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Free to be Me: My Personal Manifesto

Experiencing freedom in my life for the first time

I’ve been reading Jen Hatmaker’s newest book, For the Love, and I recently reached the chapter where she reflects on how she learned to “just tell the truth.” In this chapter, she encourages her readers to be honest with our thoughts, and to free ourselves from the idea that people should avoid speaking anything less than rainbows and constant sunshine. This particular chapter was encouraging and empowering, as I have heard recently that my parents are convinced that I have been brainwashed and manipulated, so I thought that I would take a minute and explain what it is for me to be free.

I grew up in a very judgmental, conservative household. My mother made comments to me all throughout my growing up years that still negatively effect my body image, including telling me at age 15 that I “needed” to wear makeup so I could “look like I take care of myself.”  I wasn’t allowed to read books that my father hadn’t approved of, because he was convinced that disagreeing authors were idiots and their ideas were not valid. I was almost not allowed to attend Mass with my best friend in high school because my father doesn’t think that catholic faith is legitimate. I was allowed to go on the grounds that I would write an essay on the differences between the catholic mass and a Presbyterian service.  As far as I can tell, catholics are Christians too. But they didn’t worship in the exact same way, so it must be wrong.

I learned from a very early age to only talk about any shared interests or things that I already knew they would approve of, because I didn’t want to deal with their comments of disapproval or any lectures. I rebelled, but in little things. I waited, ever-so-patiently, to turn 18 and promptly added a second piercing to my ears (it looked “tacky,” so they wouldn’t sign for it). When I wanted other forms of personal expression (I permed my hair, had my cartilage and my nose pierced, and got a tattoo), I just went and did it. I still had to deal with comments, but it was already done so they weren’t able to talk me out of it. When it came to most issues, I learned to be docile and obedient, so as not to be the cause of any discord. Their way, they claimed, was freedom, but I was only “free” to choose the things which they thought were right.

We went to a very conservative church (example: a woman was made to apologize to the congregation for having a child out of wedlock). My church leaders, when I informed them that I was resigning my membership upon marrying my husband and we were going to join a church together, informed me that I was not allowed to resign my membership until I had found a church *they* approved of. After we were married, we went to some friends for marriage advice. I was blocked in the house by my (not invited) former pastor, who made several attempts to get me alone and refused to leave, telling me “this isn’t your house, I don’t have to move.” Both my old pastor and Peter’s former pastor boasted about contacting the churches we visited to “warn” the leadership about us, claiming us to be troublemakers. (I dearly love most of the people from my former church. I was truly disappointed when the leadership behaved in such a way.)

Despite their belief that their church was the “true” church, my family would no sooner get to the parking lot than start making fun of the people at the service. They would make demeaning comments about this elder’s ideas or that teenager’s hairstyle. They still don’t like one of our friends from there because of the hairstyle he chose when he was 15. Evidently, Jesus only approves of collared button-downs and crew cuts.

I was never given freedom to explore. For my family, there was only One Way – for everything. This put a damper on my learning about the world. I was sent to a worldview class where the Christian teacher clearly said “what I want most for you all is to learn to think for yourselves!” but if we answered questions on the exams in a way that didn’t follow the teacher’s specific religious beliefs, they were counted as incorrect.

After Peter and I were married, we searched the Bible together in the evenings, and applied what we learned. Our questioning was not received well. Our 3-year journey has led us to atheism, which we have held for some time now. This is due to many reasons, but was largely because of the responses we had received as we searched and studied and challenged commonly accepted practices.

After we had been married for a few months, something amazing started to happen. My wonderful husband had given me a voice. He started asking me what I wanted, what I thought, what made my soul come alive. He asked questions because he wanted to know, and I could state my desires and opinions without fear of lectures or ridicule. I became confident, curious, and alive. I was free.

One major example of this newfound freedom and health is how I deal with my emotions. My mother, who holds a PhD in child psychology and does family counseling, told me recently that she had read in a psychology book that when your teenage daughter is upset, the best course of action is to leave her alone and let her get over her own feelings, so that’s how she dealt with me. Peter learned very quickly that I need to be chased when I’m upset, and over the past few years I’ve learned how to actually work through my emotions, understand them, and deal with them in healthy ways, rather than just isolate and ignore my problems.

I learned through all of this how trapped I had been growing up. My family’s very specific views on religion, politics, and lifestyle were taught as true freedom because they smiled. They viewed my silence as acquiescence, when in reality I had just learned to shut up and bide my time. They thought they knew the true me, but their idea of me was never accurate.

Even now, my family refuses to accept my new freedom. My mother informed me she still wishes I hadn’t gotten married, something I take special offense to now that I have a son. Having experienced my father’s disapproval for my marriage, I do not feel respected or safe around him either, so I set ground rules for any future relationship with my father that require he make peace with Peter before any contact with me. Even this simple request has been refused, with the excuse that I would have never placed such a restriction before, so Peter must be manipulating me into making such a suggestion. While hard to listen to, their negative comments serve as a reminder to me of the freedom I now get to enjoy, and a reminder to breathe deeply, love fully, and walk my new path bravely.

I hate conflict, so I followed their lead for as long as I needed to, but now that I am married I am finally getting to explore who I am, what I believe, and live it out in the way that is in keeping with my own personal worldview. This blog is an extension of me and my values – I am a health conscious, green, quirky, dance-in-public, hippie mama. I practice grounding and meditation. My personal style looks like the love child of gypsies and a rack from the set of That 70’s Show. I value people without discriminating based on social status, gender identity, sexual preference, or religion. I believe in doing what is best for people over what is best for profit. I share what I learn because I’ve always wanted to help people feel better, and natural solutions help fix issues at the root cause. This is me. This has always been me, but I am now free to explore, enjoy, and express it to my heart’s content.

This is freedom.


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Makeover Your Evenings: Day 4: I did it

It’s 2am, but I did it. The kitchen is clean. My child is actually sleeping. We have a long day planned tomorrow, so I wanted to be sure I gifted my tomorrow self with a clean kitchen, so as to handle all other obstacles with the ease of the USA women gymnasts. 

Or something. 

What I’m saying is, a clean kitchen is truly a mood-setter for me. 

Tonight we had a leisurely evening that went on for much too long, but included Tristan sleeping, Peter watching some “guy movie” on Netflix, and I got to read some of Jen Hatmaker’s newest book, For The Love. The leggings chapter did not disappoint. I laughed until I cried. I have not read a book for fun in many many months, so this was a treat that was good for my soul. 

And now that I have updated you on everything including my kitchen sink, it is time for bed. All…5 hours of it tonight.

Maybe I’ll keep the reading a little shorter tomorrow. 

Makeover Your Evenings: Day 3 – Give Yourself Some Space

Welcome back to the Makeover Your Evenings 14-day reset! If you haven’t purchased your copy of the MoneySavingMom’s Makeover Your Evenings course, you can purchase it here and follow along with us! 

I think I might have had a different answer to this before we moved 350 miles away from everyone we knew. Our social calendar is pretty blank these days, what with limited people we know in the area. On Thursdays, Peter gets lunch at the local deli, and we get coffee on Saturdays. That’s about it. 

It’s chill here. Mostly when people talk they don’t say “we should hang out sometime!” There’s not as much pressure here to meet up with people. 

Which is nice. 

How is everyone’s evening routine going? Because I’m gonna be honest, i skipped posting last night and left the dishes in the sink. And I recognized this morning just how much it stresses me out when I start off my morning behind. So, even though I’m mentally just over today and not really feeling well, I forced myself to get up and finish the dishes before closing up everything for the night. And we have a whole quiche in the fridge, ready for breakfast. 

I will be so happy in the morning! And I know I will sleep better knowing that I am ready for the day. 

Makeover Your Evenings: Day 2 – The Ideal Evening

Welcome to Day 2 of the 14 day Makeover Your Evening course from the MoneySavingMom, Crystal Paine.

Today’s project is to write down all the things that together would create a perfect evening, and then narrow down the list to the top five priorities. In a quick “brain dump” fashion, here is everything I would like to get accomplished between the hours of 5pm (when I return from work) and 10:30pm, when I would ideally go to bed:

Make/eat supper

plan tomorrow’s breakfast and supper

clean kitchen

tidy up the house (I have a tendency to leave little piles wherever I am. This habit will help prevent that)


brain dump list for tomorrow



read with Tristan

My top 5 priorities for the evening would be as follows:


clean kitchen

brain dump


read with Tristan

In this season of our lives, I crave routine, peace, and steady progress towards our personal goals. When I let myself focus on anything else, I find myself in a space of chaos and I stress myself out. I’m going to write these priorities on our chalk board under my “why.” This will help me choose my top “yes” activities and know that I am doing what is best for my family.

If you are following along, comment below with your top 5 priorities!

Makeover Your Evenings: Day 1

Welcome to our new 14-day blog-along of MoneySavingMom’s Makeover Your Evenings! For the next 14 days, I will be blogging my thoughts and my personal responses to the challenges Crystal Paine sets as I strive to use my evenings in a more productive manner.

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now is your chance! Crystal is hosting a Back to School sale through today, August 15th. You can purchase either Makeover Your Evenings or her first course, Makeover Your Mornings, for just $10 (regular price is $17), and at checkout you have the option to purchase the other course for just $7, making this basically a BOGO deal! I personally heard from Crystal that this is the lowest price for either course for the rest of the year. Are you ready to begin? Register here!

All set? Let’s get started:

Day 1: Identify Your Why

I’m going to be honest, the first time I attempted to blog through this course, my “why” wasn’t very strong and I only lasted maybe 2 days. However, I have noticed a definite need to get my evenings back on track in a strategic way (i.e. a way that doesn’t lead to a haphazard ball of stress), and this class going on sale was perfect timing.

My “why” is simple, but strong this time. I have lived the results of not having a plan. We have eaten our supper past 8pm (and since I’m being honest, past 9pm) several nights. I have left dishes in the sink to do the next morning and woken up too late to do them before work, or just early enough to do them and squeak into work barely on time. I have not been striving towards any goals, I have been living only in “survival mode” as Crystal calls it. And since I have a family, my survival mode effects them negatively as well.

So here I am, with a vision for my evenings that I know is attainable. I live only 2 minutes from my job, and I typically get home right after 5pm. I can realistically serve supper at 6pm. This involves only a few factors: knowing what we are having before I get home, and having all the ingredients ready for me when I return. Having a solid routine will help solidify the habits necessary for a quick supper so we can have a nice evening as a family, and gives me plenty of time to clean the kitchen before going to sleep. A clean kitchen will create a peaceful morning, and so on with the cycle of organized living.

One thing that I have learned is that it is much easier to be lazy and fall behind than it is to be disciplined and think ahead, but that the rewards of taking a few minutes and pushing yourself to be better are far more rewarding. 

When I don’t feel like staying on track, when I’m tired, when I’m frustrated, when I just want a break, it is these times that it is most important to take the few moments to remain disciplined, and know that the reward is far greater to remain disciplined than to fall behind and have to catch up. I would much rather spend 10 minutes doing dishes in the evenings than start my next morning behind.

I hope you join me on this adventure! Meet me back here tomorrow for Day 2!


{In order to support my blogging expenses, this post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here, and thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

Just Say Yes

Being a mother has made me realize just how selfish I truly am. It is so easy for me to get swept up in my to-do lists that I rush through, and in my rushing to accomplish my tasks, I miss important moments in my son’s life. 

Last year we attended a wedding and happened to be seated next to a family therapist at the reception. I asked her for her number one piece of advice for parents, and she simply responded, “say yes as much as possible.” She gave the example, “yes, you may have dessert…as soon as you finish your dinner.” The idea is that “yes” promotes a longer-lasting positive foundation. I treasured this advice and still remind myself often. 

I’ve always said I’m pretty sure Tristan is already 80 years old. At 19 months, he loves to imitate whatever Peter and I happen to be doing. Most recently, he’s been very excited about washing his hands, and wants to practice at the most inconvenient times. This is when I practice saying yes. 

Yes, Love, let’s wash your hands, too.

Yes, Tristan, you can help me with the dishes. Thank you! 

Yes, you can help me make pancakes. 

Yes, you may brush your teeth now (another recent skill he enjoys practicing). 

None of these are convenient, but I  am choosing to remember that this is how he wants to spend time with me, and this is how he learns. I want him to remember that I welcomed him to live life with me and I find joy in spending time with him, no matter the activity. 

Say yes today, friends. 

Cook-Along, Day 2

Today is almost as fun as yesterday.

Change the water for the beans. 


I also started a batch of bagels because I looked at my jars of starter and realized that there wasn’t room to feed them anymore, so I needed to use some up. 

So when Peter went for a bike ride, T-dawg and I kicked off our epic Friday evening with some bagel-making and a mug (and sippy cup) full of bone broth. 

Tonight’s supper was grapes, homemade chicken pizza and garlic rolls made from sourdough bread that just didn’t want to rise for some strange reason. As expected, they were super dense, but hey, waste not want not. 

For dessert we are splitting this adorable apple I picked from a tree at work. 

Happy Friday! 

Dirt Cheap Nutrition Cook-Along: Day 1

Alright ya’ll, 

Are you ready for the cRaZy challenge for today’s cook-along? 

Are you sure? 

Super sure? 

Okay, here we go…

First, you take some beans…

Pour them into a container…

Add some water…

And put a cover on it. 

Phew! Invigorating! 

All silliness aside, today’s activity for the beginning of the cook-along is to start the bean soak. I will change the water every 12 hours or so until Sunday, when I cook them. 

I don’t measure, so I’m not really sure how much this is, but I know I can eat them over a week. I’m excited for bean dip, refried beans, and beans and rice! I’m pretty easy to please. 

As a bonus for “what does Amanda eat in real life,” tonight for supper we had chicken omelets and toasted sourdough English muffins. I’m all about quick and easy meals! 

Are you ready for tomorrow?

Dirt Cheap Nutrition - get the best tips for stretching your dollars and improving your nutrition!

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means it’s time for our cook-along through my new book, Dirt Cheap Nutrition! I’ll be blogging along as I gear up for my weekend cook-up, which is how we survived all those months on a budget of $25/week.

There is no need to be concerned that this challenge will take much time! The practices I wrote about in my book are super simple and quick to complete. The whole challenge is to share my simple ways of making nutrition accessible, even on the tiniest of budgets. For example, today for a snack I popped a bag of popcorn. During the 2 minutes it was in the microwave, I fed Lord Voldemort (my sourdough starter).

Grab your copy of Dirt Cheap Nutrition, make sure you have the necessary basics on hand, and meet me back here tomorrow!


{This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}