Grateful for knowledge

 

Last night I turFullSizeRender 6ned in my final assignment for the semester, my first semester as a grad student in creative writing. There was quite a bit of celebrating as I hit the submit button, I admit, but also a bit of sadness.

This semester has been a mixture of emotions. I have been out of school for several years, since having earned my MBA. Working at an educational institution, I caught the thirst for knowledge again and decided to pursue another degree — creative writing — while working my full-time job in marketing. I took two classes this semester — one online and one in person. I remember my first class and a wave of gratitude came over me for the knowledge I had the privilege of acquiring. And, believe me, I know what a privilege it is to be able to learn.

Then, reality set in. Assignments started to pile up and I evenings and weekends were consumed with reading, writing and researching. I admit the gratitude waned a bit and I started to have a love-hate relationship with my classes (as most students do). I even dubbed my homework spot in my house “the cave.”

But, as the semester wrapped up, I started to feel sad. I’ll never get a “first semester back” with these classes and my fellow students again. Yes, there will be another semester, but none will ever be quite the same.

I’m so grateful.

To my cheerleaders who had to listen to me groan as I spent hours in my cave, thank you.

I’m so grateful for the gift of knowledge and so grateful for the semesters to come.

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Day 800 of thankfuls, 800 days of change

wpid-20150525_140935.jpgI cannot believe my thankful project reached day 800 a few days ago. Day. 800. That’s a lot of living!

My journey with posting thankfuls on my personal Facebook account began in November 2013 — almost three years ago. I started it, like many of my Facebook friends, during the month of Thanksgiving and I only intended to do it for those 30 days.

Halfway through that month, my mother had a house fire and we lost our dad in that fire. I decided to keep going — to not only find something good about those terrible days, but to also honor him. Eight hundred-plus posts later, here I am.

This journey, more than anything, has been unexpected. I didn’t expect to keep the posts going so long (but I’m glad I have) and I didn’t expect many of the life changes/surprises along the day.

During the past few years I’ve loved and lost. I’ve had my amazing days, my so-so days and my downright painful days. I had major surgery. I am changing careers in a week. So many changes, so much growth.

What I’ve learned about this life is that one thing is certain: it is ever-changing. And most of the time you don’t see those changes coming. Sometimes they show up wrapped up in a pretty bow in a box full of joy. Other times they blindside you and cut you to your knees.

I can say, with honesty, that I’m grateful for every change. I’ve learned something from every one. I’m learning to enjoy life in the moment. I’m learning to embrace change no matter what the change is.

Here’s to the next 800 days!

 

Demolition derby for dad

imageNov. 15 was the two-year anniversary of my dad’s death. He was tragically killed in a house fire in Wichita. To be honest, it still hurts a lot to type those words. You never think it’ll happen to your family — until it does. As a member of the media I’ve covered many fires — and since that fire, every single house fire hurts in a way they never did before. But, that’s not really the point of this column.

With that said, one of my favorite memories of my father and I were when we went to a monster truck show together in Wichita. I had somehow (I don’t remember how now) scored two free tickets to the show. Nobody else was available to go, so he offered to go. Little did I know at the time it would be one of my most precious memories of him and I. It was an indoor arena, it was very loud and we did not bring earplugs. We did a lot of yelling and cheering our favorite trucks on and left with a pretty good vehicle exhaust induced headache. But, we had a good time.

This year on Nov. 15, I went to the Blizzard Bash in Topeka in honor of my dad. It seemed a fitting tribute. It wasn’t a monster truck show, but it was something we truly would have enjoyed going to together. And, to top it off, I was right in the front row. (Which later proved to be the row you get pelted with flying mud). If you’re not familiar with the Blizzard Bash, it’s a large, indoor demolition derby held each year in Topeka as part of the Ultimate Derby. The event is exciting, energizing and often filled with plenty of drama in addition to the already-exciting event. With a demolition derby, just about anything can happen. And, at this event, it did. In the first heat alone, two cars flipped and one caught on fire. No drivers were injured, but the fire was very scary as the driver was still inside. You can imagine why this bothered me so much. But, the driver was fine and after a while, my heartbeat finally slowed down.image (1)

In another heat a driver was sprayed with radiator fluid — he ran across the arena, fire suit steaming, stripping off some of the hot clothing once he reached the edge. Again, he was fine. But sometimes demolition derby isn’t for the faint of heart.

But, it wasn’t the drama of the derby that had me fighting tears. It was the Jumbotron. All around the arena, posters asked people to post selfies and other highlights of their experiences on social media under the #blizbash hashtag. I typed up a status on Twitter and my first status read like this: “Blizzard Bash delivering some drama today.” But then I saw a perfect opportunity to honor my dad. So, my next tweet said this: “I’m here in memory of my dad, Charlie Adams. Rest in peace dad. #blizbash”image (2)

Service was spotty in the arena, so I had to wait several minutes for my phone to send the tweets. Then I waited for them to show up on the Jumbotron. I saw the first one scroll across and I hoped they would post my second one. When it finally flashed across the screen I felt a wave of emotion I wasn’t expecting. There, on the Jumbotron was my dad’s name. He would have been so proud. It was the perfect way to honor my dad, who was truly an amazing man. And I’m glad I got to honor him at the derby.

I have a confession to make

So I have a confession to make.

wpid-20150329_140441.jpgHere goes.

I am a photo hoarder. I was looking in an application I use to back up my photos and I was shocked: in a little over two years I’ve acquired 10,898 photos. That’s 3,979 photos in 2013; 5,613 photos in 2014 and so far, in 2015, 1,298 (mind you, it’s only April). Clearly this problem is escalating for me.

Gasp.

What could I possibly have taken photos of to get my storage up to 10,898? Well, a little bit of everything. So, let’s take a trip into my photo storage and find out what’s in there. I’ve listed them below, in no particular order.

First, moments. Moments are so precious to me. Every single moment with a family member, friend or just out on a walk. I save ’em. And I could probably tell you the story behind at least 90 percent of those photos. I have a photographic memory, really.

Second, events. As a journalist, even if I’m not covering something, I take a ton of photos. Parades. Commission meetings. Accident and fire scenes. Family events. I can acquire 100 photos at a parade or family event. I’m constantly sneaking photos to the point where I turn the sound off my phone so nobody notices when I am grabbing the candids.

Third, my daily life. I love taking snapshots of my daily life. The flowers I saw on a walk. Sunrises. Sunsets. The way the street lights look through rain drops on a car window. The little dog on my route that I watched grow from a small puppy to the large dog he is today. Of course, there are my own dogs. I have  hundreds of pictures of them. Let’s not forget the barn cats I have at my house. Probably another couple of hundred. 8e2d9-img_0130

Fourth, downloads and screenshots. Ok, so I’ll admit, I don’t need to save these. But, I’ll call this one simply lazy. I just don’t feel like deleting them out of my storage.

Fifth, trips. This one is a major weakness for me. I take hundreds of photos — per trip. I document nearly each building I see, including the fine details of the architecture. Trees. Sunsets. The view from wherever I’m staying — multiple times a day. And of course, detail shots of the entire area I’m staying whether it’s a cabin or a hotel.

And yes, I take selfies. It’s interesting to look back on photos of myself — it’s amazing to see how much you change in a couple of years. Some of the more quirky pictures in my photo storage are hilarious selfies my mom and I sent back and forth to each other. We both swore we’d never show them to anyone else. They make me laugh just seeing them. But don’t tell my mom I saved hers!

wpid-sanddraw_0.2547671627253294.jpgSo, why do I need 10,898 photos? The memories of course and not to mention photography is a passion of mine and relieves stress for me. Do I plan on getting rid of any? Maybe the memes I don’t need or the screenshots, but the others, no. Photos are snapshots into our lives. I love to sit back sometimes and just review all mine. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry at the people and animals that in just a couple of short years are no longer in my life.

So, while I clearly have a problem with photo hoarding, at least they’re store digitally. Well, most of them anyway. We won’t dive into the boxes of CDs and boxes of print photos that I acquired prior to digital photography.