Week Fifteen: Amanda Kasper


Write about anything

Look with new eyes.

For two and a half years, I worked with an organization who bettered people. They did all sorts of things and this was in no way their elevator speech or their quantifiable success – but in my eyes, that’s the most important, most widespread thing they accomplished. Everyone who walked through those doors – staff, clients, volunteers, donors – left better than they started.

One of five life lessons taught there was “look with new eyes” and for all this time, I thought I understood. Except, I really had no idea at all. You see, looking with new eyes is something you cannot understand until you are already doing it.

This year has without question been the hardest of my life. Physically, my body has presented challenges and changes at every turn. Through multiple ER visits, hospital stays, doctors appointments, invasive tests and procedures, unbearable pain and unlivable I thought I was working toward forgiveness. Forgiveness of my body on behalf of whatever I had done wrong to get me here. Forgiveness from me on the circumstances I was now living. Forgiveness towards a life that I didn’t understand, I didn’t work for, I didn’t know how to adjust too.

This year, staying alive was a challenge. Sometimes, staying alive was a choice.

This has been my deepest darkest secret for months now, only articulating it in middle of the night conversations with impossibly close friends. Recently, I’ve been sharing it more. I’ve been trying to talk through it. To understand why I feel so horrible about it in my mind. A wonderful friend said something that has stuck so deeply with me: “Mands, you should be so proud. You made the choice. You did it.”

And like that, with new eyes, I realize she is right. In my heart I understand I am far stronger for having made the choice, night after night. With new eyes, I understand that this might be my forever story. But it doesn’t have to be the whole story. It can be part of it. The part that motivates me. The part that changed me. The part that made me stronger. But not the whole definition of who I am.

With that notion in tow, I’ve started making minor changes. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a leaper. I put the cart before the horse. I want to feel and do and be as I was before – but I can’t be. That’s not feasible.

What is feasible is using my mind. Is tentative planning. Re-learning time management. What is possible is taking steps, listening to my body, and being brave enough to pull back when it is too much.

It’s going to take a whole lot of practice, and I by no means am anywhere but the very beginning, but for now, today, I am looking with new eyes. And for that, I am grateful.


Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”


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