Manda's Musings


Sometimes qualities of our selves sneak up on us.

Over sixteen years ago I left the teaching profession, vowing I would never return. I can still recall that tangible freedom feeling on my last day of teaching. Of course, I was headed into a new marriage and, what I sensed would be, the career I was meant for but never (as I thought) had the opportunity to seriously pursue. 

I had proof. Within the first month of teaching middle school I was asked to play one of my originals at a school assembly. One colleague came up afterward and said, “What are you doing here?” Proof positive I was meant solely for the stage.

Within a few months after leaving teaching I found myself pregnant with our son – now teenage grown. Now, there is plenty of proof positive out there that professional performers can have careers and children – but let’s not go there.  As I with my first generation of kiddos, some deeply innate desire – to be as present for their growing as I could – arose again for this one.

I now recognize I also have a deep innate desire to be as present for the growing of my self as well! I also pursued some inner desires: I did sporadically perform and study with performers; ran eight marathons, two Mt. Washington Road Races, Mountain Series and Grand Prix; wrote a children’s musical; wrote & recorded six kids’ audio plays and songs; and one adult contemporary CD which I vowed to pay off in two years time or get a ‘regular’ job to do so.

Hence, this October I got a teaching job, subbing for someone out on medical leave. (I applied on a whim because it was raining and I couldn’t paint the house!) As fate would have it, the stint will pay off the CD loan.

Come to find out, that quality that wants to be present for the growing of selves is a good fit for teaching. And I find I love being part of daily community. 

And it has me wondering – what inner qualities might be sneaking up on us as our selves continue to grow?


One of my sister’s texted back, “Happy Gratitude Day.”

I heard the true Thanksgiving Day story as told by an ancestor of the first people here on this continent. My inner Thanksgiving narrative from childhood deflated from balloon to Whoopee cushion. My high school history ensconced son verified the new narrative – a celebration of early European Americans after slaughtering and taking over land from those peoples of the Wampanoag tribe – eight years after the arrival of the pilgrims on the outer edge of the Cape. Someone later on pulled that rock over to the harbor and pronounced it ‘Plymouth Rock.’ I learned that I am not to confuse the Puritans with the Pilgrims. Puritans came here due to religious persecution – pilgrims came for economic promise.

There’s a reason why, for the past fifty years, folks have been gathering in Plymouth for a day of mourning on Thanksgiving Day. So I must mourn my childhood narrative and accept with humility a more true one (supported by my own responsible research). And so ‘Happy Gratitude Day’ begins to infiltrate Thanksgiving for me.

Let it be so.

VOTE ‘MS.’ for ‘MISSUS’!

I have a proposal!

[Hmmm – these Final Friday posts are beginning to feel as heavy as TuttTutt’s, (our childhood elderly babysitter’s) annual Christmas fruitcakes.]

I find myself writing ‘Ms.’ as title for all women’s names – married or not. Long ago my stepdaughter informed me that the designation ‘Mrs.’ denotes possession by a ‘Mr.’

The other day I was writing ‘Ms.’ for a ‘Mrs.’, when I realized – there is no ‘r’ in the word ‘Missus.’ So – rather than pronouncing ‘Ms.’ ‘Mizz’ – why don’t we, as a society, call all adult women ‘Missus’ and denote it with ‘Ms.’ rather than ‘Mrs.’ (Like Mr. is pronounced ‘Mister’ – and denoted by its first and last letters.

We women do not have to claim ourselves as belonging anyone. Our men don’t. I believe some Spanish-speaking cultures designate ‘Senor’ and ‘Senora’ for adult people with no regard for marriage – though I’m not sure. There are certainly other cultures that do not.

I do understand that all people have the right to declare whatever title (and gender) they identify with. I just encourage women to consider letting the term ‘Missus’ bloom out into an ocean enveloping all women – married and not – and free us from having to publicly identify ourselves as either single, married, or wanting to hide the fact that we are either from the public eye.

Vote ‘Ms.’ for ‘Missus’!


Woke up at four in the morning
Took son to CrossFit for five
Taught youngsters music until three
Right now feeling barely alive

Hope to someday find somebody
Whose interest it proves to be
To translate this song into visions
‘If Only’ videography.


So at my long term sub job I am working with a millennial who said to me, on the day I interviewed for the position, “Can we have a convo off the dome about your approach to collab?

Here, let me get a translator and then I’ll answer…

Love working with him. Great stretch to hear and work with his suggestions, witness his easy and effective relational finesse with the kids and get a peak at the music he wants to give them. 

We’re considering combining this one in 4/4 with ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth’, in 3/4, for the third graders, since we’re working on beat groupings. It’s the tune ‘With My Own Two Hands’ by Ben Harper.

See what you think – off the dome.


It’s curious. I recently took on a long-term sub position teaching music. Within the first week I have experienced all the reasons I both loved and left teaching 15 years ago. 

Just yesterday, one third grade class chewed me up and spit me out. Balanced with that, though, several other classes went rather smoothly, while we (I am teaching with an assistant in an apprentice program) continue to streamline lessons, making them more fun and meaningful for all involved.

Already certain children live in my psyche on my drive home. I think about what they did in class and wonder what would be best for this one or that one, moving forward. How can we make that song or activity more interesting or focused?I feel grateful to have the opportunity to revisit this part of my professional psyche that sixteen years ago I left for good – to now come back for good? Hope I can do some good. All in all – it does, overall, feel pretty good to be back.


As I listened to accolades for this award-winning photograph, I felt most drawn toward the stillness and silence Bao, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, had to dwell in, patiently waiting, in order to capture the moment between fox and marmot.

Accordingly, Bao named his photograph ‘The Moment.’

What fortune to encounter that wily fox, patiently waiting for the unwitting marmot making its determined way across Tibetan grasslands. Two beings – still and silent – patiently waiting – each to capture its intended prey – one wielding far less dire consequences than the other.

‘The Moment’ is remarkable.

But more remarkable – in this technologically saturated world of ours – the moment before – still and silent. I wish one of those for each of us in these coming days.

‘The Moment’ ‘tween fox and marmot? Not so much.


Thanks guy.

There was this guy on the radio Wednesday morning – a spokesman for an electric company – who, after having been asked of fixing power lines from upcoming high winds, said, “We are not going to send our guys and gals up if the winds are too strong.”

Guys and gals. My insides smiled. At long last. He did not say ‘guys and girls’. He did not say ‘men and girls.’ He said, ‘guys and gals.’ 

In the past I’ve received varying responses for saying ‘gals’. Mindful speaking is part of healing inequity. Healing inequity is part of our whole human healing – even for those who culturally wield the most accessible power.

At first I said ‘gal/s’ deliberately to counter the affliction of females perpetually referred to as ‘girl/s’ no matter their age, but now it’s compulsory.

Why is the ‘Ironman’ female version called ‘Irongirl’? Why are those of commensurate age typically referred to as ‘men’ and ‘girls’. Sometimes I’m moved ask, “What are those men doing married prepubescent girls?”

Of course many women and men refer to themselves and their groups of friends as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’. Not at issue. But why do some of us women fall into the same trap as our culture at large? Referring and thinking of ourselves as eternally ‘girl’. Why do we not let ourselves be the full bodied and psyched and speech-honored women we grow to be?

It behooves us to practice mindful speech. The radio broadcast ‘gals and guys’ is a good place to start.

Thanks guy.


Sometimes husbands are just mean.

We’ve been prepping and painting our house. I’ve been the sole painter – treating it as my full time job – giving us a second income, so to speak. Been working 8-12 hour days on painting days; trying to wrap things up before the cold. 

So – this past weekend Peter prepped while I painted – caulking the final side. I was painting the eaves on a ladder strapped to the roof – generously provided by our awesome neighbor across the street, who’s living it is to side such structures as we’re painting – next time, Carlos! (Turns out I love keeping my balance in high places while painting.)

(Come to find out I’m devoted to staying balanced while painting on a ladder strapped to the roof! Grateful.)

So – after about 8 hours of fairly intensive painting – done for the day – I readied myself to help with the caulking. Significantly worn out, I quipped, “I wish there was another one of me who was just waking up now, refreshed, and ready to get to work.”

Peter stopped caulking, raised an eyebrow, and gave me one of those overly knowing sardonic looks, then impishly pantomimed zipping his lips. What did he mean by that? I don’t know. But one thing I do know –

Sometimes husbands are just mean.


Many moons ago my son gave me a small paperback of ‘Tao Te Ching’ sayings. There’s one I shared with a friend.

For a long time she and I texted it acronymically back and forth to one another – and whenever we spoke on the phone, we recited it together. 

When major currents change in life – especially when all feels upheaval – for me, this saying brings a profound sense of relief:

Hold fast to the great form within
And let the world pass as it may.