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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.
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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.