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

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?

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!)

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?

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?

I’m Back!

Oh, goodness. It has been a longggg while! Things started to get crazy with classes, and then closing… holidays… travel… work… and here we are.

 

Since my last post, I have successfully completed a second semester of the MBA program, decided that business is NOT my thing (and suffering through two to three more years of accounting, finance and statistics is not worth it– even if the degree is free), started running regularly to train for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February… among other things.

 

I have been getting up early to work out, which unfortunately makes me want to crash at 8:15 on a Friday night. I am an old lady– no shame!

 

I will be better about posting– promise! 🙂

From City to Country

So, I’m not sure if it’s all of the Nicholas Sparks books-turned-movies I’ve been watching or if it’s because I’ve really been enjoying holing up on the weekends, but eventually I want to live in North Carolina on a chunk of land in a house that looks like this:

And I will probably adopt a southern accent and have horses and a whole bunch of dogs, and people won’t think I’m crazy because it will be ranch-like… except with a non-ranch home.

So, if we completely disregard the fact that I love warm weather all year round, I love the city, the closest I get to a southern accent is saying, “y’all,” and I’m practically terrified of horses… I think this is a pretty good dream!

Realistically though, after I get my MBA and spend several potential more years in the University system (which I LOVE), I would really like to go back and work at Disney for awhile, travel the world, and then retire on farmland and open a camp? or sanctuary? for therapy animals (horses, dogs, etc.) for senior citizens and children with disabilities. That’s the dream.

Things I Love Thursdays | Chopping Off Your Hair For a Good Cause (or Because You Feel Like It)

This is a day belated… but I had class yesterday and was up early to run (yay!)… so here we are at Friday!

 

 

 

A couple of days ago, you may have read that Kellie Pickler shaved her head  to raise awareness about breast cancer and to celebrate and support a close friend. Shaving your hair off is no easy feat; it’s not just a “cosmetic” thing… hair grows back unevenly, many women look “weird” or “masculine,” and it could throw some women into fits of insecurity. When I cut my hair short recently (not shaved-head short, but pretty damn short) the women I worked with supported me, saying things like, “women who know they’re pretty can rock short hair,” or, “women who are already confident don’t have to hide behind their hair.” I’m pretty sure a lot of them hated it and thought I looked ridiculous but… I don’t really care 🙂

I love that Kellie Pickler who used to look like this (and is self-admittedly not a natural blonde) has no hair as a music-industry entertainer. I think that’s a huge sacrifice to make to support a friend– A good one! When I was a cashier at Wegmans, a woman came through my checkout line and she was wearing a baseball hat and kept adjusting it. She was very clearly uncomfortable, and let me know that a close friend had recently been diagnosed with cancer and to be supportive, this woman shaved her own head with her friend. I just remember thinking how awesome that is… I mean, that is love. I know that if a close friend of mine was going through that, I would be on board with shaving my head in support of her… not for the recognition, but I know what it’s like to lose a whole bunch of hair, and it really, really sucks. To have had someone who understood would have been pretty invaluable. So, shaving your head is brave.

 

Although, didn’t we all think Britney Spears went crazy when she shaved her own head several years ago?

Yeah… That wasn’t “brave,” that kind of was just crazy. Or, was it? Many more women are taking the plunge and either cutting hair very short or shaving it off altogether. For others, hair is defining– it is femininity, it is beauty, it is who they are. Admittedly, I guess that was partly me.

 

After my month and a half in the hospital a few years ago, about 75% of my hair fell out in chunks… I have not been through chemotherapy or other radiation treatments… but I imagine it must be something like that. If I knew then that I wouldn’t look ridiculous with a pixie cut, i would have undoubtedly gone down that route. Instead, I went with a bob cut and you could see right through my curtain of hair. It has taken years to grow back… several months after the initial “falling out,” my hair stood straight out at 1/2 an inch to an inch long, and it drove me crazy. When it had finally started growing in without looking weird, my ex was joking and said he was going to shave half of my head off (after I had jokingly threatened to shave one of his eyebrows off… I’m not entirely sure what started this, but it was definitely me), and I burst into tears. I felt terrible– I told him he’d done nothing wrong, but my hair was just… my hair. It had fallen out after I had already lost so much (my life and friends in Florida, freedom and flexibility, my plan…) and was only just finally coming back. And here I am, three years later going against everything and chopping it off. I also went blonde this summer, which was something very, very new for me (my “about me” picture is blonde… I will have to take a new one soon with the brunette me).

 

Basically, I went from this:

 

 

To this:

From left to right: Myself, Sam, Jon

 

 

To this:

Just cut!

 

 

To this:

Myself and Amy at Star Wars Weekend!

Of course, now I’m in the process of going back to brunette, but I definitely feel significantly more confident with really short hair. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a choice… If I’m having a bad hair day, EVERYONE will know… no more default ponytails or french braids. And I literally have three hairstyles: styled, mohawk, bed head… or a combination of the three. I have the worst cowlick EVER on the back of my head, so if it’s not styled correctly it looks super wacky. Regardless, I’m so happy with my hair, and have received mixed reviews from men. All of my ex’s hate it (DON’T CARE!), guys I meet “prefer” longer hair (DON’T CARE!) and guys where I work LOVE it and tell me it looks great (if they’re lying, they hide it well and I don’t care!)… and their opinion doesn’t exactly “matter” either, but it sure does make me feel good… because of the three, their thoughts have more validity.

Anyway, now I’m growing my hair out again… we’ll see how long this lasts. At least for now, I’m going for an “Audrey Hepburn look for Halloween, circa Roman Holiday. After that, I’ll either let it grow out a bit more and then get sick of it and chop it off again. Thankfully, I have a WONDERFUL hairdresser at a local salon who treats me super well. I think that’s half the damn battle…. finding a good hairdresser.

Any hair cut horror stories? Inspirational stories? Did you cut your hair and love it or hate it? Comment below!!

Things I Love… Sundays | Making Up for a Recent Cop-Out

I thought I should make up for the fact that I totally bombed writing a post on Thursday… I hope this is not foreshadowing for my semester 🙂

 

Tonight, I will talk about how much I love my new space, especially the *kitchen* feature. I have spent the majority of the weekend working on things, in addition to unpacking my apartment almost to completion. With just a couple of boxes left to transport into storage, my space is finally spacious and comfortable. In addition, I try to use my stove-top in any capacity possible.

The first thing I made was Macaroni & Cheese (don’t worry, it was the grown-up kind).

 

I didn’t realize just how much I missed having a stove-top until 12:30 this morning when I wanted an egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel– just because I could. This afternoon I made a box of spaghetti I’ve had on hand for quite awhile. Realistically, I could have made those things in the microwave (I tried microwaving an egg, and it ended up looking like a yellow Peep… and it tasted pretty funky).

 

I got this book in college, and have yet to use it. Maybe it would have been helpful, but the majority of things in the book are terribly unhealthy and I’d be better off with waffles and Lean Pockets. But now, there are so many possibilities!

 

 

One of my favorite things I used to make was parmesan-crusted chicken, rice and a veggie (brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.). Now that I have a convection microwave (works like an oven!), I hope to have many more meals like that.

 

 

This is one of my favorite recipes– I follow it almost exactly, minus the cloves of garlic (I can’t handle emitting smells of garlic for the remainder of the evening).

 

 

 

Yum. What a terrible thing to be craving at 10pm.

 

My friend Jess at Curating Style posted a sweet corn risotto recipe that I am dying to try. Be prepared for upcoming posts about all of the new and exciting things I can make in my kitchen!

 

 

Any favorite stove-top recipes? Please share! I’ve heard mixed reviews about convection microwaves, so let’s stick with stove-top for now!

“I was the lion…”

If I may be a bit more personal for a post:

 

I think taking ownership is important. It is shows responsibility and maturity. It is important for me to be the person who sets an example; who takes ownership and responsibility for my actions, good or bad, and continue doing what I’m doing or fix the issue.

I love quotes. A friend of mine mentioned that he hates quotes, and he believes them to be an attempt to sound profound when the quoter is saying something simple. I think that is legitimate–

I can just see my friend rolling his eyes and sighing, “Wow. How original.” Dream big and live life to the fullest. The end … I think sometime certain quotes are so overused or have so many variations they tend to lose their ‘oomph.’

But me? I love quotes. I have a book of quotes, a folder of photo quotes saved to my desktop and a Word document that lists lines of scripture or other quotes that really resonate with and help to motivate me. I think for me, quotes are kind of like “to do” lists… I love to write them down, put it all in front of me, read the words over and over…… but you can’t complete tasks on a to do list by staring at them. You can’t , “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow,”  by staring at the words.

 

Self-help/motivational books.  Those are right up there with quotes. I love them. I love new perspectives, new insights, new ways to think… I want to be better overall and I pride myself on doing my best work and being the best person I can be.

This week, I have not been that person. Not even close. For whatever reason, and I truly can’t put my finger on it, I have felt so disorganized and scatterbrained for (really) the last few weeks. I could feel my performance not being at my best, I have had constant feelings of anxiety for no real reason (something that does not often happen to me) and overall just… “blah.”  I felt like I hit rock bottom (for me… which by most standards is not a rock bottom at all) and felt terrible. Now I’m on the up-swing, which is a wonderful feeling.

 

At church several weeks ago, a member of the community addressed us all and spoke about letting yourself be loved and also mentioned how “everything in life is spiritual.”  She discussed how she can come across as a hard, abrasive person but on the inside has so much love and warmth to give. She has a tendency to be afraid to let others in for fear of hurt or rejection. “Everything in life is spiritual,” she says over and over. And really, for me too, it is.

I will be honest and wear my heart on my sleeve for a few moments. I think I am a difficult person to get to know. I will let you in on secrets and open up to you with my miscellaneous nuances and anal-retentive qualities, but you will still not know me. There are very few people who “get” me, and I’m okay with that. I recognize that I put up walls and am intentionally stubborn and don’t like to peel back my layers. I don’t like to get hurt. There was (and truly still is) a part of me that puts myself in the mindset of, “okay– if this person is no longer in my life, what will I do?”

I’ll be fine is the conclusion I force myself to ultimately come to. Whether this is a best friend, family member, etc. It’s a painful process, but I have had close friends abandon ship and as much as I don’t like getting hurt, there is a bigger part of me that does not like to be caught off-guard.  So, I plan for the worst (and hope for the best). Truly a public relations approach to life.

 

“There’s a reason no one knows her name
If she don’t tell you then she never has to change it
She’s allergic to “I Love Yous” and staying in one place for too long
If you blink she’s gone”

Jon McLaughlin

 

This is something that I’ve tried with my whole heart to stand by for so many years. In the past few years, it’s all kind of gone downhill (in a good way). I fell in love, fell out of love, and have been in the same state for two consecutive years, and in the same job that I love for one year (with the plan to stay for an extended amount of time). However, I currently find myself in a period of numbness, which is a place I would have been very comfortable in a few years ago. Feeling is vulnerability, and vulnerability is something that my time simply does not allow in this moment. Maybe in the next– if I can get there, a miracle will have occurred. Stay tuned.

 

Anyway, this all boils down to taking ownership and understanding that I am in control of my life– if I don’t like something, I should change it. But in conjunction with that, I know that everything will be fine and work out the way it is supposed to work out. I obviously can’t sit like a bump on a log– I have a job too. I make the decisions and direct my life to the place that it’s supposed to go. If I get off track, something will come through to bring me back.

One of my favorite quotes:

“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

C.S. Leiwis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

 

I think life is like that. I think that when things happen around us that seem scary, but we are okay, we should be thankful. Maybe we’re being pressured by a deadline, or the car breaks down, or the person in front of us at the grocery store has 11 things instead of 10 in the express lane. I think we need to be hurried or slowed down for a reason. There are an overwhelming number of things happening, and life doesn’t slow down, you can’t hit pause… You hit rock bottom. Whatever your rock bottom is. And you have fallen so you lay down for a bit. Maybe you cry a bit, and let your heart pour out some emotion. And you realize… you’ll be fine. You’ll be fine because you have to be fine. And you stand up to dust yourself off. And you breathe. And you keep moving forward.