EmandaBakes: Sweet Chompers & Yummy Yammers

We all know that I’m no Martha in the kitchen, but I’ve decided to attempt creating more edibles here and there and posting them for others like me who have good Pinterest intentions, but live in an eat-dry-cereal-directly-from-the-box reality.

Here 2 easy peasies I did that passed the test of a 6 year-old palette.

For Halloween fun, I surprised my Firecracker with a crafty little hors d’oeuvre I donned as, ‘Sweet Chompers,’ before our main course of carving pumpkins. Let me first say, I’m one of those irritating folks who thrive on making everything a surprise and attempting to always create the perfect ambiance for every event.

I like mood(y) lighting.

So, while I was obsessing over the perfect cup of cider, the just right kid-friendly Halloween Pandora station and making sure everything was Instagram-ready, Firecracker was walking her little sausage fingers over to the carving knife and began pleading her case of being quite old enough to carve her own pumpkin face thankyouverymuch. All that to say, the crafty treat didn’t hold her attention long, but she did make and eat one chomper and with a mouthful of mallow said something like, “Esh are wooly goo!”

She’s all about that face, ’bout that face…no tremble!

Question: Should one be worried if a 6 year-old was at first really grossed out by touching pumpkin innards until she had an epiphany that the pumpkin was dead and then proceeded to smile, roll up her sleeves and dig elbows deep to scoop out its guts? I’m asking for a friend.


You’ll need: 2 red apples, a fistful of mini marshmallows & peanut butter. Nutella would’ve been delicious too!


Check out these Sweet Chompers! We could’ve added ‘fangs’ & ‘blood,’ but I like HAPPY Halloweens.

This fun snack doesn’t require too much explanation, so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Get it!?




The Sweet Chompers were just so delicious that we decided to show you our sweet chompers! Aren’t we just precious?


This creative crafty snack was easy, fun and delicious. You should eat your smiles like we did!

OK…on to the next holiday edible delight!

Let me set the scene. It’s almost 8pm on a Thursday and as I take my last bite of pasta and swig of red wine, I got a call from my sweet, yet sick, momma telling me that Firecracker signed up to bring sweet potatoes with marshmallows for her 1st grade almost-Thanksgiving-last-day-of-school feast in the morning.

So, rather than having Bronchitis Betty go out to the store, I gladly offered my sweet potato making skills and quickly jumped online to look for a simple recipe.

My goals were simple.

  1. Make it edible…and maybe even taste good! Just don’t poison the kids.
  2. Avoid sending a big ole dish full of sloppy sweet taters to the school. Yuck!
  3. Make it easy for the teachers to serve to the kids. I heart teachers!
  4. Avoid munchkins fist-fighting over marshmallow injustices.

I found a recipe online and gave it a little EmandaSays flair. Here’s the play-by-play for your viewing pleasure.

2 (25-oz.) cans of cut yams (drain them. I forgot to & regretted it)
3-4 tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-2 pinches of salt
fistfuls of mini marshmallows
USE: 2 disposable cupcake pans w/ liners.
MAKES: 18 yammers.

IMG_6174STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cupcake liners in the cupcake pans. I suggest 2 liners each because, well, they can have soggy bottoms. Mix the brown sugar and salt together thoroughly and sprinkle on the bottom of each liner.



Place DRAINED yams (seriously, drain them) in a bowl. Squish & squash them until they’re all squished. Spoon them into the cupcake liners. Drizzle melted butter over each scoop.


STEP THREE: Sprinkle the tops of the buttered yam scoops with the brown sugar and salt mixture.






STEP FOUR: Top with marshmallows. I suggest to use the same amount on each scoop because little kids get straight up crazy when they think they’ve been gypped out of a marshmallow. #Experience

Oops…I meant top the YAMS with marshmallows! IMG_6178Oh Henry!





IMG_6180STEP FIVE: Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes (mine worked best at 28 minutes) or until potatoes are thoroughly heated & marshmallows are lightly browned. Once cool enough to eat, you can serve them warm or put them in the fridge for chilled yammers, which is what I did.

They turned out pretty cute and delicious, albeit a bit soggy on the bottom. #StoryOfMyLife

The next time I make these, I’ll drain the yams and drizzle less butter over them. I met all my sweet potato goals and the kids liked them, or at least no one got sick from them. Which is always a win in my cookbook!

IMG_6184Now, I think I’ll have a glass of wine to celebrate all my hard work in the kitchen. Happy cooking/baking to you all!

EmandaInterviews: Andy Rider

ANDY RIDER: Hand Talker. Joke Maker. Comic Book Hoarder.
Mutton Chop Dealer. Squirrel Lover. 


Andy Rider
Photo Credit: Marshall Bowles

You may not know this about me, but I know quite a lot of famous people.

Well, whatever, they’re famous to me.
I have some of the most assiduous, unique, creative, smarty-pants’d friends who keep me on my toes (metaphorically, because…ouch!) and challenge me to pursue my creative goals (literally, because…they’re bossy.)

I met Andy Rider the year Facebook launched to Harvard and Martha Stewart launched to prison and he’s had me laughing ever since.

He’s one of THE most hard-working and conscientious creatives I know and he’s got a humor that, if you’re not careful, could slip right by you, steal your wallet and smirk its way to the door.

I asked if I could interview him and, not surprisingly, he said yes.
(Comics love free publicity.)


EMANDASAYS: When did you first realize you were funny?
I don’t really think I realized I was actually funny until my second or third year of doing stand-up to be honest.  Most of my childhood was spent trying to make people laugh and failing at it, but trying nonetheless.

ES: What is the most annoying thing about doing stand-up?
AR: I think the most annoying thing about doing stand-up is the judgement you can place on yourself.  There are a lot of times I’ve left the stage and wondered what I could have done to make it better, even if it was a great set.  Great sets stick with you for minutes, a bad set will have you seriously questioning why you continue to breathe.

ES: Have you ever tried to belch the alphabet? And if so, were you successful?
AR: I’ve tried, but never got past ‘A’ :/

ES: Who are your top 6 (5 is overrated) comedians?
AR: Emo Philips, Steven Wright, Nate Bargatze, Paul F. Tompkins, Maria Bamford, Wendy Liebman

ES: What are your thoughts on rugby?
AR: I find it to be an underrated sport, though I never watch it and have only played it one time and then by force.  Sometimes people try to talk to me about it, but all I really hear is, ‘Here’s something else you can’t do.’

ES: Describe, in daunting detail, your perfect sandwich.
AR: First you have to bake a lasagna (noodles, tomato sauce, mushrooms, ground sausage, garlic, cheese) then, when it’s done, cut out half a slice and paste it on bread.  I make sandwiches out of everything I eat for the most part, but my favorite is lasagna.

EM: If you were to turn into any animal for…let’s say, 3 1/2 days. What animal would you hunt down first?
AR: Armadillos.  I’m not really looking for a fight and I’ve always wondered what they taste like.

EM: Speaking of armadillos, does food ever get stuck in your manchops? 
AR: Mmm, not full pieces, no.  Crumbs  mostly and they’re not really worth it :(

EM: What do you think of Wikihow’s, “How to Start Doing Stand Up Comedy” checklist?
AR: I guess it’s not bad advice overall, though I don’t really see the problem with sharing your set with a friend if they’re willing to listen. Going up to complete strangers at a grocery store sounds kind of dicey and who still carries a datebook around with them? Also, I find that writing jokes about your friend’s experiences never quite works for me.

ES: And lastly…What 4 things does it take to be a successful stand-up comedian? 
AR: Before I give these four I’m going to say that my definition of success is just being good, not necessarily rich or famous.

  1. Be honest with yourself. Bad sets happen, bad audiences too, but be honest about your part in the badness and grow from it.
  2. Write jokes and let them be about things you’re genuinely interested in or have experienced, even if it isn’t the difference between men and women, politics, etc.
  3. Treat it like a job, but a fun one. Show up on time, be kind to the other comedians, do your set.
  4. Do open mics, regardless of where they are. There’s all kinds of different audiences and its best to get a large sample when testing your jokes so get out there!

ES: Andy, thanks for taking the time to let me pick your brain and splash your mutton chops all over EmandaSays!
AR: Thank you for the interview. Love your writing and I hope you increase your site’s bandwidth because this is probably gonna bring in a ton of people.


Well folks, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this slice into the life of Andy Rider. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna make me a hot lasagna sandwich and watch this video to see Andy’s chops in comedic action.

Andy Rider @ 2013 Theatre 99 Stand Up Semi-Finals
Video Credit: HaZel Rider


EmandaBakes: Banana Smooshies

imagesI love watching candy-coated shows about indulgent cake decorating and cupcake competitions. I drool over sugary blogs about decadent baking and swoon when I hear a sweet-talking dough master, who I imagine always smells of vanilla cake batter and sweats sweet condensed milk, explain how they took mere buttery scraps of leftover homemade pie crust dough and evolved them into lemon zest raspberry (with heavy emphasis on the ‘RASP‘) tarts in the shapes of bohemian butterflies, cute baby owls and cherub’s feet.

I’ll watch it, read it and bookmark it.

And that’s where the red velvet, sugar-dusted, toasted coconut, almond butter fudge toffee bars go to die…my web cache.

Baking is amazing. But, I am not an amazing baker.

IMG_1923With the best baking intentions and dreams of macaroon soirees so fabulous they would potentially shut down Pinterest shoved aside, I feed my inner sugar momma with copious amounts of pre-made cookie dough, forgetting anything those sweet talkers fed me.

Do not consume raw cookie dough, my allspice! That jank is good!
(SIDE NOTE: I was going to use ‘anise,’ but thought it a tad inappropriate.)

So… you can only imagine my delight when I was lickflipping through a magazine the other day and caught my gaze on a recipe for a quick dessert that had only 2 ingredients! TWO. That’s it. I mean…this is something we can all do, folks!

I call them Banana Smooshies!

STEP ONE: Preheat your oven to 350.


STEP TWO: Look at your counter for those brown, squishy bananas you told yourself to throw out yesterday. You’ll only need 2. So, you should IMG_4801probably throw out the rest of the bruised brothers, or freeze them so you can add them into that protein shake you Instagram every morning.

SIDE NOTE: Peel them before you put them in the freezer. Not that I’ve ever  just thrown a banana in the freezer with its peel in tact and then preceded to try to crack it open the next day or anything. Oh, and by the way, bananas don’t crack open. 

STEP THREE:  Measure out a cup of quick oats. Don’t ask me if it’s OK if you use your organic steel cut oats because I don’t know what that means.

OPTIONAL STEP #1:  If you want to add spices or nuts…this is your chance! Go nuts! I used cinnamon, apple pie spice and walnuts.


OPTIONAL STEP #2: Eat a handful of almonds while you do this. It balances your pH levels or something like that.


OPTIONAL STEP #3: Share your nuts with a friend.
(Don’t make that sentence weird.)


STEP FOUR: Squish it all up real good until everything is moist. (worst.word.ever.)


STEP FIVE: Put spoonfuls of banana squish (‘squish’ turns into ‘smoosh’) on a prepared cookie sheet. (Unprepared cookie sheets are so nervous!)


STEP SIX: Pop ’em in the oven for 10-12 minutes.


STEP SEVEN: You eat your easy, healthy and delicious Banana Smooshies!
(Eat ’em while they’re hot!)


So, move over Joy the Baker... Emanda JO the Baker is in the kitchen now!


Now…where did I put that cookie dough again? #wellthatwasshortlived


Why I’m Single: Part 2

Cliffhanger movie image Sylvester Stallone

My love for Stallone, will never die. No matter how much he mumbles.

I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, since yesterday after I left you with one heckuva cliffhanger on yesterday’s post,
Why I’m Single: Part 1.

I asked my friend, “What are the top 5 reasons you think I’m single?”  and, this, my friends, was his reply.

Dearest, & most beautiful EmandaSays,(Emanda Note: OK, fine. He had no opener.)

When you first asked this question, my mind immediately thought…

But, then I started to think about your question.

REASON #1: You don’t really go on dates. You say it yourself, “I hate first dates,” so you get out of them in your own way. Just because you don’t prefer small talk, you need to be willing to have it before you bombard a guy with the deeper issues, and delve into the mysteries of the internal workings of the human heart and mind.

There, I said it.

o-TRYING-ON-CLOTHES-facebookREASON #2: You let your past experiences play too big of a role. There have been awful words spoken to you, some from childhood and some more recent. I think these have had an affect on you, maybe not always directly, but in some form or another. I think it has developed a certain distance about you.

You’re not a very easy person to compliment and some guys might not know how to take that. I mean that in the sense of when a compliment is given, you shrug it off and redirect it, as if it’s not something that fits you. When did compliments become the changing room at a clothing store? And, no, I’m not talking about Dress Barn.

You take the compliment, try it on and look at yourself in a few different angles and decide that it doesn’t fit you, flatter you, or go with your complexion. Actually, most times, you won’t even let it get to that point. You immediately yell, “SHIELDS UP!” and boom…compliment deflected.

Granted some guys may throw out compliments like they exhale a breath, and it means nothing more to them. But, at some point, you should realize that some of those guys are genuine, and some of us mean what we say, and we even believe it to be true. Let us compliment you because you deserve them.

When you shrug off compliments, you appear standoffish.

REASON #3: You’re expectations are too high. I know you’ve been told that your standards are too high, which seems to be the go-to excuse, but, I think your expectations are what’s getting in your way.math_problem630px_1

When certain things don’t happen, or they happen out of the order you want/expect them, you see it as a red flag or a deal breaker. This isn’t a math problem to solve. Though you, like me, believe there is a particular order for certain things in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that all things in a relationship are bound by an order of operations.

For the most part, I don’t believe there is a, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”* for relationships. If there was, it would strip the relationship of its organic, and healthy nature.(*Emanda Note: That’s a math acronym & has nothing to do with his actual Aunt Sally, who I hear is a real jerk.)

Princesses-and-their-Prince-disney-princess-10993899-800-600REASON #4: You believe in fairy tales. You have some really good examples of relationships in your life. However, they’re just that, examples. Just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean that we all will relate in the same way.

Everyone seems to have this need to glamorize their lives, be it love life or life in general, and the outcome of that is people striving to find what others have, or portray to have.

There is such pressure for romance to happen within a certain framework, and on a certain timeline, instead of romance just developing naturally. It’s almost a requirement for love to fit in a box, opposed to it being a pleasant surprise to be enjoyed.

I could be wrong, and maybe you want the timeline experience, but it feels like us guys have to read from the Required Romantic Expressions playbook to even be taken seriously. Maybe it’s because “love” is such a commercialized industry, and rom coms rule the world, but it seems that if it’s not magical all the time, it’s flagged as, “not meant to be.

REASON #5: I think you’re afraid of settling. You want something truly God-inspired, but, if you’re not willing to let things play out, and give it a real chance, then how is greater-thingsGod ever to work in the relationship? We know that God’s way is usually not the way we would have done it, or doesn’t yield exactly what we expected for an outcome, but you need to take a leap of faith sometimes.

I think you want a man who is already “who and where he needs to be” in life, and I think that people change together, and through their life together, are changed for the better because of their connection to one another.

The End.

So, there you have it.

He didn’t say anything about my muffin top or chubby cheeks. Nothing about me needing to show more skin, or that I need to quit wearing leggings, or buy one of those bras that make your cleavage look like a credit card swipe. He didn’t even mention all my weird quirks or obsessive tendencies.

It was all about my guts, my heart, and my core…and that hit a nerve.

What about you? Have you ever had someone be gut honest with you? 

Why I’m Single: Part 1

I’m single. I know, a lot of people are single. Heck, YOU may even be single. But my question is….Why am I single?

When I ask my girlfriends, they say something like…

  • “Oh, giirrrrlll…it’s because you’re just TOO awesome!”
  • “You’re beautiful & intimidating (read: big & tall) & guys don’t know what to do with you!”
  • “There’s no guy worthy of you!”
  • “God is preparing your man right now!”

20091015crockpotWell, if God is still preparing the future Mr. EmandaSays, He must have him in a giant Crock-Pot in the sky and keeping that baby on warm. Time to crank ‘er on up to high, God.

Momma’s clock is ticking.

My girls mean well and they love me guts and skin, but after listening to their honeycomb words, I couldn’t help but think, that there was something they weren’t telling me. I mean, how many times have I looked at some sad, single sap and thought, “Well, THAT’S why he’s single!”or “If she’d just (fill in the blank) she’d have a man in no time!”Maybe there’s something about me that my girls can’t see. After all, they’ve never gone on a date with me. They’ve never awkwardly waited for a goodnight kiss, or attempted to hold my hand attached to my orangutan arm. Seriously, my arms are really long.

What if the reason I’m single…is ME?

My insecurity points its finger at my muffin top, badaboom badonk, and saddlebags as I dig through the trash bag of my past, and dig out old receipts, IOUs and junk male(s).

709ah_Chubby_Cheeks_Cake_TopperSure, I could lose a few (read: lotsa) pounds, but chubby folks get married every day. In fact, right now, two chubby people are looking over their rotund cheeks, saying their ‘I love yous’ and tying the knot.

It can’t just be about my wiggles and jiggles.

And I know our past plays into the whole equation, but I hate math and wholeheartedly believe in therapy and redemption. I certainly don’t need an inkblot test to tell me I have trust issues because of my dad and father figure stand-ins. And I’ve certainly dipped my toe in the shallow end of the dating pool, and made my fair share of poor suitor choices. All of which is why I’m the quickest heart bricklayer in the South.

But, in my defense, I’ve had some doozies!

I once had a guy…

  • …tell me he wished my personality was inside another woman’s body.
    (He already had the other body picked out.)
  • …tell me he’d turn his life upside down for me.
    (But then his wife had a baby.)
  • …break up with me over email because he was older and knew I wanted children.
    (Apparently, his math skills were a bit rusty when we started dating.)
  • …invite me to join him on his all expense paid work trip to another state.
    (His wife had to work.)
  • …tell me that kissing was way too intimate.
    (Turns out, foreplay wasn’t!)
  • …ghost me for 4 months because I suggested we see each other more than 6 days a month.
    (This was after he asked me not to break up with him.)
  • …write me a letter after I broke up with him to tell me…nay, to “prophesy” over me that I’d NEVER marry if I didn’t choose him.
    (Post-breakup prophesies are the worst!)

I haven’t only dated jerky boys, but some of that ick really affected me, and it sometimes still follows me around like my stalker of 2002 when I decide to take a chance on love.

So, I did something brave.

I asked one of my best friends for his honest to goshness response to one simple (read: loaded) question…

What do you think are the top 5 reasons I’m single?”

Then I waited. And by waited, I mean, obsessively checked my email and texts every 3.6 minutes. Then, the email finally came in and my heart pounded as I opened it, and I began to read his words with one eye closed and scrunched up face in tortured anticipation of the awfulness I was about to discover.

And what I read…shocked me.

Tune in tomorrow to read, Why I’m Single: Part 2 and find out what juicy bits my friend told me…about me. (insert dramatic cliffhanger music here.)


2013 in Rearview

hindsight-rear-view-future-past-road-mirror1My only resolution for 2013, was to jot down memorable moments throughout the year. These are the ones that made the cut. Thank goodness 2014 got here when it did. Whew!



  • Woke up on New Year’s Day in New Orleans. I mean, I planned it that way.
  • My friend had a tumor the size of a grapefruit removed…and it was benign! Other good news…I still love grapefruit!
  • We had 90 amazing women attend our Women’s Breakfast at church. Our women love Jesus…and breakfast!


  • Began writing my MySpace is YourSpace series. All the kids born after 1997 are all like, “Um. What’s MySpace?” Just kidding! They don’t read …blogs.


  • Threw my firecracker of a niece one heckuva 5th birthday party. Imagine, if you will, that all the Disney princesses got together & threw up all over a backyard. But, they threw up pretty things like…glitter, jump castles & pink cupcakes. That was it!
  • Made a video blog about…how confusing shopping can be.
  • Had lovely friends throw me a surprise birthday party. Surprises make me giddy! Surprise me & I’ll show you. Wreck a surprise for me and you’re dead to me.


  • Planned my church’s 15-year Anniversary party. Amazing stories of the ups & downs of starting a church & the positive, sustaining influence it can have on individuals as well as a city. Lots of work…all worth it. Plus, there was cake!


  • Started riding my bike again…2012 was a bit dusty for me. *cough*
  • Spoke at my church about promises, dog treats & rooms with nice views. You should’ve been there. I brought it.
  • Made a video blog about a guy who actually called himself Mr. No Sex. And no, Smarty Pants, we never dated.


  • Completed my MySpace is YourSpace series. I loved each & every person’s participation in the project. Read it!
  • Went to the ER with chest pain & slurred speech. Spent a bajillion dollars to find out I had a stress/anxiety-induced TIA.
  • Hosted a Ride:Well team as they rode through Charleston & got to drive support for them from Charleston to Pawley’s Island. I only got them lost once…alright fine…twice. But who’s counting? Yep…they did.


  • Began addressing my stress & anxiety issues. Which was difficult because I didn’t know I had any. (*cue peanut gallery now.*)
  • Had intense surgery on my left foot that promised only pain, anguish & a year-long recovery. The doc told me that I had the foot of an 85-year old. I told him to quit snooping & told the 85-year old hopping behind me to keep up. bah-dum-bum.


  • Firecracker started Kindergarten. (*cue tears*) Those would be my tears, not hers, mind you.


  • Mostly moaned & groaned about how badly my foot still hurt, how my life was over & no man would marry a gimpy club foot. You know, the usual.


  • My dear, sweet friend & co-worker passed away leaving a legacy of a life well-lived behind. Bravo, friend…bravo.


  • Asked a guy out twice! He said no once & left me hanging the other time. But, heck…it took guts, right?! He’s dead to me now.
  • My friends, Meet the Sky opened up for Gungor at the Music Farm. So proud of them! Plus, I’m VIP. Gimme free swag!
  • Donated money towards Steve Taylor’s kickstarter new album project. My glee over this cannot be expressed with mere words. Moshing & interpretive yodeling can only do it justice.
  • Had to break up with Donald Miller because he married someone else. He’s dead to me now.


  • Played ‘stage mom’ to my sweet firecracker who was in the Nutcracker. She was the best mouse & cherub this side of Heaven.
  • Helped raise over $150k for the cause of the orphans through LoveGave and was offered the position to co-lead in 2014!
  • Gained abuncha (technical term) weight post surgery & post holidays & decided to celebrate by swallowing Nashville whole.
  • Spent New Year’s Eve in NashVegas to watch the music note drop on Hank Williams, Jr. Turns out, their aim was a little off.

All in all…it was an EXTREMELY challenging year for me. But, nothing some good friends, Jesus, belly laughs & Vicodin can’t handle.

What about you? How was your 2013?

P.S. OK fine…no one on this list is actually dead to me. However, they are in a coma a la daytime soap style to me. We’ll see if they awaken in time to find out if Georgio’s brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s neighbor (aka one of their actual fathers…but which one?) was actually abducted by a money-hungry alien king with a thirst for blood diamonds…or if they just ate bad sushi. Until next time…

MySpace is YourSpace: Series Recap

Lady with megaphoneAwhile back, I asked for reader’s gritty responses to 5 deeply personal questions. I created an email account so folks could log in, answer questions and email the answers to that same email address, creating an anonymous space for open, honest answers.

People responded and I posted.

It was lovely, heart-breaking and life-giving. I recapped it here so you can easily click and gander and read how similar we all are.

Intro Post – Gimme your grit, y’all!

Part One – So, what keeps you up at night?

Part Two – Have you ever wanted to walk away?

Part Three – Sexy Sex Sex. Sex.

Part Four – Come on out of the closet, loves.

Final Post – You aren’t alone.

Thanks for your comments, support and encouragement.
Much Love & Twizzlers to you all!

MySpace is YourSpace Part 5 of 5: “Share the Load”

This is post 5 of 5 in my series called, MySpace is YourSpace.

Awhile back, I asked for reader’s gritty responses to 5 deeply personal questions. I created an email account so folks could log in, answer questions and email the answers to that same email address, creating an anonymous space for open, honest answers.

In my last MySpace Is YourSpace post, I asked:
“Do you have a secret or past experience that gnaws at you or you wish you could let go of? If yes, share as much of that secret you are able to.”

In response to that question, today’s fifth and FINAL question of this series is: secret
“Why have you kept that secret or experience private?”

Below are the 4 ANONYMOUS and UNEDITED responses I received. The 5th is my own.
(I’m the long-winded one.)

Age Range:

Age Range:  26-29
in a relationship
as for the first secret, i cannot let anyone know how careless i was. i would never live that down. id rather suffer in silence. i paid the price times a million, i dont need anyone to rub it in my face.”

Age Range:
“It’s heavy. sharing the load with others only multiplies the burden, solidifies my identity as “The Weak,” and never could un-do what has been done, and never could make me less guilty of what I have done to try to escape the pain. Also, sometimes your friends can’t handle the really freaky stuff, and while they want to try to help, they just end up becoming voyeurs.” 

“Thank you for listening, Mandy.”

Age Range: 30-33
Relationship: Single
“The only person I feel the need to acknowledge my secret to is my sister.  I can’t bring myself to speak of it.  I have tried. I have tried to muster up an “I’m so sorry.”  I can’t bring the word forth.  A hundred times the words have been in the back of my throat… choking me out…begging to be brought to the light.  I am a coward and I can’t do it.  I am so ashamed.”

Age Range: 30-37
Relationship: Single
In my last post, I explained the freedom (and many times pain) that can come with sharing our secrets and struggles. I believe that sharing is vital and life-giving when fused with trust and tempered with grace.

I’m thankful and blessed to have amazing people in my life who allow me to strip down to the rawest part of who I am and love me in spite of and because of me.

However, I’m painfully aware that many aren’t as blessed as I am and this series has made that even clearer. People lug around weighty baggage never intended to be dragged behind them day after day, year after year and they’re storing up boxes filled with regret, shame and fear. I wish I could wave a wand, pot a potion or say a magic ‘oogidy-boogidy’ or two and have their loads lifted, baggage emptied and boxes trashed.

But it doesn’t work like that.

It takes courage, it takes effort and it takes time. And sometimes we can do that alone, but many times we need others to come alongside. That’s my hope for this blog series and, heck, even my life. I want people to know they aren’t alone in their struggles and that they don’t have to face their fears alone.

I hope you know that you aren’t alone in this thing called life.

Your struggles and fears are real, but they don’t have to be unbearable. Breathe in, breathe out, take a risk and share today.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to the amazing 4 people who shared their hearts with me and with all of you through this series. I’m thankful for their stories, their courage and look forward to hearing about their next steps.

Remember, you are not alone in this.

MySpace is YourSpace Part 4 of 5: “What’s in Your Closet?”

This is post 4 of 5 in my series called, MySpace is YourSpace.

Awhile back, I asked for reader’s gritty responses to 5 deeply personal questions. I created an email account so folks could log in, answer questions and email the answers to that same email address, creating an anonymous space for open, honest answers.

The fourth question I asked was: monsters-inc-boo-character
“Do you have a secret or past experience that gnaws at you or you wish you could let go of?
If yes, share as much of that secret you are able to.”

Below are the 4 ANONYMOUS and UNEDITED responses I received. The 5th is my own.
(I’m the long-winded one.)

Gender: Male
Age Range:
Not really, no.  I’ve been lucky enough to have some people I could share with without feeling like I’ve been judged.

Gender: Female
Age Range:  26-29
Relationship: in a relationship
several. the one that really eats away at me is that i met a man online and in the first phone conversation he got arrested while i was on the phone with him. i then kept in contact with him for 6 weeks while he was in jail for child support. when he got out, he convinced me to let him live with me and my children. i knew it was a mistake but i thought for ONCE i could fly by the seat of my pants. HUGE MISTAKE. he robbed me of money, property, yelled at my kids, cheated, made me believe i had mental issues, and took peices of my soul with him when i kicked him out. only 5 months in knowing one man ripped me apart. not a day goes by that i dont regret it. only a few people know he was in jail. its so out of my character to do what i did. im disgusted with myself and regret it constantly. i needed that true love story and he played me like a fiddle. disgraceful.

Gender: Female
Age Range:
Yes, my secret shame feels like a glob of acid burning an elevator shaft right through the center of my soul. It keeps me up at night and runs me down all day. Sometimes I wonder how different I would be if I didn’t carry this.”

Gender: Female
Age Range: 30-33
Relationship: Single
Yes. I emotionally crushed my sister.  I was young and did not have a healthy grip on my emotions.  I am not a cruel person but it saddens me to say I was cruel to her. Very cruel.  She bore the brunt of my personal pain.  I took it out on her.  Today we have an amazing relationship and oddly enough that causes that season of life to “gnaw” at me even more.  She never quit loving me or being my sister. We have never acknowledge that I hurt her terribly.”

Gender: Female
Age Range: 34-37
Relationship: Single
1362775335_652496e2b8078ae9f38538857851f56eThere’s an age old question, “If you could change anything in your past, would you?” Most seem to answer confidently, “No. Those things have made me who I am and I wouldn’t change a thing.” But, I’m fairly confident that 98% of us, if given the chance, would Marty McFly our way to the past and make a tweak or fourteen.

I’ve had less than glory moments speckle my past and have both reluctantly and purposely donned biff-tannerGeorge McFly’s and Biff Tannen’s coifs from time to time. I’ve been the anxious victim as well as the arrogant perpetrator.

I’ve gossiped, I’ve teased, I’ve lied and I’ve cowered.
However, I’m not: A Gossip, A Tease, A Liar or A Coward.

My dad lived a life chained to his past. He allowed the mistakes of yesteryear to define his future. He couldn’t let go of his victimization or his perpetration. He couldn’t forgive and surely couldn’t believe anyone could forgive him.

I’ve had opportunities to share my mistakes and heartaches with others to help them through their mistakes and heartaches. That’s the main reason why I write. I don’t write because I think it will make me popular, wealthy. Nor do I think I’m more clever or well-written than the bajillions of others who paid a few bucks to buy their own website and run at the mouth about what they believe, think and feel.

I write about my life in hope that it will bring hope to others.

george_mcflySo, to answer my own question, short story long, No. I don’t have a secret that I need to let go of, because I already have. I’ve looked the monsters of my past dead in the eye and in the mighty words of George McFly said, “Hey, you! Get your damn hands off her!” They’re no longer the boss of me and I refuse to keep their secrets secret.

They don’t deserve the privacy or the authority.

It took some time for me to let the monsters out of my closet and I certainly won’t pretend that it was ever easy or pretty. But, once I grabbed a hold of the Truth about genuine love and true forgiveness; freedom most definitely followed.

We have the ability to breathe life into our past, allowing growth and life to flow or we can wear it like a badge of dishonor, forever giving it the authority to define who we are and what we deserve.

For me, I choose to breathe and I hope you will do the same.

What about you? Do you have a monster in your closet?
Do you wish you could go back in time?

Remember, you are not alone in this.


Video: Mister, Mister

As promised in my post, MySpace Is Your Space Part 3, here’s a video about a man who changed my life forever.
Or…for at least for 24 hours.

“Mr. No Sex”

EmandaVlogs are rough around the edges, just like me!
Thanks for bearing with me & watching anyway. Your support means so much!

Much Love & Twizzlers,