Category Archives: reflection

legrand adventure – the only kind to have

truly, madly, deeply is playing right now. is that the name of it? i know it’s by savage garden – ha. and i remember vaguely hearing this song at the grocery when i was a senior in high school.

god, that’s so far away.

even yesterday feels distant.

so i’m taking deep breaths and doing the next right thing. because that’s what oprah says to do. and the next right thing is another deep breath and allowing myself grace.

grace because i was only divorced three months ago, and i’ve been transient for over a year, and i’ve been freelancing during this time, and i broke up with my boyfriend and popped my tire in the same week. this week. today.

and i went to california and italy this year, all while transitioning, and new friending, and falling in love again.

i moved here and i moved to nashville and i moved back here again.

i said goodbye to my puppies.

action, movement, motion.

almost poetic as we transition into winter i’m finally pausing.

finally breathing.

finally acknowledging – damn, amanda – a break down is not weakness. in fact, it’s healthy.

a trauma research study stated divorce, moving, finding a new job, and losing pets all in the highest category of stress and life change.

so…

another deep breath. and two more.

this life is truly, incredibly beautiful. i see opportunity. possibility. growth. transformation. empathy. power.

i also see a trampoline down here at rock bottom. (i’m teasing, this doesn’t feel like rock bottom)

deep sigh, exhale, SMILE –

and move.

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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.

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Year In Review

Honestly, today I’m cranky. I felt dreamy beforehand when I planned to post all that’s happened this year and now at the very end of the year, I feel there’s been a misstep. It’s the dressing room mirror’s fault.

Regardless, I started brainstorming my list. It made me smile. I guess I did kind of love this one.

  • had the opportunity to work with the sweetest ESL kiddos, during this time the idea of adoption was placed on my heart and will now shape a few things I am doing with the business in the near future
  • left that amazing job after being moved to tears in June, on my balcony, over a book. Had a stirring inside me I could not ignore and knew it was now or never and though I didn’t even realize, I’d been pursuing what was ‘easier’ this entire time. So I said YES.
  • felt more peace than before because of the decision to be myself unapologetically, found my voice
  • attracted more of my people because of the above bullet
  • paid off (almost all) debt. School loans, car loans, anything and everything else is diminished. We don’t own a home so I guess no mortgage can be celebrated – for now.
  • helped Lewis Howes launch his book, was apart of SOGA
  • came clear on my vision for Live Audaciously
  • became a personal trainer
  • helped my ladies shed a combined over 200 pounds of fat – online!
  • did a pull up, almost to two in a row currently!
  • live workouts with Tony Horton & Shawn T
  • read tons of books
  • practiced gratitude more often
  • adopted another puppy (Reg dude) Who am I??
  • met my nephew Gabe, had the chance to talk to my sister immediately after she gave birth (so many tears, so happy for her)
  • put on the guest list for an intimate house show by a musician I’ve followed for the past ten years, such an incredible experience.
  • I’m not telling you how the above bullet came to fruition but I really want to; it’s hilarious (so I’ll still make it a point, because it made my entire year)
  • visited the Oregon coast and the mountains and rode a train to Washington
  • met so many incredible people
  • attended two Dave Bazan house shows
  • FaceTime with family over the holidays (was bummed about not being there but had to look at the positive, still had a chance to drop in!)
  • witnessed my friend talk about her dream of designing a planner and see each step lead to now; launched and published!
  • witnessed my husband become more and more of who he is meant to be – you can tell, there is a peace and a confidence that arrive when you step into your true self
  • was always provided for and supported. So blessed, so thankful

I acknowledge what may have been a fantastic year for me may not have been for you. If so, I hope you find strength and peace tonight and know it does get better. Life is full of seasons and the above is only my highlight reel. There were frustrating, angry and off moments too. I also hope you find a moment to tease out the miracles this year held for you. May your next trip round the sun be blissful. xoxo

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Compartmentalized Faith

Or, faith that suits you.

It seems a theme practiced especially in America is compartmentalized faith, or the idea that one truth only permeates in certain conditions. For example, when someone believes God will take care of them in any situation, and then any random situation occurs, and they forget their belief and retreat into fear. Or when we are asked to take in refugees and we decide that caring for those in need is conditional.

Or when we’re afraid to quit our job when we know it’s the right thing to do. Or when we can only give a little of ourselves because if we give more, we might be at a loss. Or when that scared voice inside is all that we  hear. When it starts counting scars instead of blessings and hurts instead of beauty.

We complicate the simplest of truths. Here’s one: you have faith or you have fear. You cannot have both. Well, maybe you can have both but only one will be driving. So which is it? Is the faith that you were created in such a way, that whatever happens if you wrap hold the faith you know you have somewhere – it will be ok. Or is it fear who tells you to look out for you no matter what because if you don’t, no one will? When in reality, the more you wrap yourself up and take care of you, the more you take away the opportunity for someone to love into your life.

Please open up this season. Give and share more of yourself because you were made to bless someone. You have unique talents that will heal the broken if you let faith drive you.

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These Words Changed Me

I truly meant to have this one up last night, however, I was floating and my eyes were heavy after Benadryl. (You’d think I’m on staff as much as I talk about taking these meds, but really my allergies rule most of my life. Relief is soon, I hope).

So, there were two books I can without a doubt refer to anyone and everyone. These two books changed me when I read them in July; and when I say changed me, I’m not throwing out a catch phrase. I mean, seriously, honestly, tears streaming down my face, time-to-move and rearrange my life type of change me.

The first is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Everyone around me kept referring this book and I’d been rolling my eyes. I thought, “yeah, I know – consistent effort over time makes a difference.” If I haven’t mentioned already, I’m such a prideful person. It’s sad, really, and one personality trait I am working on. So after I beat down my ego, I started on TCE, and wow. Darren talks about our habits and setting goals and becoming a better human being because if you’re not actively becoming better, you’re actually becoming worse. I’m serious, he says that. Not in those exact words, but you’ll get the point. I used TCE to set a purpose for my bootcamps and actually scripted every post for each camp within a few days after devouring TCE.

Without revealing all of the content I use in my camps (you have to be there), I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes:

“If you’re not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined.” I’m pretty much a goal nazi. That’s my only comment for now.

“95 percent of everything we feel, think, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit!” Your habits define you. So, who are you?

“Never seek advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.” Ooo, this one. Raise your hand if you’ve been listening to everyone else’s opinion your entire life, and when you take stock of who you are learning from, you realize you would never want to be that person or live their situations. I’m raising both hands. Most often, those I’ve let weigh in heavily on my own life decisions  were on the outside of what I actually wanted to do – who I actually wanted to be. Their advice was an echo of their own thoughts and feelings, whether those feelings were fear, hesitation, cynicism, none of them were mine and none of them mirrored the type of person I wanted to be and would become…!

The second text was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but that doesn’t matter because I’m telling you my own personal opinion and reflection on Strayed’s book.

I’ve found I naturally gravitate to works by artists who are not afraid to be embarrassingly raw. Those who put the fear of soiling their reputation aside and instead rip it to pieces themselves. These artists aren’t hiding a damn thing. They’ve destroyed the filter that stops them from voicing something that Grandma wouldn’t read. They pour all of their life experiences in their art and then unleash it to the public.

I felt for her as she described the trauma that surrounded her numb attitude toward life. Many times, I cried and cheered for her with each step toward her own self discovery. Gah, reflecting on it makes me want to reread it right this minute. I’ll be right back…

Serendipitously, at the start of the year, I’d set my intentions on vacation in Oregon. Many parts of Strayed’s book take place in and around Oregon, so as I finished Wild the week before we arrived in Portland, I felt a strange closeness to her and all of her experience. (This happened again when I began to read Into the Wild and he finds himself in the same area Strayed discusses. All of our stories will always overlap).

While I loved every single bit of text in Wild, it was the few quotes on page 175, Part Four that changed me:

“When I had no roof I made audacity my roof.” Robert Pinsky The idea (for me) of living audaciously was born the day I read this page. I renamed my coaching team “Audaciously Alive,” and will be soon be launching a business self-titled Live Audaciously. Thank you, Cheryl, for this quote and planting the idea in my mind of living bigger and more on purpose as an adult.

“Never never never give up.” Winston Churchill Forever and always, keep going. You were given this life to live it and bring all of your gifts into it.

So there it is. A brief reflection of the words that changed me this summer. These words forced me to ask telling questions. These words pushed me to run away from everything easy and obvious, and start living like the person I truly am inside.

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November 29th

In the midst of (unsuccessfully) studying for my CPT exam next weekend, I’m thinking about next year. Anyone else guilty of the same type of mind flow? I start a lot of projects and feel successful when doing them all at the same time. It drives Nigel crazy.

So, I’m thinking of next year and how I am going to launch a 100% health overhaul. I’ve mapped out posts to keep myself on track, and beginning December 15th I’ll be reflecting on this year and prepping for the next. But right now I need to study. Cannot wait to share all I’m learning!

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Seasons

Phew. September was difficult. After a summer of flying high, late August and September were the months that grounded me. Feeling thrown back into something I sprinted from left me bitter and searching for focus and gratitude. I welcome this month with arms fully extended, blissful at the thought of leaving the rest behind.

October, you son of a bitch, where you been hiding? 

In an effort to hold myself to writing more freely and more often, I’ll be including my “currents” at the end of my posts:

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

LOVING: my new functional planner by Dana Bowman @functional15

LISTENING: to Lewis Howes School of Greatness (podcast) & Derek Webb’s Ctrl album + random songs by Audrey Assad

MOVING: to those beats above & my p90x3 routine (you need inspiration to move? see me)

ASPIRING: to make this routine

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Photo: by me @Cheekwood; Artist: Juame Plensa

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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.

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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

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On Teaching

What do you think about public school teaching? Have you had experience teaching? Do you know someone that has? Did you or did they survive?

I am at a crossroads. I have never ever wanted to be a public school teacher in America. Overseas, as a language teacher, yes. Here – never.

Yet, here I am. I am decent at it. I am respected by peers and administration and mostly respected by parents. I could keep working day and night and be one of the best, without a doubt. But I don’t really enjoy much of it. The kids, they are adorable and fun. They wear me out, but sometimes the things they say help me feel not so exhausted. The kids are only a tiny piece of the puzzle.  There’s also the testing (a ginormous piece), the constantly shifting expectations, the million initiatives imposed by those far removed from the classroom, the observations, the pressure to perform at 100% every day, to hold the entire world together while meeting the emotional and academic needs of 23 six-year-olds, teaching character and patience while hanging desperately to your own.

The planning consumes all of the time off-stage. The job is multi-layered. Sometimes other teachers can be cruel (with looks or quick comments) to each other as they are deflecting the stress of holding their own world of little people together.

What stands in the way of America adopting successful strategies used in institutions abroad? Maybe this time in my life is just as much of a learning period for me as it is for all of the littles involved.

A million questions surround me. I trust it will make sense. Until then, I will push on and continue to give all of me to this profession. Prayers for continued strength and sanity are much appreciated.

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