Filters, perceptions and adulating -- oh my!

"Life is all about perception. Positive versus negative. Whichever you choose will affect and more then likely reflect your outcomes." -Sonya Teclai

Adulting can be really confusing sometimes. It's this sweet mix of pain and heartache and surrender, joy and growth.

Growing up I thought stepping into the adult world meant life got easier. I use to look on at all the grown ups in my life and think, "Man, I can't wait to be an adult too. Life looks way more fun when you are older."

I had high hopes, big dreams and lofty aspiration as a kid. I was going to set the world on fire with my badass adutingness (That is a word in my adult world) and I could hardly wait to get there. Being an adult is what dreams were made of, right?  

Okay, so insert scratching record player and every head turning in my direction as if I just stepped into the room wearing nothing but a velvet fedora and a bright pink sash that say, "Look at me! Look at me! I'm a mother fing gangsta!" Stranger things have happened. 

Life, as an adult, is interesting to say the least. Some view it as the most amazing part of the human experience, full of incredible opportunities, exchanges, experiences and so on. Others are practically hammering the nails in their own coffin as they slowly let the days pass them by, loathing every minute,  just waiting for it all to be over. 

The only difference? Filters, perceptions and perspective. 

Right after my divorce I was living with my brother and sister-in-law back in my home town of Issaquah, Washington and my adorably sweet and ridiculously intuitive and smart nephew would often as me out of what felt like out of nowhere, "TT, when am I going to be an adult?" It was always said as if he was missing out on some kind of awesome toy that comes once you enter adulthood. I'm serious, we'd be in the middle of watching a movie or playing with his toys and he'd just pause, look up at me and ask, "TT, when am I going to be and adult?

I always took a long, deep breath, remembering what it felt like to be a kid longing to grow up fast. I'd looked at him, smile and say, "Oh buddy, you have plenty of time to be an adult. Just be happy and have fun being a kid. You'll have plenty of time to adult"

He'd always look back at me with a questioning stare as if I was hiding some big, crazy something from him like, the Easter Bunny was in fact, really a Turtle. Sometimes you can't win with kids. Sometimes kids are way more intuitive then we give them credit for. 

I often wondered how I could persuade him into slowing down a bit and just enjoy being a kid. How, if he was't careful, before he knew it he'd be thirty-six years old, looking back on his life wondering how it went by so fast. I want to tell him that there are some really beautiful things about the naivety of being a kid and you can never go back to that time in your life and so try and drag it out as long as possible.

Sometimes, when he'd ask me, "TT, when AM I going to be an adult?" these words would momentarily flash before me: 

Bud, adulting is scary business. Really friggin' scary. You see, there are all these expectations and responsibilities and one wrong move and you can completely screw everything up. Or at least it feels that way most of the time.  

And the choices. All the friggin' choices. God, are there A LOT of decisions to make. Like, seriously man. I mean, I work way better with multiple choice questions so why can't life work that way too? Just give me a few choices, I'll work my process of elimination and viola, I'll know exactly what to do and life will feel very easy. Instead, life feels like you are constantly writing a twenty-five page abstract essay on a time limit of about five minutes. Cause that's basically how fast life goes by when you reach adulthood bud. 

You think picking out a new toy is overwhelming sweet boy? Well, just wait until you have to pick out a whole friggin' life in a world that is constantly changing full of other adults who are trying to make similar choices. It can feel dark and scary and like there are storms brewing from every directions. 

Then there are experiences that happen that are just out of your control. Heartbreak, betrayal, lies, death, illness, losing jobs, falling in love, falling out of love, realizing the person you are with just can't love you back. Mommy and daddy aren't around twenty-four seven to put a bandaid on your broken heart or hold you when you are scared of the lions under the bed. And sometimes you lie in bed at night and just cry because it all just feels like too much and all you want to do is go back to a time when your biggest worry was how the hell you are going to hide the fact that you spilt milk on the couch from your mom and dad and you come up with the brilliant idea that you'll just simply let the dog lick it up and you are proud of yourself. 

Life works it's way so deep into your cells that you start to feel yourself become jaded and rough. You are constantly in a tug-a-war, an internal battle of staying soft and open verses becoming hard and crusty with every major life experience. 

Then there are these things called responsibilities. If you aren't careful they wills start to weigh you down like a one hundred pound weight that you are required to carry around every day, all day. All a result of some choice you made in the past. Another wrong turn you took when you were merely just trying to make, what you thought, was the best decision at the time. 

Oh, and whoa, I almost forgot, people are mean. And scary. I mean, not all of them, but there are a lot of them that are because most of them are just as scared and tired as you are and they are merely taking their frustrations and fears out on you. Their shoulders are just as heavy from the weight of their own stories. 

And don't get me started on failed dreams. All those things you wanted to do, all those places you wanted to go, the wild, crazy adventures you thought you'd experience on a regular basis, a lot of them probably won't come true and you'll be left feeling disappointed, depressed and wondering if this is really what life is supposed to be about. So, buddy, there is plenty of time to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Just stay a kid as long as you friggin' can, okay? 

I'd come to after a minute, shaking off the remnants of my own fears and instead, I'd smile, take a deep breath and say, "Buddy, you have plenty of time to be an adult. Just try and enjoy being a kid as long as you can, okay?" And he'd give me a confused look as if I just told him the Easter Bunny was, in fact, a Turtle. 

And then others times, quieter, peaceful, more self-reflective and grow-inspired times, I'd look at him and think: 

Buddy, if you can, try to stay young as long as possible but pay attention now because you will learn a lot about yourself, who you are, what you want to do, your gifts to the world. If you start to listen closely now, you'll learn that the voice inside of you is actually the truth. Its like an internal compass, helping you navigate your way through life. Its the way, the truth, and the light. Unfortunately, a lot of us stop listening to it as we get older and let other things guide us.

Adulting is amazing bud. It comes with freedoms you don't have as a kid like being able to make decisions for yourself. There are choices that you GET to make as an adult that mommy and daddy make for you as a kid. You GET to choose what you want to do and who you want to be. Isn't that exciting?   

And this bud, this is very important to remember so listen closely sweet boy; life does not happen TO you but FOR you. It's easy bud, to become a victim of life's circumstances. Believe me, your TT has perfected that. We can become jaded and fearful, afraid to get hurt again, to put yourself out there once more, to be seen, especially for an introverts like us. But just keep going. Keep breaking down walls or better yet, fight hard to never put them up to begin with. No matter how afraid you are just remember that life isn't about staying trapped in a protective bubble. Life is about stepping out of your comfort zone and finding the courage to keep going, despite the disappointments, the set back, the fears, the heartache, the pain and the betrayal.

All of it is for your growth as you move through life as an adult. I'll be honest, it doesn't always feel good. Some of it is heavy stuff and almost all of it is the result of a filter or perception we've taken on, sometimes a long time ago. But you want to know one of the coolest things about being an adult? You GET to change that if you want. You have all the freedom in the world to rewrite whatever story you'e been telling yourself. 

So bud, the hard moments are really the defining moments. They don't always make sense. You may end up going through the same experience many times, that too is intended for your growth. You see, until we learn what we need to learn, until we decide to change, life does that to you. It keeps bringing you the same people (just different faces) the same experience, and the same situation, until you decide to rewrite your story, to go down a different path, and to find the courage to react differently. 

Life can be extremely mesmerizing too bud. It can suck you in like when you stand barefoot on the beach, starring down as your feet sinking into the coolness of the sand. Or like when you stand at the shoreline as the waves lap over your feet and you stare out into the endless ocean horizon and feel so full of possibility. Or maybe like when you feel captivated by the crackling embers of the amber and yellow light from a campfire. Adulting has so many moments like that too. 

Buddy, being an adult is awesome. But so is the simplicity of being a kid. Your only job right now is to have fun and be open to new things. To explore and learn, to make mistakes and learn from them. Try not to carry those mistakes with you because if you aren't careful, they will start to feel really heavy and weigh you down later on in life. Learn from them, then brush them off and let them go. Don't let them become part of your story, don't let the cloud your filters and shape your perceptions. 

There will be seasons of pain and sadness. It will come and go, ebb and flow without any warning. If you can, accept that and ride the wave of feelings that come with it knowing that, as grandma always tells me, "This too will eventually pass and you will feel joy and happiness once again. Just give it time."  

And yes, there will be seasons of joy bud and man does this feel good. It kind of feels like every day for you now, as a kid. You wake up so excited for what the day will bring. You jump out of bed, take a big stretch and wonder what amazing thing you will experience today. You know that feeling bud, when we put on our rain boots and go on a walk and jump in puddle after puddle and we laugh and laugh until our bellies ache and are cheeks hurt from that incredible feeling we feel? Those days feel a lot like that. 

Life is a mix of those seasons little man, but always remember this; without the storms and the rain, there wouldn't be any puddles to jump in. 

Then I'd give him a smile and say, "See bud, there is a lot of great things about being an adult, but if you can, enjoy the experience of being a kid." And he'd still look back at me with his confused and questioning stare as if I told him the Easter Bunny was in fact, a Turtle.   

So which one is the truth? Which filter do you walk around with? The first? The second? A mix of both? I don't know. That isn't for me to decide for you. But I hope you think long and hard about the way you view life, the world around you and realize that perception is everything. And it's okay if sometimes you see the world as both because we all have good days and bad days, joyful seasons and sad ones. We would never fully appreciate the happiness that comes from the good times if we hadn't experience the bad ones. 

And it is ridiculously important to remember this one very things;  our filters create our present reality but what we see isn't always the truth. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath, step back and try to look at each situation, each experience, each person from a different perspective, a different angle, a different lens. We have to remember that life isn't happening TO us but FOR our greatest growth as human beings. 

Our filters and perceptions may not actually be the truth and the reality is, we should all smile at the fact that the Easter Bunny very well may in fact, be a Turtle to someone. 

 

The Struggle is Real - Thoughts On Aging Gracefully with saggy boobs

"there is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. when you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defeated age."

- sophia loren

For a really long time I thought I was never going to age. Seriously. I thought that I was going to be the one person that skipped the inevitable, and remain the youthful version of myself forever. I am not kidding here. 

I'm fortunate to have genes that grace me with a somewhat youthful look and leave me looking at least six years my junior. However, they led me down a road that confused me into believing I would be saved from the inevitable truth; that we all will grow old. Five months shy of thirty-six, I often get met with the wide-eyed looks of surprise and confusion when I correct someone who thinks I'm in my mid to late twenties. Flattered I am, but I often wonder if that has more to do with my, at times, introverted and immature nature, rather then actually looking younger. 

As I see it when looking in the mirror, the years are written all over my face. Battle scars from a life well lived, hard lessons learned and years of running "wild and free" in the sun, slathered not in sunscreen but baby oil, as I told myself, "I'll just deal with it when I'm older. Ha ha ha" I guess the joke is on the older version of me now. 

 I have aches and pains in places I use to roll my eyes at when my mom would complain of similar ailments and I find myself typing in "anti-aging night cream" in the Amazon search bar more often then I care to admit. My boobs, once perky and youthful, are slowly working their way south and I have images of them swaying closer to my belly button then my actual chest, sometime in the near future. And I've now taken to smoothing out the "ruffness" on my face with the more then occasional plucking of dark, course rouge stray hairs. I can't believe I just admitted that to you. The struggle is real. 

And then, there is dating which I think I'll reserve for an entire post of its own, however after being married and thinking my life was going down a certain path and now, navigating the dark waters of dating in an online dating world, where there is something more shiny and youthful and new around every corner, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of my fifties living in a little cottage by the sea with my litter of fur children and shelves of books to keep me company. All with the occasional visit from my niece and nephews. Someone has to look out for me when I'm older and they love their TT, no matter what I look like. 

This my friends, is aging gracefully. 

The funny thing is, I really do love aging. I was always wanting to hang with the adults when I was younger. I preferred real conversation over superficial talks of clothes and trends. I preferred curling up in my bed on weekends hanging out with characters in books to raging parties where everyone tried to act older then they really were.I mean, I secretly played with barbies until I was at least twelve. That doesn't mean I didn't succumb to the pressurel, I was, after all, an insecure and impressionable youth. 

However, I was young and did things because I desperately wanted to feel,"normal." Whatever that means. I wouldn't however,  want to go back to that time for anything. Sure, I wouldn't mind if the girls would solute me in the mirror rather then warm my waste line, but all jokes aside, I really love the person I am becoming as I step into this new chapter of my life. 

I find myself shedding old stories of what my life is supposed to look like and taking more risks as I become more aligned with the life I actually want.

I want to feel good from the inside out. 

What is most alluring about aging gracefully is this unusual newness of starting to not giving a f$%K what others think. That is a newness that I find intriguing. That is something I've never experienced before. 

This isn't to say that I don't want to feel my best or I'm just throwing in the towel. I think as we work on our insides, our outsides should match. As I grow into the adult I want to be, I want an outer shell that can support her. And so its give and take. Its balance. It's accepting that I can't change my past but I can shape my future however I want it to look. 

An old friend (no pun intended. We've literally been friends since age 20) and I were talking on the phone yesterday when the topic of aging came up. I mentioned how strange it was, the day I realized I was no longer that youthful twenty-something, and was actually closer to forty then thirty. We started laughing as she confessed that occasionally she walks by a mirror and sees her mother and how it sends her into fits of panic. "Man, where did the time go?" we laugh. And then we laugh even harder because we just said, "Man, where did the time go?" as we confess how we promised ourselves we'd never say that and start talking about all the other things we promised we'd never say, yet now find ourselves saying all the time. 

Aging is an interesting and extremely humbling experience. When I was living with my brother and sister-in-law, Henry, my five year old nephew would often ask me, "TT, when am I going to be a grown up?" and I'd always respond by saying, "Henry, you have plenty of time to be a grown up. Just be a little kid right now." 

But it got me thinking, we spend so much time when we are younger rushing to grow up and yet, here I am, "All grown up" and I can't help but wish that time would slow down, just a little bit, so I can catch my breath and really take it all in. 

As that cliche saying goes, "Life is short." 

And then all of this got me thinking that; man, life IS short so why do I waste so much time on things that don't matter? Like my sagging boobs and reading reviews on anti-aging cream on Amazon. And caring what others think. And being afraid of trying new things. And the list goes on. 

You can't erase your past and maybe that is what I'm trying to do with slathering on creams and lotions that tout gimmicks of restoring you to your youthfulness? There is no going back so you might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride going forward, saggy boobs and all. 

Aging gracefully, to me, is more about accepting your past and focusing on the here and now. Yes, another cliche but you gotta think that all these cliches have something to them, right? I mean, when they were originally quoted, you have to believe that who ever came up with said cliche actually, truly believed that what they were saying was one of their biggest "ah ha" moments in their life and they were just trying to spare us all and help pave the long and at times, tumultuous path. 

 I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to spend more time living, like, really living and less time worrying about aging because as I've come to realize, its inevitable. As my dad always said, 'we are all dying a little more every single day." Depressing, yes, but true nonetheless. We wake up thinking we'll get to it later, all those things we want to do, and then we realize twenty-years has gone by and we are left wondering, "Man, where did the time go?"

My friends, lets all let go of the should of's, the could of's and the would of's of our past and just cut to living. Truly living. 

As I embrace the sagging, the crows feet and the crinkles in my butt, I'm stepping forward into my second half of my thirties with a new fierceness and commitment to living well. I'm committed to taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit, not for vanity, but because I realize I deserve to feel my best. I deserve to feel that freedom within that only comes with truly living a life on purpose. 

Will you join me? 

I'll leave you with a song that has been circulating in my head ever since I started writing this post, one my mom used to sing to me as a young child that would send me into fits of giggles but has recently taken on a whole new meaning...

"Dooooo yourrrr...boobs hang low, do the wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over shoulder like a continental solider, do your boobs, hang low?

And my friends, to that I say fucking celebrate your sagging boobs. 

Broken-heart, closed heart, open heart, full heart

"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings."

- Ariana Dancu

The title of this post actually came to me back in August of 2015 while I was on a cool, early morning run on the beach. True to form, out of seemingly nowhere, these four words echoed in my head and I couldn't shake them. I felt this overwhelming urge to stop and sit on one of the cold, sand-covered rocks and gaze out at the ocean when suddenly warm tears began to slide down my cold, wind-kissed cheeks, and these words came to me: broken-heart, closed-heart, open-heart, full-heart.

I sat there in a bit of confusion because I knew well enough that my heart was not full and it was barely even open. However, it no longer felt broken and I could feel the light slowly start to creep back in as I continued to process not only the events of the following two years but more importantly, what lead me down that path to begin with. So, to feel such a connection to these four words left me a little dumbfounded. 

However, there was an unexplainable deep knowing that this was something I was supposed to write about and when I got home I sat down at my computer and typed out the title thinking the words that needed to be shared would immediately follow. Nothing came and I grew more frustrated. Most of the time when this happens words to accompany the title follow shortly there after. But month after month nothing came. But something inside told me to be patient and nine months later they finally came and it all made sense.

The other day, as I was cleaning out my room, purging myself and my life of anything that I no longer felt belonged , I stumbled upon my wedding dress. Something I thought I had gotten rid of months ago. It was tucked under some clothes that were stuffed in a garment bag I kept under my bed. I pulled out the short dingy white Nicole Miller dress we purchased four years early at Nordstrom and stared at it, waiting for the inevitable sadness to come but the strangest thing happened. It didn't. I paused and scanned the room, feeling as if some kind of joke was being pulled on me. Where was that familiar heaviness? Where was the deep sadness? The tears?

A smile slowly cracked from my lips as I cocked my head to one side.

"Huh?" I said out loud to my four-legged companion who was curled up in a ball on the floor by my bedroom door. He looked back at me with his usual indifferent blank stare. "So this is it." I said. 

I pulled the dingy white dress off the hanger that accompanied it in the garment bag under my bed. "I wonder if it'll be different if I put the dress on?" I asked Oliver. He cracked a single eye open and gave me a look that said, "shh, can't you see I'm sleeping?" I smiled back at him with a look that said, "Yes, but I don't care."  I slide out of my tattered jean shorts and mint green 'The Moon Made Me Do It' crop tank top, throwing them in a pile on the floor. I stood there, naked, clutching on to my past with both my hands.

Nothing.

I unzipped the back of the dress and slowly, one foot at a time, stepped in. beginning to work the dress up to my hips. 

Still, nothing.

I gently worked the dress up and over my freshly tan hips, being extra careful as I pulled the dress over my rear. All those squats have added a little extra junk in my truck and with one gentle tug, I had the dress up and was sliding one arm at a time into the arm holes and carefully zipping up the back. 

 Nothing.

I hesitated as I lifted my gaze, waiting for my past to finally catch up and for the flood of tears to come rushing out.

Nothing. 

It was like staring at a long lost friend in the mirror. Someone who I thought I knew so well yet today, is only a distant memory. If I could only go back and tell her what I know now. If I could tell her how brave and courageous she really was. If I could tell her that she needn't do anything she truly didnt't want to do. That love, real love, didn't look or feel that way. I wonder if she would have ever gone through with it? I wonder if she would have ever said yes? 

A smile broke loose and spread across my face, as coincidently, the sounds of Sia's 'Wild One' echoed in the background and I stared my past down in the mirror. Laughter broke free, quietly at first until a thunderous fit of wild giggles erupted from deep within and suddenly I was dancing with my past, wildly across the living room floor as Oliver looked on in a mix of pure confusion and terror. 

So this is what it really means to be wild and free. And for the first time, the title of this post had words. After months of waiting, her transformation was clear:

Broken heart, closed heart, open heart, full heart. 

 

 

I lived.

The other morning as I was driving from one errand to the next, I unexpectantly found myself in tears. I quickly scanned my body, physically and emotionally, wondering where this sudden burst of emotion came from. I reflected on what I was thinking about right before the waterworks and suddenly it all made sense. 

You see, that day marked eleven years since I sat in that cold and sterile doctors office with my mom and dad and heard those words that I naively thought I'd never hear. 

The tears that streamed down my cheeks weren't actually because I was sad, quite the contrary. Those were tears of joy and gratitude because I have had the opportunity to live.  To be honest, I'm not sure I've ever truly experienced these kind of tears before. My whole body reverberated with joy and happiness as I felt the heat and warmth of those tears slide down my cheeks.  

As I drove down Encinitas Boulevard, fully sobbing, I gave into this uncontrollable experience. 

ELEVEN F-ING YEARS.

How did I get so lucky?

I shared a picture on my Instagram talking about how every day is an opportunity to wake up and remind yourself that you are, indeed, so very lucky because the truth is, we are all on borrowed time. My health and wellness, they mean everything to me and at any moment, during any doctors appointment, they can be taken away from me.

Today I treat my body like the temple it is so hopefully I never have to deal with cancer again. Each day is a new beginning, an opportunity to use those struggles to grow into the person I am and to help others. I GET to live life to the fullest. To make smart and healthy food choices to nourish a body that works very hard to support me in life. I workout and eat clean foods not for vanity reasons but because like all of you, I deserve to live a long, healthy and happy life. Or do my best trying. 

I know it can sound cliche and it's thrown around a lot but ask someone who has almost had it all taken away from them or ask a person who is dying a slow death and I guarantee that each one will say the same thing, life IS a gift. ALL OF IT, every single moment, even the shit that happens in between the amazing and sweet moments. 

There are two truths I know for certain; no one gets out alive and many are taken WAY too soon. When you put it that way, how are we all not waking up every single day, jumping out of bed and shouting "fuck yeah! I GET to do this again!" 

I think the biggest lessons I've learned through cancer is that we are on borrowed time and no matter what is going on in my life, I have to find some kind of peace and happiness moment to moment. This isn't to say I am always able to live this way. I have to remind myself often by saying, "Smile and live Amanda. Stop taking this all so bloody seriously!" I usually have to say this to myself daily. 

We all could probably stand to give credit where credit is due for where you are right now. Even the mundane and ordinary are pretty special moments when you compare it to the alternative. Even when things feel heavy and big and you wonder how you will make it through this next moment, think about it from the perspective of the dying. I'm sure they'd give anything to be in your shoes. 

Slow down, lean into what you are experiencing and let the flow of life happen because you get a new day to fucking do this again. You get a new day, another opportunity, a second chance. Stop trying to force or control things. Let life happen and oh yeah, bloody smile already! 

This is all leading you somewhere. I promise. 

If one day I am told I have cancer again and that I only have a short amount of time to live, I truly hope that I can look back on the life I lived and say, "Well, this isn't the news I was hoping for but at least I F-ING LIVED."

I lived every day awake and conscious of where I currently am and where I want to go.

I lived every single day telling those I love just how much. 

I lived every day not holding back. 

I lived every day giving thanks for everything and I mean everything. Even the shit.  

I lived every day making choices that were aligned with my values and what is in my heart and not because I felt like I had to in order to please others or it was the acceptable thing to do.

I lived every day with the hope that I could make one person smile. 

I lived every day letting go of the petty bullshit, letting others off the hook, giving second chances, and letting go of grudges. 

I lived every day loving so big that I felt unstoppable. That I felt as if my heart just may explode with love. 

I lived every day remembering that I am on borrowed time. 

I lived every day dancing my ass of in my living room not caring who sees or that I have two left feet. 

I lived every day not giving a flying fuck what others thought of me because I followed what was in my heart and that my friends, that's where the GOOD stuff lives. 

I lived every day as an example that no matter what happens, you can still find a reason to smile and laugh. 

I lived every day giving thanks for the little things just as much as the big. 

And, I lived every day with one intention, to live my truth and to live with integrity. 

And sure, maybe I'll look back and see that I never climb that huge mountain or I never hiked the Pacific Crest Trail or jumped out of an airplane. Maybe I'll never write that New York Bestseller or visit all the countries I hoped to but despite it all, I will look back and be able to say with certainty and the greatest of conviction that I did, in fact, LIVE. 

So I ask you this, right now, how are you going to live?

 



Just be-cause: give and change a life

This time of year brings up a lot, both emotionally, physically and mentally. As much as I love the holidays. I mean LOVE the holidays, there is an underlying sadness because I'm reminded of all those who will go without. Without food, without shelter, without warmth, without a kind smile to brighten their day and most importantly, without feeling loved. 

I can't imagine living a life where I go without. As much as I can get caught up in the mentality of lack and wanting, I'm always brought back to reality when I see or read about others who go without so much more then I will ever be able to comprehend.  It breaks my heart in so many ways. 

I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by feeling helpless. I'm only one person, how can I make a difference? 

Here is the thing, no matter how small you feel in this gigantic world, you can always do something to make someone else's life a little easier, a little brighter and little less challenging, even if it is as simple as buying the next person in line a cup of coffee. 

We just never know what is going on in someone else's life. Sometimes it's easy. There are obvious indicators that things are difficult. A dirty face, torn and ragged clothing, bumps and bruises. However, in many cases, there are challenges we will never know about.

A single mother praying for a way to buy her child, or children at least one gift, anything to make their Christmas feel special. Someone who was just diagnosed with an illness and instead of investing the time and energy on healing, they are filled with worry and doubt about how they will pay for their medical treatment. A teen who ran away from home because they felt it was their only option to survive a home full of fear. A family who just lost everything in a fire. A stray animal, cold and alone wandering the streets looking for a safe place to sleep. 

The list goes on and on. 

You just never know what someone else is going through. 

This leads me to ask; how can we all walk through our day making a difference, be it small or large? 

Maybe we buy a cup of coffee for the person behind us or leave an extra tip in the tip jar. Maybe we give our time and volunteer. Maybe we lift our head as we walk down the street, looking into those passing by and smile. Maybe that's the only smile the receive all day long. 

No matter what is going on in my life, no matter how much money is (or isn't) in my bank account, no matter if I feel like I have nothing to wear or I'm tired of what is in my closet, no matter if my refrigerator only has a jar of pickles, some hummus and hot sauce, I still have WAY more then so many. 

I recently read something that cut me pretty deep. It's a line from a book I'm currently reading called Crazy Love by Frances Chan, a pastor here in Southern California.

He wrote:

"I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them."

Maybe it's because it has been on my mind so much lately, but it sucker punched me right in the gut and made me tear up. 

There are so many moments in my life where I feel like I'm not walking my talk. I say that one of my greatest traits is my compassion yet to feel is not enough. I say that I am  loving and giving but often there are times when I find myself stuffing my last dollar deeper into my wallet. There are times when I turn away from locking someones glance. Someone who probably needs it way more then I will ever know. And there are times when I complain and moan about the so called 'lack' in my life.  

I don't say all this to bring pity but rather to show you that I am human too. I have moments of not feeling like giving and hoarding that which I do have. I have moments when life feels heavy and hard and financially daunting, where I just want to hide everything I do have away for fear that one day it will all disappear. 

Then I read this other line:

 

Whoa, right? 

But I wondered, how can I give more?

Then it hit me. As I grow my Etsy shop and continue to sell my handmade products, I can give back by doing just that. For every sale I make, I can change a life, and so too can you. 

For the month of December, for every Etsy sale I make I am going to donate 100% of the proceeds (just after covering the small cost of materials) to two causes that are very near and dear to my heart. I'll be working out my giving campaign moving into the new year but for December, it's all or nothing. 

 

My handmade signs are 100% made by me. The love and detail that goes into them is motivated by my drive for adventure and authentic living. I incorporate my love of vintage vehicles and aztec, tribal and southwestern design. It's a little random, just like me. 

I can also do custom designs. I love to create something that is special to one particular person. 

These pieces make a great gift or a beautiful piece to adorn your own walls. 

But what's even more important and even more special is that, by purchasing one, you will be giving back to others. 

Here is a little information on two causes:

Team Becca Guild

On December 8, 2013 the world lost an incredibly beautiful person, outside and more importantly, inside. My cousin, Becca was taken far too soon when she passed away after several months of aggressively fighting Stomach Cancer. She left behind so many people who love her, including her beautiful son, Gavin. Those who were lucky to have known her will forever be changed by her loving grace, humble nature and beautiful spirit. 

In honor of Becca, the Team Becca Guild continually raises money for and brings awareness to the Ben Towne Pediatric Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA through Seattle Children's Hospital. Ben Towne held a special place in Becca's heart after watching her best friend's family suffer through Ben's courageous battle. 

For more information please read here. 

 

Wahine Project, Inc.

I've had the honor of meeting so many wonderful people since moving to San Diego last year and in January, two of my good friend's, Natalie and Molly will be hitting the road heading to Cuba with The Wahine Project to help break down barriers and create opportunities for young girls and women. 

Last May I was lucky to join Natalie and Molly, who went to Mexico to work with several women and their children. To see their faces and feel the love between all who were present is something I will never forget. 

For more information on The Wahine Project please read here. 


You may feel like one small person but believe me, one small step is all it takes to make a huge difference. Let's take this step together. 

With love,

Amanda