Happy birthday, mom

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday. Happy birthday, mom.

In true Wandering Pigeon fashion, my mom and I wandered around Wellington Saturday. My mother, brother and I lived in Wellington for a couple of years before moving to Wichita. I spent my 7th, 8th and part of my 9th grade there — go Wellington Blue Knights! My mom worked at the hospital in Wellington — it was her first medical technician job out of school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVisiting our old stomping grounds Saturday was a lot of fun — and at 60 degrees in January — what a gift!

Our first stop in Wellington was our home on C Street. We lived right across from an elementary school. My brother and I recall burying a time capsule at that home. Our hopes is that the current residents will one day let us dig it up — if it still exists.

Our next stop was our next house we lived in — a modular home located at the edge of town on A Street. We actually had two modular homes, which were connected by a breezeway. Only the main home remains today — alone and abandoned. I loved that home because I had the bedroom in the back and right out my window was a horse corral. I could see the horses right outside my window — a young girl’s dream!

Today, only the horses’ shed remains, along with the bathtub that served as their watering hole and a lone section of fencing. I’ll admit it made me a bit sad that so little remains. I remembered feeding those horses. While they were not ours, I’d sneak into the shed and grab them a tiny bit of grain as a treat every now and then.

My brother and I used to play in the creek that is across the horse field and in some woods — simple, carefree times for us spent at the creek looking for fish.

That house also is where I learned to respect red ant hills. Railroad tracks ran in front of the home across the road. One hot summer day I foolishly decided to go over to the tracks and stomp on an ant hill. The angry red ants ran up my legs, which were bare because I was in shorts. Even today I have a healthy respect — and even a bit of fear — for ants.

After looking around the outside our former home, we headed back into town and drove by the former Wellington High School, which is no longer being used as the high school. I recalled standing on those steps with my friends waiting for school to start.

Our last stop in Wellington, was at what is known as “The Pink Palace.” This adobe-style, (and very pink), home is something I remember fondly from when I lived there. The external architecture is so striking. The outside of the home is covered in pink stucco and tiles lead up to the majestic home’s entrances. A quick peek in the window yielded a level of architecture I had never seen in a home before. “Exquisite” doesn’t even begin to cover this home — the sad part is that the home needs signification repair though it appears recent restoration attempts have been made.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My family and I have always loved to wander around looking at things — not just places we used to live. We once drove to Nebraska on a whim, came across a lone, old abandoned house that we peeked into. Inside the house was an old piano. My then-child self asked mom if we could take it home. Her response: we’d have to take home the spiders that lived inside it too. Enough said. We, of course, left the piano.

Other family road trips included runs out to California where my mom grew up. We’d throw our bags into the car on a Friday night after mom got home from work and we’d be there by Sunday. We’d visit the coast, Disneyland and mom’s childhood stomping grounds. You learn so much about a parent, relative or friend by going with them to their former haunts — I highly recommend it.

One of the best parts about roads trips with someone is time to talk and memories being made. I love sharing experiences on road trips with family and friends taking photos, talking, laughing and just wandering around — most of the time no destination is needed. Growing up we usually just all got into the car and wherever we ended up — there we were.

So, another great birthday road trip with my mom on Saturday. More memories made, more laughs shared.

Happy birthday mom. I love you. Let’s do another road trip soon!

—Brandy Nance is the online and news editor for The Emporia Gazette. Her blog, The Wandering Pigeon, can be found online at thewanderingpigeon.com. Brandy can be reached at brandy@emporia.com.

2015 and the epic potential

Christmas and New Year’s are probably my two favorite holidays of the entire year. Perhaps my birthday is a close second…perhaps. 🙂

Christmas is such a magical time with all the glitter, glitz, giving and just the general holiday spirit. I love the holiday commercials, the look on a loved-ones face when they open a gift, the treats, the trees, the lights…I pretty much love it all.

That brings me to New Years. While in reality it’s “just another day” and another date, it has always felt like a new chance to me, a time to change some things and set some goals. I guess most of us get caught in this with resolutions, but as I get older I find my goals changing — and I usually set goals I know I can keep/stick to.

As 2015 draws near and 2014 folds away, I am keeping a running list in my mind of what I’d like to change and accomplish in 2015. And I’ve decided on one concept: EPIC. I am going to aim to make 2015 epic, not just for myself but strive to make a difference in others’ lives too.

A few of my goals are:

  • Write more letters (real, hand-written letters) to family and friends.
  • I plan on starting a pen pal exchange between a fictional character (the sock monkey in the photo above) and a friend’s grandchild. I plan on making these handwritten, from the sock monkey’s point of view and I plan on keeping a copy of the letters for myself as well. (Judith, thank you SO much for agreeing to be a part of this!)
  • I plan on continuing my health journey. Whatever that may look like. Maybe give Couch to 5K another gander? 
  • I plan on continuing my daily gratitude posts. They have helped me so much.
2015 also is the year I turn 39. I have a list I’ve been working on for a while the “39 List.” Thirty nine things I want to do before I’m 40. Keeping all these realistic — and they aren’t all about me. I’ll be posting more about that later. 🙂

For now, I’m So excited for 2015! 

Day 400 of thankfuls

Today, Dec. 10 is day 400.

A quick back story because I’ve told it a few times: 400 (roughly) days ago I decided to join the November thankful challenge where you post one thing you’re thankful for each day during November. Fifteen days into that challenge a house fire killed my dad. During those dark days my family suffered through that followed that tragedy I kept the thankfuls going — because I needed to — not because someone had challenged me.

Dec. 1 of that year came and I posted another. Dec. 2, another. And so on … until I got to today — 400 days.

When I look at the number 400 in the scope of all this, it’s amazing. For 400 days I’ve posted one thing a day that I’m thankful for. Four hundred days. And no, I do not plan on stopping anytime soon.

What I’ve learned these past 400 days is this:

  • Gratitude increases happiness.
  • Gratitude inspires others.
  • There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Always.
  • Beauty can be found in the darkest of places.
  • Gratitude is contagious.
  • It’s all about attitude — in any situation. In many situation, when I turn my bad attitude into a moment of being thankful for the challenge, I find my entire day shifts.
Here is to the next 400 days!

Winter’s beautiful silence

I was in Melvern today helping a friend work on a house. When I stepped outside, the trash bin was coated in a fine, frozen glaze of ice. As I ran my hand across the bin, I noticed the cool, roughness of the ice.

Time to get back home.

The paved roads were glazed, so we hit the gravel roads — so beautiful. So silent. So magical. We came across a wooden bridge outside of Olivet. This rickety old wooden bridge. It wasn’t until we were all the way across it, I decided to grab my camera and sprint back across it on foot. I had to have that shot. The shot that illustrated such perfect silence — the bare trees seemed to reach up to touch the sky. The deserted bridge that possesses so much character. I began to wonder how many vehicles and pieces of farm equipment that bridge has supported all these years.

While I was trying to frame the perfect shot, the icy wind mixed with light frozen liquid danced through my hair — chilling me to my core. But the shot was worth it. The subtle beauty of the old bridge was enough to make me want to stay awhile — even if it was 17 degrees out.

On the way through the Flint Hills, the beauty of the winter mist in the valley was just as breathtaking. We stopped near a body of water in the distance, capturing another classic winter Kansas shot. The dark, bare trees stood in sharp contrast to the brown, dormant grasses.

Beauty is all around us in Kansas. No matter what the season. Today, even with chilling winds, ice-glazed roads and bare trees, Kansas had so much to offer.

For it’s in winter, she bares her soul — the lands lay bare and seemingly desolate. But looking beyond that, Kansas is all but desolate — even in winter.