You Just Figure It Out

Today marks 14 years of being with my high school/college sweetheart πŸ™‚

Our very first photo together ever, Nov 2002

We’ve been married since May 2008, and the past couple years have been particularly interesting from a work and relationship perspective.

My husband’s career revolves around birds and the environment.  The short version is that he started by building a website from scratch shortly after we were married that helps people know where to go bird-watching.  In early 2009, he began working at a local Wild Birds Unlimited store and volunteering for various not-for-profits.  Birds and Blooms magazine invited Rob to be their online bird blogger in October 2013, and then he became co-owner of a birding and photography tour company in the summer of 2014 (Sabrewing Nature Tours).

I work in market research for a pharmaceutical company.  Pretty straightforward πŸ˜‰

Over the years, many people have asked him, “how have you been able to do all this bird stuff” or “how are you making a living out of this”.  He usually responds with something along the lines of me having a really great job that provides for us financially while he’s building his business and that it’s a lot of hard work every single day.  And that I support him in a lot of ways.  Such a sweetheart ❀

I’m so proud of everything he’s accomplished, but it hasn’t been without its ups and downs.  For awhile, I didn’t understand all of this bird business.  (And heck…sometimes I still don’t.  But I don’t need to.)  And we struggled to communicate effectively about his vision for his future and his career.  Right before he joined the tour company, we hit a pretty rough patch for a variety of reasons that I am going to keep private.  But we made it through and honestly have been rock solid since πŸ™‚

Around that time, we started thinking of ourselves as #TeamRipma.

On the beaches of Espanola in the Galapagos Islands, Sept 2016

We realized that in order to give the tour company the best shot possible, and to maintain us as a couple, we both needed to be all-in with business efforts and our marriage and our friendship.  We committed to fully supporting each other 1000% and outwardly showed that support to each other and other people, too.  (Which admittedly is something we had previously struggled with at times.)

And because that wasn’t enough, a couple months after the tour company started, I began a new position at my then-employer that had me traveling to Chicago for 2-4 days every other week or so.

Our schedules became insane.  Like really, really insane.  His tours and scouting trips lasted for 2-3 weeks at a time, and I was seemingly always cruising I-65 in one direction or another.  It took awhile to get used to, and more things have changed since then (like me changing jobs and no longer working from home full-time), but now it’s simply our new normal.

Let me be crystal clear on one point.  Just because Rob has an amazing career where he gets to do what he loves (and gets paid for it), and gets to travel to some amazing destinations, this does not mean it’s not still work.  He loves what he does, truly.  And so the long hours and challenges and successes all ladder up to something he really, really enjoys.  This gets lost on people sometimes who just focus on the destination and experience rather than thinking about who planned all (literally ALL) the logistics for that trip for a group of people he may or may not have met before.  And this doesn’t even take into account all of the volunteer work he does, both here in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

I heard Mark Cuban say once, “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  PREACH, Mark.  We’ve been on the other side of the coin, the one where you hate your job and those feeling seep into your personal life.  It sucks.  There is no replacement for finding your passion in life and throwing everything you’ve got into it.  Rob busts his behind to build his business and career.  I’m lucky to have a front row seat to it.  But I digress slightly….

The questions we get about our lives now have shifted to “how do you two do it?”  And honestly, the answer is pretty simple. There’s no magic formula…

You just figure it out.  

One day, one situation, one thing at a time.

Whatever comes our way, we just deal with it and get it done.

  • Stepping into a puddle of water in our garage as I’m heading to Chicago before 6am due to a broken water heater?  Rob had to figure it out.
  • Juggling mystery sounds in one of our cars and tire issues in the other while Rob was on another continent?  That one was on me.
  • One of us serving as representative from #TeamRipma while the other was away for work, whether at a birthday party, funeral, friend’s get-together, etc?  Both of us have been there.
  • Dealing with unexpected potential medical issues and determining what friend or family member we’d like to accompany us to doctors appointments in place of our spouse, if needed?  This one’s newer, but it’s happened.

We stay connected as best we can when we’re traveling and make lists of things we need to be sure to tell the other. We regularly do ‘calendar checks’ to make sure that we have our schedules straight.  We plan date nights months in advance so we can reserve evenings after one of us returns from a trip so we can catch up face-to-face.  We’ve even been known to have dates at the airport as paths were crossing, one of us returning home and the other leaving.

Our sweet little 19 month old godson has heard “figure it out” a time or two over his short lifetime as he’s trying something new or is confused about how something works.  It’s said with love and encouragement, of course.  He’s just learning, growing, and adjusting.  And he eventually gets there, as he’s one smart little kid.

We do the very same thing everyday with my husband’s business, with our marriage, with our friendship, with the life we’ve built together.

We learn.

We grow.

We adjust.

We just figure it out πŸ™‚

Happy 14 years together, love.  Saying ‘yes’ to a date with you when we were teenagers was just the first of our many adventures.  Cheers to many more!  #TeamRipma






3 thoughts on “You Just Figure It Out

  1. Stephanie – This is a very moving post and shows your wisdom and determination to keep your relationship strong and growing. Grandma and Grandpa would be so proud of all that you and Rob are accomplishing. They may even would want to go on one of Rob’s trips!


  2. Love Team Ripma!! Beautifully written, Stephanie. Such a strong testimony to the sacrament of marriage. What a wonderful example in a world so in need.


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