Captivated by the power of sharing stories.

I was a hyper child. I spent a lot of time in my early teens creating a list of synonyms for hyper.

Effervescent. Enthusiastic. Gregarious. Energetic.

I was, and still am, quite enthusiastic.


When “it” means everything, including morning coffee.

A Toxic System

There is a fundamental belief that guides me. It’s a paradigm around which I make most of my daily life decisions; a framework I use to evaluate every element of my experience. It is a toxic, insidious, oppressive system that issues hard judgments if I fail, even though failure or success can change on a whim. I haven’t always been conscious of this system.

But I’m hoping awareness will lessen the grip it has on my inner world.

What is this driving force that shapes my days? It is the need to get “it” right. It’s a rather vague idea…


Answering this question while meeting my daily 1000-word goal.

Goals are good

This is simply a writing exercise to meet one of my goals: writing 1000 words every day this summer. Rarely have I had such a goal, except for say, brushing my teeth or drinking coffee.

I often read insights and advice from fellow writers like Shaunta Grimes. Many repeat the wise words that regular writing is a good discipline. David Sedaris talks about this in his Master Class. For me, 1000 words a day is a helpful mark to reach.

However, to complete this goal, I periodically find myself in ambivalent spaces like this one right now. I have multiple…


Finding healing in the craziest place.

I Will Never

Do you have a “never” category in your life? A list of things under the heading, “I will never…?” I do. Sky diving. Marathon. Hot Yoga.

I am emphatic on these points. Certain. Unwavering. There are just some ways in which I simply do NOT want or need to push myself. I stand firm on these things.

But somehow (I’m open to the theory that I was drugged), I recently found myself taking deep breaths in a room heated to over 100 degrees, waiting to begin a yoga class. How did this happen?

My Own Private Summers

It is important to know that I…


The house doesn’t just hold my memories; it holds my DNA.

The message came from across the country via Facebook. “We are selling Cedar Avenue,” he wrote. The timing was uncanny. In just a few days from reading this, I would be back in Virginia visiting my family.

“It would be incredible to come see the house, if possible,” I replied. “Would that work?”

“Terrific!” he said. “We would love to meet you.”

My connection to the current owners happened only a few months ago when my mother spontaneously, and with determination, decided to knock on the door of our house on Cedar Avenue, a house we hadn’t lived in since…


I’m so glad I didn’t take it with me.

I am wrapping up a week-long visit to my favorite place, to my home state, to my roots. Virginia. Virginia holds a special place in my heart and soul. So much so that in my early 40s, I decided it was time to get the tattoo I had wanted for years. I chose the Virginia state flower: the dogwood. I love Virginia.

Part of the great enjoyment of Virginia is the vivid colors in nature. Lush green trees line every road. The skies are dotted with bright white clouds against a dynamic blue. And it is fun, in theory, to…


Not all the time. Just right now.

It happens more often than I care to admit.

There are moments when I am suddenly, overwhelmingly, hit with one thought: I want to be someone else.

For a long time, I wanted to be Gwyneth Paltrow. (This probably isn’t quite past tense yet.) Sometimes it’s Joanna Gaines. Sometimes I want to be one of my friends.

Sometimes I unintentionally (read “intentionally”) feed this when I’m scrolling through Instagram. In a nod towards masochism, I tend to scroll more when I can feel this desire to be someone else coming on. I see a fellow mom with a child with Down Syndrome and I imagine life is better in…


My first idol and her perfect 1980s fashion.

The Object of My Affection

She lived at the top of my street and I idolized her. She was the star and I, the groupie. A fan club of one.

1983.

Just a few years older, Laura was everything I wasn’t. In my eyes, she had it all. Beautiful and magnetic, she was a popular student at the local high school, both winning Homecoming Queen her senior year and singing her heart out as the lead in the school’s musical production of whatever was popular at the time. …


Saying it out loud feels right.

There is a time and place for true confessions and I think this one of them.

I love TV.

There. I’ve written it down. I’m saying it out loud. It feels really good.

I’ve loved television for a long time but haven’t always felt comfortable readily admitting this. It feels brave to admit, but my late 40s are nothing if not a chapter in my life where I am exhibiting a little more bravery. A little less shame. There is something quite freeing about openly admitting my love of television. …


The simultaneous learning of a mother and her sons.

Early in my mothering days, I was aware of wanting to give my sons language to express emotions, especially a range of emotions.

Some of this was informed by what I knew about how boys can be socialized at early ages with messages to “man up,” “suck it up,” and “rub some dirt on it” (“It” being pain, sadness, weakness, disappointment, vulnerability, fear, and anxiety to name just a few).

This, however, was mostly a front.

I was more concerned about my own limited emotional range and wanted my boys to be able to understand and feel their inner worlds…

Mandy Osterhaus Ream

Woman in middle age. Professor. Mom to one surfer and one kid with Down Syndrome. Fireman’s wife. Writing about all of it. mandyosterhausream.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store