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Realising that I do not have to be good.

Present Over Perfect

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Mary Oliver

Shauna Niequist had me hooked in her first stanza. I am not sure if it was because I was on a plane to Indonesia post a very busy season or the Catholic roots of my faith that echo in my loyal soul but my heart she breathed.

“Amanda, you do not have to be good.”

“It is okay to not have it all together.”

“Yes, that pain you feel sits high on your chest, let’s unpack its weight together”

Breathe, stop and heave.

The same realisation came eight years ago when I bought a Hawaiin beach shack in the little town that I grew up, running away from the pain that was so confusing in my workplace.

I stood with a real estate agent, it was the first place I had looked and I was smitten. Full of mold, carpet that reeked of cigarette smoke but it was five steps to the sea.

I had friends grieving from the deep sadness of illness that had consumed a dear friend, I was single and so very disappointed.

Quickly I said to the real estate agent, I want to place an offer on this little Oahu beach shack and my sea change recovery began. As I renovated the past from its walls, the heaviness in my heart released. Each time I walked over the road and breathed deep in the salty air, my questions were not answered but I found the space I needed.

In the midst of this massive season of loss and transition, I realised a deep theological question that had been hovering in my soul. It taunted me, it kept me awake at night and my sea change allowed it space to breathe.

The question was this;

“If I am good, then why do bad things happen?

or the opposite why do people who are bad have good things happen to them?”

In the midst of the sea change, I watched pelicans fly in formation and the tide change slowly from Summer to Spring. I needed to face these questions alone and I needed to reframe my deep beliefs that told me…

If I work harder, please more people and keep it together then I will be okay.

Do you struggle about whether you are good enough?

Shauna’s book Present Over Perfect has helped me unpack my need to keep everyone and everything ticking over so that my world doesn’t unravel.

I realised though all those years ago when I shifted away from the city, from friends who defined my sense of worth and a culture that was toxic, that it is okay to not have it all together all the time and as Shakespeare so eloquently describes in the Tempest;

A man is thrown into the sea, and under the water, he is transformed from what he was into something entirely new, something “rich and strange.”

The funny thing is less than a year ago we sold that little healing beach cave and bought a new place. It is like the journey begins all over again. Maybe that is what life is, a series of becomings.

I am looking forward to this journey of our Book Club together. February could possibly be the beginning of your tempest sea change.

Lets do this journey together.

Amanda Marie

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Five Books that Changed me this Year



One thing I try to do each year is to reflect back upon the books I have read and the impact that they have made on me. Lately, I have realised I am much better at reading a book if it is sitting on my bedside table and I can feel the time and effort it took to print its pages.

Book Number One: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Available here with free shipping from Book Depository.

It is difficult to describe how Big Magic helped me this year. It came in a season when I needed to re-remember what I knew about creativity and how powerful it is to help us find our voice. The beginning of 2016 was full of much grief. I needed to re-find the power of creativity and step into the great unknown of my year. Elizabeth Gilbert helped motivate me to start again and finish off those projects that remained undone.

Book Number Two: The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Available here with free shipping from Book Depository

I am reading this book right now, from my Kindle, but I am going to order a paperback copy. It is massaging my heart in places that are needing to be tenderly approached with care. I had one week in particular in the second half of 2016, where we cracked an ipad air screen, a iPhone screen, and a ipads screen. We hadn’t broken any screens in our house, till this one fated week. The only device that hasn’t been fixed yet is my iPad air. The one I work on. That is because it costs over $400 just to replace the screen. It is funny from the beginning of this little season in my family life, I was deeply upset because there was a part of me that just couldn’t look at something that was broken every day. Especially something that I write and produce creatively on. But lately, as I read this book on that smashed screen, I am realising that there is beauty in our brokenness and God meets us in these undone places.

Book Number Three: Present over Perfect by Shauna Niquest

Available here with free shipping from Book Depository

During November, I laid down technology and picked up paper. I turned forty at the end of October and this book was the perfect end to a big decade of my life. I had bought two houses, sold one house, gotten engaged and married, given birth to two children and traveled extensively. I am not someone who easily sits in the pocket of present over perfect. There is something within me that wants everything to work out with precision and flare. Life is far from perfect and Shauna’s writing has been a balm this year to my soul.

Book Number Four: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Available here with free shipping from Book Depository

I have only just found this little gem, this week in fact, but it is coming in as a year long favourite, with Shonda’s wit and courage. She encourages her readers to dance it out, stand in the sun and be your own person. Maybe 2017 needs to be your year of yes. This writer from some of my favourite shows like grey’s anatomy has caught my attention with this one.

Book Number Five: Savor by Shauna Niquest

Available here with free shipping from Book Depository

This book has 365 Chapters, with little nuggets for the whole year through. It has been such a privelege to walk with Shauna through her year, with this little book of devotions. Each page has a scripture and a thought that is so applicable for my season as a Mum. I have decided to write each day and do this as my 2017 devotional again next year. To help me walk into my new season with hope and light.

And of course, my year would not have been complete without this little special friend.


I feel like I gave birth to a book baby this year DEAR SINGLE SELF and the feedback that is coming from people all over the world who are ready my stories and thoughts is so encouraging.

What are your top five books for the year?

I would love to know.

Happy December friends.