Be Worthy of Your Own Advice

Posted on April 25, 2019

Before conferences like Mom2 there are often posts and online conversations about what to do to prep for an experience like this. I’ve had my share of being nervous and intimidated, so I tweeted something I believe:


An image of a tweet that reads: A10 Pack your self-kindness voice. You aren't less worthy. You aren't terrible at these things. You are at an amazing event designed to create connections and inspirational momentum. Everyone does it differently, just dare to participate.


Then wouldn’t you know it, not 24 hours after getting here I had a moment that made me shrink. I had booked a massage for myself at the spa, taking care of the reservation ahead of time, and double checking in the morning that they would be ready for me. When I walked into the spa, the woman behind the counter smiled at me. Across the room, a door opened and a petite, blonde woman in her late 50s walked through it.

I stepped toward the counter and the blonde walked in front of me, the woman at the counter looked between us.

“Do you have a list of spa services I can look at?” The spa employee looked at me and then back to the woman, “Sure, right here.” She handed her the brochure and turned to me.

“May I help you?” I smiled and told her I had an appointment. “Ok, great, there is just a short form to fill out ahead of the treatment.”

The blonde cut in, “I’d like to go ahead with a hot stone massage.”

“Sure, I can schedule that for you,” the clerk said as she turned to the computer.

“You don’t have anyone here now?”

At this point, I was feeling very crawl-out-of-my-skin uncomfortable. “Actually we are quite busy with today’s weather. I could fit you in around 4.” The woman huffed and tossed a glance my way. “Whatever, that will have to be fine I guess.”

I felt myself holding my breath. Should I offer her my slot? I mean, I really thought that. What happened to ‘you aren’t less worthy’? This woman wasn’t even being respectful of the spa, let alone acknowledging that I had any right to be there.

The truth is I’m not a spa person, massages are an extravagance in my life on rare occasions. When I come to these conferences I try to build in things I wouldn’t normally be able to do—a treat that I budget for and look forward to. I was angry that this woman had threatened my enjoyment, but more than that, I was frustrated with myself.

How can I fall off a solid track so easily? Why would I consider this woman anything more than an entitled, rude person?

I once heard a person say that “meditation is an exercise in keeping yourself on task.” It shocked me, I thought anyone who meditated had achieved a focus and level of zen that meant they were meditating, not working on meditating.

It all takes work.

Confidence is something you work at.

Reverence is something you commit to working on.

Relationships are living things that require time, energy, and light.

Our reaction to situations, people, and stress are not finite, we work and grow. It’s ok to falter and rethink.

When I walked into the room for the massage I left the blonde outside. Her behavior lasts seconds, my response to it is what I risk being forever.

If you are trying at something do yourself the favor of acknowledging that it doesn’t end, trying isn’t failing, trying is the doing and the living..


Maybe we can say it together, “We are worthy.”



The Contradiction of Leaving

Posted on April 23, 2019

My flight leaves in exactly four hours as I write this. The girls are still sleeping after back-to-back sleepovers and hours spent helping us build the fence that I declared I wanted. It is the kind of morning that makes me want to say aloud to the trees and sky, “I am so happy to be alive.” As the light filters through the tree and birds swoop into the feeders and then fly out, banking near the window and disappearing into the lacy limbs of the Hemlocks, my throat feels tight.

Little girl sits with her hand outstretched waiting for birds.

Finley patiently sitting with bird seed in her hand.

Leaving this moment feels like some sort of cheating. How can I possibly leave when the girls are on vacation, the yard is nearly done, and we are all so content? My feet are leaden before a trip; shame hovers as I also feel a fluttering. Travel, leaving the ordinary and testing my courage and even my imagination.

Last night, one of the last things Sean said to me was, “Don’t let guilt swallow you. Feeling guilty is like obsessing over something in the past. It doesn’t move you forward, and it doesn’t do anything for us. Go do this.” I kissed him and promised that I’d heed his advice, my fingers figuratively crossed behind my back.

Padding around the backyard with the dogs and my first cup of coffee I admired our work from the past three days. A fence to keep the dogs in, gates the girls can climb on, posts we dug together, and benches he made from the trees he felled. A whole world we’ve created on dreams and hard work. I’m leaving for a few days, but I’ll still be here, and the girls and Sean will discover new ways to be together. They’ll create memories that they can share with me.

Life is made up of countless arrivals and departures. I think the threat of tears and the promise of excitement are a part of the beauty of it all. And homecomings.



There You Are

Posted on April 2, 2019

A man and woman stand in front of a door, the woman is kissing the man's cheek.

Standing outside our second office.

Here comes a kind of post that I don’t usually do. I’m not big on birthdays and anniversaries and even less focused on lavish, public, I-love-my-spouse posts.

Today is different.

Sean is 43 today, nothing very remarkable about the birthday. Except that at our age, it now is remarkable to have a birthday. People get sick, men have heart attacks, breast cancer strikes moms. I woke this morning on day three of a nasty bug, he continued picking up the things I do, things I thought only I could do. Nope. He’s got them, the girls too. Life goes on, even when we fall out of our routine. I apologized for being sick, and he asked incredulously, “Why would you apologize?” I didn’t have an answer.

17 years ago I went to visit him in Framingham to try and confirm that we were a thing. We walked to a park, the whole thing had a very Zach Braff, melancholy feel. Except there was no great soundtrack, just the whiny screech of the chains of a swing as he said that he wasn’t sure about us. Everything felt colorless.


Three years before everything was in full color. I could feel you in the room. Acknowledging that I had feelings for you was still weeks off, and that was just to myself, not you—that came much later, but you knew before I did.

You walked lightly and confidently, on your toes I came to notice. I also began to adore it, sometimes I’d watch you from across the lawn—there he is. There was, for me, an irresistibility of boyishness, cockiness, and where-did-you-come-from? about you. Still engulfed in my insecurities and bitterness, I didn’t really dare believe that you might actually be interested in me.

I began to notice you walking into the room more frequently. You started making small talk with me and then, maybe flirting. I wasn’t sure, I couldn’t believe it. Oh, but I was slow, and you were persistent. And gallant.

On this day 20 years ago I hadn’t yet met you. Seems impossible with the way we fit, the way you call me on my shit, and allow me to call you on yours. I had a different last name and defined myself as a smoker. You were on the other side of the country not finishing things.

The girls asked for photos of you with them today. “Do you have any from when we were toddlers to share on Insta?”

I spent an hour scrolling through images, falling more in love with you. I forgave myself for the memories that skirt the edges of the photos, the harsh words or frazzled struggles. I see through smiles and remember the worn hands, weak-from-plaster-dust lungs, and empty bank accounts.

Just last night we were pressing dandelions on Ave’s wall, and all I could think was how it all flutters away. Today the snaps from hikes and playground visits, road trips, and walks to the farmers’ market reminded me that it all flutters back.

The two of us in our twenties (me much farther along in mine), the girls in diapers, last night and ten years ago. We are forever moving in and out of focus, learning, and forgetting, and with any luck forgiving and finding the patience to be ready when one of us comes back.

A man and woman in ski gear smile at each other.

You tried for ten years to get me on the mountain.

I love you for more reasons than I could ever write down. Thank you for the impossible things we’ve done together.

The Thing Only You Can Say

Posted on February 27, 2019

It is very easy to not say what you need. In fact, it is so easy that it becomes second nature, a decision you don’t consciously make, rather a silence that you fall into comfortably to keep things simple. Days go by with to-do lists, then weeks and months, all the things that didn’t get said vibrate in the past with wasted potential.

A check-up you didn’t book.

A massage you didn’t think you deserved.

An invitation you didn’t accept because of time, cost, fear.

The things that I am alluding to are the things you need. I don’t mean life or death, I mean life. It’s going to be different for all of us, but we all need things and I am here to tell you that you also deserve them. The little things that other people seem so comfortable saying, “I’m going to learn how to play guitar” or “I started going to a counselor, I just needed a place to talk.” Sometimes people will say things that reveal how their needs are a part of everyone’s life, “He took the kids to a museum and told me to do whatever I wanted with the day. The kids said ‘have fun, mama’.”

When Sean and I were new parents I was sitting at the computer writing. I’d been blogging for several years and had found support and friendship with other writers.

I said to Sean, “I wish I could go to BlogHer.”

He smiled, “When is it? We’ll send you!”

He was excited and I was shocked. I said, “It’s happening right now.”

His shoulders slumped, “Why didn’t you tell me? Amanda, you could have gone. You should be there, but you made it impossible for me to help.”

Looking back I realize how foolish it was, bordering on cruel. I thought I was being selfless and realistic about what we could afford. What I didn’t acknowledge was that I was also harboring resentment for all the things I didn’t get. The time I didn’t take, the full price purchases I didn’t make, the extra sleep I didn’t ask for, and the compliments I didn’t acknowledge I needed.

The truth is I’ve made a pastime out of finding it scandalous that people can articulate and claim what they need. The nerve. The thing is, we get this one chance at living. There isn’t some checkpoint where someone measures all the things you have gone without and gives you some sort of reward. The people who love you don’t achieve the gift of mind reading and stage an intervention to tell you that they are putting a stop to your tendency toward joy deprivation in order to fulfill all your unspoken desires.

Sometimes people will get lucky and read between the lines, helping you to get what you need, but mostly they won’t. Where does that leave us? Seems to me it leaves a lot of us without the love people have to offer, without the cushion our lives could have, and it leaves us without the resources we might have if we dared to say aloud, “I need this. It is important to me.”

Last week I did it, it was awkward and I felt sheepish, but I spoke it aloud.

“I want to see the sunrise tomorrow.”

No one said much.

“Finley and I got up today and tried, but we couldn’t see it from here.

More quiet.

“So tomorrow I really want to get up and go to a place where I can see the sunrise.”

Sean rolled his eyes, “She does this everywhere. She always wants to see the sunrise.”

I nodded, “I just—”

“You love it.” He smiled at me. “We’ll find it, together.” My stepdad said, “I’ll go.” Finley said, “I’m in.” Briar and Avery chimed in as well.

We all met up before 6 am and drove twenty minutes to a beach, from there we had another twenty minutes of walking. The sky was overcast and the wind was stiff, like lean forward and it holds you up strong. I had packed towels and a blanket thinking we might swim and stay awhile, the wind and temperature made the bag seem laughable. I muttered blends of, “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” as we trudged along.

Eventually, we rounded a bend and the sun began popping out from behind the treeline. It was magnificent. It was exactly what I wanted and needed. As I looked around at my people, all of them bathed in the golden light, I realized how lucky I am, no, scratch that, how worthy I am.


A young girl stands on the beach at sunrise, she holds a camera to her face and faces the water.

Sunrise is important to me. Helping me have the things and experiences that are meaningful to me is important to my family. The act of sharing with them what I needed and allowing them to help me was a circle of generosity that could not happen if I didn’t speak up. I am guilty a thousand times over of not saying what I need and, beyond that, of silently screaming that people don’t support me. I cannot have it both ways.

It’s time to be brave and say the things that only we can. I promise that on the other side of the terror and the sense of being greedy, is an abundance that we can share.

Stop Trying to Outrun Yourself

Posted on February 24, 2019

A woman's shadow is shown against a wall, there are horizontal shadows from blinds.I can trace back to as early as eleven, things about myself that I remember running away from. I had a penchant for cussing, picked up from sitting along the periphery of my dad’s poker games. The vocabulary would escape with enthusiasm on the playground.

“You’re a bad influence. We don’t want you around because you bring trouble. Just because you’re parents are splitting up doesn’t mean you can act like an animal.”

Her name was Lisa, we were at Amazon Park in Eugene, and I can still see the way the weeping willow limbs cast shadows on her face. She had a hint of a smile as she said it, the other kids gathering around her. I was poison. Too strong, too loud, too wild to belong. “I’m afraid you’ll rub off on me. On us.” I wanted to outrun their views of me, but the anger I felt only made me want to swear more. I berated myself:


Be less, Amanda.

Be less Amanda.


A few years later it was my emotions that shamed me. Fractured friendships because I was too moody, again I tried to be less. Then it was the size of my clothes, I’d cut the tags out, trying to erase me.

Blaming myself for being myself

The clash of enough and too much is something I’ve tried to coax myself into conquering. As an adult, the race has been to be more organized, feel less passionate, accept more passion, be more disciplined, care less than I do, try harder. I’ve put different names on things, but at the root of it all has been an attempt to be less of who I am.

Each carrot held just out of reach—

Once I start waking up early…

If I can just get my weight down…

When we move to the new house…

As soon as the girls are old enough…

After we reorganize the cabinets and…

Getting away from the day-to-day I’ll be able to…

We don’t have to change to change

I know that sounds ridiculous, but I mean it. The parts of ourselves that we try to change are inside of us, it’s our mind we have to change, not our body or our habits.

The common thread for me has always been a failure to achieve enough. Even in the times when I’ve followed a workout routine, set intentions, or practiced periods of meditation, I’ve never said to myself, “That’s it, Amanda. You did it.”

I think the problem for me began the first time I taped an image of Elle Macpherson on the wall in my bedroom.

“Aim for that,” was what I told myself. On some level, I’ve been measuring myself against her every day since. My success told in how close I got to Elle, how far I moved from Amanda.

I am here to tell you that we never get there. We run and attack, shaming ourselves for our inability to get to a place, to a self, that simply does not exist. We’re always there, we cannot undo ourselves.

We can’t outgrow, outrun, or outlast who we are.

Change isn’t about distance

We were on vacation last week. I spent less time reading the headlines, I honored the promise I made not to work, I slept when I was sleepy and ate when I was hungry. I found a different rhythm and at no time did I try to change. Sitting in the sun reading a book it hit me that none of this needed to wait for vacation. The change of scenery was nice but at the beginning and end of each day, I was still me. The parts of me that I wish to change were all still there, they’ll still be there when I have (insert wild, audacious goal) _____________.

We’re all working toward (or running away) from different things. I know that I am never going to be done questing, it’s who I am. What I am done with is the impossible chase, remembering a 30+ year old photo of Elle Macpherson. I can’t rewrite who I’ve been, nor do I want to. I have made some big mistakes, I wasted time hating myself and carrying grudges.

Today I am strong. I still feel weird about certain parts of my body, the sound of my voice, and my inability to dance, sing, or speak publicly without being overcome by nerves. I’m getting better, little bits of singing along with the girls, allowing myself to not feel ashamed when the music calls me to move and using my voice even when it shakes.

Becoming who we are

My daughters are 10, 12, and 14. They are bursting forth into young women, filled with opinions and ideas. I won’t kid myself into thinking I can lift them over the potholes of self-loathing. The best thing I can do, for them and for myself, is to be slightly more tender with myself.

We can try things on, sluff things off, and afford ourselves do-overs.

Don’t try to outrun yourself, let yourself catch up.



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