The Good Stuff

Staying Present

Sometime last year, my best friend Megan told me about a daily inspirational text service called “Shine Text” that she subscribed to for free. Essentially everyday at whatever time you designate, you get a text with a short motivational message that focuses on one of the focus-areas that you indicated you were interested in when you signed up. It also usually includes a fun image/meme and links to articles and videos that further discuss the topic and provide action steps and advice.

Is it sort of cheesy? Definitely. But I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and with so many negative distractions that most of us have to overcome or try to ignore from day to day, trying to make a habit of reading my Shine Text each day is a goal that really has improved my attitude and mood.

Last month I received the image above and this message below, that has REALLY stuck with me lately:

“Our minds are expert time-travelers; bypassing the present to harp on the past or future 47% of the time… We get so caught up in the shams and delusions of the mind that we miss reality – what is happening now and here.”

The concept on focusing on what’s right in front of us and not dwelling on the past or anticipating what is to come too much, is not new. But lately it is something that I have struggled with a bit, so this Shine Text was perfectly timed.

I’ve always struggled with having too-specific expectations for things to come, and then have to deal with being very disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. So regardless if the present is still good and positive, I sometimes miss out on appreciating those moments because I am stuck being upset about how it didn’t turn out instead. Another thing is that often, while I am counting down to something that I am looking forward too, I will measure the time based on all of the things both at home and work that have to be done in the meantime. This affects my attitude toward my “present” and belittles other day-to-day moments that deserve their own spotlight. Not that its bad to be excited for something in the future, but this is definitely different then setting a goal or even daydreaming about what we hope for.

I think these are easy patterns to fall into that are sometimes harder to identify. The Shine Text also shared this article, “3 Simple Steps to Stop Mental Time Traveling,” which didn’t necessarily present any groundbreaking advice, but instead broke down the challenge in a practical way that is a great reminder for how to approach each day.

I am a very observant and intuitive person. I know that those are two of my strengths, so I know that I am at my best when I shift my attention to the present moment, whatever that might be.

Being present makes me better appreciate what I have, rather than dwell on what I think I might want. It encourages me to get to the gym and say yes to spontaneous girl’s day trips. It helps me be more intentional with my conversations and commitments, and how I invest in “my people.” It makes me less anxious about what is ahead and better able to go with the flow. And it makes me notice the little moments like a stranger letting me use the last washer in the community laundry room, a new favorite jam or a flirty wink from my boyfriend.

Being present is better.

How do you focus on being more present?

And because this was a more word heavy post, here’s a jam that I have had on repeat lately. This is the slower version, but the upbeat version is great too!

Cheers!

 

The Good Stuff

The Country Christmas Connection: Gift Reveal

Though I don’t blog much about specific agriculture topics, I still label myself as an ag blogger to some degree, because it is the industry that I work in and am passionate about. Last year, I joined a Secret Santa exchange for ag bloggers and really enjoyed it, so I decided that it was something I wanted to participate in again. It is a great way to get to know more people in the industry, and obviously it’s fun!

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I was given Gracie Weinzierl who blogs at A Farm Kid’s Guide to Agriculture. Gracie is also in ag communications, working at an agency in St. Louis, where she works with a variety of clients in agriculture. She is originally from Central Illinois where she grew up on a small corn and soybean farm. Right away I saw that Gracie had some things in common, like our love for coffee and DIY. She wrote all about the gifts I sent her over on her own blog post, which you can read here. I did have to laugh though. Gracie is a HUGE cat lover, something that I don’t understand AT ALL.  I mean don’t hate them, but I’m not really a fan. My sister is the complete opposite though, so I am used to buying gifts for “those kinds of people,” and buy the sound of it, the quirky little cat pen that I gave Gracie was a hit.

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A snapshot of the things I sent Gracie.

My secret blogger was Hannah Neuenschwander who blogs over at Texan Meets Midwest. Hannah is a Texan who relocated to Illinois for her job as a entry-level manager at a Monsanto soybean production facility. My first thought when I was looking through her blog was how much I appreciate that there are other young professionals in agriculture that make big moves like I did for my career, and those like Hannah are willing to share about it on a blog.

I was a bit late to open my gift (not Hannah’s fault) because I wasn’t able to get it from my apartment office before I went home on a long holiday vacation. Which is quite all right because who doesn’t like opening gift on a random day! When I picked it up from the office, the manager was very enthusiastic and said, “Oh Amanda, it looks like your new TV came in, you must be really excited.” Instead of trying to explain to her that I was positive that it definitely was not a TV, I just went along with it. But it definitely made me really curious and excited to get back to my apartment to open it!

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Now I wish I could have had someone taking a video of me when I opened my gift from Hannah, because I literally shrieked out loud. Hannah did a great job “stalking” my social media and blog to learn that I love decorating my home in styles that I love and personal touches that reflect who I am, and also that I LOVE a good quote. So she had a local friend and small business woman (Tina Gonnerman at TMG Designs in Ashton, IL) make this sign specially for me. I have a few of my favorite quotes and verses on the left sidebar of my blog, but Exodus 14:14 is my FAVORITE VERSE. Up until now I have kept it written on the white board in my kitchen. Plus, the colors and style go perfectly with my decor in my living room! Really Hannah, you could not have sent me a more PERFECT gift than this. Right now I have it propped up on a book shelf in my living room, until I decide whether or not I am going to hang somewhere else or just leave it there.

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Isn’t it great!?

Thank you to Darleen and Jenny for being this year’s hosts for the blogger exchange. I really enjoyed participating again!

Be sure to check out the linkup, where all of the other participants are sharing their posts.

Cheers!

The Good Stuff

Be Still.

I will forever be perplexed by how so many great and wonderful things in life can coexist with things that are hard and confusing.
I realize that is what part of what grace is, but on the day-to-day, I often have to tell myself out loud to slow down and breath.

I have been really missing this view lately.
I always think of these words when I think about “my mountains.”

‘The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still’ -Exodus 14:14

Sumpter Valley.

Sumpter Valley.

My very favorite view.

Yesterday, spring started to show itself again so I decided to end my day with a long run and a few other views that have won me over.
It is not the same, but I certainly do not take for granted where I live.
I know there are many people who will not ever get to travel to our nation’s capital. Or they will, maybe once as a tourist, but will never take the time to relax and enjoy a lazy evening on the Mall. They will not become familiar with it like it is their own backyard.

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And like the mountains do for me, I know a lot of people look upon these views for strength and steadiness.
I guess what I am saying is that it is important to remember that it is indeed possible to “only to be still” anywhere I am.

It is a frame of mind, not a place.

The Good Stuff

2015 Christmas in the Country Gift Reveal

Friends, I know I am not the only one who struggled a bit with the first full week back to work after the holidays.
I knew that the Christmas in the Country Gift Reveal blog posts were going live this week but everyday after work I just couldn’t bring myself to look at a computer screen again.

So my slacker plan was to write the post on the plane this morning on my trip to the West coast and post it during my layover.

And then I missed my flight this morning.
So now I’m back in my living room, with a re-booked flight for this evening.
Such is life.

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Anyhow, I excited to finally share  about my first Christmas in the Country exchange!
I particularly love that this exchange brings together bloggers in agriculture.

I had SO MUCH fun “getting to know” Myla at “The Purple Front Door” and going shopping for her.
Read her post on my gift HERE.

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I received my fun box from Chelsea at BoilermakerAg, and she did a fabulous job! Everything was so personalized and well-thought out. Chelsea is a newlywed from Indiana, a proud Purdue Boilermaker and like me, an agriculture communications grad! I have read Chelsea’s blog before and I’m guessing that we have a lot in common. I am looking forward staying in touch.

First I want to share about that little lump of coal you see above on the red bag. This lump of coal (which is really a colored and scented piece of soap), has been passed along through the exchange since 2013 as a little reminder of the true reason for the season. The white tag says” A lighthearted reminder coal deserving sins places us on Santa’s naughty list. Thankfully naughty boy and girls are offered the gift of Jesus.” On the back of the tag it has the history of where this coal has traveled each year so my job now is to keep it and pass it on to someone next year!

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If you know me or have read my blog before you know that I love to be creative and tap into my artistic side, and paints are probably my favorite to use. Chelsea sent me a jar of turquoise custom chalk paint and a few brushes. I haven’t done as many projects since my move to DC and my mind is spinning with all of the ideas that I could use this for! Plus you can never have too many brushes.

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In my mind coffee is a love language all on its own. Chelsea sent me this adorable mug, a few K Cups and homemade chocolate spoon stirrers. They were SO GOOD — now I feel like I need one for every cup of coffee I have.

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Everything in the gift was great, but this last part really hit it out of the ballpark. I love saving different wine corks (and the wine itself of course) and stealing them out of my stash from time to time for a craft. But I’m not sure Chelsea understands just how PERFECT this particular holder is for me. Yes, I used to work for the Kansas Pork Association, but my love for pigs runs far deeper than that. Everyone has a few things that they find hard to explain their love for without seeming a bit loony, and for me, pigs go on the top of that list. This is SO CUTE, and will go perfectly in my home.

Chelsea, thank you so much for taking the time to get to know me and for each of the fun gifts. I hope you had a wonderful season with your family and I wish you the best in 2016.

 Thank you to Laurie, Jamie, Kirby and Lara for being this year’s exchange hosts! This was a fun way to enjoy the holidays and make new blogger friends in agriculture.
Click HERE to view the Link Up of other bloggers who participated and to see what everyone gifted each other!

Friendship, The Good Stuff

Thankful for Friends.

First, I’m just going to put this here…

“23 Greatest Thanksgiving Moments From “Friends”

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…please ignore the fact that this post is more than a week late…

I might have a pretty strong argument for Manhattan, KS being the happiest place there is, but I’ve also always said that I truly believe that you can and will find great people wherever you go if you are open to it. Over the past two weeks though, those people have just so happened to be from that happy place and for that I am extra thankful.

At the end of November I made the trek in holiday traffic down to Raleigh, NC (a 6.5 hour drive that should have only been 4.5) hours to spend Thanksgiving with a group of Oregonians transplanted on the East Coast. I originally met Jake and Nicole back as Oregon FFA members and eventually played a role helping recruit them out to K-State. Now Jake is wrapping his first semester of grad school at NC State and Nicole will be joining him in NC after she graduates from K-State (holla to a fellow ACJ grad!) this month. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend with great food ( I’m mean REALLY great food) and even better company.

Thanks for the invite!

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With Jake and Nicole.
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Friendsgiving 2015 Group

This past weekend I enjoyed a visit from another Kansas favorite. My friend Chelsea is one of the first friends I made when I first moved to Kansas. She was a year ahead of me living in Smurthwaite Scholarship House and became my official “Big Sis.” Many times those pairings don’t turn into friendships or only last during your time in Smurthwaite, but Chelsea was the perfect match for me and I am thankful that we are still friends today. Chelsea is currently working toward getting her PhD at Virginia Tech and was able to get a weekend off to visit and join me for the last K-State football watch party of the season!

We enjoyed a pretty laid back weekend and of course a WILDCAT VICTORY! Saturday was beautiful with sunshine and temps hanging around in the upper 50’s so we also detoured for a walk by the White House Eclipse to see the national Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

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 Each state and U.S. territory had its own little tree. I thought it really strange that every single tree was decorated with big glass balls filled with things representative of the state… EXCEPT for Oregon, which had a bunch of additional, and in my opinion, weird decorations. #KeepOregonWeird?

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Thanks for a great weekend Chelsea! It was great getting to catch up!

Cheers.

The Good Stuff

100 Blog Posts.

O'Conner quote

I noticed late last week that my 100th blog post was coming up soon. At first I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, REALLY committed bloggers post practically every week day, so 100 might not be a significant number. I, on the other hand, having been dabbling on this blog for quite a while. When I started in high school, social media and online networking was already established, but since then, I really think we’ve seen a rapid shift in its influence and integration, well, everywhere. At the time I think I was just a kid who loved to write and was looking for something creative. So I started a blog, and posted a couple of abstract pieces and my high school graduation speech. In college, I tried to use it as a way to connect my life between Oregon and Kansas, but my life as a college student didn’t really leave room for a commitment like that. And honestly, with the amount of papers and articles I wrote in college, I don’t think I really had the heart for it.

This technically isn’t my 100th overall post. I first started out over on BlogSpot as my platform, but in 2012 – a few years into my degree – I actually had some “communications know-how,” and decided that WordPress was a better option for me and to not transfer any of my old posts over to the new platform.

Somewhat ironically, it has been just over a year since I changed my outlook on blogging and re-committed to it consistently. I share in my “About Me” page that I was struggling with the fact that I felt like there was nothing extraordinary about my life story, I had a lot of different interests and that I didn’t feel like I had the expertise to be throwing around my thoughts on any particular topic. I described myself as a writer without a beat. But still, I continued to have the overwhelming feeling that I just wanted to write.

Finally someone asked me:

“Does writing make you happy?”
– Yes –
“Then just do it for yourself and don’t worry about the rest of it.”

Obviously, the conversation was more involved than that, but that part really stuck with me.

A year later and on my 100th blog post, I am so thankful for that somewhat random conversation. Writing and sharing with others like this has given me a new confidence and allows me to exercise my creativity in a way that my career doesn’t . It has turned into a great way to journal and share about my new adventure on the East Coast. Knowing that other people consistently read it, besides just my Mom and Grandma, and hearing that its something that makes them smile or think, is both humbling and encouraging. I’ve started to build a network and have even made a new friend here in D.C. because of it.

I know its both goofy and boring sometimes, and that some people really don’t get why I would spend so much of my free time on it. And I’m okay with that because for me it is fulfilling and a genuine piece of who I am.

That said, thanks for reading friends.

Cheers!

-Amanda

Looking back at some of my favorite posts…

My first post on this platform: November 2012 – “So New, So Fresh”
December 2012 – “12/12/12: 12 Reasons for Dad”
February 2013 – “A Spoo Kind of Love”
February 2013 – “On This Side of When I Grow Up”
March 2013 – “Unzipping the Blue and Gold Jacket”
March 2013 – “God Gave Me Two”
June 2013 – “Home is Behind, The World Ahead…”
August 2013 – “In The Eye of the Beholder…”
November 2014 – “It’s In My Genes”
December 2014 – “In 2014, I Lived”
January 2015 – “Hail, Hail, Hail, Alma Mater”
February 2015 – “Why Not?”
February 2015 – “A Love Letter to Manhattan, Kansas”
April 2015 – “Livin’ on Love for 25 Years”
May 2015 – “I Called Him Uncle Jamie”
August 2015 – “Loves + Hates”
September 2015 – “Travel Journal – Guatemala”
September 2015 – “The Spider I Was Finally Afraid Of”
Friday Jam Session Series

And of course my new “The Road I Traveled” Series!

The Good Stuff

The Good Stuff: Happy 1st Day of Fall

Take a deep breath friends.
It’s officially the first day of fall.

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I realize that the “first day” often doesn’t mean much, but regardless, I see it as a mini holiday.
In the DC/Northern VA area, fall is FINALLY starting to show itself. The mornings are crisp and the afternoons have that soft, warm Indian summer bliss. Fall foods and fashion are coming out of the wood work, and now #IwisheverySaturdaywasGameday is no longer a wish. Because, FOOTBALL.

I’m really not a fan of the cold but what I described above is the perfect balance. I think every season has its own distinct feel and smell, and since fall is a transitional season, I think we get the best of each of the seasons put together. Fall is crisp and clean, as well as musty and earthly. I love the balance of the chilly air and sunshine, and adding a few layers as the season goes on.

I haven’t done a Good Stuff list in quite a while and I realized earlier this month that I’ve never done one of the fall season (here are past lists on summer and winter, but lets not dwell on those.)

Let’s talk about the Good Stuff about fall.

The perfect pair of blue jeans. Pulling favorite old hooded sweatshirts off the shelf. Cute fingerless gloves. Big infinity scarves. Layering. Flannel. Colorful pea coats. Wearing my Carhartt. Pairing cardigans with dresses, leggings and tall boots.

Crunchy leaves and watching them change colors. Sumac and maple trees. Little kids at pumpkin patches. Bonfires. The smell of firewood. Roasting marshmellows. Hating to eat anything pumpkin, except for my best friend’s mom’s muffins. Changing over to darker lipstick shades. Setting out new fall candles.

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Seasonal beers. Chili feeds. Hearty soups. Cider. Rich spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. Chai tea. Caramel apples. Pecan pie. Fresh apples and corn on the cob. Hot chocolate. Venison from friends and family that go hunting.

College Gamedays and high school Friday night lights. Homecoming. Tailgating traditions with friends. Playing cornhole and redneck golf. Cheering on the Wildcats with the K-State fam. Wabashing. Purple. Listening to Wyatt Thompson announce the games. Watch parties. Playing flag football. K-State’s limestone buildings and the fall foliage.

Post from last year on tailgating...and the adorable Luna as a puppy.
Post from last year on tailgating…and the adorable Luna as a puppy.

Fall decorations and colors. Faded green, mustard yellow, burnt orange, toasted brown, scarlet, plum and all the shades of a finished harvest. Scare crows. Pumpkins. Cornucopias. Pinecones. The overload enthusiasm for fall on Pinterest…

See the start of my Fall Pinterest Board…

A new school year always feeling like the true start of a new year. Back-to-School events. My birthday. Thanksgiving. National FFA Convention and AFA Leaders Conference. Cross country season. Fire places.

TV premiere week. Cozy blankets. Enjoying the last few “sunny and 75” weekends. Corn mazes during the day. Carving pumpkins as a kid. Obnoxious baby Halloween costumes. Making corsages and boutonnieres in my family’s shop for Homecoming season. My Dad’s old buffalo check hunting jacket. Glade pumpkin spice air freshener.

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That’s just a little bit of what I love about fall.

Take note that pumpkin spice lattes, candy corn and Halloween are NOT on the list. According to some that means I’m un-American. #whatever

I am so looking forward to exploring my new city and home during my favorite season.
I suspect in a few months there will be a lot more specific things to add to this list!

What’s your favorite things about fall?

Cheers!