Open Letter to the Internet

Dear The Internet,

Hi! It’s me, Amanda. You may have heard of me. I have a blog. I spend time on Twitter and Facebook. In general, I’m a huge fan of yours. I appreciate how much knowledge I can discover in a very short period of time. Many of my evenings are spent with you, reading or finding recipes. You also make me laugh. I appreciate you.

However. Continue reading

Get Out of Bed

I love my bed. I love my mattress and my sheets and my duvet and my pillows and my pile of blankets. There is nothing in my apartment that I love more than my bed. I get excited to go to bed early. I adore sleeping in late. Every morning I make breakfast, then crawl back into bed to eat my morning meal. I drink coffee in bed. I drink tea in bed. I watch movies in my bed. I wrote this in my bed. If I have a choice between a chair or my bed, I’ll choose my bed every time. If there were a way to work from my bed, I’d get that job. My bed is my safe place. It is my fortress of solitude and comfort.

When my alarm goes at 6am every morning, I don’t want to leave my bed. It’s warm and lovely, and the rest of the world can wait. Some days there are reasons to get out of bed. There is work to be done, awesome people to see and exciting things to do. I can make an impact and get the job done! I can encourage and bring joy to the people around me! There is a day that needs seizing, and the only person who can do that is me! Life can’t get any better!

Other days? Getting out of bed is hard. I have plans and I cancel them because the thought of being anywhere other than under the covers is terrifying. On the weekends my bed is more attractive than grocery shopping or cleaning. Sleeping in is far more comfortable than dragging myself to church and sitting alone in the back row. My bed is far more accepting and kind than anyone else I know.

That sounds lazy. That sounds like I lack self-discipline or motivation. But sometimes? Sometimes I know my day is going to be a downward spiral from the moment I pull those covers back. Some days are hard to face. Nasty co-workers, a nagging boss, broken relationships, no relationships, a crappy immune system, an aching body, piles of textbook readings, never-ending assignments, dirty dishes stacked up to the ceiling, unpaid bills, an empty bank account, the deafening silence of loneliness, the shame of poor choices. The list goes on. The circumstances in our lives can pin us to our sheets in fear and dread. Some days, all of your energy and motivation is spent peeling the covers back and setting your feet on the ground.

In the comfort of our bed, we start believing that we’ll accomplish nothing important, so why bother in the first place? We all get lonely and think no one likes us. We have things we’re ashamed of and wish we could erase. We’re broken. Some days will, in fact, be a downward spiral until you seek the solace of your sheets again. Some days you will accomplish nothing. Some days will be terribly sad and full of grief. Some days will be desperately lonely. Some days will be quite terrible.

And on those days? The bravest thing you can do is get out of bed.

The Thing About Writing on the Internet

I write a lot of things that end up on the Internet. I also write a bunch of things that would never ever end up on the Internet. I carefully consider what types of things I want to share with you beautiful people, and what things need to be kept to myself or shared with a few close friends. I choose my content wisely.

The stuff I do post on the Internet sometimes looks personal, or like I’m sharing the deepest parts of my heart for the whole world to see. While I do agree that my goal is to make my writing transparent and genuine, I never ever share the deepest, darkest (or brightest) parts of my heart with a bunch of strangers on the Internet. I simply can’t do it. It would be foolish. Stranger Danger, and all that. Continue reading

Seven Years

Yesterday marked my seven year blog-iversary.

Seven years.

That’s a long time.

My blog adventure had started years earlier, when MSN “Spaces” were a thing. I moved to an actual blog when I was 19. Back in 2006, this blog served as an online journal. I wrote about what I did on the weekend and what I was studying in school. The friends I hung out with that weekend were my only readers. It was for my inner circle. That’s what it was for. Continue reading

When you assume…

I made a terrible mistake. You know that article I wrote that went viral? It got 2000 comments.  I read them. Not all of them, but enough to know it was a huge mistake. I’ll say this: the overwhelming majority of the comments were positive, uplifting and encouraging. But then there were the others. The other comments that made huge sweeping generalizations and assumptions about…me.

Take this [long] comment, for example: Continue reading

I’m Not Prepared For This

A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with a dear friend that devastated me. He was sharing something happy, and I crumbled. It felt like I was sitting in this huge, empty auditorium that was once packed full with all of my “people”. These people had started to trickle out months ago, but with this one conversation, everyone was officially gone, the lights were switched off, and the door slammed shut. It was very empty. And quiet.

I knew that wasn’t reality. I still had lots of people around, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. I was wallowing and playing the “woe is me” card. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t engaging with my community or the people I love. I was just plain tired. Somewhere in the midst of that, chaos in our family erupted. Here I was stuck inside this empty auditorium by myself. Somewhere in there, I wrote this piece of writing and sent it to an editor I had been emailing. Continue reading

Poopin’ in the Food Court

I want to make a difference in the world. Maybe not the entire world, but at least the tiny part of the world I call my own. I want to help, I want to influence, and I want to promote change. I want to do everything I can to impact those around me. That’s why I teach. That’s why I volunteer. That’s why I write. That’s why I try to be intentional with my actions.

Sometimes I selfishly daydream about what I’ll do that makes a lasting impact. Continue reading

Year One

I had two teaching jobs this year. It’s been a wild ride, but I made it. Some days I didn’t think I would, but miraculously, I did. I’m done. I taught, loved and laughed with my 161. Not always well, not always gracefully or skillfully, but I did it.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about teaching this year: Continue reading

Things We All Need to Hear

Anyone who has ever said that children are innocent by nature hasn’t spent much time with children. They’re not. It’s a completely false statement. Sure they might be a little naive about certain topics, but they certainly aren’t innocent. Since September, I have spent time with over 100 children per day, 5 days a week. I know kids.

I know that I never ever have to teach kids how to misbehave. That concept is just silly to think about. Why would we ever want to teach kids to misbehave? But they DO, despite never being taught. Now you can say it’s a construct of their environment. They witness things around them that corrupts them and makes them bad. Some of the kids I teach witness some very bad things every day. But the kids who are really supported and loved and cherished – I don’t have to teach them to misbehave either.

I have to teach them to be kind. I have to teach them to be accepting. I have to teach them how to be good.

The funny thing is that we adults think we know how to be good already. We’ve already learned all of that stuff. It’s for kids. I already know how to be kind and encouraging and uplifting. But are we? Do we really do a good job of being kind? Do we encourage the people around us?Do we remember what we were taught when we were kids?

A few minutes spent on the internet reading comments and tweets would say no, absolutely not. Something as trite as being accused of “stealing” tweets on the internet turns into slander and death threats. Someone expressing her opinion gets accused of being abusive and demeaning. I could list one thing after another. We have completely disregarded the things we learned as children. We have forgotten. We react and we explode as if we still are five years old. We hurl accusations at each other. We are vicious. We are angry. There isn’t anyone around to tell us when we’re offside, or to ban us from watching TV when we’re bad. So we think we’re allowed to just throw it all out the window. No consequences! Finally we are adults!

But no, sadly, that’s not it. There are consequences that are subtle. When we are vicious, we forget what kindness feels like. When we are violent, we forget what it feels like to be peaceful. When we attack others’ opinions, we forget how wonderfully diverse we were created to be. There are consequences. Many of them. Although subtle, they are dire.

I don’t think we’re beyond saving, though. I think we just need to be reminded of those things we were taught. We need someone to lovingly remind us what it is to be sweet to one another. We need someone to tell us about the things we learned as kids. So here they are, in case you ever need a reminder:

1. Be kind no matter what the other persons says or does to you.
2. Learn something about the people around you.
3. Be a good friend to everyone.
4. Stop picking your nose.

The Perfect Status

When I see people I haven’t seen in awhile, one of the first things they say is, “I really like your Facebook statuses.” I’m serious. This happens on a consistent enough basis to warrant me writing a blog post about it. Did that sound braggy? Probably. But I said it anyway. When people would tell me this, I used to feel like a giant internet nerd who wastes all of her time on the internet (which is entirely true), and I considered quitting internet statuses to appear like I had an actual life apart from the internet (I don’t). I realized something though: what I do online is good. It’s simple to do, and people like it. It takes me 15 seconds to make a bunch of people smile. I’d say that’s pretty awesome.

Now in an attempt to not seem like a comedy snob who has the perfect Facebook status figured out, I want to share some tips Continue reading