Mandy Boyle

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

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Morning Mist

My Morning Routine

The other morning, as I rubbed sleep out of my eyes, I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and saw an article shared by Get Rich Slowly.

Forbes asked how several leaders who are women started their days and being curious, I gave the article a skim and noticed some common themes, like breakfast and a few moments to themselves (they all spent the time differently).

It was interesting to see how others dove into their day and it got me thinking about my own routine, which I’ll share just for fun.

6:30 a.m. – First alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

6:40 a.m. – Second alarm goes off. Reach for my phone and start checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and Google News. Scan the news and headlines. Bookmark some things to read later.

6:50 a.m. – Hop in the shower. Contemplate why mornings are so painful.

7:00 a.m. – Get dressed. Say good morning to the Mister while he eats breakfast in the kitchen.

7:15 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – Pack lunch (some days), futz with hair, brush teeth, and ensure I don’t look like a rag-a-muffin. Contemplate what a rag-a-muffin really looks like, or if my mother just made it up. Get distracted.

7:30 a.m. – 7:45 a.m. – Jostle with getting shoes and coats on before departing the humble abode. Hug and kiss goodbye, “have a good day!”, and commute to work. Listen to NPR News or music along the way.

7:50 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. – Park and walk to the office. Sometimes stop at Starbucks for a juice, tea, or breakfast treat. I either bring breakfast or stop to get it, but I usually eat at my desk once I get in.

I’m not the type to work out before work. I don’t always remember to fix myself breakfast or lunch (I much prefer sleep). I wish I would try 5 minutes of meditation, but I’d be too afraid to doze off again.

Regardless of whatever position you hold or lifestyle you pursue, I think it’s a fun exercise to examine routine. We rarely take the time to do so and it’s always good to hold up a mirror to what we do every day. Sometimes, we notice something interesting about ourselves. Maybe you’ll discover what you value, or maybe where you have room for improvement.

How do you spend your morning?

New Journeys

Ch-Ch-Changes!

Oh, hey.

It’s been awhile.

The summer and fall was incredibly eventful. A lot of things happened and I didn’t have much blogging mojo to document it. It’s okay though – I’ve accepted that it’s just the way things go sometimes.

The Vintage closed. There was heartbreak and I went through a period of mourning (it involved a lot of time on the couch, self-doubt, sulking, and tears), but it was the right time.

#harlot #atthevintage

A photo posted by Mandy Boyle (@mandyboyle_) on

The great news is that the Vintage Theater’s ensemble (of which I am a member) is continuing its work. The doors may be closed, but the people and their work in our community will continue (P.S. one such thing is Scranton Fringe Festival – tell everyone you know about this because I’m super excited for it! Here’s where you can find them on Twitter and on Facebook.)

It’s hard for me to put into words all of the feels I have about The Vintage, but instead of focusing on what’s gone, I’m looking more at what’s sprouting up in our community by the people who were behind a place I so loved. THAT’S what The Vintage was all about.

I did some theater. Fall was a busy time. In the midst of NEPA BlogCon, I did a reading of Another Tempest by Robert Andrew Anderson (a creative adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with notes of The Beatles, the theremin, and some creative storytelling). I got to be a villain which was a lot of fun, plus, all of the proceeds went to a good cause (thanks to the Wyoming Valley Art League for hosting us!).

Little Beth Bluebird tells it. #live #local #theater #Scranton

A photo posted by Sarah Jayne Regan (@sarahjayner) on

I also got to play Little Beth Bluebird, an original character with a sweet yet tragic story set in the 1920’s, in Whipers of Scranton Legends, a dinner theater performance for Leadership Lackawanna. If you happened to attend and interacted with me during cocktail hour, thanks for playing along!

NEPA BlogCon 2014 happened. We had what some say is our best year yet. We had another full house of attendees at Misericordia University and we raised a nice nest egg of seed money to organize and launch a code camp for girls in grades 4 through 6 in our region.

#nepablogcon

A photo posted by Mandy Boyle (@mandyboyle_) on

The NEPA BlogCon Squirrels are now eagerly putting together Squirrel Girls Tech Camp for this coming summer. I am so excited and thankful to have the opportunity to work on this project.

We hit the one year mark. That’s right. In less than a year, Brent and I will be getting hitched. We’re both excited and we’re back on the planning train as a result, so that’s a plus!

I changed jobs. This was by far the most drastic and impactful of changes I experienced. I’m very excited and feel so grateful for my new opportunity, but at the same time, it’s tough leaving behind an incredible team of people. We’ll keep in touch and I’m looking forward to new adventures (and a much shorter commute!). Okay, brave new world of local SEO for the automotive industry – BRING IT.

So, yeah. A LOT went on. But it’s all good. If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s that change – while challenging – can be a good thing.

Change is hard. There isn’t one person I’ve met that says, “Oh, yeah. I love having my life disrupted or things turned upside down.”

But change means growth.

It means facing your value, personally and professionally, head-on and then choosing to do something with it.

It means accepting that all great things must come to an end but what those things meant can continue on in new ways.

It means recognizing just how fast time passes and how we can sometimes get caught up in things that really don’t matter (even if we set out to avoid it).

It means stretching your abilities, state of mind, and attitude – and sometimes feeling sore.

It means crying because you don’t know what else to do, awkward silences, mushy brains and laughing from your nerves because THINGS. ARE. HAPPENING.

It means meeting new people, making new friends, and getting that heart-skipping blend of fear and excitement.

Change happened. And it was good – but I’m looking forward to returning to some routine.

Holy Moly. I’m over on The570.com!

I’m knee deep in BlogCon planning (more on that later), but in the meantime, I’m super thrilled to be featured this week in The Electric City/Diamond City/The570.com.

Finally, I’ve fulfilled my innermost desires to be a librarian for a day (the photos with the piece were done in Marywood’s library – such a cool setting). Any opportunity to chill out with books is a welcome one!

Take a peek: http://the570.com/up-close-mandy-boyle/

"Ladybugs" © 2010 Mandy Boyle

Get some fresh air.

While I’m traditionally more of an indoors kind of gal, I did enjoy the time I’ve spent outdoors in the past few weeks.

I went kayaking for the first time (and survived). I’m looking forward to going again.

Over the holiday weekend, I watched fireworks and enjoyed the company of family and friends on lawns, near lakes, and under the stars.

Tonight, Brent and I took a walk around the park and sat outside on our swing with our laptops, working on writing, emailing, and his website.

That mild summertime weather at night is something I can never get too much of.

It feels good to get some fresh air.

We all could do with more of it.

Dresses 2

I Said “Yes” to the Dress

I wasn’t on the TLC show, but I did have my very own moment of saying “yes” to a garment that I’ll wear over a year from now. Not just any garment, though – a very, very special one.

Finding a wedding dress ended up being a breeze, which I’m thankful for. I’ve heard horror stories about countless dresses, scary fitting rooms, loaner bras, and a constant feeling of overwhelm.  I’ve also heard about all of the craziness that comes with being a bride, bringing anyone to an appointment, and having to make a decision. Wedding dress shopping sounded like it was going to be like a reality show, for real.

Thankfully, nothing like that happened to me. Sure, I had the loaner bra, tried on a bunch of dresses, and felt defeated when I left my first appointment feeling like nothing looked good on me. Those three-way mirrors, man. They get ya!

My first appointment, back in December, was at a been-there-forever bridal shop in Dunmore called Head to Toe Bridal. I made an appointment with them after going to my first wedding expo and wasn’t sure what to expect. My prep work for the appointment consisted of watching Say Yes to the Dress and reading up on “X Things to Know Before You Try on a Dress” or “Know Your Body Type: Choosing the Perfect Dress” and whatnot. What can I say? I’m a nerd who likes to research everything.

I walked in with a larger than average entourage in tow: my mother, my grandmother, two of my aunts, my maid of honor, and a gaggle of cousins. It was delightful for me (because they’re all important to me) but I’m not sure how the shop staff felt.

We got a brief tour of the stock, I got to walk through and flip any dresses I wanted to try on, and then the attendant assigned to me got them all spiffed up. She was super nice and very encouraging. I was petrified that I was going to get someone who was going to make fun of my purple tights (don’t worry – my family did) or express disapproval at my style preferences. Sorry, no P’nina Tournai sheer stomach panels or spilling cleavage for me. My kingdom for a neckline that doesn’t plunge!

I pulled a handful of dresses on my own – a couple tea length, one or two long ones that were non-traditional, and one that the salesperson recommended. My family browsed alongside me, pulling dresses they liked for me, which was an adventure to say the least (but in a good way). I tried on satins, ruffles, and some things that made me look preggers. See some photos below for your viewing pleasure. Don’t mind my awful faces. These were candid and taken on a cellphone.

Dresses

A lot of losers, and only one left me feeling slightly pleased (the one with the tan belt). The worst part of trying on wedding dresses, for me, was finding out which cuts were unflattering. Heavy dresses made me feel heavy. If there wasn’t enough structure, I felt like an aimless blob draped in some manner of polyester or chiffon. If there wasn’t enough support, I felt…just gross.

Worst of all, I had my heart set on finding a tea length dress. It was what I pinned most frequently to my Pinterest board. When I thought about the dress I wanted to wear in my head, it was tea length. It was playful and elegant all at once. I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelley all in one (a slight departure from my normal Liz Lemon-dom). I wanted to be a real lady, dammit! And so, with every failed tea length, I felt my dream of pretty shoes and showing ankle slip away.

It’s an emotional roller coaster ride. On one hand, you’re feeling excited and hopeful about finding that magical dress that you slip on and don’t want to take off. On the other, you’re forced to get to know your body and see what looks good on you and what doesn’t. You also encounter some really shitty dresses that you fell in love with in the photo but try on and just want to cry. It’s a lot of emotional extremes – no wonder brides are shown going bonkers during this experience!

And there isn’t an article or an episode of a style-focused TV show that can prepare you for that. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure. There’s a lot of pressure and focus put on the dress, but it’s just that: it’s just a dress. Sure, it’s a dress you wear on a special day and it makes you look and “feel” bridal, but man, people laser in on it.

I decided to wrap things up and try again later. After all, I was buying a house – I had a lot going on and my mental energies needed to be put there. I promised to make an appointment again in the spring, once things had settled and I was in a  better frame of mind.

And I’ll admit, I was feeling discouraged. Trying on 15 or so dresses in my first appointment was a bit of a daunting task. Nothing was fitting right. I didn’t feel comfortable in anything. In my sane frame of mind, I knew that it was just the first appointment. I reminded myself to not lose hope and to remember that I would eventually find the right dress.

But doesn’t it suck sometimes? All the pressure? The build-up and expectations over finding a single garment that is supposed to reflect you on one day? I’ll be honest, it does.

I took a few months off. I focused in on paint colors and unpacking boxes as we settled in to our first home together. I didn’t think about the dress at all until a few weeks before, when I remembered that I should probably make an appointment so that my family and friends could plan around it.

I picked a date – May 3 – and started planning. It was going to be a busy weekend. A yard sale, the Dirty Girl Mud Run, and family visiting all in a few days. After the mud and grit was rinsed out of my hair, I headed down to David’s Bridal for an appointment with my mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and maid of honor.

We walked in and instantly I was pleased at the selection – it felt like there were more options within my budget already. We started pulling dresses, some of which I had found on the website when I was browsing a few nights before. The attendant, who was a firecracker personality, coached me through the picks.

We started off with a beautiful dress that was way too heavy. Then through a few unfamiliar silhouettes, some picks from the website, and a dress my family chose for me to try on.

 Dresses 2

I tried on 8 in total before it came down to the final three.

The first one was empire waisted with little cap sleeves, a bit of bling at the bust, lots of lace, and a flowing a-line silhouette. Very pretty. Then, there was a lace and tulle confection that I liked and was similar to the one I had liked best at my first appointment. They became maybes. I figured I would end up trying them on another time before deciding if I wanted to take the plunge.

But then, oh, then there was THE DRESS. It was the last one I tried on. It was tea length (SWEET MARY MOTHER OF GOD, THANK YOU!) with lace and an illusion neckline. It was a find from the website and I was in L-O-V-E. Game over. This was it.

I pranced out of the dressing room with a smile on my face. To seal the deal, they added a belt, shoes, and headpiece. Every time I looked in the mirror, I just blushed and glowed like a Christmas tree.

Everyone wanted to hate it, but they couldn’t. They signed, shrugged, and said, “It’s you, alright!” I got a little teary, but it wasn’t the earth-shattering emotional breakdown they make it out to be. I felt light and happy. I didn’t doubt my choice. This was it. This was exactly how I wanted to look as a bride.

And so I said, “yes”. It’s now hanging in my upstairs closet, waiting for next October to arrive. (not pictured anywhere above, for the sake of tradition, superstition, and the fact that Brent said he wants to be surprised)

Let’s hope finding shoes and headpiece is less monumental!

DISCLAIMER: Don’t worry, my Mister knows some details about the dress and has seen all of the photos above before, but he won’t see THE DRESS till the big day. I have to admit – we had a lot of fun looking at the dresses that were absolutely hideous together!

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