Tag Archives: trying new things

And I took the one less travelled…

And I took the one less travelled…


The Road Less Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Still Stuck

Still Stuck

Stuck here on day three at the airport base in Kabul because of motorcycle bombs right outside our base. I just heard that Camp Leatherneck in the south where Prince Harry is based (that’s for you, Mom) was infiltrated and two Marines were killed last night, and a base here in Kabul was hit early this morning. I have to say that it feels a bit like I’ve moved to a crazy inner-city in some futuristic movie where all hell has broken loose…oh wait, that IS where I am!

But inside this base, there is a sense of “normal”…once you get past the constant rotten egg smell and the crazy diversity of nationalities because it’s a NATO base. There is an internet cafe (where I’m at now), a rec-”center” with pool, ping pong, and Xbox; a gym; a bazaar selling electronics and rugs and jewlery and such; restaurants (though I’ve been warned that the “Steak House” has made many people sick and that they’re not even sure it’s actually steak); and even a “bar” with music at night. They sell the non-alcoholic beer and pump up the dancing music at night – last night was salsa night and tonight is club-music night…I’m assuming that’s like pop and stuff. Just keep in mind that all of these places are in big tents – buildings seem to be a rarity. It was cool watching the salsa dancing last night because soldiers of all nationalities were in their uniforms just dancing away with each other…instead of peace talks I think we should have peace dances…dancing makes everything better! There were Italians, French, Portugese, US, Romanian, South Korean, Canadian, and Australian soldiers there last night…all getting their sober salsa on!

My main challenge seems to be my gender…which I was sort of expecting. I definitely don’t blend in like any other male contractor walking around in civilian clothes (which is usually khaki pants and a collar shirt). And the NATO soldiers don’t hide or make subtle their acknowledgment of this difference…they rubberneck it like I have a cleaver sticking out of the side of my head. This morning I went to the cafeteria alone and it felt like a scene in a movie where I was naked and the record screeches and everyone stares as I awkwardly walk with my tray through a sea of staring, camoflaged men to find the nearest open seat. I know it’s because I’m a girl, but it doesn’t make the trip from the food line to the seat any less uncomfortable! The key: look straight ahead and know where you’re going so you can walk with a semi-appearance of confidence and purpose. What’s difficult is that I’m an uber people watcher and I love seeing all these nationalities in one place. On the inside I feel a bit like the open-jawed tourist wanting to see everyone, but I have to keep a straight face and at least look like I know what I’m doing. Hopefully someday soon I actually will!

Every time I hear about a soldier dying at the direct hands of terrorists, I know that this fight has to be fought and has to be won. Many of my friends (Hawaii, you know who you are!) don’t think we should even be here and think we should just leave and let this country implode on itself…but the emboldening and empowerment that would inevitabley be given to the terrorists here would have immeasurable impact for our own country and all the innocent lives there. No. Keeping the fight over here and treating the terrorists as enemies who we need to be overcome instead of inconveniences we need to ignore is the only answer. I am so honored to be a part of this – ok well not yet because I’m just getting paid to write blogs and go to the gym, but hopefully one of these days!

I love you family and friends!

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Listen. Dream. Go.

Listen. Dream. Go.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

As I stop in the middle of this sand and heat, I think about the lessons of life – the many lessons of life that we will at some point inevitably learn, and I ponder which one was most significant in getting me here to this place I’ve dreamt about for years. I think it’s the importance of listening to and believing in myself. When I began to voice what I wanted – which was to come here to Afthanistan – I faced some confused and strongly opposing opinions. If anyone has read prior posts, they know that I’m a default people pleaser…or as I like to say now, a recovering people pleaser…so expressing an idea that is in opposition to others took some lady balls. It took a long time to voice even to myself what I wanted, and longer yet to boost up the courage to say it out loud. At first I felt silly and I would add disclaimers like, “I know it’s a stupid idea, but I think I want to go to Afghanistan.” Thank God I found the fire in my belly to keep listening to myself and take action on doing the thing I could barely speak. I couldn’t tell anyone in my life – wait, I told my sister because she could tell something was up – and felt like I was living a deceptive life when I submitted my employment application to various companies. Then when one was interested in me, I would break out in a nervous sweat in replying back that I would like to continue forward with the hiring process – like I was committing a crime or some awful act.

But I stuck with it. I think part of me was afraid that I’d buckle if I told people too early – that I would listen to unsolicited advice about what a dangerous idea it was and I wouldn’t go through with it – so I protectively stayed silent. But I listened to my heart when my words weren’t even there yet and pushed on. It didn’t feel wrong, but felt good and exciting and right when I pushed “send” on those employment emails.

I’m not promoting living a double life in order to do the things you want to in life in a careless fashion – that’s not the lesson at all. I’m putting out the voice of encouragement to trust in your own dreams and don’t shy away from them because of other people’s criticisms. Listen to yourself. Listen to your heart. And if you think you’ll buckle, then yes do what you need to do for you to dodge those fire hoses (that’s what my high school running coach used to call people that like to squelch dreams). Ultimately, everyone in my life got behind me and is supporting me now. But even if some hadn’t, I was prepared to ask them that if they didn’t agree with me, could they just love and trust me?

I regret that I held back on jumping off my cliff and doing this thing I’ve wanted to do for so many years. I tried to accept the life I was in before and become the person that I needed to be to make that life work, but ultimately I wasn’t very good at it because I was so restless and unhappy and living counter to my dreams…which would always seep in again and permeate my imagination. Now I can stand here and smile a smile from the inside out – a contented smile of happiness with myself that I did this – I took the steps to put me here. I finally listened to myself.

Confessions…

Confessions…

Dear readers,
I have a bit of a confession…I’ve been intentionally NOT writing that in the past couple months I decided to take the adventure of my life and go to Afghanistan for a year. I continued to blog about the feelings and issues I was going through, but in much more vague entries – partly because I didn’t know if I’d be able to pull it off and go, and partly because I hadn’t even told the important people in my life of my plans and I didn’t want them finding out from my blog. I started double-blogging by writing my own personal story into a word document which I have saved and have continued to add to all along the way – through the fear of telling my family to the preparations and in-processing and travel overseas. I woke up this morning to my first morning in Afghanistan, so I guess I made it! After this, I will post entries about my journey to this point now, and onward about many stories I have yet to experience. There have been many tears and funny moments and loving conversations and memorable times in the last couple months that have gotten me to this point now, and I would love nothing more than to share those…though there is one port-a-potty incident that my mother warned me to “clean up” before posting.

In essence, I decided to take my own advice over these last few months of blogging, and get out there and do the undoable thing that I never thought I could do. Many people didn’t understand and said, “Yes, but WHY Afghanistan?!” Of all the crazy things to do! I simply asked them to love and support and trust me…and told them to read my blog because I will try to answer that along the way.

Since I left my home over two weeks ago, I have had a soaring sensation in my heart, and I know that I made the right decision for me. Jumping off my own cliff was right for me, and now I’m off in the adventure of my life to discover who knows what!

More to follow once I figure out how to find wifi and hook up to my own computer – there’s a time limit in this internet cafe and I’m nearly out of time.

Best wishes and happy reading!
~Amy

Daring Feats

Daring Feats

“It’s the heart afraid of dying, that never learns to dance; It’s the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance; It’s the one who won’t be taken, who cannot seem to give; And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.” ~Bette Midler “The Rose”

In high school I tried a front flip on our trampoline we just got for Christmas. Because it was cold, my socks slipped on the slick surface and I dislocated my ankle. That injury not only put me out of the swim team season that year, but it also instilled in me a new fear of throwing my body around in any flippy way. I haven’t tried a front flip of any kind since that day…until today. I don’t know if it was all my research, contemplating and blogging about stepping up and taking chances or if it was just simply time for me to try again. Either way, I felt a surge of courage in me and I couldn’t pass it up. I started by trying to roll into my grandpa’s pool. Once I did that without incident, I got another boost of courage and tried jumping a little higher of the side of the pool in a flip sort of maneuver. Same thing – I felt better and wanted to try it again – but this time off the diving board. And on and on went my flipping journey – each time I tried and realized I wasn’t dead (like my fear tricked me into thinking would happen), I wanted to try it a again but a little bolder. Granted, my flips are no Olympic caliber with a crooked torque to them, but I did it! At 34 I finally did my first front flip off a diving board!

I can’t help but wonder if my experience today isn’t a lot like the rest of life. I didn’t wake up imagining I would do a front flip into the pool, but with little steps, each a little more bold than the one before, I achieved something I didn’t think I could. We’re scared to go for the big thing – the flip off the board – but it can start small, and with each successive step we inevitably get bolder and bolder. And it’s SUCH a great feeling doing something you started out thinking you couldn’t do!

For my gymnast sister, doing a front flip is something very simple, and she would not have the same birth of boldness unless she did something challenging to her. So don’t compare what’s a big deal to you with other people, because it’s equally as significant and emboldening. It’s your front flip, and you can be bold and do it! Don’t listen to that voice that occupies a hunk of your brain and tells you that you’re too old, or too weak, or too ANYTHING. You’re not. I’m not. We’re not.

GO FIND YOUR FRONT FLIP AND DO IT! IT'S WAITING TO HAPPEN; YOU JUST HAVE TO OPEN YOURSELF UP TO YOUR OWN BOLDNESS!

Be Adventurous

Be Adventurous

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go out and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

Is this a question you’ve asked yourself lately?: “If life is meant to be an adventure, then where did I go wrong? And what the heck is adventurous about sitting here reading a blog?”

I saw a quirky movie on Netflix recently. The movie, “The Answer Man,” was cute, but one line from it really made me think. I transcribed the woman’s comment, and the man’s response…which is the part that struck me.

Elizabeth: “What do you want to hear? You wanna hear that I’m so freaked out that I’m not doing all I can…that I’m so freaked out all the time? That I’m afraid I’m not doing enough and that fear is turning me into something I don’t want to be, and I can’t stop it? You have no idea what it’s like to be pulled all the time by this idea that I am not doing enough, that I am not enough!”

Arlen: “He knows. And He wants you to know that you ARE enough, and so much more! You are here so God can experience the world through your eyes…to see what you see, to feel what you feel. Every day, He can’t wait to see what you’ll do…what makes you laugh, what moves you…He can’t wait! Every day through you, He falls in love with the world all over again. You are His muse!”


What a beautiful notion…and what’s more, it inspired me to get off my bum watching Netflix and go out to participate in the sunny day just outside the window. I wanted to be God’s muse and have Him see what I saw, and I didn’t want it to be a computer screen, so I went down to the beach. I swam for an hour until I was blissfully exhausted in nature’s beautiful playground. As I began to make my way back toward the beach, I watched all the kids running around playing in the sand. I felt like in my swim I had just let myself be one of them – playing, being adventurous, and loving the day and the moment.

I’m normally not the kind to read self-help how-to types of articles, because they all end up as basic lists like “try something new,” and “say hello to the next person you pass by.” But this article, non-adventurously titled “How to Be Adventurous,” was actually quite good. The author, Brad Bollenbach, writes that “if your life is anything less than interesting and inspiring to other people, you’re doing something wrong.”

He asserts that there is no best time but this time to start living the adventurous life, and that the only thing stopping most people from taking action is not less-than-ideal circumstances, but instead our own heads. “While many people will say that some of these things [dreams] are out of their reach, the truth is that you’re only ever either taking action to achieve a specific goal, or making excuses for why you aren’t.”

This doesn’t have to be closing up shop and moving to Hong Kong tomorrow (though that utterly appeals). It can be as simple as going outside, looking up at the clouds and breathing in a breath of gratitude. Participate in Life, don’t isolate and shy away from it. Go out and be a part of today – partake in the adventure that’s already happening. Be the hero or heroine in your own life, and let God (or whatever higher, intelligent being you believe in) see the world’s beauty and adventures through your eyes. Make today count!

Decide What You Want

Decide What You Want

“The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” ~Ben Stein

There are no magical fixes; it’s up to you. You have to pass through the “easier said than done” thought, get over your own self-imposed limitations, and decide what it is you want. It’s so easy to do something you’re good at but don’t love. I have a friend who’s worked for the same company for 13 years because she’s good at what she does and she gets paid well for her good work. But from the beginning she promised herself that she would only do this job until she found something more “her,” and now she’s reeling from the fact that that was 13 years ago. She’s one of the smartest women I know, and she could do anything she set her mind to, I know it…but does she? I’m creeping up on 10 years in my line of work and I still wonder if this is what I want…or is there something more, something greater? Not necessarily greater in scope, but just greater for me. This isn’t a challenge for you to change life courses to go be an astronaut because it’s the loftiest career out there…it’s finding the loftiest place for YOU and ME in this world.

The decision itself may be difficult, but certainly not worth stressing and losing sleep over (pointing my finger at myself on that one) – this is a good and powerful move toward opening yourself up to new opportunities because you’re stopping long enough to listen to your heart and follow what it already knows it wants. You already know what you want…it’s just the world or your family or your paycheck or other outside factors have made the picture a little hazy. It’s like suddenly seeing 50 red Toyota Echoes (do they even come in red?) the day you buy one…when you finally make a decision on what it is you want, you’ll start seeing opportunities to help you get there that have been there all along.



Here’s a great blog on HOW TO DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.

And of course, to include my quirky humor, here’s a video on how to make a decision like a ninja. I love this guy, and if you don’t at least crack a smile, we need to have words.

Celebrate Creativity!

Celebrate Creativity!

Let’s celebrate creativity!

I believe the world defaults toward the logical and the analytical, while the creative and out-of-the-box ways must be proactively pursued. They tend not to happen upon us naturally. I know a few free-spirited right-brainers out there, but they are a rare breed who most definitely swim up-current against the rest of the “that’s-just-how-we-do-things” crowd. Creativity is usually defined as the creation or innovation of something new with value – but that sounds like something a left-brain writer of definitions would say. If a creative person were to define creativity, I’m confident there would be more sense of bringing an element of spirit and color and life to everyday life.

My sister is a right-brainer, and when I am around her, I feel my creative juices flowing more readily and freely. When we lived together a few years back, we’d host parties…and the theme of the party was usually whatever was biggest in the news that week. When Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline broke up, we had a FedEx party. When Saddam Hussein was put to death, as embarrassing as it is to admit, we had a hanging party. I got an Elmo piñata and tied it up by a noose over our upper floor railing. When people came in, we put little nooses around each person’s neck, and my sister hung up all sorts of hanging drawings all over. Morbid? No question. Creative and fun and unforgettable? No question. I hope my sister never changes, and I hope her creative garden continues to grow and get greener with time. I’ve witnessed some gardens that get ignored and eventually dry up, and it’s sad to hear people labeling that occurrence as “growing up.” May we never grow up in that sense.

There’s nothing wrong with being logical, but if the balance is always tipped away from the creative side of life, we’re working our way towards gray and away from color. Tapping into our own creative spring is both nourishing and refreshing for our souls. It’s stepping back and looking at a problem from a new point of view; it’s trying something new or a new way; it’s seeing things with the element of possibility instead of impossibility.

Click THIS LINK…I PROMISE you it will make you laugh AND get your brain in a creative spot.

I found the list below and I can’t imagine anyone who couldn’t find something on it to help them take one step toward being a little more creative in life.

Pursuing Happiness

Pursuing Happiness

Some pursue happiness – others create it. ~Unknown

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. ~Agnes Repplier

We often forget that we don’t have the right to happiness, but we have the right to pursue it…the more difficult of the two paths…yet undoubtedly the most rewarding. When we learn what makes us happy, we can create our own happiness instead of relying on external circumstances out of our control.

To most, the immediate items that come to mind in connection to happiness are money, fame, luxury and things along those lines. But a study published by the American Psychological Association about what brings happiness to people placed those items at the bottom. At the top of the list were autonomy – feeling that your activities are self-choses and self-endorsed, competence – feeling that you are effective in your activities, relatedness – feeling a sense of closeness with others, and self-esteem.

Things that make me happy:

  • Being on the water in any kind of boat (except ones with holes in them)
  • Bright colors in colorful designs
  • Creating art
  • Making decisions with clarity (there’s that autonomy)
  • Looking at art
  • Eating chocolate and drinking red wine (even the cheap stuff) together
  • Taking a bath while listeing to Pink Martini on Pandora
  • Warm fuzzy slippers with cozy pjs on blizzard-snowy days
  • Drinking “momtinis” with my sister during her kids’ naptime
  • Splintting a pitcher of margaritas with good girlfriends over new stories and gossip
  • Amazing ocean views from the decks of houses you housesit (like right now!)
  • Recognizing a quote from a funny movie that someone else quotes
  • Quoting funny movie quotes
  • Wind through trees on sunny days
  • Picnics of any kind
  • Dancing of any kind…except the dirty kind and sans poles
  • Stepping into a new country for the first time
  • Crooner music with a glass of wine while making dinner
  • Laying out under stars
  • Giving to others in need
  • Old people – even grumpy old people
  • Driving things while going fast – boats, mopeds, cars etc.
  • Catching waves
  • Crossing finish lines
  • Being goofy with girlfriends
  • Watching old couples hold hands or dance together
  • The different hues of greens mixed together in nature

    So if I were to analyze myself, I seem to need to surround myself with alcohol and old people. Or maybe just put on some fun music, dance a little, and enjoy a nice glass of wine with good company.

    Click THIS LINK to read daily reminders of things to be happy about.

    It takes great wit and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish. ~Robert Herrick

  • Being Vulnerable

    Being Vulnerable

    I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.
    ~ Audre Lorde

    Growing up, vulnerability was not a good thing. I never heard, “I am lonely,” or, “I ache,” or, “I am confused.” …though I’m pretty sure they were all felt along the way through the years at some point. Mine was that image family from American Beauty – the one that looked great on the outside. We had it all – good house, my dad was a doctor, my mom was a nurse and dietician, three beautiful (ok I was pretty awkward until 30 or so) girls who were all smart and athletic, two small, white, fluffy dogs. We went to church every week, …the all-American image. We weren’t even that messed up on the inside, but then again, how would we know because we never talked about anything other than schedules, vacations, funny stories of the day – anything that didn’t have to do with matters of the heart. In fact, if someone got mad when I was young, there wasn’t even ever any yelling. The mad person would just walk away. Confrontation was completely foreign to me. I’m pretty sure this upbringing was not intentional – it was simply the pattern of my parents’ generation, and they were doing the best they could with the arsenal of emotional tools they had. No blame, seriously no blame.

    But what resulted was a stunted ability – even a disability on my part – to let my soft underbelly show to anyone…ever. The answer to any question to my well-being was, “I’m fine.” …and then quickly change the subject. I learned quickly how to put the attention back onto the other person in order to keep them engrossed in conversation and forget to ask questions about me. Have I mentioned I’m a great conversationalist? You’ll walk away from a conversation with me feeling great and liking me more. Why? Because we talked all about you.

    So what exactly does wearing full armor all the time get you? You get to know a heck of a lot about other people, and very little about yourself. You forget to ask yourself how you’re doing, what you’re feeling, and even what you want and don’t want. Because you don’t know where you are or what you want, you don’t establish boundaries for yourself – boundaries that are so very important to have. In essence, you forget to be vulnerable with yourself, and stop knowing who you are…you are not even comfortable in your own skin.

    Vulnerability is opening up, being exposed, and letting in. It’s counter-intuitive to people like me where being closed feels safer. But look at what being closed prevents. It prevents connectedness with those around you and with the bigger world at large. You can’t participate fully in life if you’ve turned inward. You may see beauty, but you’re not letting it in. You may have friendships, but you’re always keeping them at an arm’s distance on the polite and small-talk level. You’re not letting yourself be known to the greatest person in your life – YOU.

    Vulnerability is risky. Opening up means risking heartbreak, deceit, betrayal, and pain. I’m pretty sure that risk is the reason people who have been hurt in the past can make themselves go callous and put themselves on ice. But in this case, the case of life, even the people who get hurt time and again will say the benefits of vulnerability far outweigh the risks. You can meet new and wonderful people, deepen rich friendships, be open to new opportunities and experiences, and live more fully in a world of interconnectivity. But most importantly, you can love and be loved.

    I found a list of things we can do to start on the path of vulnerability:

  • Trying new behaviors
  • Taking a risk
  • Initiating contact with strangers
  • Tuning into feelings of others and yourself
  • Willingness to get help for yourself
  • Being open to receiving help and support from others
  • Being honest with others and yourself when it would be easier to lie in order to avoid conflict
  • Accepting change when it comes your way
  • Looking for deeper reasons or motives for your own behavior
  • Self-disclosure of your weaknesses to others
  • Being direct and precise about your feelings, beliefs, and attitudes when discussing them
  • Willingness to listen to honest feedback
  • Dealing with anger in a productive, non-offensive manner
  • Letting go of fears that impede your movement toward others
  • Letting go of guilt or remorse over the past
  • Letting go of hostility, bitterness, and resentment toward others for past hurts
  • Development of trust in others’ good will
  • Willingness to be seen as weak or emotional
  • Accepting your humanness, failures, and mistakes as OK
  • Understanding the reasons you are risking vulnerability
  • Feeling secure enough to admit your failings, mistakes, and losses

    A study was conducted and found that most people fall into two categories – those who have a sense of worthiness, and those who struggle for it. The people who had self-worth had one thing in common:

    “Courage. The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.” ~Brené Brown

    I found my quotes in this good blog about vulnerability.