Thursday, September 1, 2016

Making a Difference

(see links at bottom of post)

It's Saturday, August 20th at 2:07 PM. I have no idea when I will actually publish this post, but I want to write it while my feelings are raw and my thoughts are fresh.

Ever since I can remember, my heart for animals has been so large, I can barely contain it. I'm the girl who can spot a dog or cat a mile away in any direction. I'm the girl who cries when the animal in the movie doesn't make it. I'm the girl who rescued little rodents from my cat's jaws as a kid, and I'm the girl who screamed out the car window "STOP KICKING YOUR DOG" to some jerk, much to my Mom's horror.

It's just who I am. I don't try to hide it and I never apologize for it.
I never will.

But when you don't have much to speak of monetarily or in the way of a spectacular talent in a certain area (unless you call sobbing within seconds over a "Rescue" commercial a talent...)-how do you express yourself? How do you spread the love you have for a certain cause?

I've had ideas here and there, but they just weren't realistic.
Open an Etsy shop among the other thousands? No. I have no clue what I would offer that would be worth anyone's money.  Sponsor another dog? No. Last time, they rarely gave me any info on my pup.

I always feel like I come up short and in turn, feel guilty. If you have this undeniable passion for something and have no idea why or what you're meant to do with it- you get it. You understand how frustrating it can be and how you can feel like you're wasting time.

As the majority of you have seen, I joined KEEP Collective in July. I was terrified. I'm not a natural "sales" person. I was worried no-one would purchase from me, that maybe, I'd even lose friends. But there were 3 things that pushed me forward. 1) My Husband's encouragement. 2) A statement I read about trying new things until you find your niche by a process of elimination and 3) fully believing in what Keep Collective's message is (live happy!) and their products are gorgeous, to boot.

It turns out, I've done fairly well with Keep, so far. It's been a challenge some days, especially when you don't see any sales coming in, it can make you question and doubt everything. But, aside from the business itself- I've truly felt fortunate at how things have gone so much better than I expected.

With this new little job of mine- what else can I do with it?

Two years ago I first learned about a festival in Yulin,China- where dogs and cats are tortured to death, sometimes for two days. The locals believe that by torturing the animals- the meat will taste better and that they will ward off the Summer heat.

Deep breath.

When I first learned of it, I cried every single day that the festival was going on. I sobbed into my husband's arms. I felt such agony over what these animals, some even being stolen pets, endure. How confused and afraid they are.
I reached out to popular accounts on Instagram- begging that those with a "louder social voice" would spread the word. Informing and educating people. (None did.)
I shared snipbits on Facebook, trying to spread the word while shielding my friend's from the horrific photos that I had seen, all the while wondering if anyone saw it or cared, given the 2-3 "likes" I would receive.

This year, as Summer approached, I dreaded it. I knew the festival would be taking place. Another year of 10-15,000 dogs being killed inhumanely. Somehow, via Facebook of course, I came across this man named Marc Ching, who runs The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. They specialize in rescuing severely abused animals, rehabilitating them and finding them wonderful homes. He goes to China, in the midst of this festival, and sees unimaginable evil. Cambodia, rescuing pups from "torture rooms", Korea, Mongolia, The Philippines. He poses as someone in the market to purchase meat- and then records what he sees- he's been beaten the few times he's broke his cover because he couldn't take it anymore.

People often question why he films the torture? How could he?
His response is perfect. If you don't see it, you don't believe it.
Isn't that true?
I've often been asked by family and friends who have experienced me in my element- when I'm broken down and crying over an animal- "Why do you do this to yourself??"
Do you think I enjoy seeing animals hurting? No. I don't.
But, if I don't remind myself of what happens...I forget about it. I forget about what I've seen and what's going on...and I can't allow that to happen. Not if I'm true to having a part in rescuing these pups (and kitties too!). I'M not the one suffering. THEY are.

This man, this organization, they have the ability to do what I cannot. To say what I cannot, to see what I cannot.
But still, we are kindred spirits.

Right now, I'm doing well with KEEP Collective. So, I've decided to pair my job with my passion and share a message of hope. And make a difference in the lives of these animals who need you, and who need me.

I'm going to be donating an engraved KEEP bracelet to Marc Ching and the proceeds of certain purchases to their organization. I believe in what they do and support this Foundation 100%.
Something he had said on one of his posts this past July, resonated with me. He said, "I'm a believer that light overcomes darkness. And that is something that I believe in, too. I've engraved that message on a bar and wear it proudly.




I can't do much, but I will do what I can.

My hope is that of the 1,140 friends I have on facebook. A handful of you will stand behind me and support an amazing cause. Sharing this post with your friends and family- and spreading the word.

That would be such...and impactful thing. For me. For The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. And for all of those animals who are next in line to suffer.

We can make a difference.



*If your purchase includes a paw-print, bone, cat, dog key or engravable bar reading "Light Overcomes Darkness"- I will be donating 10% of what I make from your order at the end of each month to The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.







Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Am Able.

Today, as I was driving home from the store, I was blissfully enjoying a warm summer breeze blowing through the windows and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds blaring through the speakers.

I drove past someone standing outside their house, whom I immediately recognized as a woman who I've seen other times on the same route. She has a disability in her legs, that prevents her from walking normally. Despite the disability she's living with, she's always dressed in bright, cheerful colors and working on her garden, which is beautiful by the way.

On this same route, I passed a gorgeous old home that is occupied by a woman who attends our church. She's not there right now though- because this past week, one of her adult sons passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.

I felt tears welling in my eyes, an ache in my heart.
For these two women, one of whom I don't even know personally, and the trials that they're going through in life right now. Both physically and emotionally.

And in these same few moments- God tugged at my heart and challenged me with something simple.

Being without a job has been, honestly, really nice.
Throughout my last Nanny position, I felt like I was living in a constant state of chaos. Unpredictable schedules, never even aware of what day of the week it was.
That being said, I've definitely been in a subtle state of laziness lately. Eating a lot of things I shouldn't, binge watching tv shows, and feeling a pull to do something more significant, but not having the gumption.

I realized today, that it's time to change that.
We often hear "live each day as if it's your last"- but in that same way, we should utilize our abilities- because what if tomorrow- you're no longer able to use them?

I have it easy right now.
There are things that bother me, things I could do without in life- but I have no physical ailments at the moment and I have no emotional struggles, either. That, in and of itself, is such a gift.

I have the ability to be kind to everyone I meet, both strangers and friends alike.
I have the ability to go for walks- because my legs allow me to.
I have the ability to be a light in a broken, confused, fearful world.
I have the ability to choose healthy foods- and fuel my body.

I am able to do more.

....(And so are you!)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Being Honest & Leaping in Faith

There are several who knew we were planning to put our home on the market but I think a good amount had no clue, so I'm hoping this post offers a bit of clarity.

We never really agreed on how long we should stay in Connecticut, if I'm being honest. We both ultimately wanted the same things, but had different ideas of how to get there. 
We would go back and forth, stating our points, trying to make each other see why our "plan" was the best one- but in true fashion of who we both are, neither Kyle or I would budge

I wrote a post awhile back about learning to be content. 
I had a conversation with my Grandma that really changed my outlook on things. I began praying that God would make me content- even if I didn't understand- because I wanted to be happier. It took less than a week for me to begin feeling that peace. Trusting that God knew what He was doing (go figure!) and that I should just go with it.
I hate that it took so long to get to that point, I feel like I wasted a few years where I could have been thoroughly enjoying life to its fullest.

Thank goodness that you can choose your attitude towards certain things.

I started noticing subtle changes in Kyle's outlook on the future.
Originally, he told me that we had to be in Connecticut until he could retire. At the time, that was about 15 years.
Gradually, he told me that maybe we could make it happen in 10 years.
Then, over a year ago, he told me that maybe we could start thinking about some changes in 3-4 years.

I always have joked that Kyle does his best thinking on Saturdays. He works for a security company on the weekends and is often sitting at a desk with way too much time on his hands to reel over different ideas and come up with different plans. I would probably be incredibly rich right now if I was given a dollar for every time I received a call or text from Kyle on a Saturday that began with, "So here's my plan..." or "I've been doing some thinking...."

One Saturday evening in January, he called me.

"I've been doing something thinking...and I'm ready to move. Like, really move. Let's put our house on the market next week."

I was completely shocked and a bit unbelieving, frankly.
Every other conversation we'd ever had about moving, ended abruptly within a day or two of Kyle announcing that we could start planning. 
I would cry, pray and then move on.

So, I took his words with a grain of salt and calmly replied that we needed to work on the house some, prepare, plan, and definitely pray over it. All the while, I felt that within a day or two- he would change his mind again. 

Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months- and Kyle's mind never changed. He felt sure that it was time and that we could make it work. He was sick of the politics in Connecticut and ready to begin a slower pace of life in an environment that fit us a little better.

And here we are.

As of today, our home is officially on the market.

Our first home together. The place where we've learned what it's like to have huge bills looming, how to reattach a closet door, how to garden, and where we've had so many good times together.

It's odd for me, really.
I have wanted this for so long- but just when I get to the place of accepting it and finally learning to enjoy it here- it's time to go.

So what's our plan?

That's a good question, actually.

Being that both Kyle & I are planners, this is probably the hardest part of moving for us. 
We don't know what's going to happen next.

Once we sell the house, we'll be heading to the Midwest. Probably Michigan, where my parents are, but Indiana is also an option. 
We'll fly out for a week or so to go to job interviews and check out some rentals- and that will be that. We'll gather our things and go.

Ultimately, what it comes down to for us, is quality of life.
We enjoy a slower pace, general friendliness, and the concept of working to live, rather than living to work.

We have no idea if things will go smoothly and be great.
We have no idea if this is without the shadow of a doubt the best decision of our lives.
We'll learn that in time.

But for now, we feel like we're doing the right thing. We're going with our hearts and hoping for the best.





Saturday, November 21, 2015

There's More.

Around 4am this Morning, I awoke breathless, after having one of those dreams that felt just a little too real.
  The dream began with a tornado and ended with gun shots, amidst a church service.

 I laid awake for another hour or so, contemplating the dream- wondering why it had used some of my very realistic fears- it was one of those dreams that really made me contemplate....was there a deeper meaning in it all?

 One of the things I felt was this...reality check, ironically.
I tend to allow myself to be sheltered from the world around, because quite honestly, the things that are happening- aren't things I want to dwell on. I don't want to dwell on all of the massive amount of shootings- murders. The delusional terrorists who are taking innocent lives, bombs going off- new threats, daily.

I began to wonder....what could change all of those things? What could change the world in such a huge way that no-one had to live in a constant state of fear?

And the answer, which I've known all of the time, was this.

....changed hearts & transformed lives. 

This may be the point where some of you scoff, shake your head, roll your eyes and click out.  But, that's okay. Because while I had a moment mid-morning where I thought...."Is this point I'm trying to make as relevant as it was at 4am?-- I knew it was and it was something that needed to be said.
Not from some mega preacher on television, not from someone with thousands of followers on twitter or instagram.
But from me- a simple, normal kind of girl.

The thing is, if we're honest- truly honest with ourselves, I think the majority of people, even those who claim there is no God...have an idea of what they envision Christians to be. And most likely, those people who are genuine Believers- doing their best to live their lives for the Lord, have a similar idea.

Honest. Loving. Kind. Faithful. Hopeful. Filled with Grace.

....to name a few attributes.
Can we all agree on those?

If the Lord was able to take hold of every single person's heart- can you imagine....can you EVEN IMAGINE- what our World would look like? It would be filled with people who just....love each other. Who are all working towards one ultimate goal.

An eternal life in Heaven.

And getting there wouldn't include murdering innocent people. Bullying people. Being self-centered people, who think that as long as THEY are in charge of their happiness- nothing else matters.

Do you honestly believe that we're all just....here? That everything is really built around...YOLO? That there is nothing beyond the little time that we have on Earth?

I just can't fathom any of that.

The fact is, You (don't) Only Live Once.  There's more, people. There's more.

Believing in God doesn't mean that you're tied down. It doesn't mean that you  have to enjoy the brokenness of the world- all of the things that seem unfair amidst our free will-- it means that you have HOPE. It means that you have a genuine, true hunger to see lives transformed by the renewing of our hearts and minds.

Just take a couple of minutes to think about how wonderful the world could be...if we'd all stop being self centered, focused on our own happiness- and focused on living life on God's terms.

Grace. Hope. Renewal. Love.
Peace. Courage. Heaven.

Even those who don't claim to be Believers- tend to hope for their loved ones passing onto Heaven. And even those who scoff at Christians on the daily- tend to think that "sending prayers"- (to whom?)- will do the trick.

Deep down, we all have a sense that there's more.
And a lot of the time it comes down to some sort of fear that's stopping us.

Don't be afraid.

There's more for you than all of this.












Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Happy Days

Drinking my tea and sitting in my favorite chair this Morning, I had one of those perfect moments. The kind where you find yourself literally closing your eyes, feeling the sun on your face, and smelling that crisp Autumn air- and for me, remembering something.

I had such a full, happy childhood. Growing up in a small town, we had Mennonite neighbors, open fields for a backyard, and a Church full of built-in playmates. Countless adventures were had and memories were made.

I remember walking golf courses and visiting the elderly with my Dad. Going to at least one of three local libraries and topping it off with TCBY, with my Mom. Running across a field and tromping through a creek to visit nearby friends, church services in the woods, playing hide and seek in our friend's cabin, climbing hay bales.

Today, specifically, I was remembering Ohio.
I can vividly remember things I felt while living there. The pure joy of asking for my sins to be forgiven at age 5, sitting in the middle of a huge corn field or running bare-foot through puddles while it rained...and just being, unconditionally happy.

As I've gotten older (way older...), I find myself still remembering those times. Those places, those people, those good moments. Because, I've had my fair share of "low moments"- the ones where you feel like you're carrying the world on your shoulders.

You may remember a post from a while ago- maybe two years ago now, where my Mom was talking about how she hoped I learn earlier in life who I am.

I bring this up because there have been several times, where I mention the past or note a memory and get a black lash of "Quit living in the past!" or "Things change, Amanda. Move on."
And so, I find myself recalling something and immediately pushing it aside, because it's not a good idea to "live in the past".

But, I guess my point is.
It's OK to live in the good moments (in the past or not). Be aware the bad moments will happen- but it's okay, nonetheless, to remember times that were happy, or simpler or...just good.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to channel that little girl, living in Ohio or Michigan, and use her to remind myself of who I am.
And it helps, so much.
Because each phase of your life will be new and will require some adjustment, but I think when things get confusing or you just feel overwhelmed- find those good moments and just remember that that child, teen, adult...whoever..was you, too. You still have some of those characteristics or personality traits going on that you can pull from when you need to.

I've learned to accept that I love those moments of nostalgia- and that there is nothing wrong with bringing a little of the old you into the new you.


....This blog post may very well have made little to no sense to you. It's funny how you re-read something you've written and think, "Hm! Not sure that's what I was going for...."-- But! It's what came out and there must be a reason for that. :)

Bye, friends.
Have a good week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Just A Little Update.

I've been really overthinking a post lately, feeling this invisible pressure to put something amazing in words for people to carefully consider. And then today it hit me. How about just update everyone on life as of late? Not that it's terribly interesting by any means- but I've felt like I've written so many individual emails lately with practically the same information- so why not just put it in one place?

After my post about being content, a lot of little tests came my way and it would be a lie to say that I've passed every one of them with flying colors. And as of late, I just feel completely overwhelmed with life.

I'm not the type of person who enjoys being busy. I don't like to have plans after work and having full weekends and being put out of my comfort zone.

For example, over the last few weeks there have been vet appointments. I really despise taking the cats, specifically 007, to the vet alone. Especially when it's a new office. I tend to think of every possible outcome (usually the worst ones, let's be honest here...)- and let's just say, every. single.one. occurred during 007's appointment.
Poop, vomit, aggressive staff, a stressed cat, a last minute messy bath, and hyperthyroidism results.
(Moneypenny was an angel and was complimented endlessly on how sweet and soft she is. That's my girl!)




On that note, having my favorite pet losing weight rapidly before my eyes, constantly crying to be fed, and vomiting sometimes daily...is the epitome of heartbreak for me. Most of you know my heart for animals- but for my boy, it's the biggest. We always describe him as a "comfort cat"- he could definitely go into a any facility and snuggle with patients and residents, making them instantly happier. Thinking of losing him any sooner than never, is just the worst. So these recent vet appointments have been awful for me to handle alone, because Kyle works opposite hours than what the veterinary offices are open.
Lots of nights of sobbing myself to sleep have happened.
Although, I *am* doing a little better in this area.
I'm trying.


Most of you know that my employers will be moving to Toronto this coming September. They've graciously offered me unemployment, should I need it, and that was completely kind and unexpected. In the beginning, I wasn't worried at all and maybe even slightly excited for a new adventure. But as the days pass and September approaches, I can feel my blood pressure rising as I wait...and wait...and wait to hear back from jobs that I've applied to.
I've had one interview so far, and it was anything but wonderful. Although I was disappointed that I didn't connect with the family, I was more proud of myself for feeling confident that there is something better out there for me.
I think I'm a fairly desirable option, with 7 years experience that includes 3 different families and 5 newborns. But, as I sit here, I've emailed probably 20 families and have only heard back from 1 or 2.
It really does a number on ya.
Makes you question and doubt.
K keeps confirming that he wants me to find the perfect position, one that I'll really enjoy, and if it takes 6 months- that's just fine!
Secretly, I'd like a few week break in-between one job ending and another beginning- but I definitely don't want to be sitting around for 6 months, either.

Besides finding a new position, I'm feeling lots of mixed emotions. These kids, I've been a 3rd parent to. I've seen some firsts, watched them learn to take a bottle, roll over, walk and talk. I've spent uncountable hours helping them use a toilet, cuddling them while they're sick, watching them climb all over a playground proudly, attend new schools, and let's be real....handed out a ridiculous amount of timeouts.
But at the same time, while I know I'll cry like a baby and miss sweet moments, I'm feeling...ready for something new. Hopeful of a bright future with a new family.

While these things...pet problems and work changes, barely skim the surface of my stress levels lately- I am starting to feel majorly excited for upcoming trips this September.

We found some awesomely priced plane tickets to Chicago, one of my favorite cities, and we'll be able to spend 2 days there for a quick Anniversary getaway. I cannot wait to try foods, sit in cute coffee shops, meander around Navy Pier, and soak in the nighttime city lights with my Babe.

Later in September, we'll be taking a week long trip to Nebraska to visit some very close friends of our's. We're absolutely thrilled. There will be lots of eating, laughing, good conversations, and just very much needed "away" time.


I think this is basically it, everyone.
My exciting life update.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Grandma knows best.



Do I usually write a blog post after my traditional Christmas trip to Michigan?
I think it's possible.

I have a marriage journal that I began before Kyle & I were married. 53 days before, to be exact. I really liked the idea of documenting how things were for me and then giving it to my future children or someone else who could find it useful, and also- so that I could look back and see things from my younger perspective.

What I noticed from my Journal while reading some of the earlier entries, was that I had been afraid of Connecticut and marriage. I was really nervous about moving here and not fitting in. Once I was here, I realized that....I was actually right.
 I don't really fit here, in general. My perspective on life often clashes with the general mindset in this area and I don't seem to really click with other women my age around here. We have different values. Different priorities.

It's not really a secret that if I had a choice between Connecticut and living in Michigan, I'd choose the latter in less than a heartbeat. Pack up my husband and my kitties and hit the road without looking back.

I could feel my emotions bubbling over throughout our second week in Michigan and I knew I needed some wisdom.

To Grandma's room I went.

I sat down on her bed and before I had hardly even touched on what I wanted to say, I started crying. She let me vent and get everything off of my chest.
And then she calmly said,

"There's really only one secret I have that could help you. I've learned that being content comes from knowing you're in the center of the Lord's will for your life."

She said more and I nodded and continued to ugly cry.

At the end of the day, no matter how much I want to be in Michigan- I knew that I was in the wrong with my thinking.

The Lord knows the desires of my heart, but for now. He has us here. And instead of praying for change, I realized...I need to pray that I be in the center of His will. Wherever that may be. Here, there, or anywhere else. I trust Him to take care of me.

And I can honestly say, although I have those days where I miss the rolling fields, the constant laughter, and the hugs... I'm content. Or if I'm not all the way there- I'm close. I've been praying diligently for the first time in my life, that God leads the way. And that whatever way that may be- I'll be okay with it.

I wanted to get all of this out there, to encourage those of you who are at a point in your life where you're frustrated, doubtful, unhappy...that instead of looking to yourself for the answers, take it to the Lord and pray that He'll bring you contentment at the center of His will.

I'm confident that He'll reveal both to you when you're open and not self seeking.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

(Getting out of an unhealthy relationship)

I'm incredibly observant, which sometimes isn't the best of characteristics. I have a general hope to help others and an eye to see more than what's on the surface. I also have the quality of really feeling for someone in need. And the worst part is when I can't put my hand right in and fix everything myself.

I'm learning that although my heart may be screaming "DO SOMETHING!"- it's not always a good idea. But, I can put my heart on a platter in other ways.
Thanks, blog!

Here's your situation.

A man and a woman are arguing. It's definitely heated and voices are rising higher and higher, there's an extra icy chill in the air.
"You're not faithful! You're not committed! But *I* am!"
"I AM committed to you! I love you!"
"Let me see your phone then! Let's see if you've been cheating on me with him! You know what?? I'm just going to take your phone away."
"Fine! Take it, I don't want it."
"Why are you still talking to that guy, anyway? Why do you need to talk to him when you have a family that loves you?"
"He's just a friend! Why don't you just talk to him?"
"What am I supposed to say? Huh?! Thanks for taking care of my girlfriend for me? I do so much for you. I freaking have the baby all the time."
"No you don't! I'm with the baby every day, sitting at home by myself. I'm going to tell them how you treat me."
"Oh yeah? You'll tell them, what?"
"....That you hit me."
"That I hit you? Yeah! I've hit you. So what? You've hit me, too! It's not like I don't have a reason. I have a REASON to hit you. You're a slut. You're a freaking slut."

A baby cries in the distance, a cigarette is lit. The conversation goes from calling each other names to a hushed urgency of finding a missing pacifier and then eventually continues with muffled yelling from inside a car.

So you're with a person who calls you really horrible things, takes away any confidence you may have had in yourself, is a biological parent to your child, who puts you on the back burner to anything and everything, refuses to put any of your needs before their own, shakes their head and rolls their eyes at all of your goals and dreams, laughs at your insecurities, hits you from time to time and has the innate ability to apologize and say the right thing at the exact second you're about to say, "I'm done with this!"

And so, you stay.
Because you love them. And they make you laugh. You have a child together! And one time, they complimented you and you'll never forget that!


When you're in a relationship with someone...feelings flying all over the place that sometimes you can't even figure out yourself- sometimes, your mind and your heart get fogged over. Did you know that?
It's true.
You create this foggy bubble around you and this other person and you can't get out, you can't see past it...and sometimes, you don't want to. Because it's easier to stick with what you know, rather than go out into the unknown- especially when you'd feel alone. That person is better than no person? Right?
Wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Before I met my husband, I didn't know what it was like to feel confident in a relationship. Names were thrown all over the place...it was a competition to see who could say the most hurtful thing. Sometimes, the actions were all about distancing the other person as much as possible...just to see how far they'd let you go. The fights were really rough. The silent treatments? Even more rough. The lack of trust? Awful.

And the worst part was that darn bubble I'd put around us.
I knew something wasn't right but I couldn't help but feel like....maybe I was misreading the situation? Maybe I was doing something so wrong that all of these actions were justified. But even more so- thinking about going on with life, without that person apart of the future...seemed like the scariest, most uncomfortable heartbreak there ever could be.

I want you to know- that breakups are scary. They hurt. Sometimes, the ugly cry happens. It takes awhile to figure things out again. Realize that you actually do have the ability to make smarter, healthier choices for yourself. That you deserve more.

I'm speaking to that person who knows deep down the relationship they're in, isn't what they really desire. The teenager who thinks that a breakup is all about rejection and loneliness, to the person who doesn't think they deserve anything better, the person who doesn't want to feel a hint of "single", the person who thinks it's too late, to the person who takes any sort of abuse, and to the couple I was talking about earlier.

Last night, as I was winding down for the night, I heard shouting. Opened my window to discover the above situation happening across the street.
It broke my heart for them. Both of them. But especially for the woman. Because while she may have been unfaithful in the past, this man was trampling her to tiny bits. Calling her names, shouting in her face, bringing up past wrongs, admitting to hitting her and thinking he had the right!
40 minutes passed and then a newborn cried out.
My heart broke a little more.

It reminded me of those past, foggy, relationships that I had been apart of. And I immediately knew that this post needed to be an outside voice to those people apart of relationships that are or could potentially be extremely bad situations.

There is always a way out.
There is always someone to talk to.
There is always a potentially brighter future ahead.

Have a relationship that is pure, unselfish, and full of healthy understanding. One that you enjoy. One that you can safely stay apart of long term. And realize, arguments happen. You're two different people. But there should never be a need to hurt the other person physically, emotionally, or mentally.

Do what you need to do, to be one half of a wonderful, amazing relationship with someone who respects you and thinks you're pretty great.

You've got this.













Thursday, August 21, 2014

To Baby or Not to Baby?

Oh, hello.
It's me, Amanda.
I write on this sleepy ole blog when something comes to me that matters. :)
As I get older (and boy, have I been feeling it) I find myself exploring the idea of having kids more and more seriously. '

Truth be told, this whole "talking about having kids" thing is completely weird territory for me. It's no surprise to my close family and friends that growing up I knew two things. I wanted to be a wife and a mother.
I was positive I would be married young (I was hoping for like 17, but...21'll do.) and almost as positive that I would have babies shortly after.

The first year of marriage was killer.
A word to newlyweds- give yourself that year. Because it's amazing to me that once I lived as a wife a little while...man. I kind of enjoyed it just being me & my husband. Although, I have to admit...being a Nanny is excellent birth control. So, maybe, I'll recommend that everyone should be a Nanny to 1 or 2 small children full-time, before considering children of their own? Yes. That's my recommendation.

...but as I was saying.
I clearly recall within that first year, gushing every time I saw a baby. If someone was pregnant, I was green with envy. If there was a baby nearby, my eyes were glued to it and I was nudging Kyle to adore that little blob of cute as much as I did.
I remember being in church one Sunday and saw a mom holding her new baby boy- I started crying. In the middle of Church.

But oddly, as the years have gone on- I have gone through other phases of thinking maybe, just maybe, being a mom isn't for me, after all.
I seem to be through that phase now and in the..."Maybe in a few years.." phase.

Aside from the constant pressure of keeping up with all of my baby making machine friends (and I mean that kindly!)- I'm also feeling incredibly insecure about my age. If we follow our tentative plan, I'll be almost 30 with my first.
My Mom was 29, and I always swore I wouldn't wait that long.
And here I am.

I struggle with finding a contentment and peace with where I am RIGHT NOW. There are so many things I want to do before kids- and so many things I don't want to wait for, in order to have them.
Does that make sense?

The most common advice I get is, "Enjoy your time with your husband."  "You're young. No rush."
I know, I know!

The flip side of this topic is a hard one for me to write, mostly because I don't want to offend anyone.
But, another thing that has held me back from pursuing children more seriously is the constant (and I mean, constant..) flow of articles, photos, studies, and personal opinions regarding birth and breastfeeding.

I have to say, and I may not be speaking for any sort of mass, but those articles? Those about what doctors did to so and so and how midwives are better and how breastfeeding hurts so bad but also that "breast is best" and also about the epidural and how horrible it is and that you need to go all natural....THOSE. Are the articles that scare the crap out of me.

I appreciate openness and honesty.
But I respect women who do what works for them and their families and in return, respect other women who do the same thing.

My only request here, I suppose, is that when those of you who are already mothers- are sharing your wisdom across all of facebook, please remember that not all of your friends are mothers.
New mothers aren't the only ones who may be feeling alone in whatever situation they may be in- it's those of us, too, who are thinking about getting pregnant but have constant, awful scenarios rotating through our minds of ...what exactly IS best? Is that going to happen to me? What do I choose?

I know, I know. Then why am I friends with you, right? Or why don't I just *not* read the articles?
Well, because I like you as a person, probably.
And also, I don't read most of the articles.
But the one liners, the photos? That's often all it takes for me to be like...jaw on the floor, eyes bigger than you'd think humanly possible....and doubtful.

I don't really know what this post will do for anyone. Maybe something good somewhere. I hope so! Regardless, I feel pretty relieved to get all of that out there and not just through frantic texts to friends.

High five friends.
It's the weekend!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Getting Fat.

My Husband approached me the other day and let me know that he was speaking for everyone when he said, "I'm going to quit following your blog soon if you don't post something new."

Alright, then! New blog post it is.

I've really gone back and forth (as I usually do, even over the simplest topics) about whether or not to write about my weight loss, adventure, we'll call it. I feel like the majority of my Facebook news feed is either about Hobby Lobby, World Cup, or losing weight.

Losing weight is great and I love that others are sharing and inspiring others, myself included. But I feel like after awhile it becomes a broken record. "Yayyy, another pound! Good job!"

So this blog is for me to kind of check in and let you know where I'm coming from, where I'm at, and where I'm hoping to go. And then, with the exception of close friends, kind of leave it at that.


 
(End of 2009 vs Mid 2012 when I was reaching my heaviest)




I've always been a fairly typical girl in looking at my reflection in the mirror and feeling like it could look better. But, until I was married I never really cared or stressed over it.

I've become one of those people that you see in a photo and think, "Wow! What happened there??"

 So, let me explain what happened "there".

When I got married, I blissfully moved to Connecticut with the intention of new friends, new family, new life...and everything would go smoothly and perfectly.
Wrong.
While I had a job set in stone- it didn't begin for 3-4 months after we were married and moved into our apartment. I didn't know my way around and had to wait for Kyle, who was working 9:30am-11pm every day except Sunday, to take me to the DMV to get my license straightened out and change over my plates on the car.
So, I was out of transportation for a good while.

I remember deciding to be brave and explore my neighborhood for the first time. Back in Michigan, when you see someone outside- you wave or say hello. Sometimes, you even stop and have a full on conversation.
But not in Connecticut.
Instead of a polite wave and hello back- I received a weak smile and someone turning and walking back into their house as if I were about to rob them.

That set the tone for a whirlwind of anxiety, doubt, depression...and weight gain.

Late night eating-  because I felt like it was my only time with Kyle. So we'd eat big meals at 11:30 pm. Anxiety over fitting in with my new family, starting a new job, having trouble finding a Church and new friends...all the while trying to be a good, new wife- took it's toll big time.

I never really watched my weight, obviously.
Every once in awhile I would see a photo and think "Hm! I can't allow myself to get any bigger."
But literally every time I acknowledged bad eating habits- I'd tell myself  "I deserve this because..." or "Just one more night of this and then I'll start working out tomorrow..." and two handfuls of other excuses I would make for myself.

It started at the beginning of this Year when I tried a 7 day cleanse. I lost 5lbs and only made it 4 days into the cleanse. But, that 5lb start was enough to motivate me, albeit slowly, to make small changes.
I started using our stationary bike 4 days a Week and going on walks with Kyle in the evenings. I noticed some differences- but I was still really struggling with my food intake because I was so focused on working out.

I did an App on the iPhone that was helpful- but I hit a two week slump. Right after the slump, I sprained my ankle.
Panic set in because I wouldn't be able to work out. And so in the days where I sat with my leg propped up, I began to search Youtube for healthy lifestyle videos and ending up finding several channels that had lots of healthy recipe ideas.

So although I couldn't workout- I was able to take the other problem, food, and start to focus on what I was doing wrong and where I could change. Turns out, there were a ton of ways I could change.

I've been doing little things- avoiding a lot bread, eating smaller portions, using more olive oil instead of butter, I drink coffee rarely and have focused my diet on fruits, veggies, and proteins with some grains thrown in.

It's been a slow process for me, very slow. My Mom had warned me several years ago that I have a similar metabolism/body type as she does- and losing weight would not be easy. She was right.

I've gone back and forth about whether or not to do WeightWatchers because I have several friends who have had excellent results in a short amount of time. And while I'm not closed off to any sort of programs- as of this Morning, I've lost a total of 22 lbs since December.
I feel like, while it's going slowly- I'm proud of myself for making these changes on my own. No program, no special diets, no gyms....just working out from home and making consciously healthier decisions for myself. But, if I hit another slump, I'm definitely open to changing things up.

I have a long way to go yet- and a lot of the causes for my weight gain are still present- but I'm learning how to manage those things differently.

I still find myself in these states of "How did I become someone in this position??" Because I never saw myself being this weight. I never saw myself being looked down upon because of my looks. I never thought I'd see the day where I would cry because I couldn't fit in any of my clothes that had fit only months earlier.

As a small part of the bigger picture here, which is living a healthy lifestyle, I want to encourage you to stop looking at people's bodies and judging them based on their weights. Because, I have found myself in a position where people have stopped getting to know me- because I don't look like I used to. And it really does a number on even the strongest person out there.
You don't know what got them to that point.
You don't know what they have or haven't tried.
You don't know what they're still going through.

So thank you to the family and friends who have supported and encouraged me thus far- and to those who haven't treated me any differently than they did- when I was 40lbs lighter. 


(If you have any questions about how, why, when, or where....shoot me a message!)