Oregon, Photography, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Just Living – Golden Hour on the Farm

“I am tired.”

If you’ve spoken to me at all in the last two months, my bet is that this was said early on in the conversation. Usually I try to stay away from default answers like “I’m tired” or “I’m busy” when I’m catching up with someone, because the reality is we are all busy and tired, and we all measure those differently. Personally, I think we are all capable of being better conversationalists.

But the truth is in this case, when I finally made it home to Oregon for my vacation at home with my family, this was all I could muster up when my Grampy asked how my work meeting in Seattle, (that I had just traveled from) went.

My body was tired, my brain was tired and I’d even say my soul was tired.

Both professionally and personally, this season of life over of the past six months or so has really pushed me. Its tested me and even broke me a couple of times. And that’s all OK. These seasons come and go, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I believe that sometimes you just have to put your head down and work, and do what you have to do to get by.

That first evening when I got home I immediately jumped on my laptop to knock out a few things related to the meeting I had just traveled from. But the sun was starting to set and the scene I could see through my parent’s big kitchen window could not be ignored.

So I grabbed my camera and headed out to sit in the yard with our old family dog Jack and just paused for a bit.

It’s amazing how little things like that can refocus things for you.

It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear
Some days you just breath in
Just try to break even
Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest
Sometimes it’s just beatin’
Some days you just forget
What all you’ve been given
Some days you just get back
And some days you’re just alive
Some days you’re livin’
Some days you’re livin’

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Roses and Thorns

I’ve been a little MIA lately, but that’s just the season I am in. I have a huge project going on at work and especially now that we are finally having a spring, that all sort of zaps any desire I have to be in front a screen of any kind outside of working hours.

But to kick off the week I wanted to share a simple habit I’ve made since the new year that has really stuck with me.

I’ll be first to admit that my attitude over the past couple of months hasn’t been all that great. Going through a breakup right before Christmas really knocked me down… much harder, and for much longer than I would have expected. But life does have to go on, and with as busy I always tend to keep myself, I most struggled with balancing the hard stuff with good and positive things going on at the same time. I know that is not an uncommon thing for people to feel for a lot of different reasons, but this time for me, it just has seemed so much more inflated. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, a blogger that I follow, Design Darling, does a weekly post about her “Rose and Thorn.” She shares something that she struggled with that week or that just plain sucked, and then follows it with something positive or happy. I always enjoy those kind of simple posts and appreciate when people recognize the whole spectrum of life, and not just the highlight reel.

So, I decided to take a page out of her playbook. In my planner, there is a notes block section for every week. My personal rule is that I have to bullet point a minimum of three “Roses” for the week, and then I can write down as many things as I want or need to for my “Thorns.” Sometimes this is really hard, and my roses are very simple or even more matter of fact. But other times, I have really surprised myself and my thorns were almost not even worth acknowledging.

I’m not saying that this new habit really fixes anything or magically makes the sun shine everyday. But it’s nice knowing that this is just for me and no one is going to read it, so I can be just plain honest with myself. It creates a simple space that acknowledges the good, the bad and everything in between, and I think its remember important (and healthy) to allow ourselves to create that space for both.

After a few months of doing this, I think its become an easy, healthy habit that I plan on keeping up with.

Have a wonderful week friends!

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Emotional Courage

Today’s post is going to be a bit more real life. I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I’ve been struggling with having a positive attitude, but if I am completely honest, it is a bit more than that. I went through a break up right before Christmas and for while I’ve just been flat out struggling. At the end of the day, I know that I have a lot to be happy about and thankful for, but that just has not been enough to keep my mood up lately.

A few weeks ago I saw this Ted Talk, “The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage” by psychologist Susan David, that really spoke to me in a way that I needed. She describes her life work as “emotional agility,” and her talk is summarized as “sharing how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility.”

Link to video HERE.

I’ve always been a realist and don’t usually shy away too much from my emotions, but this experience has been a bit different than I’ve ever had before. There have been so many times when someone would ask if I was OK, and I felt compelled to brush it off, and say yes, when I really, truly wasn’t. I felt myself judging or criticizing myself over getting upset over what I deemed as silly things or at really inopportune times.

In her talk, David says, “I was praised for being strong. I was the master of being OK.

She then said that in a study she conducted, she determined that “one-third of us either judge ourselves for having ‘bad emotions,’ like sadness, anger or even grief — or actively push away these emotions… Normal natural emotions are now seen as good or bad, and being positive has become a new form of moral correctness.”

Umm WOW. How many of us take pride in mastering these habits? I do believe in the power of being positive, counting your blessings and so on and so forth, but I don’t know that I’ve ever truly looked at it this way. I just knew deep down this time around that I was going to need some time to feel these ‘bad emotions’ that she describes and didn’t want to feel like there was pressure to be OK anytime soon.

David also said that people who say ‘I just want this feeling to go away,’ have dead people’s goals. And I laughed quite a bit, because its so bluntly true. My favorite quote came shortly after this when she said…

“Tough emotions are part of our contract with life. You don’t get to have a meaningful career or raise a family, or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”

This stuck with me the most, because it also resonated with other stages of my life. I’ve always believed and accepted that sometimes, to get to where we want to be, we have to do hard things. If I say that I don’t usually shy away from my emotions in other areas of my life and other obstacles, then why should this be treated any differently? I do not believe in or follow the line of thinking that “Everything happens for a reason,” but this, the thought that “discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life,” is one that makes sense and feels real to me.

I’m obviously not a psychologist and I’m not writing this blog post out of some need for attention. Writing is the way I work through things, and I wanted to share this Ted Talk and a few of my own thoughts because the thing that usually helps me the most is when a friend, or a stranger, says “it’s OK, I’ve been there and I get it.”

Before I saw the Ted Talk, I also got this text from a friend that fit so perfectly with the lesson and was a way of looking at things and leaning on friends that I had never thought of before.

So this is me saying to others, I’ve been there too, and I get it… AND, take your time and let yourself feel all the things that you need to. The rest of us will do the positive thinking for you until you’re ready.

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.

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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.

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.

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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!