The hardest part about moving to Austin has been the loss of a tribe. I’ve been blessed with new friendships and am slowly putting down roots but it’s hard to raise four kids in a city without a support network. When it came time to put people on the emergency list as we registered the kids for school, we drew blanks. There are many days when I need to be three places at once and there isn’t anyone to fill the gap. I miss grandmas. I miss the equity we built into other people’s lives. I miss having help.
I can not do it all despite the extensive to do list I make every night. I can not do it all even though I so desperately want to be the mother that lives in my head. I can not pull off everything I dream up. I would give myself permission to just let most of it go if I didn’t see so many other woman struggling to have it all. Surely our drive to make a wonderful life for our families and accomplish the things written on our hearts can’t be entirely wrong if so many of us can’t shake the feeling that it is possible.
We just can’t do it alone. We need each other. We need a tribe.
This week, my girl Evin and I are launching a brand new social site called Fakoodle. A few months ago, I wrote about my love-hate relationship with Pinterest and from that came the idea of building a local tribe that is Pinterest meets Craigslist meets Etsy. Most of it will live on the internet but we are already planning our first tribe gathering in May- Mamas and Mimosas.
We are thrilled to have so many mamas excited about the idea and even more excited to officially launch the tribe this weekend at the Kid’s Fest and Baby Expo. (An Austin family is bringing our city this great event!) Admission is five bucks for adults and kids are free. We’ll be showcasing some of the talented mamas in our tribe and there will be many, many thing to do and see at the Expo!) We’d love to see you there.
And more importantly…we’d love to help you find your tribe. ♥
I’ve always maintained that our kids got the best parts of both of us. As of late, I am having to admit that some of my less-than-perfect-ness might be rubbing off on them.
On the nurture side of things, it can be useful. A friend was over a few weeks ago, and they weren’t sure where they set their keys. They had barely muttered the concern and the Evans’ family was mobilized. Zone by zone searching was enacted and the keys were discovered before panic could set in…or my friend had even had a chance to look herself. There was a bit of laughter at my expense. These kids have obviously had some field training.
Besides losing things, my other major shortfall in life is my (lack of) sense of direction. I do live in a new city and I am bound to get lost. But I can get lost in a parking lot.
Once I was meeting a friend at a Starbucks. I used my handy GPS to get me to the parking lot and it was all over from there. I tried to follow their directions from Office Depot to the Starbucks…but it was just too much. Eventually, I was told to park in the closest available spot, they packed up their laptop, and came to find me. In the parking lot.
My best friend’s GPS is five years old and she hasn’t updated the maps lately. It mostly gets her where she wants to go. But here in Austin, we are stuck depending on my navigation skills. Because I can get about 4 places here fairly flawlessly, we are usually ok…as long as we don’t have to go left or right. There is a disconnect in my brain between those words and the physical direction we need to go.
right bendy!” I blurt out, on short notice as I casually gesture with the appropriate hand.
“It’ll be a twisty!” I say, while gesturing more abruptly with my left hand.
These substitutions make perfect sense to me. Usually when we are going right, we are exiting or merging onto another highway. A gradual, bendy.
A twisty is the opposite. A left is often because we have to turn around. (SUH-PRISE!) A twisty. Also the letters t-w-i-s-t-y also look a lot like the letters l-e-f-t. See how if you flip the t upside down it is an f? Well…there is an f and a t in left. It’s practically the same word!
A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I wanted to go on a hike. I like being outside. I like being with them.
“Meet me at the map.”
I know you’ll be shocked to know there was a detour and then a detour for the detour and I got lost on the way to one of the four places I know how to get to GPS free. But that delay changed the plan a bit.
“Take a right at the map, follow the path, and come find me.”
(Go ahead and laugh…I’ll wait.)
I follow their directions but I am walking deep into the woods without water or emergency supplies. So I text them. They call me.
“Did you take a right at the map?”
They can’t see me, so I raise my right hand to check which direction I turned. But I have since turned around a few times and left has become right and up is now down and black is all kinds of shades of white. I retrace my steps back to the map, go the opposite direction from which I came, and trek a new path for awhile before realizing I was going the right (in both senses of the word) direction the very first time. We talk on the phone again and I even try using the map feature on my iphone only to discover that yes… I AM on the greenbelt…however still lost. A few wild (turkey?) calls out into the wilderness and we find out that I am at least in earshot. Thankfully, I do not die a few hundred feet from civilization because eventually… he finds me.
I thought I had avoided passing this onto my children. But Alaina started middle school this year and I subsequently discovered she might have inherited it after all. She needed a combination lock for her PE locker.
You know who can not open a combination lock?
A girl who has no use for the words: right, left, right.
From the outside looking in…life has settled for us in Austin. The littles love their new school, I am reading Sadie outloud on a regular basis, and Daddy is swamped at work (but comes home everyday at 5 pm…faithfully). It’s an entirely new life for me as I figure out what to do with a block of quiet hours to write, muse, and dream every weekday. (You’d think I would have blogged a bit more recently!) There is real time to do the things I am passionate about…uninterrupted by the ones I am passionate about. And life in Austin is rich. We are reminded regularly why we uprooted out family and left behind the comfort of home and a tribe to live here.
And yet my heart has remained restless…
That restlessness steals my ability to express myself in writing. It makes being present in the life I love and have built a struggle. It makes me homesick. It makes me doubtful. It makes me hard to love, impossible to console, and well…restless.
With time to do the things I have yearned for in the city I have long loved and lusted after, how is it I can not settle myself? Because I have yet to find community, my people, or any version of a tribe.
We have been courting a church all summer. In many ways, warming a pew is healing. It’s restoring our belief (again) in the fact that a faith community can be just that…a community of people living out their faith. But the sweetness of that wets my desire for deeper, more, and less guarded. And an hour or so a week in that presence has only wrecked havoc on my already unsettled heart.
But last week that changed. We found our way into a circle of other people new to the position of doing life together here…in this city…as a part of a larger faith community. And it was so good. Let me say that again. So good.
These words I know. This posture familiar. This concept written on my soul and the very heartbeat of how I do life.
After our first hour, circled up, hesitantly revealing a bit of our story, there was relief for the first time in the four months I have lived here. I bounced up, chihuahua-style to the chief of our makeshift tribe and said: “Did you say we would have snacks next week? May I do them?”
And sensing my desperation for something, he agreed.
If I love you or want to speak love into your life, I’ll need to cook for you. If I have any desire to bless you or get to know your heart, I’ll want to share a meal. It’s my best commodity and gives me the deepest sense of communion.
I needed to do the snacks.
I spent way more time than I care to confess to even those who read along here and get my need to keep it complicated, deciding what to make. I scaled it back in my head quite a bit and kept is as simple as I could. Double Dip-it Buffalo Chicken Dip in mini-mason jars and our own little s’more pies said “FALL” and “oh…it’s so good to be here with you”.
In my morning talk to my BFF, I told her that this group seemed special to me. Maybe every group that is drawn to experience a deeper level of community in this church is special. But I’ve sat in and led many small groups. And some have taken months to get to that level of rawness and realness that existed behind the pleasantries and sunday school talk. I am good at deep, require it of my best people. But it is a rare opportunity for me to be in a circle where people openly lay it out, without me
dragging leading them to that place.
I could breath when I walked out. Long, slow deep breaths….filling all those restless places with fresh air. Feeling like I had finally found a home…in this place been calling home. ♥
One of the very first people I loved here in Austin was Evin. She has since admitted that she tried very hard to hate me but I relentlessly wore her down.
At first glance, we are so different. Her blog is charmingly profane (as is she…you been warned) and she tells stories of life in the middle of nowhere. She is in the kitten stage of motherhood; The one where everyone sleeps on you in a pile and if they are not attached at the hip, you know you’ve got trouble. She is a native Austinite and has spent her entire life here putting down roots in this city. She works really hard at staying engaged with her readers and Evin and her blog (which she let me design ♥ ) will go far. I’m sure of it!
And me? I have one post with the d-word in it. I try really hard to be witty and occasionally sarcastic, but I am the crying blog. (“You made me cry” is the most regular piece of feedback I get.) All of my littles spend their day with their other mothers- their teachers. I live 3 miles from downtown and in the middle of it all as often as I can be. And my blog…sometimes I write on it.
As different as the stages of life we are in and we appear, we share the same heart. Evin is a fierce mama and a gifted writer. She would do anything she could to help someone in need. She is compassionate and a faithful friend. Her love language is definitely food. And Evin and I have big dreams…
On our to-do list is to teach cooking classes for low income women together, a social media/graphic design empire…and a slumber party. ♥
This Friday night, I’ll be venturing to the middle of nowhere to celebrate her birthday with mexican food and cocktails. But this week on the internet we are celebrating- blogger style. Happy Birthday, sweet friend!
Head over to Food Good, Laundry Bad and give her some birthday lovin’…and have some fun with this giveaway all in her honor!
So how’s this work? ONE winner will grab the whole shebang. We’ve got a ton of cool crap, too. So one of y’all is going to be very lucky and happy!!!
What’s the swag?
Cake Pops from SugaPlump Pastries
1 adult size custom tutu from Carousel Kiddies
1 kid size custom tutu from Balance Dance Studio
2 hours fashion advice from Austin Slave to Fashion
Jewelry from Austin City Gems
Swag from BlogathonATX (of course)
5 custom cards from Share-A-Card
Decals from Jamberry Nails by Nicole
Bubble bath or Lotion from Slumber Parties
All this cool stuff was donated by the awesome sponsors listed above so check out their websites! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
A few months ago I had the privilege of reading Sadie to a group of writers here in Austin. It was a really fun night with girly cocktails, adult conversation, and the chance to share my heart for the book. After I nervously read the book (and everyone laughed at the right places and said it didn’t suck), we talked openly about what it took to get the story in it’s printed form.
Because while the room was full of writers, those women call themselves mothers, wives, PTA leaders, head chefs, referees, and taxi drivers. And their biggest question was simple: How did you do it?
And the answer is not the least bit complicated: I did one thing on my to-do list everyday. No matter what. Some days I did fourteen. But it was a hundred baby steps making my way towards my dream…book in hand. One thing.
But I’m not practical or disciplined enough for that system to keep me motivated. I need a lot more sparkle and enthusiasm to keep me moving in a long process. Enter the Did-List.
When the only thing I had done all day to move the process along was email my illustrator to tell her how awesome she was, I needed more. My inner cheerleader is pretty relentless but even she can only muster so much praise for the fact that I answered an email promptly. Answering email and communicating with Mandy was important and necessary, but it didn’t feel like progress.
The did-list was the antidote to all the unfinished to-do lists. I wrote down all the insignificant things I managed to accomplish (not just book related) and what it added up to…was momentum. And that added up to this:
Motherhood is one small endless task after another. It’s adds up to the gift of a childhood. Housekeeping is doing the same unfinished chore after another. It makes a home. Writing is word after word, rewrite after rewrite. It becomes a story.
Make a did-list. Take it’s momentum and make a another list. It’s good to DID. ♥
Last week I was sitting in a coffee place not drinking coffee with a friend. Having coffee is a social thing for me that invariably leads to a discussion about how I am thirty-something and still don’t drink coffee. It’s a still thing because I want to…I am determined to someday.
But yesterday the discussion was not about the lack of steaming beverage in front of me because I wasn’t putting down roots or building a connection but sitting with an old friend.
There was a moment where I almost said “my five year old” instead of “Kaya” because the habit of introducing and explaining is so ingrained in my daily life right now. Much conversation goes like this: I am Amanda. I have four kids. I just moved to Austin. I am a writer. I don’t like coffee.
Instead…they said: Hi, friend. Welcome to Austin, finally. I’ve read your book a bunch of times. They must not serve Dr. Pepper.
I love the part of a new friendship where you start to tell all your stories. There is something fun about the stage where you wonder if they like the same movies as you or have read the same books. You don’t know yet if you’ll disagree about the play-list or if they’ll be a sore loser. Can you trust their restaurant recommendations and is their car messy enough to let them in yours?
It’s good and fun and a necessary stage. It reminds you that there are all kinds of amazing people you have yet to meet who will make your life better and be part of your stories in the making.
But sometimes…it’s good to sit in the presence of someone who already knows you will always be lost. It is a sweet retreat from all the introductions and explanations…to just be known. ♥