Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

Category: It’s Personal (Page 2 of 43)

Now What?

“What do you think is going to happen?”

I must have heard this 50 or more times since it happened.

After a brutal election cycle, I – like millions of Americans – spent my November 9 feeling overwhelmed by a swirling and full range of emotions. Nothing about this week, and now, is straightforward.

The world we live in is complicated. In spite of what Facebook shows us in our news feeds, there are numerous ways to think and feel about the things that happen in our lives. We don’t always agree with each other. We alternate between decisions made too fast or too slow. We get things right and wrong. History has shown us that. But we also have moments that make us more human to each other, when we can display grace and compassion. Unfortunately, those moments are usually in times of great challenge or tragedy. I wish it were different.

I wish that I didn’t feel the way I did on election night. But I did.

I wish that I would have woken up to the first female President in the history of our country (though imperfect), realizing the dream that so many parents have had for their daughters. That my parents told me about all the time growing up. But I didn’t.

Yesterday morning, I read a piece written in the character of Leslie Knope. Leslie, in many ways, is my spirit animal. She’s a woman who in the face of incompetence and small town small-mindedness, never gives up. She never stops trying. She never stops working for what is right, good, and just. She’s the superhero we need when the world is maddening. Like it is at this very moment.

I read her letter twice. First, silently to myself at my desk at work, as I sat still processing how unpredictable life can be. Her words reassured me. I felt, for just a moment, that I could breathe again.  Later, I read it out loud to my husband (another Parks & Rec fan) as we watched Netflix together, as he was curious to know what she had said on the matter. Her words, read aloud, suddenly meant more. I heard it anew in my own voice and had bright moment of recognition. This is all of us now. We can speak our truths aloud and make something happen with them.

Today, I’m writing this from Marywood University’s campus. I’m here to speak at the Entrepreneurial Institute, put on by the amazing team at TecBridge. I’ll be talking about how to find your battle cry: the unifying big idea that drives action in organizations, tells your customers what to expect, and anchors what you do.

I feel good being here. No, I feel great being here. I’m surrounded by people who have the desire to make change in the world. Who want to do more. Who ache for the opportunity to take risks, fail, and most importantly, succeed. I’m also surrounded by members of the Marywood University community who have always made me feel at home and like I belong.

I’m in an environment where – as our University President said in her opening remarks – dignity, service, and  justice are “big time.”

We should be thinking about our own battle cries for the future. What will we do to take action? How will we move forward? What can we do to preserve and advance the big time ideals of dignity, service, and justice?

I know for me, I’ll continue working on the things I care about most. I’ll teach, perform, serve, strive, and organize. I’ll have meaningful dialogue. I’ll be respectful. I’ll be kind. I’ll take care of my family. I’ll continue to be a proud woman and member of my community. I won’t accept anything less than what I deserve. I’ll keep moving.

I take great comfort in that. Just for today, I have the opportunity to keep moving.

 

 

 

Creative Non-Fiction

Over the summer, Brent and I took a creative non-fiction writing workshop. It was awesome.

Not only was it taught by one of my dear friends and colleagues, but it was also an opportunity for me to write consistently and explore a style that I haven’t really played with before.

Being a blogger is sort of like creative non-fiction, I guess. It’s a lot of reflection and storytelling elements get used to talk about thoughts or feelings or events. But there’s an all at once delicate and powerful ZING to it that’s like nothing else.

Each week, we’d be given a prompt to write about. Then, in one page or two, we were to tell our story. I wrote a lot about my childhood, about important moments in my life. Some of my stories were sad. Some were happy. But they were all my moments and getting to share them with others in a writing workshop was such an intimate experience. It was thrilling and therapeutic. And I loved hearing everyone’s stories each week, too!

I’ve been toying with the idea of using this blog as a platform to share some of those pieces of writing – and maybe make some more! Eventually, I’d love to submit something somewhere and get it published. Seeing a byline in print still thrills me and it gives me those little gold stars that I try to tally up in my head when I accomplish something (Type A, much?).

No matter where it appears, I still smile and give my 16 year-old self a big hug when I see my name on a piece of work.

See that, Young and Naive Mandy Who Still Wants to Go To NYU and Live In the Village? You can write and not have to live in New York and have all of that school debt.

Ah, well. I guess I should make her proud and just keep doing it already. It’s one thing to talk about it, er, blog about it. But it’s another to do it. So, let’s give it a whirl. I’ll write some stuff and share it here. Could be fun!

The Struggle With the Gut

Do you remember when you were growing up and learning all about gut feelings?

Those moments when you were told to stop and listen to the internal jerking that made you nervous, uneasy, or anxious?

You were reminded to go with your gut when it told you something. Listen to it. Appreciate it. Learn to love it and let it guide you.

So what do you do when you want it to talk to you but it isn’t?

My gut and I? Well, let’s just say we don’t always have the best relationship.

Sure, I’ve trusted it and it’s gone fine, but then there are times when…damn…it just…let me down. And I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about the whole human experience. You get to mess up, learn from it, and then keep going.

But right now? I really wish that little buddy and I were talking.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my gut and I aren’t on the same wavelength. Questions, requests, invitations – all things that I can normally handle – are stumping and stalling me. I take longer to respond. I consider more. Doubt. Stew. Resolve.

I’m wondering if it has to do with my latest blogging hiatus and the thoughts I’ve had while I was wasn’t writing on here (even though there was still plenty happening in the background). Lots of reflection about how to spend time and how to be kinder to yourself. Trying not to feel guilty. Focusing on just…BEING.

Now I’m here. Nearly midnight. Laundry is put away and I’m sitting on the couch thinking about decisions and to do lists. Nothing here is major. Nothing here is critical.

But still I sit – waiting for good ol’ Gut to chime in and say, “Hey! This is worth your time.” Or, “Nope. Don’t do it.”

I’ll try sleeping on it. See how that goes. After all, maybe he’s just tired and needs a holiday, too. :)

 

 

What happens when you take a blogging holiday.

My last post was months ago. I’m not sorry.

The break was good. I lived fully for several months, taking in all of the best parts (and even some not great parts) of this beautiful, crazy, and often bewildering world we live in.

I stopped feeling guilty about not writing because really, when it comes down to it, it’s a lie. I still wrote. Every day, actually.

I wrote emails, documents, training plans, presentations and analyses at work, which made my brain all at once tired and happy.

I wrote creative non-fiction as part of a writing workshop I shared with dear friends and my husband. Once again, my brain smiled.

I wrote responses to interview questions and award nominations. I had to *gasp* talk about myself. As uncomfortable as it is, it’s good for you. Do it every now and then.

We try so hard – so, so hard – to keep up with things. Building good habits. Making changes that stick. The tipping point seems out of reach at times, but when it hits, boy, does it feel good. It’s happening. You’re doing it. You’ve won.

But sometimes the win is in not letting the tipping point tip. Sometimes, it’s about backing away and being in other things so that you can return feeling at peace, refreshed, and with the right perspective.

NEPA BlogCon still happened. I performed in a play. I read books. I climbed down a mountain. My picture was in the paper. I felt proud for my friends. I laughed. I cried. I loved. I lived.

That’s how I’m looking at it.

I took a blogging holiday and lived. :)

Why Does Creativity Feel So Difficult?

Photo By: Richard Jones

I scheduled the time for me to write this. I planned it in advance. In my whirling brain, I committed myself to sitting down and writing about…

Something.

Creativity doesn’t always come easily to me. There are times when I sit and stare at an empty screen, waiting for an answer that never comes. Or one that comes but doesn’t satisfy.

But then there are those rare moments when that sneaky bolt hits you and charges you with enough energy to write 5 blog posts in quick succession. Or 10 pages of a play. Or that manifesto you’ve been waiting for.

It never seems to be conveniently timed or on command. Rarely when you need it. Sometimes only under the greatest of pressures. Creativity is the thing we wish for with a smile but curse when it doesn’t arrive as expected.

So, here I sit, my feet propped up on a cozy couch with a cup of mint tea at my side. My husband is writing code next to me, working on building a website. He’s good at putting his creativity to use. Meanwhile, I’m struggling.

I went to Google, because, well, where else do you go when you want answers? I searched “why is creativity so difficult?”. What I found was pretty darn interesting – and rooted in science.

All this, and more, from a squishy thing in our noggins.

I started this post feeling frustrated at my lack of inspiration – but now, I’m feeling pretty good. This block is a positive thing. I’m stretching my brain and letting it do its thing. And hey, I’ve got another post out of the experience!

I’ll enjoy the down time while I’m at it.

You know – spending a nice afternoon with a cup of tea and brain science.

If an idea comes, it comes.

I’ll wait and relax.

After all, it’s good for me. 

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