2020 Word For The Year: Let

January always feels like it exists longer than any one month should, but here we are – the last day. About to step off into the rest of what 2020 brings. I hadn’t posted on my word for the year yet and wanted to put it out into the Universe because I’m excited about all of the magic it holds.

My 2019 word for my year was LIGHT. I held that word tight to me during any dark times, I reveled in it under the sun on all of our 2019 trips, and when things felt a little heavy, I remembered LIGHT and that it was okay to lighten my load. LIGHT led to new friends, new adventures, and a new career path which I couldn’t be happier with. Dear LIGHT, you served me well.

My word of the year for 2020 is LET.

Let it be.

Let it in.

Let’s go!

Let it lie.

Let it out.

Let’s roam.

Let it go. 

Let’s have fun…

You get the point. Using LET as my word to meditate this year tells my type-A brain it has permission to do what it wants to do, what feels good, and that it doesn’t have to hold space for stuff that doesn’t. And that I don’t have to be the person who sweeps up after everyone or ties up all the loose ends just so someone else doesn’t have to. I can let those things be and focus on letting the good of life in. And I. Am. So. Excited about it.

LET is going to see me through us buying a home, me running the Big Sur half marathon and a twenty-mile trail race around Mt. St. Helens plus some really fun vacations – and those are just the plans for spring.

I think this is my 6th year of choosing a word to focus on for the year and it’s one of my favorite traditions. Some of my past words have been: simplify, harmony, connect, engage, and light.

It’s not too late (it’s never too late) – pick one word to focus on for yourself for 2020 and let it out!




The Last Ten

From college graduation to married in Seattle. There were some hits and some misses, but overall the last decade taught me who I was as an adult.

In the last ten years, I’ve lived in five different cities, adopted four shelter animals, took some amazing trips around North America, Europe and New Zealand, loved and lost some great people, made life-long friends, met the love of my life and got married, moved across the country on a leap of faith, tested my endurance, my body, and my will, learned so much from others and a lot about myself. It hasn’t all been perfect but I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities the last ten years have given me, for my family, and my smart, kind friends, the people who helped guide and shape me and stepped in as family during those times when I was a long way from my own, the adventures, the miles on the road, the good food and drinks, and even the downturn moments where I had to learn the hard way how to pick myself back up. Looking back it truly feels like one magical ten year ride and I can’t believe it’s mine. And because I love a good nostalgic look back, I wanted to recap (most of, because I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things) the big highlights. So here are they are, the greatest hits of my last decade are:  

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I began the 2010s rounding out my extra half lap of undergrad, including a study abroad summer. Changing my major late from Animal Science to Creative Writing didn’t exactly result in an equal transferring of credits, but it all worked out.

I got to study abroad at the University of Manchester UK. I saw a lot of castles, read a lot of English literature, hiked the Moors, went to Liverpool, bummed around London anytime I was able, went to a music festival with Loreley and Emily, got rained on a lot and drank a lot of cider. 

Went to Paris for the first time with my good friends Katie and Morgan.  

Went to Scotland too, only I slept through 75% of the trip being too hungover from Paris (sorry, Katie).

Mom met me in London and we went to see Stonehenge and the English countryside. This was one of the most magical trips ever.

Moved back to CoMO and into Dr. Katie M’s condo, who I met on Craigslist, while she was doing rotations with my crazy cat Olive.

Graduated undergrad one semester late and started grad school at Mizzou January 2011. 

Katie moved back into her condo and we became besties.  I spent a glorious semester having mostly night classes so I spent my days lounging on her patio reading, cooking, crashing med school parties, taking classes with her at our new gym. It. Was. A. Blast.

Spent a few weeks in Miami on a research project living in South Beach. Got to experience Ultra.

Won my first choice grad school internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and moved to Memphis for 2011 summer.

Lived it up with friends all over Memphis on those hot Mississippi delta nights.

Went to Sanibel Island on a random summer trip with mom and my brother.  

Wrapped up an unreal summer working at St. Jude and moved back to Columbia for one more school year. 

Celebrated 100 years of Mizzou Homecoming. 

Graduated grad school one semester early in May 2012. 

Went on a Europe trip with my sissies across Germany, Prague and England that ended with Emily and Darren getting married outside of London.  

Moved to Memphis to work at Literacy MidSouth and lived by myself on the river, falling completely in love with the river, the city of Memphis, its people and energy. 

Adopted two fat alien boy cats, Fred and George from the Memphis Humane Society.

Ran my first St. Jude race – marathon relay. 

Left Literacy Mid-South earlier than I expected to take a new role in patient and family events and hospital volunteer coordination back at St. Jude. 

Moved into an old downtown Memphis highrise with Maggie (as West Coaster’s now, we miss the rent and square footage – we didn’t know how good we had it).

Fostered an old souled black lab, Duke the dog, and then Maggie adopted him making us foster failures 🙂 

Became a Grizzlies NBA season tix holder and went to so many games to watch the dream team of TA, ZBo, Gasol, Mike Conley and more tear it up. Officially adopted the #GritandGrind mindset from there on out. 

Mom and I saw Sir Paul McCartney in concert in Memphis. 

Married off some best friends to some awesome guys along the way.

Went to a lot of Memphis In Mays, BBQ Fests, Crawfish Fests and any other fests we could. 

A baby Mizzou TriDelt became my intern for a summer and we had so much fun. 

Met Kathryn when she moved to Memphis Summer 2013.

Road tripped to Mississippi too many times: Biloxi for the beach and Oxford for the tailgates.

Rang in some New Years in #10 Main Street, Memphis.

Took some awesome holiday card photos of our animals. 

Went on a Colorado girls trip around Boulder, Ft. Collins and Denver. 

Went skiing solo for the first time. 

Ordered too many pizzas.

Celebrated some great birthdays.  

Met our best friend Ryan Hart and turned his apartment into a club. 

Got to sit courtside for a few Grizz games and drank a Big Ass beer on national TV, much to my mom’s horror. 

Got to witness in real time the rebirth of Memphis as it turned its blighted areas into neighborhoods full of art once again and go to so many cool events, concerts and fundraisers. 

Completed the Nashville Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon. 

Friends started having magical little babes. 

Roshani and I graduated from New Memphis Leadership Institute. 

Started Watch Us Roam as a journaling outlet for vignettes of my life. 

We honored those who left us too soon.

Ate so much good southern food

Went to DC for the first time. 

My parents began to move out of Kirksville with my dad taking on a new job south of St. Louis. 

Got a puppy! Paisley Mae Mae called out to my mom from the Kirksville animal shelter classifieds so she drove up as they were closing and offered them $20. She became my permanent sassy sidekick the next day and my life was never the same. 

Completed the St. Jude marathon – my first full

Learned how to make donuts in the back of a real doughnut shop for Kathryn’s birthday. 

Received my certificate to officially be a certified hospital manager of volunteers. 

Helped coordinate Roshani and Rob’s weddingon the river in Memphis.  

Decided to make a big, big career decision and move to KC, leaving nonprofit life to explore marketing and business. 

Had a wonderful sendoff from St. Jude and Memphis

Met some awesome new friends and coworkers in KC.

Moved into my own place on the KC Plaza.  

Learned a lot at my new advertising/animal pharma job. 

Got to go on someawesome work trips and eat at some insane restaurants. 

Got to live in the same city as so many of my good college girlfriends again. 

Got into yoga. 

The KC Royals won the World Series.

Spent some wonderful last holiday seasons in our old KV family home. 

Went to my first Chiefs game. 

Met my husband on a fateful February 13th night in a KC 39th Street Mexican bar and he instantly became my favorite human.  

Went on a lot of fun dates. 

Jake’s parents sold their home, bought a huge motorhome and became permanent nomads. 

Said goodbye to some very well loved pets

Welcomed Jojo the doodle into the fam. 

Took an epic road trip around Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho with Jake. 

Bought a new Jeep together. 

I secretly bought a vintage wedding dress on a crazy solo shopping whim in my favorite place, the KC West Bottoms, and hid it in the back of my closet 🙂 

Gave Jake’s house a makeover. 

Jake got an Amazon call and started flying to Seattle to interview. 

We made the decision to move to Seattle together. 

Threw Jake a going away party. 

Got rid of a lot of furniture. 

A chimney fell on my car while I was inside the vet’s office with two cats and a dog. 

Lived it up at some Missouri wineries with my parents. 

Moved to Seattle! 

Sold Jake’s house. 

I became a hiker/camper. 

Jake turned 30 and we went to Leavenworth Oktoberfest. 

We camped in Joshua Tree. 

We hosted our first holidays in Seattle. 

We had family and friends from all over come visit. 

We explored the PNW and hiked and camped. 

We made good friends in Seattle. 

We spent our first Seattle New Years at the base of Mt. Rainier in an old rail car hotel. 

I started working at a tech start-up.

We got engaged

Jake ran the Big Sur marathon. 

We had an insanely fun engagement party in Kirksville where I wore the vintage wedding dress 🙂 

We drove over the mountains and got Porter the puppy! (Thank you Adams County Pet Rescue!)

We ran the Tunnel Vision marathon together. 

I had so much fun at my bachelorette party in Las Vegas. 

We spent our first Christmas together with just us in Seattle. 

We got married and spent a magical week in Hawaii. 

We went on an epic honeymoonliving out of a van traveling around New Zealand. 

My parents sold our family home. 

My parents bought a new fixer upper outside of St. Louis. 

I took an online cohort course with Anastasia Allison. 

We moved out of our Ballard apartment and into a home in Sunset HIll. 

A bunch of our KC friends moved to Seattle. 

We went back to Hawaii. 

I went to London for work. Mom tagged along and we went to see the Cliffs of Dover and Paris together. 

Katie Myers and I road tripped the Oregon Coast. 

I produced three conferences for work and won two awards. 

Explored NYC for the first time. 

I helped form a bookclub. 

Kathryn and I drove cross country to move her here. 

I started a new job back in nonprofit development at the Rivkin Center. 

Decided it was worth it to keep up this roaming journal, even if it’s just for us 🙂

Spent a great Christmas in Las Vegas. 

I submitted all of my requirements to complete a Holistic Nutritionist Certificate in December 30th, 2019.

And then we rang in the New Year from our couch because we got the flu, BUT that just means we are very well rested to kick off 2020. We have a lot of fun trips planned this spring and I’m so excited for what’s to come and where we’ll roam.

Of course this isn’t everything, but it’s a good list that I’m proud of. So thankful to have so many good memories and experiences to begin a new decade and year with. Here’s to even more love and joy in the next ten! Happy roaming into the new year!  ~ Amanda 

Home Is Where You Feel It

A little winter update on why Seattle finally feels like home:

It’s the season of giving, of spreading extra love, of merriment and family and friends. And we are in the thick of it right now. Holiday parties, end-of-year wrap ups, gift giving, planning travels to see loved ones, trying to make our tiny home feel warm and jolly without smothering it in greenery. We are lucky this year, our home is bursting at the seams, in a good way. We are living the typical Seattle life currently in our 810 square foot, two-bedroom rental home while we figure out where we want to buy our own small piece of Seattle. Our little home is especially warmer this year because of some house guests, one of my best friends, Kathryn and her dog Scarlett. Kathryn and Scar were at a crossroads a few months ago living in the Midwest, and all of the sudden the timing was just right for them to move out West. While Kathryn was job hunting and getting used to her new city, she moved in with us in our second bedroom. It’s been so fun having extra friends and dogs fill up our home.

Jake has turned into some sort of Seattle pied piper, encouraging his best friends to move across the country and join us here (which as of now, the count is at 7 – I don’t know how he does it!). I hadn’t had much luck with any of my close galpals picking up and moving to the PNW but was fine making friends here, when out of nowhere, Kathryn’s move just felt like the right place, right time. Having someone who has known you for years, who just already gets you, who has been next to you in good and bad, permanently here is amazing. We’d been in Seattle for three years prior to Kathryn moving here, and if I’m honest, I was still feeling on the fence about being grounded in this city. A little indifferent on “loving” it. In late August I flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago on the same day I received an interview for a new potential job. Kathryn and Scar picked me up at the airport and we set out West. I’ve driven from the Midwest to the East Coast a handful of times, but I’d never driven farther West than Colorado. We covered half the United States in two days, the plains gently morphing into mountains as we pushed through, blasting girl power anthems, and stopping in the Badlands to get some sun on our faces and look out at that crazy, vast landscape in the middle of nowhere. It was a monumental trip of moving across the country, of female power, of learning how to shed things that no longer server you or you need, and the overwhelming feeling of taking back your own power and strength.

Now, a little more than three months since we pulled into our driveway with a best friend and her dog, and a month into my new job – I told Jake last night as he drove us around our little neighborhood above the marina looking at all the Christmas lights – this place finally feels like home. I can’t really describe it, and maybe my heart has different ways of categorizing “home”, but for some reason Seattle took longer than the other new cities I’ve moved to in the last ten years. I think I just needed the right cocktail of people, love, curiosity, career and purpose to feel it. (Now if we can just convince our families to move, we’ll never leave.) It didn’t take Kathryn long to find a job, and it turned out we both got new jobs at the same hospital and started with hospital orientation on the same day. (Helllllooo signs from the universe.)

So while our house might be a bit full at the moment with people and three dogs (it’s a constant zoo and it’s awesome) and all the stuff that goes along with all of that, I am immensely grateful to have a life-long girlfriend just steps away, a roof over our heads, a job that I feel truly blessed to serve, friends all over the city, the goofiest dogs to keep us entertained, and all of the love a house can hold. We hosted Thanksgiving again this year for all of our friends in town without family, and it felt so good to look around our living room at everyone laughing and know that Jake and I had a little hand in the love and camaraderie of twelve strangers who weren’t strangers anymore. And it felt like home.

So this is just a long-winded way to say, if you’re feeling the need for a change – do it. It’s scary, expensive sometimes, and it’s not going to be all rainbows and butterflies. But if you stick it out, and let happiness flow to you, it might just end up better than you could have ever imagined. Welcome home, Kathryn and Scarlett!

Getting Lit at 32

Yo. Hi there. Bonjour. What’s up?

It’s. Been. A. Minute.

Or a year since our last post. But that’s okay. We’re here now. Want to know why the lengthy time off?

Being honest: burnout, fear, lack of fire…

I kind of always thought burnout was a myth, something overachieving CEOs complained about, or something nurses or factory workers experience on 14 hour shift days. Something that happened to people way busier than me, with more power, with kids, etc. That wasn’t me. I have it good and I know it. I’m in a place of privilege and am grateful every single day for my life. So I never really paid attention to it. Even when I stopped doing things outside of work that I usually love and bring me joy. My writing gradually decreased, my journal staring at me everyday with guilt. I couldn’t muster the creativity to write a blog post. I went through a period in year 31 where I focused on work, and a lot, lot less on other things that brought me joy. I had to stop watching the news. I wasn’t depressed (even though I get reading this it kinda sounds that way, I’m not, I promise), but ever since the last presidential election, I’ve had a harder time looking on the bright side of the world and I let it get to me. We still took some awesome trips, hung out with loved ones and did cool shit, it wasn’t like I was alone in a cave. But the energy and fire I’d had for outwardly living authentically, learning, speaking my truth, standing up for love and kindness, my spirituality and sharing it with others had cooled to embers.

I’d had big plans for 31, and to my credit, I accomplished a lot of them (22 out of the 31 listed!). We took a lot of trips to see friends get married, and I got to go to France and England with mi madre! We had so many close friends move to Seattle, which we couldn’t have even dreamed of when we first moved here. I solidified a good core group of girlfriends (it helped that one of my besties also moved to Seattle, who I of course am trying to con into being a contributor) and we all compliment each other so well. We started a book club that I feel borderline obsessed with. In all, it was a kick-ass year, but one that really kicked into gear later, as my 32nd birthday loomed in October. I learned a lot about myself. I got scared I was stagnant. Then I got scared of change. I got rejected. Then I turned down job offers. And I spent a lot of time quietly worrying about this blog, internally wrangling with why I even have it if I don’t keep up with it. On a trip to Memphis an old coworker asked me what was up with it. I was embarrassed. I answered sort of honestly – I’m fearful of it in this current cultural climate. (Or maybe, I just hadn’t been tending my own fire well enough.)

Writing has always been an outlet to me since I learned to put sentences together. For some reason I just love it. And since everyone and their dog broke into blogging in 2008, I’ve been endlessly fascinated by blogs. I love reading other people’s (read: strangers) blogs about anything from their surprise triplets who I don’t even know, to what you should pack for a four day winter camping trip to the Alpine Wilderness that I most likely won’t be tackling anytime soon (but it’s so inspiring to see other badass ladies do it!). Some say blogs are dead now, but whatever. I’m just a lover of all kinds of kinds of nonfiction and personal stories standing in front of the internet. I’ve had this blog or some version of it for FIVE years now. FIVE. It’s not a toddler anymore. It’s not something I’ve focused on fully for five years, but I mull it over every single day in my head of what I want it to be. And in doing so, I let myself be ruled by the fear of it. But, but, but… my writing isn’t perfect, I’m not an expert at Photoshop (which honestly just seems so overrated these days), blogging is saturated… blah. I’m an emotional, long winded writer. That’s not “good” blog form. I tend to be an open book. That’s “too real” for the internet. I share personal stories, victories and struggles. That’s too much “negative” or “sensitive” information for anyone to come across about me on the internet. And on and on with all the other doubts anxious minds can bring up when you want to do something slightly terrifying, like write personally on the internet. But fear is a liar.

What I did do over the last year, was start paying closer attention to powerful women who are changing the world whom I admire. Women like Amy Nelson, founder of The Riveter; Brene Brown; Elizabeth Gilbert; Cyndi Ramirez, founder of Chillhouse; Jeannette Ogden of ShutTheKaleUpLizzo, and others. Watching how they navigate their fears and boundaries, show up for realness, own their careers, and how they take control of their lives. How could I do that? How can I be that? Last October I’d made a silent promise to myself that in one year I refused to be in the exact same spot. I knew I needed to grow, I just didn’t know what that looked like. I took some turns and wrong roads in trying to figure out how to light my fire again. I started asking the universe to show me what I should be doing. I wanted to have fun again at work. I started actually talking to more successful women, not just wishing I was. I knew I was passionate about helping women, have always been unconditionally obsessed with learning about nutrition and food and bodies and healthcare, and that I needed to move into women’s wellness in some way. Once I got clear on that, a few months later I started working towards getting my Holistic Nutritionist Certificate, and then a new (to me) women’s health organization with an opening offered me a role. And I took it.

Then I had an almost complete meltdown about quitting my old position. It was such an emotional roller coaster doing so, that it woke me up to just how badly I actually needed that change. A new hire looked at me the day before I gave my notice (unknowingly) and point blank said to me, “You look burnt out, I can see it in your eyes.” I had to turn away to hide my tears. I was paid well, had a ton of responsibility and visibility, was learning new skills, had a supportive team, and knew how lucky I was, yet inside it just didn’t feel right anymore. But it had become a massive part of my life/identity and leaving it felt terrifying. A part of me wishes I would have been more outspoken in that role. Being in a male dominated industry and company in tech, I fight an inner dialogue that I didn’t do enough before walking away. Like I gave up a seat at the cool kids table or something. What that even looks like, I don’t know. But I do know that it took me a few days of detoxing that old me before I started feeling my fire being rekindled, of feeling more like “me” and less of whoever that quiet, uninterested person was. And that told me I’d made the right choice. I’d also kept a promise to myself – almost a year to the date. Which felt good. I’m now at a new org that fights to save women’s lives by funding cutting edge international research and education for ovarian and breast cancers – not sure how I could even sit at a cooler table. I feel like a new iteration of myself. Stronger, badder, smarter, purposeful, happier. 32 looks damn good.

So now, in a new year and new job, comes deciding what I do love enough to jump back into. I think Watch Us Roam is one of those loves. It’s been neglected, not properly formatted, and not had near enough care taking. And some of that will most certainly happen again. But I love to write and take photos and share weird shit with other humans and form connections and stories and fight the good fight and have excess reasons to own another Instagram account to post pics of sunsets and flowers and dogs and friends and female politicians and warriors and run-on sentences (being honest here). So here we go again… this girl is on fiiiiiiirrrrrreeee. (Couldn’t help it.)

Thanks for reading Watch Us Roam. Let the record state it’s officially back from sabbatical – aged like a fine wine that pairs well with satire, long winded emo writing, and salt and vinegar chips. Cheers! – Amanda

Another trip around the sun

The 16th is my birthday and I’m writing this as I barrel down the road on the 18 express bus heading south into downtown Seattle on a sunny Monday morning. It’s my last day as a 30 year old and I’m acutely aware of how fast time can start going. It’s a funny thing how you can keep growing as an adult. The last 365 days have been so life changing for me.

Becoming a newlywed, moving my parents, and doing some major soul searching on how I can be more intentional and grateful with my time are the high points. Getting married in Hawaii to my love surrounded by so many people we love and adore with the lush beauty that is Hawaii was a highlight of my life, not to mention year 30. Honeymooning in New Zealand was a close second.

I met some great people this year that have started to feel more like a PNW family than friends, took some trips to spend time with old friends in Memphis and San Diego, and had a wild Dolly Parton themed bachelorette party in Las Vegas that was so fun it hurt. Literally. Got a little injured doing some dance moves in heels that were not my friend, then learned how to slow down and go through a healing process, which was a cathartic experience in itself. It came as a shock to me how bad I am at being still and had to take stock of how to take care of me. We moved out of our first Seattle apartment to make new memories in the coziest small house five blocks from the ocean with a yard and tiny garden. Watching the dogs become buddies playing in the yard has brought us so much joy. I got better acquainted with myself and what I want out of life and committed to attracting it through gratitude. Not everyday was easy, work tested my patience more than once and physically exhausted me at other times, but the memories and how much I’ve learned from year thirty in my career are immeasurable.

I feel so happy that we are finally starting to feel like we’ve grown some real roots in Seattle, in our marriage, and in the direction of our lives. I do have one big regret from this year – I’d made a goal to myself that I’d do thirty hikes in year thirty. But tearing three tendons and fracturing my pelvis one month into thirty derailed that goal. I detest not meeting goals. But I’ve had to let that one go. Also something I’ve never really done before. Thanks, year thirty, for teaching me one more thing. So instead of listing out my thirty epic hikes like I’d planned (I only made it to 12!), here’s a list of thirty things I’m grateful for this past year and thirty one things I’m excited about or want to try in year thirty one.

Thirty things I’m grateful for:

  1. Jake

  2. Our family

  3. Safety

  4. Our doggies, Paisley Mae Mae and Porter

  5. Good friends old and new

  6. Our health and the ability to choose what’s best for us

  7. The Universe

  8. Our house

  9. The ability to travel

  10. Music

  11. Fall Seattle sunshine

  12. That my career allows for my creative outlet, pushes me to learn about unfamiliar topics, and is filled with kind humans.

  13. Seattle breweries

  14. Growing up in a small town

  15. Books

  16. An adventurous spirit

  17. Our yard and my garden

  18. Campfires

  19. Morning walks on the beach

  20. Amazon Alexa (I’m codependent at this point)

  21. Yoga

  22. Running

  23. Sunsets/Sunrises

  24. Those mountains over the water

  25. Playing with recipes

  26. Snail mail

  27. Overalls of all kinds

  28. Salt

  29. Laughing

  30. My neighborhood reiki and massage studio, Ritual

Thirty one things I’m excited about for this next year:

  1. More time with my hubby
  2. Seeing Fleetwood Mac in concert with my family this weekend in StL for the umpeenth time.
  3. Passing out candy to trick or treaters on Halloween in our new neighborhood
  4. Hosting our friend-family at our house for Thanksgiving
  5. Watching my garlic and tulip bulbs come up this coming May
  6. All the friend weddings we have coming up this year and the fun travel that goes along

7. Pushing myself to grow

8. Getting back to my normal workouts

9. Skiing!

10. I want to go on my first winter backpacking trip

11. I want to learn a few chords on the ukulele

12. Planning and taking an epic trip to Southeast Asia

13. Running another race. Any good ideas?

14. Old friends moving to Seattle

15. Spending more time with female mentors

16. Joining a women’s leadership group

17. Learning more about health and wellness

18. Holidays in my parents new house

19. Leaning into my Seattle style

20. Giving more

21. One year married

22. Watching Jake’s career take off

23. Investing in a brewery

24. Learning more about how I can do my part to help make a cleaner earth

25. Choosing joy everyday

26. Journaling

27. Going on a retreat

28. Embracing the PNW winter rain (hard one for me)

29. Drinking more water

30. Deepening my yoga practice

31. Finally editing our wedding video (still can’t watch the footage without huge tears of joy)

Still can’t get over how great 30 was. Thanks for being on this journey with me. Cheers to another year! ~ Amanda