Twenty Years

nell_steve_holdinghands_fieldboca_resort_front nell_beach_arms_out nell_steve_swing_nell_laughing nell_waving_balcony steve_side_pool nell_looking_over_balcony photoshoot_looking_at_ea_other_laughing_sm steve-bodyboarding-close-up photoshoot_nellstand_stevesit_sm nell_wipe-out photoshoot-20-pic steve_bodyboarding_tongue_out steve_walking_to_beach nell_bodyboarding

It is truly amazing how quickly twenty years of marriage has flown by.  The first decade was spent having and raising young children and seemed to go by at somewhat of a normal pace.  The second decade has gone by in the blink of an eye.  It feels a bit strange and surreal; like a couple of years went by but definitely not ten.  It seems like we went to sleep one night with young children and woke up with older teens.  We now find ourselves embarking on being empty nesters with two adult children.  I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around this time warp.

Let’s back up over two decades for just a minute.  I’ve been told that my marriage and what we have is an anomaly; truly unlikely and almost statistically impossible.  The hubs and I met my junior year, his senior year of high school.  We became best friends and then started dating.  After dating for four years (on and off), we got married at the young age of 20 and had a baby right away at the age of 21.  Being together since the age of 16, getting married young and having a baby at a young age.  Any one of these factors alone sets us up for failure, but all three?  Impossible.  Right?  Well, somehow we made it.  Not only have we made it this far but we are happy; seriously happy.  We are just as happy now as we were way back then, maybe even more so.

I don’t know that there is any one “secret” to my marriage.  I am just as awestruck as anyone looking in from the outside, to be honest.  I feel incredibly grateful for what I have and I definitely try not to ever take it for granted.  I will say that getting married young and having children young as opposed to waiting until we were older and “set up” in life had its real advantages in our marriage.  In those early years, we truly fumbled through life.  We were so young and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  I think when you get married young, you expect each other to change.  You expect each other to grow.  This expectation allowed us to come together and actually grow up together.  Neither one of us had the answers.  We just figured it out as we went, but we did so together.  It was an adventure.  It was our adventure that turned into an absolutely beautiful life with an amazing marriage and two awesome kids.

What will the next twenty years hold?  I have no idea. I do know that it will lead us into a brand new season in our lives.  We will have two adult children, become empty nesters, put our children through college and watch them spread their wings and start their own lives.  Then it is us again.  Back to the beginning, in a weird sort of way.  We still won’t have the answers but we will figure it out together.  It will be our next adventure.

* Steve, I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me all these years.  I absolutely love doing life with you.  I cannot wait to see what the next twenty years hold for us.  No doubt, it will be something beautiful.  I love you with all my heart.  😉

 

 

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Favorite Things

Nell and Steve Sunshine SmallSunset Half Down Small Steve Walking into Sun Small Steve in Sunset Small Nell Sitting in Road Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Up Small Nell and Steve Sunshine Looking at each other Small Epic Sunset Small Bunny Small Blurry Bird Flying Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Down Small

We chased the sunset, discovered uncharted territory, held hands, talked, laughed and saw a bunny. Two of my most favorite things; nature and my husband.  This night was good.

Perspective and a Mexican Fisherman

Sunset Hand

Where are you going?  This is something that I’ve been reflecting on here recently as I think about the fact that my children are getting older; one in college and one in high school.  I technically have three years left with kids living at home full time.  This is surreal.  I want to soak up every last minute; every last second with them.  I want to slow down my life.  I want to slow down time.

At the same time, it’s exciting to begin thinking about and planning the future with just me and the hubs.  What will our lives look like?  Will we live in a cute cottage on a big piece of land?  Will we live in an old Florida home near the ocean?  Will we travel around part-time or maybe even full-time in an RV? There’s so many questions and so many unknowns.  It’s exciting.  I love daydreaming about these sort of things.

Today, a lady at work shared the following story that completely touched my heart and certainly put into perspective.  We must be sure to focus on what really matters in life.


A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I have a full life. I play with my children and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs….”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my Friend, That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Mexican.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings doing what you like and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what I am doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexican.

Know where you’re going in life… you may already be there.

An Unexpected Question

Nell and JoAnna Earl and Jo Beer Mr and Mrs Ehret Bridesmaids Beer Something Old

My little brother is getting married this year to the absolute sweetest girl!  I am beyond excited for the both of them.  Recently, I saw this package sitting on the counter and took it upon myself to examine it because I noticed the cute “Earl and Jo” wording on the side with the wedding date beneath.  After looking at all sides and telling JoAnna how cute it was, I pick up a bottle and saw the sweetest and most unexpected question, “will you be my bridesmaid?” I squealed and of course I said and big YES!  I get to stand up for my soon-to-be sister and I am beyond honored.  And let’s be honest, this idea is probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen; definitely Pinterest worthy!  Now onto picking out a wedding and bridesmaids dress.

2016 :: A Restart

Vision Board

In many ways, my life was on hold in 2015.  There was the tragedy of my mom’s life and death struggle and recovery from her car accident.  My daughter graduated from high school and then moved out of our house for the first time and went to college.  My 3 year long technology project at work launched (still smoothing out the details).  My son moved to a new school and started high school.  2015 was most definitely a year on hold personally as I prepared for and worked through the tragedies and milestones of life.  While there is still much investment to do in these areas, I want to be intentional about my 2016.  I want to make up for lost time.  I want to have a vision, goals and aspirations.  This is quite a strange thought for me as I have literally never done a New Year’s resolution.  I don’t really believe in them.  Instead of putting together a resolution or multiple resolutions that you forget about within the first month of the year; I decided to make a vision/goals board that fully incorporates everything that I want to do this year.  Most are not simply do and forget goals, but things that I want to do, not only in 2016, but on an ongoing basis.  These are things that I want to make into a lifestyle.

So, here it is; my 2016.  It is going to be a year of celebration.  I turn 40, my parents turn 60, my brother turns 30, I celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary and my brother is getting married.  How can you not celebrate with this line up?  This is a year setup for celebration.

Here is the list of 2016 visions/goals that went into building the board pictured here.  Happy 2016 to you!  Seize this year.  You never know, it could be your best year yet!

Travel – Hawaii/Costa Rica/Mexico
20 year anniversary & pics
Book teaching
Making friends
Investing in marriage
Have more fun
Smile more
Peace, joy, hope
Stillness (not busy) – letting God work
One day at a time
LOVE
Crossfit
Invest more in 401K
Less confusing; simplify
Go to the ocean more (body board, sup, snorkel)
PMP (project management) certification

Underwater Anniversary

Snorkeling Selfie Huge Jellyfish Nell Swimming in From Side Angel FIsh Steve Swimming Down 2 FIsh Errywhere Nell Swimming Straight Down Steve Swimming Down

Every now and then our anniversary falls on Labor Day and that means a guaranteed day off to celebrate.  This year we celebrated 19 years of marriage!  Wow, how did that number get so big so fast?  Sometimes it all seems like a blur between, jobs, homes, raising kids, school, etc.  The one thing I do know is that it has been an awesome journey and a great ride.  I wouldn’t want to do this life with anyone else.  Simply put, this guy makes life fun.  He makes me laugh and fills in all the gaps where I fall short.

We decided to spend the day (first part at least) at the beach snorkeling.  We did an early morning snorkel which meant there were a ton of fish to see.  It was breathtaking!  There were other big plans for the day like riding a motorcycle and such but true to Florida summers, it stormed all afternoon.  Hey, that’s ok because we had a great excuse for a long afternoon nap.  It couldn’t have gone any better.  Happy anniversary, Steve!  Here’s to many, many more.

Time

This place.  It seems when we are here, time stands still.  I love going out to the Everglades with Steve to watch the sunset.  It is in these moments when we can put everything aside just be.  We can sit and watch the beauty all around us while we talk about big things, little things, silly things, insignificant things, everything. I love dreaming. I love thinking about what can be.  These are some of my most favorite moments.

Sunset with RaysNell in Everglades Really Close Steve Hands out in SunSteve at Everglades SunsetSteve Looking at Sunset Sunset Hand No Parking any timeNell Walking in Everglades

A Much Needed Beach Day

Two Palms Two Surfers Catching Wave Umbrella View Water Slashing on RocksSteve under UmbrellaNell at the RocksLifeguard StandFather Son SurfersNell Head Shot GlowingNell Walking up from RocksSteve under UmbrellaSurfer on Big Wave

Steve had a wonderful idea to take the Friday off before my birthday/Valentine’s Day weekend to simply hang out together without people or distractions.  This day off was the first fun thing I’ve done since my mom’s accident two months ago.  We slept in, got coffee, ate a cafe breakfast, bought a hat I’ve had my eye on for months, went to the beach (oh how I’ve missed that) and then to dinner.  It was a day to refresh, recharge and reconnect;i t was absolutely perfect.  I don’t think the day could have been any better. He knew exactly what I needed. (love you babe! 😉 )

Date Night Selfies

Steve Sick Facenell-looking-backNormal Selfie

After being married 18 years, having a fun date night can sometimes mean going to a good restaurant for dinner then going home, sitting together on the couch and watching New Girl. We tried to take selfies but Steve couldn’t stop making faces and I couldn’t stop laughing. We managed to finally get in a “normal” one in the end.

What 18 Years of Marriage Looks Like

Holding hands front view cut off Holding hands front view Nell laughing Holding Hands looking at each other Holding hands steve making me laughHolding hands front view

This is what eighteen years of marriage looks like.  Our marriage is officially an “adult”. We have been through some of the best times and some of the toughest times.  We dated young (high school), got married young and had children young.  We experienced our “typical 30’s” in our 20’s by getting married at 20 and completing our family by 25. This was both good and bad.  We were too naive to know any better (bliss) yet too rushed to really enjoy the small moments especially with our children.  The great news is that when our children are off setting up and living their own lives, we will still be young (for the most part).

Today, many couples wait until they are finished with college and fully setup in life before pursuing marriage.  This was definitely not the case in my life.  I met my husband (Steve) the first day of my junior year of high school and we’ve pretty much been together since.  We got married at 20, had our first child at 21 and the second at 24. This means that we now have a senior in high school and an 8th grader.

Starting your relationship at the age of 16 means that you automatically expect there to be change.  You expect that each other will become different as time passes.  We were opposites and it worked.  We complemented each other yet molded and changed over the years to mesh quite nicely. Essentially, we grew up together.

Looking back I can definitely say that we have each changed; me more so than Steve.  I was a very reserved and shy teenager. I remember like it was yesterday him telling me, “I’m going to change you”. Of course, I immediately told him that he was crazy, but to be honest, he was more right than I could have ever imagined at the time.  Now, I am outgoing, bold and almost aggressive at times; totally different than when I was 16. So, yes, Steve has changed me.  He gave me confidence in myself and hope in the future.

Steve has changed a bit as nearly two decades will do that to a person but he is still that same sweet fun loving person that I met in sixth period on the first day of my junior year of high school.  He was and still is a lover of life, lives in the moment and makes me laugh in almost every situation.  I fell in love with him for his good looks and his sense of humor.  This is still the case 18 years later.  Happy 18th to my wonderful husband.  I would not do this life with anyone else.

This is what 18 years of marriage looks like.

Check out our story here.