Move Over Romeo and Juliet

Rocky and Adrian, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Bonnie and Clyde, Allie and Noah.  These couples have nothing on Roxie and Daniel. 

I met Roxie three and a half years ago at work.  After a few months of getting to know her I requested her as a friend on Facebook, because that’s what you do now-a-days, right?  Well, apparently Roxie and I were not on the same page because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be my friend.  – I was just as shocked as you are.  This winning smile, infectious personality??  Who wouldn’t want to be my friend? –   Don’t worry, I will never let her live that down.  Even on her death bed, I am going to remind her of it.  After she switched jobs and moved into the office across from me, she started warming up to me.  Actually, I believe there was something said about feeding body parts to a pig….. but anywho, soon after not only did we become Facebook friends, but we became real friends. 

I met Daniel once or twice during the first couple of months Roxie and I worked together.  He even put me in his phone as Anna Dotty.  It was at least a month until I found out and corrected him.   Then, when I foolishly decided to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon in March of 2018, Roxie had mentioned Daniel having some friends who might be willing to train with me.  Then, it turned into Daniel helping me train.  Then, it turned into Daniel signing up for the marathon to run with me.  Then, it was every weekend early morning training on Emerald Isle or Atlantic Beach with Roxie as our personal Sherpa riding along side us with water, biofreeze, gels, gummies, towels, motivation and snapping us along the way to keep our (mostly Daniel’s) social media followers updated.  (It’s a real thing!  If you don’t follow Daniel on Snapchat, you are missing out.)

I can tell you one thing: If you’ve never trained for a marathon with someone (in my case a couple) you don’t really know them. But I still spare you the Vaseline, twizzler, peeing on the side of the road, topless in bed, laying under a tree in the middle of the road stories for another time. I’ve piqued your interest though, huh??

Roxie and Daniel have been married 23 years, but you’d swear they were newlyweds because of how in love they are.  These two do not just tolerate each other (which is something I am accustomed to seeing in long-term relationships), they aren’t just husband and wife and they don’t just go through the motions.  These two are a team.  They are partners in life.  They support and encourage each other.    You know how some couple rag on their spouse?  Maybe make fun of their cooking or bad habits?  I have never heard either of them rag each other or make each other feel bad out of fun the way many couples do.  They even do everything together.  And it’s not out of force or guilt.  They really like being together and enjoy each other’s company.  My favorite part – which might be too personal, but I am going to share it anyways (if you know Daniel, just don’t tell him I told you) but his wife still swoons over him.  I hear all the time how proud she is of him and how handsome he looks in uniform and when we are out kayaking or running, she will glance over at him and say out loud – to no one in particular – “gosh he’s sexy.”  When I watch her watch her husband and smile, I smile.  I smile because when I see them, I know there is hope for me. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want a love like Roxie and Daniel.   #relationshipgoals

So here I am, writing about this amazing couple I look up to. I have so much love and admiration for these two, very special people. Thank you, Roxie and Daniel, for being my real life Hallmark movie romance (with a whole lot of comedy and some content only suitable for mature audiences).

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Blue Jean Jacket Cameo Boutique

Recently, “life” has been slapping me in the face. 

Go here. Do this. Make sure this gets done. Oh, wait, let’s add back pain to the mix. Don’t forget to mow your grass. You can’t miss the gym. Ok, maybe just one day. All those chickens are not going to feed themselves. Time to cheer on the Marlins and support the baseball players living with you all summer. You are out of milk, and bread, and coffee creamer – Wal-Mart is calling. Try out a new TV show on Netflix…. Next thing you know you’ve binge-watched four… you heard that right, four full TV series. Oh, and by the way, Parker needs daily medications 16 times a day for 72 weeks and since he won’t take a pill you have to hide it in a peanut butter sandwich……

OK, I may have exaggerated that last point. Except the peanut butter sandwich. That part is true.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging. (or answering texts, hanging out with friends or wishing all 800 and something Facebook friends a happy birthday even with the daily reminders on my phone).  Ooops, my bad!

Things have finally slowed down. Well, slightly.  And, I recently tried something completely out of my comfort zone.  It was – dare I say it – Fun! 

I recently starting “modeling” for a local boutique in Swansboro, North Carolina.

Cameo Boutique. 

I remember when it was a bridal store tucked away in Morehead City (I was probably 17/18 years old at the time).  I also remember when the store moved to Swansboro in the shopping center next to Taco Bell.  Then, years later…. many years later, it moved to its current location in a sweet, pale yellow, quaint ‘home’ on the edge of downtown Swansboro.  Gone are the days of a bridal boutique.  It’s a cute, fashionable, colorful, friendly and most importantly affordable boutique owned by a wonderful and sweet woman, Monica.  And she sure does have an eye for colorful styles and trendy, long-wearable fashions.

First and foremost, let me assure you I am NOT receiving a kick-back for writing this blog about Cameo Boutique.  You may have seen my personal Instagram where I tag the boutique when I am posting pictures of me wearing her items.  I mean, isn’t Instagram where you share your food, workout and clothing pics?  Hello – I am trying to keep up with the youth of America!  (ha ha)  Cameo Boutique is a small, local business which provides customer service you won’t find anywhere else.  (Trust me, I just read a Facebook post of a local business in New Bern where the owner was blatantly annoyed that a customer dared to walk into her establishment 5 minutes prior to closing and she only made the situation worse in comments in the thread by insulting other customers/people.  Because of that post, I will never go into her shop now.  I was looking forward to checking out her business.  Oh well.  But, to be kind, I will leave out the name of the new ‘junks and antique’ store in the local area.)

So, here’s to trying something new.  It’s a learning curve for me. I’m not naturally pretty – I definitely need makeup!  And my smile, eyes and poses can and will get better. 

Side Note:  I would really like to have a breast removal because I hate them!!!!!  Maybe I’ll set up a GoFundMe to have ya’ll help me get rid of these things!  – Just kidding… I would never accept a handout.  A sugar-daddy maybe.  But never a handout.  😊  I have already looked into it and my insurance won’t cover it and will be about $10,000 over the course of 6 months and 2 surgeries.  Note to all those young girls… DON’T get implants!)  I digress.

Cameo Boutique Purple Top

With constructive criticism from myself and my dear friends (whom I respect for sharing with me) I have some things to work on.  Because I want to represent the Cameo brand well.

What are you waiting on?  Go check out the boutique. 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cameoboutiqueandformalwear/

Website:  https://shopcameo.boutique/

When Did I Get Old?

This morning I woke up a little before 7am, just like clockwork.  No alarm needed.  I got out of bed, let the dogs out, opened up the chicken coop and made my way back into bed.  It’s Sunday.  I wanted to sleep in.  I should have known better.  After an hour of laying in bed watching the morning news, I decided going back to sleep wasn’t going to happen.  So, I got up, made my bed and headed straight for the coffee pot. 

As I waited for my coffee to brew, I reached up into my medicine cabinet and took my multivitamin.  After I enjoyed my morning brew, I got dressed and headed to the gym.  80 minutes later (today was cardio day) I headed back home.  When I got home it was time to take my daily pill.  I reached back into the medicine cabinet.  I started prepping dinner, had some chicken chores outside to take care of, vacuumed and dusted the house.  At this point it was only 1pm.  I figured with nothing left on my agenda, I’d jump in the shower.  I headed to the bathroom to take a shower when halfway there I remembered that I have a lumbar injection tomorrow morning.  At that point I smiled.  Then laughed out loud.  It was also when I realized – I’m a 60-year-old woman.  When did this happen? 

Let me take you back to Friday.  Friday, my dad and I went to a Morehead City Marlins game.  It was a father-daughter date night.  On the way to the field dad told me he tried looking up someone on Facebook and he said, “They must not be a Facebook user.”  I replied back, “Yeah, this younger generation doesn’t really use Facebook.  They are more of Snapchat and Instagram users.”  My dad started laughing and repeated my, “This younger generation” in a mocking way.  Laughing, I looked at him and said, “Seriously, dad, I can admit I am not young anymore.  But my generation is probably the last that uses Facebook for social media and connections.” 

Fast forward 15 minutes when we pulled into the Michael’s parking lot.  I needed something from inside.  Dad turned off the truck and followed me in.  I went straight to the yarn aisle.  I was there no more than 3 minutes when I hear my dad yelling, “Hey old lady, hurry up and pick out your yarn.”

Well, there you go ladies and gentlemen:  My 65-year-old dad called me old.  And he got quite the kick out of it. 

Then, on Saturday, while I was at a friend’s house, her daughter wanted to show me the redecorating she was doing in her room.  We went up to her room and asked my opinion on a few things.  She sleeps on a twin bed and was trying to figure out what to do when she had guests sleep over.  As I was giving her some ideas, she looked at her loveseat, chair and ottoman she got from me a few months back and said, “Or they could just sleep here.”  The look I gave her must have warranted an explanation because she just stared at me when I finally replied, “Well, you are young.  Young people can sleep anywhere.  But there is no way I would be comfortable there.  My back would be killing me.”  After that comment I had to laugh at myself.  “Wow.  I just said that.  I’m old!”

So here I am.  35 years old.  I take daily multivitamins.  I workout every day despite chronic back problems.  And for this I purchased a $3,000 Tempur-Pedic mattress 3 years ago and receive regular injections in my back.  I go to bed around 9pm every night.  And I’ve recently started crocheting.  Personally, I think I am trendy, hip and fashionable.  But I’ve come to discover, if you call yourself “hip” you are probably old. 

Hi.  My name’s Anne.  I’m not as young as I used to be.  When did this happen?

Talking to Strangers

I’ve recently watched a TED Talk – Why You Should Talk To Strangers – presented by Kio Stark.  I’ve never heard of her before, but the title of the short video was enough to pique my interest.  She was encouraging people to talk to strangers.  Her reason:  When you talk to strangers, you are telling them “I see you there.”  And when you look at talking to strangers in that way, she says you develop a genuine emotional connection with someone.

Fear not – this blog is NOT a recap of the video I watched. If anything, I’d much prefer you watch it for yourself.  However, as I watched and listened, it made me smile thinking about how fortunate I am to live in the south.  Here in the south, there is no such thing as a stranger.  Us southerners can pretty much talk to anyone, at any time, for any reason.  While it may not be some in-depth, life-changing conversation, where life-long friendships are formed, sparking up a conversation with someone you don’t know is more like an unwritten, southern hospitality rule.  There might as well be signs on I95 southbound stating – Last chance to turn around if small talk isn’t your cup of tea.  (And by tea, I obviously mean sweat tea.)

I’m reminded of a time when this small-town girl from eastern North Carolina traveled all the way up to Harrisburg, PA, for work.  – Spoiler alert, that small-town girl is me. –  A few of my colleagues and I decided that before we checked into our hotel for the evening we would go out and grab some food.  We found a bar and grill a few miles from our hotel, walked in and decided to sit at the bar.  It was one of those oval shaped bars that no matter where you sat, you could see everyone.  As I was looking at the menu, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat.  About the same time, I saw meal after meal being delivered to my fellow bar sitters.  Naturally, the southern girl in me started asking everyone sitting around the bar what they were eating because it looked so good and being from out of town I was hoping they could give me some recommendations.

At that very moment you could have heard a pin drop.  You should have seen the looks on their faces.  They glared at me in disbelief.  I have never felt so unwelcomed in my entire life.  The bartender walked over to me and gave me some recommendations. 

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

No wonder you don’t hear the phrase: northern hospitality.

So next time you happen to have a few minutes in your day, and you’re willing to look up from your phone for more than 5 minutes, spark up a conversation with a stranger. Maybe they’ve been feeling lonely or just seem to think nobody takes notice of them. And then you come along, a pure stranger to them, making note of their existence by exchanging a few friendly words and maybe even a laugh or two. This could be all that they need in order to feel noticed.

I did it…… Again!

Today, in my cap and gown, wearing honors cords, I received a Bachelor of Science in Management/Marketing. Knowing my friends and family were there to support me and watch me as I received my degree, it was truly one of the most special moments ever. And it wasn’t any less special than when I received my first undergraduate degree 3 years ago.

That’s right – I have two bachelor’s degrees.

My educational journey started the fall after my divorce was final.  I was scared.  REALLY scared.  I was 26 years old.  I lived 6 hours away from my parents.  How was I going to support a 7-year-old with just a high school education? 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a great job. Financially, I was doing OK. But what if there were layoffs one day? What if, down the road, they required a college degree in order to keep my job? I always wanted to go back to school (when I was 18, I didn’t take college very seriously and just wasted a lot of my parent’s money) but I didn’t know if, or how, I could. How was I going to afford it? When would I have the time? 4 years seemed like a LONG time to go to school. I mean, I couldn’t make it during my first attempt, so how was I going to make it now? Well, thanks to an amazingly wonderful boss (and friend and mentor) she encouraged me to register for school. I spent an entire workday figuring out what I needed and applying for financial aid. By the next day, I was accepted into Park University for their online curriculum.

After I got my first semester under my belt, I felt a little better about going back to school. I was getting the swing of things. I was actually enjoying it.

I took 2 classes a semester (which is the max you could take). Since each semester was only 8 weeks, there were 5 semesters a year. So naturally, I went to school year-round with only a week or two of a break between semesters. I worked full time and traveled frequently for my job. All the while, I was balancing being a single mom and going to school. It was hard. I had many late nights of writing papers, doing discussion boards and taking exams. I would take my textbooks everywhere to read whenever I could. There were many baseball practices where Landon would be out on the field and I had a nose in a book on the side lines. I had to plan outings around school and when we went on vacation, I had to make sure the hotel had free wifi. When I traveled for work, I looked forward to long layovers. I would sit on the ground with my laptop in a chair and do as much homework as I could. My carryon bag for all those work trips always consisted of my laptop and books.

I remember one day when I was sitting on the couch writing a paper, Landon sat down next to me and said, “I want to go to college like you so I can stay home.” It crushed my heart. I looked at him and said, “Landon, no you don’t. You want to get good grades in school and get accepted to a good college where you can actually enjoy college life and not have to juggle work, school and family like I am. I’m missing out on a lot. And I don’t want that for you.”

When I walked across the stage the first time, Landon was in the audience.  In fact, he had math end-of-grade testing that day and I reached out to his teacher and said he would be at my graduation and was hoping he could have a make-up day.  She said, “Absolutely!  Seeing you graduate is important.” 

I received my first bachelor’s degree at 32 years old in Social Psychology with a concentration in culture, industry and organization. I achieved what I never thought I would. I was finally done!

Or so I thought. 

A little over a year later I registered to go back to school. I missed it. I was so used to having a routine that involved schoolwork that I didn’t know what to do without it. And plus, I loved learning. So, in the fall of 2017 I was back in school full-time. And loving every minute of it. That is, until I ran out of financial aid and had to start paying for classes out of pocket. That hurt! I could have taken out personal student loans, but I didn’t want to add to my debt. Thank goodness I only had to do it for a few semesters for a total of $7,000.

I wouldn’t change anything about how long my education journey took me. I was able to show Landon the importance of an education at any age. And that right there is priceless. I want to go and get my masters (I love school and learning) but unfortunately, I have to pay back the $65,000 in student loan debt I have, and I have a kid going to college in a few years. It would be selfish for me to take away from him. Maybe one day I will be able to go for my masters. But then again, maybe one day I will pay off my student loans. But I’m thinking at this point, I may die before I actually pay that in full. Either way, I will be paying off student loans for the rest of my life. And it is depressing to think about. Seriously, some days I cry because I think to myself: Was it worth it? Is it worth having to live poor just to pay for two degrees? And when I look over to where I proudly display my diplomas I’m reminded that I am the first person in my immediate family to have earned a bachelor’s degree. And I don’t have just one. I now have two. Then I smile and say to myself – “Damn right it was. It is worth every penny.”

This blog is not meant to be boastful. Rather, it’s meant to show you that even though there are plenty of obstacles thrown in your way on this journey of life, you can still overcome, achieve and accomplish what you put our mind to. For the single parents out there, you can do it! For those who don’t have a support system for encouragement, I’ll be your cheerleader! Whatever the reason, whatever the obstacle, I am here for you.

Simply put:  If I can do it, so can you!

Family, Beer and Baseball

Landon pitching during fall ball season

Believe it or not, there was a time when I would see a baseball game on the television and think to myself, “OMG, how boring.” Many years ago, I was even asked to go to a Major League Baseball game and I declined because I didn’t want to sit in the stands and be bored. I mean, come on, there is like ZERO action. Or, so I thought.

Thanks to Landon, I was able to stop that idiotic thinking of baseball being a boring sport and I actually began to not only understand, but love the game.

Landon played baseball for 7 seasons. I watched him grow from T-ball to Babe Ruth. We even traveled all the way up to Aberdeen, Maryland, for the Cal Ripken Baseball Camp one summer. We’ve gone to many Washington Nationals games and we’ve even seen the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Short-Season classification affiliate team for the Baltimore Orioles) and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Class A – Advanced affiliate team for the Chicago Cubs). After a good run, Landon decided he didn’t want to play anymore, and that was OK.

Summer of 2016, our first Morehead City Marlins game.

The summer of 2018 I became a host family for the Morehead City Marlins. Even though Landon wasn’t playing, we still had a summer filled with baseball (and obviously beer). But better yet, we also walked away from that summer experience with a new family. And if you’ve never had a baseball family before, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Anne, Dawson, Landon

Well, here we are, with the start of the 2019 season for the Morehead City Marlins just days away, Landon and I have opened up our house again for the second year. But this year, we are hosting two players. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Florence this past September, Eastern North Carolina is still trying to pick up the pieces. Many host families were unable to help out this year. We knew it would be tight, but we would make it work. So, this week we’re welcoming Ryan and Connor to the family.

So, if you’re in the area this summer, come join us at the Big Rock Stadium for some baseball and beer. And before you know it, you just might become family.

5am on a Saturday

Team DARK
Emerald Isle Beach Saturday Morning Workout

This morning when my alarm went off at 5am I got up immediately without hitting snooze.  Which is impressive considering during the work week I hit snooze for every alarm I set (I set my alarm to go off at five different times if you were wondering).  This morning, on a Saturday of all days – when everyone else was still asleep, I jumped out of bed and made some coffee.  I threw on some clothes, packed a bag and headed out the door by 6:30am.  I was headed to Emerald Isle.

The 30-minute drive was very quiet.  Only a few cars were on the road.  At 7:05am I arrived at my destination.  I jumped out of the truck, changed my shoes and headed towards the beach.  It was time to work out. 

Yes.  You read that right.  I woke up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday morning (earlier than I even wake up for work) and drove the almost 35 minutes to get a good Saturday morning workout in.  By the way, I wasn’t alone.  My crazy friends were also there. 

Daniel and Roxie brought their rower, jump box, kettlebells, and 45lb bar with additional weights.  Daniel set up a circuit for us with the beach as a backdrop.  He even included a beach run in the circuit.  We teamed up two by two:  Me and Daniel, and Roxie and Kim.  Each round was 20 minutes.  We did three rounds for a total of 60 minutes.  We did get some crazy looks from the scarce morning crowd.  But we didn’t care.  Covered in sweat, when we finished our workout we high-fived, took a group picture, loaded all the equipment into Daniel’s truck and then said our goodbyes as each of us headed home.  It was 8:45am.      

Just about everyday on Facebook, friends of mine are posting about how they want to lose weight, workout more or eat healthier.  And many are repeat posters because they aren’t doing anything to follow through with their goals.  If you want to eat healthier or lose weight, you MUST be willing to put in the work and leave the excuses at the door (or in your comfy bed).  But ultimately, you need a support system to hold you accountable.  Your 2,000 friends on Facebook are NOT holding you accountable.  And unfortunately, many of them want to see you fail.     

My personal health and fitness tip to reach your goals: get yourself a tribe like mine.  (Although, this might mean you don’t get to sleep in on Saturday).

Between the four of us, we all have varying degrees of fitness levels.  But that doesn’t stop us from being able to meet up and get a good workout in.  We encourage each other.  We push each other.  We challenge each other.  And we don’t allow each other to make excuses.

Now, please excuse me while I take a much needed Saturday afternoon nap.