Monthly Archives: August 2013

Barley the Okinawan Explorer

I met up with some friends at a gorgeous little beach on Hamahiga island today, and Barley tagged along to do some exploring.

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Since he was a puppy, he has always loved the feeling of his ears blowing in the wind. He is such a goofy little guy!

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Since Barley loves the water but not necessarily having to swim, I tempted him with some carrots to come see me away from the shore. Watching him swim took me back to his puppy days in Pensacola, when we took him out on the bayou and tried to distract him from crab chasing so we could get him to swim.

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After retrieving his carrots, he promptly headed back to shore to relax on the beach. Shortly after, he made some Japanese friends and tried to eat some coral.

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Overall, it was a great time on the beach. This little dude brings me such joy, although the bath I gave him afterwards was much less fun (for both of us).

May you find new and wonderful things in your world today, and maybe even let your ears blow in the wind a little!

-A

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Categories: Barley, Exploring | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk through the Okinawan Jungle

About a month ago, Casey and I took a trip to Bios no Oka, or Bios on the Hill, a park celebrating Okinawan flora. It was a very hot and humid day, but I just had to check this place off my Okinawan “bucket list” with my adventuring life partner. 😉

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We ventured through all of the paths we could find, climbing beautiful sets of stone staircases along the way. Casey showed off his skills on stilts (after which some adorable elderly Japanese women smiled and told him to be careful).

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We then took a leisurely boat ride guided by a funny little Japanese man. I know that he was funny because he must have been telling jokes in Japanese while he led the tour down the river, as the rest of the boat passengers kept laughing. I could understand almost one out of every ten words he spoke, so unfortunately his jokes were lost on us.  Fortunately, we were there for the scenery rather than the comedy show, so all was not lost. (It did, however, renew my motivation to achieve fluency in Japanese).

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Along the way, we saw gorgeous orchids, a sad ox taking a bath, and a beautiful woman in traditional Okinawan garb.

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After our boat ride, we trekked through this awesome bunch of lily pads, along a little bridge built out of rope and 2 x 8 boards, dodging banana spiders all the way.

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Overall, it was a great day spent with my love. I am always inspired by the respect and reverence the Okinawans show for the land they call home. We have so many more adventures to share here, and I am already dreading the moment when we leave this gorgeous rock.

With love and lily pads,

Amanda

Categories: Okinawa, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Will You Marry Me?

Two years ago today, Casey asked me to marry him. I am sure that it is quite obvious that I said yes, but I’m going to tell you the story anyway. While there is a lot of adorable back-story to this, I am going to save that for later posts. I prefer to draw this out. 😉

As former policy debaters, my husband and I are both talkers. To be honest, there is nothing that we do not talk about. As children of divorced parents, we did not take the subject of marriage lightly, but we certainly discussed it. Less than a year into our relationship, we discussed never getting married. We agreed that we would both be happy to live out our lives together, unmarried and unafraid. Soon after that discussion, we moved to Pensacola, Florida, together. It was here that I received a fairly rough introduction to the military lifestyle, as the Marine Corps sent Casey away to California on a temporary assignment two months into living together. Fortunately, we had just adopted this guy:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHis name is Barley, and yes, he is still that cute. Thank you for asking.

During my three months living on my own in our little home in Pensacola, something changed. I certainly became stronger, as I picked myself up, found a job (or three), made friends, bought a car, and explored this new city on my own. Barley and I ran every day after work along the bayou, Barley chasing crabs while the sun set and the Blue Angels flew overhead.  While that was wonderful; the emptiness I felt with Casey on the other side of the country, the longing I felt for all the little things in our life together, coupled with the realization that I could handle all of that affected me deeply. Somehow, Casey and I independently came to realize that we wanted to marry each other from opposite sides of the US. Actually, at that point I discovered that there was nothing I wanted more. He returned to Florida and we discussed our future together.

Fast forward about 9 months, and I just knew Casey would be “popping the question” soon. In fact, through careful deduction, I was able to predict it down to the time and place. Here’s how. First of all, Casey is a grand gesture kind of guy. I’ll save the story for how he first told me he loved me for another day, but I can tell you that it was over the top. Second, Casey is terrible at keeping secrets from me. For our first Christmas together, he bought me a CHI hair straightener. About 5 minutes before we exchanged gifts, he pointed to my hair straightener and asked me how it was working for me. Similarly, before he proposed, he kept getting excited about certain details of the date we had planned for our second anniversary. My first observation gave me the idea, and the second reinforced it. That date was set to be a repeat of our first date together in Fredericksburg, VA, where we were to visit right around our anniversary to attend one of my best friend’s weddings. (I made sure to warn my friend that we would probably be getting engaged the night before her wedding to make sure that she would be okay with it). 😉

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On our date, we walked through downtown Fredericksburg, past the little cafe where we had shared a sandwich two years before. We went to see Transformers 3, since we had seen Transformers 2 on our first date together. We ate dinner at Sammy T’s, where we had shared our first dinner and Sierra Nevada. We even wore the same clothes that we had worn on our first date. I know, it’s just too much. Finally, Casey drove me by the house where I had lived during my senior year in college. We got out of the car, and in the spot where he had nervously dropped me off and asked for a kiss, our first kiss, he said something I will never forget.

“Amanda, two years ago in this spot I asked you a very important question, and today I have another one. I love you very much, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And then, from one knee: “Amanda, will you marry me?” Crying, I said, “Of course! I would love to marry you!” As much as I had known when and where he would ask me this, nothing in the world could have prepared me for that moment.

Categories: Marriage, Our Story | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Four Years Ago

Casey and I had been dating for about a month and a half when he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. I hadn’t necessarily been waiting for him to ask because we had been functioning as a couple for the better part of the last month anyway. Looking back, I remember it feeling silly, and I am sure Casey was nervous to ask me, but I guess the conversation needed to happen at some point.

We had walked home from downtown Fredericksburg, VA, where we had spent the night out with some of my college friends and a few of Casey’s Marine Corps buddies from the Basic School. We must have left early because when we arrived at my house (where I lived with 5 other girls!) the door was locked and I had, of course, forgotten my keys. We sat on my front porch talking while waiting for my roommates to come home. While sharing a seat in an old rolling office chair, Casey asked me to be his girlfriend. A traditionalist, Casey always handled these matters by the book.

I could tell you a much longer story, but the point is that four years ago I became his girlfriend; and today I am his wife, and coincidentally the luckiest girl in the world.

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While today I am missing you, I look forward to many, many more years together!

PS. To read about our epic (well, maybe not quite epic) first year of marriage, click here!

Categories: Our Story | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lives I Could Have Lived, the People I Could Have Been

I have long been intrigued by the labyrinth that is life, the twists and turns determined by our directional decisions. Even having lived a fairly simple, straight-forward life thus far, there are moments in my life that radically changed its course and thus have led me to who and where I am today. I often wonder who I would be had I made different decisions at each turn, or had those moments played out differently.

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I think back and look at the potential I had in certain areas when I was younger. I could have been a violinist, a runner, a martial artist, a lawyer, a bartender, an actress. At some point in my life these interests, however exciting or mundane, respectable or less so, could have decided who I am today. I could have lived any of those lives. Was there a point at which I made the decision not to be those people?

Well, sort of. I decided that my almost life-long dream of going to Law school to study International Law (and then save the world, single-handedly bringing an end to genocide around the globe) was not a reasonable one, given the lifestyle I had chosen as a military wife, moving every few years with my husband. At an earlier point, I had decided that being an actress or a bartender just weren’t for me.

But the rest of those people I could have been, what happened to them? At what point did I decide that I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be a runner? Did I think that to be a runner was somehow mutually exclusive with my other interests? That must have been it, because I gave up running after I went to college and joined the debate team. And I gave up the violin even earlier, but at least I’ve continued to drag my violin from one closet to another as I have pushed the violinist in me further and further away. And the martial arts? Well, I gave that up when I joined the Cross Country team in high school, because surely I could not have done both. Why did I give all that up? Where did all those other Amandas go, successful in so many different ways, happy in their singular focus in life?

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To be fair, there were other Amandas, less happy or successful, whom I also could have been: for example, the Amanda that could have gone on to do anything but marry my husband, or the Amanda that went to another college and did not have the chance to meet some of the most important people in my life. The Amanda that stayed in an unhappy relationship forever, or the one that allowed herself to be degraded and disrespected by her mother’s husband; either of them could have lived on. Many of those versions of myself could have avoided the obstacles of being a military spouse, but none of them could have lived to be the woman that I am today.

All of these moments and decisions in my life, however obvious or subtle, happy or painful, have brought me to the life I live today. While it is interesting to look back and wonder who or where I would be had I handled those differently, I celebrate that those moments do not define me. Rather, they are pieces of who I am, who I have been, and who I can always become. I’ll never be a bartender, and I will always be Casey’s wife, but I can also be so many other people. In just a few months, I am running my first half-marathon, because I refuse to look back and say, “I could have been a runner.” Today, I am a crafter, a friend, a billing specialist, a wife, a student, a blogger, a runner, and above all, a woman who can do so many things.

Life is too short to look back at the things you could have done and wonder why you gave them up. There is always a reason for today, so we should be making our decisions every day to become the person we want to be. This way, we will never have to look back and wonder if we should have chosen a different path. We should pick up our running shoes, our violins, our LSAT study guides; and go on to live our best lives, the lives we were born to live.

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As for me, I can look back and say with certainty that of all the people I could have been, I am my favorite one. I will continue to work harder to be better and better at being happy and fighting for the Amanda that’s still here through it all.

Love always,

Me.

Categories: Goals, Military Life | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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