Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Who's Been Afraid to Chase Her Dream? Yep. This Girl. Working On That...

I've started this blog post so many times only to erase it all and walk away from the computer. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time blogging lately. Yes, I know I haven't been much anyway, but all of that was suppose to change...

...let me start from the beginning.

My family went on vacation to the east coast to see friends and family a few weeks ago. I left the city tired, burned out and cranky. More importantly, I was done being tired, burned out and cranky so I knew something had to change, I just wasn't sure what.

Over the course of the two weeks we were away, I had a huge range of emotions and ideas of what to do next. I was impossible for a good bit of that time because I was so uncertain about everything, right down to my own identity.

I knew I had to be driving my poor husband crazy, but he was ever patient with me. Finally just over halfway through the trip we stayed up late one night talking and he asked me a question.

He said, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? Not the cookie cutter answer you spout to people who ask, but what do you want? Think about it. What do you want to do?"

His implication was "What is your dream?"

I really took this question to heart and came up with a conclusion, one that has been following me all of my life.

I want to be a writer.

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His follow up questions were harder, "Why aren't you doing it? What's stopping you?"

Good question. I talk about writing all the time. I dabble in it. Why aren't I serious about it?

What's stopping me?

Fear.

The only thing stopping me from following my dream is...me. I'm afraid. I've always been afriad. Afraid I wasn't good enough. Afraid I would waste time and energy chasing a pipe dream. Afraid I would let everyone down. Just afraid. I've been afraid all of my life. I don't know why; I never have.

Today I am inspired to write this post because I read a blog by Wil Wheaton (yes, the Star Trek guy). Something he said really spoke to me and showed me something about myself that I would like to share.

Wil Wheaton's blog is called WIL WHEATON dot NET and this post was titled Tears in Rain. Click on the links to read it, it is really good.

Anyway, he said this...

"Part of my Depression is this voice that never stops telling me that I suck. Part of my Depression is this constant fear that everyone will know how afraid of failure I am. Part of my Depression is this relentless worrying, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that I’m never going to do anything that matters."

He put into words all the reasons I never took writing seriously. It is a little voice that says "you suck." It is a constant fear of failure. It is wondering if "I'm never going to do anything that matters." I worry that my daughter and husband won't be proud of me and it is exactly that worrying that causes me to hesitate to do anything at all.

After reading this today I realized something very important about myself. I'm not as afraid as I was once. I still have fear, but I am brave. I am learning how to function despite those fears. Right now, I'm not afraid to write. That is empowering.

In the few weeks since we've been back from vacation, I have made some changes. I went back down to part time at work so I would have more time with my family and I could focus on my writing.

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I am writing!

It seems like such a simple thing, wanting to be a writer and writing. But I had to face so many inner demons to get this far. It helps to know that others, like Wil Wheaton, can understand the weight of that struggle. 

After it is all said and done, I am more happy than I have been in quite a while. And the most rested I've been in 6 months. I have been able to spend lots of time with my family, which means the world to me. I have been blessed to be home with Zoey for five years until just this past year when she went to school. I've missed that time with her and us all together more than I realized. 

And I'm writing. I mean I am really doing it! I havn't been blogging, even though I thought that would be the easier place to start, but I've been working on my book almost everyday. It is such a good feeling to be writing again. I don't have much that I can show to others, but I can see the huge strides I am making in my work and for once that is enough for me.

I've felt a humongous wave of support from my husband and daughter, parents, family and friends that keeps my head high even as those doubts try to flood back in. I'm finally doing it! I'm chasing my dream to publish a novel. I'm done with excuses and feeling guilty for no good reason. Now I can finally write about the act of writing too. What a breakthrough!

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I don't know if anyone else out there experiences some of these same emotions. I've always feared that I was the only one who was immobilzed by fear. I'm beginning to see that isn't the case at all, there are many of us who let those little voices of doubt carry a little too much weight too often. I believe it is time I talk about it. It is when we face our fears that they become the fuel for great accomplishment. This is a good start for me.

In the meantime, I'll be writing!

Amanda

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Incredible Phone Debacle

This is a true story...

We had just gotten back from a vacation to the east coast to visit our family and friends. It was a great trip, but it was nice to be home. I wasn't really incredibly excited to go back to work at Old Navy (I mean is anyone really excited to go back to work after a two week vacation?) I decided to dress up a little bit to give me a little extra confidence and a bounce in my step. Since it wasn't a shipment day, I decided to wear a denim skirt with a cute top.  It worked. The day was going really well, which gave me a huge boost about being back at work after two weeks. I went to lunch, came back in the building and used the bathroom before I went back on the floor.

I put my name tag on and reached for my phone which lived in my back pocket and it wasn't there. I freaked out on the inside (mostly because this isn't the first time I've lost my phone in the past year.) "It's got to be here somewhere" I think to myself. So, I started retracing my steps. I began in the break room and headed down to the floor. I looked in the bathroom, and even asked the person coming out if they saw a phone in there. Of course not. I went back outside to the spot I was sitting in the park looking all along the sidewalk as I went. Nothing. Nothing was turned in at the store. No one had seen anything. Damn.

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With my head bowed, I called Stephen. "You're going to kill me, but (deep breath) I can't find my phone."

Now let me take just a moment here so that you understand. Like I said before, this is not the first time I've lost my phone in the past year. The first time was on the day of my Old Navy interview and I left it in a Nordstrom bathroom by accident. It wasn't two minutes later I was in there looking for it and it was gone. Someone had stolen it. A very similar story to this one actually.

Stephen had been giving me a hard time about it since it happened (as he should). But I knew I couldn't let anything happen to this phone and I did. I felt terrible and defeated when I called Stephen from one of my co-workers phones.

Let me just say, I have the best husband ever. He knew I was serious as soon as the words escaped my mouth. However, not once did he say anything mean or joke about my perpetual stolen phone scenario. He just went into action.

"Did you check in your bag and coat?"
"Yes."
"Did you check where you had been this afternoon?"
"Yes."
"Even on the sidewalk?"
"Yes."
"Did you ask to see if someone turned a phone in?"
"Yes."
"Okay."
"Okay."

He began tracking my phone online. I love that feature. We determined it had for sure come back to Old Navy with me so as I thought, it fell out of my skirt in the bathroom, I simply didn't notice. We also determined that someone had it because it was walking down 3rd Ave and I was still standing in Old Navy on 5th.

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At this point I let my managers know what was going on. One manager offered to go with me and see if we could get it back. I stayed on the phone with Stephen (a huge thanks to my co-worker who lent me her phone.) We walked and Stephen set the ringer to go off as loud as it could for five minutes at a time. We looked and listened and found nothing. I was so sad and defeated when Stephen told me the person got on a bus because it was now 5 blocks south. We went back to Old Navy and I hung up with Stephen. I took a deep breath and then found the most monotonous task I could find and just kept working.

We had bricked my phone, meaning that no one could do anything with it. It had an elaborate password set to it so it couldn't even be opened. On top of that, Stephen wrote a message on the front screen that read (in capital letters) "THIS PHONE IS STOLEN, PLEASE RETURN TO OWNER." He added a link to his phone number, though that didn't do much good because we disabled the sim card so that no data or signal to get to the phone. When we did that, it was last tracked in West Seattle, which is a good 10 miles away.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that it was just a phone. It was a thing, something that could be replaced. I was upset, not distraught over this occurance. Mostly I was just annoyed, especially with myself for allowing it to happen (again) in the first place.

Anyone who has a smart phone that they use on a regular basis will understand this... not having that phone SUCKS! It is my alarm clock, my music player, my way to communicate (through phone and text), my entertainment, my link to the world through Facebook and news apps, and my way to get around town (with google maps and the bus schedule app). It has everything that I do and use on a daily basis in that one device. It was so much harder without it, so frustrating!

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I woke up the next day mad at the world. I was cursing before I even got in the shower. Frankly, I'm surprised I got up at all using a different alarm. But I did. I got dressed and I went to work and I endured the day. It was a hard day.

That evening I get a message from a co-worker on Facebook... "Hey Amanda! Your phone is at work!"

WHAT!?!

My phone is at work? That can't be! It was stolen, gone forever. Now it's at work? It can't be mine. But another co-worker (the one whose phone I borrowed) called Stephen to let us know as well and promised that it was mine.

I went to bed that night with a glimmer of hope. I didn't want to get my hopes up. Nonetheless, I hadn't been that excited to go to work in a long while. I got there and found my phone in the office on a charger! My Old Navy people are the most amazing in the world! Not only did they find it to give it back, they even charged it for me. [insert cheesy grin here]

I was on cloud nine all day because I got my phone back. I couldn't believe it!

Turns out, the person who stole it came back to Old Navy and put the phone back in the bathroom. One of the Old Navy associates found it in the bathroom and was like, "This is Amanda's phone." So I still have no idea who took it or what they hoped to gain from it, but honestly, I don't really care. I'm just so glad to have my phone back.

It's just as good as new too. It wasn't tampered with at all. It was still locked and not even damaged physically. Stephen (as the primary on the plan) got it recoverd and back on the network with a new sim card and now it works perfectly as if nothing happened at all. I am so lucky.

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Who ever it was that stole it, shame on you, but thank you for doing the right thing in the end and returning it, even anonymously. It saves me a lot of headache, frustration and money to get a new one.

At the end of those couple days, I felt like I was in a book or sitcom. I mean you can't write stuff this good. In fact, don't be surprised if a similar story comes up in my fiction in the future, I mean, I have to use this!

This instance also got me thinking. It is an interesting thing, my faith and contempt for humanity. I mean, there is so much violence and distruction it is hard to believe in the good of this world. But there are also so many instances where people help each other out just because it was needed at the time.

When my phone was stolen, I was furious with this unknown person for being so selfish and cruel. However, when it came back, even anonymously, I realized that everyone is going through their own struggles and we all walk a balance of self gain and self sacrifice.

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It gives me hope that this person did the right thing in the end and returned the phone, even if it was after realizing there was nothing to gain from the situation. Still, he or she could have been flippant or lazy and just toss it. Instead he or she made the trek back into the city to leave it where he or she stole it from. There is hope and good in this world. Sometimes, we just need to look a little harder for it and have faith that others will make the right decisions. In the meantime, we need to make the right decisions and realize that our actions and attitudes affect those around us.

Amanda

Thursday, August 6, 2015

24 Things to Always Remember

I'm not sure where I found this list anymore, but as I was looking through an old notebook it made me smile.

I wrote this list down back in the times of chain emails...remember those? I don't really get things like that through emails anymore. Now all I get are sales ads and the occasional doctor's appointment reminder. It is strange how things change. I mean, who even needs email anymore when we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I still have email (I mean you kind of have to so you can log into all the other things) and do occasionally use it for personal coorespondence, but come one, Facebook is so much easier.

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Anyway, enough reminicing. On to the list of...

24 Things to Always Remember

1. Your presence is a present to the world.

2.  You are unique and one of a kind.

3. Your life can be what you want it to be.

4. Take the days just one at a time.

5. Count your blessings, not your troubles.

6. You'll make it through with whatever comes along.

7. Within you are so many answers.

8. Understand, have courage, and be strong.

9. Don't put limits on yourself.

10. So many dreams are waiting to be realized.

11. Decisions are too important to leave to chance.

12. Reach for your peak, your goal, your prize.

13. Nothing waste more energy than worrying.

14. The longer one carries a problem the heavier it gets.

15. Don't take things too seriously.

16. Live a life of serenity.

17. Not a life of regrets.

18. Remember that a little love goes a long way.

19. Remember that a lot goes forever.

20. Remember that friendship is a wise investment.

21. Life's treasures are people together.

22. Realize that it's never to late to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.

23. Have health, hope and happiness.

24. Take the time to wish upon a star.

And don't forget for even a day how very special you are!

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These are all good tips for a healthier, happier, similar life. But right now number three stands out to me: Your life can be what you want it to be. 

I have dealt with identity issues in the past, especially while being a stay at home mom trying to keep up with pintrest perfection. The secret is ... you can't. Well, I can't. It is not something that makes me happy. It makes me fake. I hate being fake. I love a little bit of chaos, which you can tell by our house bursting full with arts and craft projects. They will never be Pintrest worthy, but they are made in love. 

I want to live more simply and have more confidence. The only way I'm going to achieve those things is if I am brave and embrace myself, just as I am.

My dilemma right now is home/work balance. I'm excited that my life can be what I want it to be. I want to write more, like I'm doing now. And I want to spend all of these precious moments with my family that I can. Zoey is going to be 6 in just a couple weeks. I can't believe it! Life goes by so fast, I want to stop and appreciate it. I'm still working on the balance. I'm not sure that I will ever stop trying to find the balance I need to fulfill every part of my life. But the important thing is that I am trying and I am open to change. I am living intentionally to make my life what I want it to be. 

It is a good life. 

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Amanda

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Celebrate Life! We Will Miss You Nana!

Grandmothers are joyful, independent, generous, loving, and full of spirit. At least Stephen's Nana was all of those things. I would even go so far as to call her spunky. She was a kindred spirit that would not indulge the foolishness of anyone. She could take care of herself and once even got into trouble by her doctors for excercising too much. Nonetheless, she was fierce, especially about her family and loved ones.

Christmas 2011
St. Petersburg, FL

On Thursday, June 4 we got the call that this marvalous woman had passed away. It was not unexpected since she had recently been diagnosed with cancer wide spread through her body. However, up until only a couple months before her passing she lived independently in her own home. After 88 years of taking care of five kids and many grandchildren, she passed peacefully in her sleep in her own bed with her only living daughter and son keeping her company.

I have been blessed to be a part of this family for the last decade. I remember the first time I met Mrs. Ida, though I have only ever called her Nana. I was nervous because everyone said that she was iron-willed and could be critical, especially when significant others were brought to her. I suppose I could see how those adjectives could describe her, but they were not ones that I would use. I was lucky, she immediately loved me. I don't know if it was something in my personality or my smile. Perhaps even the way that I looked at her grandson that did the trick. Nana was the last test I underwent before I was inducded in the family for good...somehow, I passed with flying colors. And now, ten years later, I am as grieved as her blood family of her passing.

Summer 2010
New Hampshire
Though even now, we continue to celebrate her amazing life and not mourn her death. We will miss her, but she was a flame who would have never wanted to be dampened. She wanted to burn bright right up until her end. And then, she would have not wanted everyone to wail and agonize over her death, but to dance and throw a party. She would have wanted everyone burn as brightly as she did, for the entirety of her life.

I will miss the confidence in which she conducted herself. I will miss her laugh and her eagerness to hear about Zoey and how our lives are going. I will miss her dancing to stuffed singing animals. I will miss her Wedding Soup, which we've made for Christmas several times. I will miss her silent pleasure as she hugged and kissed her grandkids.


Summer 2010
New Hampshire
I am at least thankful that Zoey was able to know one our grandparents. Both my grandmother and Stephen's grandfather had passed before we met each other. My grandfather, who was there along with Nana at our wedding, passed while I was pregnant with Zoey. But at five, Zoey has had many opportunities to get to know Nana and was sad as well by her passing. But she knew her laugh and her love and nothing can replace those memories.

Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often
(Italian)

Nana will always be alive in our hearts. Her voice will live in the back of our minds, always encouraging and improving us to be the best that we could be. I am thankful to have known and loved this exceptional woman. We love you Nana!

I found this really cool collection of pictures from Easter of 2013. We were all at Stephen's Mom's house in North Carolina coloring Easter eggs:




Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ~Albert Einstein


There are so many moments and memories...

People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. ~Marcel Proust


We love you Nana!



Monday, June 1, 2015

The Writer's Life For Me

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It's been about three months since I've written on this blog. Honestly, it's been that long since I have written or been creative at all. That was a mistake. I have learned at several points throughout my life that I NEED a creative outlet. If I go to long without that type of release I begin to go a little crazy. (Just ask anyone who sees me on a regular basis and they would agree.) So on the realization that I need to write again to make sense of everything that is in my head, I have once again resurrected Tales From A Mother, the blog that has been with me through everything.

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However, the choice to write is easy. Of course I want to write. The problem comes with what to write. One reason I haven't been creative is that I don't feel like I have anything to share. I've been working alot lately and when I'm not working I spend my time with my family. I feel like I've accomplished great feats if I get the laundry done or are able to read a book for a bit. So writing and creating have fallen off the list. It will now get back on and get moved to the top.

I don't know what I will write about. I don't know what I'm writing about right now. But words are coming out and thoughts somehow magically organize themselves as I write.

I couldn't pass this picture up...I feel like this is the truth of my life. Sometimes, I just feel like I am a big mess. That's why I write. That's why I read...It lets me know I'm not the only one.
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"Writing is the painting of the voice." ~Volitaire