The Orange Trail

Fact: I hate getting dirty. I hate bugs even more; especially ticks!

Growing up in Alaska, those little blood-sucking critters weren’t anything I ever had to deal with or had encountered until I moved to Indiana. Getting out on the trail is an easy workout, and we live pretty close to a park here in Indianapolis, so why not get out and enjoy some fresh air.

Back home in Alaska you get more scenic and mountainous views. There are trees everywhere, but the trails I frequented didn’t involve trekking through mud or doing tick-checks when I got home. Okay, sure, moose and grizzly bears are far scarier than ticks… but give me a break! Ticks are just #$%#$^#@#$@$^^&$% to me (laughs).

Usually if I’m in a scenario where I’m not having the most fun, or I’m working through a tough moment, I go silent. That is me processing whatever thoughts are bouncing around my head at the time.

I’ve never been a whiner, but I am very honest. My dad would tell me all the time growing up “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” My aunties would blast me with the classic line “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Family and friends would jump down my throat accusing me of being a wet blanket if they perceived I was having a terrible time. Those of you who know me have seen the majority of my facial expressions, and know that I don’t have to use any words to communicate how I’m feeling most of the time. This is something I’ve learned to contain… for the most part.

I’ve learned to communicate that a situation may be new and that I wouldn’t put myself in any scenario that would make me uncomfortable.

Hitting the trails with S has been funny, mostly because if we encounter a long stretch of muddy non-sense, or have to go through a tighter trails with brush – more chances of getting TICKS – I simply say “I’m trying. You know I’m trying.” I’m sure S is getting a kick out of this inside, but he’s very supportive.

We’d planned to get out on the fitness trail today, but Mother Nature has other plans. It’s been pouring cats and dogs this weekend, so I’m NOT going anywhere near that trail until it dries up a bit. Hey! Don’t judge. I’m taking baby steps here.

Oh! You can find a clip of the trail adventure on my Instagram profile.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

J

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5 Married Years Later

Today is S and I’s fifth marriage anniversary. This question is beyond cliche to ask in a post like this, but, where did the time go? Five years isn’t a long time at all, and so far our history together has felt like a whirlwind and a lifetime all at once.

Let’s see, we started dating Summer of 2011, moved in together Summer of 2013, got engaged, bought a condo, got a puppy, got married in 2014, I completed my degree at Indiana University, we’ve both been on massive career journeys, and during all of this have had a lovely niece and two nephews join our family.

Life is going to life, and it did just that. We’ve faced our ups and downs and have managed to navigate darker days with the grace of a Swan Lake prima ballerina. Our relationship has been an easy one for the most part, yes, but that’s not to say we haven’t had our bumps in the road.

At times my content can slow down because I’ve been busy, sure, but it’s also because I may not feel like I have anything to share. I love seeing happy couples post on Instagram and in other corners of the internet, but I have to wonder, how many of them are actually happy? Are they posting all this lovey-dovey bullshit just for the gram to grab a like or two? I’m so not into that.

I love love, but love is hard. If what I’m seeing from happy couples online is their truth, then great! That’s amazing. I try to be honest with my readers and followers, and I connect more with those I follow who share this sentiment.

 

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(Us on New Years Eve 2011, a few months into dating)

 

S and I have been married for five years, but come October, we will be together a total of eight years. I’ve written about what we’ve learned in our relationship a number of times on Gays in the Life, but one major lesson sticks out to us in this moment:

Honesty. You have to be honest with yourself, and with yourselves as a unit. If you’re not, you will fail.

I’ll leave all my lovers out there with this tip. Seriously, take this with you moving forward; it’ll change the game:

Check in with each other! Check in on each other’s personal goals, any issues you both may be working through, mental health, happiness, and darkness. Over the years we’ve learned not to take reactions or things said personally because you never know what someone is going through.  If you’re able to level with yourself in honesty, you’ll be able to help your relationship stay just as honest and strong.

Happy Anniversary, S! I love you so much, and thank you for being a constant source of strength and inspiration for me. 

XXOO,

Game Of Thrones: Where Is It Okay To Be Gay In Westeros? — KitoDiaries

Planning a queer getaway to Westeros? We’ve got you covered. Okay, so a holiday to the beloved (and often dangerous) locales of Game of Thrones may not actually be possible, but if it were, we wondered: Where is LGBTQ-friendly, and where should you steer clear of? We used information from both the books and the…

via Game Of Thrones: Where Is It Okay To Be Gay In Westeros? — KitoDiaries

Seeing Red

When frustration strikes, she doesn’t hold back. Every couple has their expectations when it comes to their partnerships, but what happens when wires become crossed? Is that pile of laundry still stacked in the corner forming fresh wrinkles with every hour that passes? Do you find yourself having the same conversations about relationship items that need improvement? Whatever it may be, those are just two examples that rest at opposite ends of the frustration reasons spectrum. Here are some tips to help keep frustration at bay and your partnership healthy:

Time – Give the scenario a moment. We don’t have to collect all the answers and solve the problem right this second. Most of the time, an issue or touchy subject needs time to breathe. If you’re having a tiny disagreement, try waiting twenty minutes or so before approaching the topic again. Not only will this give you both a second to recapture some zen, but you’ll also adjust your approach when you reconnect.

If the problem is heavier or in the danger zone, do your best to allow necessary space in between communication or problem solving. It’s easy to jump the gun and rage if frustration is boiling over and you haven’t had an adequate resting period. Maintain the cool so productive conversation has the chance to breathe and flourish.

 

red block

 

Space – Walk away if the need arises. We all watch reality television, and know that circular discussion or yelling won’t fix anything. Do yourselves a favor and press pause. Go to different rooms – or for a drive or a walk – to allow the minds a recollection period. You’ll thank yourselves later when you notice the progress made in the resolution. The trick is safely processing the problem with yourself, and allowing your partner the same. Take care of number one so you can take care of others.

Communicate – We say this all the time on Gays in the Life. You have to communicate clearly and safely. You want to be honest with yourself and your partner. Share your true feelings and why you have them in the first place. This is not an attack. Communicate this and remember to listen.

When tension is high, or you’re at your last wits end, things can go left at an accelerated rate. Save yourselves the drama and don’t even go there. You’re adults. Listen to each other, be honest, and respectful. This gets easier with practice. So do your best and be kind to yourselves with this one. Communication pros aren’t manifested overnight.

 

red block

Special note: These tips apply to email and texting scenarios as well. Reading text is particularly tricky when dealing with frustration in relationships and marriage. You’re already on edge if a resolution hasn’t been met, so the brain will immediately highlight each word in red. To avoid constricting progress, read the text or email a few times and process the communication. From there you can decide to respond or wait a bit before following up. Use your best judgement and be open.

Remember these few tools the next time you find yourself furiously responding to a text, dishing out silent treatment, or screaming like a psycho at your partners. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Happy loving.

“Why we Broke up”

The ebbs and flows of life can be such a whirlwind at times. Adventure and massive success in relationships, while exciting and inspiring, can threaten the connection; the spark that started it all.

Mark and Ethan are a couple that has found huge success with both their YouTube channels. The energy that flows between the two of them is infectious and they shoot absolutely amazing content for their channels.

We’ve followed them on numerous explorations around the world, family visits to the lake house, and my personal favorite, a little town called Bloomington – Go Hoosiers!

I wanted to write a little note about one of Mark and Ethan’s more recent videos, “Why we Broke up.” The title alone shook me. I quaked, honey. These two can’t possibly be separating!

False alarm. There’d be no breakup, but the two did share why Ethan had recently moved into his own apartment, five minutes away from Mark in LA. Some words the two shared hit me like a speeding truck:

Ethan: “We need to re-evaluate how we’re doing individually, because everything was just so habitually together.”

Mark: “Something that you had said, and that will always stick with me is that ‘you want to appreciate my love.’ There are days that I don’t appreciate him, and I don’t want that to be a thing. I just don’t want that to happen.”

This couple has shared so many good times through their lenses and YouTube channels with us. What we as the viewers forget is that these are real people, in real relationships.

It’s amazing that these two have been able to build their platforms together, but what happens when your relationship and business blends too well? Mark and Ethan explained how they need to focus back in on how they’re doing individually, and what a word this is.

Ethan goes on to quote RuPaul.. “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Obviously, I don’t know these guys from Adam, but I get what they’re saying. You need time to focus on you; to take care of you. Without a strong sense of self-love in place, you won’t be able share that with the ones you love.  

I’ve talked before on Gays in the Life about making time for each other and not forgetting to take care of the relationship. A big part of that is taking care of number one so you can continue to be that support system for whoever it is on the receiving end of your love.

I want to thank Mark and Ethan for taking a moment to share these thoughts with us, and to remind us that relationships are work. The highs can be really high, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be low lows.

Put in the work, people! And don’t be afraid to face and enter the shadows – It’s the only way you’ll find that light in the end.

 

Weekly Audit 4: Face the Scary Stuff

Every couple goes through a rough patch at some point in a relationship. Maybe it isn’t a rough patch, but a period of discovery. What’s the topic on the table? Do you have something you’ve been meaning to ask your partner but just can’t? Why is that?

S and I have learned to communicate whenever possible if there’s conflict. Communication is still probably the most important key in a relationship, but just because you can talk doesn’t mean there isn’t any lingering darkness from time to time. Maybe you’re just in your head, right? Get to the bottom of whatever it is. 

Don’t get me wrong, every talk doesn’t have to be sitting around having therapy sessions every night, but it’s important to check in with each other. Go on a walk and chat. Explore a new bar; someplace vibey and romantic.

Not every conversation needs to be heavy, but addressing any hurt feelings, disagreements, and new territory in your relationship is of the utmost importance if it’s going to last. 

There’s always a slight feeling of, “ugh, I don’t want to talk about this yet…” but you have to get over it – come into the light! Face the scary stuff in your relationship. If love is present, the support and love of  your partner should help you through the conversation.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! ANSWER THE QUESTION WITH YOUR PARTNER OR FRIENDS, AND SHARE YOUR RESPONSES IN THE COMMENTS. Ciao!

*Reblog* One Night Dance

Original post here.

I embrace the dark, pulsing, cloud of people that is the dance floor at the bar. Dancing is something I have to be in the mood for, and tonight I would turn up the heat.  Scorpio season’s influence is heavy in the air as I begin to wind up – serving up my best Beyonce – and feel the rhythm of the sounds around me.  It’s not long before my friends and I are in the zone, and wondering eyes find their attention on our group.  I turn around and make instant eye contact with the buzzed and beefy stranger who would become my dance partner for the better part of the following hour. Not moving an inch out of my personal circumference, I watch him approach; his interest growing with every step he takes. I don’t miss a beat as he enters my bubble. “Hi” he speaks over the music, and syncs his movements to mine. “Good evening” I respond as I let his palm meet my chest. Together we move like one of the ocean’s traveling waves, and communicate only with our eyes.  His buzzed head, thick frame, and fitted jeans move in ways I appreciate greatly. The only thing that would send this moment completely over the top would be if S were standing in the corner watching. “You’re good at this” he breathes into my ear, before turning around to offer his backside, and run his hands up and down my thigh. “Well, I did get you to come over here… and thanks.” I allow him to enjoy me for a little while longer before I find his eyes again. “It’s past my bedtime, sir. Thanks for an amazing dance.” “Would you like company?” he offers with eyes both timid and curious. “Not tonight, but thanks.” Using one hand, I pull his belt buckle loose, flash a smile, and exit the bar.

*Reblog* You Take Out the Trash, and I’ll Do the Dishes.

Original entry here

“Who’s the girl in the relationship?” is a popular inquiry among curious heterosexuals I’ve met in the past. Like a gust of wind, the gender roles within my marriage lean towards societal normativity, but depending on the day will quickly whip in another direction. Society has programmed most of us to think that men and women have specific roles when it comes to households, jobs, and various other avenues of life. I always have to laugh when the questioning of roles within my relationship comes up in conversation, because you’d think that here in the year 2015, that there would be a better sense of freedom within any relationship. Relationships and marriage are both partnerships, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who did what chores. Views of how a relationship should work will vary, and not everyone will agree. I believe this disagreement is important because not only does it encourage learning, it promotes individual growth that could can potentially be shared with other relationships and marriages.

I’ve always joked that – stereotypically speaking – I’m the woman within my marriage. Pinterest is one of my most used apps on my iPhone, and I’ve known how to crochet since I was twelve. I’ve never liked getting dirty, I enjoy a good outfit, and I absolutely love a good bag. My mouth waters over a good-looking messenger or weekender-styled bag, and sports have never been my thing ever since I could remember. I only learned how football truly worked when I joined marching band at Indiana University – Did I mention I played football one year in high school? Yep, now read back those last couple sentences, and collect that laugh.  Over half of my work experience was spent in retail stores, so I’m cursed with the ability to organize any closet, and I actually enjoy it. Every outfit and accessory has a place, and when things get cluttered my mind nearly explodes; there’s instant stress when I come across clutter in my home. When we moved into our condo, I told my husband not to touch anything that was going to a closet. All the traits I’ve mentioned above – things I love about myself – would typically be matched with the gender labeled “female.”

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My husband does not mind getting dirty, and this is a result of growing up on a horse farm.  He had real chores: cleaning horse stalls, moving haystacks, breaking horses – the act of socializing a horse to the point of being able to ride it – and various other farm chores that would make most city kids cry. I believe my husband to be the most handsome man in the world, but his wardrobe can be pretty plain – nothing against the plain and simple types.  It’s easy and refreshing most of the time. He’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and I love any opportunity to play dress-up with him before going out with friends, or heading out to a dinner. I watched him change the oil on his own car some months back. I ended up retreating to the house, and probably ended up playing on Pinterest, but returned to the garage to find quite the mess. Outside of the dirt and simple manliness that makes up my husband, is his love for Indiana basketball. He can talk college basketball like no one I’ve ever heard before, and gets completely into the games. He’s most emotional during an IU basketball game, and when players from the team make the news because of some coach drama, or team scandal.

While most of these gender role stereotypes are entertaining and fun to identify within any relationship, they’re not the norm anymore.  Sure, back in the day women had their roles, and men had theirs, but in today’s world, you can identify ALL gender roles within a single gay relationship. So what does this say about gender roles in general? Like sexuality, these roles within a relationship are fluid and ever-changing. One person doesn’t have to do one specific chore, or act a certain way because of their sex. For S and I, all that matters is that our condo – and life – isn’t burning down. I imagine this to be a similar and common thought when it comes to other relationships and marriages across the globe. There are plenty of straight, uber-masculine men that can sew, cook, and clean, and a great deal of women who enjoy getting their hands dirty, and who could teach any man a thing or two inside a garage. The traditional views of the inner-workings of a relationship are slowly fading, and my hope is that by acknowledging the fluidity of gender roles – across any type of relationship – we can stop answering a question like “So, who’s the girl in the relationship?”

Netflix and Still.

I’m not sure what’s happened to us. Making a selection on Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming platform has proven to be mostly annoying and fruitless. Let me partially take that back. I have shows that I don’t mind watching and will pick in a heartbeat when I have the remote control in hand and S isn’t home. Black-ish, Scandal, Atlanta, Game of Thrones, Insecure… anything witchy, really.

 

“What do you want to watch?” I proceed to list of all the shows we’re currently watching in hopes that he picks one that we haven’t been binging on every night. “Uhhhhhhh…..” This is how most of the show/movie watching selection process goes for us. Recently we’ve been binging on The Office – great show if you haven’t gotten into it – or keeping up with whatever Real Housewives season is airing at the moment. Variety, though. Variety goes a long way.  

 

This happens, right? Couples have shows they watch together and shows they watch separately. I know in my mind, when I’m offering up suggestions on what to watch, that those are my shows. The both of us would love to watch old Real World episodes, but none of the quality seasons are available on Hulu or anywhere else. You’d think MTV would sell that shit. I know of at least two queens in Indianapolis who would snatch up and buy all of those (golden) lost episodes.

 

For now, I’ll do my best to remember his shows; or more of the us shows. This could be some form of a hidden gift – us being as busy as we have been. We didn’t really have time for television the past year. Maybe it’s a sign if we’re scanning for minutes upon minutes and still haven’t picked something to watch. It’s winter outside, so eff a walk, but maybe it’s a sign I should go practice some yoga. Maybe it’s a sign S should play some more video games or continue his post-school chill however he wants.

 
Who knows, but we’re back to scrolling now. The Office it is.