img_3363

Well folks, can you believe we’re already halfway through January?

^ Apparently I like to start off my blog posts by highlighting the obvious. It really helps me get those creative juices flowing, you know?

Anyway, January.

I love it and I hate it.

January is the best because it is the freshest of all the fresh starts. Lord knows I love a clean slate. Regardless of whether it’s a new workout program, a writing project, or that whole ‘meal planning’ thing I keep hearing so much about (what sorcery is this?), I’m the queen of “I’ll start on Monday”, or “Next month”, or “Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.”

So the allure of a whole new year, stretched out before me, full of promise and good intention is more than enough to make my organizational little heart go pitter patter.

On the other hand, January is also kind of the worst. The weather is dreary, the days are short, the magic of the holidays has faded, and our bank accounts are still recalibrating from Christmas. Summer is a distant mirage, Spring hasn’t sprung yet, and we find ourselves in that weird, cold, grayish area of the year where we feel like we have a lot to do but not a lot of motivation to do it.

Or is that just me?

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I can’t think of any better cure for the January Blues than a rousing game of Let’s Play Oprah.

If you’re new around here, this is a series we do once a month, where I share with you guys 3 of my most “Favorite Things” at the moment, and then at the end of the month I give away one of those things! To you guys! Because why not?

This series is purely for fun, and my absolute favorite part of the whole thing has been getting to know you all on a much more personal level. (Besides sending prizes in the mail. I really love that part too.)

The amount of interaction from you guys on these posts has been a completely unexpected delight. It turns out that you love to dish about your favorite things and chase the fun just as much as I do. So please keep joining in and telling me all of YOUR favorite things either by commenting on this post, emailing me back, or by sharing/commenting on social media using the hashtag #letsplayoprah.

Okay, are you guys ready? Because it’s time.

Let’s Play Oprah!

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-6-59-33-am

Here are my Top 3 Favorite Things this month: Read More…

img_0100

I’m not sure where you find yourself reading this, but over here in Oregon, we are still smack dab in the middle of a Snowpocolypse.

img_0095

And after 23 days of straight togetherness with my little people there are only two things I have to say about this:

  1. Oregon, you are beautiful to look at. Stunning, even. You are such a show off with your wild mysterious rivers, your wide open prairies, and your jutting snow-capped mountains. I love you. You’re gorgeous.
  2. But if you don’t calm down with the snow and the cancelled school days I am going to move away and never look back. I hear Texas is real nice this time of year. I’ll do it, I swear.

You guys.

I love my children, like, so much. I am not one of those moms who can’t stand to be in the company of her own offspring.

That is not what’s going on here.

What’s going on here is that we have been in such an intense period of togetherness that I can no longer decipher where I end and my children begin. We have been all up in each other’s business around the clock for over 3 weeks.

THREE WEEKS.

We started off Christmas Break with the worst case of the influenza virus that I can ever remember encountering. It didn’t take us all out at once, which would’ve actually been less tragic. Instead it was the classic domino effect, claiming a new victim every few days.

It was roughly 5 days of high fever, the kind that leaves you weak and sweating just from getting up to go to the bathroom. Then it settled into a chest-rattling cough that sounded eerily similar to that of Doc Holiday in Tombstone. And I mean Doc at the end of the movie when he was all white and pasty on his deathbed, not the beginning of the movie when he could still say “Why Kate, you’re not wearing’ a bustle. How lewd”, without coughing up blood all over his ascot.

We spent the first ten days of the holiday break in this manner, caring for each other as best we could, which meant me yelling (hoarsely pleading) from my bed for the kids to “please, for the love of God, just BE COOL, and get along!” before collapsing onto my damp pillow in defeat.

We got out of the house roughly zero times.

Christmas Day was thankfully a delight, and we played games in our pajamas all day accompanied by much laughter in between coughing. Side bonus: the kids were just old enough this year to join in most of the games and when they couldn’t they were happy to play with their new toys.

We have entered a new era over here, folks, and I love it so much I want to kiss it on the mouth.

After Christmas we all felt well enough to travel a few hours to Sunriver, where we’d rented a cabin with my best friend and her family. The promise of snow (because it is actually quite rare in our little valley) was largely what drew us out of town and luckily Sunriver did not disappoint. We spent 4 days holed up in a cabin, eating all the food, playing all the cribbage, watching McGuyver reruns, sledding, and “helping” 6 kids in and out of their snow gear no less than 17 times a day. And by “helping”, I mean sweating profusely while wrestling each child into their gear while they limply did nothing to help, begging for us to hurry up because FOMO is a serious thing when you’re 7 and the big kids have already gone outside.

We had a total blast, and it was downright lovely to unplug and spend time doing mostly nothing as a family with some of our favorite people.

But have you noticed the theme here yet? Mostly indoors. Together. All the live long day.

By the time we got home, I wasn’t even hiding the fact that I was excited to get my house whipped back into shape, ship the kids off to school, and get back into a routine.

I hadn’t written a single word in weeks. I was getting a serious case of word-constipation, which we’ve learned is a real and problematic issue for me, (and also looks a lot like emotional constipation in case you’re wondering).

Now it just feels like I’m saying constipation a lot.

I’m sorry.

Anyway, as fate would have it, we came home from the snow TO MORE SNOW and as I mentioned before, this phenomenon is actually quite rare in our cozy little town. Basically everyone freaks out at the first glimpse of white and everything shuts down. Like, you better have enough milk and coffee and wine (apparently we rely heavily on liquids in this house) because you’re effectively “snowed in”.

Every day for the next week we became increasingly agitated over being cooped up, and every night when we got a text saying school was cancelled the next day AGAIN, the children jumped for joy while Husband I looked at each other in a way that sufficiently conveyed our (my) lamentations.

(Because he has a day job. That requires allows him to leave the house.)

It would be different if we could go places and do things or even play outside for longer than 7 minutes before someone is too cold, too wet, or has to pee again and can’t get out of their snowsuit fast enough.

If one of these people asks me to scratch their butt for them one more time, claiming “glove hands” I’m going to just…just….well let’s all be real here, I’ll probably roll my eyes heavenward and scratch for them because I might be frazzled but I’m not some kind of a monster who lets her children’s bums go itchy.

Now, I get it. I’m treading lightly here. I realize I run the risk of sounding like a cynical parent or even a bad mom.

I’m not.

My kids are amazing humans whom I love and even like.

I delight in them, *most of the time*. 

We’ve had lots of fun over the break and honestly enjoyed our togetherness as much as we possibly can. We’ve  played games, sipped cocoa, watched movies, snuggled up, read books, had meaningful conversations. ALL OF THAT CRAP.

We’ve done it enough to last us for a month.

I am done.

Somebody come take these kids to school tomorrow or I will die.

I hear y’all even have snow down there in the south now. To you I say, enjoy this time. Take your Instagram photos and caption them hashtag blessed, hashtag snowday.

But come close and listen. I am the ghost of Winter Future. Stock up your pantries and gird your loins because things start to get a little dicey somewhere around Day 8, y’all.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Go with God.

img_1401

Well folks, 2016 is officially over.

Between the election (don’t worry, I’m not even going there) and everything else that happened (side eye to you Brad & Angelina), let’s all be real here: It was a bumpy ride, yes?

But take heart, dear readers, because it wasn’t a total wash.

We did learn a few things along the way.

Things like…

CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL

~

I cannot tell you how many times this year I sat wringing my hands, checking my inbox, or even foolishly ignoring it, ultimately having no clue that emails were just sitting in my junk mail collecting dust. And I don’t just mean Old Navy ads and those pesky emails from the dealership where you bought your Chevy Traverse 4 years ago.

I mean like, important emails.

“Oh, that editor actually wants to have lunch with you and she needs to know if Wednesday works? Cool, cool, cool. You should probably just sweat bullets, assume she’s never going to respond, and that you’ve clearly made the whole thing up, only to discover at the last minute that she had emailed you DAYS ago.”

“Oh, you’re going on a podcast and you’re wondering what the questions will be, but you’re not sure if it’s kosher to ask? You should probably just wing it, only to discover 17 minutes after you nervous-talked all that nonsense about your recurring Amy Poehler dream to your gracious interviewer, that he had, in fact, emailed you offering to show you the questions ahead of time.”

“Oh, you just yanked your two grumpy children out of bed and hauled them to school because you didn’t see the email from the school district about the snow day?” In the famous words of Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer, “This information would’ve been useful to me yesterday!” 

img_1398

People of the Internet! Learn from my mistakes!

CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL.

Regularly. Read More…

image

There’s precious little left of 2016 and while it’s been a wild ride, I wonder if you, like me, find yourself eagerly looking to 2017 to bring fresh hope and new adventures.

This year has been full of ups and downs but one thing remains certain- You guys are the funniest, warmest, coolest people I know. By showing up, reading along, openly sharing your own stories, and generously making room for mine, you’ve helped make this not only a soft place to land on Internet, but a uniquely fun and quirky community that I’m honored to be a part of.

I thought it would be fun to look back together and revisit the top 12 posts from 2016, so I did a little investigating, compared the numbers, and found out which essays from this year resonated with you the most.

Most of these are among my own personal favorites from the year, so air-high-five for being in sync with each other! Also, you’re welcome for sidestepping a whole slew of N’Sync jokes there. Consider it my early Christmas gift to you.

Without further ado, here are the Top 12 posts (in order) from 2016.

1. When Women Use Their Magic image

2. How To Have Zero Chillimage

3. How To Order Taco Bell

image

4. In Your Dreams: When Creative Work Feels Impossible

img_0075

5. Confessions of an Honest Pastor: Why It’s the Best, Worst Job Ever

– A Guest Post by Steve Wiens

image

6. In Which I Tell My Big Secret (That Everyone Already Knew Except Me)

image

7. Confessions of a Single Girl – A Guest Post by Bruk Marsh

image

8. A Real Life Love Story 

image

9. House Flip Before & After

image

10. What If Hospitality Was As Simple As An Act of Vulnerability?

image

11. 5 Ways To Cultivate Rest This Holiday Season 

img_3694

12. Why It’s Better To Be Wounded Than Guarded

image

As always, dear readers, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this community such a fun place to hang out. You guys are my favorite.

Here’s to the new year and all the possibility it holds for us.

 I’ll catch you on the flip side.

img_3363

You guys, it’s here.

It’s giveaway time again and December just needs to CALM DOWN ALREADY because this month’s list of “favorite things” has me so pumped I can hardly stand it.

Who’s excited?

Let’s

Play

Oprah!

img_3363

As I’m sure you  know by now, I always say that in my best singsongy Oprah voice. Which  doesn’t exactly make sense because it’s not likely that Oprah goes around referring to herself in the third person in her own singsongy voice…Or does she? I mean, maybe it’s not that unlikely. She is Oprah, after all.  If anyone could get away with it, it’s her.

But that’s all beside the point.

The point is, it’s time to talk “Favorite Things” so let’s not waste any time getting down to it.

Here are my current Top 3 Favorite Things that you must know about right this very minute: Read More…

img_3694

“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…

img_3695

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…

img_1333

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!

img_1333

Read More…

img_0086

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.

img_0085

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.

img_0083

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…

img_3458

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!

///

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.

///

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.

img_3459

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.

///

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…

image

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.

///

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…