whole crew joins..
The day of the race is the party. The day of the race is when you celebrate the work you have put in. The hours away from your family or spouse. The days you ran instead of spending time on the couch or doing anything else at all. Race day is the day you give it everything you have. You are a complete bundle of nerves but it's a day you feel like you are the biggest bad ass ever, because you are. That's the truth.

The truth isn't pretty but in life, it rarely is. But, I think not knowing and not being prepared often leads to failure when people decide to do a race. I didn't realize until my first race, how hard and how amazing running could be. Yet still, I sign up race after race knowing what lies ahead. For me, there is nothing like setting a goal and working hard to achieve it. There are always going to be the times when you fall short, it happens. But that doesn't take away from the hard work that you put in. That doesn't mean you should give it all up. The truth is, I think without running I wouldn't have grown as much as I have; see the places I have seen, I wouldn't have met the people I have and I wouldn't be as strong as I am. There are ups and downs and tough runs and fantastic runs but like any relationship, getting through the hard parts only make the amazing parts that much more amazing.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a race, it's an amazing and unforgettable experience, and that is the truth.






Monday, September 25, 2017

From the other-side

Everyone has certain things that make them feel loved and appreciated. I have learned enough about myself to have figured out, I am a woman who needs affection. I crave physical affection.

I want kisses,
I want to hold hands,
I want arms around me,
I want cuddles on a lazy day,
I want to be the little spoon,
I want to catch her looking at me when she thinks I don't see her...

I know these things make me feel loved. I know not everyone can show love this way and not everyone is able to give this kind of love.In the past, I have been pushed away and laughed at for needing these things. Always made to feel needy or wrong for desiring affection. I don't think it's a bad thing to need human contact. I don't think it's a bad thing to yearn to be in someone's arms at the end of a bad day. There is a simple comfort in holding someone's hand or feeling that hand at the small of your back in a crowded room. For me, those things mean everything. For me, affection is a direct reflection on someone's interest. Giving affection and not receiving any in return hurts, it hurts more than anyone realizes.

I say all of this as advice from the other-side; hold her hand. Brush the hair from her face. Kiss her when you leave. Take the time to show that small piece of affection that may completed turn her day around.

Being loved by someone who is proud to walk with you hand in hand is the best feeling. To know I will always have arms to fall into at the end of a bad day, means everything.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

A day worth celebrating...

You are the most incredible woman and you have forever changed the course of my life.

The day I met you, I am pretty sure there were fireworks inside my soul. My heart was yours that day and every day since then. Loving you has been the easiest thing and being loved by you is complete bliss.

You loved me when I was broken.
You loved me when my life was chaos and a wild storm.
You loved me despite the luggage I tugged along with me.

And through all the madness and turmoil we faced in the beginning, you held on through it all. You didn't waiver and you loved me still.

You are absolutely the most amazing person I have ever known...
you are my best friend...
the shoulder I cry on...
the fire within me..
the reason I smile..
the love of my life..
and the best part of every day.

You can't imagine how much I wish I could back and find you sooner so I could love you longer. But, I am grateful for every single day I get to love you and be yours. You are everything I always knew love should be. You are my happiness. So today,  I am celebrating because 32 years ago today was one of the best days of my life, you were put on this earth. You are my reason for existing and I look forward to the rest of our lives and every single birthday with you. Happy birthday beautiful, there is no one who has ever been loved like I love you and I will show you as long as I walk this earth.





Thursday, September 14, 2017

Acceptance


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Growing up in a southern town I don't think I met a single solitary gay person until I was an adult. There were people who later came out as an adult that I knew in high school but, being raised in a very christian community didn't lend itself to very much self discovery.

I remember when I first started feeling attracted to others, I remember being attracted to movie stars and musicians but I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. Was it wrong to think Aaliyah was drop dead gorgeous if you are a little southern "straight" girl? In hindsight, probably should have tripped an alarm or two but, I had always thought of myself as being very good at recognizing beauty. I was a complete idiot.

When I thought of the future I thought about the things I was supposed to do, having a house and kids with a husband somewhere in the picture. I honestly didn't barf at the idea of marrying a man, I just knew it was what my future was supposed to look like and I was okay with that. When you were raised in a way that shields you from anything that's different it really alters your ability to think outside of the small little box that's your world. Had I met someone when I was younger who was gay or bisexual maybe there would have been bells and whistles going off and I wouldn't have been clueless for so long. Who knows? But, lucky for me I was blind for a very very long time. I met a guy who I married, had a couple of kids and that's how the story was supposed to go; only it didn't.

Now don't get me wrong, as I became an adult I started meeting gay folk and I was honestly super super curious. I have always asked questions I shouldn't and been way too open with gay boys but I think I was searching for something. I wasn't as lucky as a lot of people who say they knew when they were in 3rd grade in love with a girl on the playground. Honest to goodness, I was oblivious and just thought I was straight. I never really latched on to dudes and could date and break up with them without ever really giving it a second thought. I spent my teenage years dating and breaking up with boys as pretty as you please. I lost my virginity to a boy and my thoughts were "is this it?" Sadly, that thought never really ever went away as years went on. I will spare you the details, but I have explored my sexuality with a dude and just kept thinking, isn't there more? Well I find out there is, just not for me and the male species. Oops.

I just blame it all on being naive and really clueless about myself. I never had an opportunity to peer through someone else's eyes and realize that I didn't feel the way I should. Given, I had an extremely bad marriage and spent a lot of years with someone who was not the nicest person to put it kindly; but now I know it wouldn't have mattered. I could have been with Prince effing Charming and it wouldn't have mattered. I have been playing on the wrong team all this time. Completely clueless.

Fast forward through high school with a little teenage promiscuity and college and with a few drunken nights then, on through adulthood I just was pretty blindly floating through my life. I knew I was different, always knew that. I never really knew in what way specifically but, let me tell you my ex thought having a wife who loved looking at women as much as he did was the bees knees. What guy wouldn't want to have a wife who let them look because hell, she was looking to. Being able to be openly attracted to women as an adult was a nice bonus and it continued for years without consequence; then shit got real. We moved and met a couple of lesbians who we started spending oodles of time with. Uh oh. I started realizing finally that me looking at women was more than just an admiration of beauty. Finally I started gaining a bit of clarity, the quintessential late bloomer. That's when my world turned upside down.

Meeting Jackie was the light bulb moment in my life. I cannot even put into words what meeting her did to me. I started to realize what I had been missing in my life all this time, it was terrifying. It was also the most exciting and for her to be the most amazing woman was extraordinary.

For so long I had been thinking that this is all there was. I really thought I just was not going to ever be satisfied and always searching for something. I would have never in a million years thought my sexuality was the reason for my restlessness. I didn't  know sexuality really even mattered. Now I know it's the difference between living a numb and passionless existence and being deliriously happy. That's pretty significant.

The only problem was I didn't know what in the blue hell I was going to tell everyone back home who knew me as this straight married mother of two; what would they think? What was I going to say? Problem solved; my ass hole of an ex husband decided he would do it for me. A phone call to my parents later he pulled the biggest dick move imaginable, he called my parents and outed me. I think the two conversations I had that day were probably some of the hardest conversations I had with my parents. I can't imagine on their end what it was like but for me it was torture. How do you even begin? I think the conversations I had with them that day still replays on occasion. I remember my dad telling me what a big pill this was to swallow and my mom having a complete meltdown on me and all I was thinking was will this storm ever pass? Will things ever be OK again? The answer in my life was yes, thankfully. I know not everyone else who comes out is that lucky and I know it is something that happens differently for everyone but it's a pretty significant moment in your life. It's one I won't forget. Lucky for me, I had two very southern and christian parents who were able to embrace me and accept something they knew nothing about. I was pretty fortunate and really loved.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wife Life

I have a wife.

One sentence I honestly thought I would never say. I will admit, saying it makes me giggle in a school girl kind of way. I love it. I love having a wife and being a wife. Having been previously married to a dude, I have fantastic perspective on how gay marriage and straight marriage works and I have to tell ya, having a wife is the bees knees. Here are just a few of the perks...

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We both wear the "pants". I am usually in yoga's which is questionable if that counts but, we both usually wear pants. Honestly there is no fight over who is in control or who makes decisions. Most of the time neither of us want to make the decisions, instead we usually decide together like a legitimate partnership. Pretty awesome.

We don't have stereotypical roles. I don't do the "man" chores around the house, and neither does she; because there are no "man chores". We both mow grass and weed eat and do laundry.

I can be big spoon. Usually though, little spoon is my jam, but the option is there.

There are no pregnancy scares. Just not an issue.

Cuddling is welcome. After a long shit day it is wonderful to come home to a wife who just wants to wrap her arms around you and make everything better. Works every time.

There are two chefs at home. Not having to always eat what I cook is fantastic. I will freely admit she is a better cook and my favorite thing on the menu is anything we cook together because sharing the kitchen with her is pretty awesome.

Built in best friend. I can honestly say my wife is my very best friend. She is the first person I want to tell good and bad news to and she is the most fun to hang out with.She is my biggest supporter and I know she's always there to catch me when I fall. The BEST best friend.

My hoodie collection doubled. Having a wife with awesome hoodies is a pretty big bonus. I think I probably wear hers more than I do mine.

Sex is better. Enough said.

I am not knocking dudes completely. Promise. I am also not trying to get every woman to switch teams even though I have to say this team is waaaay better.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

20 facts about Raising Boys

From the moment I conceived my boys I knew my life would never be the same. I read all the books, I followed advice, I even gave up drinking caffeine. I did all I could to be prepared for how my life would change.  But, no book can tell you, no advice will fit perfectly, you just figure it out. You pull up your big girl panties, keep a firm hold on your sanity and wing it; like every other boy mom has since the beginning of time. I won't leave you completely alone though, here are 20 facts I have figured out about raising boys:


1. Raising boys is like a bar scene. Someone is always yelling, everything is sticky,  and the same music plays over and over.

2. For the first decade you will never sleep in. You can let them stay up late, lay cereal out, have the tv on and bedroom door locked but somehow they will find a way in just to ask if you can get the milk out of the fridge even though it's on the counter.

3. Boys have a fascination with all things gross. They love farts, boogers, burps, pee and poop. You will, at some point, be called to the bathroom to be shown some gnarly poop monster in the toilet . Swear.

4. Boys have no ability to aim when they pee. You can put a barrier around the toilet seat. You can put targets in the effing toilet, yet somehow they will find a way to pee on the floor and the back of the toilet.

5. Thanks to # 3 and 4, you will develop a strong stomach. You will be able to see poop, pee and puke without gagging. That's because at some point you will have one or all three of those on you. Deal with it.

6. Mom is the primary word in their vocabulary . If I had a penny for every time I heard it in a day, I would be living on an island with my own maid.

7. You will learn the actual meaning of patience. When it's bedtime your kid will become a philosopher and drink gallons of water. You will repeat the same thing twelve times in a row, you will tell them to pick up their clothes every day for the next 18 years.

8. The grocery store is hell on earth. You will never know a vacation like the two hours of peace you have when you can go to the grocery store alone. Get a sitter or sign up for curb side groceries, it will save you hours of misery.

9. You will swear there are elves living in your kids closets.  I have no clue where the dirty clothes come from or where the other matching sock goes. World mysteries.

10. You will have no problem with bribery and white lies. I have no qualms about bribing my boys to get a few minutes of peace or prevent a fight from happening. Tell me one mom who doesn't and I will kiss your feet!

11. You know what takes longer than your kid telling you a story about minecraft? Nothing.

12. Dinner time looks like this: 6:00: "Mom did I eat I enough, my belly is so full?". 6:15: "Can I have a snack?" Swear, every single time.

13. "Please don't pick your nose". "Stop farting before you poop on yourself". "Keep your hands off your wiener please". Yes, I have said all of those at some point, multiple times.

14. You even mention the idea of maybe going to a store at some point during the next week if it's a rainy day and they immediately take it as a blood oath and will ask you 1,000 times when you are going.

15. Dark circles under your eyes appear when you have a child, just like stretch marks, and they never fade away. Become acquainted with concealer.

16. You will become father time. How many minutes they have will be the most asked question in your home. 5 minutes is sometimes 5 minutes, but could be a half hour if you want it to be.

17. You will be able to compete in shower Olympics. Even now, I can shower and be legit clean in 10.5 seconds.

18. You will master the behind the driver seat swat. My boys know they are never out of reach.

19. It will actually take longer to get everyone in the care than to actually get where you are going.

20. You will become the finder of lost things. Doesn't matter what it is or where it was lost, you will be able to find what no one else in your house can.

These little boys are gross but I love them more than they will ever know.  I have held them; I fed them; kissed boo-boo's and in the very beginning, I came to the realization that I would do anything to keep them happy and safe. I made those little boys and those little boys made me a mom.




Thursday, August 24, 2017

Working mom

Before I had my oldest son back in 2006, I had no clue what life was like for a working mom. I was in college and worked a few jobs. I thought I was busy and hardworking. Then I became a mom. Holy shit I didn't know what exhaustion was until I spent the entire day and night with a crying infant. But, as time went on; I started getting in a routine and just like any other job I started figuring it out. Just in time for maternity leave to end. Now, I have never been the stay at home mom kind of gal. I don't say that in a negative way AT ALL. Being a stay at home mom is an incredibly hard job and one I could never do. But, I'm going to take the hit and say it... being a working mom is the hardest job ever. Life is chaos as a working mom.


Before kids, it was work and come home to prank around the house until bed and back to work. Oh hell no, now once you leave job number 1, your next shift kicks in. It's time to be chauffeur, cook, maid, entertainer, and the million other duties we have as moms. There is no relaxing and "getting off work", ha! Your paying job is sometimes a day off from the chaos at home! The time you "relax" at night is the hour or two you have once the kids are in bed which winds up being you falling asleep sitting up on the couch.

Once I was used to the constant exhaustion, I noticed when I started back to work how different I was treated. I'm a mom. Taking sick days to stay home with a sick kid or requesting a day off to take my kiddo to their dentist appointment is how life is for a working mom. Would you like to take my kid to have a tooth pulled at the dentist? Good luck! You will sit through an hour of screams and more negotiations than a hostage situation. I think I would rather sit through a full day of work place safety training than to sit through a dentist appointment with my youngest son. But, for a working mom it isn't optional.

This is not 1940, a lot of women are moms and they do have jobs outside the home. We are sort of bad ass like that. Being a mother is not a weakness of ours, it's a strength. Mothers are some of the toughest people you will ever encounter. We take care of everyone and still manage to get to work on time in heels with coffee in hand. So, I beg you, stop asking if a woman is capable of fulfilling the position because she has two kids at home. If you wouldn't ask a man that question you don't need to ask a woman that question. Let me see any of my male counterparts do half of what I do in a day and still have time to train for a marathon... not happening. It's sad that we are still living in a society where women are not seen as equal. I have been asked in interviews for new positions and raises whether I would be able to fulfill the duties of the new position with two kids at home. That's just wrong. The fact that I sit in front of you in an interview with my shit together, my research done and looking damn professional should vouch for my ability to fulfill my duties, not the fact that my kid may have a fever at some point and I take a sick day. I guarantee you I will take care of my sick kid, show up to work (probably sick, because we always end up with what they get) and still have my work done while people who have no excuse stay behind on work. You can't imagine how much harder we have to work to be seen as equal as a male co-worker or someone who doesn't have young kids.

So, working moms... I salute you all!

I know your struggles. I know how hard it is to climb the ladder and be taken seriously in a career who considers motherhood a black mark. We are tough sons a bitches and we are raising kids who are going to know they are loved and come first. They are going to remember how hard their mom worked and how they were taken care of. They won't know the guilt we have when we can't be there for every party at school, you are doing your best to balance a life most will never know. Keep doing what your doing and take some time every once in a while to pamper your bad ass self... you earn it every day!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lawyers, custody and tears

For the last year I have been knee deep in family court with my ex-husband. My life has been filled with constant drama and rivers of tears. The stress has unbearable at times. Every conversation has been nearly impossible. Something as simple as a grown up conversation about kids shoes, ends in a war where both sides become casualties. I have learned a lot about myself, and everyone else involved in this hard chapter in my life. I have struggled just trying to stay afloat as this storm passes.

Since the best lessons are best learned the hard way, I thought I would share some of my best lessons.

1. You have to separate your past relationship from your current obligation as a parent. Your marriage ended, things suck for a while either before, during or for a bit after no matter who left whom. You just have to grit your teeth and make it through. Be grown up enough to seek counseling if you need it or a shoulder to cry on.

2.  Both are to blame. News flash, it takes two to tango. No matter what happened, there are two people at fault in a divorce and guess what, each one thinks their farts smell like roses so don't look for the other person to mend your wounds or kiss your boo-boos t any point in the process.

3. Stop being self-centered. This isn't about you. Yes, ending a marriage is about the people involved but it's a million times more about the children. They suffer when parents can't get their heads out of their rears and parent together.

4. Stop putting the kids in the middle. The worst thing you can do is put your kids in the middle of your grown up shortcomings. They don't need to know who was at fault; because again if you refer back to number 2 it's going to be each other anyways.

5. Your kids are apart of BOTH of you. No matter how much you hate one another now or what has transpired, the kids were created from both sides. Don't lose focus of that. No one is going to love your kids like the other parent does; so, no matter if the other parents is referred to as "the bitch down under" keep that them in focus.

6.  Put yourself in their shoes. Your kids think the sun rises and sets out of BOTH of your asses. How do you think it feel to have the two most important people in their lives at war with each other? If you have to, grit your teeth and ask how the other parent is. If you have to fake it, smile when they talk about them. They just want their lives to be peaceful and happy.

7. Compromise is not a foreign concept. No matter what happens you are not going to get your way in everything. Divorce and child custody is no different. There has to be compromise from BOTH sides.

8. Kids are not prizes to be won. The expensive gifts, trips and toys do not replace time spent and conversations with your kids.You can try to buy them everything and spoil them but you are creating kids that feel entitled and demand more. Stop trying to buy love and just show it.

A year later,  I still have to consult with attorneys and end up on the other end of conversations where I am screamed at by someone who has long since labeled me the enemy. I hope in the next decade, I can look back and think how silly all of this was and how dramatic it didn't have to be. But, until that time I am stuck in the trenches of a war that seems to have no end. I am balancing a million different sides and trying to keep my kids happy and myself sane. So, for those of you in the same boat, welcome to divorce... the life of lawyers, custody and tears.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Happily ever after...

Well....

I have posted about the race. I have posted about the beautiful country we explored. But, I have not posted about the best part of our trip.....We got married!!!!!

I admit I am still on the honeymoon high, but I hope to stay that way for the next foreseeable decade or two. 

When we started planning we looked at venues and guest lists and one thing became clear, planning a wedding is stressful. The deeper we got into it the more we realized it wasn't us. We are the kind of women who never stand still. We are always on the go and always looking for our next adventure. So, why not start the biggest adventure of our lives with an unforgettable trip together to another country. Once we knew eloping was what we wanted we narrowed it down and decided on Iceland. Amazing decision. The trip, the country, the ceremony, it was so gorgeous and memorable. I am so glad we made the decision to elope, we will never forget our wedding day.

Now that the dreamy trip is over and we have settled into our every day grind, I still can't believe I got to marry my best friend. I am so completely in love with her. And, I know just like our lives thus far; there will be obstacles. I know there will be peaks and valleys. Despite the struggles we have faced together and the people who have tried to constantly burst our little bubble, loving her is the easiest thing in the world. I would rather go through all the bad stuff with her than the best with anyone else. She is who I want to live my life with and in Iceland I committed myself to her in every way I possibly could.

I have been through enough to know that marriage is more than a big party or a ceremony or pretty rings. I have been through hell  but, now I know what love looks like. Now, I know what happiness feels like. Now that I am genuinely loved, I will fight every day to work through anything that comes our way.

So, as we enter into this part of our lives, we bring with us a past we both hope to forget; and baggage that could fill an auditorium. We enter into this marriage knowing we have found the person we were meant to love forever and we will do so, from this day forward as long as we both shall live. 

How amazing it is to have found someone who genuinely wants to see me smile for the rest of my life.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Iceland

Now that things have finally settled down, I thought I would share our honeymoon/elopement with you! The planning of the elopement has been stressful and the paperwork took me months to
complete, but it was worth it to have an unforgettable ceremony in a country that is too beautiful to put in words.





The trip was planned around our wedding ceremony, which was July 17th. The requirement for Iceland is to turn the marriage documents in person 5 days before the actual ceremony. So, we spent the days leading to the wedding exploring the country.

This was our trip:

MONDAY through THURSDAY




We made Reykjavík our base for the first few days of our stay. Our accommodations were at The Loft Hostel. I had never stayed in a Hostel before and it seemed like a great way to save some money, I think the better course of action would have been maybe a night or two to get the experience, not 4. The Loft was very nice and clean, but having a room full of strangers on trip with my fiancé; sleeping in bunk beds was not exactly what I would call romantic. But, it was a great base because the only time we were there was to sleep and at that point sheer exhaustion took over.

We explored using a rental car from Avis, we picked up once we landed.

Day 1 was traveling from the states to Iceland. The flight was around 6-7 hours total but with the time change we landed in Iceland 11 PM Icelandic time. The awesome part of that was, it's summer in their country and also the land of the midnight sun. Having daylight the entire trip was fantastic for sight seeing but took a good couple of days to adjust to the time change.






Day 2 we spent the day exploring the capital. There were enough sites in and around Reykjavik to spend an entire day exploring. We saw Hallgrimskirkja, a beautiful church downtown. We walked to the shore to take pictures of Sólfarið and checked out some of the adorable little shops in town. While exploring, we found Nauthólsvík Beach; a geothermal pool and beach right in the capital. We noticed the locals soaking in the geothermal pool, then hoping into the freezing cold ocean. I put my feet in the water and gained a new respect for the tough Icelandic people I met. That day ended with one of my favorite experiences of our trip; a long soak in The Blue Lagoon. We made reservations that day for dinner and the pool because it's not possible to get in without doing so. It's worth planning ahead, the food was unbelievably delicious and the experience of the lagoon was amazing.


Day 3 we headed west. My goal was to get to the west fjords, but I seriously underestimated the time it would take and the stops we would make. Our exhaustion got us as far as the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, but the views we saw there was other worldly. Along the way were falls and horses and more sheep than I had seen my entire life. We passed trolls, ancient churches and rivers colored with gray glacier water.





Day 4 we drove the Golden Circle and did a little bit of puffin searching. We ventured off the path a bit and found some rocky beaches, ocean pools that originated from troll legends, underground volcano pockets and miles upon miles of barren lava ash fields that led to cliffs with hundreds of birds. The background for the drive was enormous mountains and volcanoes so high the peak was above the clouds.

Day 5 was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. We ventured to Þingvellir National Park and snorkeled in Silfra. The waters were some of the most clearest in the world and how often can you swim in water straight from a glacier that flows between tectonic plates? The water was a balmy 35 degrees Fahrenheit; we were completely outfitted in wet suits but by the end my lips were completely numb but I will never forget that experience. We used Dive IS and our guide Maria was fantastic. The price isn't Ísbúð Huppu.   Our accomadations were a cute little studio apartments at Selfoss apartments where I would have loved to spent another night or two. 
cheap but it's worth paying to experience it. After the dive, we visited geysirs, waterfalls and craters as we made our way to Selfoss. Here we ate the most delicious ice-cream I have ever put in my mouth. When you visit Selfoss, don't leave without grabbing a cool treat at

Day 6 was spent running through the highlands of Iceland for an ultra that kicked my ass. The race covered the Laugavegur hike that covers the Iceland highlands and takes you to mountain tops and more of the beautiful varied landscapes of the country. 


Vik
Day 7 was the busiest day of our time in Iceland. We started off early in the morning in the beautiful coastal town of Vik and spent the day making our way to the east fjords of Iceland. Vik was my favorite place. The beaches were filled with basalt, rocks, caves and legends of trolls. The beautiful ocean was held back only by the coal black sand that seemed to be infinite. I could have spent the entire trip exploring those beaches but there was so much more to see. Past Vik was Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon just off ring road. The lake is filled with glaciers and you can take boats onto the water to get up close to them. From there the icebergs travel down a short waterway and into the ocean but not before washing upon my favorite black sand beaches. Never will I be able to see icebergs on a beach and climb on them, unbelievable. From the icebergs we continued to make our way east, stopping at cliffs to search for puffins and explore the rocks that lined the coast. We ate dinner in Höfn which was a cute little town that had delicious local cuisine. 


After filling our bellies, we continued east toward the Fjords and made several stops along the way to explore waterfalls and beaches. The surprise was when we arrived at our accommodations, after miles and miles of enormous mountains and cliffs along the ocean we were surprised to find ourselves in a forest that surrounded a beautiful lake. I chose Hallormsstaður National Forest as our location by sheer luck, I had no idea how beautiful it was. We spent the night at Hotel Hallormsstaður, and I want to tell you online did not do this place justice. The hotel, the food, the forest was gorgeous. 











Day 8 WE GOT MARRIED!!! We spent the day heading back toward Vik and had our ceremony at a hidden waterfall tucked away near Skogafoss. After the ceremony, we spent the evening exploring more black sand beaches and making our way back to the capital to wrap up our amazing trip. 





My bible while in Iceland
It's impossible to capture the beauty of Iceland in pictures, it's other worldly. There are so many landscapes spread out through a place that has less people than sheep. I spent a good amount of time researching before the trip and even more time with my nose stuck in a lonely planet book I purchased at the airport.

To end the summary of our trip I thought I would offer my top 5 tips for a trip to Iceland. 

1. Iceland is expensive! Everything costs more, so plan to spend a lot. There are ways to save but don't skimp on the diving or the blue lagoon or the local food. 
Our rental

2. Rent a 4x4. I read so many reviews saying you won't need it, but there are some places we wanted to go that required F-road accessible vehicles. Spend the money to rent a vehicle and upgrade to a 4x4.

3. Make an itinerary. I don't usually like to plan but there are so many things to see and time is limited. We started early every morning and didn't stop until late every night and we still didn't see everything we wanted to. You will need more than 8 days and you will need to plan well to fit everything in.

4. Take a coat. Even in summer the winds can be strong and the air can be cool, especially when it rains. Take a coat, take a jacket and lots of layers. You won't regret it.

5. Enjoy the kaffi! I joked the entire trip about the coffee in Iceland being my favorite, I was sort of telling the truth. I could not get enough of their coffee. Every gas station and restaurant had espresso machines and made the yummiest cappuccinos. Try them while you're there if you're a coffe drinker. Delicious!

I would be happy to answer any questions you have or give advice to anyone thinking of going, just leave a comment below!!!




Photos courtesy of my talented wife, Jackie 💗