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Wine and whiskey

It’s time to talk relationships.

Looking toward the current issue, I found myself challenged as to what seemed most fitting for the issue which welcomes a new year and for many new beginnings.

I’m not a ‘resolutions’ person; I’ve penned plenty of pieces on this in the past. I am, however, a goal setter and more commonly begin my new year reflecting, recapping and regrouping.

So many publications, blogs and influencers turn the focus to the physical self in their New Year issues. Lots of talk about workouts, meal plans, the do’s and don’ts for the ‘New You’ in the New Year.

What about mental health? The balance of who we are and what keeps us going. Mind, body, spirit … three simple buzz words I learned to truly embrace close to a decade ago. Words which ultimately impact our relationships as well.

Not to be confused, I’m not a licensed or trained relationship therapist. I also have plenty to learn on this very topic. Personal growth, ring a bell to anyone? Yeah, equally important in life and relationships. 

I have, however, lived a little bit of life and like most of you learned a few lessons on what works and, well, what doesn’t when it comes to a healthy relationship. To be clear, I feel it’s important to be reflective in all relationships. Friendships, partnerships, family all deserve attention, as well as reflection.

I fell in love with a duck hunter.

That’s how I initially planned to start this column. It’s the true springboard of where this piece should begin. Dedication to our craft (aka hobbies) was one of the things which drew us to one another.

I’ve been intentional in not writing on my personal relationship with my partner. Some things I do feel should be kept sacred; this is one of them.

What I realized in the fall, however, was the importance of his duck hunting to our relationship, no different than my passion for running.

When we first met, our hobbies were something we spoke about openly. Both being frank about the importance we each felt about what we did for fun and its overall effect on our happiness.

At the time, I was training for a marathon and he was preparing for the season to start. He also had a big trip planned several weeks post my marathon so our priorities were well intact.

I share this because what I recognized in the relationship was something I hadn’t had prior; we each needed our “own thing.”

I remember saying to him early on, I thought it was great that he had something he enjoyed. I had dated other runners; it didn’t suit me. Personally, I enjoy taking a break from everyday life to spend time with my “runner peeps,” no different than he and his “hunting buddies.”

While relationships are indeed complex and this hardly means we have it all figured out, I do feel it’s important to give space to one another. 

Not to be confused, early on the life of a duck hunter’s girl was tough. My guy doesn’t just go a couple times a year; he’s all in. When I say all in, I mean a Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday hunt week is not uncommon a couple times a month during season.

Our first holiday season, I pouted my fair share. Yet like most things in a relationship, it was temporary and I adjusted. Fall and winter are actually great times to run in the Valley, not to mention train for spring races – it was actually quite perfect.

This season, my guy invited me along for a late afternoon hunt. He shot birds and I shot my camera. In truth there wasn’t much to document that night, other than the two of us sitting and waiting with his trusty Labrador.

Looking out at the stillness he said to me, “Pretty boring right? Just sitting here in quiet, staring out at nothing.”

In turn, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“It’s a lot like running,” I replied, “except I’m moving forward. But think about it, it’s just me and a bunch of nothing sometimes for a few hours on end and I love it. I totally get this.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t share I asked to go again and I did. Just the two of us and a dog.

Here’s the lesson, for those still scratching their heads, wondering what this is all about … space is a good thing. It’s not just good. It’s healthy.

We appreciate each other more, when there’s space. While there is much in our dynamic which can improve, at the end of the day I’m grateful that we have our “own thing,” it sure does relieve a lot of pressure and stress for us both.