You Only Live Once, This Is How I'm Doing It!

The effing Great Wall of China!

Mandy is someone who can make the most mundane happenings in life into a story that’s interesting and hilarious. Her perspective on life is so refreshing and I imagine that she’s just a fun person to be around. I know if we lived near each other we’d be best friends. Now if I could just convince her to move out of Texas….

I loved this post that she wrote for this series because it reminded me to really stay in the moment. Sometimes little irritating things can seems so huge until you step back and realize how amazing what you’re doing actually is. I hope that I keep this lesson with me when I’m dealing with odd smells, giant bugs and intense heat in India. Now matter what, I’m in f***ing India!


When I was in college, I had the opportunity to spend a month in China with my dad. He was doing business there and I tagged along, staying in nice hotels, eating super-weird food, and doing a lot of bargain shopping with people who were so shocked to see a tall white girl there that they wanted to take pictures with me.

On the weekends, we would hang out with his 20-something year old co-worker and friend, Darlana, and we would explore. Wuhan, then Beijing, then Shanghai, then it was off to Europe to tour around there. What an experience.

While we were in Beijing, we had to visit the Great Wall of China, obviously. We took a long tour that day, and they showed us the main sights in China and finally drove us up a mountain to the entrance of the Great Wall.

The weather was pretty terrible. Evidently all the pictures you see of the Great Wall winding beautifully over green hills on postcards? Aren’t realistic. Because that only happens a few days out of the year. The rest of the time, it’s foggy. Like, can’t-see-your-friends-walking-20-feet-in-front-of-you foggy. Clearly (ha!), our view of the beautiful winding wall was out of the question.

We had already had a long day and we were tired. Darlana was lamenting the weather, and how crowded it was there, and how hot it was (115°F! YIKES!), and was generally in a poor mood.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “the weather sucks, but I mean, we are actually walking on the Great Wall of China, after all.”

A light bulb went off in her brain, and she snapped her head back around and looked at me.

“We are!” she replied, excitedly. “We’re on the f***ing Great Wall of China!”

We started laughing, and from then on her demeanor completely changed.

Our feet still hurt, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

Our view sucked more than it could have, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

The places where the people had urinated and defecated were terrible, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

And YES. That happens. Some people use the Great Wall as their personal toilet.

My point is, it was all a matter of attitude. By stepping back and realizing where we were, what this all meant, and changing our attitudes, we actually experienced it. We might have missed it had we focused on what was wrong with the situation.

If Abigail and Joel were to simply focus on the poor living conditions or the apparent hopelessness of a third-world country right now, they will not experience the good things. The help they can provide. The love. The mission.

When you find yourself living out one of your dreams, are you focusing on the things that are happening, or the things that aren’t?

During your wedding, something you meticulously planned will go wrong (for example, you will lose your wedding license right before the wedding. True story.). Don’t focus on that part. Focus on the part where he beams as you walk down the aisle.

When you buy your first house, there will be things to fix. Don’t focus on that part (well, unless it’s an unsound investment!). Focus on the part where you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment after having scraped all that horrible wallpaper off your bathroom wall while singing off key at the top of your lungs with the love of your life.

And when you are learning to live with your spouse, there will be flaws and fights. Don’t focus on that part. Focus on the part where he wrestles you to the floor and tickles you until you scream while the dog runs around and around the two of you, so excited that you’re playing.

We’re right on top of our f***ing Great Wall of China right now and not taking one second for granted. What’s your Great Wall?

Chances are, you’re already living the dream. It’s just a matter of finding the happy.


For certain giggles make sure to check out her blog (that she writes with her husband Jack):

and definitely follow her on Twitter: @mandyhornbuckle


Fulfilling my Dreams


Cautious dreamer


  1. Becky

    Ah…genuine Mandy!;) Love it!

  2. Great guest post! I love it! Mandy you are hysterical and I love your outlook on life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén