Back to Work

I've been dreading this moment for decades.  Since back when I was young and carefree and single, when marriage was a distant dream and my son Lukas was just a tiny seed of longing in my heart.  Even then I knew that this would be hard.  Even then, I could sense how important this decision would be and how it would be next to impossible to make it.  Even as I was building my career, mostly blissfully oblivious to my fertility or any of the requirements of motherhood, I sensed this looming on the horizon.  I would sometimes wake up in the night, over the course of my 20's and early 30's, stricken by grief that I would one day have to make the impossible choice between my career and my unborn children.  Back then, I panicked at the thought of either choice.  Now the choice is a reality, and it's time to make it.

I've enjoyed 12 blissful weeks of maternity leave, but on Monday I must return to work.  Part of me is ready and eager to get back into a regular schedule, and start using my brain for more than counting poopy diapers and ounces of breast milk.  The other part of me gets nauseous at the mere thought of leaving my precious angel at daycare with a bunch of strangers.

But now that this has become a reality for me and not some distant daydream, I'm starting to realize that its not so much a choice to make, but rather a delicate balancing act that we pursue as we try to do everything.  And I'm left to wonder: can we really have it all?  Is it actually possible to have a fulfilling and challenging career while still providing our children the care that they need?  Can we hold onto the career that we've been building since college?  Can we dedicate as much of ourselves to our work as we did before the kids came along?  Or do we lose a piece of that the day that we decide to have children?

In the short three months of my maternity leave, I have been forever changed.  I walked out of my office on my last day of work before my son was born, thinking that I would return 12 weeks later and everything would be the same.  But in those weeks, everything changed.  Not on the surface, but deep within me.  My perspective and my priorities fundamentally shifted, without my even realizing it.  This tiny human that depends on Dan and I for every single thing in his little life now holds my heart.  I will do anything and everything for him, and I love him so fiercely that it sometimes takes my breath away.  My purpose is now first and foremost to be a mother.  Everything else, including my career, is just gravy.  

I guess only time will tell how much or little we're able to juggle the demands of both.  I'm guessing it's one of those things where you just do what has to be done in each moment.  Sometimes things are great, sometimes not, but you do the best you can each step of the way.  And I am very fortunate to have a husband who is 100% involved in Lukas's life.  With his support and encouragement, I know that we will make it work, whatever we choose to do.  We are both committed to doing whatever is best for him.  

But what exactly is best for him?

 My mom was a stay at home mom.  Dan's mom worked full time.  And we both turned out ok.  So how do you know what is best?  

I want to stay home with him 24/7 and take care of his every need.  I want him to grow up with the stability and the consistency of a stay-at-home parent.  I want to make certain that he is getting everything that he needs and that he is being cared for in the best possible way, and the best way to ensure that is to do it myself.  I want to be there day in and day out to see every single little change and development; his first step, first word, every single smile and laugh and tear.  

But.  I also want to continue pursuing my own career and personal goals.  I want my son to see a real live example of professional women in the workforce and to know that boys AND girls can grow up to be whatever they want to be.  I want him to have the kind of love that only a mother who loves herself and takes care of her own needs can give.  I want him to see his mother fulfill her dreams while she helps him achieve his.  I want him to see both his Mommy and his Daddy doing what sets their souls on fire, and I want him to know that he should settle for nothing less than the same as he grows and discovers himself in this world.

This is SO important to me.  And all of these ideals sound great, I'm sure every parent probably wants the same for their children.  But in order to achieve these results long-term, that means that I have to start doing the hard work today.  What that means for me, right now, is that I have to suck it up and go to work on Monday.  I can't have the reward without the sacrifice.  I can't teach my son ideals and values that I don't embody and exhibit in my own actions.  

For me and my family, this is what's right and true.  For now at least... circumstances may change, priorities can shift, but for now, this is the right thing to do.

So pray for us on Monday, friends.  I'm gonna need every ounce of positive energy that you can send my way! 

© Haley McManigal 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Get Going

I get really freakin' pissed off sometimes.  At the world.  At myself. When others don't recognize or acknowledge what I'm capable of.  When I don't have the confidence in myself to tell them.

When someone blows me off or puts me down or belittles my dreams, I think to myself:  Just you wait and see... I'll show you!  Then I promptly brood for hours about how rude that person was and how I'll take the world by storm until I'm so exhausted that all I can muster is a nap or a Netflix binge. 

I feel like I have this great potential inside, but I have no idea how to excavate it, and even less idea how to nurture it so that it can become something valuable.  I believe we all have a special something, and it's our job here on earth to find and express it.  Elizabeth Gilbert says "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them."  I worry that I'll never find the jewels, that they'll remain hidden and my potential will go completely untapped my entire life.

But what if, during these times of doubt and uncertainty, I could use this energy and anger as fuel to propel myself forward?

Every time I find myself in this situation with these thoughts and this desperate need to succeed - if I can get still long enough - I always come to the same realization: 

I just have to keep going. 

It's actually not about anyone else and what they think of me.  It's about my own dreams for myself.  I have to keep being true to myself.  I have to keep doing what I feel led to do, keep practicing, keep being humble and kind, keep honoring my truest dreams for myself, keep pushing myself, keep facing my fears, keep asking for help.  And I have to believe that eventually I will get "there", wherever there is.  I have to believe that it will all become clear as I move forward.  You know what they say: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And faith is taking that first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.  And of course, if the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.  I could go on and on.  

So.  When the going gets tough, and I lack motivation or inspiration and I just want to give up; when I'm lost and confused and lacking direction - I try to remember how pissed I was!  And I try to use that to push myself forward.  Use that as motivation to do just a little bit more.  Use that as an excuse to keep working while everyone else is partying or sleeping or goofing off.

Don't get upset, depressed or unmotivated - GET GOING.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Anxiety or Regret: Choose One

I've realized that I have a choice in life:

I can let my fears call the shots and play it safe in my life.  I can stay in my cozy little comfort zone forever.  If I choose this path, I drown in sorrow and regret.  I know I can do better, but I'm afraid.  I hate myself for being afraid, but I am not willing to face the fear.


I can face my fears, and live life based on what thrills and excites and terrifies me.  If I choose this path, I'm riddled with stress and anxiety.  My eye starts twitching, I have trouble sleeping, I'm constantly "on alert" and rarely ever able to truly relax.  Peace and tranquility are distant memories. 

Neither is easy.

I listened to a podcast by Michael Hyatt recently, in which he urges us to set up camp in the Discomfort Zone, and to learn to live there.  I agree with him on many levels, but this is not an easy thing for an introvert like me.  I am easily overstimulated.  I need time to pull back from the overstimulation to process things or I become completely overwhelmed and unproductive.  I don't mind being in the Discomfort Zone, as long as I have a place to retreat to every now and then to catch my breath.

I admire and envy those who can run full force into their discomfort zones, and just chill out there while they figure things out.  Oh how I wish I could do this.  But this approach is not in my nature.  I am introspective and careful and I need to be alone to process, analyze, and reach conclusions.  I used to get upset with others for not instinctively recognizing this about me and helping me to put myself in the best and most productive environments.  Now I know that is my job, and mine alone.  Part of my job as a human being is to understand and accept my nature, learn to care for myself, and make sure that I communicate my needs with others.  Sure, I'd like to be different than the way I am sometimes, but we all have limitations, and it is my job to know mine and honor them.  Of course, it's still important to consistently expand the limits of our comfort zones, otherwise life becomes stale and depressing.  It's up to each of us to determine how much and how quickly we can expand.

This dynamic fueled a recent job change for me.  I went from being a project manager at my firm to the marketing coordinator.  My decision was based on several factors, some personal and some professional, but in the end, it was the best thing for me at this time in my life.  The decision was not easy.  I lost sleep over it.  I shed tears.  I questioned my motivation.  I questioned whether I really even wanted to make the change.  Finally, after weeks of careful deliberation, I went for it.  Then I questioned if I had made the right decision.  Was I throwing my career away?  What did others think?  It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done.  But in the end, I had to be honest with myself, and the truth was that I was not happy being a project manager.  I was not working within my talents and strengths and passions.  Yes, I was in my discomfort zone and I was learning and stretching and growing every day, but I was also terrified every day.  I was lacking a sense of an underlying strength and overarching purpose to what I was doing.  I was stretching in the wrong direction.  And my body didn't like it.  I was stressed out, I couldn't sleep, and my eye was twitching constantly.  There was no relief in sight. 

And most importantly, there was no passion.

My new job brings challenges and Discomfort Zones of its own.  But it also brings what I call the BUZZ zone.  The BUZZ Zone is when you start to talk about something, and you become so excited that your head starts buzzing.  Literally.  Buzzing.  This happens to me during conversations about WHY we as architects do what we do, or how to best structure a project team, or how to best display our firm's strengths on the website and printed materials, or how to highlight our strengths in an emotionally compelling way in interviews.  I was explaining this to my friend Kate and she said, "of course. you enjoy telling the story of your company."  Yes I do.  This is my BUZZ Zone.  And I'm starting to spend more and more time here.  Of course there were some BUZZ-worthy moments in my time as a project manager, but they were few and far between. 

So while it's crucial to push beyond our comfort zones, we need to make sure that we're stretching in the right direction, that we're caring for ourselves in the process, and that we're spending plenty of time in our BUZZ Zone. 

Maybe it's not so black and white after all, maybe there is a middle ground somewhere in the shadows between anxiety and regret... I sure hope so.  If you find it let me know!

What about you?  Do you push the limits of your comfort zone on a regular basis?  Do you spend enough time in your BUZZ Zone?  In the comments below, let me know the last thing that you did that took you out of your comfort zone, and the last thing that you did that put you in your BUZZ Zone.  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Spring Flowers

I have the most amazing ground cover in my front flower bed.  It's called phlox, and it blooms in these beautiful tiny flowers that look like fluffy lavender clouds.  It blooms in early spring, and this year, the flowers stayed intact for over a month.  It was breathtaking.   But now, mid May, most of the velvety purple cloud is gone, and what's left is a dingy green carpet.

So this morning, I was looking at the dingy green phlox and wondering if it was a good idea to have so much of it in my flower bed.  It bloomed so early, and now it's not so great to look at for the rest of the year.  I weighed the pros (gorgeous purple flowers in early spring) with the cons (dingy green ground cover the rest of the year).  And I decided that the beauty of it - though short-lived - was worth it to me.

I also rationalized that there were numerous other plants in my flower bed that would balance out the dying phlox, and would take the attention for themselves.  I'm definitely no expert gardener (in fact I'm surprised I haven't already killed all of my flowers) but I'm learning a bit here and there, and apparently the first rule of designing a flower bed is to include a variety of species that bloom at different times, as well as some evergreen shrubs to anchor everything year round.  Luckily whoever planted my front flower bed before Dan and I bought our house knew what they were doing.

As I was contemplating my phlox this morning, I realized that people are a lot like flowers.

I spend a lot of time thinking about people.  I like to analyze their personality types, their strengths and weaknesses, their contributions, their craziness level, what they give to a situation or an organization or a cause vs. what they take.  In these observations, I also note how people are accepted, embraced, tolerated, or shunned by others. 

It seems to me that, in most situations you have your evergreens, your phlox and your peonies. (I realize that there are probably more appropriate plant types to use here, but these are the ones that I have at my house, so just go with it). 

Evergreens are consistent all year round.  They never lose their leaves, and they are steadily productive and utterly dependable.  They are the bedrock of any organization and they set the stage for the other flowers to do their thing. 

Then there are the phlox.  These guys come in and immediately show their brilliance - covering the landscape with their beautiful pillowy purple blooms and wowing everyone.  But their brilliance can't last past spring, so they fade pretty quickly into the background and begin preparing for next year's show.

Finally you have your peonies.  These folks start out as a billowy green bush, which is nice enough on its own, and respectable like an evergreen, until late spring when we start to see the beginnings of blossoms emerging all over the bush.  But the blooms are achingly slow to mature... they still hold tight long after the other spring flowers have shown their colors.  Then finally, one day, when they are good and ready and given they have been in the proper conditions with plenty of sun and water, the most amazing and breathtaking blossoms emerge and the entire bush glows with beauty.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up with thinking that one kind of plant is better than the other.  When we're mesmerized by the brilliance of the phlox, it's hard to see the worth of the slow-poke peony.  But when the phlox starts to lose steam, and the peony starts to put on her show, it's easy to change our mind and favor the peony.  And in the dead of winter when all of the other plants are dormant, we may start to think that the evergreens are the only ones we can ever really count on.  But the fact is, we need all three.  We need the variety and the strengths of each person (er... plant) to have a successful and healthy team that will flourish year round.  And we need to be sure to put each one in the proper conditions to ensure that they become the best that they can be.

And just as I decided this morning that I was willing to accept the unsightly view of the phlox, because I so appreciated the beauty that I know it is capable of, we must also accept the less appealing aspects of others (and ourselves), because we recognize the beauty that they have within that will emerge when the time is right.

Which spring flower are you?  The brilliant early go-getter, the slow timid late-bloomer, or the strong, dependable evergreen?  Are you putting yourself in the optimum conditions so that when it's your turn to shine, you'll be the best that you can be?

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Fearless Friday Spotlight: Cat Neligan

Meet Cat Neligan.  She's a big hearted creative, a savvy entrepreneur, and a self proclaimed introvert.  And she's doing big things.  She has started The League of Creative Introverts, where she helps fellow creative introverts develop their business skills and find the courage to put their work out into the world so that it can get the attention it deserves.  Here's her story:

After quitting my job as a pixel-pushing web designer in 2013, I pursued my childhood fantasy to be an illustrator. Specifically, to spend my days drawing cartoon animals.

This wasn't exactly an easy way to make a living, but somehow I made it onto the Princes Trust Enterprise Program, and educated myself in all things online business, e-commerce, marketing and sales. Not exactly the creative dream I had envisioned, but it turned my hobby into an actual business.

I started to realise that other creatives around me were not having the same experience. Everyone was complaining about their jobs (much like when I was at my 9-5) and wanting to get their work - the stuff that came from the heart - seen and shared (and ultimately, sold.)

The cogs in my ginger head started to turn. What was it that was holding creatives back? What had held me back? My suspicion was not that they lacked the education (though, in many cases that was part of it) but the mindset.

Most creatives I know (mostly illustrators, graphic artists, animators and craftspeople) are introverts. We work best alone - and love to do so - and it's helped us master our art.

But when it comes to self-promotion or - god forbid - selling? It makes us feel a bit sick. And don't get us started on networking events...

Over the years, I've taught myself to use my introverted nature to my advantage. I don't believe we need to be extroverts to get our work out to the world, but I do believe we need to change our thinking around how we show up and connect with others.

I created the League of Creative Introverts as a way to teach people who are ready to take action and pursue their own creative fantasies, starting with mindset, and then moving onto skills around business, marketing and selling work online.

I start with mindset because I’ve found that once we start working out exactly what’s holding us back (fear of failure, self-consciousness, imposter syndrome…) we can really make progress with everything else.

So... that's where I am today. I still draw animals on the side, but my League takes up most of my time!

Long story short (hah!) I want to help people because I've struggled with this myself. I also believe the best teacher is 'experience' and I'm certainly still learning.

You can find Cat online at the links below.  Be sure to drop in and show her some love! | |

Do you know someone who is out there doing great things, facing their fears on a daily basis, and living life in a big way?  Send them my way!  I'm always looking for others to spotlight here on Fearless Friday!

Till next time,


It's The Climb

When I was younger, I thought that life was a one-way road.  I thought that life was one huge mountain to climb, and once I got to the top, once I "made it", I would have arrived and everything would be easy from then on.

Now I know that when I get to the top of one mountain, there are only more and more mountains to climb.  As I reach the clearing, and turn the corner at the tip top of my mountain, I look at the beautiful view, and I stand in awe for a moment, but then I realize that, as far as I can see, there are only infinite more mountaintops.

When I finally came to this realization, it changed me.  I no longer saw the point in striving, in working so hard, and sacrificing everything to get to the top of this mountain.  I finally realized that, as cliché as it sounds, it's not about the destination.  Whatever is at the top of this mountain is not worth it if I'm not enjoying the climb.

I've also realized that life goes in cycles for me, and probably for all of us.  For me, the pattern seems to be:  work really really hard for a really long time, then sail for a bit; repeat, repeat.  Remember when you were a kid and you would go sledding on a snow day?  Remember how you had to climb up the hill, pulling your sled behind you.  Then you'd get to the top, jump on the sled and fly down the hill in pure bliss.  You'd reach the bottom in a fraction of the time that it took you to climb the hill.  But the high you got from coming down was so great that you immediately started back up again.  And again.  And again. 

It's the same with our mountain climbing.  We could stop when we reach the first peak.  We could just set up camp and ignore the other mountains.  But usually, the call to climb to new heights beckons us, and we can't resist the urge to feel the rush again, to stand in awe on another, higher mountaintop.  And so the cycle goes.  And this is all fine and good as long as we are enjoying the journey.  As long as the reward for climbing the new mountain is greater than the effort it takes to get there. 

Dan and I climbed Mt. LeConte last weekend, so the mountain analogies are fresh on my brain.  One funny thing that we noticed was how we kept passing the same people on the trail over and over again.  There was a large group of us who started at the same time.  Inevitably, some would go faster than others, so we eventually split up into several smaller groups.  But then someone would have to stop to pee, or take a water break, or have a snack, or bandage a wound.  And during that time, the rest of the group would pass them.  We played this game of leap frog all the way up the mountain.

Other people are inevitably going to reach our destination before we do.  That's just a part of life.  But eventually, we'll all get there, and we'll all be in the same place, and the timing in which we got there will be irrelevant.  The group sitting on the porch rocking chairs at the top of Mt. LeConte wasn't concerned with who arrived there first.  We were all happy to be sharing the experience of simply being there.  But sometimes it is difficult and painful to watch others arrive at our mountaintop before us.  And even more-so to watch them sailing down the other side effortlessly while we're still struggling every step of the way.  But it helps to know that everyone is at a different point on their journey.  And I can almost guarantee that if someone seems to be sailing effortlessly, an enormous amount of struggle and sweat and sacrifice have come before that.  So don't take that away from them.  Let them have their moment.  Eventually you'll have yours too.

What about you?  Have you found that as soon as you achieve one goal or mountaintop that another starts beckoning?  Or are you satisfied with what you have accomplished, and just want to settle in and relax for a while?  Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Signature of Responsible Adult

I took Dan to the hospital for a minor procedure recently.  When we checked in and completed all of the paperwork prior to the procedure, I had to sign on the line that said "Signature of Responsible Adult". 

This cracked me up.

How on earth did this happen?  How did I get here?  I don't really recognize this person sometimes... when someone asks for the responsible adult in the room, I look around, over my shoulder, then back in shock and say "Who, Me?"  It feels weird.  But its real, its happening whether I like it or not. 

I'm a grown up.  I have to deal with heavy stuff that I'd rather just ignore.  I have to take my husband to the hospital and be his "responsible adult", I have to deal with death and taxes, and the whole gamut of mundane grown up stuff.

I also have to take chances.  I have to make decisions - even though there is no guarantee that things will work out or that I am making the "right" choice.  I have to realize that sometimes there is no right or wrong, and I have to accept the gray areas.  And sometimes, when it is clear what the right thing to do is, I have to go ahead and do it, even if it breaks my heart.  I have to do things that terrify me.  I have to read between the lines, I have to accept things in myself and others that I would rather not accept.  I have to be compassionate with myself and others when I would rather scold or condemn.  I have to live with uncertainty, with wide open spaces, with complicated feelings and emotions.

But that's also the good news.  I get to live with WIDE OPEN SPACES.  I get to direct my own life, I get to say yes or no; to move in one direction or the other.  I get to experience life, I get to feel all of it, every little last drop of it.  I get to bask in my humanity - and I get to share that experience with other people.  I get to connect with them.  I get to help them - and allow them to help me. 

I get the good with the bad, the beautiful with the ugly, the roses with the thorns, the darkness with the dawn. 

So when the good and the beautiful and the roses and the dawn finally arrive, they are that much sweeter and I can appreciate them that much more.

I'm starting to see a new dawn on the horizon in some areas of my life that have been pretty dark for a while.  The past few weeks have brought answers for me. 

There are some things in life that seem as though they will never be resolved, that they are our burden to bear for eternity.  But then suddenly, one sweet day, the clouds part; the fever breaks, and a glimmer of hope shines into the darkness.  And from that moment forward, we know that every little thing is going to be alright.

It's fascinating to see how resolutions arrive and how they unfold in our lives sometimes.  They are certainly not in the packages that we imagined or ever dreamed possible.  You know,  God is one heck of a storyteller.  Some of the tales he spins are so bizarre, and the plot twists so unexpected that it almost seems like he's really having a blast up there with our stories.  And his timing is impeccable.  Sometimes excruciating for us, but always exactly right.  JRR Tolkien ain't got nothing on God. 

I think sometimes, God just finally looks down on us and says:  You've suffered enough.  I think I'll add a beautiful blossom to that thorny rose bush you've been tending to all spring.  Then he sits back to admire the story that he has written.

"This old world we're living in is mighty hard to beat.  We get a thorn with every rose, but ain't the roses sweet."   Stanton

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It's Yours If You Want It


That's what this week is all about for me.

Sometimes it takes shaking things up a bit to make us realize how blessed we really are.



I've had a hell of a couple of weeks.

Some big things are going on at work, and at home, and I've been stressed to the max.

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in life.  Or in our relationships.  Or our career. 

Sometimes we have to make a choice.  Make a turn in one direction or another, or stay where we are. 

I had a choice this week.  A big one.  I was told "It's yours if you want it" regarding more than one opportunity.

I had put myself out there, asked for something that I believed impossible, and the response was:  "Of course.  It's yours if you want it."

Ummm.  This caught me off guard.  I had expected rejection or a flat out NO.  But instead I got the opposite. 

So now I had to answer the real question:  Did I really want it?

You know, I think that a lot of life is easier than we think.  When we put ourselves out there and actually ask for something, it's not always that hard to get. 

The had part is deciding what to ask for.  The hard part is figuring out WHAT WE WANT.

When faced with this question this week, I realized that I had no idea what I wanted. 

And that's ok too.

We're allowed to try different things, to feel our way around until we find our sweet spot.  No one is born knowing exactly who they are and what their purpose is.  Well, at least not most people.  So why do we think that we have to get it right the first time?  Why do I feel like I get one shot at life, then I'm stuck with whatever that is for eternity? 

But when I realized this week that I had no idea what I wanted, I panicked.  I thought that it was black or white, take it or leave it.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't know.  News flash:  no one knows! 

I've been learning a lot at work lately.  And by a lot, I mean a mind-blowing amount of new information bombards my brain every second of every day.  I say something foolish at least once every 5 minutes and blatantly reveal my ignorance to everyone around me.  I struggle and curse architecture school and The stupid Fountainhead for ever making me interested in architecture in the first place.  I have a stack of books a mile high at my desk because I have to look up EVERY SINGLE THING I do.  ALL DAY.  EVERY DAY.  It's exhausting.  And overwhelming.  And painful.  These growing pains suck. 

And I'm tired.  I'm emotional.  I'm hormonal.  I want to sit and cry a lot.  I want to bawl my eyes out, gnash my teeth, howl and moan like a wild wildebeest.  I want to let it all out.  I am STRESSED.  I want to drink wine all day.  I want to complain to anyone who will listen.  I want to talk incessantly about myself and my hard times. 

BUT, when I put on my perspectacles, as Glennon Doyle Melton would say, I also realize that I am so lucky.  I am finally in the arena; I am facing my biggest fear in life, I'm struggling to develop into the architect that I know I'm capable of being... and I have an office full of people who support and encourage me every step of the way.  I have decades of cumulative knowledge within 10 feet of me.  My pals John, Randy, Jim & Donna are more than willing to help me and explain things to me and share their knowledge.  Sometimes I don't even have to ask... they sense me struggling and come to my rescue before I even know I'm in trouble.  What an amazing gift that I have been given!

So I try to control my howling and gnashing of teeth.  I don't let it all out...well, ok, maybe some of it.  But most of it I keep inside.  Why?  Well, because that wouldn't be very attractive now, would it?  And also because this is what I wanted!  This is what I've been waiting for.  This very opportunity to learn, to gain experience, to have my own project and be responsible for it's success or failure.  That is what I've been wishing and waiting and asking for for years, and I'm not gonna blow this opportunity now by complaining about every second of it. 

But now that it's here and I'm in the middle of it, I'm asking IS THIS STILL WHAT I WANT?  I'm allowed to change my mind, you know.  I'm allowed to try something and decide it's not for me, and move on to the next thing - guilt free. 

But do you know what I have decided?  Yes.  This is still what I want.  I thought I wanted the other thing, but maybe I was just trying to escape from the thing I already have because its hard.  And I wanted an out.  But I am happy where I am.  I'm learning.  I'm growing.  The stress and the struggle are worth it to me right now.  That might not always be the case, but right now, I'm exactly where I WANT to be.

So here I am, at the end of this stressful, emotional, exhausting week, in the exact same place that I started out on Monday.  But the difference is that I'm changed.  I have a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to my life just as it is, and I'm filled with gratitude for what I already have.  I don't need a change.  I just need to appreciate how blessed I already am.

Are you where you want to be in life?  If you had an opportunity to make a change in your life, would you take it, or would you decide that you're actually good right where you are?

Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to Put Yourself Out There as a Highly Creative Introvert

I'm an Introvert.  I'm also a Creative.  I think the two are somewhat related.

Many introverts are also highly creative individuals.  It makes sense.  We have rich inner lives, we seek solitude, we observe and we listen.  And since we generally don't express ourselves openly and often with others, all of this information has to go somewhere.  If we don't find some way to release it, we will explode.  So we express ourselves in the things that we create.

I, like many other introverts, am content living in my own inner world a majority of the time.  I can get lost in my writing and my art for days on end before I start to feel the twinge of loneliness or realize that I should probably reach out to another human being.  During this alone time, I create.  I write my stories, I paint, I sketch, I design, I build.

And for a very long time, this was enough.

But eventually, I felt the call to start sharing my work with the world.  I promptly ignored this call.  It felt too risky.  Only wildly confident, extroverted, professionals put their work out into the world, right??  I thought:  I'm not a real writer, or a real artist.  I was just doing this for fun, I though it didn't matter if no one else ever saw my work other than my husband and my dog.

But it does matter.

Creativity is a force of nature.  It is a fundamental part of who we are.  And whether you and I like it or not, it is meant to be shared.

As introverts, we tend to avoid any form of over-sharing.  But as creatives, it is our duty to share our work with the world.

The likely result of this duplicity:  FEAR and PROCRASTINATION.

I found myself locked in inaction due to fear and procrastination for years.  I continued to create - in one way or another - throughout this time, but I could not find the courage to take that first step toward sharing my work with the world. 

The moment that I finally burst through the fear was when I asked myself this question:

When I am at the end of my life, and I'm looking back over all of the things that I did and didn't do, which would I regret more:  facing my fears by putting myself out there and risking failure and embarrassment, or playing it safe and not even trying? 

The thought of the latter was too much to bear, and terrified me more than anything else.

It was time to take action.

And so I did.  I started to put myself out there.  It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  I felt vulnerable, afraid, embarrassed.  But I also felt ALIVE.  At long last, I felt like I was really living, like I was finally in the game.  

Here are few things that I learned and insights that I gained as I started to put myself and my creative ideas out into the world.  If you are a highly creative introvert, maybe they can help you too.

1.  Start small.

I knew in my heart that the thing I most wanted to share was my writing.  But it was too personal and too precious to me to just throw it out there for all to see.  I needed to ease into this.  So I did other things to get warmed up.  I had a small side business decorating cakes and teaching cake decorating classes at the time, so that seemed to be  logical place to start.  I began by sharing photos of my cakes on social media.  I started decorating cakes for friends, and work events.  I started sharing my cake decorating skills and talents freely.  And it went great.  The feedback that I got was very encouraging.  It helped me see that when you share your skills and talents, others are grateful.  They appreciate what you have to offer.  

2.  Take the Plunge.

After several years of expressing my creativity through cakes, I finally got up the nerve to start a blog.  I had no idea how to start a blog, or even what my topic would be, but I knew that I had to do it.  So I set up a simple website, made a page for my cakes, another for my artwork, and finally... a BLOG!  I will never forget the day I published my first article, I was both terrified and excited.  I hit "publish" and did a happy dance.  But then it hit me:  NO ONE even knew that  my blog existed other than me, my husband and my mom.  Hmmm.  I realized that I was going to have to do more than just post on my website, I was going to have to advertise my work.  Oh God, no.  Self promotion was too much to even think about at this point.  I had mistakenly thought that "if I wrote it they would come."  

3.  Own Your Worth.

I finally got up the nerve to start sharing my blog articles on social media.  But still, I was reluctant to talk about it with others.  Anytime my blog came up in conversation, I would downplay it as though it was nothing.  Then I couldn't understand why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me.  Well, I had hardly made it sound interesting!  Only very recently have I begun to talk about my writing and my blog openly.  I am proud of my blog, more-so than maybe anything else in my life.  I have worked so hard and poured my heart out in my writing, I've made my very best attempt to be honest and to help others who may be dealing with some of the same things that I am.  So I finally realized that it's ok to be proud of something that I have created and to share these positive feelings.  It's ok to talk about it.  Its ok to suggest that others read it.  That is not arrogance - it's generosity.  It's sharing something that I honestly believe will help someone else or make their life better.  I'm not helping anyone by writing or creating something and then hiding away and keeping it to myself, am I?  Neither are you.  Share your art.  Own your worth.

4.  Be Consistent.

I'm not gonna lie, some of what I've created is crap.  But some of it is gold.  And if I hadn't muddled through the crap, I would never have struck gold.  That's just how it goes.  So.  Keep on creating and sharing your stuff, even if it isn't perfect, even if it doesn't live up to the ridiculously high standards you've set for yourself.  Sometimes it is better to be consistent than to be great.  Especially when you are just starting out.  Also.  Just to warn you:  when you start putting yourself out there more and more, you are inevitably going to want to quit.  You'll hit "post" and become overwhelmed with feelings of doubt and shame.  You'll ask yourself how you could ever have been so stupid as to think that anyone would enjoy or appreciate your art.  You'll stress over how your family and friends will react to your stories.  You'll worry that you've offended someone.  You'll want to hide under a rock.  But then, a few days later, another seed of an idea will take hold in your heart, and you'll get excited about your art again.  You'll nurture it until it becomes something beautiful, then you'll share it, and the whole process will begin again.  And that's the good news.  Keep going.   

I hope some of this was helpful to you, dear introverted sisters and brothers. 

Now, get crackin'!  There's work to do - your creativity awaits!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit: Kiosea39 |



My Fearless Manifesto

I used to have a problem: 

I believed everything that the fear voices in my head told me.  I thought that the fear voices were my own voice.  I didn’t know that there was another voice – a gentler one – inside my head that spoke kind and truthful words that encouraged me and guided me toward my destiny.  I couldn’t hear this voice because the fear voice was so loud. 

I never thought to question fear when it told me that I was too shy, or too awkward, too tall, not smart enough, not thin enough, not outgoing enough.  I believed it ALL, and I thought that I just had to make due with the hand that I’d been dealt.  I thought that others – others who were out there doing the things that I longed to do – were just lucky or talented.  I assumed that they didn’t have these same fears that I had.  I assumed that they had it all figured out from the very beginning and they were just breezing through their charmed lives.  

Now I know the truth. 

Now, when I see others out there doing big things, I know that they have learned to face their fears.  Because we ALL have these same fears.  We all have the roar of self doubt and negativity running through our heads 24/7.  But, as I started to learn to listen to the other, gentler voice, I realized that just because the fear voice is shouting constantly, I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT.  I don’t believe everything I read on the internet do I?  Well, I don’t have to believe everything that my fear voice tells me either.  The more that I listened for my gentler voice, the louder and clearer it became.  And I realized over time that the fear voices were just scared and hurt parts of me.  So I learned to look at them, and pay attention to where they came from and what they were trying to tell me.  And quite often, just accepting them and letting them be there without blame or resistance helped them loosen their grip, and soften their voices.

I don’t believe that there is such a thing as “No fear”.  That seems unattainable to me.  A more appropriate sentiment would be “with fear” or even better “despite fear”.  That’s how I have chosen to live my life.  I have made a conscious decision to pursue my heart’s desires despite the fear that I feel.  Let me tell you, this is hard sometimes.  And even after facing certain fears multiple times, they do not just go away.  Apparently this is a lifelong commitment.  It’s a way of life.  But in my opinion, it’s the only way.

This is what is in my heart to share here on my blog.  That is why I started Fearless Friday newsletters.  I realized that maybe I'm not the only one facing these fear voices, maybe I'm not the only one stuck in patterns of fear and self-doubt.  Maybe others need to hear the message that their fear voice is not their true voice.  Maybe others could benefit from a reminder each week that we must continuously face our fears in order to be happy and achieve our higher purpose in this life. 

To support this theme of facing fear and embracing creativity in our lives, I've assembled the following manifesto. 

My Fearless Manifesto

1.   I commit to feeling my fears and acting anyway.

2.  I will live my life by FOLLOWING LOVE, rather than AVOIDING FEAR.  

3.  I will not beat myself up for lacking the ability or enthusiasm to do things that are not in my nature.

4.  I will cultivate and practice self-love in all areas of my life.  I will learn to answer Yes!  to the question:  do you really love yourself.

5.  I will forgive myself and know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

6.  I will look for and acknowledge the best in others.

7.  If I can't answer with a genuine "Hell, YES!", then the answer is "no".

8.  I must make an effort to connect with someone I love every single day.  I have a reclusive side, and left to my own devices, I'll sit in my office and read and write and analyze my existence 'till the end of time.  I NEED to connect with others, even when I don't really feel like it.

9.  I will make time for the activities in life that feed my soul and I will build my life around those things.

10.  I will help others by sharing my gifts, talents and resources.  I will not hide what I have to offer those around me; I will give of myself freely.  I will let my light shine.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content



What's The Point?

Do you ever find yourself at work or in life wondering: What is the point of all of this?

I certainly do.  And I've spent countless hours, read hundreds of books, and poured my heart out in the pages of my journal trying to answer that question.  What's the Point?

I had a conversation with a guy at a bar years ago about our career aspirations and life in general, and he said something that I'll never forget.  "I always knew that I was meant to work on something special."

Although I had never put it into those words, I realized that I had always felt the same way - like a yearning and a knowing deep in my soul.

I want to work on something special.

I think we all long to do something special.  We all long to do meaningful work that makes us happy and makes the world a better place.  We all long to do something special in our private lives, to BE someone else's someone special.  We all want to feel love and acceptance and value.

The bar guy told me all about his job at a national security complex, and how he was finally doing his something special; he was living his dream.  Despite the trials and the difficulties of his work, he made a point to keep the idea that he was doing something special at the front of his mind.  I'm sure that was great motivation for him when the job got hard, or boring, or mundane... he just checked in with himself and remembered that THIS IS MY SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Sometimes I struggle with finding this kind of meaning in my day-to-day life.  I wonder WHAT'S THE POINT?  I want to help others, and have a purposeful existence.  I enjoy my work enough, but I don't always see an immediate connection between what I'm doing and how it is making the world a better place.  I have trouble sometimes stepping back and looking at the big picture of not just what I'm doing, but why I'm doing it. 

Last week, I was able to make that connection in a real and immediate way at work, and it felt amazing.

I met with one of my company's school clients to select interior finishes for their project.  The project manager and I sat with the school principal for hours, pouring over tiny squares of fabric and color, making sure we found just the right shade of gray.  As we got to each different classroom, the principal called in additional opinions.  The band director had input on what she wanted in her room - nothing to busy but something that hides dirt well; a splash of color on the walls.  Then the art teacher got to select colors for her new art room - she wanted black counter tops and tack boards to set the background for the student artwork.  She hadn't seen the design for her new space yet, so we walked her through it on the drawings.  She practically cried with happiness when she saw the new space that she was receiving.  This new school, this classroom, it was HER space.  She would spend eight hours every day for years to come existing in this space that WE created.  

At some point during this encounter, it dawned on me that something I had helped to create affects her happiness so directly,  and THAT is something special indeed!

I was talking with a very wise man this week, and he said to me:  "Haley, the Point is LOVE."  Our purpose in life and in work is to grow in love and acceptance of ourselves and one another.  It's that simple.  And the good news is that we can do that WHEREVER we are.  It doesn't matter if I'm designing skyscrapers in New York City, or picking out colors for someone's bathroom, or raising small children at home.  In any of these situations, I have the opportunity to love the people around me; to love myself; to accept myself as I am; to accept others as they are; to be compassionate.  No matter what situation I find myself in, the point remains the same:  LOVE.

What's your something special?  How do you find meaning in your day to day life?  Let me know in the comments below how you express LOVE in your work or in your life?  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Creativity Workshop starting soon - Want in?

A few years ago, I was stuck.  I was blocked creativity, paralyzed by fear and self doubt, and overwhelmed with confusion about what I wanted out of life.

I wished at that time that I had a group of supporters to help me find my way, to encourage and uplift me while I stumbled around in the dark.  

Then I found The Artist's Way.  It's a book about creativity, or more importantly, how to get un-stuck in your creative life.  Julia Cameron takes the reader on a 12 week journey, guiding them along a spiritual path to higher creativity.

So I followed the course step by step.  I started facing my fears.  I started trying new things so that I could get some clarity on what I actually wanted to do.  I started identifying self-limiting beliefs and the impact they were having on my life.  I did the exercises that are specifically designed to get you out of your head and allow you to tune into your creative voice.  I learned to overcome resistance and DO THE WORK.  And eventually, I became unblocked.  I started creating things, lots of things.  Thoughts and ideas and images poured out of me like a flood.  I started painting and sketching, I started writing, I decorated cakes, I built things, I started a website and a blog to share my ideas.  And I even wrote an e-Book about it.

But the one thing that was still missing was a group of like-minded people to share this journey with.  I talked about my experiences and what I was learning with some friends and family members of course, but a dedicated group of people experiencing the very same things that I was would have been invaluable to me at the time.

It has been on my heart for several years to start such a group.  I've led soulful small groups, I've taught creative cake decorating classes and college design courses, and I feel that this will be a perfect combination of those experiences.  Art & Soul.  That's what this group will be about.   

I'm so passionate about this idea, and so sure that there are others out there who need it too, that I'm offering it for free.  No charge, I just want others who may be in the same position that I found myself a few years ago to have a safe place to grow.  To have a group to lean on, a support system, a cheerleading team behind them as they take the first terrifying steps toward their dreams. 

Does this sound like a group that you would like to be a part of?  

Do you have a creative idea burning inside of you, but no idea how to define it or express it?

Do you long to do more in your life, but you're not sure where to start or how to harness your creativity and talents and skills and use them to make the difference you long to make?

Do you wish you had more time to devote to your creative life, but you are so burdened with work and other obligations that you don't have much time left to do something for yourself - something that will make you happy?

If so, then this might be just the thing for you.  I intend to follow the material as outlined in The Artist's Way, however, most small groups that I have been a part of have evolved into much different things than what they were originally intended to be, so I believe that an open mind and heart are important to maintain throughout the process.

If you're in the Knoxville area and you are interested in being a part of this group, please leave a comment below or send me a message here to let me know!

The course will be starting in late March and will last 3 months.  We will meet once a week for 1-2 hours  to discuss the readings and to support one another along the way.

If you're not in Knoxville but would be interested in such a group, let me know.  I'll send you all the info I have so that you can start your own Artist's Way group wherever you are!

Happy Friday!


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo by author

Think Outside Your Box

I was doing some research at work the other day, and I came across a blog post with the most peculiar message.

It was about how the author (an architect) takes great pride in his drawings, and views them as an opportunity to express his "artistic" side.  

I scoffed.  

Technical construction drawings are the farthest thing I can think of from artistic or creative expression.

But his words kept nagging at me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he is RIGHT.  

I may have been making a huge mistake in my life by wishing and waiting for an opportunity to be creative, rather than turning what I'm ALREADY DOING into that very opportunity!

I have a very narrow idea of creativity in my mind.  For me, it consists of writing, creating art (i.e. painting, drawing, making cakes, sculpting, etc.), any kind of crafting, jewelry making, decorating and party planning.  I don't really branch out much beyond those things.

But creativity can be SO MUCH MORE.

Dan and I were talking the other day about creativity for men.  He was arguing that guys sometimes express themselves differently than women, but it is creative expression none-the-less.  For example, a guy who spends his free time re-building an engine may view that as a highly creative endeavor.  I personally view it as the worst kind of torture, but that's just me.  Different strokes for different folks.  Or what about the way that Dan tricks out his truck and boat.  Or the hours he spends organizing his fishing tackle.  That looks like a real snooze-fest to me, but he is honoring the very deepest parts of himself when he engages in these activities.  He is painstakingly caring for a dream and a vision that he has for himself.  He is devoting time and attention and effort to his heart's desires, and he is practicing self love by allowing himself to enjoy something so thoroughly.  If that isn't creativity then I don't know what is.   

I had a conversation with a structural engineer this week about the various ways that we could attach a guardrail to the edge of a concrete wall.  It was eye-opening to see how he thought through creative solutions to the problem at hand.  He was passionate about steel and concrete, and thrilled when we came up with the simplest, cleanest and most cost effective solution.  I never thought about structural design as an expression of creativity until that moment, but it IS.  Or at least it CAN BE.

Any time you are engaging the deepest parts of yourself and acknowledging your true interests and passions:  that's creativity.

Any time you are making connections between things in your world, putting them together in new and interesting ways (whether it's physical objects or ideas):  that's creativity.

Any time you are actively engaging a problem and developing a solution:  that's creativity.

Any time you are figuring things out on your own, rather than waiting around for someone else to do it for you:  that's creativity.

Any time you are making time and space in your life to do the thing that your soul longs to do:  that's creativity.

Creativity is using the brain that God gave you.  It's fully engaging with what you are doing, and doing it to the best of your ability.  It's looking at a problem and allowing yourself to think outside of the box for the solution.

Yes, creativity can be expressed through art and music and writing, but it can also be expressed in the way you live your life.  Creative Living.  This is how you engage with the world; how you do things, how you pay attention, how you interact, how you carry yourself, WHO YOU ARE.

I worked at Red Lobster for a number of years back in college, and I will never forget one particularly busy day when my sister and I were on dessert duty together.  I was slinging key-lime pie and cheesecake like a mad woman, some of my plates looked like piles of sugary wreckage.  But my sister was carefully and lovingly creating each dessert, decorating every plate like she was freaking Martha Stewart.  At one point, the manager came over, looked at my sister's work, and demanded to know who had created that dessert.  We looked at each other in alarm.  "I did" my sister said timidly.  "Good work!."  the manager barked and turned on her heel in the other direction.  

That's creativity.  Taking any task you are given or situation you encounter, and putting your heart into it - owning it and using all of who you are to accomplish the task.

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

So the good news it:  we have no excuse to not engage our creativity on a regular basis.  We don't have to wait around until we have a week off of work to devote to our creativity.  We can  be creative NOW, with whatever we find ourselves doing.

When I think about my career in terms of this new idea of creativity, what I start to realize is maybe the key to a fulfilling career lies in finding ways to combine elements of the things that your soul longs to do.  

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming desire to do graphic design.  There is something about organizing words and images that makes me feel alive.  And even though I haven't done much graphic design since college, it is still there, as much a part of who I am as the fact that I work every day as an architect now.

I've been watching the Great British Baking Challenge this week, and watching those contestants lovingly baking pies and pastries stirs up a lot of the same emotions in me as graphic design does... it's another part of who I am.  I LOVE to bake, my soul longs to do it sometimes.  

So, while my role at work is an architect, that doesn't mean that I can't approach my job duties with some creativity and identify ways to incorporate my passions into that.  I can utilize my design skills, my intuitive knack for organizing and laying out images and words, my love of baking (ok, maybe baking is a stretch but you see where I'm going with this).

We need to figure out ways to bring ALL of who we are to whatever we are doing.  I've been guilty of keeping various parts of myself separate, I get into "technical" mode, or "creative" mode, and neglect to utilize the whole of my abilities.  But creative living requires us to bring all of who we are to everything we do.  Nothing less will suffice.  That is what we are called to do.  No one else on earth has the same perspective, the same background and passions and point of view and ideas that I have, or that you have, and no one ever will.  It is up to each of us to share our passions and talents and ideas with the world, or else they will go to waste.  And what a terrible shame that would be.  

What about you?  How can you approach what you are already doing in a more creative way?

Let me know in the comments.  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  Vitalii Shastun | 



Happy Valentine's Day

I'm doing something a little different this year for V-day.  I'm attending a FISHING conference with Dan.  Actually, he's attending the conference while I hang out and roam the streets of Columbus.  Well, I had PLANNED to roam the streets of Columbus, that actually sounds like fun to me, but it is 6 degrees here right now.  6 DEGREES!  Are you kidding me?!

So plans have changed and now I'm hanging out in the warm hotel lounge with my coffee and my laptop.  Not a bad Saturday morning, actually.

I know you're thinking that I must be the best wife in the entire universe (or the dumbest :-)) for agreeing to come to a fishing conference on Valentine's Day weekend.  But this is actually payback for the writing conference I attended in Nashville several months ago.  Dan went with me for moral support, so I'm returning the favor.  And I really don't mind.  Especially after I saw the look on his face when we arrived and were surrounded by the biggest crowd of grown men wearing camouflaged hoodies and driving big trucks that I've ever seen.  He looked like he was in heaven, and I was so grateful that I was there to share it with him.  We had breakfast together this morning, then I left him in the conference room, on the front row with his notepad and laptop ready to go.  I don't know if I've ever seen him this excited.  

It's amazing the things we do for love.

When I think back on some of the lonely years I spent dreading Valentine's Day, a fishing conference with the man I love doesn't sound so bad.  And it certainly helped that he had roses waiting for me in the hotel room when we arrived.

You know, for years I hated this holiday.  I dreaded that one lonely night of the year when everyone else was celebrating their love with their sweetheart, and I was all alone.

But I made the most of those times.  I had love all around me, just not always the romantic kind.  Looking back, some of my most favorite Valentine's moments were during those single years.  

There was the time that my roommates and I drew names and got each other fancy V-day gifts.  We woke up early like it was freakin' Christmas morning, and sat around the table in our pj's opening our gifts.  It was one of the most fun Valentines I've ever had.  Of course at the time, I didn't realize how lucky I was, surrounded by my besties, not a care in the world.  Sometimes I miss those day so much.

Back in those days, my sorority sisters and I also had a tradition where we dressed in all black and formed the Lonely Heart's Club and went out on the town to keep each other company on this otherwise dreaded evening.

And all of the years growing up, my Dad never missed a Valentine's Day.  He always showed up with flowers and candy and cards for my Mom, sister, brother and I, and it always made me feel so special.

There were some lonely Valentines days; some where I was with someone and knew it wasn't right, and still others spent desperately wishing for someone special to do a little something special.  And then there were times with my friends, bonding over our singleness together.  And now there are fishing conferences and roses in hotel rooms.  But there has always been LOVE.  Sometimes romantic love, sometimes not.  I've been beyond blessed all the years of my life to be surrounded by friends and family and LOVE.

Wherever you find yourself this Valentine's Day, EMBRACE it.  Appreciate and enjoy your place in life right now, just as it is, and accept the love that is all around you.  

Happy Valentine's Day!


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Will You Catch Me If I Fall?

Dan told me that I had a bad dream last night.  Apparently at some point during the night I woke up, bolted upright, and looked around the room like a crazy woman.  He was still awake, reading a book, so he asked me:  "What's wrong, Honey?"  I just looked at him, all crazy-eyed.  He assured me that everything was OK, and that he was right there and wouldn't let anything happen to me.  Then I asked him "Will you catch me if I fall?"  He said "Yes, of course I will", then I laid my head back down on the pillow and fell sound asleep, as if nothing had happened.  

I had no recollection of this.  After he told me the story, I could faintly remember it, similar to how you can just make out the shape of something in a dense fog, and you squint at it to try to bring it into focus.  I tried for a while to see through the fog and remember the dream, but a vague outline was all I could muster.  But the whole situation really struck me, and left me with an odd, inexplicable feeling that I couldn't shake all day.  

The previous day, I had a conversation with a friend about dreams.  She shared with me that she was having vivid, recurring dreams about being rejected.  In these dreams, one of her worst fears - being rejected by the man that she loves - was haunting her.  Night after night, she lives out these fears that she has buried deep within her.  Even though there is no actual threat of such rejection in her life, she still has to deal with this worry, this anxiety, this fear.  She asked if I had those kinds of dreams, and looked at me incredulously when I told her that I do not.  I suppose that rejection isn't one of my deepest, darkest fears at this point in my life.

But failure is.

Which is why, the very next night, I found myself begging my husband - in my sleep - to catch me if I fall.  I must have been dreaming of falling, or failing, or somehow not being capable of holding it all together in an upright position.  

"Will you catch me if I fall?"

After thinking about this some more, I realized that something was activating our fears, something was stirring them up and making them rage and rear their ugly heads and torment us in the night.  And that something is that WE ARE HAPPY.  We have something to lose.  

My friend has allowed herself to love someone deeply again.  I have taken steps to try new things in my life, things that I have no guarantee will work out or be successful.  We're both facing our fears, and our fears don't like it.  

Our fear is a bit of a control freak.  It doesn't like being ignored and overlooked.  It likes to be the center of attention.  It likes to be in control.  So as soon as we take charge, and tell our fear to step aside, it has a temper tantrum.  It shouts at us constantly, it makes a racket in whatever way it can, it is desperate for our attention.  If we choose to ignore it during the day and go about living our lives to the fullest, it will sneak up on us in the night, in our dreams, in our subconscious awareness.  But the sad thing is that it does not have our best interest at heart, so we cannot listen to it.  

But I don't hold a grudge against my fears.  In fact, I choose to interpret that feeling of fear that grips my heart as a good sign.  I choose to see it as an indicator that I'm onto something good in my life, that I getting "warmer"; closer to the prize, closer to my true self and the divine plan for my life.

And how blessed am I to have someone in my life who I trust so fully that I ask him in my sleep to catch me if I fall?  How blessed am I to have people in my life who help me stare this dreaded fear in the face and say:  you're not in charge anymore.  Together, we will do this thing, whatever it is, and even if she falls, we'll catch her, and together we'll make it to our destination. 

That doesn't leave much room for dear ol' fear, does it?  

And how lucky is my friend, to have found love, against all odds, despite the fear in her heart.  It's amazing that any of us get anything accomplished in this life, with our fears always bubbling just beneath the surface.  But we do.  We are strong.  We can do things that terrify us, and come out better for having done them.  We can allow our love to be greater than our fear.  And when we do, that's when the magic happens.

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.