Monday, February 21, 2011


Because it's a Monday morning and I need to focus in on what is good and true....

Because it was a whirlwind weekend...

Because I'm tired but inspired....

Because I find peace and clarity in writing ....

Because there is way too much good in my life not to ...

Today is a perfect day for a...

Good List:
  1. Jon. And date nights. We went out for dinner together on Saturday evening, and, due to a 50 minute wait time (eek.) we had a lot of time to talk. I love being reminded of how much I love to talk to my husband. ... And how much I enjoy his company.
  2. Coffeeeeeee...
  3. Fluffy new pillows and soft warm sheets. Honest-to-goodness, I think our bed has never felt more comfortable than it did last night. ... Getting out of it this morning was really rough.
  4. Last week's delightful and unexpected "taste of spring": sunshine & 50 degree days. It was glorious & I soaked up every ray of sun that I possibly could. This gives me the hope I needed to make it another month or so until the official arrival of Spring.
  5. Reminding myself "this too, shall pass".
  6. Snuggling in bed with Gracie & a good book on a snowy, gray Sunday afternoon. The perfect way to wrap up a weekend, if you ask me.
  7. Friendships. The comfort of the old, and the giddy rush of the new.
  8. Discovering a wonderfully warm & intimate coffee shop close to home. It's cozy atmosphere screams inspiration to me. I am all ready dreaming of when I can go back next :)
  9. Silky purple ballpoint pens (!! The older I get, the more I love the color purple. ... Which is a little surprising to me, but I'll go with it :)
  10. New challenges for myself. I am striving to de-clutter all aspects of my life, because clean, organized quiet brings me so much peace. I'm working to minimize the outside "noise" so that I can light my creativity on fire.

Your Turn: What tops your Good List on this Monday morning?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


(circa 1995)

With each passing year, I find that I become a little bit more nostalgic. It seems that with each memory, each trip back in time; the past gets a little more beautiful. Each time I give myself a moment to get lost in my memories, they get a little sweeter. And when I think back to the world of my childhood, it seems like things were a little easier.

(Yeah yeah, I realize that this makes me sound old to say this. ... Three miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways and all that...)

Really, weren't things easier back then? Back when all we had to worry about was whether we had to play dodge ball in gym that week (I HATED gym class...) and whether our mother had packed us raisins for a snack (although, actually I liked raisins, so my life was even simpler!) Back before our eyes were opened to the real drama & "unfairness" that life could dish out. Back when we were confident and unashamedly true to ourselves...

I think the height of my childhood confidence and self awareness came when I was about 9 years old. I didn't pause to think about how the world perceived me, I moved forward with confidence in who I was. I didn't stop to consider whether my dreams were plausible, I knew what I loved, and therefore, I did what I loved.

When I was nine, I was a little nerd, but I loved every single second of it :) I inhaled literature, and treasured my weekly trips to the school library with my class, and my Saturday sojourns to the local library with my Daddy. I loved school because I thought it was interesting, and my friends were there. I loved church because God was there, and we did some really neat crafts during Sunday school.

At home I was a novelist, furiously scribbling on the backside of copy paper, never editing, never striking out text ... I knew it was perfect. I played outside almost daily. I loved to sing, and did so every chance I got: in the children's choir at church, on the playground with my friends at recess, to myself as I went about my chores at home.

I had absolutely no doubt about who I was: 'I am Amy: singer & novelist.' It was as simple as that. I never worried about whether these things were lasting; I was having too much fun living.

And I have to wonder: at what point did I lose this child-like innocence and clarity?

Now, I feel that I am often paralyzed by anxiety and doubt. Sometimes I am driven to do what I do because I feel like it is the responsible (adult?) thing, and because I feel obligated to, not because I love it. I constantly worry about what other think of me (which is hard to admit... but there's no way I can pretend it's not true.) In a lot of ways, it seems that as I have grown older, I have lost my sense of confidence and identity, rather than gaining it. Rather than growing into myself and my potential, I have been stunted by the expectations of society ... or, what I perceive them to be.

...No more.

For this day forward I want to honor the 9 year old Amy that had big hopes; big dreams; big love. I want to blur the line between what I want to be, and what I am. I want to reawaken to the most essential dreams of my heart. And once and for all I want to take back my life and start living it for me.

I know it's a process, and that this is a journey that I'll be on for the rest of my life. But you know what? I'm okay with that. Perhaps for the first time in my life (or at least, for the first time in a painfully long time) I am okay with everything the way it is right now. In fact, while it's not perfect, I love the "right now". AND (and this is hugely important to me) I'm not going to wait any longer. I won't wait until things are perfect to move forward. I don't need to make changes all at once, as long as I keep moving.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ... Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer."
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, February 14, 2011

On love ...

All right, full disclosure: I meant to publish this post... uhm, Monday :) I had my poem all typed up and the photos queued up in i*photo to edit, and then I got distracted. ...You know, it happens especially to those of us that are blessed with shorter than average attention spans Sigh.

But, you know what? Rather than table this post and save it for another occasion (which, realistically means that I send it to the post graveyard... I have so many 'beginnings' in my "edit posts" category, eagerly awaiting redemption...I digress...) I have decided to publish it today, two days after Valentine's Day. Rebellious, no? But I'm doing this because, you know? when it comes down to it, and you strip life of all it's frills and formalities... it's all about love.

So I've got a little poem at the end of the post for you to enjoy... but first, I'll take care of a little business :)

You may remember that in this post, I hinted about a new thematic series that I was going to work on throughout the rest of the year... My birthday tribute to my father was the first in the series.

As I was "taking a blog time-out" in December & working to find my voice, my first order of business was to step back and take a look at what I've been writing. And very quickly it became clear to me that my favorite posts, the ones I was most proud of, were on the subjects I am most passionate about. "Well, duh", I'm sure you're thinking... but this was kind of a hard won revelation. There is such a variety of good writing out there; different audiences, different approaches and different conversation styles; and I think (a necessary) part of my growth included dabbling in a little bit of everything (everything except food blogging. I mean, a girl who eats cookies for breakfast really has to draw the line somewhere, right?)

But, with that said, I know what I feel good about, and that's the direction that I'm headed with Amy Around the Corner. I'm calling the new series "Love Letters", because essentially, that's exactly what it is: a series of love letters to the people in my life who have made a big difference in my world.

I've always been better at writing than speaking my mind-- ask anyone. And love letters? Well, they're kind of my specialty. See, even though Jon & I have known each other for (woah.) 10 years, and have been "together" for 8, there was a time (about 6 months total, during my sophomore year of college) that we weren't dating. ...But I was still madly in love with him (ugh. romantic, sure. fun? Noooooo.) and because I believed with all my heart that we would end up together someday, I wrote him a love letter for every day that we were apart. Which, you know, gave me a lot of practice ;)

So while this new series may not be your typical "romantic" love letters, they are love letters all the same. Because if there's anything that I've learned in my 24 years, it's that I've never regretted telling someone I love how much they mean to me. ...So this new series is to honor & celebrate that. (Look for the tag "Love Letters".)

And now, without further ado:

For my Valentine:

When I first met you I was young
... In fact, that I had no idea

what true love really was;
that this kind of love could actually exist.

I was idealistic, I was a dreamer
I was stubborn and unyielding to reality.

But you believed in me

You stood beside me when I could hardly bear
to see

You loved me.

I owe my world to you, and bringing you into my life was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

(P.S.: Gracie, Mama is so proud of you for the way you handled yourself at the vet on Monday. I knew you were scared, but you did so well, just snuggling into me as if to say, "Please take my home now!" You were so good. Thank you for handling the situation with grace, and living up to your name :)

P.P.S. : And because Monday today is all about spreading the love, much much love & happiness to this lovely lady, who just announced that she & her husband are expecting their first child! Congratulations, Samantha!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Walk the Talk

For my father

(September 19, 2009)

I must say that unequivocally, the coolest thing about growing up is that magical moment when you realize that you like your parents. Really like them, in fact. That instance when all of a sudden it becomes clear to you that, beyond the strong bond of family love... you find them interesting, and, goodness gracious!, you even have some stuff in common.

(May 1986)

The earliest memory I have of my father is lying on our family room floor, building "houses" with these big wooden blocks that we had. I remember that I didn't do too much building (although, I don't particularly remember knocking anything down, either, so maybe I was out of that stage?), but I remember sitting there mesmerized, watching as he built a sturdy foundation, and then went on to build tall walls to protect "the inhabitants" from the elements. (And, as I remember back, I believe that the inhabitants were probably a family of Fisher.Price 'Little People'.... The one in green was always the daddy, and the one in blue was always the mommy...) We set up clean white "pizza tables" for our pint size friends to eat around. ... and I remember that several years down the road we had similar adventures with legos :) This visual example of building a strong foundation & protecting and providing for family is symbolic to me of his role in my life, and in our family.

("Talking to Daddy", circa 1986)
(My first birthday, May 1987)

One of my other favorite childhood memories of my father was reading together.
(Reading with Daddy, circa 1986 you see the title of the book? How appropriate!)

Every Saturday morning we would go to the library together (my dad would take me & my sister while my mother ran errands and did other "Saturday morning stuff"), and every night he would read us a bedtime story. We read all sorts of things together: the Paddington Bear stories, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys ... and even some of the Babysitters Club books (which I don't imagine were particularly his favorites...heh) I know it was definitely a favorite part of the day for my sister & myself, and he seemed to find great joy in it as well. Every once in a while he would sneak in his own comments, just to see if we were paying attention; and Paddington stories were especially fun , because when Paddington would get into his ridiculous (and inevitable!) snafus we woud all get to laughing so hard that it could take us 5 minutes to finish a sentence!
(Cycling together, circa 1987)

As got older we began to recognize the other interests that we shared, which centered primarily around music, faith & exercise. Starting (I think) as early as late elementary school, I started to be interested in the same kind of music as my father (our tastes ranged from country music to Christian rock to classics like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Clapton), and he indulged my interests by making casette tapes for me to play in my boom box. My mother tolerated our music, but she had her own favorites, so this was a special thing that we shared. Several years later, we started playing guitar around the same time, and would carpool to lessons. (I'll admit it right off the bat: my dad was a lot more diligent about practicing than I was, so I think he probably looked forward to lessons a lot more than I did!)

And in most recent years, we've shared a common interest of walking. My family has always prioritized movement (my sister and I didn't watch too much tv growing up... we've only picked up our bad tv habit in recent years...), which I know comes from the fact that my parents used to be very active "pre-kids": lots of walking & cycling. After I got engaged, my dad really started to get interested in walking: regularly logging 4 or 5 miles before work. And this was fantastic because, while my mother & I would languish and chat on our walks together; my father would push me (he's fast! Most times his miles are under 15 minutes!)

(Exhausted but impressed with our abilities after the 12 miler, August 2010.)
(Male walker 5k award winner!!! September, 2010.)

And while all these things are wonderful, and I'm proud to have these things in common, perhaps the most important thing that we share is our faith. The older I get, the more grateful I am that I have my father in my life as an example of my faith in action: to me, he really walks the talk. My father has always been an active participant in the church, helping in worship (ushering and delivering flowers) as well as seeking out opportunities for personal growth through Sunday school classes and retreats. Although he may not talk about his faith all the time, you can tell by his quiet strength exactly what his foundation is built upon. His support (as well as his love for contemporary worship music!) was key in getting me to the church I am involved with today ... and for that I am grateful beyond words (it's been a long journey... but I know without a doubt that this is where I belong: This is my home. Even though I am so far from having my life figured out, it's absolutely life-giving to have that one piece in place :) Furthermore, I know that it's from this deep faith that he has led our family with love all these years. (This video is fantastic, and really seems poignant to this discussion.)

(September 19, 2009)

And I can think of no better day to thank him & celebrate all that he is to me and my family.

"Thank you for all you've done in my life & continue to do. I am so blessed to have you as my father. I know that the future years will only bring us closer, and be filled with sweet memories."

"Happy Birthday, Daddy."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hint, hint....

Stayed tuned for a special post coming at you tomorrow morning.

I'm super excited about this post for many reasons, one on them being that it kicks off a new "thematic series" that will continue throughout this year.

Pssst: here's a hint...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On Running ...

(me and bff Saundra, Race for the Cure, circa 2005)

If you've been reading the blog for a while now, you know that my relationship with running is ... in a word, complicated.

A brief history:

I first began to warm to the idea of running for fun when I was in 7th grade. To be honest it actually started with the idea of playing volleyball, which I had deemed to be a totally glamorous sport, and worthy of me trying out for. I mean, I'd always enjoyed playing volleyball in gym class, and I had decided that perhaps it was time for me to start doing something with my life which would perhaps *ehem* move me a wee bit further up the social ladder. (It didn't. Ah, hindsight...)

Believe it or not, I did play volleyball with the 7th grade girls' team during the fall of 1997 (Yikes - almost 14 years ago?! How did that happen?)... and while I do think it was a good and valuable experience to be on the team, I was never particularly good at it.

...In fact, I was pretty awful :)

Nevertheless, 7th grade volleyball did get into my head the idea of exercising on a regular basis, and this lead to joining the track team in the spring of 1998, which is really where my story begins. You see, track was where I first met Coach King, who, more than being a great coach, was a truly beautiful person inside and out. She was a fantastic role model: calm, capable, graceful; able to control 20+ 7th and 8th graders without once raising her voice, and oh, so kind. It was she that inspired me to go out for 8th grade Cross Country... which was where my 'running career' ("distance running career"?) really started. After 8th grade, I continued in Cross Country for 2 years in high school, before life intervened (I got a job babysitting after school :), and from that point out I kind of did my own thing.

Until freshman year of college. ... Until Saundra :)

When I look back, I remember that when I first met Saundra I was totally intimidated. One of the ways I had been defining myself to others, in a Christian group I had gotten involved with like this, "Blah, blah ... and I like to run." ...To which they'd reply, "Ah, have you met Saundra? She's a runner, too... she runs like 8 minute miles.." *gulp*

Side Note: I guess this might be the point at which I tell you that I am not fast at all... Never have been...although I hold out great hope that I can still discipline myself and get faster. I am entering the years of my life with the most athletic potential, so they the magazines tell me.... To give you an idea of what I mean by "not fast", I run a 9-minute mile, if I'm running like my life depends on it. My PR for a 5k is 27:xx, and my PR for the half marathon is 2:27:xx... My (running) goals in life are to run an 8 minute mile and a sub-2 hour half-marathon. ...I digress...

But anyway, I met the girl, and she seemed really nice... so when she asked me to run I put on my big girl panties and accepted. And it was fantastic. And it started a friendship that lasted throughout the rest of college and through today. I believe it will probably last forever :)

Saundra and I ran together several times a week for the rest of freshman year, and when we lived together sophomore year, I was in the best shape of my life. We ran 3x a week, and built up to 10 mile runs together. Together, we explored Toledo neighborhoods, while we worked through problems we were facing, talked "school", shared future dreams, and reveled in the magical newness of budding relationships (It was actually a pivotal 'relationship year' for both of us: she met the man that will soon become her husband, and Jon & I went through some pretty defining stuff as well.)

Because I was an engineer and was working off campus (and for the most part out of state) every other semester, we weren't able to live together after sophomore year, but we still held our weekly long-run dates sacred. But then, college ended, she went off to grad school, and I moved home & was left to do my own thing... And, you know how that's going :)

So, as I look back through my running past, something stands out to me. Each time I began running in earnest (which, consequently, I really enjoyed, and they were some of the best times & memories I have), I did it because I was inspired by a strong, beautiful woman. Which makes makes me feel all the more certain about what I am about to tell you.

As soon as I recognized that I had started to see running as a chore, I knew that I wanted to fall back in love with it. I knew that if I really wanted it to "stick", I couldn't just do it because it was good for me, because I needed to fit into a wedding dress (hypothetically, of course!), because I thought it was glamorous, or because someone I loved did it (although, all of those can be valid starting points!) I knew I needed to fall in love.... to fall so deep that it became a sustaining force, to the point that I wanted to do it for me and me alone.

In short, I need to become the woman that inspires me.

I want to reach deep and prove my mettle.
I want to challenge myself as I've never challenged myself before.
I want to have fun... to do it because it feels good and I enjoy being alone in my own brain.
I want to run for joy and not for time.
I want to get out of my own way and just go.

It is because I feel passionately about these things (you might even say this is my runner's manifesto), that I know this time it will stick. And it is with these principles as my foundation that I stand tall and declare to you:

This is the year of the marathon.

(So excited to see where these take me in 2011!!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I believe (part II)

I believe ...

I believe in frigidly beautiful mornings, and the way the sun softens the edges of the snow as it begins to rise.

I believe in snow ball fights.

I believe in peppermint mochas.

I believe in the exquisite, unique beauty that is in in each snow flake.

I believe in roaring fireplaces.

I believe in layers & layers of soft blankets.

I believe it's never to cold to enjoy a dish of ice cream.

I believe that winter instills a hope in us like nothing else. No matter how cold we get, we know Spring is on the way...

I believe that the first snowfall of the year is magical.

I believe in drawing close to family & the warmth of joyful celebrations.

I believe that you are never too old to enjoy a snow day.

I believe that winter sunshine is the sweetest, most encouraging sun.

I believe in deep cups of hot cocoa piled high with soft, fluffy marshmallows.

I believe in woolen mittens and cashmere scarves.

I believe, more than ever, in lunchtime walks & soaking up every drop of sunshine I am offered.

I believe that waking to a soft blanket of fresh snow in the morning is a gift, symbolic of the fresh start we are given each day.

I believe in the glowing warmth of community we feel as we huddle in coffee shops together, and bond over snow shovels in our neighbors' driveways.

I believe in winter.