A Personal Manifesto

by Katie Quartucci

This is the manifesto of a mid-thirties, white, middle class female.  Her parents, who were conservative Christians in rural northeast Texas, raised her on thirty acres with animals, dirt roads and 11 channels streaming through the antennae. She graduated from a tiny public school as did her two older brothers and baby sister.  She attended church more than three times a week and enjoyed a blissfully sheltered life from all things conflict related.  The backstory is important enough to know but not important enough to be the whole story.  

Manifesto: Defined. The word manifesto traces its roots to the Latin manifestum, which means clear or conspicuous. A manifesto is defined as a declaration of one's beliefs, opinions, motives, and intentions. It is simply a document that an organization or person writes that declares what is important to them.

This is what is true in my life.  This is how I pursue who I am and who I am becoming.  This is how I function as a wife, a momma, a friend and an individual.  I have done my best to order these statements from what’s at the top of my mind in all things to what simply is a part of my everyday.  Yes, the order shifts and is fluid but overall this is me.

 
This is how I pursue who I am and who I am becoming.
  • Be quick to find the silver lining in all situations.  

There is good in the worst of all situations.  It may not reveal itself in the moment but it can be found when it is readily sought out.  Hunt down the good - it’s there.

  • Practice being kind to yourself just like you would be kind to others.

 Treat yourself like you would treat your most favorite and beloved friend.  Then wake up tomorrow and do it again.

  • Love the people you love on PURPOSE.

Your spouse, your kid, your coworker, your hair person, your finance guy. Spend time making eye contact, having a conversation and actually listening (bonus points for a real-life phone call or in-person chat) with the goal of making a connection.  We are hardwired for connection.  The more we connect with those we love, the more ability we have to endure finding common ground with those who aren’t our favorite.

  • Allow people to mess up.  

Allow people to put their foot in their mouth while you continue to believe the best about them.  Allow others to think differently than you without writing them off.  Allow someone you love to hurt your feelings with the opportunity to apologize.  EVERYONE messes up. NOT everyone has the opportunity to get it right. Be ready to allow them the opportunity to fix it.  This takes healthy and genuine conversations with people who have value to add to your days. Give grace freely, then move on. Don’t forget that you will need the chance to fix things when you yourself mess up.

  • Give time.

Time is the ultimate language of love.  It takes time to sit down with someone.  It takes time to write encouraging words.  It takes time to change a diaper.  It takes time to make a healthy meal.  It takes time to reflect and be considerate. It takes time to give a hug.  It takes time to send a text.  You can GIVE zero love if you have no time.  

  • Refuse to keep score.

In genuine relationships, throw the score card out the window.  Instead of focusing on what the other person doesn’t, didn’t , or can’t do, hold tight to what they are, will, and want to do.  Trust me, life feels way better when you don’t keep score.

 
Life feels way better when you don’t keep score.
  • Go outside!

Go outside when you are having a great day and the sun is warm and the breeze is cool.  Go outside when your day is ruined, heavy and just too much.  Go outside when it’s raining and there is a storm headed your way.  I promise outside will allow the great of good to expand and the weight of hard a brief reprieve.

  • Give your body what it needs.

This can be as simple as you make it.  You need to move your muscles.  You need water in ample amounts.  You need real food.  If you feel bad, make a change, seek trusted advice or ask a professional.  If you feel good, enjoy it and avoid the scale: it will only make you question yourself.

  • Say YES!

Say yes to things that fill you up.  Need to cuddle with your daughter to feel connected? Sidestep the eye roll and call her over.  Need to sit in the sun for five minutes before walking into a hard situation? Grab the sunscreen.  Need to go on a walk instead of a run today? Put away your sports bra.  Need to avoid that phone call for 15 more minutes until you can get your head right? If it can wait, then why not? Need to wake up 20 minutes earlier so your day goes smoother? Set your alarm.  Need to choose a soda water instead of a Diet Coke? Bring on the Topo Chico. All of these yeses require you to know your own boundaries and self worth.  They require you to be mindful not only of yourself, but also of how your best self benefits everything around you.  All of these yeses require solid and unapologetic NOs.  Practice saying no to the things that drain you so your yeses can mean more.

  • Ask questions - it’s okay for others to know that you don’t know it all.

Include yourself in conversations - ESPECIALLY ones you are not the expert in.  Don’t exclude yourself from the opportunity to learn because you are unsure.  Listen to what’s going on around you so that you can join in.  Ask questions with humility then listen to the answer so you can respond (OR NOT). Everyone experiences life differently than you.  They have a wealth of history, lessons, knowledge that you can not possibly have. So, listen up.

  • Embrace grief.

There is no greater pain than what grief brings.  It’s a heavy, smothering, sneaky, surprising anguish that can become unrelenting when avoided.  All loss - big and small - has growth that accompanies it. When grief is embraced, it becomes an all encompassing teacher. It’s a choice to draw close to the pain that heals.  Find people who can bear the weight with you and choose it.

  • Faith can include uncertainty.

There are things that I believe about God because I have experienced them. There are many things that I wade through with uncertainty about God because of the limitations humans put on Him. I am supposed to be uncertain so that I can continue to learn and expand my faith.  I am certain that God knows exactly how this plays out.

 
I am supposed to be uncertain so that I can continue to learn and expand my faith. 

I just may go back and channel my 18-year old self to create what would have been the manifesto for that girl at that time so that I can compare and enjoy how history plays into future. In the same way, I am excited to look back on this work and see how it shifts and grows.  For now, though, this is who I am. 


 
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Katie’s time is spent working hard to be a great mom, a healthy partner, a loving friend and philanthropist. She has racked up 50,000 miles, on her vehicle, this last year making all those things happen. Katie cares deeply about children, families and the impact of sustainable community development.  She has learned that unquestioning love with a good dose of laughter has the ability to heal the deepest wounds. Katie lives in the Texas Hill Country with her handsome husband and their three children in a house full of brains, wit and an abundance of loud.