Let’s talk about me… in a large nutshell

I thought today it might be a good time to kind of do a re-cap of sorts about me… who I am, where I came from and what I’m up to these days. Originally runcharityrun.com was created for my Team in Training fundraising days and from there I’ve just kept it, repurposing it from time to time. The use of the word “re-cap” is a little deceiving, this is flipping long… take it or leave it. Friends I’ve known since childhood know me and most of what I do never surprises them, but friends I’ve gained through my adult years don’t necessarily know as much about me and lately I’ve been surprising them. LOL

Who am I? First, I’m a child of God, blessed beyond measure and working each day to live in gratitude, without fear or worry and as a light to this world. I have 2 wonderful parents, an older brother and a life partner that is my best friend! Then there is my pug, Edgar, he is essentially my child since I never had a desire for children so he’s my dude.

Growing up we lived in a rural North Carolina town (though I didn’t realize it was “rural” until well into my 20’s) my father came from a farming family; my mom from a family that moved to the area for jobs at Cannon Mills. Why do I define this? Well, to underline that farming, open land, woods to play in and a mostly-outdoors-in-town family was ingrained in me from childhood.

My father was burnt out on farming by the time he became an adult so he pursued other dreams. My mom likes to describe to us where he lived (in the middle of no-where) when they were first married and how dark it was — she came from living a few blocks from downtown Concord.

Growing up we living in an old mill house a few blocks from downtown Kannapolis on 2 lots. My parents purchased the house and my dad slowly remodeled it through the years to make it more functional. I remember avocado green tiles in the bathroom, avocado green appliances in the kitchen and a shag yellow/brown carpet in the hall. The only thing I ever disliked was the carpet, it had a really rough texture to it and itched my legs. Mine and my brothers rooms were across the hall from each other so we played a lot of games between those doorways including shooting marbles (which oddly I remember very clearly). Avocado green is also one of my favorite colors to this day!

Firmly believing in chores and teaching their children to be responsible we grew up helping around the house and eventually mowing the grass as we got older. My brother mowed the hard side and I got the mostly flat side. Even with a self-propelled lawn mower (which literally dragged me around sometimes) I eventually hated mowing the grass. “When I grow up” started forming to the sorts of a townhouse with a small postage stamp front yard for my eventual dog to pee on.

During our childhood we loved going out to the Brumley farm to see the cows and gardens. My parents have VHS tapes of me talking to the cows, making a licking-face to impersonate the cows and of my uncle carrying his equally large camcorder. This makes me laugh… what a great time! My grandfather would fill up water troughs for me to swim in, we had a little red tricycle we’d ride up and down the quarter mile paved drive and I’d take morning walks with my grandmother around the neighboring trailer park picking baby daisies.

At home we played in the back yard, explored the over-grown second lot and as my dad filled in the gully to make the second lot usable, we played in a LOT of dirt piles. I remember, rather vividly, huge dump trucks bringing in fill dirt and the giant piles being the most amazing playground a kid could ever ask for. Of course, having an older brother meant we played a lot of G.I. Joe and built dirt forts we “bombed” with dirt globs. There were many evenings we had to strip at the back door before heading to the shower because we were filthy!

On the other side of the family, the Morgan side, my pawpaw rode us around in his mail car and took us over terrifying hills that “got your stomach”, woke up early on Saturday mornings to him blaring the Trading Post on the AM channel and the most amazing buttered toast. My Grandma Net loved gardening, and to this day has the prettiest yard! She’d let me help her plant flowers and taught me the best way to make things grow and how to trim them back. I have so many wonderful memories with our entire family there; eating delicious meals, playing in the yard, hiding in the attic of the garage. Before we regularly started showing up there we spent all of our family gatherings at my Great Grandma Ruthies house. She had an awesome back yard that gently sloped to the back porch so we could ride our little tricycles out there or chase each other down the hill. Someone would be making ice cream on the back porch while we picked snake berries and played house in the bushes along the yard.

Ok, so needless to say… as a kid we spent a lot of time outdoors solidifying my love for nature. As I grew up, life got busy — soccer, basketball, horseback riding etc. I kind of dabbled in everything and enjoyed it all. My parents always encouraged me to chase dreams and try out anything new as long as I followed through the commitment. The one and only year I decided to try out softball, I hated it… they made me the catcher and the balls were terrifying!! When they put me in outfield I had fun playing in the clover… my parents made me finish out that season because I committed to it. Obviously I didn’t make it pro.

High school came along, I was submersed in soccer, basketball and horses. My brother and I would go out-back, roughing-it camping together. We had grown up camping as a family through the years so we enjoyed the wilderness survival side (him more so than me). College came and I was still playing soccer and working with horses but there wasn’t much time for anything else. Weekends at home were often spent at my uncles land riding 4-wheelers and such or at the lake with friends. I still didn’t have that dog though.

Eventually I got married in 2008, I never got the townhouse, but during my first marriage we did buy a house with only .17 of an acre and I had my pug, so that’s close enough. Eventually that dissolved in 2011 and I began triathlons for the first time. My girlfriend kept encouraging me to try it because I had become a fairly efficient runner (running was cheaper than a gym membership). So I bit the bullet, took my bonus that spring and bought my first road bike. Following my road bike purchase I joined Team in Training through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for my first sprint triathlon.

The love of triathlon was born! I followed that love for 4 dedicated years finally making it to Ironman Chattanooga in September 2015. Not only did I meet some amazing people, I’m honored to still have in my life. That Ironman year I also met Marty via a good friend setting us up. Neither of us were interested in dating, so of course we clicked like a puzzle missing the final pieces. For the last year I had been adhering to a strict vegan diet and loved the way I felt during training, but as our relationship progressed it became difficult to plan two meals every day and after my Ironman I finally went back to meat. LOL

Ok… now. Let’s talk food. Being incredibly conscious of what I was consuming made me continue “thinking” about my food when I changed my diet back to include… about everything. Marty would always laugh at me for shopping at Harris Teeter, but they had one of the best organic sections around our area (yes, it is definitely more expensive but they have their own line now and it’s much more affordable). During my triathlon years I met a lot of awesome people who helped me learn more about food. The best foods for the exercise we were doing, new ways to cook, new foods to cook, etc.

Where am I going with this? Food, conscious thought… where does it (food) come from? There are some great books out there talking about what you should or shouldn’t eat– but the easiest rule of thumb is “if your grandmother doesn’t know what it is, don’t eat it!” Ok, I’m not talking about a different culture and their food, I’m talking ingredients.

Marty hunts, his daughter hunts, his dad hunts… they know what their deer have been living off of. I’m an animal lover, so at first this kind of bothered me. About like the time when I was young and learned we were eating the cows from pawpaws farm I talked to… I stopped eating beef for a while. Marty introduced me to hunting and helped me see that we were only killing and eating what we needed. We honored the deers life the best we could and in turn, it provided for our family.

Now, you may argue — but Walmart is JUST down the street! You have a Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Publix etc. I would like to ask you, have you ever seriously considered where your food comes from? How it’s raised, how it’s processed, how many hands it has to go through before it makes it to that refrigerated shelf where you then pick it up and purchase it, set it on a shelf in your fridge or freezer a bit longer… and then eat it? Well I have and there are a lot of documentaries out there you can look up; I firmly believe this is a personal journey so no judgement from me. There is also an amazing effort from organic farmers and other farmers trying to raise healthier food for their communities and I love it! Sustainable farming is tough work, it takes a balance big farming can’t do, but I believe it’s the right way.

My friend, Elizabeth Anne Dover has her own vineyard and farm (Dover Vineyard, Concord, NC). We grew up together at 4-H and with mutual friends through the years. I follow her endeavors on Facebook and find it incredibly inspiring! I also have several other friends I’ve either grown up with or met through the years that are farming now.

Slowly I started to have a desire to have my own farm of sorts. Pawpaw did it, I remember loving it and I had a barn in my back yard he used for cows. Slowly the dream evolved, but I just didn’t have time or resources to start. Marty and I eventually moved to Stanfield in the fall of 2016 before I started an insane work project that had me traveling for a year. But that little dream was still there and now we shared 13 acres with his parents.

Finally… March 2018 I text Marty “I just picked up 12 chicks from Tractor Supply!!”… I was so excited to have a beginning! And there… my little farm blossomed. I’ll share more in another post since this one is a mini book. I imagined I’d be sitting down with the goats writing this, but lets face it… farming is hard work so I’m sitting in bed dozing in and out with my iPad on my lap and Edgar snoring beside me. Oh, and Marty, but he’s wide awake enjoying tv.

XX

Charity, Marty, Edgar, Bee, Sally, Fat Back, Hot Lips, Klinger, Hawkeye, Radar, Zeva, Halo, Chester, Cindy, Uncle Bob, Ray and all of the Henny Pennies

Marty and myself this past weekend at Top Golf with his daughter and son in law.

My sweet Edgar boy, he hit the big 10 this year! I can’t believe we’ve been buddies that long!

My mini farm in it’s growing phase… we now have a permanent paddock and in a few weeks my dad and I are adding on an addition just for the pigs and goats so the chickens can have their space back!

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Arctic Circle Magic

We’ve had a couple solid days within the arctic circle and we’ve been enjoying the slow pace of no longer traveling from point A to point B. Our luxuries include sleeping in, cooking meals, plus marveling at the enormous amounts of snow…

Monday as we traveled north we stopped at an Arctic Zoo in Ranua; how can you skip visiting the northernmost zoo in the world? Once we had bundled up appropriately we took off for our 2hr self guided tour. There were many beautiful animals and the zoo seemed to allow plenty of space for the larger animals. I’m not a huge zoo fan, but there were rescued/rehabbed animals throughout and it seemed like a well maintained property. The owls were my favorite exhibits, they are so majestic! I loved watching them just glower at us while not being even slightly disturbed. Marty has a unique whistle he would use to get their attention, several other tourist appreciated his whistle and would ask him to do it again so they could take photos. Besides the owls my other favorite animal was the wolf (though it made me sad to see them captive). They were handsome as they made their rounds through paths along their perimeter, their natural strength radiated from them. At the polar bear enclosure they were just lounging in the snow, cuddling together. We enjoyed watching them for a bit… and then I felt like I needed a Coke. Lol Finally, we headed out to finish the journey to our cabin in Sweden.

Our host Benko and Lilly (she gave us an American name because it is easier for her guest to pronounce) have been wonderful!Benko greeted us our first night at the road because we were unable to find the cabin, he showed us in and gave us a brief overview of the house. Lilly visited us yesterday and took us on a tour of the property; they have many acres, multiple homes/buildings handed down through their family. Besides the sauna in our cabin they have another larger sauna a short walk from our cabin, as well as hut by the river where you can build fires to heat/cook and be close the the outdoors to watch for northern lights– called a Kota (grill hut). She even taught us a few Swedish words! Benko’s family is originally from Finland and one of the buildings (now a workout room) was his fathers that they moved from Finland to Sweden.

Our cabin is a bit older, it was Benko and Lilly’s first home here on the homestead. After Benko’s mother passed away they moved into the primary home and have begun renting out this one and another on the property. The cabins first floor is open concept (living room/kitchen), one bedroom, has wooden (very creaky) floors, a WC downstairs and a loft bedroom with the sauna/shower upstairs. All essentials are provided so it’s very comfortable. I believe our only complaint is that after having smart TV’s at the last few homes this one has basic cable, so there are only a few channels in English and the internet is weak… With only 7 hours of daylight we enjoy relaxing around the television in the evening. The cabin is also heated by a wood stove in the garage below our cabin; Lilly showed us how it worked yesterday as well her prized motorcycle. She enjoyed harassing us over our Harleys without a reverse while her Suzuki has it all; we truly enjoyed her company and getting to know her yesterday.

While relaxing most of the day yesterday we made a large pot of taco soup to keep us warm this week, heated the kettle throughout the day for hot tea or hot chocolate, read or watched movies on laptops/iPad and dozed off and on. Last night we went down to the hut by the river and built a large fire to relax around. There are beautiful reindeer pelts to sit on, moose antlers over the door that Lilly shot for food one year, and a few windows to watch for northern lights through. The Kota (grill hut) is very cozy, but we found it more difficult to keep warm than we imagined. Per Lilly’s advice we started the fire several hours before we planned to sit down there, and went back and forth for a few hours stoking the fire. Benko provided lots of wood for us to burn so we kept stoking it for heat, the wood is very dry and burns quickly! The design of the hut keeps the smoke flowing out so there was not even a slight scent on you when you leave, we loved the design! While sitting around the fire staying warm we watched a downloaded move on the iPad and passed around a jug of hot chocolate. Finally our bums wore out so we headed back to the cabin around midnight. Clouds rolled in and snow had been falling for a few hours so the northern lights remained illusive.

Early this morning there was a break in the clouds and I saw very slight movement from the northern lights. Per the app and website I follow for tracking they were decently strong in our area but the clouds proved to be an issue. I stared for a while trying to make sense of what I was seeing (at 4am you’re not sure if your eyes are working or not) and finally ran to wake up Marty. By then the clouds had begun shifting again and he wasn’t able to to see much.

Today we are looking forward to snowshoeing and Nordic skiing around the property. They have a loop route with a moose stand we can climb for better views. Benko told us about their moose and reindeer when we first arrived and stated that they are afraid of humans and run (and that they were not like our moose in the U.S.)… after learning more from Lilly we now understand they run because she HUNTS! They also have a sweet dog who’s name translates to “Cougar”, she hunts with Lilly and was injured in a hunt last year. There was a 12-14in stick kicked into her by an angry mother moose after Lilly shot the smaller moose for food. After 2 different vet visits, antibiotics and 2 surgeries Cougar is now doing well and has a battle wound to prove her ferocity!

The magic of the snow is catching, Marty and Brea are beginning to see my addition and wonder to it. As the snow fell gently last night it began erasing all of our foot prints and impressions recently made on the paths. The new snow glistened in the light and made everything sparkle. You can actually see the distinct difference of each snowflake when you look closely so we all marveled at them for a bit. Brea and I each enjoyed jumping into snow drifts or off of the shoveled paths… the snow is waist deep and fluffy! Since it is so dry here the snow doesn’t pack well like at home so snowballs are nonexistent and we haven’t seen any snowmen. Lol

Farväl,

Marty & Charity

Finland, here we come!

Hello 2018, what a year you are going to be! 2017 was a whirlwind of travel for me and a serious health scare for Marty, but we survived and are excited for the opportunity to continue our life journey together.

Short recap of 2017 — I took on a beast of a contract that helped me grow in my career and also allowed me to meet some awesome new folks; but was a bit of a bear. Thankfully it finished in December and as new opportunities present I look forward to finding another challenge. Marty had a stroke back in May which caught us all off guard and made us realize our mortality. Thankfully, he has mostly recovered and has no significant side affects. As we wake each morning we thank the Lord for another chance to enjoy this life we’ve been given. When your mortality slaps you in the face you begin to remember what life should be about — love, family, friends and pure joy. Martys daughter Brea was married to her best friend in November and we are happy to welcome not only another family member to our circle, but his entire sweet family. It’s been one heck of a year with the ups and downs, but at the end of the year we snuggled up close to each other with our 4-legged kiddos and thanked God for another year and wonderful memories that trump all of the tough times.

This year we are excited to embark on a month long exploration in Europe! LIFE IS TOO SHORT! Last year I kept promising we’d do something epic when I finished my busy contract, so, here we go! First stop, Finland!! I’ve dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights so Marty and I and his daughter Brea are off to hopefully see them and play in the snow. We’re excited to have Brea join us for the first leg of our trip in Finland and Sweden. Here we come reindeer!!

When we start looking for our next adventure we mostly start by seeing how far my travel points get us or what flights are cheapest to our top destinations. After seeing pictures from a friends trip we randomly decided to see how many points it would take us to fly to Iceland… it wasn’t bad, the points will stretch really far. There, how simple was that? After an awesome trip to Utah before Christmas and a natural hot spring we’re also excited to visit new countries and enjoy their winters (something we don’t really get in N.C.).

As our trip progresses I hope to keep family and friends update via this blog, so if you’re interested, check back and see what’s going on! Also, follow my instagram @memoriesnotstuff if you want the journey through pictures.

Peace out USA, we’ll see you again soon, but we’re excited to explore new countries and meet new folks along the way!

Xoxo,

Charity & Marty