Thoughts and Lessons Learned

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!

 

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

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.

IMG_3905 IMG_3909

IMG_3911

IMG_3913

IMG_3914

IMG_3916

IMG_3917

IMG_3919

IMG_3921

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.

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

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!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

The Good Stuff: Happy 1st Day of Fall

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

fall 2

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.

IMG_2818

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.

 fall

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!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Words.

Sometimes words scare me. Sometimes they are difficult and hard to come by, and sometimes words are used mistakenly. It’s been truly eye opening so far during my time here in D.C. to see the important role words have.

But most of the time, words inspire me.
They are one of the few things that continue day in and day out to challenge, fascinate and surprise me. I have always believed that words are the most powerful tool that we have, and even in our visually driven world, I still stand by that belief.

Sure, I don’t expect everyone to always carry around a red pen, pour over books or obsess over lyrics like I do, but I do wish sometimes that people stopped to read them more. For me, its sort of a “stop and smell the roses” thing, something that is good for both the mind and the soul.

This past weekend I went to a semi-annual book sale at the public library.
Let’s just say that it’s good thing I drove there, when I could have walked, and I just about hyperventilated when I called my Mom to tell her all the steals that I found.

I bought a variety of books — mostly fiction — spanning a few genres.
My greatest find though was an English Grammar and Composition book from 1887. It was in considerably good shape with the binding still well intact. I know this is one of those extreme nerd moments where most people roll their eyes, but as for me, this was equivalent to others’ excitement for baseball cards or comic books.

IMG_1744        IMG_1745  IMG_1747       IMG_1746

Here are some of the other words that I’ve stopped and read lately.

IMG_1728

Hannah Brencher and the More Love Letters  movement is sassy, empowering and good for the soul. We need more honest and cheesy words to be said. Recently they also launched If You Find This Email.

In the Reagan International Trade Building.
In the Reagan International Trade Building.
IMG_1669
Picked up this little sign in a flea market last Saturday. If there was ever a line to perfectly describe me, this would be it.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Shine From Within

At the end of each year, we all tend to reflect on the year behind us and look toward what’s to come. Whether we do it with purpose or it moseys on through our mind, it happens. Many of us write down our goals or make resolutions. But the new trend that I have seen lately is for people to choose a “focus word” or phrase. (Example HERE.)

I particularly like this idea, partially because of my love for words. This exercise puts you in the position to  set individual, tangible goals, but also challenges you to “focus” on your character and lifestyle in a specific limelight. I struggled though, with what direction I wanted to go. I’m sure this is felt at a different age for everyone, but I feel that in just about every aspect of my life, I’m going through change. Some are subtle and expected, while others are bold and mindful. So how the heck am I supposed to choose ONE thing to focus on that is ideally all-encompassing? Or am I just missing the whole point of the exercise?

Well I thought about the word “value.”
Where should I be adding value in my life? How am I adding value to my job, and other roles I have? How are my values being shaped and remolded? How am I currently defining value?

Another word that has always been important to me is “risk.”
Where should I be taking risks currently? Am I being too risky?

I then thought about the word “yes,” and decision-making.
What is the best “yes” for me? Do I say it enough, not enough?

I was a little frustrated, and had almost determined that this was not for me.
Then on New Year’s Eve, my Grammy gave me this necklace pendant:

IMG_1446

My Grammy is always so thoughtful with her gifts and they often reflect her own way of looking at life.

Shine from within

That’s a big thought.
But the only thing I kept thinking, is what the heck does that even mean?
It’s not a single word so there isn’t a direct definitive meaning, and even introspectively there’s a lot going on there.

That’s when it became my 2015 focus phrase.
If I didn’t know how to define it for myself and my life, then I needed to.
It might be a bit cheesy and certainly won’t be easy to measure at the end of the year.
But that’s okay. I find that most things that are hard to measure the value of are an important part of who we are that sometimes get overlooked.

So I don’t have a well thought out plan.
But I do plan to spend my 2015 figuring out what “Shine from within” means to each part of my life and how I can be better from it. Whether I wear it as a necklace or just keep it in my pocket, I’m excited to have this token with me moving forward.

Here’s some of my inspiration to get started.

BGX1930.TIF
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973913584/

This has been my favorite quote since early high school. I love that no matter where I am in life, it always applies. And it was the very first thing I thought of when I got the pendant.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973858385/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552973858385/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/404268504022678603/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/404268504022678603/
harry potter
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/265923552967004139/

What does it mean to “Shine from within” to you?

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

The Good Stuff: Winter

To really know me, is to know that I hate winter.
Really “hate” isn’t even a harsh enough word.
I loathe, detest, despise, abhor and execrate it.

Yeah, I went there.

Sure, I might be a bit overdramatic, but at least you’re starting to get the picture
Sometimes I think it’s just because I love the other three seasons so much more, but alas, its not that simple.

I hate being cold, anything peppermint is gross and I’d rather dropkick the chipmunks than listen to them sing. I could write a whole other post just on the reasons that hate the snow, the static air drives me loony and I have this weird complex with cheesy Christmas anything. I don’t even have snow days and a true winter break to look forward too. And did I mention that I hate being cold?

Honestly, the list kind of drags on (as I’m already doing.) So if you still happen to be reading, I would like to share the things that I DO like about wintertime.
After all, that is what the title of this blog is all about.
And two months from now, being able to come back and read this list just might keep me warm enough to get me through until spring.

The Good Stuff about winter…

Wearing scarves. Starbucks #RedCupSeason Holiday Drinks. Giving presents. The smell of spices and evergreen. Basketball season. Getting cozy after being outside in the cold. Rich jewel tones. Christmas lights (NOT over done.) My Christmas traditions with Kayla and Richole. Sour dough cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Wrapping gifts with my mom. Fireplaces.

Irving Berlin’s movie “White Christmas”

Any Christmas music sung by Bing, Dean, Nat and Frank. They’re the exception to every terrible thing I have to say about Christmas music. And George Strait’s “Christmas Cookies.” Don’t ask me why I like it, I won’t be able to explain.

Snow…in the mountains. Or for the first five minutes, when it’s sparkly and I haven’t been out it in yet.

Making cookies with my Aunt Diane. Disney’s “Frozen”. Festival of Trees. The Christmas morning pact that I have with my sister. The yearly banter between my parents about getting the decoration out and putting them away. Celebrating a new year. Winter sunrises. Gingerbread houses. Hooded sweatshirts. Vacations to warm weather destinations (can I go back to Cabo please?)

My mom’s western Christmas decorations
IMG_20131225_131654

The bustle of the flower shop. Egg nog. A child’s excitement. Bath & Body Works Vanilla Bean Noel. Receiving Christmas card and annual letters. My Carhartt jacket. When the tree is the only light in the room. Nativity scenes. Soup. Flannel everything. My sister’s baking. College memories. Chai. Mixed popcorn tins. My uncles’ creative gift wrapping tactics. National Finals Rodeo (I’ll watch it in person someday!)

And quiet, warm moments like this.
FullSizeRender

What are your favorite things about this time of year?
Hopefully you’re not as much of a Grinch as I am!