We invited the men of MOPS to join us for a little Valentine's Day.
What are your plans? Do you celebrate with your kids?
Tune in every Thursday at 9 a.m. MST to hear more from Mandy and the MOPS crew!
Winter has a way of reminding me I can’t control every aspect of my life.
Ever since I was young, I have loved the seasons. The unique feel, tastes and rhythms of nature have always whispered to me that there is more going on than meets the eye. Which is why I fully believe that God has written his story of redemption into the seasons we experience. Summer is a time of growing and thriving, fall is a time of harvesting, winter is a time of darkness where all feels dead and buried, but in reality, new life is stirring right underneath the surface, and spring is the season of rebirth. Which sounds a lot like another story I know.
Maybe this is why I find the winter to be a time of spiritual contemplation, a season of learning to slow down and look for the new life that is stirring in my soul. Just as life is woven together in the darkness of a womb, or the darkness of a seed in soil, or Jesus in a tomb, so too can our lives find gestation in the long dark of winter. The cold may feel uncomfortable, but sometimes life is about finding consolation in places of discomfort. I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
A few years ago, my family moved from San Diego to Denver. By our second full winter in our new state, I realized winter demands a different pace of living. So why was this so hard for me? My intense need to achieve was the culprit. I felt the need to maintain a constant pace, and when the cold or darkness threatened to slow me down, I pushed harder, pretending that nothing could impede my ability to be productive. Especially in the month of December, when I was frantically doing, buying and showing up for the commitments and events the holidays necessitate. While I was running around at a breakneck pace, the ground was still and quiet; the miracle of gestation was happening just below the surface. The days were short and the nights were long, but I continued at a pace worthy of mid-summer and wondered why I was tired and depressed. This is how I realized I was not utilizing the seasons effectively. In particular, I was missing out on the regenerative process that winter offers.
Last winter, I found myself lying in bed, unable to push the covers back, so worn out that my body shouted to me and demanded that I rest. I conceded. I slept for a whole day and then laid in bed for a whole day after that. My kids watched too much TV and we all ate cereal for dinner. I stared at the barren trees and monochromatic landscape outside my window. And that short period of two days, resting and daydreaming – luxuries I rarely allowed – restored my energy. The landscape outside reminded me that my own internal rhythm needed winter just as much as the world around me did.
Just as the earth experiences the long dark nights of mid-winter, so too can our spiritual life. When I began to harmonize my life with the cycles of the seasons rather than pretending the different rhythms shouldn’t affect me, I noticed my inner life recalibrate in profound ways. I realized my spiritual life had seasons as well. There have been seasons in my journey with God that have felt like winter. And when the light was bleak, I furiously rubbed sticks together, trying to manufacture warmth and light. But my efforts were futile, because no matter how hard I tried to coerce God to feel near it, it never came when I forced it. I learned the long dark night of the soul wasn’t something to fight against. Rather, my job was to sit and rest, without fear that God wasn’t near, even if I couldn’t sense him. I learned that I can trust the divine ebb and flow of a spiritual walk, because some seasons will feel warm and wonderful like summer and others will feel bleak and lonely like winter.
I am always looking for tangible practices to help me remember these truths. Here are some of the ways I have practiced enjoying the different experiences of winter in my own life.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Hello, Dearest Magazine.
Consistency. This is an attribute that has eluded me the first nearly four decades of my life. My husband on the other hand, wears it like a fine Italian suit. He is consistently kind, consistently generous and consistently present, and he looks good doing it. But to be perfectly honest, sometimes his consistency drives me crazy. I want a little passion, some fire, something that mimics my own inconsistencies.
The issue for me becomes that I start to dwell on what I am not getting from him versus what I am, and when that happens, I have a tendency to be unkind. I am edgier, not as thoughtful, I fail to appreciate his small gestures of love, and I am altogether not as lovely to live with. My efforts of kindness get diluted by our proximity. I sacrifice kindness on the altar of selfishness, and everyone gets burned because of it.
This self-realization is the product of being on the receiving end of some negative feedback recently (read that as social media) which got me wondering. Wondering about kindness and if criticism and judgement are the curses of our generation? My friend Jason encouraged me to turn these questions inward, and to be honest, I am not proud of what I found. I am guilty of the very same things that hurt me the most. I am impatient, and often assume the worst, but the one that hurts the worst is the realization that sometimes I am kinder to people I don’t know than I am to the ones who I love the most in the entire world. It got me wondering if perhaps the solution to more kindness in the world is more kindness toward my inner circle.
A conversation with my friend Shaunti Feldhahn woke me up to this truth a few months ago. She was sharing about her research on resiliency, and what she found is that our individual sense of well-being is not determined by how kind others are to us, it is directly dependent on how kind we are to others.
Without a doubt the answer is more kindness. It is a scientific fact, Shaunti says so. Kindness just might heal the world. It also might make our own hearts and homes just a bit more habitable.
So in an attempt to change my small corner of the world, this is where I am going to be focusing my kindness:
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest Magazine.
Being a mom is all of it: light and dark, highs and lows, fever pitch frustration and all-consuming love. In this episode we get to chat with Mandy Arioto, author of the newly released book Starry-Eyed, about how the brightest and darkest moments of motherhood can become a sacred opportunity to encounter God. We talk about pursuing rest in our busy lives, celebrating our worthy callings as mothers, beating the comparison trap, and why telling our stories is so important. Plus, the single most important question you can ask another woman and a few tips on keeping little ones busy in the late afternoon hours.
This podcast was recorded for Coffee + Crumbs! You can find the original C+C Podcast here!
Mandy offers steps to getting past these hurtful perceptions
And gives PRICEless Mom Tips from her new book,
Listen to ChannelMom Radio Fridays @ 1PM - Saturdays @ 7AM and @ 2:30PM
Listen or Stream on Denver's 94.7 KRKS FM
I had the chance to sit down with Erin Weidemann of Bible Belles and Heroes For Her Podcast! Listen to hear about the inspiration behind the 2016-2017 MOPS theme, “We Are the Starry Eyed”. I also spoke about my new book, “Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood.”
Take a peek at the original, posted on Bible Belles.
Available for purchase as of August 30, 2016
Filled with raw stories of hope and heartache, Starry-Eyed is a book about reconciliation. It is an anthem for every woman who seeks to bring wholeness to the divided. Because the truth is, we are often too exhausted to make peace with all the fragmented, disjointed parts of our life – the light and the dark, the delight and the despair, the clean and messy and everything in between.
Author Mandy Arioto offers embers of truth that will thaw some weary places toward the holy. There is conversation about motherhood and how tender and beautiful and lonely it can be. There are stories about sex and relationships and courage and freedom. Because being a woman is all of it.
Starry-Eyed is the kind of book that you can read in an afternoon but you won’t because you aren’t ready for it to end. Arioto boldly challenges readers to start enjoying the light and getting comfortable with the darkness, and asks: Are you ready to feel alive again? To make peace with the things that haunt you? Or to have your eyes restored to see a God you know but haven’t encountered in years?
This is your moment to come back to life. To restore the famished parts of your body and soul and to regain your vision. If you are looking for a north star, Starry-Eyed is the book that will help guide you home.
I overheard a conversation yesterday, because I am nosy and the two women were enchanting.
They were sitting on a velvet green couch in the corner of a hotel where I was also staying. Sitting close, almost knee-to-knee, one with silver gray hair and red lipstick, who, even from 15 feet away, smelled like Coco Chanel perfume. The other woman sat with bright eyes, her nose pink from holding back tears and two babes playing at her feet.
As I pretended to check emails on my phone so I could linger near the couch without distracting them, I overheard these words spoken through the bright red lips of wisdom, “You are going to be a thousand different women in your lifetime; there is no need to worry about what you aren’t right now. Soon enough you will be more than you ever imagined. Just focus on breathing deeply and being inspired.”
I am always amazed at how wisdom is all around us, swirling between red lips and over babes playing on the floor, and into our hearts at exactly the right moment, even if we were eavesdropping to hear it.
A few weeks ago, a friend reminded me of a quote I had heard years before, something about how to be inspired is to breathe in. The idea came back to me as I watched these kindreds on the green couch remind one another to be inspired, and I thought about how if I had to add to the quote, I would make it not only about inspiration but about being inspired by the people around us. The ones who smell like Coco Chanel, and the ones who smell like play dough. Because in order to appreciate ourselves, sometimes we need to learn to appreciate others by breathing them in. And maybe that is the inspiration we have been gasping for all along.
Searching for inspiration like you are searching for your next breath is about noticing, about being awake, and about practicing gratitude.
In Genesis, there is a poem about God beginning the world, and it paints a picture of a God who breathes all of existence into being. I like to believe this God can also breathe new life into situations, events and people that appear to be, at some level, dead. And so all of us, humble bags of bone and skin, have been inspired by the divine, infinite, eternal, creative force of the universe who has breathed into us and everyone around us. This means we are surrounded by inspiration if we choose to experience it.
In almost every language you will find a dual meaning for the word breath, from Hebrew (ruach) to Latin (spire) — the word for breath is typically the same as the word for spirit.
When we talk about the spirit of something, what we’re naming is its ethos, the way it makes us feel, the ideas sparked in our minds when we interact with it. Take a song, for example. Certain pieces of music move us in unique and powerful ways, and the word we often use is inspiring. What do we mean by this? We mean that it breathed into us something good, hopeful, true, comforting, healing or genuine.
I believe the same spirit can be appreciated in the people all around us.
I missed my Godson’s birthday. I had planned a trip to New York City to visit him and his parents, my dearest friends, but life got really busy and I had to cancel. On top of that, I emailed to tell them I wasn’t coming the day before I was supposed to show up, I forgot to send a present, and I was so consumed by some work circumstances that I didn’t even ask my dearest friend in the world about her new job, a job that she has been wanting for the past two years and just got word was hers. Do you know what my friend said to me when I called her a few weeks ago to apologize? She said, “You are a good friend.” In the moment when I felt like the worst friend in the world, she called out my potential and spoke hope over the place where I had the most shame. And you know what? It made me want to prove her right.
I believe words have heartbeats. Filled with electrical energy, pulsing with potential to bring life or death depending on the intention. Words stick with us. They imbed deep behind our ribs and echo their beating voice in our inner most places.
I can recite verbatim words that were spoken over me nearly twenty years ago, words that even to this day I have to work hard to quiet. I can also recite verbatim words that changed the course of my life when they made me believe something about myself that I had forgotten. How many of us have had a person tell us something about ourselves that we started to believe just because they said it. Or had someone tell us we could do something that we thought we couldn’t, and suddenly we began to believe it was possible simply because they spoke it? We become more ourselves when people remind us who we are.
I put a tremendous amount of energy into remembering this truth when I speak to my kids.
This intention started when my oldest was two years old. We were at a store, he had moment, melting down on the floor, sobbing and flailing around. Your standard tantrum. Instinctually I scooped him up and pressing my lips to his ear I started whispering all of the things I love about him. “Joseph, I love how you kiss my cheek to wake me up in the morning. I love how you are so kind to our dog, I love your unique laugh that I would recognize in any crowd.” Within seconds he quieted, the flailing stopped and peace overwhelmed as he focused on the words I was speaking over him. It was in that moment I realized words have heartbeats. Heartbeats with the power to heal and restore. Power to bring things to life.
In our faith tradition this power is referred to as blessing and cursing and articulates the truth that death and life are in the power of our words. It points to the gift that only humans have, an ability that came to us right from the start. In the beginning of God’s story with humanity he allows the first human to name the animals, essentially speaking identity and future over them. And with each name, the animals became more themselves. That was just the beginning.
The same is true with the names we speak over our kids. It starts with the birth names we give them, a name that will identify them for their entire lives. But it goes deeper too, into the names we speak over our kids on a daily basis.
Worthy, loved, enough.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest Magazine.
We are moving this week, just three blocks away from where we currently live, but all moves feel like cross-county moves. We have been packing up and living off paper plates for a month, just long enough to feel like our entire lives have been torn into little pieces of paper and thrown into the air while we wait to see how the confetti changes the look of our landscape.
If I am being honest, I have been wishing the days away this past month, saying things like, “when we get into the new house” or, “when we are settled.” I have been more concerned with ‘when our future happens,’then what is happening right in front of me.
I blame this wishing-the-day-away on the small, nagging lostness I carry around deep inside. It’s my dazed drifting leaving me wild and grasping for a feeling of being settled,wanting all of the details of my life to make sense and believing the next step will finally bring some sense of having it all together.But the truth is, we will move into our new house, and I will be tempted to wish away the days until we are unpacked, or until some other exciting opportunity is on the horizon.
Do you ever find yourself wishing the day away?
When my kids were really little I remember waking up some mornings and being so tired I was already looking forward to nap time. Or there were seasons when I thought life would be easier when we didn’t have to buy diapers or when everyone could feed themselves.
I believe this practice sunburns our souls. It has made us uncomfortable in our own skin,chronically anxious about time, desperately striving to create a meaningful, purposeful, joy-filled life when the truth is, most of us already have the exact thing we have been wishing for. We just have forgotten to notice it.
What I am learning very slowly, and with a lot of fumbling steps, is it is too easy to wish away days in anticipation of some future event that never satisfies. Rather, it is the people beside us and the view before us, and the ground beneath our feet that is the really good, soul-satisfying stuff. It seems to me part of being human is learning how to celebrate the occasionally uncomfortable, but mostly beautiful moments, happening to us right this very moment.
This originally appeared in Hello, Dearest Fall 2015.
I got to talk with Martha Manikus-Foster about moms and fear.
For me, being interviewed on the radio means saying weird things and over-sharing. This is no exception.
Well, hello there.
It is Friday which means that I get to spend the next few days with no makeup and wearing purple sweat pants. (Super impressive, I know). If you are anything like me and are planning for a low-key weekend filled with lots of snuggling on the couch and a copious amount of video watching then let me let you in on a little gem of a video that is on Hello, Darling blog today.Read More
I met Glennon in the corner of a hotel lobby. Fresh off an airplane and wearing her signature tee shirt that says “We can do hard things,” she greeted me with a big hug. This girl knows how to make friends. Her honesty and willingness to put it all out there makes her feel like a best friend that you can trust with your secrets. She is charming and within 15 minutes of meeting her, was spilling all the secrets about her favorite beauty product (It’s deodorant) and how alcohol and eating disorders have been part of her journey toward seeing the "brutiful" (brutal and beautiful) moments in life. You’ve got to love a girl who isn’t afraid of putting it all out there. Author of NYT Best Seller, Carry On Warrior, and blogger at Momastery, Glennon has created a community of women who are journeying together to be truth tellers and hope spreaders.
Here is our conversation.
Mandy: Our theme at MOPS this coming year is A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story. How has embracing your story, your beautiful mess, affected you as a woman and a mom?
Glennon: I love the Beautiful Mess theme because it applies to so many different parts of life. My life was a mess for a long time, I was addicted to alcohol, abused drugs and I was in a dark place. For such a long time I was holding my breath, waiting for things to get better. Hoping that there was going to be a magical time when I was going to be a grownup and my personality was going to change and I was going to be calmer, cooler, more collected. I was always thinking that life shouldn’t be so hard. Then, a little while ago I realized that life is always going to have hard parts, for me and for everybody. It is the hard parts that make us able to appreciate the good parts.
When I look back at the messy parts of my life when things felt overwhelmingly dark, I realize that going through all of that has made me appreciate my life right now. When you experience the brutal parts of life it opens your heart to the vast goodness and the beautiful moments that are gifts we never expected. For example, I never thought I would be a mother. I never thought that I would get to experience the beauty and messiness of motherhood.
Here is my theory on this whole thing. Have you ever gone out to the mountains and seen the stars on a really dark night? It seems to me that the darker the night, the more beautiful their light is. That is exactly how I feel about my life and about parenting. It is the hard parts, the dark skies, that make the beautiful moments that much more beautiful.
M: You are really honest in your writing. How do you work through the fear of rejection? Do you ever worry about putting it all out there?
G: I feel like everyone has a fear of rejection, at least everyone who has been honest with me. It’s human nature. For a long time I tried to hide who I was and be everything to everyone. That’s what led me to addiction. Everyone has some façade they put up, perfectionism, overworking, overeating ... we all don’t identify it as such, but everyone has a hiding place they go to when they feel vulnerable. I think that if we put on an act and we are loved, it is still very lonely, because we are being loved for someone we are not. We don’t feel safe if it isn’t the real us.
Let’s be honest, it is hard to be criticized. The number one problem for all of us is that if we think people don’t like us it will be the end of the world. I don’t think I will ever stop hurting from criticism, but it hurts less, at least the people who love me, I know they love me for the real me. Now I feel like for the most part I am just being myself. And I am still getting rejected. I am embraced by many, but I get crushed by others. That’s not easy for me. I still spend days under the covers wanting to disappear from the earth. I told my husband we have to move, but we live in a retirement area on the end of Florida, where else can we go? At least now, if I’m liked or not liked, it is for the real me. I kind of know what I am supposed to be doing with my life, so I keep doing the next right thing, and I try not to listen to other voices of praise, criticism.
M: How can women support one another in living honestly, not fearfully.
G: My favorite scripture is “here I am” – it used to exhaust me because I thought it meant raising my hand and volunteering for everything – like, here I am for the PTA, here I am to bake cookies, and on and on. However, that take on it isn’t going well for most of us. We are running ourselves ragged; we women are so tired and worn out. Instead, what I have come to realize is that “here I am” can mean is being fully present in the moment – here I am in this moment, with this person and the most important person is who I am with right now and the most important moment is right now.
I put this into practice just the other day when I was having my nails done. I was focusing on being present with my nail technician. She ended up sharing her story with me and it was a profound story that changed my life. So many women have these amazing stories if we show up and listen to one another. Ultimately, I don’t think there is one universal strategy for how to support one another. I think the best gift we can give is simply to show up and listen to each other without an agenda.
M: Your blog has become so much more than a blog. It is a community of women who deeply care about showing up for one another. What inspired you to start Momastery?
G: When I started Momastery – I had 3 children under age of 5, so I was dreaming of running away. The idea of a quiet place was so appealing. Often as women we are targeted, wherever we go there is an ulterior motive, someone selling us strollers, jewelry or whatever. Our world is loud and rarely affords us a space to be still. We are searching for so many answers, but the truth is the answers are there if we would just get quiet and listen. That’s what I wanted for myself and that’s what I wanted for other women. That’s why we named it “Momastery” – because we wanted to create an intentional place for moms.
On the blog, I tell the truth, oftentimes difficult truths. Because I am so honest it is disarming and it lets woman put their guard down. Momastery has become a place where my story isn’t the most important thing anymore. We have 70,000 women who are all sharing their stories. When women are filled up, they overflow and fill each other up – that happens with our flash mobs, “Monkee see - Monkee do” on our blog.
We throw around the cliché that the truth will set you free, but it really does happen. It makes people feel brave to tell the truth and live to see another day.
M: Can you share one principle to guide moms in raising their kids?
G: Don’t worry about having a great day, just grab a couple of great moments each day and call it a success. I don’t give advice, but I feel pretty confident about that one.
M: What does it look like to be brave when we find ourselves in a mess?
G: My definition of bravery is that I am brave because I keep showing up. Courage is being afraid and still showing up. We can only do so much, our job is simply to show up and then leave the rest to God. Just show up at your kids’ school, or for a confrontation you know you have to have, maybe it is showing up for yourself. However you need to be brave that day, show up and be brave.
M: Talk about a moment or process where you found redemption in your story.
G: I am wary of black and white talk about redemption because for me redemption is a moment by moment thing. When people are in recovery, it is a day by day process, not one shining moment. How will I not hide, how will I show up, how will I be healthy each and every day. It isn’t a before and after story.
I think redemption is more about using what you have to make a difference in someone else’s life. For me, having a sensitive personality led me into addiction, but it also led me into my work now. It is figuring out how to use what you have in a way that serves yourself and others. It isn’t necessarily a big change. I am still the same person, just now I am figuring out how to use what I have to serve others.
M: Ok, time for the speed round. What is your go to dinner when you don’t feel like cooking?
G: Cereal, plus a banana if I am doing well.
M: What is a surprising habit that you have?
G: Everyone in my family – we always forget some piece of clothing. One day we were on time to school, but my daughter had forgotten to wear her underwear. I forgot my shoes another day – went to buy a pair of cheap shoes, but opened my purse to buy shoes and found shoes in my purse. Once I was in New York and my sister ended up taking my jeans, so I ended up wearing stilettos and tie-dye yoga pants through the airport all the way home.
M: Favorite way to end the day?
G: At my house, we call it “the victory lap” after “whack-a-mole” which is how we lovingly refer to the bedtime process. We snuggle down on the couch and turn on some terribly fantastic reality TV show and a have a piece of chocolate and tea.
M: Do you have a favorite beauty product?
G: I have a bad sweating problem – I talk about deodorant a lot. I am an expert. I recommend Secret clinical dry and roll-on Mitchum. Your body gets used to one kind after a while, so you have to switch them up – one month at a time.
Sometimes life just seems so damn dichotomous doesn't it? I compartmentalize my life into segments that matter and segments that don't. Like, taking cookies to the old couple across the street matters and doing the laundry doesn't. This kind of thinking leaves me scrambling to check the things off of my to-do list that don't matter so that I can get to the things that really do. However, my system is brokenRead More
We toasted to trying today.
Because we can't always win all of the time.
And when we don't it helps to throw a celebration. A celebration for trying, for taking a risk, for writing a speech and performing it for the entire school, for running for vice president of the school. And when you don't win the election because you are in fourth grade and are up against some very persuasive eighth graders, it is totally fine. Because it is always better to take the risk and not fear the outcome.
Because if you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.
If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.
So here's to my 4th grader who wrote the funniest, most heart felt speech and ran for Vice President.
May you always have the courage to go after what you want. And the wisdom to celebrate taking a risk.
Babies are everywhere. It is a season I suppose, a time when I am surrounded by friends with new little ones. Some are becoming parents for the first time and are gripped with fear and joy and are covered in spit up. Some are veterans, ushering new bodies into their families with ease. While we are content with three and not anticipating having a new baby in the family for the time being, it got me thinking about my own inauguration into motherhood. The baby boy who made me a mommy is about to turn 10 this month. 10 years of motherhood and I am a doppelganger of myself. I look the same- just with a little more sun damage than I did 10 years ago but my soul is different. Having a child changes us.
Do you remember in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch is alone on the mountain after plundering the Christmas of the Who's down below, and his heart swells to three times its normal size? It reminds me of Motherhood because that is what happens when you become a parent. You feel more deeply. You become capable of a raw, scary fullness of emotion that tenderizes any hard areas of your heart. It endangers you to vulnerability and you feel for other peoples suffering more than you used to.
It is if somehow this person who came from our wombs is a embodied symbol of the ways we open ourselves to the world around us.
So blessings to my friends who are becoming more themselves by welcoming new life into their homes. May you find the swelling of your heart and the salty tears of joy to be the greatest gift of the day.