I don’t really ask much from people. It’s not that I don’t need anything ever. Hear me out. It’s that for most of my adulthood, I have kicked butt and taken names. I handled the things. I did the things. I said the things. I didn’t ask for help or a handout. I didn’t know there were life coaches. I thought that too many cooks might spoil the stew. I figured out the things.

At a very physically tired, emotionally weary, mentally drained 47 years old, I can tell you that nothing brings your butt kicking, name taking, handling, and doing to a collective halt than a teenager.

I used to be cute. I used to be resourceful and ingenious. I used to have the right words, think fast on my feet, and come up with solutions to problems.

Now I’m tired and pissy. I hold on to the words of Facebook-blogger-writer-moms for motivation. I can’t think of appropriate words (that I can actually say in mixed company or would say in front of my Papa, God rest his soul), I’m slow to respond (generally out of shock), and when it comes to teenager challenges…I got nothin’ in the way of solutions. And perhaps worst of all, it’s aging me. I feel way less cute.

This year, 2022, has pretty much been me precariously balancing on one toe on a tightrope teetering over the grandest of canyons trying to remember to pray a lot. I have hope, because I already got through one set of teenage boy years. Surely, I can make it through these teenage girl years. It ain’t for the weak.

I often think about my own teenage years and wonder if it was THIS hard. My parents would probably say they were challenged and bumfuzzled by me from time to time. I actually remember being a pretty good kid, though. Then I imagine my teenage self, but add the internet, add social media, add more world crises than you can count happening at any given moment, add a pandemic, add easier-than-ever to get drugs, add lower education standards, add horrible language to every song on the radio, and Sweet Jesus, add a couple of mental health disorders. What would I have been? It’s not the same.

It’s no wonder I’m tired and pissy! THIS is hard. Teenagers are freaking hard. THIS can’t be what our parents struggled through with us. THIS can’t be trumped by the “I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways” stories that oldsters used to hit you with when you complained about your life. THIS is truly a mess. We were not warned or prepared. I don’t think anybody could have predicted it. *BOOM* Here you go, Gen X, sink or swim.

So I raise a bottle, Y’all, for all of us who are balanced on a toe over the canyon. It’s a 16 oz Coke Zero bottle, because who can get tipsy? Somebody’s got to stay sober in case a teenagers pulls a stunt, cops an attitude, or throws a “this is due tomorrow” at us on a random Thursday night.

God’s got us. He must, or we would’ve run screaming into the night already. Bless our souls. I see you, Moms and Dads of teenagers. You’re in good (and, of course, tired and pissy) company.

“Thicc” and Thin

Moms and Teenage Girls, what a time to be alive if you’re fat! If you got a little junk in the trunk, today’s culture calls it “thicc”. That skinny “Twiggy” who took the fashion world by storm in the late 60’s, with her boyishly thin figure, wouldn’t stand a chance. Big booties, and even the tummy “pooch”, are praised, celebrated, revered.

Lizzo takes the stage wearing a sparkling thong, showing off her over-300 lb physique, playing her flute beautifully between voicing edgy song lyrics. She gyrates, and the audience eats it up. She posts online, and the audience praises her for pioneering a “any size should fit all” cultural movement.

Social media would have you believe that guys like “thicc” girls. Magazine publishers would have you believe “it’s time” for plus-sized fashion archetypes and full-figured Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Justice Warriors would have you believe it’s wrong to do anything other than praise and appreciate the curvaceous, the voluptuous…the overweight.

Poor skinny girls. The world is leaving you behind. Do you even have a place? Is anyone glorifying your attempt at health? Are there justice leagues fighting against harsh words that might hurt your feelings?

Moms and Teenage Girls, listen to me. Get your head on straight. It’s time we promote and celebrate HEALTH.

Moms and Teenage Girls, listen to me. Watch your mouth. It’s time we STOP with the comments.

Moms and Teenage Girls, listen to me. Call out body-image nonsense. It’s time we LOVE our kids and everybody else’s.

The health of our kids should be our highest priority (only slightly second to protecting their precious souls). If we, as moms, cultivate a home culture of respect for our bodies, we have laid the foundation on which to teach our girls to respect their own.

What we say to our kids about health and their bodies (or even our own) create that culture. Incessant harping on weight, scant eating, and maintaining a body ideal creates anxiety and the potential for eating disorders. Lack of concern for binge eating and super-sizing creates a formula for difficulty in sports, excessive sweating, and low self-esteem.

How we love our kids – AND EVERYBODY ELSE’S – is key. Raising teenagers is already an effort in walking on egg shells across the shiny, thin thread of a spider web, so we must approach our kids lovingly with solid information, sound advice, and arms-wide-open support.

The picture I posted here…it illustrates the thoughts of a skinny girl. She leaves her warm, Christian, very healthy home, and goes out into a world that tells her on the daily…

“You need a hamburger.” (Yes, an adult told her this. A mom.)

“Girl, you need to eat.”

“Why are you so thin?”

Y’all, she’s beautiful. She’s smart and talented. Her heart is huge. She has hopes. She loves fashion, trendy styles, and unique looks. Her make-up is cleverly done and precise, yet minimal and just enough to accentuate her blue eyes. She is graceful and funny. Her grades are high, and so are her standards. She is a good friend.

Then somebody’s MOM tells her she needs a hamburger. School brats tell her she needs to eat. The world tells her she’s too skinny and she ain’t got that “thicc”. Her mind tells her that maybe they’re right, and she needs to E A T M O R E.

Y’all, I actually kind of like Lizzo and her crazy mess. You can say a lot about the woman, but she plays a mean flute, and her songs are catchy. And you know what, she’s her weight, and that’s that. It’s not my business, and I don’t have an opinion (and if I did, who cares about my opinion?).

I do know this…I worry about my own child’s sense of self. I watch her eating habits, I see her weight fluctuate. I hear her love herself one minute and hate herself the next. She traipses out looking amazing in a bikini in the summer, then fall comes, and she wears as many layers as possible to cover her “fat”.

I also know that I will go to bat faster than my scale can go from 0 to 200 when another person – especially A MOTHER, for crying out loud – makes an inappropriate comment to a teenager about her body. If I had been there myself, you might have heard the sonic boom from your house.

Get your head on straight. Watch your mouth. And call out body-shaming nonsense. Please. “Thicc” or thin.

Just. Write.

Amanda, just write. Put words together. Type them out. Scrawl them on paper. Text yourself. Just. Write.

Why don’t we do more of the thing that burns inside us? We let work take over. Kiids, groceries, laundry, all push our passions to the back burner. And now as the holidays approach, our lists grow longer, and our days grow seemingly shorter.

Yes, I stop sometimes to just sit and rest. Sure, I steal an occasional half hour late at night to read a little of my book. Certainly, I spend my morning time wisely to ensure I have time for peace and prayer.

But writing. What’s holding me back?

I hear you shouldn’t wait to feel inspired. I’ve read that you need to write often to improve. I follow experts who say you just start, go with it, without fear of judgment, without concern for grammar and structure, without worry over how you’ll be received.

Then I look up, and it’s been a month since I’ve written anything other than policies, marketing copy, or some quick Facebook posts.

Then I turn around, and I’m justifying my failure to write by coming up with excuses for why I haven’t.

Then I put my phone down, and I marvel at how I spend more time reading about the how-to’s and best practices of writing than actually writing.

Then I dig deeper, and I realize I’m being perpetually insecure about my writing, quibbling over what topic might interest anybody, whining inside about it being haaaaard.

Oh, stop it.

Amanda, just write. Turn off the insecurity, the quibbling, and for heaven’s sake, the whining. Stop reading about it, and do it. Of course, it’s hard. If it was easy, everybody would be churning out blog posts, articles, and novels by the bazillion.

There are crap writers out there who believe in themselves more than you, getting actual writing jobs, chasing contracts, and self publishing books. Come on. You can do this.

Just do it. More. Often. Regardless.

Make it happen. Just. Write.

(Need your own brand of tough love? Go replace “writing” with “[insert your passion here]”. We can do this.)

We always have a choice.

We always have a choice. Always.

We can choose to respond or not respond.

We can choose action or complacency.

We can choose courage over fear.

We can choose gratitude instead of lamenting the things we don’t have.

We can choose starting over or hanging on to the past.

We all know this. We all know we have choices, but do we consciously choose?

Do we realize that every day, all day, we are choosing?

I find myself scrolling a screen instead of spending time in prayer. I allow myself to get upset instead of choosing to remain calm. I eat salty calories instead of whole foods. I talk before I listen. I give in to my emotions rather than seek clarity. I take responsibility for other people’s burdens, insecurities, and opinions.

Do we realize that every day we CAN choose?

In my therapy sessions, I’m often asked, “How did you deal with the feeling of [disappointment, rage, fear, insert any other crummy feeling here] when that was happening?” to which I often reply,…

“I just kept pushing through. I didn’t have a choice.”

We always have a choice. Always.

Crying is a choice. Folding is a choice. Being angry is a choice. Resentment is a choice. Hopelessness is a choice. Sadness is a choice. Insecurity is a choice. Fear is a choice.

I pray today that I am aware that I can choose. I hope I consciously, deliberately make efforts to choose what’s right for me, my mind, my body, my heart.

I pray I choose the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I pray this for you, too.

We always have a choice. Always.

If I had three lives…

I have a job that requires me to be “on” all the time. Owning a dance studio and teaching kids means teaching appreciation for a timeless art, passing on traditions, and offering instruction in technique and terminology accurately and deliberately in order to perpetuate the craft. It also means being the best part of everyone’s day. I entertain children, greet families warmly, and work to put forth an optimistic, hopeful, joyous vibe within the studio and outside it in the community.

It is hard work. Sometimes, although I pride myself on being as genuine as they come, it feels contrived. Truly, it can be. My bad day can’t matter. How bad I’m feeling can’t matter. What I’m going through personally can’t matter. My need for personal space and time can’t matter. I smile and laugh and love and teach and move anyway. I hug people who “love” me. The job requires it.

So I often find myself searching for substance. Real stuff. Meaningful stuff. Deep stuff. Beautiful stuff. Stuff that matters to me. Stuff that feeds me.

I want to drink wine at night under the stars. I want to sip my coffee in the morning while I sit quietly and read. I want sharp, brilliant conversations with interesting people who challenge my thoughts. I want to travel and see marvelous things, eat spicy foods, and hear foreign accents. I want to touch fabrics, feel breezes, and smell campfires. I want to listen to my favorite music, music I’ve never heard, melodious music, music across all genres. I want to be cold and warm and hike and sit and drive and walk.

I want to be in love and actually have time to be in love. Deeply, not hurriedly. I want a break from text messages and occasional, obligatory holidays that command flowers. I want to snuggle and laugh and be awake and present for it, not fall asleep in 12 seconds out of pure exhaustion. I want to enjoy the security of my man, his strength, his smell. I want to appreciate his knowledge yet roll my eyes at his dumb jokes and inappropriate humor. I want to see his clothes hanging in the closet and have memories from where and when he wore that one coat.

Truly, I have all that. I just want more time to savor it. And you know, I am working right now to create that, too. Time continues to pass, quickly actually, but I’m trying. I make efforts each day and have the forethought to be grateful for all I am creating (and have created). I even celebrate my own accomplishments in my own head from time to time, for just a second before running to tackle the next task at hand.

Read this. I found it yesterday. What if we could live three lives? I would probably still choose to live two of this one. And although I like the idea of considering some other lifestyle I would likely settle into, I believe I would still find myself searching for Keith. My time would be filled with lovely, gratifying things, but I would still search for him, for substance.

What a lovely but poignant thought, romantic but real, tender but thought-provoking. Beautifully written.

If I had three lives…

You’re salty, too.

Gee, I didn’t know I had so many ladies going through the hormonal mess that I’m going through until I posted about being salty over the whole thing. Yep, you’re salty, too.

Today is one of those days. Everything hurts. I could be tearful, but I’m fighting it back. My body is just tired. I learned that a number of you feel the SAME, and we all seem to agree that we DO NOT talk about this enough.

So let’s talk about it.

This morning, my inclination was to listen to my body, so I didn’t go to church and opted for a restful day at home. My pushy brain tried to talk over all that and urge me to suck it up, get moving, and stay busy despite it.

Is that what we’re doing? We are walking a line between listening to our bodies OR pushing through? It feels very extreme, either one way or the other, without a balance between the two.

And this ain’t a Pity Party. This is real-life, figure out what to do with yourself, and make a decision as to how to proceed stuff. Heck, yes, we could party around the pity, give into it, and turn into sniveling, snotty piles of mush. But that’s not cool. We WANT to live our lives! We know better. We want to feel better.

So here we are…hormonal, sore, and pissy. Hmmmph.

I just wrote a post for the dance industry blog I contribute to, and I just folded up 3 baskets and a full couch of clothes. Keith made us breakfast, and now he is putting together new patio heaters so we can continue sitting out and enjoying ourselves in the evenings. (It’s our favorite!) Brady has completed her daily workout. Hudson is barking at people walking by. It’s a good day. It really is.

Now I’m about to go tackle some more studio work and eventually plan my teaching material for the upcoming week. I’ll do it sore and tired, but I’ll do it and continue to walk that line.

Stay sane, Y’all. We’ll make it. Are you walking the line like me?

(OH! I have a doctor appointment Wednesday to check the hormones and discuss solutions. Counting the minutes! I’ll keep you posted.)

Salty About Menopause

I’m salty. I am real damn salty about menopause. I don’t even like the word. I don’t like saying it. I don’t even want to talk about it. They need to come up with another word. The mere mention of it chaps my hide. Salty.

Here’s the deal. I’m 47, right? And I’m feeling some kind of way. I hurt. I could cry at any moment. I sweat like a dog. I am not myself at all, it came on within the last three months, and it’s getting worse. I don’t like it one little bit, and I want my spark back. My spark has seemingly been extinguished. Just no.

And the jokes? The memes? The “funny” spoof on a song I saw in my feed the other day. Also no. This is not funny. It is not to be mocked or made light of. I have no sense of humor when it comes to this. Too soon. I am feeling so the opposite of my usual fabulous self, that it’s kind of scary. It is worrisome and discouraging. “Funny” is not the F word I am inclined to use.

Nobody really talks about this, not in a valuable way. We hear what “beasts” we turn into. We hear how our loved ones have to work around us and try to deal with our tears and sniveling. The world pokes fun at our growing older.

The fact is we should be talking about it and frankly, being taught to prepare for it. Nobody prepares us. We should be respected for it, too. The whole process should be respected a little more. Our bodies are going haywire, our emotions are all over the place, and we are feeling ugly. We weren’t ready, we don’t understand what’s happening, and Lord knows, we can’t figure out what to do about it. We WANT to do something about it, trust us. We want our energetic, vibrant selves back.

So here I am. Salty. And sweaty. With tears. And fat. With aches and pains. Let’s talk about this more. Let’s share with each other and build each other up. Let’s teach our daughters…and our husbands…and our sons. Let’s use humor to get through it, but let’s don’t allow ourselves to be the butt of old-lady jokes. This is no joke. It’s real and awful and stupid.

Somebody pass me my purple, sparkly fan.

Back to Blog

Well…if ain’t your girl who tries to have a blog but fails to post?! Here I am! Can you tell my dance season started last Monday? Can you tell that I’ve run nonstop from task to task, appointment to appointment, meeting to meeting, and activity to activity for the last 10 days? Eeek!

Maybe one day I’ll have time to actually write, which I love, and connect with people, which I also love, and help people, which I love. And I mean here, on my very own blog, with actual written words and fun, interesting photos. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I have been busy connecting with people and helping the community best I can in other ways.

~ My dance season is underway, kids are still enrolling, teachers are doing a great job…and Y’all…I’ve hired a full slate of new folks to take some pressure off me, and it’s glorious so far. I’m excited about it all.

~ Our service company is inundated with work, and we can’t find suitable techs who actually want to come to work. Heck, we can’t even find techs who show up for the first day after a seemingly successful interview. We are confounded.

~ My girl is horse riding, trying new events and working to improve on her usual ones. It’s so fun to see and support and be a part of. She took a fall day before yesterday and hit her head on the ground pretty hard, but she’s ok. All good! Headed to rodeo tomorrow!

~ I am thinking about 3,765,928 things all the time that I want to tell you about, so pray for me as I continue to work to carve out time to write and share. I miss it.

I hope you’re able to enjoy the sunshine. It’s nice and cool, the leaves are turning here in Mississippi. I got my front flower beds all spruced up yesterday, and they look so nice. One of my objectives today is to clean up the back deck so we can enjoy sitting out with this amazing fall backdrop we’ve been blessed with.

Tell me what you’re doing this weekend!

The Dance Season Begins

I’ve had coffee this morning, and we enjoyed some cresent rolls and homegrown honey. I’ve ordered groceries. Meals for the week are planned, too, so I’m hoping the order gets filled completely. Keith is assembling some new cubbies for the dance room. I’m about to finish up class planning then head off to spruce up the studio.

My dance season starts tomorrow.

You know, it’s funny. I don’t dig ditches. I don’t solve murder cases. I don’t do tedious surgeries that save people’s lives. I own a dance studio.

Some people think it’s a hobby or a side gig, not a real job. Some people think I play with children and have fun picking out sparkly costumes. Some people think I’m there solely to please them and do everything the way they think I should do it.

The reality is that I battle the economy, taxes, and supply chain issues. I take complaints and criticism from nasty people sometimes. I am offered “advice” and suggestions by well-meaning folks who think they know what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. I stretch the money I make to cover costs and put virtually all of it back into the business. I get the “it must be nice” comments. I shoulder the pressure of hearing that “whatever I come up with next” must be “better than last year”. I stay up late and work long hours planning, choreographing, building, and organizing.

That’s not all, though…

I get to see firsts – first steps in tap shoes, first pairs of ballet shoes, first applauses. I hug babies and teenagers, big brothers and little sisters, dads and grandmothers. I wipe tears, I hear problems, and I mitigate stress. I share music, watch eyes light up, and hear dozens of little hands clapping. I watch children run, arms open, toward my staff. I watch my team grow, both as individuals and as a group.

The coolest part, and perhaps the hardest? I meet new, eager little faces. I welcome in new teenagers with lots of hopes. I get to know new moms. And I get to say goodbye. I watch them finish a year, then choose cheerleadering. I give them years of awards and over-the-top stage experiences then wish them well as they make their way towards gymnastics or soccer seemingly out of the blue the next year. I love them for years and years then cry in the wings the year they graduate. I have the honor of being part of a child’s life for a short time.

This season will be no different. I am no longer blissfully ignorant about all that comes with dance studio ownership. I have seen plenty, heard it all, and experienced the feels.

But here I sit preparing. Here I sit anxious and excited, hopeful and optimistic, ready to create magic and spread joy despite the harshness that will no doubt come.

I’m not sure I’m ready, but it’s here! I’m about to finish filling in this calendar, reflecting on my goals, and preparing my mind and heart. Then I guess I’ll brush my hair, throw on some clothes, and go get the place ready for tomorrow.

Prayers for a good season. Prayers that I’m surrounded by kind people with precious hearts. Prayers that we are safe, free from injury, and strong in spirit. Prayers for creativity, resourcefulness, and fortitude. And prayers that anything less than all those things is cast out, removed, and restored.