A Love for Old Things – How My Career Path Came Full Circle

A Young Girl with an Old Soul

In 4th grade my elementary class took a field trip to the Kittitas County History Museum and the Old Shoudy Mansion… thus began my obsession with Kittitas County history and architecture from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. After the field trip that day I came home and told my mom I wanted to be an architect, so that I could build new homes to look like they used to. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand why architects and contractors traded in the old fashioned detailed woodwork and high quality craftsmanship for the aesthetically lacking things that gets built today.

But let me back up…

For as long as I can remember I have had a love for old things. As a little girl I liked watching black and white shows such as I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, and the Beverly Hillbillies. I jumped on an opportunity to thumb through old family photos with Grandma every chance I could, and visiting the antique market in Thorp was one of my favorite weekend outings.

Growing up my mom and aunt were both avid antique dealers, always out on the hunt for things other people might consider “out dated junk”.

So… I suppose you could say that I came by my love for old treasures naturally.

Things Work Out

My passion for antiques, historic architecture, and “cool old stuff” is still a very large part of who I am today as I enter my years as a young professional.

After spending an afternoon digging antiques out of the old barn and cellar on the farm, my boyfriend’s dad Craig said it best, “Faith I think you were born a century too late.” I think he is right!

As it turns out I didn’t end up pursing a degree in construction management or architecture (the math wasn’t gonna happen for me). Instead I went down the path of Public Relations and Non-Profit Management.

However,  I am pleased to say that it all worked out… because today I work for an organization, where I can put my degree to good use, and ALSO get to work preserving and revitalizing the historic district right here in my home town.

A Young Preservationist – Happy in Her Career Choice

Anyone who knows me, knows that I live preservation in my everyday life. My home is full of vintage and antique furniture, quilts, and home decor. I am currently in the process of upcycling an old 5 panel door into a headboard for our master bedroom. The things many others would consider junk, I consider treasures.

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As a part of my job working for the Ellensburg Downtown Association (which is powered by the Washington Main Street Program and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation) I was given the opportunity to plan and attend the 2017 RevitalizeWA conference. RevitalizeWA is an annual three day summit put on by the Washington Main Street Program, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Department of Archeology & Historic Preservation.

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Attending this conference was a HUGE opportunity for me. It was so inspiring to spend three days surrounded by people who have the same interests and passions as myself. Being around like minded people who are fired up about preserving and rehabilitating pieces of our past helped relight a fire in me, and made me realize that I am right where I belong, in my career with the EDA.

Take Away

It amazes me how things come full circle. Life has lead me down a bumpy path, I have changed career goals and majors a countless number of times. I might not be an architect, and I might not be in the social work realm (like I was planning just three short years ago).

Instead of recreating history I am preserving it. Instead of helping the lives of the marginalized, I am helping the lives of small business owners, by encouraging community pride, and a thriving downtown historic district.

The Moments that Break Me

Early on in my college career I got into the habit of calling my Mom after all of my advising appointments. I would share with her my news, good or bad. She would rejoice with me when I felt like I had a path planned out. She would listen as I babbled on about how I would take these classes, volunteer with this organization, and intern at that company.

Little did I know, my major would go through several changes, and I would transfer schools. But when those days came, as all my plans fell by the waste side, Mom was there to calm my nerves, to remind me that everything would be okay.

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As many of you may know, I am quickly approaching my college graduation. Since the beginning of Fall I have been counting down the quarters, the months, the days. However…

Until today none of it really felt real. Until today there was always a little bit of doubt in the back of my mind. I was unsure. Unsure that I had not missed a class, unsure that I hadn’t miscalculated credits, unsure that I hadn’t forgotten to check a box somewhere along the way. I was just unsure, doubtful.

Today I met with a graduation adviser, and sure enough… I am on track. Turns out I am only 8 credits away from graduation, so next quarter I will get to take an elective class, a just for fun class. Yippee!

This is all great news! For once it seems that my life is actually going the way I would like it to.  Except not really…

After my advising appointment I was ecstatic and I had to share my good news with someone. So… I called my boyfriend Ethan. Naturally, he was happy for me. He said all the right things, told me he was proud of me and reminded me how close I am to the finish line. And I was so happy to share this great news with him.  But after I hung up that phone, something felt wrong. The problem? The person that I really wanted to call and tell this news to was my MOM.

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Today, after what was one of the greatest advising meetings of my college career, my Mom wasn’t there to call. Which got me thinking… This Spring I will face the first, in a series of many, big life milestone without my Mom to share it with. Without my biggest fan on the sidelines cheering me on.

Today it is graduation, but one day it will be a big promotion, my engagement, my wedding day, the birth of my first child. Going through the day to day without my Mom gets easier as time passes. What I am not prepared for are the big things, the life milestones, the moments where you just expect your parents to be there by your side.  These are the moments that break me, these are the moments that scare the crap out of me.

“Losing a Mother doesn’t happen in a moment, it takes a lifetime to appreciate the impact of what’s gone.”

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Another Holiday Season Without Mom

As we approach the holiday season, the loss of my mother weighs heavy on my heart. They say that grief will get easier as the years pass. But now, moving into the second year without my mother, I would like to call bullsh*t. If anything I might argue that this year will be MORE difficult than the last.

Thanksgiving is less than 5 days away. Everyone is absorbed in holiday planning and baking.  Soon we will begin to prep for Christmas. For the most part the chaos keeps our minds busy, distracting us from that fact that we are about to face another holiday season without our mother. But as soon as we start to slow down, to lower our guard, the grief makes its way in. There is no way of knowing what will elicit the pain until it happens.  Maybe it’s a song on the radio, a recipe you can’t remember, or a Christmas decoration. One thing is for certain, it will happen eventually, and it will catch you off guard.

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 A Year of Great Achievements

2016 was a good year. My siblings and I have continued to march forward in our lives, despite the daily trails we face without having our Mom to fall back on.

This past year I was given the opportunity to leave a job I was unhappy in, to gain a position at an organization that I am passionate about. I am slowly moving towards the life of a young professional as I finish up my last year of college. I have also met the man of my dreams, who I plan to spend the rest of my life with.

My brother continues to make amazing progress in his animation career. He has found a woman who completes him. A woman who understands him and pushes him to be a better version of himself. This year he even found a new home, a home where he and Sara are building a life together.

My sister persists to amaze and inspire me every day. She takes life in strides, never loosing grace or poise. In addition to being an amazing big sister, mother, and wife she has continued to climb the ladder in her career.

Overall the three of us have had a successful year. In no way do I mean complain about that. However, in some way our successes almost makes enduring the holiday season without Mom by our side MORE difficult. It is hard to enjoy your success when your main cheerleader is no longer on the sidelines. It’s hard to face new changes in the wake of the holiday season, when your rock is gone.

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New Experiences

This year I will face my first Thanksgiving away from my own family, to join Ethan at his aunts home. While I am both honored and excited to spend my first holiday with the George family, naturally, my excitement is also accompanied by feelings of sadness and anxiousness. Moments such as these are the moments when I wish Mom was around to talk to. I wish she was here to say just the right thing, to reassure me that everything will go fine.

This Christmas my older brother plans to bring Sara home to meet the family. We are all ecstatic to share our family traditions with her. Yet there is also a sadness that comes from knowing Sara will never know what a Christmas morning was like with our Mom. She will never know what it is to be woke up from mom’s rendition of  Early Bird , originally sang by Shirley Temple.

Staying Strong Together

Today my sister sent a text to my brother and me expressing how much she has been missing Mom this past week. Not an hour before I received my sisters’ text I found myself sitting in my car with tear filled eyes, holding back sobs. I am still not sure what prompted that moment of grief, and sometimes you never know. However, I find comfort and reassurance knowing that I am not the only one who has been having a hard time these last few days.

I am so thankful to know I have been blessed with two amazing siblings who know exactly what I am going through. They may be hundreds and thousands of miles away but in moments of grief it is nice to know that we are all in the same place. We all must face another holiday season with out our mother, and we will do so with cheer and poise, just as she would have wanted. We will make it through, together, as a team, united in the fight against loss.

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The Day Mom Lost her Cape, She Gained Wings

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You never REALLY think it will happen to you. You and your loved ones are invincible. The tragedies that we hear about every day, those terrible things on the news, they won’t ever happen in your life. I used to think this way too, until it happened to me…

The majority of us go through life regarding our parents as strong, wise, people that we call our everyday saviors, or in some cases… our superheroes. When we are young we rely on them to satisfy our basic needs; shelter, food, clothing, comfort, and love. As we get older and face adulthood, we may begin to provide the basic life necessities for ourselves. However, we still call on Mom and Dad when life get tough. When we can’t quite pull together all of rent, when we can’t remember how to cook spaghetti, or when we need a shoulder to bare the weight of a broken heart. The truth is, no matter our age, we always find ourselves calling on the wisdom of our superheroes… I mean parents.

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I remember that day like it was yesterday. The images are burned in my head.

For me, it had been another normal day for my 16-year-old self. I was caught up in the latest high school drama; classes, clubs, friends and boys. After I wolfed down some cold dinner (which had probably been awaiting my arrival for several hours) I dropped my book bag in my room and was quickly headed back out the door.

As I swung out of my bedroom and around the hall corner Mom emerged from her room. Quiet and unusually lethargic she stopped me and asked about my day. Naturally, I told her, and returned the question. In that moment, from the look in her eyes, I knew something was wrong.

Earlier in the week mom had gone to see a specialist who looked at a lump Mom had found in her right breast. We didn’t really think much of Mom’s trip. At least I didn’t.

I know you might be thinking that I am a terrible child who didn’t love her mother. This was NOT the case. Like most children I simply considered my mom invincible, bad things like cancer don’t happen to parents… parents are superheroes. Additionally, it wasn’t unusual for women in the town we lived in, to be sent out of town for testing in facilities with newer imaging technology. In fact, Mom was sent out of town for mammogram imaging almost yearly, and every time she came home with a clean bill of health.

But this time was different. This time the doctors were worried. This time it wasn’t just an overly cautious procedure. This time it was the real deal. This time it was CANCER.

In reaction to the news,  words filled with urgency spilled out of my mouth. “What? Are they sure?” “Can’t they just cut it out?” “Mom! Just let them cut it out!” At that moment the words that I uttered seemed genius. “Mom, if your boob is the problem just let them take it. Then the cancer is gone right?!” How naïve I was then. Little did I know, cancer isn’t that simple, it’s like a rubrics cube that even the geniuses can’t solve. It’s an evil, methodical, invincible plague. I know this now.

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After five hard years of battle Mom lost her fight to the cancer. 09/03/2015. The day my world changed forever. During those five years Mom never let up, she was a constant fighter with a fantastic attitude. Eventually the cancer spread from her breasts, to her organs, and finally to her bones. At the end she was riddled with cancer from top to bottom, but she never let that break her spirit.

Mom was able to find joy in many places others wouldn’t. Even the smallest things brought her sheer delight. Maybe it was a new song on the radio, a chocolate milkshake, or a smiling stranger, there wasn’t a moment she didn’t cherish. Mom’s health was bad, even sitting up and keeping her eyes open was a struggle for her somedays. Physically mom was in no shape of a superhero, but I think that her attitude during some of the hardest days of her life should serve as an inspiration to all.

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When faced with hardship in life it is so easy to let it change you for the worst. We all are guilty of complaining when even the slightest thing goes wrong. Falling into a spiral of negativity we make mountains out of mole hills. But life is short, and life is good. When you feel like you’re up against the world, remember the joy and grace Mom had in her last days. Even when her whole body was fighting against her she was able to find bliss in the small things.

To some, the day Mom was diagnosed with cancer was the day she no longer appeared to be a superhero. But not to me. The way my mother handled her fight with such grace and poise proved to me that she was even stronger than I originally thought. The day Mom finally turned in her superhero cape was the day she gained an even better accessory… a pair of wings.