Amanda's Adventures

{March 25, 2015}   Perpetually Tired

What would it be like if I wasn’t always so tired? If I could have a fair amount of enthusiasm and energy again, what could I accomplish? How would I feel about those accomplishments? Maybe if I let some things go I would feel less tired. The tough part is deciding what goes and letting it belong to someone else.


{March 17, 2015}   Everything Old is New Again

One thing I really love about travel is how it inspires me to see things differently. I look around me with a strong feeling of curiosity and a wish to remember each moment with each bodily sense. Combine the visuals, scents, tastes, sounds, and textures into one single strong memory. I like remember the height of the lowest branch of my favorite redwood tree along with the smell of dirt road and the tiny beams of light and heat hitting my back while I play frisbee in front of the dining hall at Family Camp in the Mendocino Woodlands.

When I get down in the dumps and sick of where I am, I sometimes pretend that I’m visiting instead. Observing the small unique characteristics of my neighborhood. Moving slower and actually stopping to examining things closely, discovering the hidden worlds found only in the tiny details we take for granted. This shift in perspective helps me stay positive with a small (and I think healthy) amount of detachment. This detachment allows me to observe and appreciate what is right in front of me and not wish it was something else.

I want to bring this sense of positive detachment back to my work. Back when I felt like I was “allowed” to be imperfect because I was still a student, I was able to better access this mindset. I wasn’t afraid of being wrong because my work was not yet a reflection of me. It was still a reflection of what I had learned. In terms of identity, I was a multifaceted person doing speech-language therapy, not a speech-language pathologist attempting to be multifaceted. I feel like I’ve worked so hard on my professional career that I’ve lost my sense of self. A big challenge I face at work right now is my need to do things perfectly, which never happens. But I keep trying and failing. And every time I feel like I’ve failed, I feel deep shame. Not guilt. Shame. Brene Brown said that guilt says “I DID something bad” while shame says “I AM something bad”. What you do can change and be forgiven. Who you are? Well, that’s a lot harder.

I need to get back to a state of being that allows me to do my work, not be my work. And this also goes for all of my other “jobs” that I don’t get paid for. I can’t let them define me. No role shall define me. If I let those external roles define me, then I am no longer the one who gets to inform who I am and who I get to become. The roles can be a part of me, but I’m finding more and more that there needs to be a piece of me who is just for me. A part of my heart and soul that holds a powerful and fierce love meant only for me. A few months ago I got a tattoo of the word “her” in my handwriting on my back as an external representation of my lifetime commitment to honoring and taking care of my authentic self. “Her” is that part, the part that stays no matter what surrounds. “Her” eyes see the world with that positive, appreciative detachment. “Her” ears listen intently and seek to understand, resonate, and empathize without taking on what doesn’t belong to her. “Her” arms hold only what she can carry and not an ounce more, and feels content with her contribution. “Her” nose inhales new memories of all the places she already calls home as well as places she’s yet to collect. “Her” mouth takes small sips of what the world has to offer and she has more of what tastes the best to her, knowing that others may have a different palate.

It’s time for me to experience the same old world with my new sense of self. 🙂

{March 14, 2015}   Making It Real Again

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers like so many people. The show is fully integrated into my child identity. I remember the Land of Make-Believe and that almost every lesson had to do with being honest with yourself and others, even though it can be hard sometimes. Through television, Fred Rogers told generations of children that they are worthy of love and respect.

So cut to today when I came upon this video:

Needless-to-say, I was a mess. This caring grandpa-man recognized that adults are just big kids and that we still need to hear the messages we were told when we were kids. “I like you just the way you are” and “I’m so very proud of you” are incredibly powerful messages when when the speaker is genuine and the listener is open. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it. I felt like he was talking to me directly. I’m certain that everyone who watches that video will feel the same way.

I did some research to see what happened to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (since I know that he passed away in 2003). The show has become animated and stars and little tiger. Though I appreciate that there is still content out there addressing the emotional awareness and social problem-solving needs of kids, I’m disappointed that it has gone the route of animation. I know that animation is visually stimulating and is able to provide magical components that live-action TV isn’t, I feel like a big part of the message is lost in not having real people in the series.

I think that it was valuable to see real kids and adults (sometimes dressed up as characters, sometimes not) talk about their feelings and solve problems. It made it less scary to do those things in real life. Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Barney all had real kids as a part of their regular programming. Even non-educational television shows had more kids, just being kids: GUTS, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Double Dare, What Would You Do, and Nick News with Linda Ellerby. I feel like we got to see so many examples of how we are all different and, at the same time, how we are all the same. The early education programs showed us how we can know/love ourselves and showed how to be a good family member, treat our friends with respect (even when we are mad), and contribute to our world community.

Now, we mostly see kids on highly-scripted shows with laugh tracks and lots of programming has turned to animation. Sesame Street continues to have real kids and adults on the show and has been very public about their dedication to helping young children develop emotional awareness and the skills for emotional regulation. Emotional Regulation was Sesame Street’s theme for the year 2014 and they developed special programming and even related apps for this theme (I’ve used one of their apps in my work with the younger kids).

A research-based approach to helping kids (and adults) develop social skills is called video modeling. There are two different ways to implement video modeling. The first way is to record a peer or adult performing the target skill or behavior appropriately and then have the client watch, discuss what they see (if they can), and then perform the target skill themselves. This target skill is then supported (ideally) across a variety of settings, with the therapist repeating the video as needed until the client is able to perform the skill on their own. The second way to do this is actually called video self-modeling. In this model, the therapist actually records the client performing the target skill or behavior and then replays the video to the client. This can be especially empowering for clients because they are able to see themselves doing something that is hard for them. They get to see themselves be successful. Both video-modeling approaches have been successful for some of my students.

I really think that television (and other sources of media consumption) should depict real kids talking about real feelings and problems. The programs should also promote tools these kids can use to help navigate their social life. We should talk about our feelings (including the not fun ones) and make it relatable and real. Our kids need a model and they can learn from us, but they learn best from each other.

It’s so hard living with a strong need to live out your life’s purpose when you are never quite sure of what that is. There are so many important things I want to do that it’s painful to decide.

At work:

I want to continue being a speech-language pathologist. I want to specialize in communication devices. I want to create an interdisciplinary assistive technology team. I want to create comprehensive interventions and trainings on these tools that are both technical and accessible. I want to foster a collaborative environment at work. I want to be able to leave my work at work. And I want things to get easier over time. Oh, and I also want to write a book. And maybe get my PhD at some point.

At church/spiritual community:

I want to continue to be an important part of the movement towards living out our religious values with intention. I want to foster healthy conversation about how to create healthy, safe, and spiritually enriching camp and conference experiences across the lifespan. I want to help change systems that make roles and responsibilities clear in an effort to develop a mutual sense of accountability between volunteers and my independent UU organization. I want to help to integrate education and resources on mental health and mental illness into my congregation and extended spiritual community through small group ministry and through community outreach. I want to offer social-emotional learning resources to religious education programming. I want to become a lay leader in my community. Also, I want to be a dishwasher at camp.

At dance:

I want to take all 3 dance class types again. I want to stand at the barre again. I want to read Kahnotation again. I want to do double pirouettes consistently on both sides again. I want to actually work on my flexibility this time around. I want to learn the choreography to “The Music and the Mirror”. I want to be in a show again. I want to choreograph again. I want my mind to reconnect with my body. Or maybe connect for the first time.

Life/Home skills:

I want to cook for myself at least 5 nights per week. I want to do my laundry consistently. I want to have a small garden. I want to have a cat. I want to have consistent self-care routines. I want to clean my house more consistently. I want to learn to live happily with less stuff. I want to feel motivated to make my home better, but also secure in being able to cover the basics for myself. I want my home to be unmistakably mine. And I want to share it with someone special. And eventually have a kid with said special person.

Arts and Crafts:

I want to create a home workshop. I want to learn how to blow glass. I want to learn how to weld and work with metal. I want to get better at the piano and guitar. I want to make things for my house out of wood. I want to learn to sew so I can make my own clothes. I want to make more things out of leather. I want to host more bead parties. I want to have mini art shows at my house.


I want to go to New Zealand, Calabria, Spain, Greece, India, Thailand, and Turkey. I want to go back to Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, and Hawaii. In the USA, I want to drive/fly to Portland, Seattle, Boise, Yellowstone, Twin Cities, Detroit, Philadelphia, Burlington, Nashville, Louisville, New Orleans, Taos, Roswell, Sedona, Tucson, Grand Canyon, Fairfield (Iowa), Kalona, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Zion National Park, and Salvation Mountain. I want to go back to my homes-away-from-home in Denver, Mendocino Woodlands, Iowa City, NYC, and Las Cruces.

Personal Spirituality/ Self-Improvement

i want to actually practice yoga and meditation. I want to intentionally live our my values. I want to continue developing my relationship with the Divine. I want to eat mindfully. I want to learn to be present by actively letting go of what I cannot change. I want to build healthy relationships that are mutually supportive. I want to make sure I have alone time. I want to know myself beyond external contexts. I want to dive deep and have fun.

I’ve been told, “You can do it all, but you can’t do it all at once”. I know I need to take that advice to heart.

{March 3, 2015}   The Business of Being Busy

Hey world. It’s 11:00 at night and I’m listening to Pela’s album Anytown Graffiti. I listened to this album on almost every bus/car/train/plane trip for about 2 years. My brother was best friends with the singer (and still is but the band is no longer fully together) and I felt personally connected to the musical artistry. Augustines is the newer band that Billy is a part of and they continue to put out inspiring music (Rise Ye Sunken Ships is an absolute masterpiece). What made this album so special to me is that it was the first album that I had that resonated with me that wasn’t directly given to me or heavily influenced by my parents (other than musicals, which I’ll go into how musical theatre saved my life another time). This album followed me through Europe, one of the few times of getting to be my authentic self (“her”) entirely, and listening to the album again reminds me of what that felt like. Music has always been a means of transportation for me (I’ll explain that a bit more another time).

The reason why I bring this up is because I am working towards building my sense of self and part of that is going to be saying “no” to being busy. The main reason that I need to do this because I’ve said “yes” to so many things that there isn’t room for “her”. Sitting here and listening to the music that carried “her” on the most independent adventure of her life, I miss “her”. While I was in Europe, I had a strong sense of self. I knew where  I was going (kind of) and I knew how I was getting there while staying open to the spontaneous gifts of the journey. I took risks and solved problems and prayed hard and cried hard and laughed hard. Solo travel is such a beautiful gift because you get to be yourself without all of the influences of the external contexts of your life. I got to let go of my school and career plans. I got to let go of my complicated relationships. I got to let go of everything around me in my regular life and put myself to the test. I got to see what I was actually made of. I made my choices and got to own them and learn from them.

I want to find that feeling again. I feel it a little bit right now, but I want to live in a way that I feel like I’m making choices, owning them, and learning from them. I’ve felt like the victim of my circumstances for so long, so this is a relatively new level of awareness and decisiveness. But sometimes I still feel like the victim. I was at work for 12 hours today and I had moments of thinking “It’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to stay here.” But the truth is, no one was making me stay. I stayed because I haven’t made boundaries that make my work a part of me and not all of me. Because when you get out of grad school, no one tells you that you can stop pushing yourself as hard. No one tells you that you need to take care of yourself so that you don’t burn out. No one tells you that it is imperative that you create a life for yourself. For some people, reducing your expectations for yourself might be easy. And some companies are starting to look at wellness and preventing burn out. For me, I continued to have a need to prove that I was good enough. So I worked the long hours and made myself an asset. And then I took on more and more. And then I became the co-president of another organization and be a public figure and resource in taking on that role.

So I have no room for me because of all of the responsibilities I’ve taken on. So I have to figure out how to make room. Because this isn’t me. Most of the people in my life, even people I hold very dear, don’t know about important parts of me. Most don’t know that I am a musician. Most don’t know that I dance. Most don’t know that my favorite tree is a Redwood or that the beach is my one true sanctuary. And I want them to know “her”. But I have to make conscious choices that make room for me to be that person again. Because she’s been kept in the shadows for too long.

et cetera