Flourish Girl!

People always tell us to “Grow Where You Are Planted” but what if we aren’t meant to? What if we aren’t meant to grow where we were originally put? Instead of growing where we were planted how about we thrive where we are meant to? Where ever that may be!
I was planted in a tiny town in southern Indiana where the corn grew taller than I did until I was a teenager. School buses got stuck behind tractors on their way to school. And if I got in trouble at school my mom knew before I got home (because she worked at the school). I spent summers playing in the creek behind our house and participated in 4-H until I was too old to anymore. I would never trade the memories of my childhood or the value in growing up the way I did. I was planted in that life but that is not where I chose to grow.
I grew in the moments that made me uncomfortable. I grew in the moments that shook me to my core. I grew in the moments that scared me. I grew in the moments that weren’t expected or planned but the moments that were meant to happen to put me on the course of life I was meant for.
The first time I really grew I remember saying goodbye to my family for the first time to move 700 miles away. I remember how it felt to hug my mom and sister goodbye as I cried feeling like this 700 miles was 700,000. I remember the tough days I went through when the only lifeline I had left was phone a friend and I would call my mom sobbing because I missed the place I had always wanted to get away from. What I didn’t know then that I do now is that those tears and all of those fears being away from home…that was me growing.
The next time I remember was surviving a divorce. My world fell apart on a daily basis for months. It was like a huge hole that I never thought I could crawl myself out of. Every time I would get a few feet from the bottom the depression and anxiety would pull me right back down. This went on for months, but all those times I fell right back down to rock bottom even though each time felt like I was further down than before I realized…I was growing.
Another growing season was when I moved to the big city. I moved away from my support system a lot of whom didn’t agree with my decision to move. I left my comfort zone where I had survived through the hard times. I left any normalcy that I had left in my life to change my direction and my surroundings because this time I knew… I was growing. I wasn’t growing in the place where I had been planted, left, and then came back to I was just going through the motions of who I had always been desperately trying to figure out who I wanted to be. I left all of that to find a place where I knew I could thrive.
I took the good times, the bad times, the unsure times, the confusing times and all the times in between as a time to grow. Most of the time in the moment I didn’t know that I needed to be going through what I was, and to be honest most of those times I absolutely hated it because I didn’t understand why I had to go through what I did but I do now. I know why I went through everything that I did because everything compiled together to put me exactly where I am now. Let me tell you how much easier it is to say that now than to live it then!
So don’t stay where you are planted just because that’s what you think you have to do, or because that’s what society is telling you you should do. Move. Make yourself uncomfortable. Make yourself be someone completely different for a season of your life. It doesn’t have to be huge geographical move or an emotional meltdown. Maybe it’s simply chopping your hair off to get rid of the past or going and sitting by yourself and having lunch because you’ve never just been alone for a while. Whatever it is just do it.

We can’t grow in our comfort zones so why are we restricting ourselves to them.
Have you ever felt stuck? Just like you don’t belong where you are, but you don’t know where you are supposed to be. This is your growing season. This is your time to flourish girl. When you feel stuck is the best time to choose to move. Like I said before it doesn’t have to be some big extravagant move or change maybe it’s just small minuscule changes to build your confidence to make a bigger change.
Whatever scenario you might be in or mindset you might have don’t stay where you are planted because that’s the only place you have ever grown. Dig up those roots girl and move. Go where you want to. Be who you want to be, because you deserve every bit of happiness in the world and how will you ever know what happiness you could have if you always stay where you’ve always been.

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A Nanny’s Goodbye

You’ve two have been my best friends for three years.
I watched you grow.
I watched you struggle to walk and then progress into running.
We learned as you grew and we figured things out together.
We snuggled when you didn’t feel well, and celebrated when you learned something new.

When I walked into your home January 5, 2015 for my first day I didn’t know that you would come to be such a significant part of my life for the next three years. Being a nanny for so long I have come to know that every family is special and each child changes your life, but you two have meant so much more. The millions of laughs we have shared and the hundreds of cuddles that we have cuddled have meant so much in the biggest parts of change in my life. You provided the innocent giggles I needed to hear on the days that I needed them the most and the excited “Manda”  I needed to hear every morning to start my day.

I’m glad that you don’t really understand what tomorrow means. I’m glad because I don’t want you to feel that you will ever really lose me. I will always be your Manda and I will forever be here when you need me. Tomorrow isn’t goodbye no matter how hard it is for me to leave at the end of the day. I will always see you soon. I may not leave on Friday’s and come back on Monday’s to ask you all about your weekend anymore, but I’ll be back.

I just want to thank you two little souls and your mommy and daddy for allowing me to be apart of your life for the last three years. I will never be able to express how much it has meant to be by your side Monday through Friday every week. Every car ride, every Froyo date, every game of hide and seek and Fun Day Friday will be cherished forever. After all the hours we have spent together now it doesn’t feel like nearly enough. Time went by way too fast.

If I could have picked any way to spend this time I would chose spending it with you both over and over again. My life is better because of what you taught me, and although it is so extremely hard to imagine spending my Monday through Friday 8-5 any other way than with you two I will never forget all the days that we had together. No job will ever compare to being your nanny, but I knew there would always come a time when you would no longer need me. Even in knowing that parting ways does not come any easier.

I hope that you will always remember the super fun days that we had together, and all the adventures that we went on. I hope that your new nanny can see the special little souls that you both are and helps you grow into the awesome little people you are both meant to be. I hope you both know no matter what you can be anything you want to be. Even if that means being a ballerina and a super hero. Lastly I hope that you always remember that although it is going to be so hard to let go of each other we are so lucky to have something so hard to let go of.

I’ll love you forever,

Your Manda

The Year End Review

At the beginning of each new year we all have plans. We set New Year’s resolutions. We write goals for this bright shiny new year down thinking that will help us accomplish them. We make promises and pacts to friends or family to do things as a group and help each other really stick to them this year because, you’ve never followed through with them the last three years you’ve made them.  We have 365 days to make those promises, wishes and dreams happen. Do you?

This year was a year unlike any before (which I could probably say at the start of every new year) filled with really high highs and really low lows. I don’t really remember making New Year’s resolutions as the ball dropped last year, but only to be better this year than I was the last. I had no real direction nor did I know what this year was about to bring. I wasn’t sure what I wanted or where I was going. I had hopes to complete my bachelors degree. I wanted to travel often and live more. I wanted to fall in love or try at least. I wanted to try new things and see new places.

So January began the start of an entirely new adventure and that was falling in love with Austin. I had given up on love and love had given up on me, or so I thought. I was a week into the shiny new 2017 year when he came into my life. We neither one thought those first couple Bumble messages and texts that we would fall crazy in love…but we did. It didn’t start off slow and steady we went from both being okay alone to being inseparable. We became the everything each other needed and never knew.

Then we move into February. February brought it’s own new set of challenges and heartache that I was not ready to handle. It started off strong. Austin and I made our relationship official on February 3rd (my birthday). The days were full of laughter and love and social events. I went to Las Vegas for my annual photo shoot and rushed back to make it to his company holiday party to be introduced fully into his world. Everything was perfect. February 23rd my world fell from the stars it was hanging among when I received the call my dad had passed away. Someone who had been so absent from my life for so long suddenly had a huge impact on all of my days with his absence. I wasn’t ready to deal with his passing, but I had to regardless of if I wanted to or if I was mentally equipped to.

I spent March trying to figure life out still. I couldn’t understand the depth of the pain I was feeling from a loss I would never be prepared for. Life continued to move as much as I wanted it to stand still.

April sunshine didn’t help heal wounds but it helped band-aid them. April started off in Nashville catching a Minnesota Wilds hockey game. This comes after Austin exposed me to my love for hockey. Then two weeks later we boarded a plane and headed off to the Bahamas. Austin and I spent the weekend disconnected from the world and had a much needed social media detox over the Easter weekend.

May revolved around Austin’s birthday. Planning and preparing made for a perfect birthday week and the best weather we could have asked for. Then at the end of May I had my first Snake Pit experience for the Indy 500 and I outlasted the entire group of guys.

We cruised into June happy and warm. We spent the weekends at the lake or at company outings. We made our first trip to Minnesota together for a wedding and I met Austin’s Minneapolis family for the first time. I got to meet my God Son for the first time and we managed to get there and back without a speeding ticket.

July started with a bang while we watched the 4th of July fireworks sparkle from the Regions Bank Tower. That wasn’t the only bang July had in store because a week later I got my first concussion. Which soon followed Austin and I’s first ER visit together. It was still sweet summertime and we still enjoyed it to the fullest. I somehow convinced Austin to still let me go to the Indy 400 Fest (even though we left early both nights).

August brought new firsts. I went to my first ever professional football game and we spent lots of summer nights at concerts and long nights at the lake. We enjoyed the Indiana State Fair, well I enjoyed it. Then I took Austin to his first truck pull to honor my dad for his last ride down the track. August also was the beginning of the longest 12 weeks of my life. Bikini Competition Prep Began.

Colt’s games, a houseboat trip, fall festivals and lots of meals out of tupperware is what September looked like. Prep was in full swing along with the fall weather slowly creeping in. My competition bikini and jewelry came in and the countdown was getting smaller and smaller.

This October was unlike any October before because it consisted of no candy no cookies and lots of cardio. I spent more time in heels and gym shoes than anything else. Our Sundays were for football and weeknights for Pacer games. We attended our first Masquerade Gala and Austin and I both mentally prepared for Peak Week that was soon to come.

The long awaited month was here and it came full of more surprises than I could ever prepare for. Not many know just how the last few days of prep went, and the many that did consisted of Austin. Mostly because I couldn’t emotionally process all that was going on. I was running on about 1,000 calories a day doing over an hour of cardio a day and lifting for about another hour. Peak week started November 5th and this was also the day I got the phone call that my grandma had had a massive stroke. This day also happened to be when my mom had left on her birthday cruise for the week and I was alone to figure out how to get a hold of someone to convince them to give me information on my grandma’s condition because I couldn’t be found on any of her paper work. I spent the entire week emotionally broke down, hungry and worried. I still got up every morning and worked 8-5. I still worked out everyday after work and went home (or to Austins) ate my last meal and did my school work, because I was only a few weeks away from the last finals of my undergrad career.

Show day was everything I had hoped it would be and more. The after math of it not so much. As my grandma’s health condition fluctuated from doing better to talking with my mother about life or death decisions the month finally came to a close. Two ER visits and lots of Austin’s patience later November finally ended.

Now December is here. My classes are over and I unofficially have my Bachelors of Psychology. The holidays are upon us and I can not wait to bring this eventful, amazing and life changing year to a close and ring in the New Year in hopes the next 365 days bring more laughter and love with a couple less tears. I started the year on a clean slate, single and waiting to take the year by storm. I’m ending the year far more fulfilled than I ever could have imagined, in love and at peace with all this year brought.

So life happens no matter what resolutions you plan for yourself or goals you set to accomplish it still happens. I learned to lean on God a little bit more for moments I didn’t understand and for the why’s that I never will receive answers for. I learned to ask for help which hasn’t been an easy feat for me in the past. I learned that you don’t have to deal with everything all at once. I learned it’s okay to have some emotional meltdowns and the occasional or weekly cry (whichever you need). I learned that you learn the most in your moments of weakness. I learned what love was. I learned that life isn’t promised and will happen even when you’re not ready.

What does the next 365 days have in store? I’m excited to see.

Struggling With Normal

23800257_10159596499100383_687853816601749155_oThe pictures, the glitter, the glam and the medals are all what makes competing so amazing. Show day makes every single day of prep worth the struggle. Show day makes every hangry stomach grumble, every gallon of water and every emotional breakdown worth it. Show day is amazing. Show day was amazing. I went into the competition not expecting to place, but just being happy I made it through 12 weeks of hell and got on stage. I was in Novice Bikini Class E where I took home 3rd place and Open Bikini Class D where I took home 4th place. I was elated and it made that much anticipated cupcake post show taste that much better with two huge medals around my neck.

Then normal sets back in. Which most people would think would be a good thing, but this part will test you more than prep ever did. Yes prep is hard and it sucks 100% of the time. You restrict yourself from all things yummy and sugary. You pass up nights out just because it’s easier. You cry for reasons you’ll never be able to justify simply because you’re hungry, but you’re seeing results. You are looking at yourself in the best shape you’ve ever been in. Your abs are coming in, your waist is tapering in and you have to have a belt with every pair of pants you own. The physical reward is so great that the mental challenge is easier to cope with.

Post competition though you have to gain weight back. It’s not physically possible to stay stage weight year round. Well I shouldn’t say it’s not physically possible because I’m sure some people could hold that body all year,  but it’s not healthy and shouldn’t be done. So you gain weight and especially if you plan on competing again you have to gain some extra fat in order to grow your muscles and bring a better package to the stage next season. It is in every way just as mentally challenging to gain the weight back as it was to get it off.

Something people don’t tell you going into competing is how hard it is to mentally recover from prep brain. For me I hate the way I look now. My body is holding water because that’s what it should do. I’m eating more calories and the definition I had competition day is gone because that’s part of the process. I eat something and automatically regret it because I start to analyze all the calories it had and how I shouldn’t have eaten it. As much as I know the rebound is healthy it’s something I struggle with accepting everyday. I try not to show the people around me how much it stings to step on the scale and see that it’s 10 pounds over stage weight because that’s just who I am, but the struggle is happening whether it’s seen or not.

Not only is this part mentally hard it’s physically hard too. This is another thing that no one ever talks about and it’s how your body retaliates against you when you start eating like a normal person again. When I started eating normal (still healthy) foods again my stomach instantly rejected everything. Breads, meats, veggies you name it my stomach hated it. I ended up in the hospital twice (per Austin’s advisement) with abdominal pains because internally my body was so damaged from prep that it just quit digesting food properly. I also got a bout of food poisoning because my stomach was so vacant of good bacteria to fend off bad stuff to keep me from getting sick I ate something that normally wouldn’t have made me sick, but with post prep body I got sick.

I walk a fine line every day now of wanting to be healthy and wanting my stage body back. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again, but I struggle to know how to. I see the other girls I was on stage with and they are eating normal food again and back in the gym again, and I am over here trying to convince Austin that I don’t really need to go to the emergency room again. Confidence has never been something that I lacked…until now. Transparency is something else that I’ve never lacked and that’s something that I still possess.

I want other girls to know that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to not understand the changes happening and it’s okay to hate gaining weight back. It’s okay to be uncomfortable and confused. What’s not okay though is holding it in. It’s not okay to hide how you feel. It’s not okay to internalize your feelings and emotions. It’s not okay to feel like something in your body isn’t right and not getting it checked out. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what your feeling isn’t right or that it’s wrong or it’s not that serious, because you have every right to that emotion. Just don’t drown yourself simply because your embarrassed and you won’t let someone else save you.

Will I compete again? That’s turned into an uncertain answer. When I was on stage and the day after, and even the week after my answer was yes, 100% yes. Internally what my body is going through now though I can’t say that it wants to go through another prep or that it would make it through another prep without more issues. Because of my first prep I have developed digestion issues and severe acid reflux. Is that as bad as it will get? I’m not sure I want to know the answer by testing my body with round two. My heart has every plan to be stepping on stage again next year, but my head hasn’t been so easily convinced, nor has Austin, and every trip to the doctor makes the chance of convincing less and less.

I would never change the fact that I did the competition. No matter what happens or what issues arise I will always be proud as hell that I did it and that I finished what I started. The prep was worth it and the stage was worth it. I don’t know if the road to recovering my body is long or short at this point, but as of now I’m working on it. I won’t ever glorify what I went through throughout this process to convince someone it was all sparkles and glitter and spray tans. It was hard, but it was worth it.

 

When You’re Living Life In The Wait

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There’s a time in all of our lives when we question what we’re doing, because the problems and life mishaps seem endless. We question almost every move we have made in our adult life wondering where we went wrong or if we would have done something differently life would be better. We wonder what kind of lapse of judgement we could have had to date that person. We question if leaving one job to take another one was the right move. We try to figure out why no matter how hard we try we still fail that class in college that we have to have to graduate. We don’t understand why no matter how many hours there are in a day there is never enough to accomplish everything we need to.

Everything we question and everything we don’t understand attributes to “Our Wait”. Our wait is the time in our life of question. It’s the time when we ask the questions we need immediate answers to and the answers just don’t come when we need them. Our wait tests our patience, it tests our strength, it tests our faith and it tests who we are. In all that it tests it also teaches. It teaches us patience, it makes up stronger, it develops our faith and it reassures us of who we are and what we are capable of.

Although our wait may make us angry and test us in ways we don’t know how to handle the real purpose of it is to make us better. We live in such a “give me now” world that having to wait is a whole new concept for us. When we want dinner we go through McDonald’s tell them what we want and they immediately give it to us, we don’t have to wait and cook our food. When we have a question we open our smart phones, type it into google and there’s the answer, we don’t have to flip through a thesaurus page by page to get the answer. Fast, easy and convenient is how we live our life. Until we have to wait.

Your wait may be now. Your wait may have been last year or not yet to come. Your wait could be the entire span of your early to late twenties. No matter when your wait is it will always teach you something. The lessons depend on the questions we have and the answers we aren’t receiving. Is your wait a divorce you didn’t see coming and still don’t know why it happened? Is your wait a job move you thought was a great idea and now your poor and questioning why you did it? Is your wait trying to trudge through college classes while all your other former classmates have graduated?

When you’re living your life in the wait don’t quit. Don’t stop your life until you get the answers you want, push through. Push yourself to grow in your wait. Make yourself ready to know how to handle the answers that are coming your way. Realize that that divorce was meant to happen, because your life is about to get so much better. Know that that career change was worth the hard times because you’re in a better place now and your happy. Don’t forget that as long as you graduate it doesn’t matter when you do it or who did it before you.

And always find the good. Use that divorce to make yourself new. Yeah, that separation sucks and you didn’t chose to go through any of this, but you now have the opportunity to become a whole new person and be anything you want. You have the chance to find someone who loves you so deeply it won’t ever be in question. Take this hard time being the newbie at a new job and  find out what really matters. See who stays by you when your paychecks are small, and nights out are cheap. Use the late nights of homework and tears of exhaustion to remember how lucky you are that you have the opportunity to go to school and remember who encourages you along the way.

There are lessons meant to be learned in the wait and that’s why we go through it, but the biggest lesson of our wait is to learn how to let go. Let go of the picture we had in our minds of how our life should be according to us, and let our life turn into what it was meant to be. It’s hard, really hard, and it can be messy at times, but in the end it will always be worth it when the wait is over.

Death Isn’t The Part That Hurts The Worst

It’s that time of the year again for the holidays to celebrate the awesome people who gave life to us. The day that we give thanks for raising us and never giving up on us no matter what dumb things we did. The day you write sappy Facebook posts acknowledging that your parent is in fact better than the rest and you don’t know what you’d do without them (guilty of that).

Mother’s Day for me has always been incredibly easy to celebrate. My mom is my best friend and North Star. No matter what she gives me guidance to find my way back to who I really am. Regardless of where life takes either of us we are still attached by heart. I have pictures with her in every stage of my life and through all of my accomplishments and happy moments.

Father’s Day has always been a struggle on the other hand. I vividly remember in elementary school when he left. I remember him not coming home at night and the table being set for only 3 way before he decided to really leave, and I hated him for what he did. I hated him for choosing alcohol over his family. I hated him for not showing up when I needed a dad. I hated him for everything wrong that he did and ignored anything he had ever done right and now I hate myself for hating him.

This Father’s Day I don’t even have an address to send a card to if I wanted to because heaven doesn’t have an address. I’ve went probably 15 or more years without sending a Father’s Day card or making a phone call or even acknowledging it’s Father’s Day, and none of that seems to make a difference year after year until it’s the year you don’t have the option of sending one or making a phone call to simply say, “Happy Father’s Day Dad.”

I questioned hundreds of times what I would do or how I would feel when he passed away. I wasn’t sure if I had the right to be upset or cry because he wasn’t part of my life. His DNA runs through my veins and anyone who knew him knows I look just like him, but he just wasn’t there. My pictures and memories of him and I stopped around the age of 6 or 7 and that’s all I have left until you fast forward to the last time I saw him after he was already gone.

That day was probably the most devastating day I have ever lived through. Any question I had of if I would be upset or if I would cry were answered the second I received the news that he was gone. I was broken for so many reasons and the death wasn’t the part that hurt the worst. What hurts the worst is the fact that he’s gone now. It’s when I don’t have the option of visiting or calling him ever again. It’s regretting every day that we were both on this earth and we didn’t talk. It’s all the memories that we didn’t have, that we missed, because of things that happened in the past. It’s reading through the notebooks he wrote in in his last months and reading the questions, “What about Amanda?” “When was the last time I saw her?” I don’t know if he ever got the answers to those questions and I won’t ever be able to answer them now.

So this Father’s Day unlike all the others here’s a letter that anyone with an absent father can probably reflect on, and if I could ever give any advice to any person who has a father that they are not speaking with for any reason under the sun, let it go. You may not ever forget what they did, but you have every chance and option to forgive what they may or may not have done. I’m saying from experience it’s better to do it now than wait till you don’t have the option anymore.

” Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day! I hope the view from up there is everything you hoped it would be. I hope it’s full of fast cars and big motors. I reread your notebooks on a regular basis and hope all of your questions were answered when you arrived at those pearly white gates. There’s a million things I wish I could have done and wish I could say now, and even though I don’t have the chance anymore I hope you know that I love you and no matter what I always did and always will. I am your daughter regardless of anything that happened and proud of the memories I have of you. I’ll always remember the truck pulls and chanting your name as you smoked the finish line. I’ll remember eating cottage cheese and tomatoes in your big recliner in the evenings. I’ll remember the firework shows in the barnyard on the 4th of July and our last vacation to Marco Island as a family. I want you to know I forgive you.

I love you.”

Until I Met You

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I thought I had it figured out. I thought that being single was what I did best, and that I was getting along fine by myself. Until I met you. Until I met you my life was ok day in and day out. Then I met you. When I met you my life went from ok to amazing on a daily basis. I look forward to your texts every morning and our random Snapchats throughout the day. The weeks go by so fast, and my weekends are now booked before we even get to them. I don’t wish the days away I cherish every minute of each day being yours. You’ve made me better.

Until I met you I hated sports. I hated watching them. I hated hearing about them. Now I have watched an entire superbowl and actually paid attention, I’ve been to my first NBA game, my first minor league hockey game and my first NHL game. I discovered a love for hockey I never would have found without you in my life. I’ve purchased fan wear and can actually sit through a game without losing interest. But it’s more than discovering my non hatred for sports that matters; you changed me…for the better. You made me open my horizons and discover something that without you I never would have known.

Until I met you I didn’t appreciate the little things. Like the way your eyes squint when you really laugh. The way you study a beer after you take the first drink. It’s the look you give me when we are out somewhere with a group of people and just in your smile it’s like we are speaking our own language without any words. It’s the way you laugh in the morning when you flip on the light and see my grumpy face. The way no matter where we are before you walk away you kiss my forehead; it’s like your own way of telling me that you’ll always be back.

You’ve moved me. You’ve changed me. Every girl looks their whole life for a man that puts her first. They search for a man that’s considerate. They want a man who knows what he wants and goes after it, and you are every bit of that man and so much more. You put me first. You make sure I am happy before yourself. You love me without conditions or stipulations. You’ve seen me without makeup more than with makeup and you make me feel just as beautiful either way.

You entered my life completely unexpectedly and turned into everything I’ve ever needed. Our relationship is so much more than mushy Facebook posts and cute selfies (that I always make you take more than you want of). It’s when you have a stressful day at work and need to vent and I’m always there to listen. It’s when the waiter asks if we want the desert menu and you say yes because you know I always do. It’s when we get stuck at a long red light and you lose your temper but I love you through your fit. It’s having a date night and spending 3/4 of it in the gym, but loving every second of it just as much as being out. It’s late nights and early mornings on weekends, because we have so much to do but the loss of sleep is worth it knowing my waking hours are spent by your side making memories.

Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for making me even more me. Thank you for accepting the bad and loving the good. Thank you for understanding even in the times that I don’t. Thank you for loving me and letting me love you.

Death Isn’t The Part That Hurts The Worst


It’s that time of the year again for the holidays to celebrate the awesome people who gave life to us. The day that we give thanks for raising us and never giving up on us no matter what dumb things we did. The day you write sappy Facebook posts acknowledging that your parent is in fact better than the rest and you don’t know what you’d do without them (guilty of that).

Mother’s Day for me has always been incredibly easy to celebrate. My mom is my best friend and North Star. No matter what she gives me guidance to find my way back to who I really am. Regardless of where life takes either of us we are still attached by heart. I have pictures with her in every stage of my life and through all of my accomplishments and happy moments.

Father’s Day has always been a struggle on the other hand. I vividly remember in elementary school when he left. I remember him not coming home at night and the table being set for only 3 way before he decided to really leave, and I hated him for what he did. I hated him for choosing alcohol over his family. I hated him for not showing up when I needed a dad. I hated him for everything wrong that he did and ignored anything he had ever done right and now I hate myself for hating him. 

This Father’s Day I don’t even have an address to send a card to if I wanted to because heaven doesn’t have an address. I’ve went probably 15 or more years without sending a Father’s Day card or making a phone call or even acknowledging it’s Father’s Day, and none of that seems to make a difference year after year until it’s the year you don’t have the option of sending one or making a phone call to simply say, “Happy Father’s Day Dad.”

I questioned hundreds of times what I would do or how I would feel when he passed away. I wasn’t sure if I had the right to be upset or cry because he wasn’t part of my life. His DNA runs through my veins and anyone who knew him knows I look just like him, but he just wasn’t there. My pictures and memories of him and I stopped around the age of 6 or 7 and that’s all I have left until you fast forward to the last time I saw him after he was already gone. 

That day was probably the most devastating day I have ever lived through. Any question I had of if I would be upset or if I would cry were answered the second I received the news that he was gone. I was broken for so many reasons and the death wasn’t the part that hurt the worst. What hurts the worst is the fact that he’s gone now. It’s when I don’t have the option of visiting or calling him ever again. It’s regretting every day that we were both on this earth and we didn’t talk. It’s all the memories that we didn’t have, that we missed, because of things that happened in the past. It’s reading through the notebooks he wrote in in his last months and reading the questions, “What about Amanda?” “When was the last time I saw her?” I don’t know if he ever got the answers to those questions and I won’t ever be able to answer them now. 

So this Father’s Day unlike all the others here’s a letter that anyone with an absent father can probably reflect on, and if I could ever give any advice to any person who has a father that they are not speaking with for any reason under the sun, let it go. You may not ever forget what they did, but you have every chance and option to forgive what they may or may not have done. I’m saying from experience it’s better to do it now than wait till you don’t have the option anymore. 

” Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day! I hope the view from up there is everything you hoped it would be. I hope it’s full of fast cars and big motors. I reread your notebooks on a regular basis and hope all of your questions were answered when you arrived at those pearly white gates. There’s a million things I wish I could have done and wish I could say now, and even though I don’t have the chance anymore I hope you know that I love you and no matter what I always did and always will. I am your daughter regardless of anything that happened and proud of the memories I have of you. I’ll always remember the truck pulls and chanting your name as you smoked the finish line. I’ll remember eating cottage cheese and tomatoes in your big recliner in the evenings. I’ll remember the firework shows in the barnyard on the 4th of July and our last vacation to Marco Island as a family. I want you to know I forgive you. 

I love you.”

How Silence Ruins A Girls Heart

The feeling of being unwanted is probably one of the most significant and undesirable feelings in the world and we have all been there. Maybe from a parent or friend, maybe your boss or your significant other no matter the case you have felt that stomach in your butt nauseating feeling of not being wanted. When you put your feelings out in the open and they aren’t taken or reciprocated. Guys from my experience in the dating world are pros at this. They want you for a week or a few dates and then once the fluffy newness wears off in a few weeks they just disappear or make up a lame excuse how you’re too perfect and they don’t want to hurt you or worse the dwindle away to nothing slowly fading out. Having had this happen a few times I know from personal experience this is about the worst thing you could do to a girl.
All we want is the attention we put in given back or even maybe just a percentage back, but for some guys that’s just too difficult. At first they seem all in and say all the right things at all the right moments and give you butterflies like a high schooler again. The dates are perfect you walk away smiling every night and it’s the greatest feeling in the world. When you talk about them you feel hearts gushing out of your eyes.
Then 3 or 4 dates in there is a lengthened pause between replies and snap chats most of the time there just isn’t one. You still try to talk yourself into the fact that he’s too busy or not in place he can talk right now. DON’T FOOL YOURSELF. If he wanted to talk there would be a reply no matter how small. Don’t be in denial, and let’s all be realists here like said in Sex and The City, “he’s just not that into you.”
Those “Good Morning” texts that you hope for every morning when you roll over to check your phone, how many times do you have to see a blank screen to realize that it’s not worth your time. But if you’re anything like me you again make some excuse up and text him first anyway. Silently hoping that he was getting ready to text you first. Or that’s what you tell yourself to make it seem ok. 
You are probably now at the point that you are telling yourself 3/4 of the time that this is stupid and you’re dumb for wasting your time, but there’s still that 1/4 of you that’s convincing yourself to hold on that maybe all these made up excuses you keep telling yourself are true and he’s just not a talker or phone person it’s not that he’s blatantly ignoring you. 
Let me enlighten you on something ladies and gentlemen…it takes 10 seconds…10 seconds to open your phone, go to your messages, type “Good Morning” and send it. If he doesn’t have 10 seconds for you then why are you devoting so many seconds of your day thinking about him and every time you check your phone you are hoping to see his name is on your screen.
Sure you like him a lot and he has every must have that you have on your list, but is feeling your heart fall into your stomach every time a text goes unanswered or a phone call isn’t returned really worth it? Is hurting you on your must have list? 
The kind of guys that do this to girls is the reason girls are guarded and insecure about dating. I’ve had this scenario play out more times than I can count on one hand in my own life. I’m scared to death of dating anymore. Why would I want to openly put myself out there to be let down again? Is the feeling of love if you do find it really worth it? Is there a perfect guy for me that will last past date 3? So far the answers are a bit cloudy.
I’m a hopeless romantic like many girls are. We want cute little texts and flowers for no reason at all, but at this point I’d take a returned snapchat and a Good Morning on occasion.
I won’t ever lower my standards or change what I’m looking for to mold around the guy in front of me. I don’t want short term attention I want long term loyalty. I may get wrapped up in the wrong guys but they will without a doubt always show their true colors eventually. 
So guys where are you hiding? And don’t say it’s the nice guys finish last scenario because I have went on dates with lots of “nice guys” and they are nice for maybe the first date or two. Then I’m just another pretty girl who fell for the charade.
But a word for the ladies out there that I’ve had to tell myself many times… He Is Out There. You may not find him on Tinder or Bumble or any of the convenient ways, but he is out there. Chances are he’s looking for you just as hard as you are looking for him. Just do you and focus on what’s important, because miracles happen in the midst of the waiting.

Staying Relationship Hopeful In A Hookup World

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With sites and apps like Tinder, Bumble and Christian Mingle out there is there a way to meet authentic people anymore? From what I’ve noticed if you aren’t high school sweethearts or had a heart felt meeting when your hand touched his while grabbing the same cup of coffee at Starbucks your love story is most likely coming from social media and it’s credibility is lacking. And no one wants to explain to their Grandma that you met Mr. Right on FarmersOnly.com.

Apps like Tinder make the so called hookup society today able to thrive in itself. Sure there are people on there who actually are looking for a quality individual to spend Saturday mornings with, but 8 out of 10 people are looking for their Friday night hump and dump. I’m not saying that it’s completely wrong to be looking for that, to each their own, but it’s sad when our dating style has evolved from calling a girl on the phone to ask her on a formal date to sending her a  text asking if she wants to hang one night this week. It’s disappointing that instead of guy’s walking to a girl’s door and knocking to let her know he’s there to pick her up he just sends her a text when he’s outside for her to come out. And now happy endings on dates means getting laid instead of a kiss goodnight at the door and a “I had a great time. I’ll call you tomorrow”.

Is the desire for authenticity gone? Are there still guys and girls out there that want to date for the lame old reason of wanting to spend quality time with a certain person and getting to know them. Does anyone care anymore how many brothers or sisters the person has? Or what their five year plan is? Or is it all about instant gratification and staying emotionally unattached because it is easier?

Well for me I remain Pro Relationship. Even in today’s hookup culture I stay relationship hopeful. I think Tinder and Bumble can be great ways to meet people. When I was using them I met some really interesting people that without those apps I probably never would have had the pleasure of meeting. Sure they are helpful. Is Mr. Right one right swipe away? Probably not. Is it possible? Sure!

From my relationship history I have every reason to not believe in settling down. After what I went through everyone thought I would be anti-commitment and not want a relationship again. I’m oddly the complete opposite. I believe in love and the strong foundation of a committed relationship. I want Friday nights with someone, but I also want Saturday mornings with the same person. I want Netflix marathons and Sunday afternoon adventures. I have limited spare time between work, modeling, and college that that small amount of free time I do have I would rather spend with one meaningful person that 20 meaningless people.

I stay hopeful because I know Mr. Right is out there and he is trying to find me as hard as I’m trying to find him. I stay hopeful because I want a happily ever after and a white picket fence or a house in the city. I want babies and cheesy Christmas cards every year. I stay hopeful knowing that what I have went through has made me stronger and that if I can love the wrong person as much as I did I am going to love the right person that much more.

So how do you date? How do you talk to and date people when everyone’s prerogative is to get laid and go? My one helpful hint is to stay honest. Not just to the person you’re talking to, but to yourself. Chances are you’ll find a few people that you think are Mr. or Mrs. Right by the time your search is over, and don’t fall for everything they say. Sure you will meet some honest genuine people and sometimes it just won’t click. Sometimes you will meet the kind of person that says all the right things exactly at the right times, and sadly some of those times the words won’t be true.

Mostly be true to what you want. When you ask a guy what they are looking for and they say just friends or that they are just wanting to date around right now do not change what you want to seem appealing to them. When they ask you the same question if you want a commitment and a relationship, SAY IT. If they don’t like it well, on to the next. If you don’t plan on sleeping with someone at the end of the date and you feel like they are anticipating it, be upfront! Tell them that isn’t what you are looking for and if that’s a problem for them well, it’s better you know now. Changing yourself may make the other person happy, but you will short yourself in the long run. The main point of dating is to make sure  you are happy first. If you aren’t you are in the wrong situation.

Just don’t lose hope. Stay strong with your morals and don’t compromise your wants and needs to adapt to a culture that’s so known for instant gratification and taking the easy way out. People will come and they will go. There’s some that will leave small empty spots in your hearts and some you will be glad to see gone. Don’t date just to have someone. Date because you want that someone more than any other someone.

In today’s society odds aren’t in favor of the relationship hopeful people, but if you stay hopeful you will find another that is just as relationship hopeful as you and it will be happily ever after. Until then stay honest, remember what you want and  be careful who you swipe right to.