Hellooooo from a very slap-happy Erica! Ha! What a week. We are tired and giddy all at the same time. 🙂
Things went well with the packers and movers the last couple days, so today we’re scrubbing this house until it shines and then going out to pop into a few of our favorite places, including the zoo. Our kiddos deserve a treat, and our local zoo is small enough that we can zip around the whole thing in about 90 minutes. Whoop!
Today’s “Saturday Sit-Down” feature is all about Amanda! She and I first talked last fall when she sent me a DM on Instagram that she was familiar with a few of the people and places that I was featuring in my stories from the Kansas Corn Tour. Small world! We’ve chatted back and forth ever since about all things Kansas, blogging, etc., and she is just awesome! I love a blog that nails some good story telling, and that’s Amanda’s! I hope you enjoy her feature and then pop over to her blog! Have a beautiful weekend! Spring is here! Enjoy. 🙂 xo
Q: Hi Amanda! In three sentences or less, give us a brief introduction about who you are. 🙂
A: Hey! Thanks so much for having me! I am Amanda (or Mandy to some), a 27 year old living in Arlington, VA (Just across the river from Washington D.C.) and working full-time in communications for the U.S. wheat industry. I am originally from Northeast Oregon and spent six years in Kansas for college and my first job. I am a coffee drinking, chronically impatient, music and sports loving, creative thinking, curly haired red head, just trying to make it look like I actually know something about being an adult. 🙂 Read my “About Me” page here!
Q: When did you start your blog, and what has that journey looked like since it began?
A: I technically started my blog in 2008 (or 2009) when I was a senior in high school, because I was a kid who just liked to write. As I moved on to college, I continued to use it off and on for sharing my thoughts and my life with my family and friends back home. In 2012, I completely started over and was frustrated that I wanted to do more with blogging, but I did not feel like I was qualified to fit in any particular niche. I shared this with a successful author/freelancer/blogger that I met, and she simply asked, “But you love to write?” When I responded yes, she said, “So just do it for yourself and the rest will follow.”
At its core, my blog is still a way for me to journal and scrapbook my life, but it is also my much-needed creative outlet. I share about my travels, career, hobbies and all of the “real life” moments of being a 20-something. I love to share the pictures I take, talk about music and share the stories of other young professionals through “The Road I Traveled” series. You can read about the meaning behind the name of my blog here.
Q: What motivates you to squeeze in time for blogging while also managing your thriving career?
A: (Thriving?! You are so sweet!) Honestly, my job keeps me pretty darn busy most of the time, so it is hard. But I genuinely love it. Writing is how I work through things, settle my mind and best connect with others. I believe so strongly that words are the most powerful tool that we have and are one of the few things that outlast us. When someone says they enjoyed my writing or that it was impactful, that is the best compliment I could ever receive. I also love to read other blogs and think the blogging community as such a positive space for people to connect. I like being a part of that, even if it is in a small way.
Q: Speaking of your career, tell us about it! Where do you work and what do you do?
A: I am the Assistant Director of Communications for the U.S. Wheat Associates, which is a non-profit that does export market development for the U.S. wheat industry. In a nutshell, 50% of the wheat grown in the United States is exported overseas. My organization works in 17 offices around the world on behalf of U.S. wheat farmers to help foreign wheat buyers, millers, bakers, wheat food processors and government officials to understand the quality, value and reliability of all six classes of U.S. wheat. We do not lobby, because of the type of funding we receive, but we do work on trade policy issues that affect fair market access. Personally, I do a little bit of everything related to communications, including social media, website management, writing news releases and articles, media relations, graphic design and a variety of internal support.
Q: I loved your post recently reflecting on three years of living in D.C.! What are your personal pros and cons of living in a big city like that versus a smaller town like you’ve lived in in the past?
A: I feel like I am in the minority when I say that I love both. Deep down, I am a country girl at heart. I think growing up in a small town culture gave me a strong sense of identity and my foundational values. I loved the slower pace and being able to drive down the road and wave at people I know. In both my hometown and my college town, we did not need a lot to entertain ourselves and the people are just so much kinder to each other. But personally I do think it is important to leave and experience new things. Living in D.C. has challenged me in so many ways – changing me in some ways, and solidifying my values and identify in other ways. On the flipside, I love that there is so much do in a big city. D.C. in particular is such a young, ambitious, transient city, where everyone is from somewhere else, and I love being a part of that demographic at this season in my life. I hate the traffic though and the constant sense of urgency people apply to everything tends to wear me down. Regardless of where you decide you want to raise your family and put down roots, I think it is important to experience both. I actually wrote a little more on this in this post “Love Letter: To Those With Hometown Roots and Wandering Souls.”
Q: In your spare time, where can we find you in D.C.? What are your favorite things to do?
A: Well when it is cold, I hide at home because I hate the winter! Otherwise, you can find me outside as much as possible! The D.C. area (or the DMV as we call it) is beautiful and there is SO much to do! I love to walk or jog along the National Mall. The people watching here is top notch and I will never get over the fact that I live in a place with so much history. I have been to most of the museums, but I love going back to my favorites every once in a while, especially since many of the exhibits rotate. I just recently became a member of the Newseum (which is one of the few museums here that is not free), so I am REALLY excited to be able to go more often and participate in special events. I am a part of a small group for young adults through my church that I really enjoy being a part of, and in 2018, I started doing Pure Barre, which I am loving so far. The food scene here is amazing, so that is where I usually connect with friends. I also try to get out of the city every occasionally to go hiking or to visit a winery or brewery.
If anyone is planning a trip here, let me know, and I would LOVE to share my tips and suggestions!
Q: Is it difficult for you to live across the country from your family? What do you do to try to stay connected and grow those relationships from a distance?
A: Absolutely, it is the single hardest thing part of the choice to live where I do. I think it surprises people sometimes to hear that I am actually incredibly close with my family and maintain a few dear friendships, even though I live so far away. First and foremost, I call my Mom at least twice a week. She hears all the highs and lows, is my constant through everything and helps me feel like I am a part of what is going on at home.
Past that, I just try to be as intentional with my time as possible. I might not always have a lot of time to schedule long phone calls (especially since no one is in the same time zone), but a few texts here and there, sharing funny memes and seeing what they are posting online has really helped me feel like I am a part of the lives of my sister and close friends. I think it is also important to note that especially in your 20’s, there are so many different seasons of life to be in. One of my best friends from childhood has two little ones right now, which is opposite of where I am at, so that means we have to work a little harder to meet in the middle. However, I also love that we still get to cheer each other on. I try to take the approach that all relationships go through changes, and sometimes we have more to give and sometimes we are the ones who need to take a little more.
Q: Where can we find you on social media?
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ajaespoo
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/ajaespoo
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ajaespoo
Q: Where should new readers start on your blog?
- I grew up in my family’s floral and gift shop and we recently celebrated being in business for 30 years – https://thegoodstuffbyajaespoo.com/2017/11/22/love-letter-to-my-familys-flower-shop-on-its-30th-anniversary/
- My “reverse” bucket list – https://thegoodstuffbyajaespoo.com/2017/09/26/reverse-bucket-list/
- My “So There’s That” series is similar to a “life lately” post or Erica’s “Slice of Life” – https://thegoodstuffbyajaespoo.com/2018/01/15/so-theres-that-vol-28/
And just for fun…
- Rather plan a trip to a country in Africa or Asia? I went to Thailand and the Philippines for work AND vacation last year (AMAZING), and while I definitely want to explore more of Asia, going to Morocco is pretty high up on my list right now so I’d say Africa.
- Coke or Pepsi? Anyone who knows me personally and reads this will laugh that you asked me this question. I am known for my affinity for Diet Coke.
- Talk on the phone or text? Probably 50/50. I LOVE a good long chat on the phone, but texting is more convenient on the go.
- Window seat or aisle seat on an airplane? Oh, I have such strong feelings about this one. I am an aisle seat person all the way!
Thank you so much, Amanda!
Is this your first time to Whimsical September? Welcome!
Hello! I’m Erica, the blogger behind Whimsical September. I created the “The Saturday Sit-Down” series in January 2017 as a way to give back to the blogging community and link readers with new bloggers whom they may share similar interests with. Click here to discover more bloggers that have been featured on “The Saturday Sit-Down”. I promise you – there’s some GREAT ones!
Want to be featured in this series?
I have openings starting in the summer of 2018 and would love to feature you! Please email me at WHIMSICALSEPTEMBER@YAHOO.COM and I’ll be in touch with you. It’s totally free and a fun way to bring new sets of eyes to your blog. PS: Bloggers with any-sized following are welcome to be featured!