Walking Conundrum

I’m a walking conundrum…

I am hungry, but I am also fat. Don’t eat it, Sister.

I am fat, but I also like cheese dip. Order a “small” cheese dip.

I want pretty hair, but dang, I don’t want to wash it today. Lazy.

I like nice clothes, but I sho ain’t going shopping. Ewww.

People are awesome, but when I go out, it’s so people-y. No.

I’m pretty smart, but don’t ask me nothing. Use your brain.

I love helping people, but my God, can y’all do anything for yourself?

Invite me, but I probably won’t come. I know. It’s dumb.

I want you to be my friend…wait…that’s too close. Back up some.

I need sleep, but I thrive on creating awesome things.

Time to be creative? Nope, I’m too sleepy. Can’t.

Text me! (OMG, did you just call? Don’t call.)

I want good skin, but I go to bed with make-up on. Yep.

I want to be a hot chick, but let me throw on these leggings and this hoodie.

I swear…

Open heart. Open mind.

You know what people do? They opinion shop. They feel-good shop. They justify shop. They comeraderie shop. Not only does misery love company, but so does contentment.

People are out shopping for connectedness. They want to feel good about themselves and their choices. They want to be agreed with and supported by other folks going through the same things and feeling the same feels.

I do it, and so do you. Look at the Facebook and Instagram accounts we follow. Check out the company we keep. We keep ourselves in comfortable places, don’t we?

So what? What’s the point? Well, I think we better think outside the box some. We better at read up on what the “other” folks are doing. We better listen, and be better allow our brains to be challenged. We better mix up our company and appreciate what other folks bring to the table.

And the kicker? Without arguing.

Everybody is real damn quick to put you in your place and give you a litany of reasons why you’re a horrible human of you disagree with them. Those are the people who settle into their comfort zones and ride the wave of communal safety but neglect to keep open minds and open hearts. They’re the ones who resolutely believe there is ONE way to think, ONE way to be, and ONE way to respond.

I truly believe that our differences make the world turn, but in order to keep it spinning, we have to love and let be. Does that mean we don’t take a stand on issues, take up for ourselves, or fight for or rights? No, Sir.

I think it does mean that we quit being so damn hard-headed and stop digging in our heels. We stop freaking yelling and trying to shame each other. We quit popping back with our argument and devaluing what the other person believes.

Surely, there are compromises. Surely, we can both have valid points and concerns. Surely, there is a balance, a happy medium, an accord. But that can only come with willing, open-hearted, open-minded people on both sides of the table.

I’m willing. Are you? Think about it.

What brought this on, you ask. Well, I follow a few bloggers with huge followings and lots of thoughts. They share just like me. Fine. But they also attack whomever has a different perspective and allow their following to gang up on those with differences of opinion. That don’t seem right to me.

What seems right is that open mind and open heart. Kindness. Respect. Preservation of our individual voices. Compromise. Listening.

Maybe that’s just me. If you’re confident in that zone, too, then I guess you’ve come to the right place. And if you don’t agree…I ain’t even mad.

The Trouble With “Big”

If you have big plans, big dreams, big aspirations, big goals, big visions, some people won’t understand you or get it at all.

One person’s definition of “big” is vastly different than another person’s.

When you think all eyes are on you, and other people are expecting those BIG things from you, it feels heavy. Really heavy.

Big, heavy things generally transform into beautiful things, if you can hack it. And beautiful things are often rare.

If carrying “heavy” was easy, everyone would do it… and things wouldn’t be so beautiful or hold as much value.

To go big or go home…that’s a choice.

Some people will not respect, enjoy, or appreciate your choice to go big. Screw ’em.

“Screw ’em” is easier said than done when BIG means the world to you and it’s not acknowledged or appreciated. It hurts.

I don’t think I’ll ever give up on BIG. I actually don’t think I can even do it. It sounds like a nice, smooth ride, but I don’t think it’s one I’m prepared to take, at least not yet.

Why BIG? Well, I guess despite its stresses, it’s gratifying to me. BIG is what makes memories, creates magic, and makes people feel important. When you taste BIG a few times, you start to crave it, and eventually you won’t want anything else. BIG gets things done and makes things happen. It separates the men from the boys.

The trouble with “big”… everybody dorsn’t want to create it, but everybody enjoys it. It’s irony at its best. I don’t think I can ever make myself smaller for anyone, nor do I want to. I like “big” everything, and I think I’ll keep creating it, dishing it out, and being it until I physically can’t anymore.

Big is good. I’ll keep my big hair, big eyelashes, and big personality. I’ll keep my big plans, big dreams, and big aspirations. Some people may have trouble with “big”, but I don’t.

Plant-Based Babe

So let me tell y’all what I did. I cut all meat. Yep, I’ve been vegetarian for a little over a month.

(People, we are Southern, and by and large, Southern people like their meat. This may not seem weird to you, but it is to us. It sounds pretentious and uppity. Saying you’re “vegetarian” in these parts gets you some bless-her-heart looks and remarks of skepticism. I promise that three people turned their head slightly sideways when they read that first line.)

Anywho, I chucked it all and went with a mostly plant-based diet. Why? Well, (sorry this might be gross) I was throwing up a lot. At least twice a week, I had to go throw up whatever it was I ate, because it just wasn’t agreeing with me. My stomach hurt, I felt nauseated after a few hours of eating, and it had to come up. It wasn’t fun. I also had migraines…often. I was having 3-4 migraines a month minimum, and they had become pretty severe. They were the crying-on-the-floor kind that make you think it HAS to be a brain tumor. Also not fun. And finally, I was tired of being freaking fat. Fatty boombalatty. I needed my own zip code. Not. Fun.

I figured cutting everything and starting over was a plan…and it has worked wonders! I quit meat and stopped drinking cow milk. I have learned to find new sources of protein, yummy snacks, and plant-based meals that I really like. For instance…

Instead of cow milk, I switched to oat milk. There’s oat milk coffee creamer, too. Who knew it was so good?!

Instead of meat, I eat beans and lentils. I like nut butters. I have even tried vegan sausage, although that’s as far as I’ve gone with fake meat. I don’t want to get into that, plus it’s over-processed anyway.

I ditched bread, pizza crust, biscuits, starches. Haven’t missed ’em at all!

Since I had COVID, I actually crave veggies, so that has helped. I have always liked all vegetables, but to actually WANT them is new, and I can’t complain.

I have eaten eggs, some cheese, sour cream, and some butter, so I’m not “vegan”. I’m not giving those up but enjoying them in moderation.

And finally, I have LOVED researching and scouring the grocery store for plant-based alternatives. There is SO MUCH out there now! I have plant-based, no dairy, very tasty Ranch dressing. I found plant-based microwavable meals for lunch. There are plant-based crackers and chips. I have a new Pinterest board full of recipes, and I’ve been trying them (all so good!). I’m even figuring out how to order at restaurants.

It’s kind of fun and new, but most importantly, I feel better. I have no inflammation. It does not hurt to get up out of chair and walk across the room. It no longer hurts to bend over or step out of the bathtub. I have not had a migraine in over a month. I “go” everyday, my stomach is not distended, and I don’t feel bloated anymore. I have lost 16 lbs, and my clothes fit differently. I’m pretty happy with it!

Let me tell you this, though…on Saturday, just hanging out, I ate a soft pretzel and some french fries from a restaurant. Threw up AND had a migraine. Y’all, the crap I was eating plagued me. It caused problems. Eating that mess Saturday reminded me, and I won’t soon do it again. How much better I feel greatly outweighs the “comfort” of that pretzel or those fries. It was a kick in the pants, not to mention a physical reminder about how my body works, what it likes and doesn’t like, and what I should be feeding it.

I have never taken the time to examine the toll food takes on my body. I’ve been on diets, cut carbs, and tracked food, but only for the purpose of trying to lose a few pounds. I never really took time to carefully consider how my body reacts to food. I feel like I’m eating to live instead of living to eat, and I like what I’m learning.

Will I ever eat meat again? Probably. Will I never have a piece of cake again. Doubtful. But I can take it day by day, try new things, and keep learning.

A vegetarian. Who would have thought?!

Self Care 2.0

Can we change how we look at “self care” a little? I think it’s more than bubble baths and getting my nails done, enjoying a glass of wine or buying myself new tennis shoes.

I want to care about what I SAY to myself. I bought 4 new bathing suits the other day on Shein (this is my newest vice, secondary to reckless tennis shoe buying), and you know what, they were all cute! Am I slim and trim? Nope, I have eaten a lot of cheese dip. Am I smooth and refined? Nope, I had 9-lb babies, and I’m wrinkly. Am I in great shape? Nope, I can run a little and still look cute, but after that, I’m fighting for my life all sweaty and bedraggled.

But I said to myself, “Self, you look pretty good. You got great boobs and a good complexion. Keep eating well and trying hard. You will not embarrass your kids and might even turn your husband on. Get it, Sister.”

I need to play THIS tape in my head, the encouraging Ted Talk not the self-loathing podcast. I want to be reminded that I’m smart and resourceful, professional and polished. I want to hear I’m funny and sharp, kind-hearted and loving. I want to know that I’m not getting older, I’m getting better, wiser, and prettier. Who better to hear that from than myself? I definitely have to believe it if I’m going to exude it. We have to love ourselves first, right?

I need to stop wishing I looked like that, chastising myself for being stupid, or downgrading my abilities. I want to care for my own heart, my own well-being, and my own inner peace. I have been hindering it all for sure, if not outright destroying it all, with my ridiculous, negative self talk. It’s hard, but THIS is the kind of self care I need to get better at.

Today, I’m going to be nicer to myself, cut me some slack, and reflect on what I’m doing right. I’m pretty cute, even when I’m sweaty. I am hella quick-witted, and I know about a lot of stuff. And I do have great boobs. I’m going to tell myself all that. That’s a start.

What Holds Us Back – Part 3

The payoff? Yep, there are HUGE benefits to shedding those things that hold us back (Part 1). Despite the pitfalls (Part 2), when we get rid of what holds us back, our lives change for the better.

We are liberated! When you aren’t burdened by the pressure of trying to please everyone, you aren’t nearly as stressed. Letting go of the past frees your mind of old haunts and useless clutter. Trying new things, thinking new thoughts, and pursuing new goals teaches us that we can leave old habits behind, improve our way of thinking, and build confidence.

We feel better physically! Y’all, I read that constantly thinking bad thoughts actually takes a toll on your body at the cellular level. Your muscles and your organs can stop working properly just because you’re encumbered with negative thinking. I can’t imagine being sick, in pain, or suffering from some malady because I can’t get my shit together in my mind and soul, but I have sure done it to myself.

We have stronger relationships that matter! Truly, when you change your mindset and seek to grow, people fall away, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Growth can yield a new circle, one that is of a similar mind, encourages you, and who also looks to evolve. Leaving behind complainers, those who are stuck in the ruts they created, people unwilling to step back and examine what’s holding them back…that’s a good thing. We are only as good as the company we keep.

We can accept ourselves for who we really are! This one is HUGE! When you can finally FIND and BE your authentic self, you can settle in and be happy with yourself. You don’t have to pretend anymore, you don’t have to wear a mask, and you don’t have to fake it. I like the me that’s not hung up on who I’m supposed to be, whether I’ll disappoint someone, or if people will like me. I mean, I really like her. She’s the coolest!

We change the world! Nope, that’s not a hyperbole. I really believe that each of us, one at a time, has the power to make the world better. We can be the change we want to see, and it can catch on. If only everyone thought that!

Go for growth, Y’all. Regardless of how old you are, how much money you have, what your position in life, let that mess go and shoot for better. Get really freaking serious about self awareness, boldly tackle those issues you’ve been carrying around, cry it out, scream and bitch…then move on! Fix your mind and your heart. Walk away from people who don’t fit you anymore…you’ve outgrown them, and that’s ok. Go to therapy, ask for help.

And you know what else…don’t apologize! Do not make excuses, and do not explain. Block out the judgment and let the opinions blow away with the wind. Work on being the person you were meant to be, and create the life you were meant to live. That’s the ultimate pay off…and it can be yours!

What Holds Us Back – Part 2

Something is holding me back? Back from what? Me? I have always considered myself a bit of a force – pretty confident, sure of myself, know what I want, focused. I would’ve never thought that ANYTHING ever held me back.

That makes me laugh now. Stupid. There has been plenty holding me back.

From what? Well, being happy for one…like truly happy. Content even. Satisfied. At peace. Secondly, stuff has held me back from being who I REALLY am, rather than who I thought I should be…or worse yet, who I thought I was supposed to be.

Let me tell you a little about what happens when you stop letting stuff hold you back. It obviously comes with a payoff (good!), but it also comes with a price (uh oh!).

Yep, the price. There’s always a catch, right? Looking inward, facing your fears, releasing your demons, addressing your traumas, and admitting your bad habits brings about…

Shame! God, how could I have ever acted like that, been that way, said those things, let others see that, supported that, hung out with those people?

Guilt! I feel so bad for treating people like that, treating myself like that, allowing myself to get that low, putting on so much weight, pretending to be someone I’m not.

Anger! I hate myself for letting it go this long. How could he have done that to me? Why could she make me feel that way?

Sorrow! Who even was I? I wasted so much time. I can’t get those moments back. I let that opportunity get away from me. I never took the chance.

Oh, but there are other costs…

Doubt…from others! Some people around you will not believe in your ability to evolve. They’ll question you. Directly.

Frustration…from others! You’ll have some that test your new boundaries and challenge your thoughts.

Resentment…from others! Friends will guilt trip you when you don’t come around or call as much. You’ll feel the cold shoulder or take a jab or two, all because THEY realize you’re growing and they’re still stuck.

I totally expected my own tears. Being fearful seemed natural. The guilt, the anger, the sorrow…normal. But when I got real self-absorbed and started going deep within, putting myself first and working to be better, I didn’t anticipate the reactions from others.

You know, people have you in a nice box. They put you in this box based on their own opinions and views, then slap on a label. That’s the you they know and can handle.

If you break the box, or God forbid, fail to match that label anymore they react as if the box just turned over and a bunch of spiders ran out. Folks don’t like change.

They don’t like to get ruffled either. When you start to evolve, they catch a glimpse of themselves in a proverbial mirror and squirm at what they see. Some people aren’t ready to come face to face with their crap, and they won’t like that they’ve been reminded it exists.

Does that mean we don’t seek to improve? No way. It means we focus on the payoffs and let people be. While, sure, we are all in this together, it’s truly every man for himself. This world is all about synergy, which is a highly overused word, but an appropriate word to describe how all our individual efforts can come together to bring about true change.

Part 3? The payoff.

What Holds Us Back: Part 1

People afraid of pain don’t grow.

Those afraid of failure won’t try.

Folks too worried about making mistakes will quit.

People who aren’t willing to be uncomfortable will stay in the same place.

Those afraid of confrontation won’t ever speak up.

Folks who hold tight to what they think they know will never learn.

People holding on to the past can’t move forward.

Those who are narrow minded will not evolve.

Folks who blame others will never fully grasp personal responsibility and accountability.

People who wait around for an apology will always be bitter inside.

Those who aim to please will be left feeling empty.

Folks who refuse to look inward to reveal and address hard truths can never be who they are truly meant to be.

It’s me. I’m People. At some point, I’ve been Those. I’ve been among the Folks. Learning what holds me back is happening, and it’s both awful and liberating. That’s Part 1.

Part 2? It comes with a payoff…but also a price.

Vortex of Thoughts

Have you ever seen a tornado? Maybe on TV, as it spins and grows and swirls big stuff and little stuff and debris and cows all around? Spinning and meandering, blowing and going, picking up momentum yet oddly bouncing up and down engulfing some landmarks but leaving that one trailer park untouched?

Well, then you know what my brain looks like. That. Complete with cows and occasional trailer parks.

Here’s a twisty vortex of thoughts for you…just from this morning’s tornado in my head…

Ironically, you can be totally surrounded by people and feel alone.

Interestingly, you can wish you didn’t feel alone, yet dread anybody being around.

Some people have an extraordinary ability to carry the weight of life. Some collapse under very little weight.

It’s liberating – and pretty cool – when you aren’t ruffled when someone gets mad at you. (I’m rarely good at this, but when I got it, I got it.)

The ability to totally be yourself in front of a select few people is necessary. Actually having those people around on the regular is priceless.

When I think about it seriously, I don’t have very many of those people, so I super cherish the ones I have. I am always hopeful that I can gather more of those kind of people, but I’m often let down and so the search continues.

I often need an anchor, something to ground me and bring me to a stop when I’m being pulled in different directions by life.

Some people never really evolved. They were in their own world, didn’t venture much outside that world, and thus only understand that world. I find that terribly unfortunate, and I never want to be that.

People who are always “on” and giving the world all they got need something they can call their own that nobody else can have a piece of. Trust me on that one.

Surface people do not understand deep people…and probably vice versa. Surface people are confounded by deep people, and deep people are annoyed by surface people.

When a deep person finds another deep person…WIN!

I guess I’m a hyper-observer of people lately, and for the life of me, there are some things about people I can only observe but never truly understand. And I am the “seek first to understand” type who really tries. At the end of the day, I can only share my thoughts and hope they resonate with some of you despite my speaking in generalities. Maybe if I had more time and was willing to risk it, I could tell you about all the nonsense I observe and how I reach these conclusions. Until I decide that’s a thing, I always appreciate your riding out the cyclones in my head.

You Asked How I’m Doing

Hi, I am Amanda, and I get emotional when someone sends me a message to ask how I’m doing. Crazy, right?!

I am so focused on accomplishing big things, supporting people, and pushing kids into the spotlight. I am busy trying to make people’s lives easier, coming up with processes and procedures to lubricate a smoothly run system. I am working to build up children, spark confidence, provide reassurance, and extend grace. I am deeply invested in my own children, their mental health, guiding them, balancing my role with work. I am all about developing my staff, supporting them, and ensuring they have what they need to be successful.

I tend to think about other people all the time. That’s definitely what moms do, right? And it’s what wives do. It’s what teachers do. It’s what business owners do. This meme says it all. I think about being light…most all the time. I don’t find it burdensome (much), it brings me great reward, an I enjoy doing good things for people.

Let me receive an out-of-the-blue message asking how I’m doing, though, and I tear up some. I just find it so kind…and weird…and unexpected…and sometimes hard to receive. For someone to take the time to reach out to me, genuinely check on my well-being, and be truly interested enough in me as a person to ask…well, that’s just gold, isn’t it?

Do y’all do that? Are you just bowled over anytime someone is kind to you? Does it seem odd? Just me? What’s up with that? Here are a few thoughts…

I think we need to be better at remembering that we are WORTHY! To be busy tending to the needs of others almost constantly is great, but to stop an remember that you are a valuable contributor to the world is even better. We shouldn’t be so surprised and emotional when someone reaches out to us, because the circle we’ve CREATED for ourselves (right?!) SHOULD be full of folks who recognize our worth and care about us. We are worthy!

You know what else is cool? We ARE NOT the only light in the world. There are plenty of others out there making every effort to love big, give back, and be the change. Light attracts light, and realizing we have beautiful people around us not only brings a sense of peace but can help solidify the idea that we must be doing something right.

And finally, Y’all, allowing ourselves to receive the snuggly goodness of others is good for our souls. Admittedly, I keep my guard up BIG. Outwardly, I’m giving, giving, giving the best I got, but inwardly, I stay pretty locked up. As far as the world is concerned, everything is great, running smoothly, and handled. In actuality, though, my life is complicated, I am decision fatigued, I have fear and insecurity. When we let ourselves absorb that kindness, answer that “how are you” text candidly, and show our vulnerability, we admit our humanity. We can bond, embrace kinships, empathize, and relate. Our souls need this!

I am thankful to the sweet friend who reached out to me today totally unexpectedly. That simple, “Y’all doing okay this week?”, Instagram message meant more than she knows.

It helped me remember that I am worthy, that people really are good, and that it’s okay for me to be a human being (not just a work machine busy making other people’s lives better somehow). That’s a lot of pressure I put on myself as a Recovering People Pleaser. I needed this mental exercise to help me put things back into perspective.

So how am I doing this week? I’m stressed and anxious, busy and overwhelmed, behind and struggling. My laundry isn’t done, and I didn’t make the bed yet or take my medicine. I have a thousand things to do, and someone will probably yell at me about something today. I’ve got kid obligations, a task list that stretches from hell to breakfast, and overdue assignments. But I’m also hopeful and excited, on fire to do good, and full of creativity.

Thank you for asking.