Reasons to Smile

Two and a half years ago today– I remember it like yesterday. It was a very, very special day.

It was at this time that Ryan and I spent our first Christmas holiday together, down on Sanibel Island with my parents.


Momma’s back yard, finally made it after a 12 hour drive!


Loooove the Florida lifestyle…bring on the relaxation!


Boat outing to Cayo Casta Island


The parental units

It was two and a half years ago today that I woke Ryan up at 6AM, draaaagged him outta bed… and convinced him to help me haul an armload of blankets to the beach to watch the sunrise.


Turn that frown, upside-down, son! It's BEACHTIME!


Yes, I realize the sun is not up yet. And no, this is not a ploy to avoid getting skin cancer.


It's time to watch the sun rise!


Peek-a-boo toes


Happiness on the beach




December 21st, 2008


So, so pretty!

…Unbeknowest to him, I had his Christmas present wrapped up in one of the blankets.






He has *no idea* what’s about to come…

Well, well, well... what's that you got there, Ry?!

And now, some background… When I met Ryan back in October of 2008, he was pretty much head over heels for me.  Me on the other hand… not so much. I was super busy with my stint in the AmeriCorps, working 3+ jobs so I could afford rent, and commuting 2+ hours a day back and forth to South Carolina for work. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to invest in a relationship (…or so I thought).

But then I started to see that Ryan wasn’t just the typical guy.

He would leave me funny messages and come up with fun weekend plans. He’d pop over to my house on weeknights just to say hi, knowing that I’d be kicking him out after an hour or two so I could get my beauty sleep. I made it clear to him that I just “wanted to be friends” at first. I wanted to test the waters, and see what he was all about. And he honored that. And that’s what did me in and made me fall for him – the fact that he was patient, and gave me time.

Nevertheless, Ryan still snuck in some smooth moves. The instance that stands out most is the time he showed up on my doorstep, bouquet of flowers in hand, minutes after landing in Charlotte after a weekend spent in Arkansas. He hadn’t even gone home yet to drop off his things, and there he was… on my doorstep. With flowers. Because he wanted to say “hi.” That’s the moment I knew I had fallen for him. And that’s the moment I let me guard down, and finally let someone in after years of trying to protect myself from pain and hurt. I realized this guy meant businesses, and for once, I liked being “courted.”

Anywho, not long after I met Ryan, I realized he was big into coffee-table books. One day around Thanksgiving we were chillaxin’ at a local bookstore and he picked up “Life – the Classic Collection” and started flipping through. I could tell right away that he loved it, as it’s not every day an actual *book* grabs his attention. (Sorry, Ry…but you know it’s true.) Granted, this “book” is the size of my torso and has hundreds of pages filled with pictures of the world’s greatest events/people, and mini descriptions of said pictures. This coffee-table book got my wheels turning… and soon enough, I had *the* perfect idea for what I wanted to give Ryan for Christmas. So, I bought the coffee-table book, and went to work putting my own little twist on it.


The book

So what’s so special about this coffee-table book? Ohhhh nothing really, except for the fact that I crafted about 40 personalized pages and “hid” them in between the book’s pages for Ryan to come across while flipping through the pages. I selected meaningful pictures from things we had done together and events that had taken place during the first two months we had known each other. I even wrote little captions for each picture to match the layout of the original pages.  To say I was pleased with how it turned out…is a major understatement. I was so excited to give this glamorized picture-book to him that I could hardly stand it!

Here are some pictures of me putting the final touches on it…


Putting the pages in place


Final Product!

It was two and a half years ago today, that Ryan and I became “official.” The last page I created for the book showcased the silhouette of a couple sitting on the beach, watching the sunrise. (Coincidence? That’s for you to decide Smile with tongue out). The caption to this picture was a few lyrics from the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Myraz. (Go ahead, call me a cheeseball, corndog, what have you… I know it’s true. And I love it). I’m pretty sure Ryan figured out what I was saying (he may not be big into reading books, but he sure knows how to read between the lines!), and I know that gift gave him a big reason to smile.


Where it all happened (giiiiityerheadouttathegutter)


Officially official

Oh, but the reasons for smiling don’t end there.

Yep, I’ve got even more reasons to share!

A year ago this past weekend, Ryan and I officially began our lives together under one roof. That’s right folks, I moved in. And no, there was no ring on my finger.  Judge me if you want, but I wouldn’t have made that step if I wasn’t positive that he is my “forever.”

Nothing screams “girl” quite like blue, printed quilts and decorative pillows…

So yes, a year ago this past weekend… I began the best year of my life. (So far, at least).

Cue: Oprah

Not only did I move in with Ryan one year ago, but I resigned from a financial development position that wasn’t making me happy. As a result I threw myself headfirst into my graduate school courses and health educator position at the Y. I’m tellin’ ya, whoever said, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is soSoSO right. Being a health educator does not feel like work, and I love every second of it.

But that’s not all I’m smiling about. I’ve also accomplished some feats that I am very proud of. In addition to working a job I love, I also achieved my dream of being accepted into the nations 2nd best School of Public Health— UNC-Chapel Hill’s Master of Public Health Public Health Leadership Program.


"I got it from my momma!" No really, she surprised me with this hat in May.

Because of all of my hard work this past year, I am now ahead of the curve by one year and have now entered into my second year of classes. It’s a great feeling. (And yes, I am still in the midst of my first epidemiology exam that is due on Wednesday, so this statement holds a lot of clout!).

So, what else did I smile about this past year?

Oh you know, that whole marathon thing…


The pigs flew...

My experience running The Flying Pig Marathon was simply *amazing.* I loved the race, the people and the course (my hometown!)…and I even enjoyed that lame-o flat-tire that grounded us for a little bit (still laughing about that, actually). What’s more is the fact that I liked the training just as much! I know it sounds crazy, but I actually miss those longruns. I think the mentality I had throughout my training played a huge part in why I was so successful. I can’t wait to begin training for marathon numero dos— Savannah Rock N’ Roll!

Yep. All of those things have made this past year absolutely wonderful. But there is oneeee more thing that happened this past year that has changed my life for the better.


Little Miss HappyTales!

Adopting this little wee one.

Seriously y’all. I cannot image my life without her. It was fate that we randomly decided to go visit the shelter “just to play” with the pups (famous last words…). The love I have for my little pupsqueak is something I’ve never felt before. (Good lord, if I feel this way about a furbaby, I can’t even imagine the feelings I’ll have that’ll stem from having actual human babies).

So yes, the little Happster is most definitely the icing on the cake, if you will. And how appropriate… considering the fact that today is her 1st birthday!


Birthday!? I’m one??? What is a “one”?


(Make sure to check back this coming Sunday to see the celebrations…hopefully there won’t be any more choking on cupcakes like the last doggie-birthday celebration that went down…).

So yes, as you can see, this past year has brought me many reasons to smile. And my guess is that there are many more “best years of my life” to come. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Especially with these two knuckleheads by my side.


Don’t let their innocent looks fool you…


We’re all smiles

Hold up. I lied. There’s actually one more thing that has made a significant impact on my smile-o-meter this past  year. And that’s this blog. That’s right. Creating this blog has given me 100,000,000 reasons to smile. I am soooo glad that I randomly decided to start this baby back during the New Year. I can’t believe the people I have come across in blogworld, and I seriously cherish every person who has commented, emailed, tweeted, and/or facebooked me telling me how much they enjoy reading.  Seriously, nothing puts a smile on my face more than hearing from you guys!

What are some things that make you smile? Has anything exciting happened to you over the past year? Did you/do you “live in sin” with your significant other? Do you think of your furbabies as real children? 



Filed under AmeriCorps, Christmas, family, Flying Pig Marathon, graduate school, Happiness, Happy, job, marathon, moving, my story, recap, running, Ryan, Sanibel Island, the boy, training, Travel, YMCA

57 responses to “Reasons to Smile

  1. Wow you do have a lot to smile about. My fiance and I lived together before we were engaged and I never once regreted it.

  2. What I am wondering is how exactly your Christmas day was one year ago on June 21? 😉

    This is super cute! I feel like I know you now. Lol my, now husband, and I lived together for two years before we got married. And we got married last august! Wich is certainly the more important thing that happened to me this past year. He is great and keeps me smiling always.

  3. Awww….what a great post! You had SUCH a great idea with the LIFE book and adding your own pages to it. Fabulous!! It sounds like you’ve had a really fabulous year:)

  4. Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to Happy! There’s a whole lot of happiness going on in this post. I love it! 🙂

  5. Happy Birthday to Happy!! Those are definitely some serious reasons to smile – so exciting 🙂

  6. Hooray! I think living together before getting married is crucial to the success of a marriage, because you don’t want to throw your life into a total twist by changing so many things at once! Getting married enough of a change as it is!

    Keep on enjoying life!!!

  7. what a fantastic, uplifting post!! as a newish reader, loved to see what you’ve been up to this past year, you were a busy bee!!

    amazing, happy birthday to your pup, and happy life to you!!

  8. What a beautiful happy post!! You definitely have a million reasons to smile and SO much to look forward to!

    I’ve been smiling a lot lately too — family, work, friends, running — make me so happy 🙂

    Happy Birthday to your sweet puppy!

  9. aw happy birthday happy! so cute. I love the idea of putting your own pics in the coffee table book!

  10. What an amazing year. I love what you did with the LIFE book and I love how positive you are. We shoudl all be so appreciative of all of the good things in our lives! Cheers to another great year.

    • I know just what you mean — sometimes we forget how good we truly have it… it’s always good to take a step back and reflect on everything worth smiling for every once and a while 🙂

  11. Aww such a cute post!

    My boyfriend and I moved in together in October. So I guess we too are “living in sin.” 😉 And we have stuffed “furbabies” that we treat like our children – hoping to get some real ones (of the furry type for now!) someday 🙂

    That book is amazing – such a great present idea!

  12. I just discovered your blog! Loved reading about how you and two began your relationship together- so cute!

  13. You might be a cheeseball but a) you’re the most adorable cheeseball I’ve ever met b) I like cheeseballs 🙂 That is SO sweet. You are a doll!!

    Happy birthday to Happy, as well. 🙂 I teared up a bit reading this. Maybe I’m the oversentimental cheeseball here 😉


  14. This has been a good year for me too in some ways. I finished my first 50K, I finished my MA and left the last job I will hopefully ever “hate”. I would totally live with someone before I get married, but then again I’m not very religious so it’s not a big deal to me. And I LOVE my dog! I wonder the same thing all the time, how I will feel about my human babies one day when I’m so in love with the furry one.

  15. you just made ME smile with all that happiness. 🙂 what a great year, Allison! I love love it. and Happy. and Ryan.

    (I decided he’s my friend too. since we broke it down on the dance flo’ togeths.)

  16. Rhonda

    This mom has a happy heart, knowing her kids are so happy. Love you guys.


  17. This is so sweet, Allison! What you wrote about Ryan and Happy is just so nice, and so are the book inserts you made for Ryan!

    Happy Birthday, Happy! 🙂

  18. Erica

    I have lived with my boyfriend for about 3years and have been together 4 1/2 years and we have a furbaby (zoey the dog)! everytime i see an update on FB i read your blog! Happy is so cute! this is an awesome blog so much to be happy about! Happy birthday happy!

    • Oh my goodness, this makes my heart melt, Erica!!! I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing well (and that you have a furbaby of your own!) and you’re in a good relationship. And I love that you find my blog entertaining, too!!! Thank you for reading!

  19. Wow you have sooo many great things to smile about! I moved I. With my boyfriend this past November and I do not regret it, I as well know it is a forever thing, and if not, so be it! Congratulations on all your exciting things!!

  20. A great year indeed! I love hearing when people see things play out so wonderfully over the course of time. You deserve all that happiness!

  21. Popped in to say hi from How Sweet ! Ya’ll are such a cute couple—I love you watched the sunrise on the beach!

    • Aw, thank you! I love watching the sun rise… it feels so special because not many people are awake to watch it… it’s like a special present from Mother Nature just for you 🙂

  22. I love everything about this post! It was such an enjoyable story to read and I’m so happy for all 3 of you! & happy birthday to happy!! 🙂

  23. This is a really cute story!! and you’re so beautiful!!

  24. Aww so much to smile about for sure! And Oreo is totally our furbaby, haha!

  25. Awwww! I absolutely LOVE this post! So many great reasons to smile!!! 🙂

  26. Aw, how exciting! I’ve never lived with a boyfriend- I still live at home, hehe 🙂

  27. You guys are so cute! My boyfriend makes me smile and makes me crazy at the same time:) We have been together for almost 7 years now and although he’d like to “live in sin” I refuse because it’s the only hold out I have or else he’ll forever drag his feet about “putting a ring on it.” I’m not sure if my plan is working though…lol!

  28. Oh, this such an adorable post! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Glad you had so many reasons to smile yesterday! Congrats to you two on achieving so many milestones.

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  30. Cute post!

    I’m smiling about…
    One year of marriage (this Sunday!!), a move to a new state and new careers for both my husband and I!!


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  34. No WONDER you have a permagrin! You’ve got SO much to be happy about! Life is good! And, I love your blog BTW!

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