Depending on how long you’ve been around the blog will determine how much of my story you know. Most people read blogs for the content without a lot of background story on how they came to be. I’m sharing my story with you today because if there’s ever a moment you need a bit of encouragement that you are on the right path, that your dreams aren’t ridiculous as some might say, or that there’s validity to the voice that comes from inside your butterfly-riddled tummy…..this will be the story for you.
I like words, so it’s a bit of a lengthy one……
Brian and I’s story began in June of 2010 when we married beneath the Southern magnolias as a gorgeous summer sunset shimmied itself across historic Loyd Hall Plantation in Chenyville, Louisiana. We would then spend 10 glorious days in Maui and along with our wedding vows, we would also vow to someday figure out a way to profitably sell pineapples….and live out our glory years among Hawaii’s beauty.
We returned to the states on a Saturday, with a day of rest on Sunday before my dreaded work cell phone rang with the even more dreaded recorded message, “you have been deployed to a catastrophic event. Please log on to your computer for further instructions”. I would log on to find that I was headed to Chester, Pennsylvania the following day to work a tornado that had apparently had a temper tantrum while we were off organizing dreams made of pineapples.
I would pack up and work a 3 month assignment in Pennsylvania going home once a month for a 4 day weekend, with 2 of those being travel. There are a couple of things I remember about working that area; the quaint downtown areas with buildings made of stone, my first legit Philly cheesesteak, and learning exactly what the heck “do you want to go get a water ice?” meant. It’s like a snow cone if you’ve never heard the term. But what stands out the most about that deployment was a conversation I had with one of our older (and much wiser) insured’s as he complimented my shining new wedding ring. I gushed and gushed about our recent wedding and honeymoon, even showing him some cell phone photos. He said to me, “sweetheart, what’s a newlywed like yourself doing so far from home? You won’t find a sweeter time in marriage than that of being a newlywed” and he walked me over to a wedding photo of he and his deceased wife. I returned to my hotel room that evening and sobbed.
What I was doing was important work. For over 6 years, I traveled at a moment’s notice to help people recover from catastrophic losses. I cried alongside Hurricane Katrina victims who lost everything, but still had the hospitality and heart to offer me lemonade in their FEMA trailers. I was photographed and featured in a local newspaper pulling out a child’s teddy bear out of rubble following an Arkansas neighborhood disseminated by tornados. In Wichita, what began as a typical 3 month hail storm assignment turned into a 6-7 month assignment and I found myself wearing rubber boots (cute pink ones) through flood ravaged homes and assuring families that it would all be ok. I provided a shoulder to cry on in Arizona when an elderly woman fell into my arms and said she couldn’t see how she would rebuild the home whose roof collapsed during a snow storm.
A job that I took as a dare from a boyfriend who told me “oh, Aimee you can’t handle it” would shape and define who I would become as a person following college graduation. And while the work, the stories, and these people forever hold a place in my heart, the magnitude of the words “You won’t find a sweeter time in marriage than that of being a newlywed” were impossible to ignore. I was terrified he would be right.
After 3 long months, my assignment in Pennsylvania would be my last deployment with State Farm Insurance. I returned home only to be assigned the following week to Arizona and for lack of better words…I cracked. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to walk away from the “family” I had acquired from sharing the daunting career of living a life primarily on the road. I cried for weeks. I knew I would miss the people. I knew I would miss the camaraderie. And I knew I would miss the money.
The story picks up a few months later, though, when I was introduced to blogging by attending a New Orleans business luncheon highlighting local blogging powerhouses. I’d end up winning a trip to NYC with one of those ladies to be given a wardrobe makeover by fashion guru Tim Gunn to accommodate my new life. I began to blog regularly when his stylist asked me for my url so she could get a better idea of my personality. I used to wonder why on earth I was even invited to that luncheon, but have always thanked my lucky stars I didn’t delete the email, paid my $35 and hopped in the car. I don’t believe it was by accident. I truly believe God’s plan for me included that luncheon. Sometimes it’s subtle signs he gives, and sometimes it’s bright flashy ones that say “they are professional bloggers, sharing their talent with the world. You can do this, too”.
Now, here we are, nearly 6 years later. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in West Chester, Pennsylvania having just wrapped my rehearsal for my appearance on QVC next month. Only 10 minutes from the same neighborhoods I helped rebuild in 2010, I sit here, completely overwhelmed with gratitude. I so wish I could track down that gentleman who told me, in much kinder words, “go home and become a wife”. Tell him how much his words meant to me. Tell him how much has happened and how much I’ve accomplished.
To come full circle back to this place is both eerie and uniquely beautiful. There have been bumps and bruises throughout this journey and things have not been all rainbows and butterflies… I’ve often asked, “Lord, just give me a sign, tell me to keep plugging along or tell me to throw in the towel”, usually while crying on my laptop. And each time, he has given me a sign. But this one? Leading me right back to the place where I said goodbye to one chapter of my life and now open a new one beyond my wildest dreams? I just don’t know how to adequately describe it, but I can say I feel right where I’m supposed to be and wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t orchestrated by someone with much more control over my life than myself.
There will always be someone who questions your ambitions and frowns upon your dream chasing. Be brave in your pursuits and be confident in your abilities. And if you’re given the opportunity to kick a job to the curb and replace material things with marriage…..do it. Do it, and do your very best of repaying your husband’s appreciation by making the absolute most of the opportunity given to you.
This quote is on the top of my Picnic book preface and sums up my story perfectly:
Thank you for reading a bit more about my story. I hope I haven’t bored you to tears.
Now, go kick Monday in the rear!!!
What an incredible story!!!! You have been a pleasure to follow and I am so happy for you. No one deserves this more!!!
It still seems like just yesterday I met this wonderful person Aimee and her adorable dog Lucy in Georgia. She was planning her wedding and we were working a hail storm. Years later as I read this story I am lucky to say that I have watched my beautiful friend become someone amazing and I am blessed that years ago she was put on my path to inspire me to look for the possibilities and never settle for ordinary.
Beautiful story Aimee!! I remember some of it from my interview with you. I had the best time! And congrats on the new cookbook!