Friday, April 25, 2014

Terrible Senior Living Names

So earlier this week my friends and I drove passed this senior living home in Portland called "Visiting Angels", which we both cringed and laughed at because... ok come on... really? Visiting Angels? I then told them about this place for seniors in Santa Rosa, California called "Journey's End", which I personally think is a worse name. Haha. Anyhow, I think the thing I'd like to bring up here is our uncomfortableness with death. Do these titles freak us out because they allude to death and that's just something we shouldn't bring up around the elderly? But why? Because I'm pretty sure they're not oblivious to their own mortality. Why does the inevitable freak us out so much? I don't know. I definitely don't have the answers for you tonight. Just throwing out food for thought.

What do you think about these names? Is it ok to acknowledge death?

Blog to you later!

Tribute for Red

Fly Mask Shame. 
Tonight I would like to pay tribute to my beloved horse Red who I had the pleasure of knowing for a little over a decade. Sadly, he was put down on April 1st (which, let's be honest, is terrible day to die because it is not a joking matter). He was 24-years-young and suffering from heart failure, but I don't want that to be everyone's last memory of him because there was so much more to his life than how it ended and I think it's important that I share it here.

Things about Red:

  1. Breed: Thoroughbred. 
  2. Height: 16.2 hands. 
  3. Coloring: Red chestnut. 
  4. Had four strands of hair for his forelock. 
  5. Race horse. Hunter/Jumper. Cross Country. Family Pet. 
  6. Racing Name: Red Necktie. 
  7. Nicknames: Red-a-roo. 
  8. He won 2 races in his career. (I believe he won $10,000 & $17,000.)
  9. Biggest Fear: Llamas.  
  10. Strange Fact: He was Narcoleptic. 
  11. Favorite spot to be rubbed: Underneath his jaw. 
  12. Favorite treats: Peppermints & Nacho Doritos. 
  13. Favorite place to stand: Underneath the tree in our pasture. 
Dressage for High School Equestrian. 

Some of my Fondest Memories of Red: 
  1. Racing him full speed in the Christmas Tree Farm behind my house. 
  2. Winning first place at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club Horse Trials (our first 3-day event).
  3. Going down to Sacramento for a cross country clinic and getting to camp with him too. I was only 14 and he was just 16. 
  4. Chasing him on foot in the pasture. He loved when I chased him. It was a game.
  5. Just spending time with him in the barn. Mucking out his stall. That peace I shared with him was priceless and something I'll never forget.
  6. Gaining confidence with him. He was my biggest teacher. I learned more about riding and true horsemanship with him at home, just the two of us, than I ever did at a training stable with an instructor. Taking care of him also turned me into a very responsible human being and I'm so thankful for everything he's taught me. 

Waiting for the farrier. 
I'm truly going to miss him, but I am glad he is in heaven now, no longer suffering. Eating as many peppermints and Nacho Doritos as he wants. I will always cherish the time I had with him. 

Love you big guy. Rest in peace. 

If you'd like to share any of your stories about a pet who has passed away, please do! I'd love to read your favorite memories of them. 

Blog to you later!

I am currently writing a Chicken Soup for the Soul essay about an experience I had with Red that I will share on here as soon as I finish and polish it up! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Homecoming Queen Has A Gun

Just thought I'd share something totally random about myself today. Embarrassingly, I know every single word to "The Homecoming Queen Has a Gun." This is generally what I listen to in the morning to get myself pumped for the day. I know... it's very strange.

What embarrassing song do you know all the words to? 

Blog to you later! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Soul Essay: Faith Not Fear


Here is my latest essay I wrote for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels in Our Midst. If you have a story you'd like to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul you can click here.

Faith Not Fear
I met Dianne in Interlaken, Switzerland, which was quite peculiar considering we only lived three hours apart from each other back in the states, her in Seattle and me in Portland. A thirst for adventure brought us together on that crisp November day. We met outside of a Hooters Restaurant interestingly since that is where the paragliding gear was stashed. That’s right! We were going paragliding in the Swiss Mountains! How cool, right?
            Our instructors’ names were Peachy and Benny, who both gave us a pair of shoes to swap into, since we couldn’t use our own; it’s kind of like bowling in that way! After fastening up our boots and donning a windbreaker, the four of us and Peachy’s girlfriend loaded into a van, which she drove up the oh so high mountain. “Since it’s just you two today we’re taking you up higher than normal,” Benny informed us.
            “Awesome!” I said, grinning.  
            “What brings you paragliding in Interlaken?” Peachy asked Dianne and me.
            Dianne answered first, saying, “Well, it’s my sixtieth birthday present to myself.”
            “Awe, Happy Birthday!” Peachy’s girlfriend said over her shoulder, then went back to focusing on the steep curvy road ahead.
            “Thank you,” Dianne nodded and then nudged me. “How ‘bout you Amanda?”
            “Oh,” I began, shrugging, “I’m just jumping off a mountain so that I have something interesting to write about on my blog,” which was true. I was just nineteen at the time, studying abroad in Florence, Italy.  My mom’s friends owned a hotel in Interlaken that she suggested I go visit during break. You see, I almost chickened out at first, too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone and travel by train from Florence to Interlaken all by myself, but I’m so glad I did or else I would not have had this amazing experience!
            As we continued driving up the increasingly narrow road, Dianne pointed out the window at a barely visible church that looked as if it was sitting on the very top of the mountain. “Oh, that’s not a church,” Benny told us. “It’s a restaurant… and we’re going higher than that.”
            Higher than that? I thought, shocked. How was that possible? I didn’t see anything beyond the restaurant, but sure enough when we got to our destination Benny had us look down the slope we were about to run off and there was the restaurant, just as small, only now below us instead of above. “Geez,” I murmured, stuffing my hands into my pockets to keep them warm.
            “Indeed,” Dianne agreed.
            As I turned to face her, something pinned to her chest caught the sunlight at just the right angle and blinded me. “Oh, sorry!” she laughed.
            “It’s ok,” I chuckled, reopening my eyes. “What was that?”
            Dianne walked up closer and in a way that wouldn’t blind me again, revealing a golden eagle pin, securely fastened to her cotton zip-up vest. She told me it was in representation of her husband, since she saw one on the day of his funeral. “So, whenever I see an eagle,” she explained, “it’s him watching over me.”
            At this period in my life I had been in and out of churches and my faith to doubt ratio did not look promising. Additionally, I was just beginning my degree in psychology where we obviously talked a lot about the brain and how if it were to be severely damaged a person’s personality could completely change. This often caused me great distress because it brought up the question: Do we have souls or are we merely chemicals? I desperately wanted to believe in guardian angels and souls and a higher power, but I just didn’t in that moment, so I forced a smile and told Dianne, “Oh wow, that’s cool.”
            Benny and Peachy laid the parachutes out flat against the slope, untangling all the thin ropes, and told us to get ready. Strapping us in so uncomfortably tight, I didn’t see how Peachy and I were going to successfully run down the slope of the mountain without tripping and subsequently dying. Needless to say my heartbeat picked up its pace, the pulsations vibrating in my throat.
Dianne and Benny took off before us, lifting into the air so easily I felt as if our chances of surviving were a tad more promising now. “Run as fast as you can,” Peachy said into my ear because that’s how closely strapped together we were. So I did—or rather we did, which honestly felt awkward since we weren’t actually going that fast, but soon enough we were flying.   
            Cool air bit at my cheeks and the tips of my ears. I felt weightless as we sailed above the colossal pine trees and several Swiss villages. Interlaken is a town between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and connecting these two lakes is the Aar River. The water is this amazing turquoise color, which is complemented by the bright burnt orange leafed trees surrounding its shores. It was such an amazing sight, but then I thought about my mother who specifically told me over the phone not to go skydiving. Well, technically this wasn’t skydiving, but it did involve a parachute and the possibility of death. So, instead of enjoying the moment I thought of all the ways I could die—getting strangled in a tree, dropping from the sky, etc—but then Peachy shouted, “Look.”
            I wasn’t exactly sure where he wanted me to look, but below us I saw Benny and Dianne sailing closer to our landing sight. “Oh yeah,” I said, pointing down at them.
            “No,” Peachy told me, guiding my hand to the side to point at something else. My eyes followed and flying into the space between Diane and me were two eagles. I got chills, the good chills, and suddenly all my worries subsided because Dianne’s husband was watching over us, but then I realized that it was normally one eagle she saw. The other one I felt was for me, my own guardian angel, and whom that was supposed to be I did not know, all I knew was that I had one and for some reason that gave me peace of mind.  
            Whether or not you believe in guardian angels or souls or a higher power, I think the world is a much more preferable place to live in with faith rather than fear.

 Thank you for reading my story! And if you would like to read from my actual blog post about this experience you can click here.

Blog to you later!