Life at Random

Guest Feature on Whimsical September’s Saturday Sit-Down

Today I am being featured as a guest over on Whimsical Septembers’s Saturday Sit-Down series!

I discovered Erica and her blog randomly last summer and I am so happy that I did! I have so much respect for her story as a military wife, mom and young entrepreneur. I love her tone as a blogger and I have become to faithful reader because I appreciate how relatable she is. Also, she just happens to be a recent resident of my favorite little city in the Midwest – Manhattan, Kansas.

Erica’s Saturday Sit-Down features a new guess blogger every Saturday and I am so excited to share a little piece of my story with her readers!

So head on over to check it out (you might learn something new about me), and stay awhile to see what Erica’s blog is all about!

Thanks for the feature Erica!

Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

Let me annoy you by being cliche and stating that “I can’t believe 2017 went by so quickly.” 🙂

But really, 2017 felt like a WHIRLWIND for me.  Personally, my year was filled with good health (well, for the most part), great adventures and even greater people. I worked through the hard knocks and challenges, and feel content that I was able to grow through most of those experiences. Looking at the world around me, it would be wrong to ignore that 2017 was certainly a hard year, but I choose to believe that this world is full of good people who aim to make 2018 better.

Looking back, I’d probably summarize 2017 as bittersweet. It’s a strange feeling to recognize being both happy and sad, and even more strange to be relatively OK with it. I met someone that became really special to me, and I did not expect that I would end 2017 not knowing if that person would be in my life going into the new year. At first I struggled with writing a year in review at all, or including him in it, but this blog is first and foremost my journal and scrapbook, and cherry picking memories is not my style. And regardless if our time is done,  those memories are still very special to me.

Around mid-December, I was sitting at CVS waiting to get my flu shot and was flipping through a GQ magazine and stopped at an interview with Senator John McCain. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, in my mind its pretty hard to not acknowledge or respect that he has seen a fair amount of adversity in his lifetime. With that in mind, the very last statement really struck me:

No matter what 2017 held or what is yet to come in 2018, I hope that we can all benefit from walking through life with that attitude. I know I am going to try.

Now let’s look back at my busy year…

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In 2017, I traveled to 2 countries and 6 states (and two of them twice!)…

In February, I went on a trip of a lifetime to Bangkok, Thailand, and Manila, Philippines. The first half of my trip was a work trip to accompany three U.S. wheat farmers on a board team experience. The second half of the trip was spent on vacation in Bangkok and Phuket with my grandparents and Great Aunt Diane.  Find all of my posts about the trip HERE.

That trip won the year when it came to travel, but it wasn’t my only one. In April, Sam and I went down to Blacksburg to visit my friend Chelsea for the Virginia Tech spring game. In May, I went to Estes Park, Colorado for my work World Staff Conference. I invited my Mom to join me for the week and we spent a few extra days hiking and enjoying quick visits with friends. In June, I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas for the National Festival of Bread and squeezed in some friend time again. At the beginning of July, I made the short drive over to Annapolis, Maryland (for the first time!) for my work summer board meeting. Sam joined me a day before the meeting and we explored the downtown area. At the end of July, I attended the Agriculture Media Summit in Snowbird, Utah. In August, I went home to Oregon and finally took my best friend Megan with me to show her where I grew up. Next, I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri in November for the AFA Alliance Forum and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk event. In between the two events, I spent a few days down in Wichita, Kansas to visit Megan. Finally, I rounded out the year in December with a trip home to Oregon for Christmas.

In 2017, I continued to work in a job that gives me purpose…

In March, I celebrated two years with U.S. Wheat Associates and was promoted to Assistant Director of Communications in July. My goal has always been to work in a job I love, that challenges me and pushes me to become a better communicator, and to use those skills working for farmers. Thankfully, all of that continues to ring true for me.

In 2017, my family welcomed Sawyer June…

After 23 years, my sister and I finally have an Ego cousin! Sawyer June joined our family on July 13 and its safe to say that she has stole the spotlight. Shortly, after she was born I wrote her this love letter. Oh, and #sorrynosorry that she has taken over my Instagram…

In 2017, my Grammy and Grampy visited me in Washington, D.C…

In October, my grandparents came for four days to visit me and experience Washington, D.C. They were actually the ones who helped move from Kansas to D.C. almost three years ago now (what!?) but we didn’t have the time for any site-seeing. I have a really special relationship with my grandparents so I was so excited to finally share my current home with them.

In 2017, I learned that adult friendships are hard, but so very important…

I think that one of the hardest things about being a 20-something is friendship. Everyone’s lives are so busy and usually full of change, and while I think that is awesome, it tends to take a toll. It is hard to be there for that college friend who now lives across the country instead of down the hallway, and while you might have so many great memories with childhood friends, it can be hard to connect with them when you are no longer in the same stage of life. And then there is the challenge of attempting to make new adult friends, which I swear is equal to the ups and downs of dating 🙂 But I’ve learned this year especially, that friendship requires a whole lot of grace. Some people are in your life for only a season, and that’s OK. And some people are in for the long haul, but sometimes they’ll have more to give and sometimes they’ll need more from you. I am thankful for both types of friends in 2017, who filled my days with fun memories and were supportive, sometimes when I least expected it.

In 2017, I filled my days with celebrations, new experiences, things that I love and both big and small moments worth remembering…

Peace out 2017, here’s to believing the best is yet to come in 2018.

P.S. Because I always include music at the end of my Year in Review posts… and because my love for Ed Sheeran knows no limits 🙂

Life at Random

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!

Year in Review

Where It All Begins: 2015, A Year in Review

With the new year approaching, I was struggling to come up with a witty way to review my 2015, like I did at the end of 2014. But then again, that post always makes me laugh, because so much was about to happen and I had NO CLUE. Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about that new year’s celebrated on San Antonio Riverwalk with my friends during our Alamo Bowl trip. I remember being really happy, and though I had told myself two months before that I wasn’t going to look, but was going to be open to new job opportunities, I really did love my life in Kansas. I had no clue that just nine days later I was going to apply for a job in Washington D.C. and that a very short two months later I was going to start all over and move halfway across the country AGAIN to the place I had dreamed about since I was little.

2015 was full of adventure and taking risks. It was a year where I challenged myself and when I really learned about value. How to work toward better valuing my friends and family, criticism and praise, life and opportunity. Many of my values were strengthened and some I chose to question. And I learned to better value myself. In the book “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs that I have (very) slowly been working through there is a line that says, “–that I am who I am on purpose.” That thought really struck me and I’ve carried it with me ever since (literally, as the picture on my phone’s lock screen.). In the blogging world, a lot of people talk about choosing a “focus” word or phrase for the coming year and at the end of 2014, I thought I would join. My Grammy had given me a token that said “Shine From Within,” and I thought about how that sentiment could mean so many different things. I don’t know if I “focused” on that phrase as much as I said I would, but I do believe that I worked toward being my more authentic self. Of course there are always many more miles to go, and maybe I’ll find new definitions for that phrase, but I can say in full confidence, that I like where I am headed in 2016.

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Let’s not skip past 2015 though, because it’s certainly not a year that I ever want to forget.

In 2015, I took a new job and moved to Washington D.C.

On January 9th I heard about a job opening at U.S. Wheat Associates
On February 9th I accepted a job there as a Communications Specialist
On March 9th I was all moved in and had my first day as a “wheatie.”
And by April 9th, I knew I had found someplace special.
The learning curve is still really steep and I might live by “fake it till you make it” forever, but I honestly love my job. I love my office environment, the work, the farmers I work for and feel so lucky to have so many great co-workers. I love the feeling that I’m doing something that benefits others and in an industry that I believe in with every part of me.

I REALLY miss both Kansas and Oregon, but I am confident that this is where I need to be in my life right now.

In 2015, I explored my new home.

Looking back I don’t really remember much in March and April. I think it was all I could do to go to work and learn as much as I could everyday and curl up on the couch when I got home. But I’ve always dreamed of living here and eventually I began explore. I am fascinated by this place. So much history, so many unique people and there is always a dozen or so fun events going on here. I am continuing to slowly work my way through the tourist attractions (saving some for when I have visitors) and searching out some of the lesser known sights. I love visiting Arlington Cemetery, running on the Mall and saying Hi to Lincoln. I crossed off an item off of my bucket list and watched fireworks on the Mall and enjoyed the cherry blossoms in the spring. Anyone who would like to visit, let me know, I am honing my skills as a tour guide 🙂

In 2015, I had so many opportunities to travel.

My job took me back to Kansas, San Diego, Phoenix, Lake Tahoe and on my first big international trip to Guatemala.
I had the chance for a quick trip home and to the cabin over the summer, celebrated my sister’s 21st birthday in Las Vegas, my 25th birthday back in Kansas and witnessed my friend Blaine’s wedding. I spent Friendsgiving in North Carolina and Christmas at home again with my family.

At one point in the summer I went 8 weeks where I never spent more than 8 days in a row in D.C. This is the life friends. There is a lot of ugly that goes on in the world, but I still refuse to believe that it’s not beautiful.

In 2015, I really valued my time with my family and friends.

My grandparents are the true rockstars of the year. They cut their anniversary trip short to fly to Kansas to help me pack and then made the drive East with me. And I don’t know which was more horrible, the weather on the drive or my attitude. I put all of my stress and worry on them and all they did was love me back. I am still incredibly grateful for the help and support.

Even though I moved to the East coast I still got to spend quality time with people that I love and as I mentioned above, shared many celebrations together. I had a few visitors to my new home, including my best friend Richole from Oregon and my college friend Chelsea, who is now a fellow Virginian at Virginia Tech. And most importantly I am starting to build a life here and making new friends

In 2015, I did things that made me happy.

I became a resident of Virginia and began to embrace my new home.
I began a window garden again, and failed, AGAIN.
I continued to do some DIY projects and finished my very first crochet project.
I discovered the BEST semi-annual book sale at the local library and added so many new books to my own library.
I finally got a professional camera and am enjoying learning how to better use it and sharing those images with others.
I really dove into blogging, sharing my love for music, scrapbooking my life and felt so rewarded and motivated by my new “The Road I Traveled” series. And those are all just SOME of the highlights.

There is a lot that I am hopeful for in 2016.
I hope that I continue to grow, build my self confidence and be someone that I can be proud of.
I hope that I keep learning and become a better communicator and agriculturist. I hope to better serve others, both in my career and everyone who deserves the best from me. I hope to continue to have wanderlust and be brave enough to take risks. And most of all I am always hopeful for health and happiness, for myself and those I love.
There are a lot of things that we can be in this life, but I think just being simply happy, is the best there is.

I have lots of goals and adventures to be had, so 2016, I hope you are ready, because I am not slowing down.

And of course, my list of favorite music this year is long, but these four songs are what motivated me and spoke to my heart this year.

Cheers, and Happy New Years!

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

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