Friday, January 16, 2009

who am i? my life story, up to this point

A few days ago, I was reading MckMama's blog and she had written a post that outlined the highlights in the history of her life. I really liked the idea, so i have decided to follow suit and am going to replicate my own version of the same thing. sooooo, here goes... who is Amanda?

In the beginning of October 1984, i am born. I was the third child born into our small family and the first girl. My dad had prayed for a little girl, and has never let me forget that I was the answer to that prayer. My family was in the process of growing again after the 13 years that separated me from my older brother, the second born, and not long after my birth, my little brother Dan made his arrival known.

Just before Dan was born in the spring of 1986 I fell on the road and landed on my chin while running with my hands in my pockets at 18 months old. We didn't know it at the time, but that fall left me with a whiplash that later on had some serious repercussions.

Dan was born in July 1986 and i was 21 months old. This is my second earliest memory, as falling on my chin was the first. I remember them both clear as day. And I remember that my dad didn't want my to hold little danny... wonder why... haha

December 1986, i got my first baby doll and named her Katie.

The first rememberance I have of inviting Jesus to live in my heart was at this time as well. Some may think that's too young, or that i cannot possibly remember well enough, or have comprehended what i was doing, but i disagree. I was well aware of what I did, and was very intentional about it :)

June 1987, my oldest brother Rob, graduated from high-school and joined the Navy. He boarded a bus to Florida for nuclear training and I remember being sad for the first time in my life. He was my best bud up to that point.

January 1989, the first Bush became president and my older brother Jay was a senior in high-school. I convinced my mom to let me cut my hair short and began kindergarten that fall... successfully starting a brand new generation of gradeshoolers just as my mom was finished with the first!

October of both '89 and '90 I refused to smile for school and/or family pictures, claiming i was "sad that Robbie was gone" or "i could hear baby Katie crying."

The next fall, 1991, my mom convinced me that it would "make Robbie happy" if i smiled for my school picture... and so I did.

My grandpa died in 1991 when i was in first grade... i'm sure i was sad at times between this moment and when rob left for the navy, but those are the two times in my young life I recall being changed by that feeling.

1989-1992 I attended public school and upon finding out that I didn't know how to add, my mom decided to homeschool me for awhile so that I would catch up.

As with many homeschool families, I went back and forth between skipping grades and then not. My younger brother did in fact skip a grade, but as time went by my parents let him stay back where he belonged as it was just too much pressure for such a youngster :)

I stayed right on track with my schooling for the 6 years we homeschooled.

Summer of 1992 Barney and friends came out on pbs and i was almost in 3rd grade. Completely unacceptable for someone of my age to enjoy such a juvenile show. I loved it.

Late 1992 my brother Jay met Kathleen. They were engaged early 1993 and married that June. I was a junior bridesmaid.

Later that year, I began having some serious health problems. I would black out on a regular basis, many days up to 30 times. I had appointments and neuro scans and ekg's and eeg's and everything else you could imagine. They could NOT figure out what was wrong with me.

When my first niece was born shortly after my 10th birthday in 1994, I was not even allowed to hold her standing up, because everyone was afraid i would black out and fall over. I began taking iron, and for a time, that seemed to help. But it was only a band-aid.

Summer 1995 rolled around and I made my first plane ride. To SanDiego, California for my brother Rob's wedding to Dyan. We found out after the wedding in July, that they had previously eloped April 13th in Hawaii (as that was where they both lived at the time) and were consequently 8 weeks pregnant at the time of the wedding in July... with TWINS!

The doctor visits continued until finally I saw an allergist and everything fell into place. It turned out I had many environmental allergies which were causing my equilibrium to be completely off balance, and as a result of the whiplash i sustained at 18 months, my body could not adjust to the changes.

I started seeing a chiropractor regularly at age 10. After just a couple months of treatment and beginning allergy shots, I was completely normal!

*please, no snide comments regarding that last statement*

This is kinda where things start getting blurry, I don't remember much from age 10-14, but I'm going to highlight what I do.

In 1996, my family decided to make a move to a new house that would allow my grandma and grandpa to come live with us. As we made this transition, it was very hard for me... in almost every way.

I lacked friends because we moved, and because I was homeschooled, making new friends was near impossible. I did however, manage to make a few, and survived the next couple years. By the time i entered 8th grade in 1997, my mom had taken a position as a part time secretary at a local church and my studies became more than either of us were able to keep up with. Nothing being wrong with any of it, or homeschooling in general, it just became clear that I needed to enter into a school where I would have more available for my education.

Beginning of 1998, my younger brother and I entered a small private Christian school not far from where we lived. Most of that year i spent friendless, as I felt very insecure about myself and the idea that others would like me or want to be friends with me was foreign. Where in the world did this thinking come from? I still haven't figured it out, except that maybe i was a normal typical teenager? Ha!

Yearbooks came out a month before school let out for the summer and I made an effort to both pass mine around as much as I dared as well as sign others. One girl, named Beka, signed my yearbook and stated that we should "get together over the summer." the highlight of my year.

We did hang out that hot 1999 summer and we quickly became good friends. All while eating bologna and potato chips on the beach and getting sun burnt...

Fall 2000 came, and i entered 10th grade more confident than ever because, now, I had someone who wanted to be MY friend. We spent the year coming up with inside jokes and watching eachother move through the growing pains of teenhood.

2001, she had a boyfriend, and in my desperate attempt to keep up, I befriended a certain boy. Although we never dated, the thought had crossed my mind, but always in the back of it there was a nagging voice telling me to stay away. I unfortunately pushed it aside far too many times and ended up hurting myself a lot.

In march 2001, I got my driver's license. woohoo! Freedom! well, not so much, but in my 16 year old mind it was.

Later on that year, my dad received his third diagnosis of cancer. This one being far worse than the previous times. In 1998, he had one of his kidneys removed due to kidney cancer and he also had a small surgery on a patch of skin cancer. This time though, it was lymphoma. Virtually a death sentence.

My parents sat down with me just before my senior year of school began in September 2001 and told me the news. I have tried very hard to speculate and come to conclusions about what happened that year, trying not to blame my lack of emotion on anything... but the only thing I can come to is that I completely blocked out that there was anything wrong at all. I really don't remember anything about his cancer...

It was the worst year (as a whole) of my life to date. I have since had hard times, but that was all in all the worst year I remember.

I began dating a guy in the beginning of 2002. One that I thought i would marry. In fact, when summer rolled around, I was graduated and he had a year on me, he bought a ring. However, as I began to weigh in all the facts, realizing that a proposal was imminent, I freaked out. I realized that I was 17 years old, in a first-time relationship and was allowing myself to leave nothing hanging in the balance. My future was set if i stayed with him. I would be married by 19 and surely have a child shortly thereafter... factoring in many other things, I felt highly unprepared to take all that on. I broke up with him just 8 months after we started dating.

Thanksgiving 2002, I flew to Hawaii to visit my brother Rob and his family. Dyan and their 3 kids. Up to that point, I had never been anywhere tropical, and now, having travelled quite a bit, have still never gone to a more beautiful place.

Upon arriving back home, I had a mess to deal with. The friends that I had built my life around before, during, and after my breakup, were proving to be less than a good influence. A few well-remembered mishaps sent the entire lot of them out of my life. I chose to lose them all... and I chose to be alone. I had noone for that time.

It forced me to a place with the Lord that I had not known. I began hearing his voice and understanding who he was in my life. I felt called to attend a Bible school for a year.

In the meantime that year, 2002-2003 I worked at a more high end photography studio initially as just a type of assistant for any and all jobs, which turned into a position that I loved more than any job i've had since (save my own photography business) I worked on all the production work, so basically everything that happened with the pictures after they were taken. I loved that job and would have loved to stay on, but it just wasn't the right thing for me at the time. There were also a lot of things going on that I didn't catch onto because of my age... all in all, I am glad to have had the experience, but would not want to go back and revisit.

In August 2003, I moved into the dorms of this Bible school, and my life changed forever. I made a few good friends there and my life with God changed. Looking back, I regret having allowed myself to participate in all the surrounding drama, but realize that God was truly there... and I wouldn't trade that.

Christmas 2003 marked our second trip to Hawaii as my brother was still stationed there. What an awesome break to go somewhere that beautiful and tropical in the mid winter. As it stood, I still wore a sweatshirt the entire time I was there... people think i'm nuts, but what can I say, once I get cold, it's hard to get warm again!

January 2004, we arrived back to snow and ice, my core temperature was barely back to normal. Within days of returning I received a phone call one saturday morning that resulted in my heroic fall off the top bunk whereupon i broke my right foot. I swear, I never thought it would ever get back to normal. I quickly forgot what it was like to walk without pain, that thought that i would never be able to walk fast or run again. And just in case you didn't put two and two together, ice and crutches and living on the 3rd floor with no elevator... not a good combination.

I had planned to attend the Bible school for 3 years, but when we let out for the summer months in April 2004, I realized that I was either going to a) start making a ton more money than I was or b) live at home instead of on campus. When my request to live off campus was denied, I decided that I couldn't go back and started thinking about my next move.

I heard about a job at the local ADT office and decided to apply if only just to make some money while I figured out what to do. I was hired in June 2004 with the understanding that I would not start until mid-august as I had taken a 6 week position at the summer camp I went to as a kid. I spent the better part of that summer with girls of all ages and making new friendships and learning lessons (some harder than others)

August 2004... ADT began, and my life consequently came to a halt. I am not one to complain all that often, but I hated that job. I liked it at times but all in all, it was just awful. I finished up there just 8 months in and continued working at a photography studio much like Sears or JCPenney. I worked 3 Christmases there and have vowed to never work in the mall during Christmas again.

During this time, I began taking classes at the local community college... I spent 3 consecutive semesters there studying graphic design and taking a couple photography classes as well.

2005 I worked another summer as a camp counselor, this time shifting camps in between. I was burnt out by the end of the summer and in September I began my first nanny job for a little tiny 3 month old baby. He's not so little anymore :) His name is Samuel and both him and his family became a very precious part of my life. I look back on those days (although scattered with sleep hell and meltdowns from ahem both michelle and i :) with fondness and am so glad to have those memories.

When summer 2006 rolled around, I began to feel as though I couldn't do the same thing for more than one year at a time... it seemed to be becoming a pattern... and i didn't like it! Yet, I changed things again... I started by taking the entire summer off. it was GREAT!

September 2006, I began working part-time as a teacher's assistant at a local pre-school. I was also selling jewelry for a time and had a lot of fun doing the parties and other such things that go along with that kind of business. I learned an awful lot about running a business, and while I'm no longer doing that particular venue, I am so glad to have had the experience. it's helped me a lot as I've started my photography business.

In Feburary 2007, my life took a turn and changed for what would turn out to be (in my opinion) the most changing experience of my life. I met Maureen, who is the mom of the kids I now take care of full-time. Within the first night of meeting, she had already asked me to come work for her, and I felt from the very beginning that it would be an amazing experience.

I began working for them in June 2007 and although it took me a few months, I soon bonded with their family and now feel as though they are a part of my own.

In July 2007 I travelled outside to country (to somewhere besides Canada) for the first time in my life. I ended up having my passport stamped in both Dubai and India that summer! If Dubai had just been a layover, I would not have considered myself to have actually been there, but seeing as how I was there for over 48 hours and in a hotel most of that time... I was there. Due to unforseen circumstances that trip was the most stressful time of my life and I ended up having some serious physical repercussions as a result of that stress... my hair began falling out in large quantities.

Soo, in September 2007 I chopped it off. Looking back on the pictures, I can see why noone else really noticed... but man, did I. It was awful. It finally, a year and a half later has gotten back to pretty much normal and I'm tempted to try growing it out once again. Note to self for future - don't get stressed out!

As fall began to set in, I realized I needed an outlet for my creativity. I took a drawing class (and two others that I can't remember haha!) and also started this blog. I remember sitting down to try and start it and having no idea what to write... that didn't last long!

The year moved on, and soon, 2008 rolled around. I was so inspired by all the beautiful pictures I saw on other people's blogs who didn't seem to be a whole lot different than me and decided to pick up my digital rebel again. Would you believe that still at this time, I was sort of embarassed to carry it around. And in all honesty, that's the real reason I bought a Canon digital elph just a year after purchasing my rebel.

I had that rebel for over 3 years before I started putting it to use. I wanted originally because I have always loved photography... but it seemed the more i learned about photography the more I realized i didn't know. Normally, I would tell anyone else who said that to me that they were crazy and to go for it. I mean, how in the world will you ever learn if you don't pursue it!

January, February, March 2008. I baked, and began the lovely art of capturing my confections. Then, mid March, Michelle came to me again and insisted that I take some pictures of her while she was still pregnant with the Queen Bee. I honestly did not want to do it... but she talked me into it. And knowing how artistic and creative she is herself, I went along with it. And this was the result.

I couldn't have been happier... it didn't take me long to start thinking that I wanted to get better at this. I knew i still had a lot to learn... so why not just learn it. Then, long about May, I bought my first real lens.

Lest this become the story of the last year and how I became a photographer, I am going to wrap up the rest of last year and save the future for, well, the future. Who knows what it will hold.

My best friend from high-school got married in May 2008 and I travelled once again out of the country, but this time to Mexico.

January 2009, I am learning more and more every day about the things I love most. I am growing into a more understanding and (hopefully) patient girl. I am learning that loving people is not always easy... sometimes it's just what you do. I am becoming more confident in the talent that God has given me. I am hopeful that my future is sustained only by my reliance upon the Lord. And I am hoping that I will never think that i've figured it all out...

That's me :)


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5 extraordinary comments:

Susan January 16, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

Wow, I can't imagine how long it took you to put that together.
It was nice to learn more about you and gain some of your perspective on life.

Erin January 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

I agree with Susan...I don't even remember what I did yesterday let alone 20 & 30 years ago.

This was a beautiful entry. I learned so much about you.

And for the short time I have known you, I do know this, that you are an extraordinary person.

Smiling Sal :) January 17, 2009 at 9:25 PM  

Wow - great job!!! :)

Melissa January 19, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

That was long. And very good. Thanks! now I know so much more about you!! :D

You rock.

Tracy January 22, 2009 at 2:16 AM  

That. Was. AWWEEESOOMEE!

I am going to try and do it. I can't really say it'll work. I don't remember a lot (I think I block things out).

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