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Moving to Florida made me feel adventurous and daring, and, if I’m being honest, a bit special. I didn’t know many other people my age who’d moved across the country like that, and I think that was part of the appeal.

It was also my way of formally breaking ties with where I grew up. It was never a fit for me, and, as I’ve mentioned, none of my close friends were surprised to hear I was leaving the state. When I left Woodland behind, I really thought I left any part of me that identified with that small town behind as well.

A friend of mine from high school came to visit last weekend, someone I haven’t seen in years — I saw him a couple of times when I went back up to Michigan for weddings and such, but, shortly after that, he packed his bags and left the area, too, and now lives in Arizona. And it was so interesting to see the little things that we both seem to have hung onto despite the fact that we’re in totally different parts of the country.

There were little things, like the fact that we had basically the same shoes (gray Converse All-Stars) but, you know, in vastly different sizes (seriously, it was comical), and he brought along a Detroit Tiger hat — a staple in any Michigander’s closet, including mine. But there were a lot of other things, like views on finances and homes and family, that were still remarkably similar even though we’ve ended up with totally different lives in completely different communities.

I don’t know if those things remain in common because of where we grew up, or if they’re just things have always made us who we are and are probably why we became close friends in the first place. Or maybe some of it has to do with the fact that we’re both only children. I really have no idea. But I do know that, for as far away as I tried to run from the girl I was in Woodland, there was a bit of comfort in knowing that at least a little piece of that small town Midwestern girl survived.

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I’ve written elsewhere about the difficulty of living in the south when fall comes around. Or, rather,when fall should come around. When my friends back in Michigan are talking about the cute boots and sweaters and tweed skirts they’re picking up, I’m still sitting around, sweating through my tank top. This is not a complaint, I swear. I mean, when y’all are shivering in your Triple Fat Goose coats around the fire this Christmas, I’ll be slipping on a little cardigan to take the dogs for a walk in my flip flops. It all evens out.

Still, when I went swimming yesterday (which I still love so very, very much) and actually shivered as I stripped down to my bathing suit before jumping into the outdoor pool, I could hardly contain my glee. I love summer — I love the sunshine and I love sandals and I love pulling a cold beer out of the cooler and feeling the icy water drip down my arm. But enough is enough. I’m done. I want to wear a scarf without burning myself alive, dammit.

We’re not there yet, but it’s close. I can sleep with a window open and the room gets good and chilly. I can walk a few miles without my sunglasses fogging up. I don’t need long sleeves during the day, but full pants at night is starting to have serious appeal. This makes me happier than you know.

And I need the happy. A number of people very, very dear to my heart are going through incredibly difficult times. None of their stories are mine to tell, so please don’t ask for specifics, but when my friends feel pain, I try to carry my share of the load. I know everybody has their problems, but if you have some spare good and happy and positive thoughts, please send them to the really amazing people in my life who are dealing with things that just hurt your heart.

And, tell me — what do you do for a friend who’s having a hard time? What are your tricks for helping somebody you love get through the tough stuff?

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Back in the early days, when J and I were dating and just married, it was so weird to say good bye to each other for more than, like, the day. Now granted, I’m a more emotional person than most (and yes I cry at commercials and movie trailers all the time), but I would actually get teary if he was going out of town for two or three days.

(It was different, by the way, if I were the one leaving, because WOO HOO vacation!)

Now that he travels for work — a lot — that has obviously changed. After all, his first day of his current job was actually a two week trip to California and Puerto Rico, so we kind of had to get used to that quickly.

People are always asking me, “Isn’t that so haaard?” with a sympathetic tilt of the head. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried when we first realized just how much he’d be gone, but the thing that’s most surprising is how easily we both settled into things. I might talk to the dogs a bit more than I used to, and I definitely expect them to respond more often, but it’s very rarely lonely. And the nice thing is that, when he’s home, he’s really home. And since I work from home and we share an office, I get to see a lot of him when he’s here.

(Added bonus — when he’s been gone for a few days for work, I’m truly and genuinely excited to see him. How many people are that thrilled to see their spouses walk in the door after work?)

In fact, I just realized something last night. I’ve been trying to schedule my life around when he’s home; turning down offers for ladies’ night parties and other activities with girlfriends because he was in town and, well, didn’t that mean we needed to spend time together? And the irony of this is that it’s more important than ever that I have these friendships because there are so many days and nights when I’m on my own and would love to have something fun to do.

(Let me be very clear — at no point has J ever asked me to stay home with him. I mean, sure, he likes having me around — WHO WOULDN’T? — but he’s always encouraged me to hang out with my friends, and I’ve done the same for him.)

I read something the other day about how people don’t sleep enough during the week, and they try to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends, but it doesn’t work that way. Getting more on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t change the fact that you got so little the rest of the week — you’re better off aiming to make each hour of sleep you can squeeze the best it can be.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s not that I don’t love sitting around and doing nothing with my husband. I honestly do — Sunday afternoon happy hour on our back porch is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. But I also think it’s important that, rather than look at how much time we can spend in the same house, focus on doing more fun things, even if that means less time together.

So, I broke the cycle. He’s home this weekend, but I’m spending Saturday kayaking with friends. I don’t think we’ll have too hard a time squeezing in some fun on Sunday, especially if it’s anything like Sunday before last.

Hollie's first off-leash experience

Tired, happy girls

Also: THIRSTY. And cute.

Yes, those were gratuitous dog pictures, but Hollie just turned a year old and it seemed appropriate. You’re welcome.

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Thanksgiving is coming, folks. Like, fast. In fact, since I work for a holiday blog, I’m pretty much already onto Christmas!

This week hasn’t been a bad week, but it has been challenging. It’s been my first full week of scheduled training for a race in February (which is now going to be a 15k and not a half marathon — more explanation on that later), so not only is it adding about an hour of things I have to do onto my days, but it’s requiring a lot more physical effort (and making me really, really hungry). Fortunately, I think it’s starting to become habit, which, as any runner will tell you, makes all the difference in the world.

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend Metalia and feeling a bit whiny. She admitted that she had been having a shiteous week, but, that she’d decided to do something about it. (She also shared this with me, and I scored 5/12 — my 6-year-old self would be so disappointed, and also confused.)

Anyway, I list things I’m thankful for each night before I go to bed. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it helps me calm my mind and remember why I’m excited to wake up the next morning. So, now, I’m going to share a few of those items with you, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

The Internet – Without the internet, my profession wouldn’t exist. Not only do I hold jobs that I love, but I also love the people I work with. There’s stress and pressure at times, like in any job, but I laugh enough to more than make up for it. Also, in addition to the internet being the reason I’m friends with quite a few amazing people, it’s also helped me keep in touch with old friends. Internet, I love you.

Kind Strangers – For a couple of weeks, we fostered a beautiful lab mix named Blackie. He was adopted after the first week, but returned, and I started to wonder if I’d be able to give him up. But, the following weekend, a wonderful couple came in and fell in love with him the way I knew somebody would. And when I cried while handing him over, they didn’t scoff — instead, they hugged me.

Options – Our Publix grocery store is about 1/2 a mile away from our house, and I love it. However, when I went in to order my turkey (15-18 pounds, fresh, and free-range), the woman looked at me like, I don’t know, a free-range turkey had just popped out the top of my head. She asked me to explain what I wanted again, so I told her, “Free-range, you know? Cage free? They’re usually organic?” After that, she asked me to just write the terms down. And so, I think I’ll be going to our hippie supermarket for my turkey — sorry, but if the person in your meat department is unfamiliar with those aforementioned terms, I’m thinking another location might be a better choice.

Funny shirts – I’m currently wearing a “Check Meowt” tee supporting Feral for Life, which helps rescuers help cats. Every time I look down at it, I giggle. Some outfits make me feel good because I think they’re pretty, or flattering, or have a good memory associated with them. This is just pure fun.

Rest days – While I actually feel great, my knees are really, really happy to have a day off from running. Five miles on Saturday — anybody want to come with me?

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