Book beauty is only cover deep, but truth goes to the bone


By Amanda Cleary Eastep Have you ever seen a beautifully decorated cake and thought, “Wow, that’s too pretty to eat”? Well, if you’re an avid reader and on Instagram, you will at some point see gorgeous “bookstagram” posts of popular fantasy novels. These still lifes are composed of almost-too-pretty-to-read hardcover books strung with tiny lights […]

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Childhood Dreams, Second Callings


By Amanda Cleary Eastep This is a dream come true moment. I remember crawling up there and asking my traveling companion to capture my “I’ll never forget this place, this lake, this rock” moment. Well, I’ve forgotten. I mean, I know I was in Scotland, but exactly where, I don’t recall now. But that’s OK, […]

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9 of the Most Important Books I’ve Read


By Amanda Cleary Eastep In the corner of our fifth/sixth grade Lutheran classroom was a narrow bookshelf full of books that were ours alone. Our parochial school had a library, a place I loved to visit despite the taunts of the older students who worked the desk: “You’ll never read this book. . .it’s too […]

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Obeying a Call (even if it means fishsticks)


By Amanda Cleary Eastep The Small boys lived next door to us in the “new subdivision,” one round block of bi-levels and tri-levels on the outskirts of a small farm town. In the summer, all of us children scattered, bike wheels and skinny legs carrying us all the way to the other side of the […]

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Friendly Advice 5 cents

By Amanda Cleary Eastep I had settled into a comfy writing spot at a tiny coffeehouse & bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama when two older women toddled in pushing a stand just like the one Lucy uses in the Peanuts comic to dole out “helpful” advice. They asked if they could take one of the chairs […]

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This is us: the story of midlife writers and co-conspirators

By Amanda Cleary Eastep It was a year ago November that Michelle Van Loon and I met for the first time. I was attending the Deeply Rooted conference in Chicago with my daughter and two friends, and Michelle was a speaker. She delivered her message about restlessness (which just happens to be my middle name) […]

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Look Out, Labor Force. Generation X is coming…right after our hip replacements

By Amanda Cleary Eastep “I’m a Millennial in a Gen Xer’s body,” he said. I was interviewing the former VP of concept and design for McDonald’s for an alumni magazine article. In recent years, his career trajectory had shifted from corporate to the social and public sector, which included a stint in Kenya helping a […]

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Wander on Purpose docu-series is live! Watch it now.


By Amanda Cleary Eastep I’m not sure why I jumped at the chance. Maybe it just sounded fun. I’m not one to come out from behind written words and the pretty copyright-free stock photo, so taking video footage during my local hikes was a new outlet. When my friend, filmmaker Erin Dooley, invited hikers to […]

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Growing Deep–and Broad–Roots in the Dirt and Light

By Amanda Cleary Eastep  I was behind the wheel for the first time at the age of 9. OK, so it was just a lawn tractor, and I didn’t see the tree coming. I was looking over my shoulder at the cart I was pulling with my little brother and two older cousins riding in […]

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