carolina on my mind

6:45:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

I still live in the South, I still get my fair dose of heat and humidity, I live next to a lake... why does warm weather and sunshine make me miss NC so much???

I've said it before and I'll say it again- I LOVE my friends in TN.  They have been so good to me, and have become much more like family than friends.  But deep down I think my heart will always belong to NC.  Just say the words Wrightsville Beach, Eastern NC BBQ, dogwoods, Wilmington, etc, and my face just lights up.  Tennessee has been a great home for the past 4+ years and this city I live in is amazing and full of life and excitement... but NC will always be my real home.

I'm anxious, excited, and scared to find out the path that Nick chooses in the military... but I'm so ready to find out where we will be living for the next 20+ years (even if all I know is that we will be moving around every 2-3 years).  Of course if he calls to tell me to pack my bags for the Midwest or somewhere far far away, I may quickly wish I was still in the dark about our future.

I would love more than anything to move back to NC, but I also want my husband to be happy and proud of his career.  If nothing else, I suppose we can retire in NC ;)


it's a clover, NOT a flower

10:34:00 AM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

I was just showering and admiring the beautiful artwork permanently attached to my body when I had a shocking realization... my tattoo looks like a flower.  Never in a million years did I want a flower permanently inked on my foot.  I stared at it for what seemed like hours... I looked at it from all angles and sides, and tried to imagine what I would think it was if no one ever told me.  I was starting to freak out.

Then it hit me... why do I care what it looks like?  I know what it is, and I know the meaning behind it.  If I cared about what other people thought, I would never have gotten a tattoo at all.  I didn't get this tattoo so that other people could see a tattoo on my foot, I got a clover on my foot because it has a very special meaning to me.

So for the record, my tattoo is a four-leaf clover.  But if you see it as a flower, or a satanic symbol, or anything else, that's okay too.  Because I didn't get it for your interpretation, I got it for myself.  And I love it.


I'm not a runner

10:27:00 AM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

The Country Music Marathon took place in Nashville this weekend.  A few of my friends were running the 1/2 marathon and I planned on cheering from the sidelines, but instead tornado watches and severe weather warnings kept me at home.  I didn't want to miss them crossing the finish line, so I spent about 20 min glued to my computer to watch the live feed of the finish line around the time I thought they would cross it.  Wow.  I was amazed at just how many people were running the 1/2 marathon; it seemed like a continuous stream of 50 people were crossing that line during the 20 minutes I watched.  But what was more amazing were the type of people crossing that line... very few looked like "runners", and there were people of all shapes and sizes.  I literally saw at least 10 people that I would have bet couldn't even walk a mile, and here they were finishing a 13.1 mile run.  Talk about inspiring.

I remember when my friend Katie told me she was going to run and invited me to train and run with her... I thought she was crazy.  It was the last thing I thought I would ever do.  I had no desire, no motivation, and never in a million years thought that I could do it.  Katie herself promised me she had never been a runner, but at 5'4" and 100 lbs I knew she was in much better shape than me to make it happen.  She trained for only 3 months, and went from only being able to run 1 mile at a time to running 13.1.  I didn't envy her during the months of training, but jealousy took over every inch of my body the day I watched her and thousands of other cross that finish line.  If they can do it, I knew I could do it too.  And I decided I would.

I thought I would have to wait a year for the next Country Music Marathon, but Katie texted me last night about the Women's Half Marathon in Nashville in September.  I haven't been this excited about something in a long time.  It's perfect... the weather should be great, I have the perfect training partner, and plenty of time to get myself ready.  I've always said I wasn't a runner, but that is going to change soon.  Really soon.  We both have a foot that needs healing for different reasons, so it's going to be a couple of weeks before we can start running together.  She promised me we would start slow, only 1-2 miles the first run, because honestly I can't do any more than that yet.  But that's how she started back in February, and she said every week she surprised herself at how far she was able to go.

I can't wait to feel the accomplishment and pride when I cross that finish line.  Because mark my word, I WILL cross that finish line.  Hopefully running, but no matter what my two feet will cross it.  And I might not be breathing well or feeling great, but I will have a big smile on my face.


the damage is done.

8:20:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 1 Comments

I did it.  I got my first tattoo.

It was by no means spontaneous, and I put years of thought and worrying into my decision.  At the same time it was something I never thought I would do, because it is so uncharacteristic of me.  But I wanted it, and I got it.

Four-leaf clovers have a lot of meaning to me.  My Granny, the only grandparent I really had as a child, was born on St. Patty's Day.  She passed away 3 years ago, and since then clovers have become an obsession for me.  They're all over my house in different shapes and forms, and I love them.  I even had a four-leaf clover charm hanging from my rear view mirror from the day after she died until 2 months ago, when I wrapped it up and sent it to Nick in Iraq (because as I told him, no one would be more proud of him or protect him the way that Granny would).  Of course I'm pretty sure my grandmother would roll over in her grave if she thought I got a tattoo for her, but that's just a minor detail.

I also more recently learned that my aunt Teresa (who's been in a coma for 10?... 11?... maybe 12 years now?) had a love for sitting in the front yard for hours at a time searching for four-leaf clovers as a child.  With that revelation four-leaf clovers took on another meaning, because they were also a way to remember and honor someone else that I love.  (and luckily I think she would LOVE the idea of me getting a tattoo!)

Four-leaf clovers also have a third, more cheesy, meaning for me.  I feel so lucky to have found Nick, and for us to spend our lives together.  He is absolutely amazing (although it took years of training and a broken heart), and when I think of him I feel like the luckiest person alive.  So he was definitely on my mind when I chose this design.

Ironically, I don't feel like a lucky person.  I have been known to say on more than one occasion that I feel like I have the worst luck in the world (and Nick feels that way as well, so together we have a lot ahead of us in the future).  Maybe this tattoo will bring me a little extra luck?  Probably not, but it's worth a shot.

I've known for 3 years that I wanted to get a tattoo of a four-leaf clover, but it took hours and hundreds of designs to figure out exactly what I wanted.  And then I had to figure out where to get it... not an easy task.  The idea of a tattoo on my foot didn't come to me until a couple of weeks ago, but as I thought about it I knew it was perfect.  I definitely wanted to put it in a place that was easy to cover up, and also somewhere that wouldn't show when I was 80 and wrinkly.  Let's face it, if I'm wearing strappy sandals in my old age I have more to worry about than a tattoo on my foot (and I feel sorry for those around me).

So there you have it, my first tattoo.  Sorry Mom (and Dad), but I got a tattoo.  At least I waited until I was old and married, and didn't get some guy's name on my butt when I was 18, or a hand print on my cleavage, or a tramp stamp (no offense to all the ladies out there with the ever-popular butterfly tramp stamp).  

If you see me wearing a lot more of my ballet flats this summer it's not because my toes are cold, I just think my tattoo looks too good with a cute pair of flats :)


the ride of my life

2:49:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

... bike ride that is.  In my quest to find a healthier me, I've dusted my bike off and explored the springtime beauty of the little paradise in my front yard.  Today I combined two of my passions: spinning the fat off my thighs and capturing the wonder of nature on (digital) film.  I found more than I could have ever imagined.

I found that a best friend doesn't have to breathe oxygen to breathe life into you.  Sometimes a best friend takes you on the ride of your life when you least expect it.

I found these little beauties just about ready to pop and ooze the sweetest flavor of the South.  And I found myself ready to savor every last drop of my childhood.

I found myself admiring my favorite little bench that has carried me through my first year of marriage, my first year in seven years without Nick, my first deployment, my first year becoming a nurse, and my first year of challenges and sacrifices as an Army wife.

I found that the simplest things in life are often the things that bring the biggest smile to your face and the calmest feelings in your heart.

I found that even with my husband gone, my family seven hours away, and challenges trying to knock me down every day, I have a lot to be grateful for.

I found that time alone and self-reflection can make life slow down just long enough to breathe and remember the little things that make life so great.

I found that sometimes a little sunshine is all you need.


all good things must come to an end

5:25:00 AM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

I thought I was adjusting to night shift well.  I was having no trouble staying awake all hours of the night, no trouble sleeping during the day, and I felt good.  But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

On Saturday morning, after my last shift of the week, I stopped at the Y on my way home for a little ab work and yoga to release the tension I was feeling.  I got home around 10, and after taking the dogs for a walk and my normal routine I was in bed asleep by 10:30am.  I was planning on taking a 3 or 4 hr nap so that I wouldn't sleep the entire day away, and would be able to sleep at night to prepare for the cookout I was going to on Sunday.  Things don't always go as planned.  I slept straight through my alarm until 6pm when I forced myself to roll out of bed feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  I drank some coffee (A LOT of coffee), took the dogs for another walk, showered, went to the grocery store, and did a little cleaning.  At about 10:30pm I decided to relax and watch a little TV, since I hadn't even turned my TV on all week.  I found something to watch, got comfortable... and passed out by 11pm with both of the dogs laying on top of me.  I'm sure you're thinking there's no way I slept long after getting 7+ hrs of sleep during the day, but I did.  What can I say, I'm talented.  I didn't just get a few hours of sleep, I got another 8 HOURS of sleep.  When I woke up at 7am I felt great, but I'm sure 15 hrs of sleep in less than 24 hours had something to do with that.

I spent today down in Spring Hill for a cookout, and after getting home around 8 I was already tired again.  I made it until 10, when I decided I had to take a nap.  I made myself wake up at 12am, but now it's almost 5:30am and I'm wide awake.  It's the first time I remember feeling this rested in days... maybe weeks.  It's probably a good thing I'm up so late because I work again tomorrow night, but I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to fall back asleep.

So needless to say, I don't think I'm quite as adjusted to night shift as I thought I was. The worst part about all of it is feeling like I'm sleeping my life away.  Hopefully my body finds some kind of rhythm to get into, because I can't handle my body wanting to sleep 24 hours a day.  I never know when I'll be able to sleep, or eat, or have any sort of "normal" life.  Thank goodness I love coffee.


time for change

11:51:00 AM Jaclyn Armstrong 1 Comments

I've been living this lazy, sedentary lifestyle for far too long.  I've made excuses from the cold, dreary winter weather to adjusting to my new job, and it's got to stop.  The weather is beautiful and I refuse to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit this year.  I also promised myself to be in the best shape of my life when Nick returned from Iraq, and the clock is ticking.  I'm going to take the dogs on longer walks everyday, dust the cobwebs off my bike, and join a gym.  Instead of having a carefree attitude of being active when I feel like it and when it's convenient, I'm going to schedule it into every day of my life (maybe not every day… I do have to sleep between 12 hr shifts).  I will no longer live in the 95 lb me from the past, but will live in the 105lb me in the (near) future.  I have a healthy plan and realistic goals, and I know it's possible.  I may find that I like the few extra curves that 115lbs allows, but I will make that choice when the time comes.  I'll never know if I like 105lbs unless I get there.  And for those reading this and thinking I'm on my way to looking like a starving Hollywood starlet, I'm only 5'1".  I have no intention of looking like a skeleton, but I miss the toned, athletic body of my teens and early-20s.  Maybe my body doesn't want or isn't capable of being quite that small, but I'm going to do everything in my power to try.  And I am stubborn.  So those 20lbs that joined me since moving to Tennessee better get ready to run and never come back.

circa 2002


just me & the dogs. again.

6:20:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

sunshine, the lake, cookouts, and quiet nights with my family... I can't think of a better way to spend Easter weekend.

infrared wall at the Adventure Science Center

My parents and nieces made the trip to Nashville last weekend, and I loved every minute of it.  We talked, laughed, got sun-burned (ok, maybe that was just me), and had a GREAT time.  Well, at least I did... I hope they agree :)

Dad, Avery, & Mom at the Adventure Science Center

Kealy, Me, & Avery

Now that they're gone and it's just me and the dogs again, the house seems eerily quiet.  It makes me miss Nick even more, and makes me ready to leave Nashville.  I love the big lights and excitement of this country city that has embraced me for the past five years, but somehow I don't feel any real connection here any more.  I love my friends and the amazing relationships I have welcomed into my life in Tennessee, but they can never replace the comfort of family.  I would love to pick up the phone and invite our parents over for dinner, the very same night, or drive to my sister's house just to talk because I'm having a bad day.  I want to be there to watch my nieces grow into beautiful young women, and have our parents close by to watch every minute of our own children grow.  There is so much uncertainty for our lives in the next few years, and unfortunately it doesn't look like a life in North Carolina will happen anytime soon.  If Nick calls tonight to tell me he's found a way to move us back to NC when he comes home, rest assured that my house in Nashville will be empty tomorrow with a For Sale sign in the front yard.


still holding

4:40:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 0 Comments

Nick called this morning (if 3am can be considered morning), and we were able to talk for over an hour for the first time in a long time.  The call quality was miraculously great, so we were able to enjoy our first frustration-free long talk since he left.  We spent most of our conversation talking about our future... his career plans, where we'll live, children, our goals... it was magical.  I was on cloud nine, and so was he.  It was so nice to dream about what is to come, and what it will be like to have him by my side again.

I went to bed shortly after his call, and woke up to the harsh reality that is our lives.  Yes our dreams are attainable and realistic, but they seem so far away right now.  It feels like this deployment will never end.  He's not here, my family is back in NC, and my life is back on hold.  Even with the rumors of a possible return home 3 months earlier than scheduled, it seems like that time will never come.  It feels like our future really is one big dream... a dream that will never come true.  I try to tell myself that this deployment WILL end, we WILL have children someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), and I WILL wake up in his arms again.  But no matter how hard I try, no logic can shake the feeling of waiting... and waiting... and waiting for disappointment.  I'm ready for the next chapter in our lives, and the next "big thing"... whatever that is.  I'm just ready to move on from 2010.  Because let's face it, 2010 has sucked a big one so far.


happy easter!

11:11:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 1 Comments



I ♥ surprises

11:06:00 PM Jaclyn Armstrong 1 Comments

My amazing husband sent me flowers yet again.  I arrived home from work Thursday night with a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers on my doorstep.  For once I was behind balancing the checkbook and hadn't religiously checked our bank account online everyday as I usually do, so I was completely surprised by his gesture.  Along with the flowers were a teddy bear and the sweetest note I've ever received.  He's so good to me.