Thoughts and Lessons Learned


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.


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.
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:


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.


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.
harry potter

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

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.

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

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

I’m Doing It For Me.

Oh hey there blog. Nice to see you again. Obviously we’re becoming pretty great at avoiding each other.

I’ve always said that my love for words is unparalleled . I believe in the impact and power that they have.
So, I spent a lot of time in college (and after it) trying to polish and perfect how to use my words.

I’m a fairly run of the mill 20-something with interests that stretch far and wide.
There’s nothing extraordinary about my life story and I have never felt like I have the expertise to be throwing my wisdom opinion at the topics trending on the web.
Basically I feel like a writer without a beat.

My blog has taken on quite the range of topics, strange looks and lonnnnng hiatuses over the past few years. I keep thinking,  why write if my mom’s my only reader and I don’t have anything unique or witty to say.
But recently I’ve had a few conversations with different people about the fact that we all seem have these goals, to-do lists and things that make us happy, but we aren’t doing them. Maybe we don’t have the money, “it’s not the right time in our lives” or we doubt ourselves. If you’re like me, you put things off because you’re a perfectionist, and every detail always has to be checked off in the right order.

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.”

So here we go again.
I may never find my beat, but I’m okay with that now.

I’ve updated my tabs above for the 3,714 time. Thanks for jumping on board.

lemony snicket quote
From typewrittenword

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

The Good Stuff: Summertime

Boy, do I like absolutely love summer.
You know Luke Bryan‘s lyric “drunk on you, and high on summertime“?
Well that’s my relationship with summertime. Call me cheesy, but my feelings toward summer are the same as Lorelei Gilmore’s  feelings towards snow {which ironically I hate,} it’s just magical.
This list is actually pretty hard to not run away with. Most of the items warrant their own subcategory list. Or I could go on and on about summer here, in Oregon, when I was a kid, yada, yada, yada. You get the picture.

Summer here in Kansas took a little while to show up but by now it is full swing and I am soaking up every bit of it.
20130612_194853 Here are 50 things that are good about summer in my book.
What do you love about summer?

  1. Huge fireworks shows
  2. 4th of July {My favorite holiday!}
  3. Clear starry nights
  4. Grilling and backyard BBQ’s
  5. Fireflies
  6. Rodeos
  7. Watching crops grow
  8. The camaraderie of harvest time
  9. EVERYTHING about the county fair
  10. Sitting out on the porch
  11. Sun kissed cheeks and getting new freckles
  12. Watermelon, corn on the cob, BLTTC’s, grilled asparagus
  13. Sun-bleached hair
  14. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
  15. Racer back tank tops and cut off shirts
  16. Picking berries
  17. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime”
  18. Funny tan lines
  19. Finding that perfect pair of cheap sunglasses
  20. Wearing boots with dresses
  21. Homemade sun tea
  22. Fishing and camping
  23. Time spent up at The Diggins {my family’s cabin}
  24. Farmers markets
  25. Watching summer storms roll in
  26. Going to sleep when its still light outside
  27. Sonic’s “Summer of Shakes”
  28. The fact that sundresses are as comfy as yoga pants
  29. Random summer TV series
  30. Driving with the windows rolled down
  31. The smell of aloe vera
  32. Cheap flip flops and  cute sandals
  33. Men’s swim trunks that have funny or weird patterns
  34. Outside concerts
  35. Early mornings before it gets hot out
  36. How it smells during twilight, after the heat has passed
  37. Farmer tans
  38. Walking through rows of corn that are taller than you
  39. Losing track of time
  40. Bright summer colors
  41. Memories spent in Nevada with cousins at Grandpa and Grandma Spoo
  42. Memories of lazy days spent in the yard or pool at Gramps and Grams
  43. Not wearing any makeup
  44. Messy braids and ball caps
  45. Otter pops
  46. Wedding season
  47. Going barefoot
  48. An empty and laid-back night in Aggieville
  49. The fascination that country music has with singing about summer
  50. Spontaneous free spirits

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!

Agriculture, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

After Unzipping the Blue and Gold Jacket


Every time I hear anyone start a sentence with “I believe…” I can’t help but finish it quietly in my head with “…in the future of agriculture.”  To me, it is more than just a sentence. It is something that I truly believe and trust in through and through, and it is a motto that defines so much of who I am and how I have chosen to live and work. I know that I am one of the lucky ones, because my connection to the National FFA Organization extends much longer than my four years in high school. My earliest memories of the FFA go back to when I was five and my dad had just started as the new ag instructor and FFA adviser at Hermiston High School. Most of the high school has been rebuilt since then, but I distinctly remember his upstairs classroom that looked out over the metals shop and the thick layer of dust and grit that covered everything. I remember sitting on the high stool in Mr. Miller’s classroom during chapter meetings and going around with all of the students to “help” them with their animals at the county fair. As I got older, I became my dad’s tag-a-long, taking in all that I could and dreaming of the day that I would get my own corduroy jacket with my name stitched on it.

On Monday, back in Oregon, my home association wrapped up what I know was another successful state convention. Students are exhausted from nights that they hardly slept a wink, advisors are reminded why they got into this business and that freshman, who just attended their first major FFA event, has a whole new perspective on what the next three years of high school could mean. But as I am approaching my own college graduation, my heart especially goes out to those high school seniors whose time in the corduroy jacket is coming to an end.

As I have started to prepare for the transition from college to career, I have been doing a lot of reflection over my experiences in college, and a few times, I have been taken back to the last time I went through a major transition as a high school senior. Being a FFA member was so much of who I was and the thought of not having that as a part of my identity was a little bit scary. After my senior chapter banquet my mom found me crying, which most people know is something that I rarely do, because I had worn my jacket for the last time.

This is Fred, one of my high school best friends and probably the best person I ever met through FFA.
This is Fred, one of my high school best friends and probably the best person I met through being a part of FFA.

In my reflection though, I am not wishing to be back in official dress or on those stages again. No, I have been thinking about how that experience has impacted the one I am just about to end and how it might impact the one I’m about to start. I’m thinking about what has come after unzipping that jacket. Now I don’t claim to possess any profound wisdom and magic formula to how to capitalize on those experiences, but I do have experiences and they have lead to a point in my life where I can step back, give myself a pat on the back and take a breather before tackling what comes next.

For what it’s worth, there are a few the lessons that I took with me and then learned along the way. Given a cup of coffee and someone to listen, I bet I could make an evening out of this, but in a nutshell (think a rather large nutshell,) here’s what I have for those seniors who are right where I was not so long ago.

Change is hard, and that is one of the few things that doesn’t change…
Sorry, but that’s the cold hard truth. Personally, this continues to be my biggest challenge and I know that it will always be one that I face. Remember, change is natural and something that we can’t control, and to resist it really isn’t being fair to ourselves. Don’t worry, I promise you will find familiar things along the way and honestly, deep down aren’t you really curious about what’s ahead for you?

Don’t get caught up looking in the rearview mirror…
Think about it. The windshield is your future, big and open, demanding most your attention to look forward in order to navigate what is up ahead for you. The rearview mirror is your past, still deserving a glance or two to remember where you’ve been, but ultimately you’ve already moved on from there. Spending too much time in the rearview mirror doesn’t allow you move forward and enjoy life as it comes at you. To give proper credit, I pulled this one from Habitudes: The Art of Navigating Change by Dr. Tim Elmore that I am currently reading and highly recommend.

You will surprise yourself…
Again…and again…and again. Whether you go on to attend college or not, many things in life that you valued and believed in will be challenged. You will second guess yourself, change your mind and find yourself places that you never pictured. As you learn and grow you will continue to surprise yourself. My advice? Let yourself get lost. I mean, don’t go crazy out of control, but I truly believe that you can’t find what you want out of life, if you don’t let yourself get a little lost.

Your hard work really will pay off…
My work ethic is something that I have always allowed myself to take a bit of pride in. I always used to think that as long as I worked hard enough, things would go in my favor. If they didn’t, I would be disappointed in myself, and that is where my thinking went wrong. I have learned that the people you meet, things you learn and places you go in the process of working hard is the true reward because of the opportunities that those things lead you toward. So hard work might not pay off in the exact cookie cutter way that you expected it to, but trust me, it WILL pay off.

I’m glad I didn’t win that blue banner…
It might sound a little crazy now, but experiencing disappointment at that point, has helped me in leaps and bounds since then. This ties in a little bit with the point I just made about hard work, but I also think it says a lot about someone’s character if one knows how to handle disappointment with grace, grow from those experiences and move forward with greater fervor. Disappointments in life will obviously never leave us or get easier, but how we handle them can make all of the difference. I’ve learned to be thankful for some of the prayers and wishes that went unanswered.

The world is full of good people…
I’ve always knew that I was very blessed have the family, friends and mentors that I had in my life . What I didn’t realize is just how full the world is with other people like them. I’ve never had time to be lonely, because I’m too busy discovering why the world shouldn’t be losing hope. I’ve learned that the meaning of family extends far beyond its definition, and some of the best people in your life will land there in the most unexpected ways.

It’s ok to be scared…
Subconsciously I think I always tend to run toward things that scare me and then wonder how I got there. Now I think I am slowly starting to understand why. Being scared means that you have beliefs, values, goals and ultimately, something to lose. It means that you are alive and that you care. And it’s ok to be scared because it teaches you humility, to practice good judgement and it gives you things to be thankful for.

The future of agriculture really is bright…
The words “I believe in the future of agriculture” made up the final statement in my speech for the Prepared Public Speaking CDE my senior year and never have I believed those words more than I do now. There is something special and unique about the tradition, innovation, community and hard work in this industry, and spending the rest of my life being a part of it is the most rewarding lifestyle that I could imagine having. Agriculture is alive, it is strong and it will always have a place for those who have unzipped their jacket.

If only I had known what all was ahead of me then...
If only I had known what all was ahead of me then…

I am thankful for my time in the jacket and even more thankful for the memories, tools and courage that have stayed with me since I unzipped it. Congratulations seniors and good luck on your journey ahead.

Kansas, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

That’s What Happens When You Blink

Tomorrow is my last first day of school. Ever.

Good gravy that is a really hard concept to wrap my mind around.

First semester freshman at K-State back in 2009. So young!
First semester freshman at K-State back in 2009. So young!

Today one of my friends who transfered to K-State only a year ago and works part time for campus security told our apartment that he would be on duty this evening, so if we wanted company while we “walked our classes” to let him know. To be honest at first it took me a minute to figure out what he meant and then while trying not to laugh too much, we thanked him and reminded him that after seven semesters on campus as students, we were pretty sure we knew where we were going.

Of course that made me think back to when I wasn’t so comfortable navigating myself between those limestone buildings.  The only other time that I had even traveled to the Midwest had been for my campus visit, I hadn’t been away from home for more than three weeks in my entire life and there was not one person I knew for hundreds of miles. I knew that I was 100 percent positive that  Agricultural Communications and Journalism was the perfect major for me, but my scope of what that could mean for my future was very narrow. And I already loved the color purple, but I had no idea about the “family” that I was joining. Thinking back I can vividly remember finishing high school and being so excited and so ready for that first day of college. Of course what I imagine then and what I know to be true now are very different. What really happened was better. Much, much better.

To say these past three and a half years have gone by fast would be a lie, because I feel like I have hardly blinked. But in a little over four months I will be able to say that I am a GRADUATE of this little purple haven that I have genuinely fallen in love with. If I said that I didn’t have expectiations for this semester, that would also be a lie, because I do. But what’s more important is that the biggest thing that has changed between my first day of college and tomorrow is that there is not one bit of uncertainty left that I had that first day. And that, is a very reassuring feeling.

I guess that’s happens when you blink.

To all of my fellow seniors, have a wonderful last first day tomorrow!

– Amanda