“There comes a day/When you’re gonna look around/And realize happiness is/Where you are.” — “Where You Are,” from the movie Moana


LOW TIDE, ATLANTIC OCEAN, OUTER BANKS, N.C. — From a small hill on the sand, I saw her — Mountain Kid 1. Her wind-blown hair resting gently on her shoulders as she looked down.

She twisted her feet deep into the sand, as if to plant herself into the beach. She stood straight with clinched fists as if to say, “Come and get me. I am strong and I will defeat you.”

The ocean laughed, and a waist-high wave crashed into her body. MK1 swayed, bending a little to lighten the wave’s effect on her body, but she was still standing. She may have been a little shaken due to the cold, salty water hitting her. She still stood there as defiant as before with her clenched fists and back straight.

The waves came a few more times before MK1 decided that ocean had won for the moment. Her attention turned to the nearby seashells. And the family’s collection grew a little more that day.

In the transition from Appalachia to the flatlands, I took a week off to grow accustomed to the surroundings and get things ready to go. To be honest, I want my life here to be the same, but different, than life in Appalachia.

While my husband would be happy if I cut back on my volunteerism, I’m looking to get back into things, just maybe not in the same way.

After watching “Moana,” I was struck by the movie’s theme. The main character, Moana, longs for a life of adventure on the ocean, but her parents keep reminding her that everything she needs/wants is on the island they call home.

In some ways, seeing my daughter clincher her fists and defy the ocean — nature itself — reminded me of Moana and myself. I want to keep my daughter safe, but I know that she doesn’t belong to me. She, along with her brother MK2 and MK3, belong to the world. Their adventures are only starting.

As a group, they like to complain about long rides to various places and how one kid is poking the other or flipping each other off … it makes for some very trying times. Being the mother of the three makes for some cringe-worthy days.

I can create some pretty cringe-worthy days for my kids too. I’m not the most patient person or most kind. I do things for my kids that I never thought I’d do as a adult. I question my sanity daily.

This time off has me looking within and close-by for the answers I seek as we move forward. As the song says, “Happiness is where you are.”

And where am I? I ask myself that question on a daily basis. And sometimes, a little bit of the answer reveals itself. Take this picture below for example.


This photo was taken from our recent beach trip. In it, you’ll find Cami, my backpack that I brought for my first GORUCK event. It’s now my everyday pack/purse. Some Gatorade, my kids’ go-to sports drink. (I prefer Nuun, but they don’t like the taste of most flavors.) The fishing rod was found behind our new house the day before the trip. And of course, a pair of my kids’ shoes are laying around.

“Happiness is where you are.” This picture shows my happiness. It’s in finding old things (the fishing pole) and using them in new ways. We tried fishing in the ocean, but it didn’t work out. I use Cami for workouts as weight, as a carry-all for day trips, as an overnight back. I like her jack-of-all-trade’s appeal. Cami’s like me — versatile, always up for anything. The shoes represent how I tend to care for others before taking care of myself. The Gatorade is how I still cling to my past and not so good, habits. I’m not quite ready to let go of some things. In some ways, it holds me back. Some times, it forces me to go forward.

When I first started running in 2012, after taking a lengthy break after high school, I did it more for the physical aspects. Over time, my pursuit of becoming physically fit has become much more than that. And this mini-vacation or whatever you call it has shown me where my happiness is … where I am. Now. Right here. Doing this thing. With those who are/aren’t here.

Yesterday, happiness was climbing this dune using a bear crawl several times with my kids. That is until one of them threw sand in my eyes to keep me from beating them to the top. Then we played along the shore of the undeveloped stretch of beach.


I am going to sign up for a fall marathon and am planning to sign up for a local triathlon that takes place the weekend before my birthday. The triathlon consists of kayaking, biking and running. There will be some 5Ks and other athletic endevours between these two big events.

I hope to keep you informed of these, along with tasty creations and other things along the way. I’ll see you soon.