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!

Life at Random

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.

Love Letters

Love Letter: To Those With Hometown Roots and Wandering Souls

To those with hometown roots and wandering souls, this love letter is for you.

At my family’s cabin “The Diggins” in the Blue Mountains near Sumpter, OR. This post has a sign for every town that each of our family members are from. Mine is by far the furthest.

It’s been 8 years since I packed up my 18-year-old self and left Eastern Oregon for college in Kansas. And its been a little over 2.5 years since I packed up again and moved to Washington D.C.

I was visiting home last week and spent a little time with some family friends who have a daughter interested in attending K-State next year, so I answered all of their questions and shared a lot about my (awesome) experience. Toward the end, the mother asked if there was anything that I regretted. I said that I regretted never going on a study abroad trip and that I should have gotten season football tickets my freshman year, but no, overall I did not regret anything (well maybe a few nights in Aggieville that I wouldn’t mind forgetting.)

But leaving Eastern Oregon to attend Kansas State was the best decision I ever made.

Maybe it was because of our conversation, or maybe it was because I was home at my county fair, but it really made me reflect a bit on that decision and where it has led me. Over the years I have always had a small army of steadfast support, but there are still things I wrestle with. I hang on to a bit of guilt that there things that I inevitably miss out on and that maintaining relationships from a far takes a bit of extra work. It’s hard to be in an unfamiliar place where you don’t know anyone and constantly have to put yourself out there. And I still get questions from people who innocently just don’t get it.

It also made me think about other small town kids with the itch to wander.

I want them to know that having hometown roots and a wandering soul is possible.

I love my hometown. It’s a place where family businesses still reign and people give you the 2-finger steering wheel wave when you pass them on the road. It’s a place where teachers have taught multiple generations of students and where the community revolves around the high school sports schedule.  No matter how long I am away, there are Eastern Oregon sights, sounds, tastes and smells that are ingrained in my memory. Of course I miss it. It’s where my family is and will always be my home. But the world is a big, exciting place and if you are naturally curious like me, to not explore and experience it would be a crime. It’s hard to imagine that some of the people closest to me and some of my best memories wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith.

So to those with hometown roots and wandering souls, I want you to know…

You will cry more than you ever want to admit and you will want to give up many times. But you will eventually learn that that’s all OK. You are lucky to have people and places to miss and there is no shame in feeling sad or defeated from time to time. It reminds you that you are human.

Sometimes saying yes or no to things that come your way will be as easy as breathing and other times you will feel overwhelmed and challenged. Sometimes you are going to make the wrong decision, which you can always learn from, and sometimes it will take much longer than expected to reap the rewards of making the right decisions. And sometimes there is no right or wrong decision, so just choose one path and give it your honest best.

You are much braver and more resilient than you think.

You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people. Some of your people will be unexpected and some of your people will let you down. This is where you learn the art of giving and receiving grace. But I truly believe that you can meet great people wherever you go and that the further you wander the more interesting characters will fill your story and expose you to new things.

Sometimes you will embrace change and sometimes you’ll approach it kicking and screaming. Either way, it is inevitable, so rub some dirt on it and and figure out how you can respect the memories you have and find the positive in what is to come, because in my mind, the best is always yet to come.

As Logan Mize sings below, “You can lose a lot of things, but it’s hard to lose a hometown. Some things are bound to change but the sun still goes down just the same…”

Trust me, he’s right.

You will learn that you need to be more intentional and mindful of your words and time. You will also learn that a home and happiness are a state of mind that ultimately are up to you. Remember to respect that everyone is moving at their own pace and in their own direction, so what works you, might not work for them.

You will have a blast. I’m not saying that you can’t build an awesome life without ever wandering but exploring the world opens you up to new sights, sounds, tastes and smells that you can add alongside the hometown ones in your memory bank.

And most importantly, you can always come back home and the people who love you unconditionally will be there waiting for you.

Love, Amanda

katy

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 19

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” 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. See past posts HERE}

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Once again it has been almost two months since my last So There’s That post.

And this time I can’t even say that I was “out of my mind” busy. Oops.

Well settle in, it will be a long one…

1. Celebrated My Birthday

One of my friends from college is in DC for a year-long fellowship and offered to throw me a birthday party this year. It was a great little get together, and though somewhat unplanned it ended up being all Kansas people.

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With Logan and Emily. Happy to have so many K-Staters here with me.

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We all share Brandi as one of our closest friends, so we decided she needed some Snapchat spam.

2. Beware of Jalapeno’s

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I am pretty sure I will immediately regret including this picture, but I always say this blog is about my life, so some funny/embarrassing stories and pictures just are not allowed to be omitted.

So… I love spicy food and I love jalapenos, so when I decided to make queso dip for my birthday party it was natural for me to grab a few (4) jalapenos to add in. Now I have cut up jalapenos a dozen times before and never had any problems but this time was pretty different. A few minutes after I was done chopping, my nose and upper lip started to BURN REALLY BAD. So I immediately washed my hands with dish soap and then washed that part of my face with my normal face cleanser. And then it started to burn EVEN WORSE. So I did what every other brand new 26 year old would do… I called my mom. She proceeded to start Googling what you are supposed to do and I tried a baking soda and water paste, then lemon juice and then coconut oil, all of which helped for a few minutes and then would stop. At one point I went back to the paste, which was a REALLY bad idea because it made things worse after the lemon juice.

Eventually I just held ice packs to my face for a few hours. We eventually read that soaps actually do not help (OBVIOUSLY) and realized that every time I used my hands to apply the different mixtures it was just eventually tainting them and spreading the heat to more of my face.

So with the picture to prove it, I really can not make this stuff up, and it REALLY was that dramatic. Just ask my mom about the phone call, I am pretty sure she is still laughing about it.

3. Crop Quality Report

This project took up most of my work life in September and October. It is a report that my organization puts about every year and this year we decided to do a complete redesign with the help of an agency. The challenge is there is a LOT of data that goes into, a LOT of people that contribute to it and it gets translated into five languages.

I was pretty proud of the final product and especially of Steph, my co-worker who put in way more hours than I did. If you are at all interested at actually looking through it, you can find it HERE.

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4. The Best is Yet to Come

In October, my church, NCC, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a service that included all eight of its campus at one location, held in Constitution Hall at the DAR. It was such a fun, inspiring evening!

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One of my small groups met up for dinner at Old Ebbitt beforehand.

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These wristbands lit up in different colors, based on our motions or by the tech guys. They were so fun!

5. “Coloring Book for Me” App

Friends, prepare for your life to be changed.
I can not remember how I stumbled across this app (probably because I was so excited about it) but YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. It is pretty straight forward… every day there are new blank designs to choose from, you have a variety of color wheels to choose from and then at the end you can add treatments. Honestly, I have done one almost everyday for the past month, but decided that sharing ALL of them might be a bit much for those who do not share my enthusiasm.

And dear creators of the app? Hit me up if you would like to sign an official endorsement deal…

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6. Kansas City

In November, I was in Kansas City for a conference that I still plan to separately blog about. But that also meant that I got to squeeze some time in with one of my favorite little families. Baby Robin has become a regular in these posts, but I was also excited to catch up with Leah and Ryan. She was my roommate my freshman year  and still one of my dearest friends.

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She is 7 months old now!

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Her parents are going to regret letting her call me Aunt Amanda someday…

7. Hiking

In addition to the big hike I already blogged about... I also joined my friend Kim for an afternoon on the Maryland side of Great Falls.  She recently got a new DSLR camera so she wanted me to teach her a few tips.

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8. Sunday Funday

In November, another one of my small groups from church went out on a Sunday to a small winery, lunch and then stopped by one girl’s family farm. It was one of the first colder weekends in the area, but we had a great afternoon! Northern Virginia is absolutely beautiful in the fall!

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9. Friendsgiving

This year I went to two Thanksgivings!

On Thursday, I joined my co-worker and his wife, who are also K-State alums, along with many others who have some connection to Kansas.

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And then on Saturday, I was invited by one of the girls from one of my church small groups to join a Friendsgiving hosted for another small group that she is in.

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In the last eight years I have only been home for Thanksgiving once, but I am always reminded how big my support circle is and the kindness of others.

10. Run DC

Since my plantar fasciitis developed this summer I have not been out on a long run or walk in DC. My foot still hurts, but I have contained it quite a bit so I decided to take advantage of the last semi-warm weekends and ventured out for a run/walk that accidentally turned into an unplanned seven miles. Apparently DC infrastructure is still hard to navigate after living here two years.

Anyway, as expected, it was a beautiful day.

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11. The People’s Tree

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So I learned this year that you have to get tickets way in advance for the Christmas tree lighting at the White House… but that the lighting at the Capitol is free. This was toward the top of the things I really wanted to do this year so I dragged my friend Logan out in the pouring rain to see it. They had a short but cute little ceremony led by Speaker Paul Ryan. The tree was from Idaho this year!

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I love Union Station this time of year!

12. Christmas Crafts

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My apartment is really small, but it had been too long since I had a fun project to do and my little windowsill was perfect to add a few things too. I blogged about making the tree and the sign last week. Read it HERE.

13. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

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Views from my parents’ new property.

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Enjoyed my first “Paint Nite” with Allyson!

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I LOVE this picture and this view! Photo credit to my friend Casey Droddy.

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Took this out of my plane window on the way home from Guam.

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Good morning Union Station.

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Snapchats of Jack from my sister are my FAVORITE.

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My new tennis shoes are full of inspiration

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Enjoyed catching Reckless Kelly with my Kansas guys. We do not get nearly enough red dirt bands live in DC. And I LOVE my new dress, so I had to share.

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Miss Robin was the cutest little penguin. Even if she did not think so herself.

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True friends send you pictures from Kansas to make you miss it more.

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Sunday brunch to celebrate Sherin’s birthday!

13. Chris Stapleton

Three people sent me a link to an article about this song below in a matter of a week. Obviously my obsession with Chris Stapleton has been well advertised.

HE NEEDS TO RECORD THIS!

14. My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!