It feels harder to write these past few weeks. There isn’t a lack of content swirling in my mind. It’s harder for me to tap into what’s there. I don’t want to misrepresent what I feel. My art teacher recenetly sent these prompts to us…

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How am I?

When am I?

Where am I?

What am I?

Who am I?

Why am I?

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It reminds me of church lobbies. The hustle, bustle, pat-answer, great, wonderful, splendid, how are you. Reality is slower, harder, deeper, more complicated to answer. I’m a mixed bag of rocks. Some are smooth, beautiful, soft to touch. Others are jagged, dark, and hard. More moments than not I’m happy, calm, moving forward with excitement and trust. The next I feel scared, desperate, overwhelmed. Those anxious moments feel small and significant. They are fewer and farther apart than in years past. Anxieties still linger. I think it is important to sit with them and not dismiss them. Not letting them control me is hard.

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I’m most alive, most myself, Amanda Rose Stanley, Manda, when I create. When I’m in my studio, writing, sketching, making beautiful things. Telling my story or a story that is really my story masked by fiction or collage.

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In a newer and healthier being, place, reality. I used to live in fear and anxiety. I’d sit in the dark, alone, I don’t mean that figuratively, I couldn’t sleep. I’d lay in bed awake and when everyone else was asleep I’d get up and roam the house in the dark. I’d let my fears creep out and sit with me. I’d cry, rant, and rave in my mind, fall back asleep in the wee hours of the morning. Now when they creep out to sit with me I don’t sit alone with them. I have you to sit with me and tell me what’s true, what hurts, what doesn’t need to last.

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I’m a child of God. I’m female. I’m a mom. Sister. Daughter. Friend. Partner.

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Identity. Always tricky and elusive. Like a whisp of fog, visible, seen, touchable, not catchable. Do you give it to yourself or is it placed by others? Who I’ve always wanted to be is perhaps not who I am. Writer. Creator. Artist. Lofty titles. Validated by others or not.

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It is hard to always see the meaning of life, our personal lives, our journeys. I’ve thought of Ecclesiastes a lot over the last few years. Everything is meaningless. The only purpose in life is to sit with friends and eat and be merry. Such an odd book. Such odd advice. The longer I dwell on it, the more I find it to be true. I am here to tell stories. To share experience. To live in the company of good friends. To love well and hard and true. Jesus came to sit with sinners and friends and eat a meal. I suppose my life should have no higher calling. Perhaps, it’s freeing to allow myself the notion that the most important part of my day happens when I sit down at the dinner table.