Where I spend $20 on something important


Day 31 | A Vivid Memory

As I mentioned in Tuesday's post full of pictures, for Memorial weekend, three friends and I met in Minnesota for a fun girls' weekend. The days were filled with laughter, wine, and dessert, but what I will probably remember most is the terrifying moment when I was standing in the Oklahoma airport security line and realized I had left my contacts at home. 

My contacts. The life blood of my eyes. 
I am SO blind without them. Like, everything more than 5 inches from my face is a blurry shape blind. 

With all my travels, I'm a little shocked this hasn't happened to me before (and by "all my travels" I mean driving 3 hours to visit my parents in Dallas); but seeing as how I'm paranoid about making sure I always pack my contacts, the fact that I'd forgotten them made me certain the Lord was coming and the end was near.

I wear my glasses at night when my eyes get tired, but I hate wearing them during the day, and my dismay was great upon realizing I would have to wear them for four days straight during girls' weekend, when the entire point is to look cute at all times. (No offense to those who wear glasses all the time; I just don't personally like wearing mine every day.)

So I called Jordan immediately and demanded that he overnight them to me. I estimated that it would cost about $20, and you should know that I am quite possibly the cheapest person ever. But $20 to have my eyes was WORTH IT.

The total was $19.95. I am a genius.
They arrived Saturday morning at 11:00. Two thumbs up for the USPS and twenty dollars well spent.

I was, however, forced to wear my glasses all day Friday and half the day Saturday, which also happened to be when we took the most pictures, so that was great. A few times I took them off for the picture because I was hoping there would be no evidence and we could eventually forget the whole thing had ever happened.

Like this one in front of the weird/cool sculpture of a spoon and a cherry. My glasses are in my pocket, and I can't see what I'm smiling at. But I know I look awesome.

And isn't looking awesome really what it's all about? 
Lesson learned: you can't put a price on fashion. 
Or eyesight.
Well, actually you can put a price on it: $19.95

Also, I really should look into Lasik now, right? I think it might be a sign. Anyone out there had Lasik? I've heard good things.

I Should Be Pregnant By Now


Day 30 | React to this term: Letting Go*

I should be pregnant by now.
I should have a house by now.
I should have more money saved by now.
I should have my career figured out by now.
I should have a retirement account started by now.

These are all things I stress out about, things I had planned in my mind when I was younger. By the time I'm 26, thought Younger, Not-So-Wise Me, I'll be here, doing this, owning that.

And, well, now that I'm here--doing this and owning that--I wonder who it was that decided it was "normal" to do this or that by a certain time anyway.

Obviously our list of "I shoulds" is different for everyone.

I should be married by now.
Or engaged.
Or dating at LEAST, right? Where all them boys at?
I should be skinny by now.
I should be out of debt by now.
I should have moved out of my parents' house by now.

My family reads this blog (hi, Dad!), so I've never really talked about pregnancy/baby stuff because it's leaning too far into the personal and potentially awkward side of things.

(Side story: The first time we saw my dad after our honeymoon, Jordan said to me, "I'm going to feel awkward around your dad." 
"Why?" I asked.
"Because, well... you know."
So there's that.
Cue the awkward turtle.)
I will say, though, that Jordan and I haven't started trying to have a baby yet. But I'm in a stage of my life where it seems like everyone I know is popping out one of those little people, and it makes me feel like I should be ready for that too. My friends are buying houses and painting walls, and I feel like I'm behind. They're figuring out their jobs and paving their career path, and I'm working a part-time job while I figure out what the heck I'm doing. 

In terms of my career and our finances, Jordan says right now we're "hovering." Not going down, not going up: just hovering. Leave it to him to use a flight metaphor. 

So when I read the prompt for today about reacting to the term "letting go," my first thought was that right now I'm learning to let go of my plans. I'm learning to let go of my list of "should haves" and focus on being content with where I'm at and what I have. 

One of my biggest fears is that I will look back on my life or a period of my life and realize that I spent so much time worrying about the future that I missed it. I missed the beauty of where I was because I was worrying about the potential of what was to come. My "should have" list, if you will.

And I know everyone does that a little bit to some extent. It's impossible not to all the time. But I want to enjoy where I'm at; and while I will make plans for the future, I don't want that to define my now. I'm not behind, and although some things ARE in my control--like how much I search for a job or actually trying to have a baby--I know some things aren't--like me getting fired or infertility, to name a few. Not that I know I'm infertile. I'm just saying it could happen. And now I'm talking about babies again. Hi, Dad!

I guess what I'm saying is, to use the old cliche, it's not about the destination but the journey. I'll get there--wherever there even is--and at the end of the day I am certain that I shouldn't be anywhere but where I am right now.

And until I get where I'm going, the only thing I should do is eat more cupcakes. 
Amen and amen.

*I feel like I've been writing a lot of introspective (read: possibly mildly depressing) posts lately. I'm an extroverted thinker (aka the exact opposite of Jordan), and it spills out into this internet space of mine. I so very much appreciate all your thoughtful comments that make me feel not quite so crazy and alone.

5 Awesome Songs

Day 29 | five songs that mean something to you

Sometimes I'm not sure what kind of music I like. My running playlist is the craziest collection of songs I've ever seen. Where else do you see Lady Gaga next to Tim McGraw next to Chris Tomlin next to Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana?

No matter what, though, I always always love me some country music. Even before I moved to Oklahoma. Anyway, the point is, I love music, mostly of all genres with the exception of techno. #sorrynotsorry

But when all is said and done, here are 5 songs that make me think, bring me back, or just make me smile. Not my favorite songs ever, necessarily, but ones that mean a lot to me.

Come to Jesus
By Chris Rice

I heard the most beautiful rendition of this song at Jordan's grandpa's funeral.
I can't listen to this song without tearing up.
Standing around his hospital bed as he passed away is something I will never forget.

Love Your Love the Most 
By Eric Chruch

The song we danced to at our wedding

Just to See You Smile
By Tim McGraw

My favorite song ever.
I don't know why. I just love it.

Starry Night
By Chris August

"I'm giving my life to the only Son
Who was and is and yet to come
Let the praises ring
'Cause He is everything"

My favorite song on my running playlist. 

Somebody Told Me
By The Killers

I cannot ever again listen to The Killers without it bringing me back to my college days.
My friends and I (the same ones I was on girls' weekend with) played this CD all the time.
Good memories.

Do you have any special songs that mean a lot to you?

Girls' Trip to Minnesota: In Pictures


I flew in from Minnesota late last night after an awesome long weekend! Four of us met in Minnesota where my friend Erin lives. I flew from Oklahoma, Lauren from St. Louis, and Esmeralda from Chicago. 

There are some fun stories to come, but here's what it looked like in picture form. I'm calling it: Pictures without People.

Have you ever taken a girls' trip? 
Where did you go?

What My Dad Told Me


Day 25 | Something someone told you once about yourself that you'll never forget

Today I'm coming at you from Minnesota! It's a girls' Memorial Day weekend trip with my college roommates and best friends, and we're going to hit up Mall of America at some point. Any MN bloggers out there? (Quick note for any potential looters: Jordan is at home this weekend, and we own a gun, so don't get any ideas.)

Anyway, I'll keep this short and sweet. When I read this prompt, the first thing that came to mind was something my dad once told me. I don't remember when it was or where we were or anything other than what he said, although I do know it was many years ago.

My dad told me that I had a beautiful smile.

Whether or not I actually do isn't the question, and I'm certainly not fishing for compliments. I've said before that I have terrible skin and in general shy away from people touching my face in any capacity, including my husband. I also think I have a large nose and don't like my profile. 

So for me, this type of compliment really hit home, which is probably why it's stayed with me.

I don't even know if my dad remembers telling me that, but I've never forgotten it.

So thanks, Dad.

After finishing our marathon!

Don't Pray for God to Be With You


Photo courtesy of my friend Laura. 
Taken from her house right before she fled the tornado.
She is fine, but her house was destroyed.

Day 22 | Rant About Something

This is an excellent prompt for today, because I just so happen to have a timely and controversial rant that's been swirling around in my head for the past few days. I don't normally rant about controversial topics unless it's to someone whom I know will agree with me, but it's happening, people.

On Sunday and Monday, Oklahoma was devastated by tornadoes. Dozens of people were injured or killed, and homes were destroyed. The worst of it hit on Monday, just 15 miles from my house, and I know friends who lost their home and everything they own. 

This is, of course, horrible for me and everyone who lives here. I want to help, but they're asking people to stay away and let emergency crews get through to search for bodies and hopefully survivors. I know in the days and months, even years, to come, they will need physical help, but for now the only thing I can do is send money and pray. 

#prayforoklahoma has been trending on Twitter for the past two days, and I've seen this tweeted by celebrities and people all over the world: "Pray for God to be with the people of Oklahoma." 

And this isn't just Oklahoma. 
Pray for Boston. 
Pray for Newtown. 
Pray. Pray. Pray.
This is where my rant comes in.

We don't need to be praying for God to be with us. We never have to pray for God to be with us, in fact. Because here's the thing: God is always with us. We can thank him for being with us, but when it comes to prayer, what we need to be praying for is peace for those whose homes were destroyed and for those who lost loved ones. We need to pray for healing and understanding for those who are angry and confused. We need to pray for comfort for those who survived. 

What we don't need to pray for is that God will be with us. 

I find it comforting that God's presence is not something we need to question or pray for as if it's an unknown. Sometimes knowing he's there is the only thing that's comforting in times of heartbreak.

I think the word prayer itself is misused quite a bit. We throw it around in place of "thinking of" because it sounds better or more official or something, but are we really praying? A prayer isn't a good thought and it's not a hug. A prayer is a cry to God, a conversation with the one who created us. 

I personally try not to use the word prayer if I'm not actually going to lift up a prayer. I'm not saying we shouldn't pray or we shouldn't tell people we're praying for them, and I'm not trying to say I'm judging people or that I'm better than anyone else. I'm saying we shouldn't take the concept of prayer so lightly.

I also think that to pray for God to be with us is failing to understand the most basic concept of our faith, which is that God IS with us all the time. In fact, he's there when we DON'T want him to be there. Like when we're gossiping or lying or cheating or stealing.

Whether or not you believe that he's there isn't for me to discuss or judge (although I would be happy to if you want to shoot me an email), but I do want to say that I believe it, and better yet: I've felt it. I know it's true. 

So the next time tragedy strikes and you go to tell someone you're going to pray for them, make sure you actually DO pray for them. If not, just be honest and say you're thinking about them.

And don't pray for God to be with you. 
It might not feel like it all the time; I get that. But it doesn't change the fact that he already is.

Let Me Tell You a Story

Day 21 || A List of Links to Your Favorite Posts

*An Oklahoma sunset from a few days ago. Our skies can be so beautiful and yet sometimes so deadly. Pray for those affected by the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma, yesterday. Many homes were destroyed and lives lost, including multiple children at an elementary school that was demolished. Please consider donating to the Red Cross if you are able. (You can give online here. You can also text REDCROSS to 90999, and a $10 donation will appear on your phone bill.) I personally have friends who lost their home. I can't watch the news without crying. This is 15 miles from my apartment.

I already had this list of links written and scheduled to publish, but I can't stop thinking about how we spend so much time and money filling our lives with such silly things. Even in light of what I wrote yesterday, all that really matters is family and friends. I'm thankful that as far as I know, everyone I know who lives in Moore is safe. So many are not, though. I actually feel like a goober posting this list of links as if everything is normal here. It's not. But I had it scheduled, and I forgot to turn it off.

So.... for the prompt. 
I blog so I can tell stories.

I want to use words and pictures and craft something that will make you laugh or think or nod your head while you say, "That's something Amanda wrote," because it just sounds like something I would say.

I like it when someone tells me they read my blog, and I like it even more when they tell me I'm funny. But what I like the best is when my real-life friends say, "When I read your blog, I can hear you telling me this story. I can picture it happening, because it sounds like you."

That's what I want for everyone who reads--that even if you don't know me in real life, you can hear me telling you my stories. When it comes to this blog, what you see is what you get.

So here are a few of my favorite stories:

The 4 Stages of Blogging | This is me every. single. day. Anyone else?

Egg Roulette | The most ridiculous thing my family has ever done.

My Grandpa's Inappropriate Tie | My grandpa accidentally wore an inappropriate tie to a wedding. Laughter ensued.

My 1st Half Marathon | This is when I ran longer and farther than I ever thought I could and when my love of running really took off.

Our Engagement Story | It was a complete surprise.

> Ways I Annoy Jordan [Part 1 / Part 2] | Stories of crazy things I don't remember doing while I'm sleeping.

Currently Feeling Dramatic | Or, what happens when I write blog posts too late at night. This post might only be funny to me, but whatevs.

Going After My Dream Job


Day 20 | Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.

I almost didn't write this one because I couldn't decide what to focus on. I feel like I'm full of struggles right now, and although I try my best to be positive, some days I do better than others at not completely freaking out.

I think the thing I am struggling most with right now is with my career path. If you've been around for a while, you know that going on 3 months ago, I lost my job. It's a long story and slightly too personal to share on this blog, but I will say that I'm still not entirely sure why I lost my job. I've lost sleep thinking about it, though. 

As a driven, dedicated, type-A individual, getting let go from my job was a huge shot to my self-esteem and caused me to question my work ethic (which is excellent, by the way) and wonder just what the heck I'm even doing with my life. 

I decided to use my forced retirement to see if I could actually pursue my dream job: freelance editing.

Come to find out, networking for this kind of thing is even harder than I thought it would be. And seeing as how I thought it would be really hard, the fact that it's even harder than really hard has thrown me for a loop.

I did spend time trying to find a full-time job, but recently I've cut back on that slightly to see if I can network and find editing clients. Because I love editing. LOVE IT. And I'm really good. I have real-life authors who can back that up, so it's not just me saying that. (And before you're like "well I found a typo on your blog, so you can't be that good" let me just say that self-editing is a whole different monster than editing someone else's work. I try to get them all, but I'm not perfect.)

The problem is, I can't just tell my electric bill that I'm a great editor and call it even. My apartment office won't take an IOU for rent.

Jordan and I have a great budget in place, and we're currently debt free (HOLLER!), but we're not those people who can make it on just one income, so I need to be bringing in money. I'm struggling with knowing what I should do and whether or not I should be pursing this editing thing at all, and I struggle with NOT STRESSING OUT about it. 

I am a worrier. I didn't think I was, maybe because I hoped I wasn't. But it turns out I'm the worry wart, and Jordan's the optimistic one in our marriage. I think we're both surprised about that.

Anyway, I don't have an answer to any of this yet, obviously. I'm in the middle of it, and just like my letter to my newlywed self I wrote last week, I wonder what future me would write in a letter to myself right now. I would definitely tell myself to stop worrying, but we all know that's easier said than done.

Yesterday at church we sang the classic hymn "It Is Well With My Soul," and I had to ask myself if it really IS well with my soul. I want it to be. So much. I want to have peace no matter what, and I want to be joyful and thankful for what I have instead of thinking about all that I don't have.

So.... yeah. I don't know how to end this except to add a shameless plug for myself. If you need editing for a book you're writing or you know someone who's looking for an editor, you can send them to my website, where I have my fees listed as well as a blog where I post writing and editing tips (like how to correctly use apostrophes--HUGE pet peeve of mine). You can also follow @amanda_editor on twitter.

3 Book Reviews: 1776, Riding Lessons, Call the Midwife


[My current read: Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. Fun with a capital F.]

Reading and I have an on-again/off-again relationship. I love it dearly, but since graduating from college and starting my career as a professional editor, sometimes the last thing I want to do is read outside of work when I already read every day all day long.

So I go months without picking up a book for pleasure, until one day I get a book recommendation I simply can't turn away from, and then I'm hooked again for a while until I decide I can't bear to read outside of work. And so on.

It's been that way for going on five years now, and currently I'm in my "on again" stage of reading. Instead of separate reviews, I am putting my most recent three into one post.

|| 1776 by David McCullough

Last month I read 1776, which is a historical novel about the year 1776 during the Revolutionary War.

It's a book I would have never read except for the fact that Jordan owns it, and I happened upon it one day while browsing our bookshelf for something to read. 1776 is one of those books that always sounded and looked way too intimidating and scholarly, and I had assumed I would hate it.

My experience was quite the opposite.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and (considering all the historical facts, including dates, names, and places), it moved quickly. The first few chapters were slow going, mostly because it was about a topic on which I am not familiar and I just had to get familiar with the principal characters. Once I did, I learned a lot, and it's clear McCullough did his research, because the book is filled with letters and pictures from the year 1776.

At the end of it all, I wanted to find something else to read about the time period, and I am glad Jordan owns a copy of John Adams (by the same author), because I will definitely be reading it before the year is out. Jordan loves history and knows so much, but I must not have been listening during history class, because it seems like there is no end to the information I don't know. 

Reading Bonhoeffer last year was an eye-opener (review here), and I am starting to enjoy learning about history through books like these. Another excellent historical nonfiction is Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (review here).

|| Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

Upon completion of 1776, even though I enjoyed it, I was in the need for some fiction. While wandering the library, I saw the book Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen. I picked it up because of the author. Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants, which I own and have read multiple times. I was hopeful that Riding Lessons would be just as good as, if not better than, her first book.

Sadly, I was wrong.

One thing about me is that I HATE not finishing a book. A few years ago I clawed my way through Love in the Time of Cholera, and it was such a terrible, miserable read. (It is literally my least favorite book I've ever read.) But I hate starting a book and not finishing it.

I have since decided that there are too many good books to read to waste time on a bad one. I have quit on a few books over the years, but they are few and far between, mostly because I go off book recommendations, and my friends rarely give me bad book advice.

Sometimes, however, you do have to give up on a bad book, which is what I learned 70 pages into Riding Lessons. I pretty much hated it as soon as I started, but I wanted to give Gruen the benefit of the doubt because I so very much love Water for Elephants. 

It was not meant to be. I hated the story, the writing style, and most of all the narrator. It's really bad to hate the narrator. I'm not even going to give you a synopsis of the story because it's not worth it. Instead I will tell you to read Water for Elephants if you haven't. There's also a movie, which is one of the better book-to-movie adaptations I have seen.

|| Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

After quitting on Sara Gruen, I was feeling pretty sad and in need of a fantastic book to follow up such a terrible one. It was perfect timing that I happened to read a book review for Call the Midwife on Melinda's blog.

I ordered it through inter-library loan, and thankfully it came in quick. I got to work and finished it in 4 days.

It's essentially a collection of short stories about being a midwife in the 1950s. The story is nonfiction but written like fiction (so much so that I forgot it even was nonfiction), and my only critique is that it ended.

The characters and scenes came to life on the page, and I found myself gasping and crying and laughing and wondering what would happen next. There's a PBS TV series based on the book that I definitely want to check out now.

Currently reading:
-The Poisonwood Bible 

The Poisonwood Bible has been on my reading list for years, and I am finally getting around to it (thanks to another recommendation from Melinda). I'm about 75% finished. Each chapter is written by a different character, which is a writing technique that can go terribly wrong if not done properly. Thankfully, this is done well, so I don't have to quit on this one. I'll probably write a full review once I'm finished, though, because I do have a few thoughts.

What are you reading right now?
Have you ever quit on a book?

What's the worst book you've ever read? 
Tell me so I can avoid it.

This Is Why I'm Hot.


Day 17 || A Favorite Photo of Yourself and Why


Want the truth?

I don't photograph well.

And I'm not saying that in an oh-but-really-you-do-photograph-well-you're-just-being-modest way. It's a legit person-of-Walmart kind of way. Don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

But sometimes. 

Sometimes I shower and put on makeup and blow-dry AND straighten my hair, and I put on a cute outfit, and I'm like, "Haaaay." (That's "hey" with a drawl in case you were wondering.)

That's what happened to me last Sunday when I got all dressed up for church. Because when you don't have a job to dress up for every day, you get really into dressing up for church. 

I even practiced my best impression of America's Next Top Model while walking into the sanctuary. I may or may not have tripped but who wants to know. I got compliments and everything. On my dress, not my walk. 

This of course isn't my all-time favorite picture of myself, but it's a recent favorite. 

See for yourself. Pretty cute, no? 
(Note: I got this dress for free from Eshakti for a blog review and first styled it here. My one and only blog perk besides the constant compliments on my wit and humor. HINT.)


Our Anniversary Day in Pictures


Yesterday was Jordan's and my two-year anniversary. 

Last year we took a weekend trip to the Oklahoma aquarium in Tulsa and had a grand old time.
This year, since I don't have a full-time job currently, we decided it wouldn't be the best idea to take a trip. 

But I still wanted to do something unique to make the day special, so I came up with the brilliant idea of waking up early to get breakfast at Ihop together before work. I only had to work marginally hard to convince him that this was, in fact, a brilliant idea. After breakfast, we parted ways, and later that night I made homemade chicken alfredo and cheered Jordan on at his softball games. 

We didn't get each other presents, and we didn't take a trip. 
But it was perfect.

Here's what it looked like.

Finally, I ended the day with a book, as all days should end.

And so begins year three.

How do you like to celebrate when you can't do something grand like take a trip?

A Letter to My Newlywed Self


Blog Every Day in May Prompt Day 14 | 10 Things That Make You Really Happy

Here's 1 thing making me very happy today: 
My Anniversary

[May 14, 2011]
|Wedding Photography by Kristen Edwards|
Dear Amanda,

You just got married. 

You're dancing with your friends and eating your vanilla cupcakes (good choice on that, by the way), and it's perfect.

Your honeymoon is going to be lots of fun. Just make sure you eat something before you get in the car for the seven-hour drive to Fredericksburg, because you won't pass any fast food restaurants in the middle of Texas country, and you and Jordan are going to get hungry and grouchy and have your first official married fight right around lunchtime.

Don't worry, though, you'll make it there and back just fine.

Then the real fun starts, because you're going to live with a boy. 

You're going to live in that apartment for at least 3 years, so settle in. I know you want to buy a house, and it's going to be hard to watch all your friends buy houses and fill them with new furniture and get to paint the walls. But just be patient. At least your downstairs neighbors are nice, even if they do think Jordan's name is Justin.

It's not going to be easy being married. Jordan's going to do things that annoy you, but here's some news: you're not such a treat either sometimes. 

Oh you don't believe me? Well, you'll see.

Sometimes you're going to go to bed angry with each other even though everyone says not to. But it's going to be okay; you just need a little space, and in the morning you'll wake up with a new perspective that makes whatever you were mad about seem silly.
You're going to lose your job in two years, so appreciate it while you have it. And Jordan is really supportive about it even though you feel like a loser. 

In two years, you'll love him even more than you do now. You're rolling your eyes at me, but it's true. He's a hard worker and a reliable, trustworthy husband, and he loves you a lot. More than you realize sometimes. 

He's not going to pick up his clothes or help with the dishes very much, and he hates doing laundry. But he'll tell you he loves you fifteen times a day and give you kisses just because. And he'll be happy to help if you ask, so don't be stubborn about it. 
He'll take care of you when you get sick and wake up early to cheer you on when you run your first marathon. And you'll cook him fish for dinner even though you don't like it and watch his softball games and take him to the doctor when his allergies get out of control. 

It's going to be hard, but it's also going to be the most fun you've ever had in your life.

Are you ready?
Get set.

Yourself in 2 years