The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Brandi

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

**********

This series has allowed me to share a variety of different people, but my favorite is when I get to share the stories of my closest friends, and today is one of those days. This is Brandi, one of my very best friends. We met early on in college, but I don’t think we became good friends until sometime during her sophomore year and my junior year. We were in the agriculture communications department and ambassadors for the College of Agriculture, but truthfully, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that our whole friendship was originally built on sarcasm, watching The Bachelor and Sonic happy hour.

Brandi’s story is a great example of being open to opportunities that come our way and placing value in being a lifelong learner. Brandi is hard working, creative and has a knack for detail. She’s fiercely loyal, whether its her people or something that is really important to her. What I probably appreciate most about Brandi, both as a friend and a fellow professional, is that she understands the give and take of relationships. I know that I can rely on her listen and then trust that she is going to know what I need to hear in that moment. I hope you enjoy reading her story.

-Amanda

Name: Brandi Herman
Age: 25
Hometown: Hill City, Kansas
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): BS in Agricultural Communications and Journalism
Current Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Current Job: Global Product Communicator for Caterpillar

Background Story: I grew up on a farm south of Hill City, Kansas. We currently have around 125 cow-calf pairs that we run. My Dad also plants wheat, milo, and alfalfa. I think that living in a small town with 1,500 people helped prepare me for interacting with people later on in life. I was a waitress while in high school and quite frankly, just enjoyed talking and relating to people. Also, I believe being the oldest of 4 kids and being very Type A explains the type of strengths that have helped me get where I am today.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I had an incredible ag teacher in high school who, without a doubt, helped guide me to where I am today. Toward the end of my junior year of high school, he encouraged me to start looking at colleges and different programs I might like. At State FFA Convention, I read a brochure for the Ag Communications program at K-State. I remember thinking, “this is exactly what I want to do”, and that was that. If you told my 12-year-old Jayhawk self that I would only apply to one college and it would be K-State, I would have never believed you. Honestly, I didn’t even go on a campus visit until after I had been accepted and had already put a deposit down on my dorm room. I was also a statistical anomaly that never changed my major while I was in college.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I never wanted to be overextended in college as I had been in high school. As a freshman, I took a break from being involved and just got used to being in college. Once I was a sophomore, I took the necessary steps to becoming an Ag Ambassador. At that point, I knew K-State was my home and I loved having the chance to talk to students and parents about all the different options and opportunities the College of Ag has to offer. Not to mention all the cool cats (no pun intended) I met in Ag Ambassadors. Some of my very best friends I made in college came from being in Ag Ambassadors.

I took an internship with Cargill between my junior and senior year. Internships are a good opportunity to explore something you might be interested in, but aren’t sure it’s the career path you want to take. That’s how my internship story went. It wasn’t a bad experience, but during that summer I found out that I didn’t like being so far away from home. This really helped me focus my job search and definitely helped me avoid a situation later on where I wouldn’t have been happy being so far away from family.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
High school was relatively easy for me. I never really had to sit down and study before a big test, which was the biggest change I experienced when I went to college. It definitely took a while before I felt like I knew what the most effective ways for me to review and absorb material were. If I could change one thing, it would be to apply myself more in that area and to get better grades.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
If you interview for a job and your gut is telling you it isn’t right for you, follow your instinct.

I was offered two jobs before graduation and I ended up turning both of them down. One was in Kansas City and would’ve been exactly what my degree prepared me to do, but when I interviewed and met some potential co-workers it didn’t feel like a good fit for me. The other job was more of a sales position and would’ve been further away from home than I wanted to be. So when graduation rolled around and everyone asked where I was headed, I got embarrassed when I had to answer, “back to Mom and Dad’s for a while until I figure things out”. Less than a month after graduation I had already accepted my current job. They didn’t need me to start until September, so I got to spend 3 months on the farm helping my dad and hanging out with my family. The time on the farm was priceless and to be honest, I probably won’t have that kind of an extended vacation from work until retirement.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I started working for Caterpillar in September of 2014. Most of my responsibilities at that point were for the layout and upload of customer and dealer-facing media for Work Tools (things that go on the front of an excavator or wheel loader; buckets, hammers, etc.). While I mostly did layout work, some of what we do is take the words from product engineers and expertise from field specialists and morph that into customer messaging. My first two years were spent mostly doing that type of work. Last year, I had the opportunity to work on a data project. At first I was skeptical about how much I could bring to the table for this particular project. I had convinced myself I was bad at numbers because I was never good at or liked math. The project I worked on exposed me to creating data sets and connecting them together using Access, which I have really enjoyed learning. Part of that joy comes from it being a new challenge, but the other part I believe comes from having a very linear thought process. This has helped me understand how the data should relate, connect, and flow easier than I would’ve ever imagined. My job role changed a little bit at the end of last year. I will become less of a content manager and more of a content creator that is closer to touch points with our customers, but am excited for what new challenges will come my way.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
As much as I despised group projects in college, they are the reality of my workplace. Some group projects were in classes specific to my major, which wasn’t bad because the people were all similar-minded. Other group settings were in electives where there was the token no-show person and someone who can’t stand if they aren’t in charge of everything. Unfortunately, the latter is a more likely setup for real life even if it is an extreme example. Working with people from different disciplines was better practice for the real world.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is learning the difference between doing something myself because it is easy versus taking the time to teach others and enable them to have the same capabilities. When I started working on the data-centric project, learning the basics of Access wasn’t hard for me. At that point, I would hear a problem and understand quickly how the data needed to be set up. What took me some time was having the patience to let others learn about it at their own pace so they could be comfortable using the data.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
When it comes to staying organized, I’m old school pen and paper. To do lists are my jam and I really like to see a whole month laid out in front of me. At work, I have a plain notebook I take notes in and write down other thoughts and questions. To me, there’s something satisfying and complete about being able to physically check something off your list.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Since I started my job and had to figure out how to budget, plan, and organize a household on my own, those same attributes became stronger at work too. Patience has been a consistent weakness I’ve had to deal with.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I’ve always said that I’d rather go to work and have a million tasks on my to do list than be bored. Part of how I stay motivated is to have the feeling that I’m earning my paycheck and not just going to work to collect it. When things get busy and start to feel out-of-hand, I never hesitate to ask for a priority. For the days that are difficult and stick with you because of a person or project you had to deal with that didn’t go your way, there is always wine and massages.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
The supervisors I’ve worked for so far have been strong advocates of work-life balance. I believe in going to work and doing the best job I can while I’m there and then going home to enjoy my time with my boy and the corgi. There’s a balance to staying late one day to finish a project up, but then recognizing a day you may need to leave early if you’re feeling tired or sick. We also have a flexible time policy at work too, so if you want to get all of your 40 hours in the first 3 days of the week you can. Sometimes I try to front load my week with extra hours so the last two days are shorter. This allows me to have time to run errands or just me time. Plus, I’m not one to pass up time to get some snuggles from my favorite little doggo.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
So from a hobbies perspective, I’m really trying to get back into reading. There’s a point in college where you are reading so much for school, the desire to read for leisure doesn’t sound leisurely anymore. I heard a great quote that has stuck with me. “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” My goal this year is one or two books a month, some for learning and some for fun. Right now I’m in the middle of the first Game of Thrones book.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
When I was growing up my Dad would make breakfast for me. To this day I still need something of substance to get me going in the morning. My go-to is a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on mini bagels or English muffins and a cup of  coffee

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Chapstick. Hand lotion. Purple Beats headphones. Podcasts.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
I fell in love with working in InDesign in college. I think I still would’ve chosen a career path where I was designing, but more creative and less technical than what I do now. Prior to this job, I never knew I liked working with data and numbers so nothing in that realm would’ve been on my radar before now. OR I would be an organizer working for The Home Edit #dreamjob

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
In college, I lived with some of my best friends I made in the College of Agriculture. Next door was a house full of my best friends from high school. Having all of my friends so close and being able to drop by between classes or everyone hanging out on Grey’s Anatomy night was the absolute best.

**********

Thanks for being my guest today Brandi! I miss these days!

Friendship, Kansas

Long Weekend in Kansas

This past weekend I flew to Kansas for a long, fun-filled weekend.
If I’m being honest, after having K-State season football tickets for 6 years, I just couldn’t imagine NOT going to a game at all. So when I discovered I had Columbus Day off (Thank you Christopher!) and found reasonably priced airline tickets, I decided to make a visit to my second home.

IMG_2988
Megan.

I’m actually surprised that I haven’t been as tired this past week because I really couldn’t have fit more in a little more than 72 hours. I flew in late to Wichita on Friday night and was picked up by my bestie/college roommate Megan. We got up early and road tripped to Manhattan on Saturday, and spent the morning hanging out with Leah and having lunch and coffee at my favorite study place, Bluestem.

IMG_3014
Megan and Leah.

The afternoon was filled with tailgating and catching up with lots of friends. All of my main group of friends in college have gone a lot of different directions, but almost all of us were in town. It is so refreshing to be reminded of the value of those friendships and memories, but equally exciting to see how well everyone is doing now.

IMG_2958
Brandi.

 IMG_2962

IMG_2963

The game itself was crazy. I was prepared for disappointment, and while the ending was indeed just that, the Cats reminded everyone to never disregard them too quickly. Regardless of the ending, I was still so excited to be back in one of my favorite places on earth. And on such a beautiful day! Seriously, fall sunsets in Kansas are simply gorgeous.

IMG_2967
The family.

IMG_2973

IMG_2974
My view from inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
IMG_2979
The game with Cary and Nathan.

 IMG_3018

On Sunday I went to breakfast with a few more friends and then Megan and I headed out to Ellinwood, KS to visit our other bestie/roommate, Kyla. While her husband Nathan had been able to make it to Manhattan for the game, she had to stay behind for a school function (she’s a music teacher.) Overall, we traveled over 380 miles that weekend, but nothing was stopping me from including Kyla in my visit. We eventually realized that it was almost a year (a week later) than Megan and I had made similar trip out to see Kyla for my birthday.

IMG_2997
Megan and Kyla.

IMG_3011

We returned to Wichita that evening, and spent Monday relaxing and setting up some things in Megan’s new duplex before my flight left in the late afternoon.

Sometimes surrounding yourself with your favorite people, places and things is just good for the soul. Thanks to everyone for such a great weekend!

IMG_3005
Megan’s pup Luna.

 Cheers!

Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session Vol. 15

I love music. My taste is very diverse — continually being shaped by an unique combination of people, places and experiences. I never try to pawn myself off as someone who “knows music,” because I have too much respect for those who do. I did dance and took piano lessons growing up, but trust me, you do NOT want to hear me sing. But music is a topic that I never tire of and I love swapping recommendations. Please join in and share your own picks! View past posts HERE.
********

Friday Jam Session

**********

1.Favorite New(ish) Album
Wild Ones – Kip Moore

When I read that this was only his sophomore full album, I had to remind myself that Kip Moore hasn’t actually been around that long. He has a lot of my favorite songs from college and is one of the artists that I have been listening to since the very start of his career. He’s a songwriter, which I respect even more, with a gritty blue-collar country rock sound. Right now “Lipstick” above is my favorite off of the new album, but the title track, “Wild Ones,” is close second. I am also really like “Comeback Kid”, “I’m to Blame”, “Backseat” and “Girl of the Summer.”

2.Favorite New(ish) Collaboration
Where It All Begins – Hunter Hayes ft, Lady Antebellum
Listen HERE

You know, I didn’t start out a bit Hunter Hayes fan, but he’s really grown on me with his new album. And the vocals from Lady Antebellum in this song blend well with his voice. New band member for Lady A?

3.Favorite New (new-to-me) Artist/Band
James Bay


I’m loving this guy’s voice, which you will probably recognize most from “Hold Back the River.” I kept trying to put different songs of his in other categories before I decided it made more sense for this one. “Let It Go” featured above is practically the definition of #SoulMusic to me, but then again so is “Move Together” and “Need the Sun to Break,” which I’ve also had on repeat lately. Then just this week I discovered his 2015 Spotify Session where he covered Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” Ummm… #swoon

4. Jam I Have on Repeat
Elastic Heart – Sia (Piano Version)
Listen HERE

This sound first became popular from being featuring on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, where Sia was accompanied on vocals by The Weeknd and Diplo. I was pretty obsessed with that version for a long time, preferring it over Sia’s solo version (the one with the really weird video ft. Shia Leouf.) But I stumbled across this piano version this week and fell in love with the song all over again. It might be a strange on to have on repeat, but I can’t get enough.

5. Favorite Cover, Remix or Mashup
Smelly Cat – Lisa Kudrow with Taylor Swift


I know I referenced Friends last week, but seriously though, this might be one of the best things EVER. Taylor Swift has been inviting celebrity guests to all of the stops on her 1989 tour, so I mean, why not? Personally I think it was brilliant and hilarious. If you have NEVER watched Friends, then just skip this one because you won’t get it. (If this is true then we also need to chat about your priorities in life.)

6. Favorite Spotify List
“Piano Ballads” by Spotify

Friends is was a bit of a long and trying week, and I kept returning to this playlist for just a bit of a break from all of the chaos. The playlist’s description says it all: “Pop unplugged. Only the best piano ballads – vocals and keys front and center.”

7. #SoulMusic I’m Obsessing Over
Smile – Mikky Ekko

I first heard this song in the trailer for the movie “Paper Towns,” and it’s continued to stick with me. It’s a simple, light hearted song, providing lots of room for nostalgia and memories, much like the book and movie did for me. I thought it fit really well so I was surprised not to see it on the final soundtrack.

8.”Oldie, But a Goodie” I Heard This Week
Her Life’s A Song – Alan Jackson
Listen HERE

This throwback came up on my Timehop this week and made me smile. There are a lot of different definitions of what country is, but for me it starts with guys like Alan Jackson.
IMG_2648
9. Current Beat That Makes Me Want to Dance…in the Car…Jamming With the Windows Down
Freedom – Pharrell Williams


I haven’t completely decided if I actually like this song, I just really like singing it in my car and screaming the “freedom” part.

10.Taking Me Down Memory Lane
Get This Party Started – Pink
Listen HERE

So I may or may not have done a jazz dance duet to this song with my best friend Kayla, when we where 5th graders (?) one summer at the county fair. I swear I would share a picture, but I don’t have one. I do remember we wore matching tie-dye pink tank tops and our black Nike basketball shorts. I also distinctly remember that is how I got my left split down because we had to be opposite and Kay called dibs. LOL, if only I could still do that at all!

11. Work, Work it Out
The Walker – Fitz and The Tantrums

This is great to workout to but this is also my FAVORITE song to walk to work to in the morning, it always puts me in a good mood. I promise though, I really do walk like normal person.

12.Making Me Want to Fall in Love
Say You Do – Dierks Bentley

Basically everything Dierks sings makes me want to fall in love.

13. Guilty Listen of the Week
Dirrty – Christina Aguilera
Listen HERE
So my co-worker definitely caught me jamming to this on a Throwback Thursday playlist. Oops. #sorryimnotsorry
However I will say about the music video… I had forgotten how well, “dirty” it was LOL. My question is, did she let her parents watch that?! #coveryoureyes

14.Song That I Originally Loved, But Is Now Overplayed
Honey, I’m Good – Andy Grammer

I love this song, I just need a break. Anyone agree?

15.Popular Song That Is Making My Ears Bleed
I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen


Just make it stop, ok?
However, listen just ONCE while watching the video because two words: TOM HANKS.

16.Country Pick of the Week
That Don’t Sound Like You – Lee Brice

Lee Brice was my first college concert and the first of countless concerts that I have been to with my best friend Megan. We weren’t 21 yet so when we got to Longhorns (the country dance hall in Manhattan, KS at the time) we camped out front and center. It was AMAZING and still one of my favorite college memories. His first single “Love Like Crazy” had just peaked on the country music charts, eventually to become the longest-charting song in the chart’s history. He was another new guy that I had followed since the beginning so I knew a lot of his songs, but he also sang a lot of songs that he had written for other people (ahem, remember Garth Brooks’ “More Than A Memory”?) Four years later he was back in Manhattan on a bigger stage, with a much bigger audience and a LOT more hit songs. Last night, Megan saw Lee Brice again in Wichita and every Snapchat she sent made me super nostalgic. I wish I could have been there again!

lee brice
Can’t believe this was 5 years ago!! (2010)

BONUS: My Top 7 Favorite Lee Brice Songs (sorry I couldn’t pick 5)

Hard to Love
Beautiful Every Time
Drinking Class
She Ain’t Right
Sumter County Friday Nights
I Don’t Dance
Happy Endings (acoustic version)

So, what are you listening to this week?

********

Linking up with these blogs today!
Here, Here, Here, Here and HERE.

 

Friendship, Kansas

Home is Where the Heart Is

I’ve been somewhat lazy this week when it came to writing about my recent trip to Kansas, but I was struggling with coming up with something to say other than that it was fabulous and then recounting all of the details.

I mean it was fabulous. The weekends/vacation time was stuffed full with my favorite foods, places, activities and people. And my work days on wheat tour were fruitful. I was able to take what I already knew from my K-State days working for the grain science department and learn so much more about wheat as a crop, and now have a very hands-on experience to reference back to. And even though I lived in Kansas for six years, it was great to travel and see the state in that way. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over those wide open spaces. If you are interested in learning a bit more about what exactly “wheat tour” is then you can read my summary here http://bit.ly/1JudR6Q (scroll to the second story) or join all of the cool kids and look back at the action on Twitter by searching the hashtag #wheattour15.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures I took on the tour. You can see more here: on.fb.me/1cx9b5P

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a very surreal experience being back in Kansas after moving away two months ago. During those two months in DC it seemed as if my life back in Kansas was years and years ago, but when I landed back in Manhattan it felt like I had never left, as if I had just driven to Wichita or KC for the weekend.

I think I struggled earlier this week with what to say about the trip, because I was still processing it all. But now that I’ve unpacked my bags and settled back in at work, there are a few things that my trip back to Kansas showed me.

I really am one of the lucky ones. The years I spent in Kansas were so full of all the things that we deserve to have in life, and revisiting some of those memories was a true testament to that. And the people…my people, man I’ll just say this, they are pretty darn great. But being there, especially on wheat tour, also reminded me why I left. I wanted to do more for agriculture and I wanted to do more for myself. I know now that I would have been selling myself, my past experiences and my passion for agriculture short if I had decided to not step it up and take on the next challenge.

Unfortunately for my family back in Oregon, this trip also confirmed something that has been on my mind for a while. I’m not really big on making too many assumptions about long term plans or where I see myself in “XX amount of years,” but when that time comes someday, Kansas wouldn’t be such a bad place to land back in. Oregon, you and my mountains better step up the campaign game NOW.

It was great to see you Kansas, I’ll be back soon!

FullSizeRender (2)
With Megan at the Bogner Wedding!
FullSizeRender (3)
Pretty bummed that I won’t be cheering on the ‘Cats here this fall. But I definitely had to check out the new construction during my morning run!
IMG_1983
Soul Sistas….and Luna, who I guess can join the club.

 

FullSizeRender
Hanging out with this guy is always a crazy time.

 

FullSizeRender_1 (2)
The main four. I’m so glad that Nathan and Kyla were able to join us in Wichita.
FullSizeRender_1
Kyle and Mega. Or essentially…TROUBLE.
IMG_1823
Enjoyed my first weekend with Leah, who helped me indulge in all of my Manhattan favorites. It was also good to see Ryan, Brandi, Jancey, Logan and the IGP team in the Hat!
IMG_1986
The Bogner wedding was fabulous, right down to the purple cotton candy martini’s. We were big fans.
IMG_2010
This guy is just about as good as they come. I am so thankful that my work trip allowed me to be back in Kansas to help celebrate his wedding!
IMG_2034
At the wedding I overheard Emily telling someone…”If it’s going to rain on a wedding, it might as well be on a farmer’s wedding.” Blaine-o you definitely married the right girl!
IMG_2045
Mr. Kellan belongs to my old roommates Cam and Audrianna, who are the first of my close college friends to have kids. This little guy is always so happy and I’m so thankful I could set aside time to sneak in a few Auntie Amanda snuggles.
Kansas, Love Letters

A Love Letter to Manhattan, Kansas

There is one thing I remember from the second time I drove into Manhattan, Kansas. I remember quite a bit about the first time too, but at that time I was a high school senior, and even though I knew that this was where I wanted to go to college, it all seemed so surreal and far away.

But my second time it wasn’t to visit, it was to stay. Manhattan was going to be my home, and I was terrified. I had no idea what I had committed too, and still wasn’t above begging my dad to take me back to Oregon with him. But the single thing I remember from that drive in from the airport was the sound. The sun was starting to go down in my beloved west, and what should have been a beautiful evening, was ruined by what sounded like a surround sound generator. When we pulled up to Smurthwaite Scholarship House, the very first thing my dad says to the girl welcoming me in is, “What the hell is that sound out there?”

They were cicadas and at that point I was pretty sure there was no way I could live in Manhattan, Kansas.

**********

Fast forward 5.5 years later, not only did I stay and graduate from Kansas State University, but I chose to stay in Manhattan for my first job. Now I’m looking at a new job and adventure in Washington D.C., and with two days before my move, I keep thinking back to those stupid cicadas. I couldn’t tell you when it happened, but at some point they became a normal part of life, and then I didn’t notice them at all.

I think it would be easier to leave a place if you were running from it. But while my life seems to have always moved at a full sprint, I never felt like I was running away from anything. I’ve said this a million and one times, but I never could have known what the choice of a stubborn eighteen year old would become. The phrase “Home is where the heart is” is a common one, but I think it needs to be taken a step further. Home is a feeling, and the strongest, truest, best feelings are the ones that you can’t quite describe. Those are feelings of love. And somewhere between those cicadas driving me insane and now, I fell in love with Manhattan, Kansas, and it became my home.

So here’s my love letter to you, because these are that kind of feelings that should be shared.

**********

IMG_1551

I love you at 7:00pm in the summer. The day’s temperature might have been unbearable, but when the humidity evaporates a little and the harsh sun splashes itself across the western horizon, everything else seems to wake up. Your smell, your color, your people and the promise of a little relief and time to enjoy being outside always got me through until the end of the day. As a K-State alumna I always loved the heartbeat of our campus, but in the summer you slow down and become almost peaceful. I love that you could be both and that the college and the community were a part of each other. I don’t know if you could have one without the other and still fall in love.

But my favorite season has always been fall, and that will always be my favorite time of year here. An oasis amongst the Konza Prairie, I don’t think I will ever tire of looking at the palette of fall leaves against your traditional limestone buildings. Fall also meant the city came alive again and while I quickly became a townie after graduation, K-State is what brought me here in the first place. And when my last day on earth comes, a seat in Bill Snyder Family Stadium with a roaring crowd is a strong contender for how I want to spend it.

I love your culture and your quirky personality. Often, when you say you are from Manhattan, people don’t know that The Big Apple has a little sister settled out in the Midwest. But invest a little time here and give it a chance and you’ll find you don’t need those big city lights. I’ll miss lazy days out at Pillsbury and Tuttle creek, and eating ice cream up on Manhattan Hill. Every time I thought I had finally ate at all of the unique places, there was always on more to try. And man, I’m sure going to miss Nancy’s and raspberry chipotle bean dip at So Long’s.

I’ve seen Aggieville packed with purple, packed with green and just plain packed. Every time I hear red dirt music I’ll be taken back to taken back to sticky floors, neon lights and two-stepping in Longhorns, back when it was in its country prime. She brought me new friends, great memories and terrible stories to laugh about later. And sure it’s great to reminisce about a time when my roommates and I knew its sidewalks better at last call, but I fell in love all over again each time I discovered it’s daytime personality. I loved getting lost in the Dusty Bookshelf, bacon maple donuts at Varsity and cheering on the Wildcats and Royals from the seats of whichever bar wasn’t “cursed” at the time.

You know, I could have written this letter to K-State specifically to reminisce about college but I’ve had time to do that since I graduated, and as much as I miss it, I’m okay with those four years being memories. Really great memories. And like college has, you’ll soon become a part of my past. But you see people pass through with their eyes on the future year after year, and you should be pretty darn proud at the role you’ve played in the success of so many of those futures.

Most people agree that it’s the simplest things in life to enjoy and surround yourself with. Well Manhattan, you sure do simple well. It’s ordering the Blackhole at Bluestem Bistro, exploring the Konza and waking up to see the sunrise on “Top of the World.” It’s driving “the city loop” at midnight with the windows down and blaring your favorite playlist. It’s the fact that you could meet someone new everyday, then see five people you knew at the grocery store. It’s all of your silly traditions. It’s tailgating on Gameday and fighting back the tears when they open the game with “Proud of the House We Built.” It’s showing you off to my family every time they visited. It’s forgetting how many times you’ve seen Logan Mize live and the crowd singing along to “Never Gonna Change.”

I love you for the people you brought into my life. Some were temporary and only shared a short part of their lives with me and others I’ll be connected to for the rest of my life. These people changed me. They became my best friends, partners in crime and soul sisters. They taught me to love Kansas.They welcomed me into their families. I’ve always believed that you will find good, kind people wherever you go, but I’m pretty convinced that the best ones have lived in Kansas at some point in their life.

This was a long love letter, not short and snappy like a blog post should be, but I needed to write it. For others, because I want you to know how much it hurts my heart to leave. My life here was full in every way. I feel selfish to think that maybe, just maybe I can find what I had here in another place. But if I don’t, I know that I lived more in these 6 years, then some ever do.

I mostly wrote this though, for myself. It’s a strange feeling, when you’re about to leave a place. I know that I’m not only going to miss the people I love, and this town, but I’m going to miss the person I am at this very moment and place, because I know I’ll never be this way ever again. But I am so very thankful for that person you made me become.  You taught her to laugh louder, write better and think for herself. She learned to love and she learned that as long as you kept moving forward, it was all worth it. You showed her what life could be when you embraced the crazy. She finished growing up here, became independent and passionate about the world around her. If it wasn’t for you, she might have never been brave to take another risk and make a move like this.

To Manhappiness, this purple little town that I’ve called home,
I’m so thankful those cicadas became a normal, welcomed part of life.
I can’t wait to come back and visit.

Love,
Amanda

Click HERE to Watch My Farewell Video

Kansas, Life Notes

Hail, Hail, Hail, Alma Mater.

Last fall my little sister transferred to a four-year school from her community college. As a student-athlete, she’s worked really hard on her grades and even made the President’s list for her GPA. {Insert SUPER PROUD sister moment here.}

janci presidents list

I laugh, because between high school and college, we completely switched roles. Once upon a time I LOVED school, and while deep down that never really changed, my college grades didn’t not reflect that sentiment very often. Janci on the otherhand, was a good student in high school but she didn’t love it like me. Who knows if she actually LOVES school now, but she’s sure working hard, and it’s paying off.

Over this last semester I’ve been trying to help out in any way I can. My virtual red pen has been lighting up her papers and when finals week rolled I dished on all of my old tried and true studying skills. I joked one day that all of this talk about college stress, studying and late nights ALMOST made me miss it all.

Because let’s be honest, I don’t think there is a single thing that I would change about my college experience. None of the all-nighters, failed tests, tears, pointless classes, uncertainty, rejection, TEARS or sleep-deprived antics. None of it. Because walking across that stage to receive my degree, from Kansas State University was worth it. That, and the experience and memories made along the way. I’ve said it a million and one times, but as a stubborn, bright-eyed 18-year old I could have never predicted how my decision to move 1,700 miles away from home to attend K-State, would be the best decision I could have ever made for myself.

Class of 2013. Picture by DLC Photography
Class of 2013.
Picture by DLC Photography.

My college experience was what everyone deserves to have. A place that embraces you, before you’ve even made up your mind about it. A world that pushes you toward growing up into who you’re meant to be and challenges you to stray from your narrow, safe way of thinking – but provides plenty of cushioning for you to not get it right the first time. An environment that provides plenty of fun. The purple-shouting kind, the boot-stomping kind, the lazy weekend kind, and even a little of the questionable kind. An education that gives you more than you need and helps you figure out exactly where your place is. A family of mentors, to dish out a lot of tough love, but mostly just love. A family of life-long friends to share all of it with.

It’s been almost two years since I graduated from Kansas State University. And while I think I’ll pass on those all-nighters in the “Harry Potter room” at Hale Library, I sure do miss it all sometimes.

All of this is my cheesy, long-winded way of sharing that I recently became a  Lifetime Member of the K-State Alumni Association. I’m thankful for my experience and proud to be an alumna, and for me, this was an important way for me to make that statement. I couldn’t say all of that though, without mentioning that without the support of my grandparents, I wouldn’t have been able to do this yet. I might be biased, but this is one the best kinds of Christmas there is. Thanks Grammy and Grampy, for understanding how important this was to me.

IMG_1163And with that I think we can all agree (all Wildcats at least,) that the license plate it pretty rad.

“I know a spot that I love full well, ‘Tis not in forest nor yet in dell, ever it holds me with magic spell, I think of thee Alma Mater. KSU, we’ll carry the banner high, KSU long, long may thy colors fly. Loyal you to thee thy children will swell the cry. Hail, Hail, Hail Alma Mater.”

So There's That Series

So There’s That: Vol. 5

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five” except it’s probably not Friday and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife.}

1. Thanksgiving Vacation in Oregon

I surprised my family by coming home for Thanksgiving. I was able to stay for a whole week and spent most of it just relaxing and spending time with my favorite people. Oregon had a break from the lower temps and Thanksgiving Day was warm enough that my family was able to eat dinner out on the heated patio. Yah, my grandparents live the good life.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I was so thankful that I got to spend it with my family this year (for the first time since I moved to Kansas in 2009.) They are so patient as I do my thing out here in the Midwest. Over time I have come to realize that not everyone has this unconditional support, and for that I am eternally grateful. And I am thankful for my Kansas family. They’ve helped make this place my home and I am surrounded, in my not-so-humble opinion, by some of the greatest people around. I am thankful for this season of my life. It’s a season of constant change, challenges and more growing pains (do those ever subside?) But its also one of lots of learning, serendipity and just plain fun. There certainly is a lot going on in this world and I am thankful that so much of it is still beautiful.


2. K-State Kaiden

This story. This family. Cats man.

K-Stater’s have known about this little guy’s story for almost two years now, but ever since “Kaiden’s Play” during the 2014 Spring Game (featured below,) his story has spread. This is one of those things that makes it hard for me to understand people who don’t care for sports. Yes, I think Kaiden’s story would be just as special without K-State football, but the impact he has had on this team and it’s fans, that is what sports and family is all about. There are a lot of good articles covering this story but this one below is the most recent. Even if you aren’t a K-State fan or even a sports fan, go ahead. You will be glad that you did.

“Donors pitch in to send boy with leukemia to K-State’s bowl game”

 


3. Pinterest Cats

I’m really not a big fan of cats. But according to my Pinterest “Easily Amused” board, I sure do love a solid funny cat meme. It may or may not be from antagonizing all of my sister’s cats growing up…

And despite what she says, her current cat is well on it’s way to looking like that fat one.

(Click on the individual picture to zoom in. Links in captions.)


4. HannahBrencher.com

Been really digging what this girl has to say lately. She’s the mastermind behind The World Needs More Love Letters movement and is a true artist of words. I recommend checking her blog out.

IMG_1065
Instagram @hannahbrencher

 

5. Festival of Trees

IMG_1131

Enjoyed a fun “Ladies Night” at the Manhattan Festival of Trees with my bestie Leah. There was wine, yummy treats and lots of fun browsing and shopping. My family’s flower shop has always done a tree at our own local festival so seeing all of the creative, festive decorations was my favorite part. I’d say these three below were my favorites!

So, there’s that.