All posts by amymbley

About amymbley

Even the greatest things start out small.

2014, Respect.

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I was recently asked if this was a happy year. My instant answer was honestly a bold yes!, yet I didn’t have a response as to why it was?

In actuality, 2014 had been a challenging year and one where I heard the word “hustle” joked around between my friends, too often. They were probably pretty right, though. I didn’t stop moving.

This year was my first year as a “freelance-contractor” and that title was one that was given to me and not asked for. With that title came a lot of due diligence and extra work to find projects that could collectively keep me afloat, all the while trying to stay focused to my industry path.

Finances were never secure, meetings and connections were daily, and there wasn’t a coffee shop in town I didn’t know. I was mentally and faithfully stretched. The stress of it all could have TKO’d me at any moment and sometimes the thought of accepting the next 9 to 5 that walked my way, seemed appealing.

BUT I was happy, though, and I didn’t give in! (I am my father’s daughter and am refusable about some things. I know it’s hard to believe..)

2014 for me was about discovering my God-given passions, strengths, and letting them lead my present/future work and personal arenas of life. A lot was learned. Some thing’s didn’t pan out. Some thing’s shined! As I told another friend recently, this was my “year of Yes.”

I thought back regularly, to my trusted and well-respected friend’s question about my year’s level of happiness. Then like a lightening bolt, I was reading a couple of sentences from my present read, The Happiness Project (thanks Eryn!) and it hit me. These sentences helped me answer my WHY?. When it could have so easily been “no.”

“Feeling right” is about living the life that’s right for you – in occupation, location, marital status, etc. It’s also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself. ..it isn’t about goal attainment but the process of striving after goals – that is, growth, – that brings happiness.

It’s about the in-between time, the studying, the prep work, the late nights, the coffee meetings..before a goal is reached.. hmm.

Given the challenges of my year, I was ultimately happy because I was working towards something I believed in for myself. God was/is preparing me. Preparing me for a role that I love and that I could dive into fully. I’m grateful for this time and it’s discovery of passions and strengths. I’ve had amazing experiences this year, both professionally and personally, and I’m so grateful for them.

I do believe my next professional role will come with many challenges, but with that I say “Bring it!” With challenges, comes growth, and then that continues happiness. Or at least, that’s how it works in my head. 😉

It’s like that quote you see retweeted often, “Life is a journey, not a destination.“ Amen.

Can I encourage you to look at this very moment you’re in and find it’s value? Maybe you’re working really hard for something. I know it’s murky to see the value, but it’s there. And I say, “don’t stop now, babe! You’re almost there!” But I also say, relish this moment too, because it’s temporary. And soon after you’ve reached the thing you’re working so hard towards, you’ll be back hitting the pavement for the next one, before you know it. Or at least, I hope so!

“a line from William Butler Yeats – Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

A last note: I was hoping some inspiration for a 2014 recap post would come my way. This year meant too much to not give it the proper send off with a little reflection in the mix.

2015, let’s do this.

belly laughs and 180-somethings

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It was one of those nights where the evening was filled with an energy, perhaps it was from the feeling of Fall flirting with my city, but it was electric. It was a perfect night for a long walk with a good friend.

Talk of the usual..our week’s pressures and life’s crunches, to agreeing on how we wanted so badly to be the best at what we do, occurred, as it always does. ..dreams for the future, reminiscing old stories, and maybe a little bit about guys, too. [ about my friend and I: we are the kind that strive for balance between all the important things in life. It’s a task, but one worth it.]

It had been a mentally tiring and challenging week, so a walk outside and good conversation was everything I wanted.
And I bring this up again, but the air was filled with a spark that anything could happen that night.

Being on the lookout for what this “anything” could be, we diverted our walk to a local hole-in-the-wall kinda place for some A/C, (it is still Atlanta after all and mid-September), and for a much needed iced something.
…Belly laughs you guys!! I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a long time! My friend was cracking me up. [Another thing about me..I love people’s quirks. You know those little things that make up a person. It’s kind of fun(ny) to see them over and over again. It means you are close enough to someone that you start to notice their little patterns and tendencies. Okay, maybe it’s just me. Well, this sweet friend may have the most endearing ones! Belly laughs.]

Laughs turned into real talk and then turned into selfies, then back to real talk and laughs. The night was full. Heart was full.

Her name was Anna and she sat next to me that night at the counter. I instantly felt like she had a story. I had to know it!

She was there with her husband and were in town for just an evening, as they were passing through to Tallahassee. Her ex-husband had just passed away the day before in a horrific accident due to flooded roads in his hometown. Anna has two teen children with this man. She told me all of this within the first two minutes of me telling her my name.
The tone of the night had just done some kind of 180-something long board trick (that I wanna learn on a board), real quick.

I couldn’t do anything but to ask this stranger if a prayer was okay. A prayer for strength. A prayer that she would be okay. Okay for her children.

Isn’t that how life is? In moments it’s everything every fiber in your body can feel and sense. Heavy care or concern being miles away from thought and in the next moment, that very same loaded feeling, but now set to a different tone.

I recently read something a dear friend wrote that she always does so eloquently. So wonderfully in fact that I even drafted it as a tweet, but had never posted, but it has continued to resonate with me since..

“‘You’re Okay.’

Maybe that’s all (they) need to hear.
Maybe that’s all you need to tell yourself.

‘You’re Okay.'”

We are all going through our battles. Life is challenging. We need each other. We aren’t meant to do it alone.

From my good friend filling me up with laughter after a week of 10-hour days and fatigue, to a stranger that God sat next to me with a heart-wrenching story that made life so much more real.

We are all going through this. Life. Doing it together is easier.

I’m beyond grateful for those in mine.

For Anna. Continued thoughts and prayers to her and her family in this difficult time.

The quote I shared was written by my lovely friend, Hannah. She writes really good. Better than me. http://hannahbrencher.com/

“Lucky Few” Only

Could it be possible some are just not capable to dream? To have passion for something more?
I refuse to believe that.

Over Mexican, conversation was light; about people, life paths, and passions (including mine). Fact: I love these kind of conversations. But this one quickly was doing an unwelcomed balancing act on the border of insulting. In regards to the topic at hand, he stated that we aren’t all suppose to have “that kind of passion.” And that only a “lucky few” are to experience a drive for something more.

Fuming at his passive aggressiveness to those that sacrifice so much to work hard for something different (and indirectly, his undertones pointing to me), it made me start to question. The next few days I rolled the thought around in my head about these “lucky few” and the others that are dreaded to live a path decided by others. I discussed this idea with close friends.

Is passion really only for a few?

After conversations and some extracurricular research, my theory about this thought could be relative to those starting out in a career, green in experience..but also for those who are established, even highly-successful, yet unfulfilled. Maybe they haven’t been introduced/inspired to the idea that they can do more.. (hmm.)

As a natural “pep squad” myself for new ideas that revolutionize past ones and positive, innovative concepts that are born from a place of wanting to help communities be more effective, I encourage you to do your best at whatever it is that makes your heart beat a little faster. From “He raised four kids who became happy, healthy adults,” or “She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.” Do it with fullness.
Because we should be passionate! And because life is awesome when you do what you love and love what you do!

Heres’s 8 thought-provoking questions that can help you find your’s.. http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028946/find-your-passion-with-these-8-thought-provoking-questions

Do you know someone who may wanna read this too? Share it! Because things are more fun when you share ’em anyways.

(Thanks dude for the blog post inspiration ;))

referenced from FastCompany article linked above by Warren Berger

Move Over Will Smith

The idea of “if we aren’t happy, then we’re doing life wrong”, isn’t being discouraged enough..

Does it seem that too often when sadness or disappointment affects our lives, words like “cheer up!” are shared? Along with the idea that happiness is our default position and when another feeling takes it’s place, we are to fight and escape from it as soon as possible?

Life isn’t neat. We all want to be eternally happy, but when those low places happen, they should, if not more, be considered more intentionally. It’s those valleys in life that mold us. Pursuing joy should be initial and ever-going. It will be what eventually brings more peaks of happiness again.

Instead of pursuing the circumstantial, flakiness of happiness that’s affected by exterior variables (people, job/relationship title, material “stuff”, etc.), I am pursuing an internal peace that resonates from thankfulness. I’m on a pursuit of joy. (Sorry Will!)

 

I actually really love that movie and cry every time I watch it.

 

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”  – C.S. Lewis

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#my1kgifts

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Could you name 1000 things that you love?

You know, those small things that make up the unique, quirky self that you are. It’s those things that create those moments of instant happiness, comfort, and that affect our experience of life and the world.

  • 12. The freshness of morning light
  • 13. In the midst of a baking recipe

I recently began reading NY Times Bestseller “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and found the inspiration for this post from Chapter 3.  In it, Ann dares the reader, in her own beautifully poetic, eloquent way, to list one thousand “gifts”..those things and moments that we love. Blessings. These “gifts” are to be written in a journal and taken along with us throughout the day.  Capturing those small moments of awe and recording them, making them into something tangible, because it is now written down, physical. It is no longer a feeling or a minute measure of time that passes..it’s now an opportunity to Give Thanks!

  • 21. Recognizing a personal strength that wasn’t known
  • 22. When a song makes me dance involuntarily 

I’m starting to realize that this daily recognizing of “gifts”, takes practice. It hasn’t been easy to record those moments in their actual time, especially in the busyness of life. Especially, in the days of mundane. I am starting to think I may need to slow down in my pursuits and activities, and to be even more present.

Ann says “Giving thanks..is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Isn’t that something we wish we had more of? Time.

I love the image she shares to describe how our consciousness of these “gift moments” is like us wading in the opposite direction of a river flow,  and against current.

 I want my days to become a more steady stream of consciousness. Consciousness for the amount of grace that is bestowed to me. I want to slow time down! 

  • 51. warm sheets from the dryer
  • 53. a kind word of encouragement

To name these gifts and moments,  gives them meaning and value. Another thought about this naming..Is it possible that giving THANKS for EVERYTHING, could be the answer to one of the holy grail of questions, “what’s the secret to joy in life?”

To learn how to be grateful whether hands full or hands empty..”that’s a secret worth spending a life learning.”

  • 37. “happy dance” when I eat something delicious
  • 38. those movies, books, concert, events, I get so excited about and haul everyone to opening night

Aside from this current festive season of giving thanks we’re in, I just love the idea of giving value to those gift things, blessings, throughout the day, and all year round, so much. I dare you to name one thousand moments, blessings, “gifts”.. Could you!?

I’m taking the dare folks. Journal and pen in tote. Naming one thousand things I love and ultimately giving thanks through their recognition.

Instead of a generic, overarching “thank you for everything” that actually leaves me thankful for very few things, I want to see every specific gift, blessing, for what it is to me, and give thanks for each. Joy given.

  • 9. Meeting an instant friend
  • 10. Someone’s words that give me a new perspective on a thought

 

If you want to follow some of the naming of my daily gifts that I’m thankful for, keep on the look out for #my1kgifts in my tweets and Instagram posts. I’ve already tagged some of my pics from this year and then some, with the subject I’m grateful for. Join me in using the same hashtag if you’d like, too!

 Twitter: @amymbley // Instagram: Amy Bley

 

Voskamp, Ann. (2010) One Thousand Gifts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. 

a.k.a.

Do you know what you’re known for? Do you know what it’s like to be on the other side of you?

We’re all known for different things in the various circles and communities we are involved in..family, friends, professional, and even online.  A lot of what we’re known for is due to our past and consecutive patterns of actions/inactions, decisions, and how we’ve made those in our circles feel. Our “known” is part of how these circles recognize us.

 

I did a little research on the word known. (I like words..) ..known is the past participle of know. (I have a reason for this explanation! Stick with me.) This makes me think, if known can be considered to things in the past, than those “things” that we were once known for, can evolve..if we want them to. We aren’t super glued to our past patterns. Super glue does eventually lose it’s hold. We can grow, adjust, and learn new patterns if we want! I think it’s freeing to think our past doesn’t have to dictate our path and future. We can live the life that’s in our heart! But like all things that matter, it takes work.

 

Last week I volunteered at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Every time I’ve been asked about how the week was, “monumental” seemed like the best word to use. For those that aren’t familiar with the conference, it’s a multi-day event focused on faith driven leadership, encouragement, music and worship. The central theme for the week was: KNOWN. The speakers spoke on the topic in regards to 3 areas of being Known: identity, calling, and legacy, and as faith-filled leaders, these things should bring glory to God.

 

This year’s theme hit close to home for me, as I’m reflecting on my own calling, career direction, living situation, goals, and other personal places in my life. I also have my own list of things I want to be known for and recognize that these things are gifts and will be treated as so!

 

I’ll leave you with a few quotes that have stuck with me from the week..

“If we don’t ever really sit in our vulnerability, we will never really be known.” – Bianca Olthoff

“Does the life I lead, the one that lives inside me?” – Rebekah Lyons 

“We are not accountable for the doing, but accountable for the believing.” – Shelley Giglio

 “Be an expert. We are a generation of reading headlines, rather than articles…We need to be quiet more, to become an expert.” – Eugene Cho

 

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(picture: guy on a soapbox. I wonder what he’s getting known for!)

I asked for an adventure..!

adventure: exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.

For the past few months, I’ve been praying for an adventure that would scoop me up and take me to an exotic country, or maybe move me to a new city with bridges and lots of hills (maybe that one could still happen..).

Even though a globe-trotting adventure hasn’t presented itself to me yet, I have been dealt another kind. This adventure has me searching not busy street-side markets, landmarks where history was made, or a place that can only be reached atop an elephant or camel. It’s one of the heart and the next steps in my story.

It’s just so easy to get complacent. Settled. Maybe, lazy even. We get so comfortable, whether it be a job or how we spend our free time.. We need to remind ourselves and each other to be intentional in all we do! We aren’t going to live forever. And I’m definitely not going to be 27 forever. (in fact I have 3 more months.)

When I asked for an adventure, I thought there was going to be more mountains, stunning views, and cultural delicacies..

I’m challenging myself and want to challenge you too, to listen to your heart. I mean really listen. Listen for the things that make it beat a little faster. Did you know our hearts are most vulnerable in the late evening and early morning, after and before things get loud? Use this time to learn about yourself..and then make a decision to pursue it.

THIS IS MY TIME NOW.
Intention. That’s my goal. To stand for I believe in, prioritize first what is important, and find out more about the things in my heart that make it beat a little faster. To connect and leverage my skills to those that inspire and encourage me. Organizations doing good. Movements of positivity. Leaders with great dreams that need extra hands and feet. And finally, share my path’s learned lessons and picked up “souvenirs” from along the way, with those I care about and that are interested. 

I want to listen for God’s GPS directions..minus the robot voice. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I believe He will make known my next endeavors. I believe that for you, too. You just have to be willing, to listen full-heartedly, and then to pursue.

Good Luck Adventurers!Image

Photo taken in Bend, Oregon. Elevation: 8,000 ft.