Commencement weekend

IMG_0303This weekend I’m covering commencement for Emporia State University. It’s such a monumental milestone for each graduate, their families, and friends. As the room erupts in cheers and screams as the graduates file on and off the stage, it’s hard not to feel the immense joy that surrounds the graduates. As I work on my second masters degree, I am reminded just how far each and every one of the students have to travel on their educational journey. It’s hard work and a lot of sacrifices and that work should be celebrated!

If you know a graduate, take the time to congratulate them today — they put in a lot of work to earn that degree. Also, take the time to congratulate those around them — parents, significant others, and children. They made a lot of sacrifices too through supporting their loved one or through sacrificing time with their loved one so they could study.

And, if you don’t know any graduates, celebrate one another today. Thank someone around you or simply thank the universe for this beautiful life.

Gratefully yours,

B.

That warm, fuzzy feeling

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You know the feeling you get when you KNOW you’re in the right place with the right people? And in the right time? That warm, fuzzy feeling that creeps up and feels your chest with warmth? Yes, that one!

It dawned on me recently when I was chatting with a co-worker and I felt myself filling with joy — I’m in the right place at the right moment with the right people. I’ve had many moments like that lately where I just KNOW that all is where it should be and I’m on the right path in life and it feels pretty damn good. It’s an important feeling for me as I’ve worked hard to get to this place in life. I’ve worked hard to find the right place to work and surround myself with the right people. When you are soul-searching for what’s right for you, sometimes you have to make some tough choices about your career and people in your life. I’m glad I’ve made those tough (and sometimes painful) choices. Because I’m right where I want to be and right where I should be at this point in my life.

As we head into the holiday season, I wish all of you peace, joy and that warm fuzzy feeling.

Four years ago…

11ABFD40-BF65-429F-8896-ADA624AF0D38Four years ago tomorrow, a fire took my father, Charlie Adams from us. Four years ago, my heart was broken in ways I could never imagine possible. There’s been a lot of living since then — a lot of ups and downs. I wish he was here so I could tell him all about them. Today I wanted to stop and honor him, to reflect on him and his massive impact on my life.

In honor of him — I’d like to share the eulogy that I wrote and read during his funeral. Thank you for reading.

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I had the privilege of calling this man we are honoring today, Dad.

He was the dad he didn’t have to be to us. I rarely refer to him as my stepdad — because he never once put the word “step” in front of my brother and I’s name. We were always introduced as his children. Never once did I ever feel like a stepchild.
Dad was a simple man — he loved and he loved deeply. He loved my mom with every fiber of his being. She was his world. He loved his dog, Twister — who we lost in the fire as well. We also lost their cat, Jersey in the fire. They are all somewhere — together.
Looking back I have so may wonderful memories of Dad. He helped me work on my Pontiac Sunbird — he wanted to make sure the speedometer was correct. So he drove beside me in his car on Kellogg and he help up one finger for 40 mph and two for 60. There we drove — on a FREEWAY in tandem. That’s the kind of man he was.
Then there was the time I scored two tickets to the monster truck show. We spent the evening cheering on our favorite monster trucks. He loved hanging out with us kids — no matter what it was were were doing. Again, that’s just the kind of man he was.
Looking back at family pictures, dad was frequently in them. My college graduations. Holidays. Birthdays. Life won’t ever be the same without him.
Dad knew no stranger. He would spend hours talking to people and telling stories of his life. He truly loved everyone and could bring a smile to anyone’s face. He was funny. Witty. Dedicated. And loyal. A truly amazing person.
I will miss his humor. I will miss HIM — the world lost a kind, amazing person. His life had a profound effect on mine — and on many others I’m certain.
May he rest in peace and run with his beloved dogs Twister and Flower. I’m certain he’s looking down while idly chatting someone’s ear off — telling them stories of his past and his family.
He wouldn’t want us to be sad. Or mourn him. But how can we not?
He will be missed deeply and dearly.

 

 

 

 

The passing of a pen pal

IMG_2736“Dear Brandy, I am sorry to tell you that your mail art friend Andrea, has passed away…”

Today, upon arriving home from work a letter was waiting for me. I’m sitting here at my computer tearfully typing out this post — a beautiful soul left this earth. Her wit, humor and creativity will never arrive in my mailbox again.

My first communication with Andrea was in 2009 when we were matched as pen pals on a letter-writing site. I remember how carefully I wrote my letter — all formal and stuff and then hers arrived a short while later, a colorfully-decorated envelope arrived from Andrea, who lived in Staten Island. Inside she had written on a series of six sticky notes and the letter started out like this “Dear Brandy, oh wow … a new pen pal! My God — Kansas! The only thing I know about Kansas I learned from the Wizard of Oz. I can’t even imagine Kansas!”

I knew right away I had crossed paths with someone truly special. We wrote back and forth from then on, exchanging life stories, tid bits about ourselves, all while supporting the United States Post Office through the art of handwritten letters. Even though we never met in person we were friends — and we learned so much about one another by putting pen to paper.

In one letter she inquired about living next to a corn field “I can’t imagine living next door to a corn field,” she exclaimed and she wanted more details about what it’s like to live next to corn. In another letter she sent me cut outs from a poetry book she bought for $1 at a church store — it was really bad poetry to which she captioned “holy shit!”

She had a dog named “loose fur,” because it was always shedding. I remember when Loose Fur died — how even she was able to apply some humor to Loose Fur’s passing stating that she was still finding his fur all over the place. It’s funny how you can share so much in letters.

A couple of years ago I received a postcard that she had Leukemia. Her wit even came through on that postcard when she ranted about the pharmaceutical companies and the cost of her medication. I had no idea at the time, that in less than two years she’d be gone.

Andrea wrote her own obit, according to her kind friend who wrote me. In that obit she wrote, “I wish I’d get a disease with an easier spelling.” Typical humor from her. She has a monument where she’ll be buried later, which reads “Wish you were here.” I can totally see her writing that.

My heart is heavy tonight as I type this. She will be missed so much by so many and I can’t believe I’ll never be able to write her again. I saved every single piece of mail I received from her and I’m truly glad I did.

Andrea Jay, 69. Teacher. Writer. Vegan. Mail artist. Friend. I’ll miss you.

P.S. I’m going to try that sesame seed tofu ball recipe you sent me in 2012 in your honor.

Changing the view

wp-1479566904201.jpgLast night I took time out for a change of pace — for a change of view. I admit I’ve had severe election fatigue as most of us in the United States do right about now. I was feeling pretty burned out.

So, a change in pace was in order. In the form of a high-rise hotel room with a view second-to-none. I’m also in the middle of National Novel Writin Month, so last night I had the perfect cozy writing spot. Since the hotel room’s walls are almost all windows, wrapping up in a cozy blanket did the trick.

As I gazed at twinkling street lights, I felt a deep sense of gratitude that there was so much beauty around me, but also that I am fortunate enough to be able to afford that one-night change of pace.

I took many photos (I’m pretty much a photo hoarder) and I realized that some of my photos were blurred — it was dark and holding the phone steady against the window wasn’t always the easiest thing to do. But I realized that even though the view was blurry, it was still there. Much like life — we have good times where the view is crystal clear and dark times, where it blurs out. But it’s always right there waiting for us to notice it again.

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Same view, just blurred

I am grateful for the view last night — and for the view in my life every day. I am grateful for gratitude, it has become my core — center of my being.

When you’re feeling burned out, a change of view might help — if you can’t afford a hotel room, go to a cafe or even to the public library or drive a different route home. Anything to change up your view a bit.

As always, I’m deeply grateful you chose to read this and that you choose to read my blog.

With gratitude,

Brandy

Life history in a make-up bag

wp-1477763413647.jpgGoing through a make-up bag you haven’t cleaned out in decades (and still use daily) is truly like taking a walk down memory lane.

Today I became frustrated with the many items in said make-up bag because I couldn’t get to anything I truly needed. So I dumped it in the sink — and my life history unexpectedly fell out.

First there were countless old hair bands — the kind that ripped your hair out at the end of the day. Those came from my late teen years — with my near waist-long hair — oh how I miss my long hair.

Then there were tons of those silver barrettes — that kept my hair out of my face when I was driving with my very first car — a Chevy station wagon. This car had no air conditioning, if you wanted heat it took 30 minutes before it produced any on a cold winter day and it dropped a quart of oil and power steering fluid — A DAY. I used to buy them in bulk at Sam’s Club. But, it was my first car. My first wheels. The first time I could get into my own car and drive anywhere I wanted (as long as I had cardboard to put under it so it didn’t drop oil in friends’ driveways).

Next came the make-up brushes. Seriously, I don’t even think I ever used them. I was never truly into lipstick for long periods of time and I just have no idea what all those brushes were for. My daily make-up routine has never included those. My guess is I received them as a gift and I just put them in my bag.

Then out tumbled an old foil Cadbury’s Egg wrapper. Huh? Maybe I was eating one of those and putting my make-up on at the same time? Who knows. But I sure do love those Cadbury Eggs.

Then there was eyeliner — I swear like 10 kinds of eyeliner and they were who knows how old! There was pencil eyeliner (which I don’t use anymore), liquid eye liner, glitter eye liner (so cool!!) and some that had the labels worn off. Most I threw away.

As I unpacked my make-up bag and tossed old items in the trash, memories kept tumbling out. Of my days as a student working two jobs to get my associates degree. Of my days driving an hour to go to school to finish my undergrad degree. And working on the side.

Of people past. Of friendships past. Of countless experiences. Of living at home with my mother and brother. Of hanging out all night with friends and still managing to make it to school and work the next day.

So. Many. Memories. Bittersweet in many cases.

Who knew my life history was located in my make-up bag? It almost made me sad to throw the items away, but it’s really nice to be able to find what I actually need.

I’m grateful for those memories. Those treasured memories. I’m hoping this post will preserve them.

 

On being (almost) 40

On the eve of the dawn of my last month being 30-something (wow, that was a lot of IMG_0973words, hope you understood that), I’m laughing. Laughing because at the age of 39 I proved you CAN mess up Tuna Helper. The ingredients just refused to blend even after following the instructions Ok, I confess. So maybe I forgot to drain the tuna. Maybe I didn’t exactly measure the water to perfection. Maybe at first I didn’t even follow the instructions AT ALL and tried to salvage it (oops). But seriously, Tuna Helper…can’t the instructions leave a little room for error for someone?! Sigh.

At any rate, my Tuna Helper ended up being a curdled, separated mess.

Yuck.

So, I settled for a homemade milkshake I made with the leftover milk I bought for the sole purpose of making Tuna Helper. And it was yummy. Problem solved (but as I was drinking it I was thinking..I really should eat better…) Sigh.

But, that’s not the point of this post.

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog lately. Partially because I can’t figure out what to do with it right now and partially because I’ve had a lot of transitions in my life and I’ve been pretty busy figuring it all out.

But, that’s also not the point of this post.

Tomorrow, June 8, is my final month EVER of being in my 30s.

Wow.

How did this happen?

I’m going to be the big 4-0. Forty.

Wha?

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This photo has nothing to do with this post. It’s for your random enjoyment. 

I realize there’s going to be many people reading this who say “40 isn’t old…” and such. OK, so it’s probably not. But I admit it feels weird. I remember a time in my life where I thought 28 was old…I had a mentor in my life who I really looked up to when I was in my teen years and she was 28…I thought she was SO old. Now I’m staring down 40…uh…weird?

But that’s ALSO not the point of this post.

As I turned 39, I promised myself that I’d say “yes” to a lot of things in my life following a surgery I had a week after my 39th birthday. Surgery came and went. After surgery I had a lot of time to think as I recovered about where I wanted my life to go. And I set out to make changes. I began seeking a new job, which I got this spring (love love LOVE my new job!).

I also vowed to accept any (and all) changes that the universe threw at me that were necessary for my personal growth. Again, life delivered…and I’ll just leave it at that. I have a personal policy against going too deeply personal in my blog. But suffice it to say a few things this year have taught me a lot about myself.

So, tomorrow I enter my last month of being 30-something. What will I do with it? Well, I’m going to do what I’ve been doing. Work hard. Play hard. Laugh. Love. Be grateful (I’m over number 850 in my thankful posts!!) Keep planning for the future and continue to live in the moment at the same time. Take great photos. Have adventures. Spend time with those I love. Pet my dogs. Get attacked by the outdoor cat who thinks it’s hilarious to jump on my back while I’m trying to take a random macro photo of an ant that I’m actually terrified of but they’re really cool-looking.

With ALLLLL that said: I have thought about this post for a while and thought I’d have some fancy advice for going into your 40s … but I don’t. And that’s that.

Thank you to anyone who read this…my rambling mess of a post. But life is random. I’m random. And I love it that way.

And P.S. while I’m being random…if you want random Wandering Pigeon-style snippets, go to my Snapchat…autumnpath. Warning, there is zero, absolutely ZERO rhyme or reason to what I post.

Gratefully yours,

The Wandering Pigeon 🙂

 

‘We’re having a blizzard!’

20160327_093410.jpg“We’re having a blizzard!” Those were my words last night and I was playing a joke on someone.

And today we woke up to snow. A pretty decent blanket of snow.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should have not joked about the snow. So, to all the people who woke up to Easter Snow, it’s probably my fault. All. My. Fault.

Now, with all that aside. I love snow. I love waking up to it — that fresh, beautiful, blanket of white, pure snow. I love the way it gently covers the ground and insulates the world from sound. I love looking on the ground for bird tracks and I love seeing my tiny poodle’s tracks in the snow after she’s been outside to potty.

20160327_093316.jpgI love how it sticks to every surface — in the nooks and crannies of the trees and everywhere in between. 20160327_093359.jpg

As I write this a host of birds are in the driveway where the snow has already melted. They are searching for food and a few are taking baths. Beauty. Simple beauty.

The colors outside are striking this morning — Red Bud trees are in full bloom, the buds peeking out under the snow. The green tops of lilies are poking out just above the snow. It’s so beautiful. We’ve had such little snow this year that this is a true gift.

Closing one door, opening another

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The newsroom team!

Friday I left my career in journalism and will be heading to the “dark side” as us journalists call it.

Over the years I’ve had the honor to cover many stories, events and met some pretty rock star people and gained some lifetime friends.

In the last 2 1/2 years as editor of the paper I worked for, I worked with some incredible people, who made my last day at the paper memorable, wonderful and tear-filled. They Saran-wrapped my desk and got me a cake that said “Good luck, Quitter. (hahaha). My co-workers at the paper always made me feel valued, loved and they always had an amazing sense of humor that kept us all going. Especially when at 3 p.m. on a Friday a fire or accident happened and we had to strip down Saturday’s paper to fit in the breaking news. We always came together as a team on these things.

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Because it wouldn’t be a “last day” without being pranked. 🙂

In these past couple of years there’s been the great times, where we team-covered the Dirty Kanza 200. And there’s been the sad times where we listened in real-time on the scanner when somebody drowned in a flash flood. Tears of joy and tears of sadness and sorrow.

Journalism is like that.

 

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May the odds be ever in your favor, people of the paper. 🙂

I could write pages and pages about my journalism adventure, but I’ll just leave it here: it’s been an amazing ride. I learned so much and grew so much as a person. But, I’m so excited for my new adventure and for new memories.

Thanks to my co-workers at the paper, who made the days bright. Who taught me to laugh. And who taught me it was also OK to cry when the situation is sad. As journalists you see lots of joy, but also lots of gut-wrenching things.

And, my dear co-workers, thanks for the tributes. My work-wife, Jessie wrote this for me. Made me cry. Another co-worker made me cry with his wonderful, heart-felt letter. And the wonderful comments on my farewell card. I worked with some truly amazing, caring people.

With all that said, stay tuned to this page, as I’ll be updating it more now that the weather is nicer! More adventures to come! I’m so excited!

 

 

Magical country roads

One of my favorite forms of therapy is driving up and down country roads — for hours at a time. There is so much I see during these drives and so much I would miss if I simply sat on the couch every night.

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One of my favorite places to photograph sunsets coupled with reflections.o to connect wi

The long, winding roads of Lyon County have become my second home, where I go to recharge, where I go to, connect with nature and unplug. It’s like a mini, one-evening vacation.

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Why is this guy here?

In my many years driving these roads, I’ve seen many interesting things. I’ve seen sunsets that will blow your mind, about every kind of animal possible in the area and interesting landmarks.

The other day I came across a slightly disturbing sight: a random scarecrow placed on the side of the road with no homes nearby. Of course, my writer mind went all kinds of places. But it was quite funny that it was just hanging out there. Perhaps someone had a sense of humor or perhaps someone just thought it was a nice place for it to hang out.  But I just found it plain creepy.

20151219_170732Another drive led me all the way to the Waverly Wind Farm. It’s incredible how much beauty wind farms hold. The towering turbines grace the landscape as far as you can see and on the country ro12562467_10153430811502992_1286719168_oads you can get pretty close to them to get some pretty nice photographs. At night from a distance red lights from the turbines blink in the night sky.

Other quirky things I’ve seen is a burned-out stump that looks like a rooster. It’s interesting it burned that way, in that shape. Speaking of fire, spring in Kansas is a great place to take drives in the country as farmers and ranchers burn off grasslands to make room for new, healthy growth. It’s an amazing sight. This post explains an experience I had last year with fire.

So, my advice to everyone is to get out, hit the dirt roads and see what you come up with. You’ll be amazed at how much there truly is to see.