Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Thank you and Goodbye, 2011. Welcome, 2012!

Happy New Year!

Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for me. My biggest accomplishment was getting a new job. I’ve been in my new position for just over three months and it’s been a huge learning process. I suppose that’s to be expected with any new job though. I don’t know yet that this work will be my life’s passion, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get a lot out of it, which suits me just fine right now.

In retrospect, 2011 was filled with a lot of fun events. It was a great year for diving. I improved significantly and am much more confident in my abilities now. I had a phenomenal trip to NC where I was able to explore WWII ship wrecks and swim with sharks. It was an amazing experience and I’m eagerly anticipating this year’s NC trip. A month later, I had a wonderfully relaxing vacation in SC with my husband, the first since our honeymoon in 2009. I also got to visit friends in Boston, Philly, DC and NH, had a camping trip with friends in June and attended a multi-location wedding celebration in NC and OH for a very good friend. It’s these experiences and the associated memories that come to mind when reflecting on 2011, not all the muck and difficulties that would come up and stress me out throughout the year. I’m pretty pleased with that realization.

I have big hopes for 2012. As per my usual practice, I’m not really focused on making resolutions. But I am trying to be aware of what I can change in my life to make it even better than last year.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2012. May it be filled with happiness, health, love and ice cream.

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1st Anniversary Repost: The Best Laid Plans…

Our View From Here is one year old! In celebration of this occasion, we’re reposting our favorite post from the last year! Enjoy!

I’m a planner. When I graduated high school, I had a plan. I was going to Penn State, where I was going to study kinesiology for a few years. After I got most of my general education credits under my belt, I was planning on transferring to Slippery Rock University (yes, this is an actual college) to become a physical therapist.

I diligently followed my plan…for a semester. I learned all about pronation and supination and realized kinesiology was not the field of study for me. To be honest, I’m really not sure where this interest came from initially. I have never utilized a physical therapist; I wasn’t athletic. In fact, I think my sole experience with physical therapy came from listening to my dad grumble about doing his after his hip replacement surgery. After a mini-crisis of trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, I settled on going back to my volunteering roots. I began volunteering with the Red Cross and decided to major in Business Management, like my supervisor did, so I could go eventually be a manager at a nonprofit. Eleven years later and I’m finally a Program Manager at a nonprofit foundation. This is one of the few aspects of my life plan that seem to have come to pass.

Had someone told me back then that in just a few short years, camping and hiking would be among my favorite pastimes, I would be skeptical, but I could concede that it was possible. Had the same person told me that in a few years after that, I would enjoy skiing so much that I would go out and buy my own equipment I would have probably had a bit of a chuckle. Finally, if someone told me that in 10 years I would have started scuba diving and be well on my way to finishing up several advanced certification courses, I would have nodded and smiled politely, while slowly backing away, for fear I was speaking to a complete nutjob who could go postal on me at any moment. But alas, here I am, looking forlornly at the skis I bought this season but probably won’t have a chance to try out. In my work bag is a course book to teach me how to dive with enriched air, rather than regular 21% oxygen air. And I’ve been working with friends to coordinate our schedules for a camping trip in June. I have one person to blame for all of this, my husband, Darren.

Us, several years ago

Darren first went camping before he was a year old. He is an Eagle Scout (that’s the highest level of Boy Scout) and has been skiing for over half his life. The scuba is new, but an interest he’s had for years. He finally convinced me to take the class too, and I have to admit, it was nice to learn something together, rather than always being two steps behind. The point of this post isn’t to pay homage to Darren, the outdoor Adventure-Boy (though I happen to think he’s pretty swell). No, the point I’m trying to get across is that I think it’s important to have someone in your life that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Someone who can challenge you to do things you might not otherwise do. For me, it happens to be Darren, but I don’t think it needs to be a significant other – a good friend, a relative, even an arch-nemesis can fulfill the role. Whomever it may be, the trick is to find that person, and let them push you, because you might find there’s a whole lot of fun to be had once you do.

As I was writing this post, the song from the below video popped in my head. I have no idea if it makes sense, or is completely antithetical to my point. I read comments from others about the meaning of the song and the comments ran the spectrum from “live life to the fullest” to “you’re going to wake up in 20 years and regret your life.” Since no one else seems to know what it means either, I’m just going to go with it. At least it’s catchy.

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Scuba Dooba!

After a lovely extended weekend at a lake with friends, I find myself having a hard time coming back to reality. It then occurred to me that I never blogged about my first scuba trip from a few weeks ago. Since it’s a few more weeks until my next vacation, I might as well reminisce about a recent one.

My scuba trip was, in a word, amazing. I know I’ve referenced scuba diving before, but I’m not sure if I’ve described how I got into it to begin with. Briefly, on our honeymoon, Darren became very interested in scuba diving, but we were both a bit leery about doing a few-hour course at our resort. The spring after our honeymoon, we decided to visit our local dive shop and sign up for lessons. Our open water course consisted of one class a week for five weeks. The first hour and a half or so was in class, where we reviewed the issues brought up in the course book and DVD. The second half of the class was in the pool practicing the skills we learned about. The summation of the class was our open water certification, which took place at Dutch Springs, a quarry located in Bethlehem, PA. We were certified as PADI Open Water divers that summer and were pretty sure we had been bitten by the scuba bug. We continued with various classes and now both of us are Advanced Open Water certified and are working on multiple other certifications.

I admit I was a bit nervous about going on our first dive trip to North Carolina. I knew I would be in good hands and since we were going to be doing additional classes while we were there, all of our dives would be supervised by an instructor. I had also been hearing for months what an amazing trip this typically was, so while I was excited, I was still a bit apprehensive. There’s just something nerve-wracking about jumping into 100 foot water 30+ miles from shore.

We hopped on the boat early Saturday morning and started our trek out to our first wreck, the Atlas. We were blessed with good weather and calm seas, which did wonders to calm my nerves since I have a tendency to get seasick. In about two hours we reached our site and got suited up. Stepping off the boat was a bit scary at first, but once I got under water and to the lines under the boat, I was able to calm down a bit and enjoy the scenery. The water was a beautiful blue and it didn’t take long to start seeing the sand tiger sharks that we had heard so much about. Surprisingly, the sharks didn’t freak me out too much. It was actually really amazing to be in the water with sharks. They were very calm and didn’t pay us any attention; rather, they just lazily swam along going about their business.

The wreck was pretty neat, though I have to admit I was so overwhelmed with everything around me and where I was and what I was doing that I didn’t really get to appreciate the wreck much. I remember the sharks and there being some beautiful purple coral, and a bunch of fishies I couldn’t identify. It was also my first experience with current, which threw me a bit. It took me awhile to figure out why I was having such a hard time staying in place (like I said, I was a bit overwhelmed by everything and wasn’t necessarily thinking clearly). Before I knew it, it was time to head back up so we had enough air to do our safety stop.

As we were going up the line from the wreck back to the boat, I saw Darren waving at me and pointing up and behind me. I turned around and looked up to see a shark straight above me. I think I was about 4-5 feet away, but Darren thinks I was only about two feet away from sticking my head in a shark’s mouth (which probably would have equally startled me and the shark). That got the heart pumping a bit, but I paused for a moment and he continued to swim along, much less fazed by our close encounter than I was.

I came back up to the boat amazed by the experience I just had and wondering to myself how I got to a place where I was diving off a boat and swimming with sharks.

The next dive of the day was at the Caribsea and pretty much the same as the first. I don’t recall there being quite as many sharks but there was a barracuda that seemed to be checking us out on the line. I swear, if it could have, it would have been licking its chops, which was a bit disconcerting.

Sunday, the seas were quite a bit rougher. I was very thankful I had my seasick patch on, otherwise I would have been spending most of the trip over the railing. The visibility was great but there didn’t seem to be nearly as many sharks. The current was quite a bit stronger and I struggled with it, which caused me to go through my air quite a bit faster, making the dive much shorter.

My favorite dive of the entire trip was the second dive of the second day, when we visited U-352, a German WWI U-Boat. The visibility was amazing and if air weren’t an issue, I could have spent hours down there exploring.

Unfortunately, the third and last day of our trip was blown out due to rough seas. They had picked up even more from the day before and none of the boats were going out because it wouldn’t be safe. We were disappointed but respected the decision.

I am absolutely confident now that I’ve been bitten by the scuba bug and I can pretty much bet I’ll be on the same trip next year. I’ll just have to find a few more dives to keep myself occupied until then.

I’ll leave you with a video the captain of our boat, Mike Gerken took of the Atlas, immediately after the rest of us came back safely to the boat. I think this few minute video will do the trip far more justice than I can through this blog. Also, for a much better description of the specifics of our dive sites (and great pictures!), be sure to check out his blog entry from that weekend. Enjoy!

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Meet Amanda! (is that too vain??)

Hello, world, and welcome to my first foray into blogging! I represent the NY metro region in this blog. I work in NYC but live in NJ with my husband. I got married just over a year ago, but I still like to consider myself a newlywed. It all seems more exciting and romantic that way.

I work at a nonprofit foundation (please don’t ask me how to get grants. I can’t help you.) where I help emerging nonprofits become independent organizations fulfilling a vital need in their community. It’s rewarding and frustrating all at once (more about that in a future post I’m sure).

I’ve been in NJ for about 6 years now. I moved here to be with my boyfriend (now husband) after graduating from Penn State. Despite swearing that I would never go back to school after finishing my undergrad, 2 years later I was back in school, this time at NYU where I studied Global Affairs. I received my graduate degree in 2008 (while working fulltime – not fun) and now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Most people would have tried to figure that out in advance. Me? I guess I just like to keep things spontaneous.

I try to keep busy – I like being outdoors and I just became a certified scuba diver. Other than that, I enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking and wine-festing (it’s an outdoor sport!). I have big plans, but less follow-through (I swear, one of these days I WILL start going to the gym regularly) and sometimes I seem to still struggle with basic functions of being an adult….like cooking meals. It’ll all come together though and I try to enjoy the ride in the meantime. More next week!

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