Friday, June 1, 2018

FRIDAY RE-INTRODUCTION



I'm Mandi, not Amanda, 
Lover of old things, a story, and hand written letters.
Character etched out by age, hardship and trials and maturing gracefully.
I love the color green and being in nature.
The sun setting over the sea, a completely genuine smile, and a good ol belly laugh,
Clean sheets, holding hands, and accounts of God's grace,
The greatest gift is to fully known by another, and loved in spite of my flaws.
We have 4 wild children
Keegan Alexander 18, Bailey Genevieve 16, Reef William 6, Ripley Glenn 4
They are most at home when we're at the edge of the ocean,
And we wouldn't have it any other way.
They are my heart, my days and hours poured into these years, into their fleeting childhood, and the joy of watching them grow as my hair turns grey.
Until next time
xoxo

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA



Things I'm teaching my teens about social media:
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It’s not a competition // when those feelings of competition and comparison come up, it’s your duty to squash them like bugs. You’ve got to dig deep and ask yourself, “Okay… what am I really not happy with? What, in my own life, do I have the power to change?” Other people’s snippets of their life can stir jealousy and envy inside of you but that’s up to you to deal with those feelings and either unfollow or stop allowing your brain to go into such a negative space. You control that, no one else.
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It’s not the whole story // The thing is: you don't know the real story. Even when a person shares a part of their mess from the Internet, it's usually not the full story. And likely, you don’t need the full story. What would you do with it anyway? Instead of always thinking you have the whole story, or wanting the whole story, maybe you can focus more on the stories that surround you. Maybe you can focus on your story and how it's being written right now. If we don’t want people to be fake on the internet it has to start with the person in the mirror.
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It’s not everything // the studies are starting to come out now with real data that explains what social media (too much of it) is doing to our brains and emotions. It’s reason to take caution and learn better boundaries. We are allowing these platforms to steal from us the one thing we get in this life, the one fleeting resource: time. But I believe we can learn to use it wisely and bring it back to connection over comparison. Focus on your people. Focus on living your real life. Focus on the fleeting goodness all around you. There’s so much of it but our eyes have to be open & our heads have to be up to see it.
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Parents, what else am I missing? Is there anything you’ve learned lately about social media?



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

YOU GOT THIS


There is no expectation on you that it needs to be the best day or the most productive day. Script out the things you need to get done. Get to work. Breathe. Look for the good. You’ve got this.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

WORDS


Before chemotherapy, I was quick with words. I get frustrated many days, with my new cognitive deficits. There have been moments where I've wished that I was quicker and more accurate with articulation, in the heat of it. But those moments pass quickly.

And realize in the cooling, that I'm more at peace with my silence and slow words, stretching out in the places where too many words would have hung.

Don't get me wrong, I've never been more sure of my place, my passions, and just where my soapbox is located. But as I age, I've become more aware of the gift of silence, to truly listen. To not feel the need to wrestle your words, opinion and cents into everything.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WHAT YOU ARE




I want to remind you this day,
You are lovely,
You are beautiful,
What you are is NEEDED here-
You-
Your own brand,
Your own freak flag-
Just like flowers, and Christmas lights are beautiful-
But look nothing like each other.
So are you.
Here I am-
All 40 of my years worn in my skin, my hair (the silver is undeniable now) and the way I hold my body.
I daily encourage my mind to give this body grace-
For within it, it's grown 4 babies-
Through it they've come, and from it I've nourished them.
Skin sags, and silver lion stripes mark the path of their coming and going.
I'm deeply flawed, and broken-
But I've been given grace- daily.
And yet, at times- I'm quick to frustration, to judge, to raise my voice-
To forget- all about grace.
And get caught up in the way others perceive me (queue the unfollowing now)
Perfection does not reside within these bones. But a strong back, and a soft heart-
Today let's embrace the soft, and strong-
And all the bits in between 💜



Monday, May 14, 2018

WRITING. OR A LACK THEREOF.



I used to be a drama queen when it came to writing. I would claim I couldn’t write until “inspiration hit.” And you know where that got me? Missing out on a lot of writing that would have just happened naturally if I’d been so inclined to just quit being dramatic and get my butt in the chair. I had to stop telling myself these lofty lies about my writer dreams and just say, “Okay, I want to write as much as possible. I want to see what comes out of me when I sit down to write. I want to do this thing and love this craft with everything I’ve got.” Change your mindset and you end up changing the whole story.



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

FORTY.


I still have a couple of days to go, but this week, I turn 40. I have forty years of life stories to tell, but most importantly, I have the courage to tell them because I realize my life so far is the sum of all those parts. Even the chapters that are cringe-inducing or heartbreaking, from this side of the ill, are obviously part of what God has used to get me here. As my friend once said, “The things that I’d remove are the things that make the story mine.”

After decades of discovery/trying to find out what I stand for, I’m finally far enough down the road to ‘declare.’ Aware of who I am and more importantly, who I am not. I’m more comfortable in my (aging) skin to be me and walk my road without always feeling like it means the way you are doing your thing and walking your road makes me right or wrong. Other people’s choices no longer feel like personal affronts or indictments of mine. I absolutely have my moments, but they increasingly end with peace that my lines have fallen in pleasant places.

I no longer hear song lyrics, but I comprehend them more deeply – the ones about searching, knowing, loving and losing. I’ve been in each of those places with allows for greater grace as I walk through this broken world.

I enjoy being mature enough to realize how cleansing it is to simply admit when I'm wrong. Knowing I don’t have to be perfect or even completely understood to be loved. This deep security of mine is incredible.

I like being old enough to realize that no one has it all figured out. There is no longer the elusive dream that one day I will have my crap together and be a walking self-help book. This has released me to ask questions instead of faking competence, which as it turns out, allows me to learn a great deal. It has also allowed me to take myself a LOT less seriously.

I am sure there are people out there who don’t like me or get me, and it’s okay. As long as I am being loving and pursuing the Lord, I don’t need their vote. Life is not a popularity contest, but rather a grand adventure where it is never too late to try and learn new things.

If there are any Annie fans out there, “I really think I’m gonna like it here.”


TWO TOMORROWS


He tells me he wants to have two tomorrows. One for what he wants to do, and the other for the things I’m saying we need to do.

Reef William. That boy. To think he can demand a double day. Gah, I love him and his vigor.

On the threshold of forty, I feel it all in my bones, the beginnings and the ends. All the trauma and the joy of having been so young, it is leaving me a little bit, maybe. Just think of it all–the bumpiest sledding hills, the sunburn after floating all day on the lake, and the nights of partying, eating too much processed food, not wearing glasses while staring at the computer, keeping the mittens off in the winter. I remember the long sleepless road trips, or the even more sleepless newborn baby years, and the hours spent outside or in, bending down, reaching up, hauling and lifting. Over and over like machines, we use up our only bodies, living like we have two tomorrows.

Most of all, our wear and tear comes from the inside out–the avoidance of feeling too much but feeling it anyway, somewhere in the deepest parts. The stress hormones rushing through. The adrenaline biting at our organs. The anxiety building up to depression sometimes. The grief, the heartbreak, the roller coaster of loving other humans.

Standing in the middle, the temptation is to feel defeated. My shoulder hurts, and really, so does everything else, on a bad day. My babies are growing too fast. The oldest generation is fading, dropping, at their end, with so little dignity.

At least once an hour, Ripley Glenn blurts out, loudly, I love you, Mommy! He’ll say it while grabbing my legs for a hug, or while seemingly otherwise occupied. He says it over and over at bedtime, and right away when he wakes up. At some point, he added more, totally catching my heart off guard.

I love you, Mommy….just the way you are. 

He is not looking for perfection, which is good, because I am only their middle-aged mother.

I carry those words with me when I go to work every day. I am wilting a little, and all the drooping and sagging began quite a while ago. The kids point out the lines on my face, and the swagger under my arms. And they love me just how I am. And I try to remember to be embrace exactly where I am, exactly as I am, like my Reef William.



A NOTE ON MOTHERHOOD



I might not embrace (or be good at) all of Motherhood but I love being their mama. And they know it. 

Go be proud of the mom you are today. Treasure her. Pluses, minuses, & all that lies in-between because the way you are shapes your kids FOR THE BETTER. And don’t use this space to gauge how you are measuring up. And don’t believe the nonsense that you need more of ______ to show you care. And please don’t write #goals on another stranger’s filtered picture of their perfect kitchen or flexed abs. Seriously. Stop scrolling, if you start feeling icky. Take inventory of who you’re following too - as what goes in must come out. Let your heart be your daily guideline, not social media. Acknowledge that stuff is just stuff. And yes, IG can be so inspiring but it can also be a giant magnify glass to what you’re lacking. And lastly, be your own purpose of action to the life you already have...and to the person you already claim...and to the children you already cherish. Without anyone watching.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

MY ORDINARY LIFE


I could give two hoots about the algorithm or trolls or monetizing. I can’t be bothered with making sure everyone see my posts or likes them or, even better, likes me. Or if my following is increasing/declining or if my filters are all in-sync or if my feed is maintaining the same look or theme or vibe. Blah. I don't have the energy for it. Because it means very little to me but this community is still my chorus.
 
Life feels fragile. My kids are growing at lightening speed, as I am -- so I just wanna document my ordinary here & write from my heart's riverbank & love the ones at my table well & invite you all in along the way. 







Saturday, March 10, 2018

I KINDA SUCK AT IT


In direct response to: "YOU are awesome! I love following your life on IG, FB, and your blog. YOU are such an inspiration & a beautiful person through and through. I hope we can see each other soon!" 

Listen up, people.

I am stuck between trying to figure out how to foster/adopt another child so we can do it all over again & “Let’s close up shop today!” My standard pendulum swings fast & far in this season of Motherhood. And it’s emotionally exhausting.

I can be high as a kite & ready to throw in the towel, all before 10am. I can walk into Target feeling like a badass & leave completely defeated. I want to raise independent free-thinkers but then I whine when they don’t ‘need’ me enough. I usually count down the minutes until bedtime, only to be eager to start all over again in the morning. I probably yell way too much & yet I’ve never loved bigger, better. I wonder if what I do each day even matters & still know that I am giving them the best childhood imaginable. I want our home to feel lived-in, all while I complain about the mess. I anxiously await for my kids to return home from school, only to make them go play outside or in their rooms. I am full to the brim & running near empty. I can doubt myself, my capabilities, my direction & remain assured in my gut that I got what it takes. I was born to do this. This is my true calling. But I kinda suck at it. Or maybe not. I still don’t know.

Gah. I flip-flop a lot. I struggle even more. And I often wonder how normal this is. And then when it all gets too heavy, I just give a long exhale and whisper “help me, Jesus.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

SARCASM IS THE OPPOSITE OF SINCERITY


I’ve been doing some soul-searching for a couple of years. I’ve also been saying stuff like that for much longer, so let it be known, I’m probably always doing some kind of in-depth introspection regarding various concepts about life because #introvert, and I love it because I’m always learning new things about the world, and measuring those things against what I know and am learning about myself is how I believe I’m becoming a better person (hopefully).

Here’s something I have learned: people are very proud of sarcasm. It makes us feel smart. And here’s why – it’s a form of irony, and irony, being a tool of humor, doesn’t click with everyone. Not everyone gets it. So being in on a joke that other people are not in on makes us feel elite, better-than, superior. I am better than you because I get sarcasm.

People are also very proud of their regular use of sarcasm. And this is something I don’t understand as easily. I think it ties into the feeling that it makes us smart, but getting sarcasm and using sarcasm all the time aren’t the same.

Once, many years ago, I was listening to a comedian interviewed on a recorded podcast. In this interview, they talk about the science and art of humor – what makes something funny and why. In this interview, the comedian says that he does not like sarcasm at all. He says that it’s an excuse for people to not be funny – to which he says, “then just don’t be funny.” You can still be a nice, kind, pleasant, and enjoyable person without having to be funny. 

I agree.

But this comment reminded me of the greatest book series ever written – Anne of Green Gables. In the book, there is a character introduced named Katherine Brooke. She is the vice principal at Summerside High School, where Anne has taken a position as the principal. She is described primarily as being sarcastic, one of Anne’s most despised traits.

Anne Shirley is the epitome of sincerity in a person. She makes her feelings known, and doesn’t understand the need to hide them behind snark, freshness, or sarcasm. Sarcasm, for her, is an excuse for people to not be real about their feelings, and she doesn’t understand that. Her openness with her emotions does invite hurt at times, but mostly, she’s a better person because everyone knows where they stand with her, and so they respect her for it. (And if you haven't yet seen Anne With an "E" on Netflix, it's binge-worthy. Just sayin'.)

Indeed, sarcasm is the opposite of sincerity, genuineness, and vulnerability. It is a shield, a facade, and an excuse to not be real with people.

How many times have I used it so I wouldn’t have to literally say, “You’ve hurt my feelings”?

How many times have I hurt others with such a bite or a sting by belittling them with that language?

Let me make sure everyone understands that I do believe there is a place in humor for sarcasm, but most people misuse it dreadfully. There are many times a statement of fact is not enough to have its effect on people, so we use irony, parody, satire, and sarcasm to make our point. Saturday Night Live has been around for over 30 years because it works. Mark Twain is Mark Twain because he knew this too.

But here’s the problem with those of us who use sarcasm on a daily basis with those we interact with the most: we’re not acting. We’re not performing for an audience that doesn’t know who we are, we’re doing life with people who know us and our feelings, so why do the words we say need to be dressed up with tools meant for literature or humor? The way sarcasm is meant to be used is not the way we use it every day. Frankly, we stealthy use it for hostility and disguise it as humor.

This is not literature or humor, this is life at home. This is reality with our loved ones. So when we use sarcasm, the only real thing we accomplish is widening a gap. That’s what irony is – a gap between what is said and what is meant. And it heightens one’s feelings of insecurity. I just recently learned that the Greek word from which we get our word for sarcasm literally means “to tear or rip off flesh.” This is not a productive way to grow relationships with people. It’s a great way to damage them.

Sarcasm is an excuse to not be funny. It’s an easy contingency for people who don’t know how to be witty. Wit exposes absurdities with sincerity and can connect concepts in a clever way that can result in humor.

At the risk of sounding trite: JUST BE REAL WITH PEOPLE.

So I’ve increasingly grown to disrespect the open use of sarcasm and the abuse of it as a method of communicating with those around us. It is a refusal to hold others accountable for the way they’ve made us feel, it’s not a mark of intelligence. It’s a weapon, used to cut others down, sting them for no reason so we can either make ourselves feel better or so we can share our feelings insincerely.

Just say what you mean. Mean what you say. Without being mean.

Let's hear your thoughts....



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WORD


After so much journaling, thought, and prayer, I’ve decided my word of the year is Fearless.

But not in the fearless in everything I do kind of way.

More in the aspect of trusting God FEARLESSLY. Having no worry in my trust in Him, being willing to give up control, and surrendering more of my life to Him.

Especially as business owners, I think it’s so easy to grasp onto every aspect of owning a business and cling to it tightly. It’s incredibly easy to believe that you can do it all in your own strength, that you are in control of everything that happens, and that everything is a result of what you do.

In a way, it is… but it also isn’t. That’s the interesting thing about owning a business as a follower of Christ. There is this line of trusting God, but also not hustling and saying that “God will work it out”… It’s more of a mindset shift. We still have to put in the work, but we have to do it knowing that nothing is guaranteed, and also that God will use our business for His glory, even if we can’t always see it.

Really excited to dig deeper into following God fearlessly this year, and learning what it means to give up ALL areas of my life. Because ultimately, doing everything for His glory is the only thing I want in this life. :) To Him be the glory!!


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