Welcome

I hope that the following is the most unique or at least non-boring "About Me" page you've been to in a while (as far as UX portfolios are concerned). I couldn't stand the idea of the same old, clichéd "I'm John Smith and I create beautiful things." (I can't even... just, no.) So I've decided instead to share with you a small window into my personal life. I think you can tell a lot about a person's character based on how they live their everyday lives, their likes, dislikes, sense of humor and how they choose to spend their time. Here is my best attempt to give you just that!

My Home Office

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my home office. I've never understood the concept of being creative or "thinking outside of the box" while working inside of a cubical. I mean, has anyone else ever thought about that? I thought it might be cool to share with you where I work and some of the things that inspire me. This is the one place where I allow myself to collect items, frame funky pictures, hang posters and artwork all to my liking. Really, it's about surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy and allow your mind to think freely! It's completely comfortable and I am so appreciative to have this space. Check it out!

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"What are hobbies?"

In the late summer of 2014, I was being interviewed by my current boss/employer/mentor. By this point, I had been through several interviews and was feeling good about the prospect of working for them. I was prepared, I thought, in every way, especially when it came to interviewing questions. Then to my profound disbelief, the man asked me one, simple question that not only did I not have an answer for, but my mind drew a complete blank. He said, "Amanda, what are your hobbies? Is there anything you like to do for fun?" (mental mouth-drop) I tried to think of something.. anything! Anything that would make me sound normal, yet as motivated as possible.

The truth was, I had been a freelance designer the past year and my days were long, sometimes 12 hours. I had also spent the summer planning my wedding and building a relationship with my soon-to-be stepson, who was 8 at the time. (So basically learning how to be a mom, crash-course style) His biological mother wasn't in the picture so I was playing catch-up.. reading parenting books, trying to figure out where I would fit in and what he needed from me as a mother. (I'm proud to say he calls me mom now and is grateful to have two moms!) The point is, responding to an email or even returning a phone call started to feel impossible. But, rather than divulge all of this personal information to my potential employer or brag about the fact that I was just excited to keep up with the laundry on a week-to-week basis. (Sidenote- I really wasn't great at that either. I've mastered it now, sort of.) In the end, I managed to respond with clever honesty. "Hobbies... What are hobbies?" I said jokingly. "Just kidding, I haven't had much time for hobbies recently, but I hope to with this career change sir." He laughed out loud, which was a first after many times of speaking and meeting with him and it immediately put me at ease. I left the job interview that day with an offer of employment and a tremendous amount of excitement for the next chapter to come.

It was after all this, that I came to the revelation that I was in my mid to late twenties and really hadn't taken advantage of any of my free time prior to having a family. I was almost disappointed in myself, like, "What have you been doing this whole time?!" It still makes me giggle. This moment, however, became pivotal for me. It actually taught me even more how important it is to make and take time to do things that bring you joy. We had our second child in July of 2015 and life as you can imagine has only gotten busier (and sweeter). I'm proud to say that I still have zero free time, but I have lots of hobbies and my goals are endless!

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The Nelsons

My boys... This is what I would consider to be my greatest accomplishment. My little family. The family I prayed for. The family I longed for. It started with my husband, Graham, whom I met on a blind date for oysters at 42nd St. Oyster Bar in downtown Raleigh. I was so nervous, I drank too much and told him my whole life story all in one night. My rationale was this: If I tell him pretty much everything there is to know about me and he doesn't like me, my feelings won't be hurt (because I barely know him), and the oysters alone will have been worth the date, failure or not. #truestory

To my surprise, not only did I not scare him off, but he actually liked me! I was shocked. I hadn't had a break like this since 97' (kidding.. I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade in 97'). He was just amazing to me though. I'll never forget how classy he came across. How he held the door and always wore suits. He made me feel special. Somehow in all the brokenness that was left before him, he was able to get through to me. He was able to make me trust again, which in turn, allowed me to truly love again. I think that's been the most relieving epiphany for me. That love does exist, sometimes you just have to go through some things to be ready for each other at the right time.

Our first born, Ridge, is twelve and growing so fast that it's making my head spin. He's so proud of himself now that he's "technically" as tall as me (Poor kid, I'm only 5' 4" and I'm pretty sure that's fudging it). But as you know, being taller than your mom is everything next to the day you become taller than your Dad. He's an AMAZING brother to his two-year-old baby brother, Jackson. When I say amazing, I mean, I couldn't do it without him. He helps a lot! Jack is my gift from God, my miracle baby. I can't even describe what it felt like when he came into this world... like my life was complete. I still feel that way. That if I died tomorrow, I am in total peace because I accomplished the most important thing in my heart by becoming a mother to both of them and that feeling is indescribable. On a lighter note, I can't leave out the rest of our family. We have Baxter, the Nanny (Bullmastiff Mix), Buddy, The Elf (Multishitzu), and Mr. Kitty, Independent Contractor (Unknown). <--- I crack myself up.

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Some of my favorite quotes...

“There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.”
- Ernest Hemingway

“I was never used to being happy, so that wasn’t something I ever took for granted.”
- Marilyn Monroe

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
- Jeremiah 29:11

“if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
- Matthew 17:20