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Does your mind instantly dart to your unmade bed, your outdated kitchen, or the glops of toothpaste that you just know are smeared around the entire perimeter of the bathroom sink?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. Read More…

Welcome to Let’s Play Oprah, a fun little game we play on the blog here each month in which I dish on my top 3 Favorite Things at the moment, invite you to share YOUR Favorite Things (by leaving a comment on this post, replying to my email, or by using the hashtag #letsplayoprah on social media) and then at the end of the month I give one of those things away!

Maybe to you!

Since I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple, all you have to do to enter to win is subscribe to the blog. You can do that by entering your email in the blue lighted bar at the end of this post- Easy, Done! Once you’re entered, the only way your name ever comes out of the drawing is if you win or if you unsubscribe.

I do this mostly as a way to say Thank You to all you awesome readers who’ve invited me in to your email inbox, but also because it’s fun!

And we ware fun-havers!

So, without further ado, are y’all ready?

Let’s Play Oprahhhh!

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Do you ever find yourself longing not for a different life, but a deeper life?

One where you know deep down in your knower exactly what it is you have to offer the world and your life actually reflects that?

Where you’re able to make the work of your hands count in a way that fulfills both your duties and your soul?

Where you find the courage to unapologetically pursue the things that make you come alive right now in the middle of your daily routine?

Where you’re fully awake to the possibility lurking just beyond the borders of your comfort zone?

What if you allowed yourself to believe (just for fun, just for a minute!) that God made your heart to leap with creative delight, to embrace risk and adventure, to jump and swell and stir at the idea of living a bigger story than the one you’ve been living?

What if that didn’t have to look like some big, scary, upheaval of your normal life?

What if it was as small as recognizing and valuing the important work you’re probably already doing?

What if it was as big as believing that you are already called, already qualified, already invited, and fully capable of taking that same mundane, daily, work in front of you and making it into art?

What if it was as freeing as knowing that the “art” you have to offer the world- you know, the art that NO ONE ELSE CAN MAKE, and the art that the world SO DESPERATELY NEEDS, is actually as mind-numbingly, soul-tinglingly (yes I’m sticking with the word tinglingly- and I dare you to say it 5 times fast) simple as doing what you love and what comes naturally to you?

What if exercising your basic human right to Creativity was actually a spiritual practice? A way to honor not just yourself, but others too, and even God?

What if “Creativity” could be anything, anything at all? Like inviting someone over for dinner and making them feel welcome not just in your home, but in your life?

Like crafting a play, a song, a story, or a joke? Like bringing order to chaos within a spreadsheet or a home? Like a keen sense of humor that intuitively knows how and when to make people laugh?

What if hatching brilliance could look just as much like cooking dinner on a Tuesday night or rearranging a living room as when Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the broadway musical Hamilton?

What if art is art because you are you, and it’s all up for individual interpretation and delight?

What if it all matters so much more than you ever knew?

What if today your art looks like a diaper change that turns into a tickle fight, but tomorrow your art looks like 10 minutes spent doodling on a blank piece of paper, and five years from now your art looks like starting a business or painting with watercolor or tap-dancing on your head? (Okay, that last one isn’t a thing, but just roll with me?)

What if you didn’t put your art in a box?

What if you didn’t make it any smaller or bigger than it wanted to be?

What if it was re-defined by showing up to the work in front of you fully as yourself, by appreciating beauty for the sake of beauty, and by allowing yourself to dream and dare and delight in the middle of your right-now life?

What would that look like, even?

P.S. Do you want me to ask your more questions? Because I can. I can totally do that.

Before you read this you should know two things:

  1. I changed the title of this post no less than 6 times.
  2. I’m writing this in my pajamas and it’s well past noon… I also may or may not be eating jerky for breakfast. Brunch. Whatever.

It’s fine. 

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Welcome to Let’s Play Oprah, a little game we like to play here each month on the blog.

Most of you are already familiar with how this goes, but in case you’re a new reader here, or just randomly stopping by, then let me explain…

Once a month I write a post (this post!), dishing on my top 3 Favorite Things at the moment. You’re always invited to join in on the fun by sharing your own current Favorite Things with the rest of us, either by leaving a comment, sharing about it on social media using the hashtag #letsplayoprah, or simply replying to my email if you’re a subscriber.

Then, at the end of the month, I do a Facebook Live video in which I draw a name out of a giant red Tupperware bowl (because I am extremely tech savvy and professional). (Sarcasm implicit.) (P.S. How many parentheses are too many parentheses?) (P.S.S. Does the punctuation go inside or outside the parenthesis?) I should probably know this.

How you get your name IN that red bowl is super simple- you just subscribe to the blog, which means you get these posts conveniently delivered directly into your email inbox instead of having to find them in the cosmic void of Facebook, Instagram, or the Worldwide Interweb. See? I told you I was tech savvy! Interweb! It’s the future of the regular web. Everyone knows that. It’s science.

There’s a blue lighted bar at the end of each and every post where you can enter the monthly giveaway. Find that blue bar. Click that blue bar. Consider that blue bar a sign of our love and affection for each other.

Anyway, without further ado,

Let’s Play Oprahhhhhhhhhhh!

Every time I type that I intend for you to read it in a singsongy voice, and with a little extra bass. It just sets the mood, you know?

This month my top 3 Favorite Things are: Read More…

A woman in one of my blogging forums reached out to me recently. She sent me a sweet, short message simply saying she enjoyed my blog. I was flattered and surprised and I quickly messaged her back to say thank you.

Later when she shared some of her own work in the forum I became an instant fan of her writing. Laura is funny, she’s gutsy, she’s honest, and she has heart. She is totally my kind of person. We’ve now formed the foundation of a friendship that I’m genuinely excited about, but the reason I’m telling you all of this is because it almost didn’t happen. This was very nearly a story with a different ending.

What I didn’t know when Laura initially reached out to me was that she couldn’t stand me. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something about me drove her nuts. So she did what most women would not, and she reached out to me. Instead of quietly brewing any negative feelings she decided to squash them instead.

She wrote about the experience and our interaction. She said:

“It wasn’t too long ago that I joined a blogger forum.  There was a woman in there, and I just couldn’t stand her.  If you had asked I would not have been able to tell you why.  But here is what I knew: Read More…

I’m in the middle of reading Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me, and can I just say that I am so in love with everything about it.

Here’s what I love about Mindy- she’s the perfect mix of confidence and self-deprecation. She laughs at herself. She laughs at the industry and it’s ridiculous standards. But she has gumption. She unapologetically believes in herself, her talents, and her general awesomness without taking it all too seriously. I dig that.

She’s also completely open about being a socially anxious elitist.

And who isn’t, really?

Everyone wants to be on the inside of some kind of club, and admittedly, Mindy herself is not exempt from such suffering. In both of her books, she essentially invites us to be in her club. It’s like she gave us the secret password and handshake, and for a few hours we get to sneak in through the back door and hang out at the party. We may be the fringe people of the club, but she invited us in and I love that about her.

Like any good friend would, she tells us secrets- like how she really feels about being “the funny one” of the sorority (no one wants to be the court jester), and how sometimes being equally grateful and ambitious in her career is like walking a tightrope (read: it’s a literal booby trap).

She tells us how basically everyone, everywhere in Hollywood wears fake hair.

I knew it!

I knew it in my knower!

Thank you for blowing the horn on that one Mindy. Me and my seven strands of hair don’t feel so bad about ourselves now. All of us girls with thin, lame hair are pumping our fist in the air, because we are liberated. It’s not our fault. We are not weird. No one’s hair is actually that amazing on it’s own.

In the last year I’ve read a few other books by some other funny ladies- Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Poehler… Not surprisingly they all seem to know each other and be friends, furthering my belief that there is an actual Funny Girl’s Club that exists, and all I know is I WANT IN. Read More…

I recently turned 36.

While it’s officially the oldest I’ve ever been, I decided to do something that felt admittedly…childish? No, that’s not it.

Indulgent?

No. Thats not it either.

I don’t know.

Let’s just say it felt wonky, but in the good kind of way.

Even though it was freezing cold I went outside to sit on my back porch (because being outdoors helps me think) and I brought my favorite spiral notebook- the one that reads “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You” in shiny metallic gold lettering across the front.

It’s the notebook that currently holds all my most important words.

My ideas.

My notes.

My outlines.

My reminders.

My inner monologue.

It’s all there.

But I realized there was something MISSING from the book. Something so important that I can’t believe I’ve never bothered to write down.

My dreams.

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As I sat on my porch casting vision for the year ahead and reflecting on the year behind, I realized that 2017 was full of surprises. It was a year full of dreaming bigger and saying Yes to pursuing those dreams. It was an impetus of sorts, and God wasted no time in drawing me directly outside of the comfort zone that I’d carefully created for myself.

Remember on Inside Out when Joy draws a circle for Sadness and tells her that her only job is to STAY INSIDE THE CIRCLE? It was kind of like that except I’d drawn my own circle,  labeled it Comfort Zone, and planted myself there like a fool. We could really get deep here and talk about Joy and Sadness and how in reality, comfort zones are the easiest place to become miserable, but we honestly don’t have time for that today.

The point is, all of that changed the moment I began saying YES. Read More…

If you’re anything like me, then your favorite part of January is the prospect of a fresh new year stretched out before you, full of promise and hope.

And if you’re anything like me, then your least favorite part of January is that it turns into February all too quickly and without incident. Unless you count distractedness and a general sense of overwhelm as “incident.”

And if you’re still anything like me (at this point let’s just go ahead and assume you are, just for the sake of this piece, okay?) then that weighs heavily on you.

The distractedness and overwhelm, I mean.

Because at the end of the day you yearn for simplicity and focus, you just aren’t sure how to stop it from slipping through your fingers.

Finding that inner quiet you crave can be hard enough, but carrying it with you throughout the day is even harder.

The day is loud.

The day is full of to-do lists, commitments to meet, mouths to feed, and places to be.

Meanwhile it’s all set to the fast paced narrative of social media. That constant buzzing in the background; the pings and dings that remind you not only what you’re supposed to be doing, but what everyone else and their Aunt Fay is doing.

As humans living in an Internet era we’re expected to take in and process a huge amount of information at an alarming pace.

Like, an unnatural amount of information.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. And I don’t mean to feel overwhelmed, I mean to actually be overwhelmed. Read More…

You now that feeling you get after a DTR that went better than you could’ve hoped for?WELL.

Not too long ago I asked all of you readers what you want to talk about in this space this year. True, I’m the one writing and posting most of the time, but that doesn’t mean this is the Amber Show. I want the words shared here to matter to you just as much as they matter to me.

Anyway, I asked, you answered, and I’ve basically been high-fiving a million angels ever since then because if that was our first DTR (determine the relationship) then I’m pretty sure you and I have never been more on the same page.

I read every single one of your responses and I was so excited because it sounds like we want to talk about all the same things.

SO, on the chance that you’re still not sure what to expect in this space, why you’re here, or if you want to stay, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss where we’re headed in 2018 so you can decide if you want to follow along. (I really hope you do!)

I feel like I say this all the time, but I understand that your time is precious. Any 5 minute window you have to scroll is sacred because it’s where you’re choosing to give your  attention. We have to guard and filter the voices we allow into our lives which is why I want to start with a heartfelt Thank You for allowing me into yours.

It’s also why I want to respectfully avoid any “bait and switch” feelings by clearly explaining what this blog can offer you. Read More…