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“Rest needs a full stop.”

Before she was even done speaking them, I was busy scrawling these words in big bold letters across my page of notes. Emily Freeman seems to have a knack for speaking DIRECTLY INTO MY SOUL these days. It doesn’t even surprise me anymore when I hear her words and then my eyes automatically well up with tears. It’s almost like a reflex now. It’s fine. I’m used to it.

But it’s not just Emily.

Random things seem to make me cry lately:

A Lorne Michaels quote (because Jesus loves me and he knows that SNL is my love language)img_3029

A greeting card that stopped me in my tracks with a clear black and white suggestion.

img_3685A song titled “Surprise Yourself”, with a whimsical lilt almost more beautiful than the words it carries…

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Who knows, maybe I’m just a sucker for inspirational words. But I don’t think that’s it.

I think this is just the sort of thing that happens when your heart is wide awake and open.

God uses anything and everything to get your attention.  Read More…

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Last month we started a new series here on the blog, called “Let’s Play Oprah”, where we share with each other our top 3 “Favorite Things” at the moment, and then at the end of each month I give away one of those very things.

To you guys!

Because blogging is fun, and I can!

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Read More…

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It seems to me there are two types of people in this world: Huggers and Non-Huggers.

Some might refer to them as Introverts and Extroverts, but in the end it mostly boils down to the hugging.

You know those quiet, peripheral types? The ones who can read a room before they say one single regrettable thing? Those rare, mystical birds who never embarrass themselves in social settings?

Yah, I’m not one of those people.

I talk a lot, I think a lot, I feel a lot, and not surprisingly… I hug a lot. 

Like, all the time. 

Maybe too much.

Last weekend I flew across the country to attend my very first writers workshop. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I met hundreds of brand new people, I learned a ton of valuable information, and I extroverted all over the place. I was in my glory.

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I hugged hello, I hugged goodbye, and I hugged “nice to meet you”. It wasn’t until one particular moment on Thursday evening that I noticed someone standing to my right, a woman who I had never met but “knew” from the Internet (as one does). I turned and officially introduced myself to her AS I was already going in for a hug, when I felt more than saw her frozen smile as she valiantly attempted to not recoil from my embrace.

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She was shorter than me so my armpits tragically grazed her shoulders as I scooped her in to myself. She stiffened just enough to signal her discomfort and it wasn’t until that exact moment that I remembered I’d heard somewhere that she didn’t really like to be touched. Not like it was a phobia or anything, she just wasn’t the handsy type.

Real cool, Amber’s Memory! Thanks for showing up late, but “This information would’ve been useful to me YESTERDAY!” (Name that movie).

Read More…

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I wrote this guest post for my funny friend (and fellow GIF-lover) Mary Carver, and it ended up being one of my favorite blurbs that I’ve ever put on the Internet. I’m sharing a snippet here, but come join me over at GivingUpOnPerfect to read the whole piece, where I’m dishing all about what Mindy Kaling taught me about life!

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Some people choose to read self-help books to learn how to rule at life.

I prefer to read books by funny women for the same reason.

Tina Fey’s book taught me not to waste time trying to charm the uninterested, to stay true to my own voice, and that it’s okay to be both funny and thoughtful at the same time. She also taught me not to talk through the gap in the door to the person one stall over in the bathroom because it’s just poor manners.

Amy Poehler’s book taught me to just say Yes already. To say yes to the scary, new, and wildly unexpected opportunities that come my way- and to remember to have fun with them. Because no one looks stupid while they’re having fun.

Amy Schumer’s book taught me that having a tender heart and being funny often go hand in hand out of necessity. Because sometimes you see what’s unbearably true about the world and you have to laugh about it so you don’t cry. The chapter in her book about her father pooping his pants in the middle of an airport because MS was slowly robbing him of control over his body broke my heart and had me rolling at the same time.

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But out of all the women in the Funny Girl’s Club, I would have to say I’ve learned the most from Mindy Kaling.

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Here’s what I love about Mindy: She writes as if she’s talking to her closest and funniest friend. She never writes down to her reader, which is a common trap for comedians. Instead she writes to you as if you’re someone whom she genuinely wants to impress. She makes you feel invited into the club, all while maintaining relatablity and confessing to her own need to be invited in.

And of course, as any close friend would do, she tells her secrets and doles out advice with the perfect mix of confidence and self-deprecation.

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Mindy’s books taught me that humility and gumption are equally important.

She pokes fun at herself and the industry, while bringing both depth and sharp humor to comedy that would otherwise feel vapid and depressing.

READ MORE HERE: Read More…

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She yells it to me through my television screen at least twice a week:

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Right now, this moment! This is when it counts! When you’re tired and you don’t think you can do it and you want to give up- THIS is when you make change happen!”

It turns out there’s more to learn from Jillian Michaels than how to simply not die during a high intensity cardio session.

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Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about how sometimes creative work feels impossible? I confessed that I’d gotten to “the hard part” of my project and how I’m learning to sit in that tension instead of struggle against it?

Well I thought “the hard part” was being brave.

Brave enough to step out, brave enough to share that journey with you, and brave enough to be honest about it along the way.

Because all creative work requires bravery.

We know this. 

We love to talk about the bravery because it’s noble and grand, but we don’t speak much of the aftermath that almost always follows. The wake of those unsorted and far less noble feelings of confusion, doubt, and disorientation that come after the bravery.

The questions of, “Wait, did I do that right?

Should I be embarrassed right now?

Was that really true and helpful and good?

Or was it self indulgent and foolish and cringeworthy? Read More…

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In case you missed it, last week I explained how I’m starting a new series here on the blog because I want us to be fun-havers.

So once a month we’re going to “Play Oprah” (as in, emulate her, not trick her, of course) and we’re going to share our “Favorite Things” with each other.

And then at the end of the month I’m going to give one of those things away! 

To you!

Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Can we say it together in unison?

“Let’s Play Oprah!”

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I think it’s important you know that every time I type that, it’s in my best singsongy Oprah voice. Which is sort of ironic because I don’t think Oprah goes around singsonging her own name, but whatever, just roll with it. I also mentally roll out a red carpet, a small marching band, and throw around celebratory confetti every time I type it, so let’s just pause to make a mental note of that, okay?

At the beginning of each month I’ll write a post just like this one, sharing links to three of my favorite things at the moment and announcing which of those items I’ll be giving away, because in case it wasn’t clear from the first few paragraphs, I’m a firm believer in a big buildup.

And since friends don’t let friends miss out, I encourage you guys to share your favorite things with the rest of us as well. You can comment here on the blog, you can comment using #letsplayoprah on my InstagramFacebook, or Twitter, or you can always simply reply to my email newsletter. I do read every single email and I try my best to reply right away. This will be a fun way for us all to connect with each other and to see what we might have in common.

Plus: Who doesn’t want free stuff? 

Raise your hand if you still get excited about surprise packages in the mail when all you were expecting was bills!

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is enter your email address in the blue lighted bar at the end of this post, or in the opt-in on the right sidebar. What’s awesome about this is that it’s not time sensitive. You can enter anytime during the month, and at the end of each month I’ll choose a winner at random!

If you don’t win, don’t lose heart, you’ll still automatically be entered for following months. See! How easy and fun is this?!

Why have we not done this before?

WHY AM I SUDDENLY HAVING TROUBLE CONTROLLING THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE?

Sorry, I just get so excited.

Okay, so now that all the business is taken care of, without further ado, here are my top three Favorite Things this month:

  1. THE VOXER APP.  If you (like me) are a bit of an introverted extrovert and you love to stay in touch with your people, but you also hate talking on the phone, this app is for you. I mean, I really hate talking on the phone, which is weird because I’m rarely short on words. In person, I can hardly shut up. On the phone? I’m pretty much always awkward. So I live and die by my Voxer app. It’s an audio-messaging system which allows your phone to function like a walkie-talkie. It’s the perfect medium between a phonecall or text, and my favorite thing about it is that you can listen and respond at your own convenience. I have a few writer friends who live across the country in different time zones and we basically owe our entire friendships to the convenience of Voxer. It’s that powerful, guys. So if you’re still part of that %7 of the population who aren’t getting in on this action yet, it’s time to come over to the dark side.

  2. JOE’S Jeans Now, I realize that jeans can be a polarizing fashion item. Some people believe a good pair of jeans are worth upwards of $300 while other’s might feel it’s silly to pay more than $30 for some glorified Levi’s. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I used to scoff at the idea of premium denim but then I tried some on and I was like, “OH. I see.” That being said, I can’t always afford to indulge in the perfect pair of Seven jeans every time I gain or lose 15 pounds (which is roughly every five minutes) so I’ve invested in a few pairs of quality jeans as wardrobe staples, and then I usually pick up a couple of inexpensive pairs to fill in the gap when I’m fluctuating in weight. (Which again, is basically always.) But I have to say that my tried and true, favorite brand are JOE’S jeans. They seem to have mastered the perfect rise, consistently offering a waistline that hugs in all the right places without making me feel matronly. And I could be making this up, but I swear their denim is softer than most. I’ve purchased multiple different styles and cuts, yet every pair feels like that trusty, old, worn-in favorite the minute I pull them on. I’m currently obsessed with The Vixen style because it goes with everything from flats to boots, and it just so happens to be on sale at the moment.

  3. MINDY KALING. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Mindy fan, and while I realize that she isn’t exactly an item that I can give away, she also kind of is. Both of her books were among my all time favorite memoirs, and while I could go on and on about everything she’s taught me about life and why she’s so great, you’ll just have to read this piece  instead, because otherwise Mindy could easily hijack this whole blog post without even trying. Since I loved both of her books equally, and since this is our first giveaway, I’m starting out with a bang and giving away not one, but BOTH of Mindy’s books: “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me (And Other Concerns)” & “Why Not Me?“, AS WELL AS her hilarious 50-card set of talking points, or “conversations starters” if you will, titled, “Questions I Ask When I Want To Talk About Myself: 50 Topics To Share With Friends”.

So that’s it for October! I hope you tune in for next month’s “Let’s Play Oprah” too.

Be sure you’re entered to win, and sound off in the comments!

Tell me all your favorite things!

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Oh heyyyyy!

We’re going to start something new here on the blog. Something just for fun.

Remember this summer when I told you that I wanted to give you a humpback whale but I made you list instead? (Which was really just a thinly veiled attempt to play Oprah and tell you all my “favorite things”.)

I made you a list of all my favorite podcasts, books, TV shows, and music at the moment and I got a surprising amount of interaction from you guys. It turns out it wasn’t only fun for me.

Because let’s all be real here: who doesn’t love to dish about what we’re currently into?

No one.

No one doesn’t.

(No that’s not proper grammar, and yes I did it on purpose. Because I’m a real renegade like that.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start a monthly series here on the blog where we play “Oprah” and share our favorite things with each other. Unironically enough, the series will be titled “Let’s Play Oprah.”

I’m going to dedicate one post a month to sharing my top 3 favorite things at the moment and you guys can do the same. Leave a comment here on the blog, on social media, or even reply to my email newsletter and we’ll do that thing where we keep each other in the loop of what’s all the rage these days. Because we’re homies, and homies gotta look out for each other.

But that’s not all, guys (she said in her best Oprah voice).

The really fun part is that at the end of the month I’m going to GIVE AWAY one of my favorite things. 

Read More…

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Some days having a dream to pursue feels dreamy. But some days it’s like an elephant is standing on your chest; you feel a lot of pressure and you’re acutely aware that you’re dealing with something much bigger than yourself.

Can I be honest? Today was one of those days. I woke up and before I even opened my eyes I remembered that I’m carrying around a dream. A dream that suddenly feels as is if it weighs a thousand pounds.

I’ve tried putting it down, I’ve tried ignoring it, and I’ve tried shouldering it alone only to realize two steps further that I’m exhausted and not cut out for this nonsense because I’d definitely rather be watching Netflix.

As you might imagine, none of these tactics actually worked, so here I am with my book dream. We’re no longer strangers, startled to find each other there every time we turn around, but we still havent quite figured out how to co-exist, either.

We’re sort of just chillin’ here together, except nothing is chill and The Book Dream and I are either madly in love or completely at odds, depending on the day.

It’s all very dramatic, you see. Read More…

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When you hear the word “hospitality” does it give you a warm, cheery feeling as you envision your house and your heart full to capacity? Do you think of meals and stories shared with friends, of laughter, drinks being poured, and memories being made?

Or does it conjure slightly less pleasant feelings- like sweaty palms, insecurity, and pressure?

Does your mind instantly dart to your unmade bed, your outdated kitchen, or the glops of toothpaste that you just know are smeared around the entire perimeter of the bathroom sink? Do you shrug and hope that one day when all the planets align with the moon, when you have time to clean and decorate your house, prepare the perfect meal, and figure out how to get your children to be their best selves, then you’ll get around to planning that dinner party?

I often hear peers comment that they wish they had the time or the knack for it, but they’re resigned to the fact that they’ll just never be “the hospitable type”.

But what if hospitality could be as simple as an act of vulnerability? What if it just meant being open enough to invite someone into your real, right now life, however that might look?

We get scared off by the word “hospitality”, not because we don’t actually want anything to do with it, but because it’s intimidating. It’s automatically associated with some formal, stuffy, made up version of the “dinner parties” of yesteryear. (Also yes, I’m sticking with the word yesteryear, because how often do you really get a good opening to say it? Almost never, that’s how often.)

We think fancy cocktail hours, followed by even fancier 8 course dinners, and before we know it we’ve got low-grade anxiety.

How many forks is too many forks? Does the soup course come before or after the salad course? And what if we don’t know which wine pairs with which hors d’oeuvre? And how could we possibly know that if we had to google how to even spell “hors d’oeuvre”? (I love you so much, Google. You help me feel smart.)

The train hasn’t even left the station before we’ve jumped the tracks because let’s all be real here, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, right?

I get it.

Inviting people in, both to your home and your life, feels inherently RISKY.

Your home is personal.

It’s your safe place, your retreat, and your hideaway from the rest of the world. It’s also where your dirty laundry lands, where your bills pile up on the counter, and where all your worst habits are likely to manifest themselves.

To share your home with others can be a real and true act of vulnerability at times. Read More…

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I have a confession to make. It’s the sort of thing that a writer should never admit.

I’m a VERY picky reader.

When it comes to purchasing books, I rarely discriminate. At this very moment I have at least 20 fantastic books on my shelf that are still waiting to be opened. I love to buy books. I love the smell of them, the feel of them nestled in the crook of my arm as I walk into a coffee shop, and the way my little heart skips a beat every single time I walk through the doors of a Barnes & Noble.

But when it comes to actually reading books in their entirety, I do admit that my standards are…shall we say…a bit high? I’m not easily entertained. I can’t help it! I’m just not.

If a book doesn’t grab me within the first 3 chapters I rarely pick it back up. I realize that this makes me sound like an elitist snob, and no, the irony is not lost on me that as a humble and lowly writer myself, I may need to consider suggesting LOWER standards for consumption, but whatever. I don’t care. It’s the truth! And I’m only telling you so you understand that when I recommend a book, I really mean it.

So obviously I’m going to recommend a book now.

Are you ready? Read More…