It took joining the army to grow up.

Looking back on old Facebook posts and photos, I discovered one jarring fact about myself before I joined the army: I didn’t know what it meant to be an adult until I arrived at my first unit.

Before I was a Soldier, I was ambitious and eager to excel in English, following my love of writing and literature. Receiving feedback on my essays was almost addicting; I couldn’t wait to figure out my professor’s standards and exceed them with every draft.

I was a dance instructor, pushing myself out of my comfort zone of simply being the student. It was one thing to make it to a dance class and follow, but it was another to lead. Simultaneously, I studied and taught yoga.

Then I was a performer, joining a small dance company and participating in late night ballroom dance rehearsals.

I was a traveler. My best friend and I joined a tour group, enduring two fast-paced weeks of visiting seven European countries. Before then, I traveled to Ireland for one week with another tour group, having met no one before the trip. On domestic soil, I flew to Nebraska to read a research paper I wrote for the 2015 Willa Cather Conference.

I was a journalist, an editor of a local newspaper and intern at a Los Angeles based yoga and Ayurveda magazine.

All the while, I was still living under my parents’ roof and reaching my mid-twenties. Despite my hunger to embody what I loved doing – dancing and writing, I could never support myself or keep more than a few extra bucks in my checking account.

Flash-forward to now, I am still struggling financially. I predict that I will be struggling for at least another year, before I finally have it all figured out. I’m no longer under mommy and daddy’s roof; I’m under Uncle Sam’s.

I have much more growing up to do, milestones that have yet to be crossed. The journey isn’t black and white, though. I didn’t leave my childhood behind and begin adulthood when I joined the military. A new chapter began, furthering the tale of my existence that I hope to pass on to the children I hope to have one day.

Even then, I’ll never stop learning and exploring who I am, who I was meant to be, and who I am supposed to be with. I have faith in the journey and everything that is beyond my control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

stream of consciousness

When the sun and moon meet.

Friday April 14th, 2017

3:34 p.m.

 

I checked-off one of my four-year goals this morning when I opened the Northwest Guardian. My article about the Gladiator Challenge was published.

Another milestone crossed.

I’m a journalist, and now I finally feel like one. I’m a storyteller. I get paid to write.

Okay, okay. I’ll stop bragging. But I’m that woman! I am making a living off of my writing. Not rich, no. Money isn’t the best thing in the world, but my resume is pretty impressive as it builds, as the stories pile up and as I have the pleasure of writing them.

There are so many untold ones.

But what’s so satisfactory about telling? Why must a something go somewhere and do a thing? Why can’t it just be internal and unshared?

Connection.

We all want something to connect with, to connect to. Right? In a world where many find solace and sanctuary in disconnect, I find satisfaction and strength in connecting. In building relationships. In knowing.

My mentor once said, “The reason I know something is because I wrote about it.”

I feel the same way. I know things because I heard the story, transcribed it and shared it.

Why must I know? What’s the power in knowledge as the cliche goes? Is it dangerous to be knowledgeable and aware?  

Maybe there’s respectability in knowing and passing it along to someone else. To someone who has never known or never seen or never heard.

You tell me. And I tell you. Who tells someone else. It goes round and round and round, like the sun and moon chasing each other; one day they’ll meet and that is when it all begins

The story begins when the sun and moon finally meet.

 

My First Book

I was too impatient to find an agent, especially for my first book. The 51 page novelette is officially live as an eBook on Amazon! My first book. I’m super excited to share my story with the world. I hope my story inspires you and sheds some light on alternative forms of psychological, emotional and spiritual recovery from a traumatic event.

If you’d like to read a sample of the first few pages and see what it’s all about, here you go.

 

fighting through healing

Published in LA YOGA

 

Amanda Ridder Paratrooper Yoga

Breathe through Fear: Yoga for the Courage to Jump from a Plane

“The thunderous roar of the C-130 engines filled the inside of the huge aircraft that was in flight at an altitude 1,200 feet above ground. I stood with shaking legs behind three other jumpers. Every muscle in my body quivered in anticipation. What allowed me to stand strong in this moment was the clarity and focus I found in my ability to breathe through fear because of yoga….”

Read more of my story by clicking the link above in LA YOGA Magazine!

Trigger

The clock ticked painfully slowly in the classroom. I willed it to speed up before my palms grew sweatier and tears spilled over my eyelids.

We were learning about trauma in Professor Luck’s Undergraduate Studies of the American Gothic. It was my favorite English class during that winter in 2014.

I sat at the front and contributed whenever I felt like I had something worth voicing, which was more often in that course than any other.

This particular lecture, however, changed me forever.

The professor was writing on the whiteboard and speaking of memory in one of the works of fiction we were reading. He was saying how the psyche was sensitive to stimuli after a traumatic event occurred to someone.

The students contributed to the lecture, but their words grew muffled. I couldn’t hear them anymore, yet their voices pierced my ears.

Every stroke of his marker on the board felt like an electric shock to my bones. My jaw clenched so tightly, that I thought my teeth would break.

How was I going to survive another 20 minutes without anyone noticing?

He addressed the class and looked towards my direction, possibly thinking that I would have something to say.

I immediately looked down at my shaking, interlaced fingers, too embarrassed that he might’ve seen me suffering silently.

Class was almost over. If I excused myself to the restroom, I thought that I would’ve appeared too rude to hear the end of his lesson.

Professor Luck wrapped up his final point and looked towards the clock which finally read 6 p.m. He uttered words of homework and tomorrow’s agenda. Students closed their books, and I threw mine in my backpack.

I was the first out the door.

The cold San Bernardino air dried my eyes as I power-walked down the stairs to the parking lot to my 2008 Toyota Yaris. I was thankful that it was dark outside. Classmates that I befriended couldn’t see my wet, frightened face.

In my car, I wept. I hadn’t cried – I hadn’t sobbed – so hard in years.

I called my mom and told her that I was going to wait to drive home.

“I think it’s finally happening,” I wept over the phone.

What’s happening?” she asked worriedly.

“The robbery,” I responded.

She knew exactly what I was talking about, and urged me to take my time getting back on the freeway.

When I made it home safely, we talked about the incident that occurred two years before when another Starbucks barista and I were robbed at gunpoint.

It sounded stupid to say that I had PTSD, because the event didn’t sound as traumatic as it could’ve been. No one was hurt. The robber was caught. I simply walked away shaken up with a stiff neck after he had hit me over the head with his weapon.

My mom listened to me as I told her about the irony of studying trauma while possibly experiencing it.

I tucked the assault away in the back of my subconscious, and allowed the stimuli to haunt me in the most unexpected way, in the most unexpected place.

That class unveiled the scar that I didn’t know that I had.

It was a trigger that had finally been pulled.

 

 

 

 

The Brick Room

My room in the barracks is a small space furnished with a few pieces of fake dark wooden tables with drawers, a desk, a very stiff bed, a fridge, microwave, red leather chair, and two massive closets.

This is the room I was given to live in, and it is an old room built of dull brick dating back to Vietnam.

Since I am only an E-4 and single, it would be difficult to get a waiver to live off post and rent a room in a house. Also, I would rather not spend the money to put a roof over my head when I really need to spend money on getting a car first to get on and off post efficiently.

It’s not the worst place in the world to live in, but it certainly is a huge change from the Doll Room in Colorado, and it’s pretty mind-dulling to be cooped up in here.

Regardless, I realize how ideal this spot is for writing. No roommates, no television, no pets…. just me and my laptop.

Just me and my thoughts.

Time to dig deep.