life lessons

New Year, Same Me

Happy 2018, everybody!

I was thinking, as people often do, about what a new year means. Resolutions, goals, arbitrary distinctions and constructs we call time…these are all important and warrant introspection. What I came away with, though, was one phrase–new year, same me.

Not new me.


I don’t know who these toons belong to, but grats (and for the Horde).

While it’s true that my sense of self adapts and changes as I journey through life, I am still me. I get hit with setbacks, I achieve goals, I fail and succeed and recalibrate when I do either since huge lessons exist in both of these states. I gain experience. The more I live, the more XP I gain. And through it all, I am always and forever me. I may respec or decide to follow a different skill tree (gaming metaphor mode intensifies) or even relearn my skills altogether (applies vanishing powder to unwanted glyphs) but I am constantly leveling up. And every time I advance, I’m still me–a stronger me, yes, but me all the same. With every DING! (insert glowy effects, triumphant music, ), I am Amanda but with more HP/MP and better, well, everything. At least in the places that matter to me–the mind, the soul, and understanding of my place in the world.

I hope 2018 sees you leveling up to be a more powerful, more awesome you than you’d ever dreamed. Happy New Year! <3


Out of the blue…


Monday has not been subtle in providing me a metaphor for itself today. As my good writer-buddy Cassandra Chandler is fond of saying, it’s not subtext when it’s text. Enter me this morning: I am reasonably sure I could not have looked any more put-upon and grim as I stalked out to my car to drag myself to work. As I navigated morning traffic, I noticed how quickly the thick, gray clouds of the morning skidded in the prevailing wind…how magnificently they formed and reformed themselves into cumulus out of shreds of stratus and cirrus, those high-skies, horsetail clouds that are harbingers of weather change.

Within a matter of minutes, the sky had cleared itself to a blue so bright it almost hurt my eyes. I realized that I too was lighter…I had put on music that made me feel hopeful, had (mostly) forced myself not to curse at other drivers or be a jerk in traffic (really, I am thankful to have a car at all, to have mobility and freedom—why treat it with such disrespect?), and I spent the commute centering myself, daydreaming about my next writing project as I’m en route to the Day Job. Out of the blue, Monday was its own metaphor: the world around me shapes and reshapes itself, changes in an instant so why can’t I? The subtle shift in attitude as I let go of the stress I was clutching like Gollum and that stupid ring (I mean really, it is kind of like that) led to a not so subtle change in mood and focus. Today was suddenly not a thing to be dreaded, but another opportunity to do important work, to celebrate being alive…after coffee, of course.

So, any epiphanies about making your world a better place that have hit you out of the blue in the last days? Here’s wishing you all a Happy Monday and a wonderful week ahead! <3


My reaction to spiders used to be extreme and, apparently, hilarious to watch. Hilarious meaning involuntary and frenzied flailing, screeching, and cartoonish retreat. I would not say that I had arachnophobia, but spiders unsettled me, deeply. Enter Teresa Tarantella. I did some initial research and found out that she was a common house spider, smallish, who lived in our sunny little over-the-sink kitchen window. Something about her didn’t seem that terrifying. Yes, she made my skin crawl but I decided to sally forth unto the intarwebs (webs, get it?) and do some intensive research. Turns out our tiny Teresa was an unmitigated boon to our household. Her primary food sources were things far worse than an itsy-bitsy spider: aphids, ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, ants. . .an impressive (grody) list. I also learned spiders can live far longer than I realized, and have so many remarkable adaptations which allow them to do this. The more I studied Teresa and her ilk, the more my perceptions changed. I remember how much I loved E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web as a child. I recalled hearing about how spiders have been noted by many people throughout time as representing interconnectedness, synchronicity and creative energy–all big good things. 

Beautiful, jewel-green, tiny garden spider in my yard last summer. I named her Bijou.

Beautiful, jewel-green, tiny garden spider in my yard last summer. I named her Bijou.

enhanced-buzz-wide-28990-1421957546-23With increased knowledge and understanding, my fear of spiders was supplanted by curiosity and respect. I went from full on shrieking no-no-no to to, hey lil’ jumping spider, why you on my arm? That’s not to say a skittery, long-legged funnel weaver or giant wolf spider won’t give me the shudders. Or that I am not careful in looking for brown recluses (which are common in my part of the country), in checking boots and winter coats for uninvited guests and not cognizant of venom or other risks. But seeing the occasional in-home arachnid stopped bothering me, and I welcomed the ones out in the garden. I was sad when winter came and I didn’t any longer see Teresa Tarantella. I actually missed her. Since then, we’ve had (outdoor, thankfully) funnel weavers, tree spiders and common garden spiders spinning their webs outside that same window. I remember things about them–how fast funnel weavers are as ambush predators, the bizarre qualities of spider silks and venom and how these things still fascinate scientists, the many different shapes and colors and types of spiders I saw throughout the warm months. I’m going to try to take Teresa’s lesson to heart in the coming years–study what I fear. Learn about it. Understand why it frightens me. Sometimes, be wise enough to retain the fear. Other times, let myself find that something truly is not what it seems. So, thank you Teresa. . .”you have been my friend,” to quote Charlotte’s Web. May your little spider-heaven be chock full of sunny windowsills and yummy-yummy gnats.