Dad.

I wrote the majority of this post on February 2, 2016 on my way from Tampa to Rochester, but didn’t have the oomph to do much of anything (much less, post this) until now.

 

I always thought I was one of the lucky ones. I would see videos, movies, TV shows where the character loses one parent… or both. I watched a video within the last two months about a woman who had lost her father, so her brother sang, “Butterfly Kisses” and miscellaneous male members of her family danced with her throughout the song. It was beautiful. My heart broke for her because I knew that must be so hard…. but I was thankful that I would definitely be able to dance with my dad on that special day… and I so looked forward to that moment.

Death is a weird thing. I live 1200 miles from my family, so when I got the call, it hardly processed as I curled up into a ball and just cried. I cried and made a lot of phone calls and fielded a lot of questions. A heart attack. No, we didn’t expect it. No, he was just outside shoveling snow. Yeah, I had talked to him earlier that day. We had a great conversation. What did we talk about? Nothing really, which was my favorite thing.
I love my dad. I love him, and I’m so thankful that God prepared my heart for his too-soon (in my opinion; clearly God has another plan for him) departure from this Earth. Any pent up teenage frustration I’d had several years ago, is gone. I have forgiven him in every sense of the word. I forgave him to him, to my family, to friends, to my church, and most importantly in my heart. I talked to him earlier that day about silly things like phone plans and what the vacation just two months away would look like. I love my dad for who he is, and who he has been for me. In my heart, I know how much he loves me and how much he always loved me, even when I was more angry with him than I can put into words.
It seems really surreal. I’m not angry.. but I guess that comes later. Does it? I don’t want to be angry about this. Thank God for God. Thank God for the strength in my faith. I am not angry with anyone. It was his time to be called up. If he wasn’t supposed to go, he wouldn’t have. It is simple, but it is not easy. Not easy… it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to feel. One of my best friends sent me a music mix labeled “1. Denial and Isolation.” I’m not isolating myself on purpose, but it’s nice to be alone and to reflect. I’m not in denial that it has happened, it is just easier when I don’t have to read people’s messages and outpourings of love to remember that it HAS happened (…I guess this is denial).
I’m going to church today. I’m flying home tonight. I am trying not to isolate myself here. I want to be alone, but I just don’t want to be alone. I love my friends who didn’t call when I told them I didn’t want to talk about it, and my friend Jon for calling anyway.
Facebook is also a weird thing in times like these. People who are affected make the appropriate updates and Facebook profile picture changes (my update is below), and the majority of people on my News Feed are just going about their lives… posting about the Super Bowl and not being sad.
I think it was quick, which makes me feel better. That it wasn’t painful and he just really needed to go. He needed to go outside and shovel so he could leave the world peacefully without everyone trying to fix it and make a big fuss and fight harder than they should be since God had already made His decision. This, of course, doesn’t make the grieving process easy. For me, though, it brings peace to my heart to know that God had carved out my Dad’s path. God has carved out my path, and your path, and no matter how hard I want my Dad to continue walking this earth, it is not up to me. I am selfish in my love for my father, as are I’m sure is a feeling shared by others who were blessed to have been a part of his life. God didn’t take my Dad away. My Dad didn’t choose to leave. It was just time. Dad’s soul has served his purpose, and he was simply ready to move on to bigger and better things.
I read a quote earlier:
“If I die, I will wait for you, do you understand? No matter how long. I will watch from beyond to make sure you live every year you have to its fullest, and then we’ll have so much to talk about when I see you again… (Bones)”
― Jeaniene Frost
I think that hits my heart the most. If we do anything, it must be to move forward. Not to move on; but to move forward. I know that I intend to live my life to the furthest reaches of my potential. I know I will have so many things to tell my Dad when I meet him down the road, however far away that may be.
More love than should be allowed in one picture.

More love than should be allowed in one picture.

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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The Next Amelia Earhart

Flying an airplane is exhilarating, and far less terrifying than I anticipated. Thankfully, I had a trusty flight instructor with me who provided some takeoff and landing skills (thank goodness… I’m not sure what kind of shape either of us would be in if I had been responsible for either of those); I, however, did all of the in-between work.

 

Cessna plane I flew!

Cessna plane I flew!

 

View over Clearwater Beach, FL

View over Clearwater Beach, FL

 

More of Clearwater Beach, FL

More of Clearwater Beach, FL

 

This plane ride was probably about 45 minutes in total, and completely worth it. If it wasn’t so expensive, I would go for a full-out pilot’s license, and fly a private plane around for fun. I told friends about this adventure, and the reaction ranged from the experience most likely being awesome or terrifying. They all asked, “Why?”

 

My answer, always:

“Because I felt like it.”

Some pretty serious head gear!

Some pretty serious head gear!

 

Me with the Cessna, all Amelia Earhart style

Me with the Cessna, all Amelia Earhart style

 

 

What have you crossed off your bucket list?

You Know What’s a Bummer? I Ain’t Ever Gonna Beat This Summer…

Yesterday, I went to the first Brad Paisley concert I have ever attended. Yesterday, I went to the first concert I have ever attended alone.

 

I have been trying to put in more effort to really do things for myself that make me happy. Earlier this week, I decided that something that would make me happy was going to Brad Paisley’s upcoming concert. I went on StubHub, purchased a discounted nosebleed seat (I don’t do well with the lawn, so I opted for a slightly more expensive ticket in an effort to not walk away with moist green pants), and was thrilled to be going to this concert, especially alone.

 

Of course, the day of, I arrived early and took a picture of the energetic set:

 

The stage! Woo hop!

The stage! Woo hoo!

 

The plus side, it wasn’t as far away as I anticipated it would be. Over the course of the hour or so I sat around waiting for Chris Young to open, they offered a contest to win “Rockin’ Seats.” It was one of those text-in deals, so I texted the number and filled out the form. I received a confirmation page indicating that the winner would be notified at 8:25pm. Okay, whatever.

 

I looked at my phone over the next hour or two, anxiously awaiting 8:25pm to be let down. When the time finally came, I looked at my phone: no text. Bummer. So I put my phone away and decided to simply enjoy the rest of the show.  A voice in my head told me to check my email, as well. So, I mindlessly pulled out my phone, turned on my data (we were over for the month of June, so it had been off), and saw this in my inbox:

 

WHAAAT!?!?

WHAAAT!?!?

 

WHAAAAAAT!?!?!?

 

I was shaking, and had no idea what to do with myself. I asked several staff members, and most of them could not give me a helpful answer regarding the location of the Cracker Barrell Front Porch. At this point, it was 8:38, so I had a minimal amount of time to locate this “porch” and claim my prize! With two minutes to spare, I located the tour manager and he handed me an envelope. I thanked him, excitedly. He said, “you don’t even know what you won!”

 

I told him I rarely win anything, so I would be happy with whatever it was. Not only did I get a seat upgrade to this:

New baller seats!

New baller seats! #NoZoom

 

But I won a meet and greet with BRAD. PAISLEY.

Meet n' greet passes & upgraded tickets!!

Meet n’ greet passes & upgraded tickets!!

 

Of course, the girl who never wins anything wins two tickets and meet n’ greets when there is only one of her. However, I tried to give away the additional seat and meet n’ greet, but NO ONE wanted it (what? what are you even doing here!?). Whatever. More for me, I guess 😛

 

So I had an INCREDIBLE time watching Brad’s concert from here:

#SeriouslyNoZoom!

#SeriouslyNoZoom!

 

After a 120 minute concert, I made my way to the side of the stage to wait with everyone else for the meet n’ greet. I was ecstatic. Thankfully, they took a professional picture and simply posted them online soon after. The tour manager explained that Brad Paisley was a pretty cool guy– the first artist he had ever dealt with who was willing to do a meet n’ greet after the show rather than before. I must say, I was impressed.
When I was next up, I was totally star struck and forgot what words were, and didn’t know what to do with my face. Brad was incredibly pleasant and friendly. Thankfully, despite my disastrousness, we still got a pretty decent picture:

Brad and Me!! <3

Brad and Me!! ❤

 

Moral of the story: go to concerts alone and you win cool stuff! (…okay, so don’t quote me on that one. No promises!)

 

Really though, this was completely outside of my comfort zone. I am so thankful that I had such a positive experience that really encourages me to expand my horizons and go on more solo adventures!

 

Have you ever really stepped outside your comfort zone? How did it go? What did you learn?

30 Things Before 30

Happy birthday to me!! Today I am officially in my “late” 20’s, but I feel like there are still a lot of things I want to accomplish before I turn 30. Here you go! Now I’m off to celebrate in Virginia/Washington DC 😀

  1. Visit the Grand canyon
  2. Visit Disney land in California
  3. SCUBA somewhere beautiful
  4. Go camping, and sleep under the stars—no tent, no air mattress, (maybe some bug spray!)
  5. Go Skydiving
  6. Visit Europe
  7. Ride in a helicopter
  8. Visit Savannah, GA
  9. Run a marathon in less than 4:30:00
  10. Complete the Savage Race (or similar longer-distance obstacle race)
  11. Swim with manatee
  12. Swim with dolphins
  13. Be comfortable doing nothing
  14. Go white water rafting
  15. Fly a plane  June 28, 2013
  16. Visit Hawaii
  17. Learn the basics of a programming language
  18. Learn another language
  19. Enroll in a grad school program that I am passionate about
  20. Say “yes” to three things (big or small) that terrify me, or I would instinctively say no to (unless, of course, it is not something that would be good for me).
  21. Attend Carnival in Rio
  22. Ride in a hot air balloon
  23. Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  24. See the Northern Lights
  25. Learn to surf
  26. Be part of a flash mob
  27. Ride a cable car in San Francisco
  28. Master the “scorpion” yoga pose
  29. Compete in a triathlon
  30. Help someone else achieve a goal
  31. *Bonus* Compile a new bucket list, and actively continue to check things off (hey, I’m going to need something to do in four years!)

Five Things Friday

Things I love about Western New York in Summer:

 

  1. The smell of fresh cut grass really means summer, not that it is February in Tampa
  2. Open windows at night
  3. Watching thunderstorms from my mom’s front porch
  4. Visiting my family and getting to see my little niece
  5. Visiting the lake and all of the places I visited growing up– as an adult 🙂

Home

Today, I sit at the airport waiting to get on my umpteenth flight back to my hometown in Western New York. It is cold there (by my standards), especially for late May but I am so looking forward to seeing my family and friends. I have been going back “home” about twice a year, and am trying to wean down to once a year– something almost unimaginable. When I saw this secret posted on Post Secret, I had several mixed feelings. Home has been so many places for me since 2005 when I officially left the home I had known since about 1990 (Any questions, see a post from several months ago 😉 )… but where is my home now? What should I consider home to be?

 

Compliments of PostSecret; on back, "Things were easier when I knew where I belonged."

Compliments of PostSecret; on back, “Things were easier when I knew where I belonged.”

 

It’s not that “home” (New York, home) has stopped feeling like home, but maybe it’s that so many things have felt like home that it’s hard to recognize the comfort of “home” when it hits you. Have I moved so often, referred to so many places as home, become de-sensitized to the cozy, comforting feeling that I don’t know what “home” feels like anymore?

 

After my freshman year of college, I spent that summer at “home” (New York) and my friends came over almost every evening (literally, almost every evening) and we hung out in my mom’s basement and ate party mix and watched Legally Blonde the Musical: the Search for Elle Woods on MTV. After that summer, we all went our ways until December when the group was back together. I will never forget when my friend Jackie walked into the entry way through the garage, inhaled a deep breath through her nose and mouth, sighed and said: “ahhh. Amanda’s house.”

Oh yeah, I guess my house (like everywhere else) has its own smell. After that, I longed to be away from “home” long enough to know that smell and to have the opportunity to take it all in and to know the smell of something so cozy and familiar. About two years later, I walked into my mom’s house and if only for 15 seconds, I inhaled my own deep breath through my nose and mouth and I could smell it. It felt like jingling the bell from Santa’s sleigh in The Polar Express and still being able to hear it years later. It smelled like home.

 

But here we are in 2013. In plain terms, home has been Webster, Orlando, and Tampa. When I first moved to Tampa (for the second time), it was hard. Home was still Orlando, and home was in my bed in the apartment complex off of International drive. Home was the kittens and my ex who I had moved in with (maybe too soon, and maybe more on this later). Now I was in a single hotel room in Tampa.  Alone. I have prided myself on being comfortable with change and my adaptability… but am I? Is anyone? Especially since that uprooting, my idea of home has become incredibly foggy. I have grown roots in Tampa. Church family, friends family, coworkers, a new beau or two; still moving apartments, but such is life.

One of my coworkers grew up in St. Petersburg which is a stone’s throw from downtown Tampa. We had made plans to do something one weekend, and I knew she was also planning to visit home– her parents. In a text message exchange, I asked where she was at. “On my way home,” she replied. I asked for clarification– “To Tampa or St. Pete”?

 

“Tampa,” she said. “If I was going to St. Pete I would have said ‘to my Parents.””

 

Oh. Well I guess that makes sense. This small statement really hit home and forced me to have the difficult conversation with myself that I realized I had been avoiding. Home. I guess I should start referring to Tampa as “home” and Webster as…. hometown? Family? Visiting my parents’? What about later in life when Tampa is no longer home? I think I have loved so many places and let so many places into my heart that it’s difficult to be able to define home, and what home is supposed to feel like. Maybe I have exposed myself to so many places that are supposed to be/feel like home that I have become numb and have forgotten what it is like to just be in one place– one “home”– for an extended period of time without being uprooted and relocating myself and my belongings.

 

I’m not sure what the future holds or what my numerous future “home’s” will look like, but the tradeoff of seeing/visiting/living in new places will always outweigh whatever longing I have for (pretending I enjoy) staying in one place for too long.

 

 

What is “home” to you? Is there a place you live now or lived once that will always feel like home to you?

Five Things Friday | Places I’d Love to Visit

  1. Savannah, GA
  2. Europe (I could be more specific, country-wise… but I just really want to go everywhere)
  3. California (Disneyland!, San Francisco, and… everywhere)
  4. South Africs
  5. North/South Carolina(s)
  6. *Bonus!* Washington DC (again)… going here for my birthday weekend. Any info would be helpful!

 

 

Any good info about any of these places, let me know!

Things I Love Thursdays | Throwback Thursdays

It’s all over Twitter, Facebook and any other social media network you subscribe to. #TBT, or Throwback Thursdays, bring us back to childhood (which for me is the ’90s) and makes us nostalgic for the past. Going through old Facebook pictures to post on here for a throwback was hilarious and helps to keep me grounded. I can’t believe how far I’ve come in less than 10 years from high school and how much I have changed. In light of Throwback Thursdays, I will occasionally throw some old school pictures in here. Today you get three 🙂

Sand Dune Surfing in Australia in 2004

Sand Dune Surfing in Australia in 2004

Colorguard/Marching Band competition in 2004

Colorguard/Marching Band competition in 2004

Not even sure what year this is... myself, and my brother and my cousins growing up at my aunt's pool!

Not even sure what year this is… myself, my brother and my cousins growing up at my aunt’s pool!

Five Things Friday

It’s not quite Friday, but tomorrow will be pretty busy and I am too tired to write up a Things I Love Thursday… so, enjoy Friday a little earlier this week 🙂

 

In the Residence Life world, it is time for closing. Time for all of the residents to get the heck out! To honor this lovely time of year, are five songs about goodbye.

 

  1. Closing Time – Semisonic
  2. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
  3. Little Goodbyes – SHeDAISY
  4. Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles
  5. Bye Bye – Jo Dee Messina

 

 

Happy Friday, Happy Last Friday of 2012-2013, and Happy Closing– to those of you in the SA world!

Living Without Fear

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’ve always thought of myself as having a great relationship with myself and as someone who isn’t afraid of a whole lot. I know myself well, and I eat (relatively) well, take care of my body, get a good night’s sleep, have a job I enjoy, and financial stability. I have hobbies that I enjoy– but self-admittedly do not spend the time on that I would like to. I read an article on the infamous Thought Catalog entitled, Who Would You Be if you Weren’t Afraid?

“Who would I be? I would be me. I’m not afraid,” I assured myself. Reading through the post I realize that I have made some very brave decisions for myself: moving to Florida for the Disney College Program; moving to Tampa– almost on a whim; getting better within a year and a half after moving back to New York; moving back to Orlando to figure out where to go from there… and finally, moving to Tampa despite the comfortable things I had built in Orlando. Of the things I have done, the move to Tampa was probably the biggest challenge.

Skyline-Tampa-Night

 

Since moving here, I have found so many things to love– friends, church, Tampa activities, wonderful co-workers, a good job. Since moving to Tampa, though, I feel that I am constantly challenging myself against whether or not I am doing what is good for me, or doing what I want. Being the planner that I am (but sometimes try not to be), I am happy with my job and where 25-year-old Amanda is at. But Amanda wants to travel. I want to see the world and I want to adventure, and scratch my knees, and get blisters on my toes from running too far, and be scratchy from 100 bug bites from sleeping under a blanket of stars in the middle of nowhere. I made a bucket list recently, but I’m not entirely sure where it went… so I guess I’ll have to make a new one.

On my 26th birthday, which is coming up, I will post a list of “30 Things Before I’m 30.”  I would like to have more hobbies– more things that I am truly passionate about. I would like to say “yes” more. I would like to be more loving and more giving and more accepting. I would like to be less anxious (more free!), less unsure (more confident!), and less fearful (more brave!). I think this is achievable.

So, who would I be if I weren’t afraid? Something to ponder.

 

 

Who would you be if you weren’t afraid? What is something you have always wanted to do but have not? What’s holding you back? What can you do to get or do what you have always wanted to do?