Work Balance

I’m not good at working at night. I am much better getting up in the morning to get in some writing. I don’t like always having to spend the time Emma is in school and in classes always writing. Sometimes, I have to run errands, want to get in a workout or just plain sit in the couch and watch TV (a rarity but especially difficult during the holidays where those cheesy Hallmark movies call my name).

thumbnail
My morning view

Right now I am trying to find a good balance between working on a project that in the future will make me money or focusing on writing articles that will bring in money in the meantime. It’s a tough balance that I feel myself struggling with.

I’m trying to make better use of my time, but I’m not always the best at it. Through this, Emma has had to have a bit more of independent play time as I try to sneak in twenty minutes here and there writing copy, sizing photos, emailing questions or seeking out sources.

I had intentions of really focusing this past week on my big project, but I found myself saying yes to two last minute article assignments knowing that it’s approaching the slow season where freelance budgets are maxed out for the year. Another outlet I occasionally write for is coming to a halt. That makes saying yes to any assignments that come my way even more important. It’s a tough business pitching, endless follow-up emails and sometimes even begging for payment. An article could be a go or not a go based on whether a source or interview subject responds.

I think balance is a key to life whether its work, play or combination of both. Sometimes it is an easy find. Other times not as much. Just yesterday, Emma wanted to play outside in the amazing weather. I had an article subject finally get in touch with me that afternoon- literally the day the article was due. I told Emma that I would play with her for twenty minutes, but then I needed twenty minutes to dictate my interview while she put together a puzzle. Thankfully this isn’t a typical scenario and I usually have more time to get articles done. While the money is needed, my thoughts turned to next year and how Emma will be in school all day. That time I will never get back.

How is Thanksgiving like a week away? The time is just flying by. Last week, AJ came home from dropping Emma off at school with information on registering for Kindergarten. Yes, registration starts Dec 1st for us- insert huge tearing up eyes.

My latest articles for ironman.com are live now on 13 x Hawaii Ironman finisher Simon Butterworth as well as my last minute article on Journey for Smiles Foundation athlete Declan Fox.

Olivia, Emma’s good deed elf, made her return this week, so we can do a few good deeds before we are off to see family for Thanksgiving. Emma was so excited to come out of her room and see Olivia sitting there. I hope that even when Emma is old enough to understand it all that she will still want to do good deeds with Olivia. It is truly my favorite holiday tradition.

Stay tuned for my post on gratitude and giving back.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

Advertisements

In Loss and Life

A few weeks ago, my mother called to tell me that a very close childhood friend of mine lost her son at 18. This friend and I had grown apart some time around when middle school started. Distance, interests, life choices etc. really led us to not talk unless we saw each other at “family” celebrations and gatherings.

Her sons age, the manner in which he passed away- the whole thing is hard to still comprehend. Life can be incredibly cruel. A few bad choices and some difficult life experiences and he was caught up in the world of drugs looking for an escape.

My thoughts have been with my childhood friend since I heard the news wondering how she can find the energy to get up in the mornings, to do the simple tasks and to stay strong for her other children. How are his four siblings feeling right now? At their young age, how much can they really comprehend?

I never understood why my sister is gone and I was almost 29 years old when she passed away. The same week, a friend’s sister had her first child- a baby girl. When one life ends, another is beginning.

thumbnail-1.jpg

 

I can’t believe how fast October came and went. We only have a few things left on our fall bucket list that includes playing football on Thanksgiving (a neighborhood tradition) and showing our gratitude.

We are doing our 30 days of thankfulness challenge again. It might be called a challenge, but it is really easy considering all the blessings we have in our lives. I’m the first to tell you that I have trouble showing gratitude on a consistent basis. It’s something I have struggled with demonstrating to Emma at times. But my overall goal is that Emma finds gratitude in her heart as she continues to grow up and that helping others is important to her in all stages of life. She has a heart of gold. Sometimes, you just have to bring it out. Look for a post about helping children (and yourself) find more gratitude in your daily lives to be posted soon.

I finished two listicles for motivrunning.com and just sent off another article for ironman.com. I am writing a second piece for parksandpoints.com on our recent trip to Goblin Valley. My focus this week will be finishing that, pitching outlets and taking in all the things to be grateful for around me.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

 

Mission to Mars

Since Emma had a four day weekend, we headed to Green River, Utah to get in some hiking and exploring two weekends ago. It was a quick three day trip and included some time in Goblin Valley and searching for the Black Dragon petroglyph in Black Dragon Canyon.

On our way to Green River (the only real city close to Goblin Valley), we stopped in Grand Junction to do a little apple picking at a place called the Fruit Basket. It was the end of their picking season, but we were still able to find a bag full of delicious Granny Smith and Red Delicious Apples.image_01 (1)

We got to the hotel a little past 3 p.m. Emma and I headed to the John Wesley Powell Museum to check out the dinosaur bones while AJ hung back working and watching the live coverage of the Ironman World Championships. I haven’t been to the race in a few years (since Emma came along), but for AJ it was the first time he hasn’t been in 14 years give or take a few. I know it was strange for him to not be there. I could tell at times he was missing it, but I know he is excited for his career change.

image_02

I titled this blog post “Mission to Mars” because Goblin Valley is often referred to as Mars on Earth. The goblin and mushroom like formations make for some martian like landscape. After a nights rest, we hit the Green River Coffee Company on the way to Goblin Valley. It was a blue bird but windless day and a perfect mid 60’s.

We went for a hike on the Entrada Canyon Trail- a narrow slot like trail down in the valley. After that hike, we had lunch and enjoyed playing in the Valley of the Goblins. We finished our trip with a hike along the Curtis Bench trail that offers views of Three Sisters, the Henry Mountains and other landmarks in the area.

On Monday morning, before heading back to Colorado, we went searching for the Black Dragon and other petroglyphs in Black Dragon Canyon. The petroglyphs are truly amazing to look at thinking about what the Native Americans saw and used them for. It was sad to see the amount of graffiti in and around the historical site.

image_01 (2) copy

The next planned stop in Utah is to hit the St. George area after spending Christmas with AJ’s family in Salt Lake. We have Vernal, Utah in the plans and probably the Moab area for spring break. There is a lot of territory to cover!

Leading up to the Ironman World Championships, my article on Kirstin McCay second attempt on the Big Island was featured on ironman.com. I just sent off a story on 13 time Kona finisher Simon Butterworth for the website. An update story on Marcus Cook is also in the works as his inspirational video about his Ironman Texas race in 2017 is due out in December.

I am also working on two listicles for motivrunning.com– 10 Things Mamas Should Know About Running After Pregnancy and 10 Worst Things To Avoid Race Weekend.

Halloween is just around the corner! I hope you’ve been enjoying the fall!

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

The Year’s Last Loveliest of Smiles

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile.” -William Cullen Bryant

My favorite time of year has officially arrived according to the calendar. It’s the time of year I get homesick, and the time of year I can’t say no to anything fall related on the to do list. Emma and I brought in the start of fall with a trip to Mud Lake to ride through some Aspens. Emma did amazing over the rocks and roots. Unfortunately, her single gear 16 inch bike is hard to get up the hills. But, she took it like a champ and got off and walked when she needed to. That is what I love about her. Obstacles don’t stand in this girls way! We ended our trip with a few rides on the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland.

 

Last Friday night, we celebrated the first day of fall fire pit side at Anderson Farms. We started this tradition with Emma’s birthday buddy friends last year.

 

It’s fun to see the kids run around the farm, ride the train cars and race their ducks. With the kids in school, jobs etc., we don’t see our old friends as much. Stephanie, AnnMarie, Lyndi and Meredith are my tribe of mamas that I don’t know where I would be without. We can not talk for a week (and not see each other for months- insert sad face) and then text to vent or ask advice without question.

 

Emma and I took a quick trip to Cottonwood Farms last Saturday before the rain came in to grab cornstalks for our front porch ( a tradition passed down from my parents). We got seriously lost in the corn maze, but we had fun and couldn’t help but laugh every time we found a dead end (there was a lot of them)! I am savoring this fall with her as next fall she will be in school M-F (maybe even all day).

This past week was rainy meaning we spent a lot of time inside. AJ has been at real estate school all week, so at least he hasn’t missed much! Emma went to her usual classes, school and we had a few playdates.

Spooky tours are a great way to get into the spirit of the season as you can read in my latest article for Colorado Parent. 70.3 Augusta racer Carrie Worth broke out of her shell  because of the sport of triathlon.  I’m working on winter pitches, a few Ironman World Championship stories, but my main focus is on my major one year project.

Looking forward to next weeks better weather, AJ’s shortened school days and more fall happenings to come!

Adventure On,

Courtney

P.S. Did you know that every fourth grader in the U.S. can get a free National Parks pass good through August 30, 2018? Click this link to learn more!

Outdoor Adventure Bucket List

As you already know, I am a lover of the outdoors and bucket lists. Nothing beats fresh air and time in nature. Bucket lists are fun ways to explore the world and challenge oneself.

Our family doesn’t have any trouble getting outside. But, its always nice to find new ideas to keep it exciting. Generation Wild, a non-profit in Colorado dedicated to connecting kids with nature, along with GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) came up with an excellent list of things kids should see/do/experience before they are 12. They have suggestions including going on a horseback ride and spotting a shooting star to making mud pies and going sledding on a cardboard box.

IMG_3364

You can download your own copy of the list in PDF format.  Even if you don’t live in Colorado, most of these can be done no matter where you live.

One of the items happens to be hear an Elk bugle- something we just completed last week. Here is a photo of all that we have completed on our list!

IMG_3365

 

I picked up a few additional assignments leading up to Kona for ironman.com. My first parksandpoints.com piece on the Great Sand Dunes is live as well as a story on Marine Vet Mike Mendoza who lost his bike on the way to 70.3 Worlds on ironman.com. And work is just beginning on my big project…… exciting things are in the future.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

Have Elk Will Bugle

Life is about to get even more busy for us as I take on a huge project (more about that much later) and AJ takes a step in a new direction career wise and begins real estate school on Monday. So, we took a quick overnight trip to Rocky Mountain National Park to hear the elk bugling.

We went up on Wednesday after Emma had preschool. It was raining as we left Erie (odd) and rain clouds loomed over the national park. We stopped at the Moraine Discovery Center to talk to the rangers about where the elk have been hanging out. They are very often found in the Moraine Valley. So, we headed just down the road and sure enough, there was a herd there. We caught a short amount of action with a bull elk chasing a juvenile bull away from the herd. Other than that, it was bugle free. So, we headed to the Fern Lake trailhead to wait out the rain. It was a short storm, so we headed out for a hike.

DSC_1820

We hiked aboutIMG_3411 (1) 1.5 miles and turned around to make sure we could have dinner and set up the cabin before it got too dark. The trail was nice and was fairly flat with a few rollers, plenty of changing leaves and shade. It also followed the water.

IMG_3544

We had some beer samples and dinner at Estes Park Brewery. Because we didn’t get to the camp store at Jellystone Campground before they closed for the night, we had to gather our own wood for a fire. We had a good amount of light left to search for wood and get in some time at the playground too.

AJ got a great fire roaring, so we enjoyed some S’mores and fall beer mixed in with a little rain too. We even read a few books by the fireside. Then it was off to bed to get up early.

We got up early (before the sun) to find the elk. We had a camp stove fail, so thankfully. McDonald’s was open on the way back into the park. The herd wasn’t in its typical position in the valley, but we did see a DSC_1845bunch of people parked up the road. We headed there to eat our breakfast. The elk were pretty much on the move up the hillside. We did hear a few short whistles (well AJ and I did as the wind made for a very cold morning and Emma stayed in the car), but then the elk were up the hill and out of sight.

Because it was still too cold, we decided to drive up Trail Ridge to check out the leaves while it warmed up. As we headed up the road, AJ spotted four coyotes trotting on the side of the road. We followed them along (they didn’t seem too phased by cars, people) and happened to watch two of them go to the bathroom in the middle of the room. Lucky us….

DSC_1879

Up the road on a pull off, were a few cars and some elk just hanging out right by the side of the road. We decided to pull over. Within minutes, we heard some bugling. AJ, not being impressed with what we heard earlier, was wowed. Emma was sooo excited, and I felt giddy. There was a juvenile bull, about ten cows and one bull with a large rack. Up the hillside, and across the road, another bull was trying to make his presence known. The two bulls went back and forth bugling at each other.

Still cold, we headed up above tree line to see if we could see a few marmots or big horn sheep. No luck, so we headed back down. Some of the elk were back onto the road when we came down, so we stopped again to hear a few more bugles. The bull elk wasn’t cooperating to get pictures, but at least he performed on the bugle side.

We had to be out of the cabin by 11, so we had to get on our hike. We headed to the Cub Lake trailhead and hit the trail. Emma was on a leaf hunt (again) finding leaves all along the trail. The highlight was seeing an elk skeleton on the side of the trail. Emma was intrigued for sure.

With minutes to spare, we got back to the cabin. Packing up was quick, and Emma got some more time on the playground too. It was a great little get away returning to a place where AJ camped so many years ago with his parents. It looks the same in so many ways but different as well…. We enjoyed hearing about his memories.

Adventure On,

Courtney

Celebrating 41

I turned 41 this past Saturday. It didn’t have the hoopla of my 40th, but I still enjoyed the time with my loves and all the birthday messages I received. We went out to breakfast and spent the rest of the day hanging out at home really doing nothing. For me, it was actually nice to do nothing. Saturday night, AJ surprised me (made me put on a blindfold) with a picnic with wine, bread, cheese and Proscuitto from my favorite place- Cured. We had a drink out before the picnic and finished with carrot cake and cocktails at 24 Carrot Bistro. It was a nice night and kept my mind off Irma.

Sunday was an emotional day as we continually watched the coverage of the hurricane. Although we don’t fully know the extent of the damage of the city of Naples and Marco Island, we know my parents place came out with minimal damage. The friends and family we had around the state are all safe and sound as well. My thoughts go out to those who lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.

Last year, I created the blog post, “A Bucket List for 40“.  One year later, my bucket list is re-posted below along with a ♥ next to the items I have been able to check off. Thirteen in one year isn’t too shabby! I am going to try for fifteen this year!

40 for 40

  • Do 40 acts of kindness in the two months leading up to the big day-♥
  • Surf my first real wave
  • Get an article into a big parent mag like Family Fun or Parenting-♥
  • Sleep a night not under the same roof as Emma… Yes, you read that right. I have never slept a night away from her-♥
  • Take some photos of the Milky Way-♥ (need to do a re-do as these didn’t come out that well)
  • Learn to really change a flat tire on my bike
  • Hand out/donate a 100 dollar bill to someone in need
  • Finally go on a honeymoon with AJ
  • Use power tools to build something
  • Learn to cut our monthly grocery bill in half-♥ (need to do it consistenly month to month though)
  • Visit the Grand Canyon- ♥
  • Climb a 14er- yep lived in Colorado for how long and never have done it
  • Quit a bad habit- I think this should be drinking soda once and for all
  • Forgive the people that have hurt me in the past
  • See the glaciers in Alaska
  • Find ways to be grateful everyday-♥
  • Mash my own grapes to make wine
  • Make fresh pasta-♥ (AJ got me a gift card to do this… now I just need to sign up)
  • Write a note to each of my parents thanking them for the many things they have given me/ taught me
  • Have consistent child/parent market writing assignments- ♥
  • Revisit something I used to love to do but don’t do anymore-♥ (slowly getting back into photography)
  • Dip my toes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the same year-♥
  • Watch the leaves change colors on the East Coast
  • Make ice cream from scratch
  • Read a new book every month-♥
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Host a backyard movie night
  • Ride a horse on the beach
  • Send a message in a bottle
  • Pay for a strangers groceries
  • Visit a lighthouse
  • Run a trail half marathon
  • Take a road trip in a Vanagon
  • Plant an apple tree and grow my own apples
  • Participate on a run relay team like Ragnar
  • Volunteer for the Red Cross or other aid organization
  • Have three-four tech free days per month
  • Learn to live more simply by buying less-♥
  • Send a handwritten card/note to someone at least once a week
  • Make a perfect replica of the Marachino coffee drink I had in Rome, Italy

 

Adventure On,

Courtney