December 20, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 20 -- After the Storm

Today's Reverb Broads prompt could not be more perfect and necessary for me after the day I had yesterday.  Because of some personal (some private and some of which will be blogged about later) issues, yesterday was just a shitty day.  I was on the verge of tears (and succumbed to them more than once) all day long and just in a craptastic frame of mind. 

This morning brought with it not only some much needed sunshine, but also a much better mood and a determination to do the things in my power (because those things are always there) to change the course of my week. 

So without further ado, here's today's prompt:

Life is a work of art, or so they say.  What beauty do you regularly appreciate/revere in your life? from Neha

For me, it's the sky.

I love sunsets, sunrises, beautiful cloud formations, light rays peeking through the clouds after a storm, or even just a perfectly clear, blue sky on a sunny day. 

Every time I see the beauty of the sky, I feel small compared to the magnitude of the sky, the universe, and the God who created it all. 

Small...but not insignificant.

I feel peaceful and grateful that we have such beauty around us at all times if we would just open our eyes and look up from our phones (which, admittedly, I used to snap the next two photos...) for a moment to see it.

A storm brewing.  No editing was done to this photo.

An absolutely magnificent sunset after yesterday's thunderstorms.

Thank you, Neha, for today's prompt.  It further reminded me that some of the most perfect beauty can come after a storm.

I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more!

December 19, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 19 AND Friend Makin' Monday

It's a double post day!  Sort of.  I'm just combining two things on which I've fallen shamefully behind:  Reverb Broads posting and Friend Makin' Monday participation.  So here goes!

FMM: Have You Ever?

1. …traveled outside of your home country? If so, where? I've only been to Mexico.  Twice.  Once was in the 6th grade, and it was a mission trip with my church.  The second time was to Cancun when I was 17.  But I went with my mom and my little brother, so no big crazy Cancun Senior Trip stories here!  Lame. I REALLY need to travel more...

2. …performed on stage in front of at least 1,000 people? If so, share some details! Not 1,000 people in the same place, no.  Not yet anyway.  I've been onstage TONS of times, though, but just not for houses or theatres that large!

3. …watched an episode of Jersey Shore? I can proudly answer "No" to this one.

4. …baked a cake from scratch? I have not!  BUT, I have made sugar cookies from scratch, iced with homemade buttercream frosting.  I just started those last Christmas, so this year was my second year to make them both. 

5. …worked in a grocery store? I have not. I feel like I've done just about every other "first job," but never made it into the grocery world. 

6. …dated someone who was your best friend first? No.  Michael and I were very good friends before we started dating, but we weren't BEST friends.  I was, however, madly in love with my best friend in high school...and introduced him to his girlfriend.  "le sigh."

7. …made a difference in someone’s life during Christmas? Oh man...I sure do hope so.  And not just at Christmas time. 

8. …been on TV? Yeah!

9. …had cosmetic surgery? Nope. But it's something I sometimes think about.  I'll most likely never do it.

10. …learned a second language? I'm not disciplined enough to do this.  I took Spanish in high school, and four semesters of it in college, and retained pretty much NADA.  (See what I did there?)

And now for today's Reverb Broads post:

Self-Portrait: Post a picture of you that you like, write about yourself, post a video - what do you want your self-portrait to say about you? from Kristen 

Wow.  What a day to ask me something like this.  Normally, as you may well have noticed, I'd jump at the chance to be narcissistic and post a photo or video of myself. 

Today, however, I'm feeling kind of down and blue and a little weepy.  Maybe it's the holidays.  Maybe it's the cloudy weather.  But my emotions are very close to the surface today, so perhaps it's best that I pull out this one again:

Just me. 

No makeup. 

No perfectly angled camera position. 

Natural light.

I hope that photos of me show that I'm happy.  Happy in that moment and happy with who I am as a person, how I look and feel, where I am in my life...Most often I'm smiling in photos...but today I feel a little more like the photo above.  Quiet and contemplative.  But it's still me.  Maybe it's more me. 

This is way too deep for me today.  I'll come back tomorrow more like myself, I hope.

I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more!

December 13, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 13 -- Well if you're asking me to brag...

Happy Tuesday, lovelies!  On with the prompt for today! Today's prompt comes from the lovely Catie, whom I know from the 7 Days group on Flickr:

What are three things you are better at than most people?

Well if this prompt isn't just asking me to brag about myself, I suppose I don't mind doing that! 

1) Singing

I guess this is the obvious one.  Though, I don't think that I'm "better than most people."  I think I'm good...I think there are songs/roles I do better than others.  But, I have a strong belief that anyone can be taught to sing. It's harder to teach musicianship than actual technique, which is a conversation I have with my opera singer/voice teacher husband all the time. 

But I'm happy to have had the training I have had...and I'd love to take more lessons and get better.  But since it's just a hobby of mine, it sadly falls to the wayside and I only get to sing at the occasional cabaret (like in the clip below) or if I audition for and get cast in a show.  More clips are here (if I weren't a shameless self-promoter, I'd be nothing). 

2) Empathy

I wear my heart on my sleeve...I mean why not?  It goes with just about all of my outfits. 

No, but seriously...I'm a very emotional person and it's hard for me not to feel things strongly when they are affecting those that I love or care about.  Hell, even when I watch certain movies/t.v. shows/theatre pieces, I find myself emotionally invested to sometimes extreme levels.  (Example: when we saw Ragtime on Broadway in December of 2008, I was WEEPING after the Act I much so that when the lights came up and the woman next to me saw me sobbing, she couldn't get out of the aisle quickly enough.  Ha!)

Sometimes I curse myself for being so emotionally aware...but I think it makes me a better friend, wife, listener, audience member, what have you.  Now when it makes me get all teary-eyed in a meeting or something, that's not so fun...

3) .......


I'm starting to be uncomfortable with this topic...


Being Photographed

I've always been told that I'm very photogenic.  I think this is to make up for the fact that I'm only 5'3", I have thick legs and a round butt and ZERO waistline...and flat feet.  I mean I got all the "wrong" qualities from the "wrong" parents.  My mom's legs and my dad's butt (this is getting weird) would've been better than the other way 'round. 


I've got really decent skin (read: great, actually. I rarely break out...too badly.) and great hair!

And I've learned how to find my good side in photos and angle my face so as to minimize the double chin, how to turn my body so that it appears as though I have a waist, get the idea.  I also kind of think I have a great smile.  So that helps. 

Photo by Lindsay

All natural.  A photo I did for the 7 Days fall cycle.

 Okay okay stop making me talk about myself!  I'm gonna go read other people's blogs on this prompt and go tell them how awesome they are to balance out the karma of bragging.

I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more!

December 12, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 12: Guilty Pleasures

Well, so I'm not so good at the blogging over the weekend...I'm okay with that.  So without further ado, here's today's prompt from Neha:

Name and explain the one guilty pleasure you can't live without.  ie: that cupcake shop you visit weekly, a book you repeatedly read to find solace in, etc).  Then explore the idea of how you would feel if you gave that thing up for a year.

Hmm....well, I guess the idea of this is that it should be something I feel guilty about or, at the very least, embarrassed to admit to people...and I am kind of known for owning up to my quirks proudly and loudly. 

This is tough!

I suppose if I had to choose, it'd be coffee/caffeine.  I love coffee so much that it's bordering on obsession.  When I was in Seattle and Portland last week, I felt like I had arrived on the MOTHER SHIP of coffee obsession.  The original Starbucks.  Stumptown.  Tully's.  Home-brewed and ground coffee that my friends made.  COFFEE COFFEE EVERYWHERE.

So. Many. Profile pictures of me drinking coffee. 

So...yeah.  I know that it's not good to have too much caffeine. It'll stunt my growth (at 5'3" I'm not too fussed about that).  It'll stain my teeth.  Blah blah blah.  But I love it.  I love the comfort of the warm mug.  I love the way it smells.  I love the different ways it can be brewed and flavored.  I love the conversation that happens across the tops of two steaming cups between friends. 

If I had to give it up for a WHOLE YEAR?  I'd be very very very sad, and I'd try to find a loophole.  Can I have decaf? Can I have TEA?  It would be a very sad year, indeed.
I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more!

December 9, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 9 -- Wombat Stew

Today's prompt comes from Niki from, and the prompt is:

What is your favorite children's book?

Well, this is the easiest one yet!

 My VERY FAVORITE book as a kid was Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughan.  I used to go over to my friend Whitney's house to sleepover and her mother was this total hippie who would let us sleep on the screened in back porch, and we'd have nachos (you know, tortilla chips with grated cheese on top and stuck in the oven for a few minutes) and ice cream soup (ice cream stirred and stirred til it was soupy and with sprinkles on top) and read Wombat Stew

I didn't see this book again for years.  Then, in 2001 I was dating a guy named Kevin that I'd met online (yeah yeah, I was on a matchmaking site for a while) and it was going really well.  I mentioned on our first date, during the "getting to know you" part of the evening, that this had been my favorite children's book.  A few weeks later he showed up unannounced at my house to take me on a surprise date, and when I got in the car, this book was on my seat with a flower and a card.  He'd searched HIGH AND LOW for this book, because it's pretty elusive now, apparently. 

Things didn't work out with Kevin, but we remained friends and eventually lost touch with each other...but this remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever been given.  I am very grateful to him for finding this book for me, and I look forward to reading it to my niece and eventually to my own child some day. 


I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more!

December 8, 2011

#reverbbroads11 -- Catching Up! Days 3–8

Since I am SO BEHIND on posting based on the prompts...due to my AMAZING Pacific Northwest vacation, about which I will blog at another time...I decided to just answer all the missing prompts via VIDEO BLOG!  Enjoy, and I hope to be back to blogging normally tomorrow!

December 2, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 2 -- Stupid

Wow, what a great response yesterday's post got!  My blog stats SPIKED yesterday, and since I'm a total narcissist, I'm inspired to keep this thing up as much as I can!  I'll be traveling tomorrow through Wednesday of next week, but perhaps I can write a post or two from my fancy iPhone while I'm gone...and if I don't keep up-to-date with the commenting, know that I'm going to do my VERY BEST to read all of your posts!

So on to today's prompt:

"What is the stupidest thing you did this year? What about in your whole life?"

Oh geez.

I mean....I do a lot of stupid things.  I'm human, and I make mistakes...ranging in severity from choosing McDonald's coffee over Starbucks to...well, some bigger ones.  But in the interest if keeping you here, I'll try to keep it short and sweet.

This Year:

I've really been thinking about this, so much so that I was laying in bed last night thinking of this year from month-to-month and trying to remember epically stupid things I may have done.  Two came to mind:

1. Getting really stupid drunk on Memorial Day. I know, lots of people get drunk on holidays.  You're out, you're grilling by the pool, you're drinking beer.  It happens.  But this was probably the most drunk I have ever been around my FAMILY.  Yeah.  We're all just hanging out and it's a balmy 105 degrees outside (more on that later) and I'm drinking sangria like it's a JUICE BOX.

It was bad. The last thing I remember was talking with my uncle and my grandma and then apparently I just went upstairs to my mom's couch and fell asleep.  Then my husband took my drunk ass home (I cried the whole way home b/c I was feeling so terrible) and I went to bed and woke up at midnight completely hungover.  AWFUL.  I AM TOO OLD FOR THAT.

Luckily my family thought it was pretty hilarious.  Now at every family event, if I even reach for a beer, my uncle gives this huge frat-boy yell and says "Mandy's drinkin', the party can staaaaaaaaaaaart!"  Haha.  Jerk.

2. Not getting my car's a/c checked and fixed during the hottest summer on record.  No but SERIOUSLY.  With the exception of three years spent in Boston, MA, I have lived in Texas my entire life and never experienced a summer like this past one.  And of course that's the summer that the a/c stops being cold in my car.  My husband is a teacher, so summers can be really tight for us financially, and I was deathly afraid of it being something more than just "low freon," so I refused to let him take the car in to get checked.  I only work 5 miles from home, so I just put up with it every day.  When he FINALLY took it in in late August, it turns out it was just freon after all, and it only cost $90 to fix.  Stupid.  Could've been a lot less miserable all summer.


This one is tougher, because I have to choose one of the many stupid things I've done in 30 years on this planet.  There's an incident that definitely comes to mind....and it would take paragraphs and paragraphs (perhaps even multiple blog posts) to get into fully, but I'll give the very smallest nutshell version:

In the summer of 2002, before cyber-dating and matchmaking was as normal as it is today, but after it was completely creepy and judged, I got involved in an online relationship.  It was emotionally and mentally abusive and it led to depression and an eating disorder for me, both of which are much less severe repercussions than some online horror stories have, I know...and at the end of the day I met and started dating my husband that same summer at the end of that particular nightmare.  So at least something good came of it.

So there ya go!  Day 2, done!  Now, off to see how out of control my Google Reader subscription for this group has gotten...

December 1, 2011

#reverbbroads11 Day 1 - To My Younger Self: Be Kind

With everything I had going on in November, there was no way in hell I was going to be able to participate in NaBloPoMo (I get irrationally angry at that acronym, by the just upsets me), but one of the gals I met through the Flickr "7 Days" project, Kassie, has helped to start up a cool blogging prompt thingy (like my technical term?) for the month of December. It's called the Reverb Project, and we shall thus be called the Reverb Broads. Woo hoo! The daily prompts are selected by the bloggers, and we can participate...or not!

My kinda project.

Anywho, today's prompt just happened to be PERFECT, considering the events of last night. Here is the prompt:

"If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them?"

Well, let me get to that in a second.  But first...

Last night, as I posted about the other day, I went with the Denton Women's Collective to Flower Mound High School to help host a screening of the documentary Finding Kind. We invited girls ages 5th grade and up, their mothers, teachers, counselors...any female who wanted to attend.  We hoped for a good turnout...

Over 500 people showed up.  Yep, we were completely overwhelmed (in a good way!).  The girls watched the 77-minute documentary with rapt attention, and afterwards we DWC members and the HS counselors facilitated a discussion, during which SO MANY brave young girls participated, shared their stories, cried, hugged each other, applauded each other...

It was, in a word, incredibly moving.  Okay so that's two words.  But seriously. 

The girls filled out 3 sheets of paper: a Kind Pledge, a Kind Card, and a Kind Apology, which they could deliver themselves to the apology recipient or have the counselors deliver for them.  The Kind Cards and Kind Pledges will be put up on a "Kind Wall" at the school so that the girls and the other students can see it every day and be reminded of their pledges to be kind.

During the discussion portion of the evening, which I helped facilitate, one little girl stood up in front of these 500 other girls and said (not verbatim), "Girls at school will tell me that I'm ugly or fat, and I hate that I start to believe it. When I look in the mirror sometimes, I just start crying.  This has to stop." 

The tears came faster than I could stop them, and my throat was immediately constricted with emotion as I suddenly saw my younger self standing in the audience with a microphone. 

And it wasn't just the students.  During the portion of the evening while we were filling out cards, I had several mothers ask me, with tears in their eyes, for a few apology cards they could fill out.

Only recently, at age 30, have I come to fully realize that no matter my background, no matter how much I weigh or what brand of clothing I wear, no matter my hair color or how "pretty" I am...what matters is that I am kind.  To others and to myself.  That's the legacy that matters.  The kindness in my heart will show as beauty in my face and in my actions, and that's what people will remember.  I hope.


I would go back to that just-before-middle-school-aged-Mandy and tell her the following:

"Look, the next few years are going to be hard.  People are going to be mean, and some days you might cry or feel badly about yourself.  But what you have to remember is this: people hurt others because they hurt.  Love them. Be kind to them, no matter what they do or say to you.  It won't be easy, but I know you can do it.  Also, don't be so quick to judge others.  You'll think it makes you feel better about yourself to find something wrong with other people, especially girls...but really it will just make you feel bad and really guilty later on. 

And, sweet girl...if you ever look into the mirror and cry, I want it to be because you are completely and utterly overwhelmed with the blessings and the love you have in your life. 

You can do it.  Be kind."

Last night I filled out my own Kind Pledge. It says, "I KINDly pledge to find something beautiful about everyone, and tell them about it at every opportunity."  There is something beautiful about everyone...the trick is taking the time and caring enough to find it.  And it may be something that person has never been told, so tell them.

Final Note: This morning my little brother and sister-in-law went to the doctor for a 16-week sonogram and called me to tell me that they're having a girl!  I'm overjoyed, naturally.  But it made me stop and think...I pray that I will be a good role model and Aunt to my 11-year-old niece and my yet-to-be-born niece, and if I have a daughter some day, to her as well.  Girl-on-girl "crime" and gossip and manipulation and cattiness and has to stop.  I pray that these little girls in my life will be daily aware of how special and loved and wonderful they are.

It starts with me.  It starts with you. 

What would your Kind Pledge say?  Is there anyone you feel needs or deserves a Kind Apology from you?