Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Show Your Real: Amanda K.

Show Your Real + Real Life Friend is my favorite combination ever. (Except maybe Coke Zero + vanilla ice cream. That pair is rrrrrrrright up there.) Amanda (who I strictly call by her last name, so even typing Amanda is crazy weird for me) is a former coworker of mine who wised up faster than me in terms and fled the wild world of corporate retail a few years back. Our friendship has now outlasted our shared office tenure by at least six years, and is maintained entirely through emails, facebook messages and comments typed one-handed while pacifying our babies. She shares my passion for design, photography, well-researched parenting literature, and was the impetus behind my post-turned-novel about work/life/mama-ing/all the things. She's whip-smart, and a fervent supporter of women, openness, and thankfully: me. I tell her often how thankful I am to to have her (someone like her...but more specifically ACTUAL her) in my network of life, even if our interactions are entirely bound to the virtual realm. I'm blessed to get to share her beautiful heart with you all here.

(And in case you find her irresistible too- you can find more of her images and stories over at Leap Day Studio).
I hate dusting.
There are 26 picture frames in our living room - each with a noticeable layer of top dust. 
If I were of the hoarding nature, I would grow this collection of snapshots.
Expressions of wonder and surprise, awe and investigation, love and laughter would fill our walls.  The stories of days easily within view - not stashed in computer galleries or tucked away in a yearbook. 
This is the stuff of a successful life. 
I’ve come to realize it’s not all spreadsheets and conference calls.
But alas, I hate dusting.  And the kids can’t climb a ladder to help.

My Real is my home.  It’s a humble place with dented walls from thrown objects, carpet spots from over-zealous snacking, rooms with stories of diy and labor pains, design plans for the future, kid chaos of the present, and memories (both harsh and happy) of the past 9 years.  We plan to stay here until our grey hairs are plentiful and our nest is empty.

My Real is my people.  We are a tribe of four:  a hard-working hubby, a newly minted four-year old girl who is both kind and sassy, and a quick moving one-year old boy who has a giggle to lift the heaviest of hearts, and momma me.  The days of giggles, snuggled story time, tiny socks, colorful toys, and you-are-the-center-of-my-world hugs are numbered.  But for all my sentimental ways…it excites me.  Oh, to see our children grow and emerge as individuals – wide-eyed and ready.  A gift.

These are the best parts of my Real - full of gratitude and appreciation for the awesomeness of the people and place we have been given charge of to love.


I’m having a birthday next month.  Kind of a big one.  My Real is…I’m not where I thought I’d be at this age.  My over-achieving mind has ached for many moons these past years for a career not realized and accomplishments untapped.

I know what you are thinking:  “The world is her oyster!  There are many years of prime creativity, years to reach goals.  Don’t give up!!”  To that I say this:

I thought I would be at a certain level based on what I thought I SHOULD be, versus WHO I truly am.  Your brain is aching, right?  Here’s the scoop:

Before life evolved into a full-time-at-home mom gig, I was a great many things – a
Type A over-achiever with a bit too much worry, a get-it-done hard worker, a sentimental gal with a love of technology, and a wife with a penchant for list making, home improvements, meals from scratch, goal reaching, and alone time. 

I am still all of those things.  But I am a mom, too.  And mommahood changes reality (exponentially, the second time around). And that is OKAY. 

I left a career to start a family.  I left a job to nurture two kids and support my husband’s career - one that takes him on many, many airplanes.  
I was the solid.  I could do this.  Still the ache of SHOULD.  SHOULD DO MORE.

After years of schooling, I believed career accomplishment would by my only way to create a wholly successful life, anything less was a waste of my talents and was just me being lazy.
WHAT?!  Yeah, I know.  Crazy. 

Newborn feedings were spent pep-talking myself and fighting resentment, “You could do it.  So many of your friends do.  You have the ability.  Why not?!  You’d be happier.  You’d be a success.” 
The “why not?” had me digging deep for months, because it just didn’t feel right for me to jump back on the career path.

And one day, there it was:  because I’m me and not them. 
After I truly accepted that realization, I said good-bye to a few things - perhaps for always.

Like a career. 

A painful blow.  A large lesson in being selfless and sacrifice for the people I love, including myself.  It was a complete shift in how I was defining success.  Maybe being happy and knowing your sweet spot was success in itself. 

I stopped trying to shove myself into a place I didn’t fit any longer.  After a sit-down chit-chat with my hubby (to share the epiphany I should have had many tearful months prior) I bought a new camera to celebrate.

So here I am.  Almost a year later.  Mom life is hard.  I don’t really love it.  I still have resentment on especially difficult days.  Just like thousands of women who go to work each day just to put food on the table but don’t love what they do.  They still do it. 
They show up and they do their work.  
Because they love their people – so, so much.

My current work is kids.  The messes, the milestones, the worries, the crafts, the baths and all of it.  Without the ache of SHOULD, my mind is open to COULD.

And that silly story about the 26 picture frames?  And the celebratory camera? 
The possibilities are endless.  

Photo Credits Karissa Diagostino

Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often surface-y interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me (cjsbowden at gmail dot com).


  1. The blog world is mind blowing sometimes. I was reading this beautifully written show your real post and admiring the poetic way the writer brought her life and struggles and heart to the page and thinking, "Gosh this girl looks familiar."

    I think Amanda K might have graduated from the same high school as me only a year or so ahead of me. I have a crazy penchant for remembering people so I am almost positive she's from Bulldog country.

    Whether fellow Freedom alumni or not, I loved her post! Beautiful.

    1. Should I give all the credit to Ms. Ross? You are absolutely correct! Thank you for the kind words.
      Aren't the interwebs a crazy place?!

    2. Ms. Ross! I was going to say something akin to that, but didn't want to take away from your natural talent in doing so. I'm sure you are a credit to her teaching, though!