Category Archives: authentic

lean into the unknown

six months into fort collins living – I went to a connect class at church today. it’s part of a four step process of learning about this specific local church, and diving into who I’m made to be at the same time – all of this prep to serve on the volunteer team.

i did not want to go this morning. i’ve been tired. like really really tired. and more than physical tiredness. i’m emotionally drained, spiritually apathetic. feeling sorry for myself and little entitled. i noticed my internal conversation this week went a lot like, “after all i’ve been through…this?”

so, i’m human.

and i didn’t want to go interact with people. i wanted to stay in the cycle of self defeat. why do we do these things?

good news though – i went anyway.

and when i arrived, the lady leading the group was stating her intentions for the day, that we would receive reminders, little sparks, (in my own words, synchronistic moments) that point us back to who we’re made to be.

i don’t know about you – but when apathy sets in, i build a thick wall against “feeling things.” against seeing them too – the small coincidences, or letting my heart swell with the vulnerable magic excitement of noticing – nope, not an option.

so with a puffed up chest, and you can’t touch me attitude, i walked into class.

“hmm,” i thought as she stated her intentions. i’ve closed myself off again. tired of feeling, tired of giving, tired of being open to pain.

and i allowed a portion of my guard down.

then we brainstormed the favorable qualities of a leader. she mapped it out on the whiteboard – “LEADERSHIP” with a circle around the word, then lines drawn out to the qualities we listed, “excellent communicator, servant hearted, inspiring, visionary, humble, altruistic, motivating…”

with her next question she erased the word LEADERSHIP, “how would you like your name written in the middle?” she posed to the class.

a few answered, saying it seems like a tall order, most said yes, it’s a high compliment.

then she wrote, “Amanda” in the middle.

again my mind went, “hmm.” out of the 25 people in the room, she chose to write my name, “ok, God, begrudgingly, i’m here. i guess i’m listening.”

we jumped into the lesson. first point she made – we hold ourselves back from incredible possibility. what holds us back? “insecurity, fear, inadequacy, reluctance” and then a bit about integrity (which after the past few years is one of my favorite topics).

and then she noted some values of this specific church: Jesus, a love for this city, family, radical generosity, sustainable rhythms, the importance of the details, and we are desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

i want to backtrack to “sustainable rhythms” because i was already planning ahead for my word of intention in July and SUSTAINABILITY came to mind. something lasting. something true; that forever kind of feeling.

and the paragraph under “sustainable rhythms,” went like this:

“we are passionate about going the distance and enjoying the journey. we work hard and rest well. we believe that work is God’s idea, that realizing a vision takes effort, that Sabbath is purposeful resistance against the rhythms of our culture, that recreation is restorative, and that health matters. we measure our pace, embrace our limits, laugh a lot, and trust God’s timing and provision.” 

“was this paragraph written for me?!” is exactly what i was thinking. “like what? how? how did they encompass all i’m searching for, all the themes scattered throughout my brain, and they even nailed the mic drop at the end – and trust God’s timing and provision.”

this is what has had me most sour lately. when some really really seemingly wonderful things have unexpectedly crept into my life and when these situations were climbing, obstacles overcome, the story was being made sweeter, grittier, complex, interesting, exciting, in ways – redemptive, and then –

nothing.

distance.

silence.

a screeching, confusing halt to what has been an incredible gift in my life.

cue the “WTF?” bubble over my brain.

however. because there has to be a however, people! apathetically, i dragged myself to connect class this morning. reluctantly, i opened pieces of me to receive. i (ok, unwillingly) heard trust and provision, and i let them in.

i remembered and can see how i’m in the exactly right place, and the timing is right on. because i can’t understand the pieces i don’t see, doesn’t make them bad.

i’m growing into who i need to be to accept the blessings meant for me in a way that is sustainable, in a way that is forever.

Jesus isn’t allowing easy because he knows my heart and knows i don’t want it that way. the gritty, deep, raw, everlasting, beautifully shocking, steadfast, full of grace, redemptive, hopeful, powerful, impactful story does not happen overnight.

multidimensional takes time, loads of effort, tremendous heart and will be well well worth the value expended.

God doesn’t draw us out to leave us here.

through no scheme of my own, i made it to fort collins. i’ve found work tailored for me and a church that feels more like home than anything i’ve known. i was eager to keep this option temporary, as this has been my pattern, but I see God at work.

maybe i can’t fully comprehend it all yet; and that’s ok. i’ll know when i need to, and i’ll continue to pour into what i’m doing and where i am and –

LEAN IN to all i’m becoming.

 

Take a Deep Breath

And trust your instinct.

No matter how known your counsel is, it’s you who knows exactly what is on your mind and heart. It’s only you who can see from your perspective. It’s only you who can make the decision.

Also, become a strict tenant. You control who rents space in your mind. No one has the right to squat inside your brain and tell you what they see from their own perspective. You set the rules. You aren’t required to give any notice to those you refuse.

These words are for me. I’ve let this year become about someone else setting my pace. When last year was all about saying YES to me and my own heart (because you have to, especially when everyone has their own opinion), I took two steps back and submit my own thoughts to another.

All my plans for Live Audaciously were on hold while I chased someone else’s advice.

When you mute your true passion, what is left to drive you? 

I haven’t blogged since the end of January. Only because I’ve felt stuck, downplayed, weak, as if my plans weren’t enough compared to what might amount to more monetarily.

So many random thoughts tonight.

Really, fuck all of them. Those who try to tell you you don’t matter because they are feeling threatened or invalidated. We live in a world where you are free to create yourself. Take full advantage and don’t let them tell you otherwise. And if they do, walk away. Kick them out of your mind. Keep being you.

If advice is hurled your way, decide if it matters to you. If not, do whatever the hell you want.

Tagged , ,

Audacious

Last June I was reading Wild on my condo balcony. My health and fitness hobby was growing into what could easily become a career. My mind was searching for which direction I would go. Would I continue to teach in a local school district one more year or would I knowingly give up a steady paycheck because deep down I had faith and a feeling this will work? Do I have enough courage to make it work when the feeling has left me?

In my deliberation, I never once thought teaching was inferior, though if I was honest with myself and everyone else, teaching in the U.S. in a public school was on my list of “nevers.” I did not want to become a teacher, especially not an elementary school teacher. What happened though is, I really wanted to move to Nashville and it was something I could do.

Often we make choices based on what we think we can do instead of aiming for what is nearly impossible (and what we would clearly need God’s help in achieving).

So in weighing both of my options, I only had one true choice. Continue to dole out advice I was hypocritically to terrified to exercise in my own life, or fall in love with the fear knowing my dependency on faith would multiply.

After a few, long, deep breaths and uplifting conversations with Nigel, I made the phone call. I said no, and thank you, to an opportunity. A really good, amazing, fantastic opportunity, because when I evaluated my motivation – money was at the core. I started teaching to get to Nashville. I was still teaching because even though teachers are not paid a great deal of it, money is involved, and it comes steadily.

I knew this is what I needed to do. I knew in my heart when I was moved to tears at the bravery and audacity of this woman who decided to write an honest story about her experience in coming home and embracing who she is. Her account paired with the notion in The Compound Effect about doing things in a big way and going for the shock factor over what is comfortable, made up my mind.

I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but knew, this is how I wanted my story to read:

she had a chance to live her life and she took it

Now, six months later, the choice is still scary. I still doubt. I still question myself and my crazy. It would be so practical to give up and move on; I’m doing what I do well, but am I doing it well enough?

This morning I spent some time reading Love Does by Bob Goff. This was gifted to me by a new friend who I don’t even truly know, but the internet and life work that way.

Aside from the heart and humor within each story Bob tells, he also continues to remind me dreaming in an enormous way is important. Having faith because it’s unlikely and unpractical and outrageous, is important and even necessary.

Bob has used the adjective “audacious,” nearly ten times in his book. Of course anyone is welcome to use any word they prefer, and still because he keeps using that word of all words, I know to hang on. I know to keep going, keep pushing, because nothing worth doing is easy (it’s what they say, right?) And because I never want to leave this life a little short of what I could have been.

When I look at who inspires me, I see the relentless, passionate few, who no matter what – never freaking give up. And in doing so they arrive where they are headed. They embody audacity and true faith.

Living our day to day naturally dims this drive. We all become very comfortable. Life is convenient, even easy mostly. So I don’t expect you to fully understand what I’m saying. Because when I’m in the routine, driving to and from work, tired, only slightly passionate, I forget too. However, in these moments when I take one second and let some truth touch my soul – I remember. I was meant for more, I can feel it. You were too. Whatever it looks like for you, I’m not sure. But what I do know is you should always do a “soul check.” Ask yourself questions regularly. Reflect on who you are and who you want to be and listen to what’s inside of you. At your core you always know which path to follow.

Be freaking audacious. In your actions, your love, your life. Every day, forever. Amen.

Tagged , , , , ,

Simplicity is a Blessing

This morning I had the strongest craving for Honey Nut Cheerios. I haven’t had cereal in five years (thank God) but today I wanted a bowl. Nigel left for work and I walked to Publix. (It’s a funny thing, when I decide I want something, I’ve already convinced myself it’s done). As I was walking I noticed the breeze – cool enough for a jacket and also refreshing.   Seven a.m is perfect for walking. Nothing is crowded or busy. My attention was set on the coolness and serenity of being alone in the moment.

Last year, I would have been stressed at the idea of owning only one vehicle. This year, in the attitude of reduction and knowing most, if not all, individuals who retire early talk about the insane amount of money a car will cost over time. Most early retirees ride bikes or walk and have forfeited their vehicles completely.  Over the summer we concluded one vehicle was plenty. I’d be working from home 90 percent of the time and any challenge one car presented was only an opportunity to be creative.

So this morning, I was thankful to be without a car. Walking was cathartic and created space for me to reflect and be joyful in the moment. 

In this space, I meditated on what this next year will hold. I’ll be blogging through my own health challenge, which was born on the observation that my strength lies in movement. You do not have to convince me to power through a workout, or to stretch, or to enthusiastically occupy the dance floor..!  However, I’d rate myself as decent in overall health. I know how to feed my body (mostly) and I put this into practice (mostly). But why is mostly enough when “our body is a brilliant piece of machinery that outperforms even the most advanced computer,” ?

What I haven’t mastered is true health from the inside out. I want to set out to do what feels nearly impossible. I want 2016 to be the year of complete health. This will include transitioning into a completely organic household beginning with food (inside) and ending the year examining our environment (outside). Obviously, you’ll find so much in between so please follow my journey. I’ll be blogging from a different space as well as soon as my business website is launched.

For now though, consider all that was bread of convenience: our homes, grocery stores, fast food chains, the microwave, cars, airplanes, cell phones. Everything we quickly enjoy, but how we pile it all on ourselves until we’re suffocating, until we are stuffed fat with lethargy, until we have forgotten the true peace and beauty of simplicity. The blessing of having and needing little. The weight metaphorically and literally you’ll lose when you clear out the ‘stuff’ and the ‘junk’ and the desire to hoard the unnecessary (most of it).

I had been disappointed in our ‘humble Christmas’ this year until I was alone with the thought. The simplicity in the lights and the stockings and a few pieces of trim (branches snagged from outside) decked our home perfectly, sweetly, simply. This moment and season are whole. God, we are blessed.

 

Tagged , ,

2015

I remember with good intention, wanting to reflect on my year in years previous to this one. I never seemed to have make the time though, and last year, I probably made fun of the idea. But guess what – as I’ve mentioned before – this year was the best so reflecting on what it’s been brings me joy

Growing up, I’ve had these convictions. I’ve had this passion. And for some reason, even with these things, I fell into a pattern dictated by everyone except myself. Little by little, I began to chip away the exterior, the pleasing face I wore because that’s what I was supposed to do. As a “Christian.” As a “good person.” As someone who needed a job to support myself. Pleasing. Following rules on the outside even though my inner monologue strongly rejected those rules. I am serious when I say, I thought growing up meant letting go (of who you wanted to be, of your ideals, of your expectations).

If I could pinpoint a date or year I began to shed the outside and step more into me, I’d say 2012. In 2012 I’d been married two years. We started into some real marital problems. While that topic is for another time, my point is that it was enough cause to step back and ask – what am I really doing here? In marriage, in life, at work, at home – all of it. I began to re-evaluate why, and more importantly why not? I began peeling back the layers of every decision and uncovering a similar core theme: I did or didn’t do often because I felt guilty. I did not want to disappoint someone. And the absolute worst – I was doing what I thought I was SUPPOSED to be doing. 

It’s a lie to say I only realized the flame in 2012. I’ve always had the flame, however in twenty twelve, I slowly began to add kindling. Piece by piece, with every decision toward me, I gave light to the fire inside.

And now, almost four years later, I feel the closest to myself I’ve ever been. My inner thoughts are lived out in action, my heart is at peace. 

Ladies and gentleman: My year, my goals, my thoughts in December. 

 1. Debt free by June 1st, 2015. This was fun. We knocked out all debt except 1k, then we added a few “k” to that in the form of my own education/professional development, so I’m going to say – win. I’ve learned so much about money and will continue to do so! It’s such an important subject. Don’t shy away from it because of a money misunderstanding. Learn how to manage it well (I believe this applies to all of the gifts we are given – manage them well).

2. Goal weight of 130# by May 12th, 2015. Another “learning goal.” I’m not at 130. I weigh more than 130. I’m made of a lot of muscle and I’m not unhappy with my weight now, but my goal going forward will be less numerical and more abstract, like, do you feel like a badass? Yes? Ok, then – win!

3. 10k in savings by December 31st, 2015. This one is comical. We legitimately had a plan to save this amount with ease and then I went and QUIT my job! That makes a difference. I’m in the growing stages of doing what I absolutely love, so can I call this a win too? I believe with absolute conviction that I traded instant gratification for delayed success. No, we didn’t save 10k by the end of the year, but I started early in building in growing in ways that will save me so much more for the rest of my life. So thankful.

4. Read 30 new books by December 31st, 2015. I will be writing more about this tomorrow. Currently I’m about ten books shy of my goal. This by far has been the most important. Because of one of these books, I felt convicted enough to take the leap and start my life now, instead of “buying time,” for another year. Check out the blog tomorrow for my book list and thoughts for each.

5. Take a summer trip to Portland, OR. Yeass. And it was beautiful. We rode the train on the coast up into Washington, stayed in a few Air BnBs, went to the coldest, windiest beach, took so many pictures, got lost in the mountains. Oh Oregon, I miss you.

6. Start writing that book. So this is one of the hardest. I love to write and I often make excuses to keep busy instead of writing – so how does that make any sense? An author I respect said something this year. He said the hardest thing to write is that first line, that first chapter, that first book. You just need to start. I’ve put so much pressure on myself regarding this goal specifically. I still didn’t know what to write about, where to begin. And as I take a deep breath, I’ll say, I didn’t begin in January. I didn’t begin in May. Not even in November. Instead I’m starting…now? Via this blog and the health overhaul I have planned for next year. The most important step in all decisions will always be starting, so like, this is me starting. Hoo-rah.

7. Start a personal website for BB and other passions. I did this right away. “Jumped the gun” and bought a domain name. Then used the site for a few weeks and forgot about it. How about we try this one again?

8. Sponsor 10 new coaches MINIMUM by December, 2015. Yeass! And my team is the freaking bomb. We have so much planned for 2016, be ready you guys. And if you’ve given thought to joining us – reach out now!

9. Shakeo + Workout + PD daily – Goal: 25/30 days of the month. This is funny. I set this huge, ambitious goal of almost daily and did absolutely nothing to track my progress. Guys, tracking is key! I’ll try better next year and I’ll go into it with the tools I need. (funmeetsfunction.com)

10. Be me, unapologetically. (Not as measurable, but it’s important to me this year!) I’m all smiles. And I lied before. This is the goal that was the foundation for all the rest. I was me and my heart and soul are at peace. Thank you, Lord, for another year.

Tagged ,

Sunday

I’ve always wanted to write, and I’ve always found an excuse not to write. I don’t know how to start. They wouldn’t understand what I’m trying to say. I’m no better than the next guy.

I was listening to an established author on Periscope the other day and he mentioned the first page is always the hardest to write. All the pressure lies on that one page. What a parallel to everything else in life, right? You put too much pressure on anything and it becomes paralyzed.

Take a deep breath. Begin.

READING: Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

LOVING: my new hair do by Chandra Rae Fredrickson

LISTENING: to Sons & Doubters (podcast) & Latifah Phillips: Joy

MOVING: my p90x3 routine (you need inspiration to move? see me)

ASPIRING: to do the thing that scares me

IMG_5749

Tagged ,

When Plans Change or When Everything Goes Exactly as it Should

Years ago I thought God had forgotten me. From my own perspective, my closest friends were being heard, prayers were being answered, and there I was.

I felt so lonely.

I thought maybe these rules, thoughts, and ideas didn’t apply to me. Surely not. I couldn’t see the evidence anywhere. While I’d cling to the hope in my tears being repaid tenfold in joy, I’m not confident I believed it was true.

The feeling came back again, a year and a half into marriage, when I felt all my dreams were shut down and my hopes were put on what could be a permanent hold.

“But I thought we were supposed to do this – together; and here I am feeling all the weight and all the burden and none of the joy,” were thoughts that consumed my mind. It was really tough. It was difficult to keep my heart and mind focused. I reacted and broke my own heart in the process. I felt stuck and resentful and hopeless. It sounds heavy but it’s true and that’s why I think it’s important to share.

My problem then and sometimes now, was my lack of vision. I couldn’t see past that month or year or past my own hurt. I couldn’t see this work that started years ago will be continued, and it will be for my own good.

I measured my life in nearsighted-ness, ignoring the decades I had yet to evaluate.

*

Fast forward to now. I still feel lonely sometimes. I think we all do. But any and all of my feelings have been transcended by this thick, comforting blanket of peace. Almost ten years post endless nights of tears and my hurt doesn’t come from those feelings any longer. Almost five years post committing myself to Nigel and all we’ve experienced, through my fault or not, has been sobering and messy, but nothing I’d trade.

Sometimes all of these life events seem ironic. They aren’t. I think it’s more the beautiful detail that is woven through every interaction, pain, conversation, song, missed opportunity. It still leads me here. Those deep gut feelings or passions reside in me to be pursued, and those hurts I’ve caused are ways to learn and experience, and seek forgiveness and redemption.

When plans change, so do we, because we are meant to be more than we think we could be, and to make mistakes, and to work together and learn from each other, and be edified – and eventually made new.

So thankful for this story.

IMG_1494

Tagged , , ,

A Second Thought on All of My Goals

A second thought on all of my goals.

I was reminded today. Even though I plan to push myself and reach higher, become better, do more, I was reminded that I am enough. All I have is enough. No matter the slip-ups, the set-backs, the mistakes, the small things that make me feel week, worn, and so far from who I want to be – it is finished. It’s already done. I’m forgiven. I’m free. I am holy in the sight of a loving and holy God.

He poured out all of His goodness on me, leaving me spotless.

Guys, I’ve (we’ve) already won.

I say this just because I was reminded of it today. And because I felt like it’s something worth saying 11 days into the new year. How are those resolutions? If they are going well, then wonderful! That’s great to hear! If they aren’t going so well, guess what, you are more than your resolution. You are more than 2015. Your story is precious and unique and woven into the greater story of Grace.

Do not give up hope. Keep trying and pushing (and praising!) I promise you, this story ends well.

you are enough

Tagged , , , ,

Moving (on)…

photo(2)

So now I rededicate this blog to adventure, whether that maybe real, tangible adventure or the soul adventure this life has us riding. I feel I keep chasing different styles and goals, but now I’ll make it clear.

I received the news I hoped to hear (after what seemed like years, ok, eight days…) and I am overjoyed to step forward toward the unknown and super exciting.

Many details need to be sorted, but very soon my love and I will get a chance at newness: new places, faces and experiences.

Stay tuned for what is next! (Stay alert for another secret blog as well)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

What’s in a name?

Life events overlap sometimes. Common themes began to appear. A friend called it synchronicity.

Either way, I’ve found the dilemma is not knowing what to write about, rather, owning what I write. I hold back because I don’t want friends or family to knit my writing to me, to draw conclusions about me because of what I have written, or to be disillusioned by what they comprehend.

One by one, lots of happenings began pointing me toward something that would allow me the freedom to bleed: a mask, a name, a pen name.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. -Oscar Wilde

Dr. Suess; Mark Twain; William Shakesphere; George Orwell; Pablo Neruda; Voltaire – to name a few famous pens. Now to creating my own. What an adventure this will be!

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,