A Blog Update, Mindfulness, and a bit of Mary Oliver for Good Measure


You know, I don’t even know why I had my blogging knickers in a bunch. I had so many really lovely and constructive comments from readers. The overwhelming consensus was that I should do what the fuck I want to do with my blog. That’s what I’m going to do.

That seems like an easy answer, but it took several days of ruminating and reading through old posts to figure out what the fuck I do want to do with this blog.

The verdict?

I’m just going to do me.

I think that’s what I knew I would do all along. This wasn’t so much a blogging problem as it was a time and priority problem. The old Amanda had a list of things a mile long that she wanted to do: read! knit! chair this! lead that! write those things! grad school! parenting! work! clean! marriage! bake! everything! NOW!

Burning the candle at both ends indeed. How did I manage to do those many things? Cutting my sleep down to 3 to 5 hours a night. Drinking so much coffee my heart twitched in my chest. Staying so amped up about the next thing that I didn’t always enjoy what I’m actually doing. At work I’m struggling to whip up a blog post in a 30-minute lunch break or thinking about cooking dinner. At home I’m worried about work stress and did I remember to do everything I needed to do. I’m always between two places and never still, never present.

No more.

I’m practicing mindfulness.

When I’m at work, I’m at work. I may listen to an audiobook or podcast. I’ll read a few pages or edit a post on my lunch break, but my task is to handle my business and that I will do. Head down and work.

When I’m home alone with the kids due to Sam’s class schedule, I’m mom. I’ll play LEGOS. I’ll handle the laundry. I’ll make dinner. I’ll embrace that sweet, chaotic love my children give me. It is silly to try and read or balance my checkbook in that tornado of giggles and mess.

When the kids go to bed, I’m a free-wheeling introvert. I’ll knit, I’ll read, I’ll cuddle with my cat. Dishes undone, chores be damned, and the bills can wait until tomorrow.

When I’m with my husband and we’re spending time together, then I’ll be a wife. This means not agonizing over Candy Crush levels or crafting politically witty Facebook posts. Or worrying over work tasks or grocery lists. Instead I’ll focus on listening and how much I love his handsome face.

When it is 10pm and time to wind down for sleep, I will be restful. I will breathe, journal, snuggle down and just be. I’ll let the worry slide from my body. It can wait. I can rest.

I hate to sound cheesy, but this mindfulness thing has been quite a journey. I had to examine so many facets of my life, create boundaries, and ask, “is it worth it?” Quipping “be mindful” like some sort of Yogi drill Sargent was wholly unhelpful. I had to sit still and listen, as Sylvia Plath writes in The Bell Jar,
I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart, ‘I am. I am. I am.”

It has been hard work sloughing off things that are good to focus on what is better. I think I thought an overly full life was only detrimental if it was full of bad things. Nope, too much muchness was tipping me over. I had to ditch some good things to be healthy enough for the great things. It was difficult and more than a little humbling and uncomfortable.

I resigned a professional role that would have been awesome for my career. I decided to not pursue graduate school this year. Too much stress all at once was sending me spinning.

I quit my knitting group when they moved to a different night and location. I need to calm down and go to sleep at night and working the one evening shift is enough. I crave quiet before bed and I’ll find other times to connect with friends (Saturday afternoon, anyone?).

I radically accepted that some days I won’t read at all, or do laundry, or have a delicious home cooked meal for my family. Some days I’ll just want to sit and be to unwind. Or the laundry will have to wait. Or the we’ll eat cheap pizza and bagged salad.

Blogging was one of those things that required me to take a really hard look and ask, “is it worth it?” Yes, yes it most certainly is full of worth, friendship, clarity, and joy. I looked at my beautiful blog friends who are such kindred spirits and I read through my old posts and I marveled at the worthiness. This blog has worth because it has helped me puzzle out life, celebrate the good, grieve that sad, and figure out what it is that I value.

Yeah, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to keep doing me, but I’m not going to worry about blogging when it is not Blogging Time. Yup, I have blocked out weekly blog time. I’ll write what I can, close my laptop, and then go on to being present with the next task.

What better way to close than to share a favorite Mary Oliver poem?

Mindful by Mary Oliver

“Every dayI see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?”


Little blog, here’s to being that needle in the haystack of light.



  1. It sounds so much simpler than it really is, doesn’t it? Still, I applaud you. I tend to take the “drop everything” method of dealing with stress, until I end up with hour upon empty hour, and rush to fill all that time up again. I need to find a happy medium, heh.

  2. “It has been hard work sloughing off things that are good to focus on what is better.” I relate to this so very much. My husband has a crazy schedule, so almost every night is different for our family. I found myself wondering if we should be placing our 2nd grader in extracurriculars – they’re good for you, right? But it’s good hard work to say no to things that might be good, but aren’t going to bring goodness to your chaotic family life.

  3. Have only come across your blog in the last few months, but this post has hooked me for good: the idea of having to pare away the good to make room for what is better is transformative. Thank you for putting this in words. Good luck with it all, and thank you for being you.

  4. I need to start this process. I spend way too much time on either nothing or things that don’t matter in life. I need to decide what does matter and what I really want to do. Thanks for being a guide to getting started!

  5. Gosh, I love this. And Mary Oliver. She bursts the heart wide open every time. — “It was what I was born for –to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world –to instruct myself over and over in joy.” A million times yes.

  6. Yay, you doing you! I’m right there with you in the struggle to be mindful where I am. It takes more work somedays than others, but I’m grateful for the journey. Hope your new routines are starting to feel more comfortable.

  7. Sounds like a good decision. I’ve recently decided to cut down on a volunteering commitment I was doing every week so I get a lie-in once a fortnight and to think carefully about how much extra I do at weekends. Let’s hope for a quieter time from now on …

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