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…

You did it! You made it through January! Before we say another word, go ahead and give yourself a high-five.

Can we all agree that January is one of the wonkiest months of the year?

Is that just me?

The holidays are over and for some some of us that means we’re still barely processing the feelings and experiences that came with them, the bank account is still smarting, the goals and intentions for the new year have been set but it’s too soon to tell which ones we’re actually being successful at, the weather is cold and gray, and some years it all just leaves me feeling a little weird.

On the bright side, I do love me a fresh start, and January is the basically freshest start of all. It’s Day 1 of 365. Full of promise and possibility.

Whichever way you slice it, one thing is for sure- we made it through.

Go us!

I’m so proud of us.

Before we roll into February I wanted to write you a letter to fill you in on the highs and lows of our month over here.

Not just the highlight reel, the real reel too.

This is the stuff I share with my closest friends over coffee, but since most of you don’t live within a 30 mile radius of me (which is the exact distance I’ve deemed worthy of traveling for food or drink. *see last post regarding chipotle burritos*) I’ll just leave it here for you to read at your leisure.

These letters are a little longer and more personal in nature. I only write them once a month because I value your time and don’t want to waste it, so I choose to keep the blog more focused on encouragement and entertainment the rest of the time. But hey, maybe some of my regular day-to-day experiences will resonate with you, and maybe that will encourage or entertain you too. Who knows?

So let’s lead with the fun stuff, shall we?

For starters, we brought two more little baby goats home to the farm and I am low-key obsessed with them.

They’re Nigerian Dwarfs so they’ll stay small, only growing to be about the size of our dogs.


They were aptly named Todd & Margo by our 8 year old son, after our favorite line in Christmas Vacation…

“And why is the carpet all wet Todd?

I don’t KNOW Margo!” Read More…

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time then you’re probably already familiar with Let’s Play Oprah. It’s a fun little game we play once a month in which I share my top 3 “Favorite Things” at the moment, ask you what YOUR favorite things are (because that’s what friends do- they dish on the goods!), and then at the end of the month I do a Facebook Live video to draw a winner and I give away one of the items on the list! (Be sure to tune in on Wednesday, January 31st at 12:30 pm PST)

If you’re interested in this month’s giveaway and you’re wondering how you can be entered to win, it’s actually super simple. You just have to be subscribed to the blog. There’s a blue button at the end of this post- click it, enter your email, and voila! You’re entered to win.

Forever.

No rabbit trails or steps to take each month, it’s a one and done kind of a thing because I like to keep it simple. The only way your name ever comes out of the drawing is if you unsubscribe. Which I’ll admit would make me very sad, but I’d understand. Our email inboxes are sacred ground and sometimes we have to be picky about the voices we allow to fill them up.

Which is why I try to filter every single email I send through the filter of “is this serving YOU?”

I don’t want to be another voice banging around inside your head unless I’m offering you something funny, something helpful, a bit of encouragement and honesty, or in this case, some goodies you should know about.

I can’t believe I just said goodies.

I do Let’s Play Oprah mostly because it’s fun but also as a way to say Thank You to the people who have invited me into their inbox. It’s a big deal. I get that. I’m honored. So here! Have a lipstick (or bullet journal, or Schitt’s Creek dvd, or a book, or whatever else I happen to be obsessed with at the moment.)

Am I buying your love? No.

Am I throwing treats around like confetti at a parade so we can all feel more festive? Hells yes.

SO.

Without further ado, here are my Top 3 Favorite Things this January: Read More…

So I’ve made a huge, tiny mistake…

I’m hunkered down in a cute little Airbnb in Oregon for a few days of uninterrupted, intensive writing time. ALONE.

Well, almost alone.

I decided to tag along with Amber for the weekend. Which is not some weird, third-person reference by the way- my best friend’s name is actually also Amber. (I know, how kitschy, right?)

She’s here to begin her yoga certification and I’m here to get some serious writing done. And by serious I mean there will be lots of GIFs involved and hopefully one or two morsels of actual creative writing thrown in. And snack breaks. Because priorities.

So I sit down at the desk this morning full of hope and good intentions, open my laptop, and go to plug it into the wall only to realize I’VE LEFT MY CHARGER AT HOME.

4 hours away.

Classic Salhus. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I did manage to bring my iPad as backup, but failed to remember the keyboard that goes with it.

Can you tell it’s my first writing getaway? (Don’t answer that.)

So I’m sitting here writing to you because, well, for starters I needed a break from book proposal stuff, and for enders, I just love you guys so hard and I needed some of our good ol’ fashioned banter.

Can I make a confession?

Writing to you here is my favorite kind of writing.

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time knowing where to start, what to write about, or just feeling stuck in general, I just sit down and start typing to you. I don’t know why, but I feel safe with you guys, like I don’t have to filter myself or try to hard. I feel laid back and easy with you, like we’re sitting on a couch with a glass of wine just catching up on our things.

So tell me your things, dear friends. Read More…

Usually by the first week of January I’m all amped up and gung-ho about the new year with goals neatly listed in my bullet journal and new habits are either finding their place in my day or dying a thousand deaths faster than you can say “Happy New Year”  (side eye to you, 5:30am workout).

This year is a little different. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m moving a little slower- a little easier this January. I have more of what you might call “intentions” than hard goals, I’m still praying about what my word of the year will be, and I’m just not feeling particularly motivated in general… Not yet anyway. Check back with me next week?

Either way, January is here, with all it’s expectations, possibility, and potential whether we’re ready for it or not.

I’m not sure where you’re at with all of that- maybe you’re still taking time to reflect on the last year, maybe you’ve already shaken off the dust of the bizarro year that was 2017 and you’re busy feeling like a new you, or maybe you couldn’t give a flying fart in a whirlwind about all this “resolution” nonsense even if you wanted to, which you don’t.

Wherever you happen to land on that spectrum, I figure we’re all probably just doing our best to recalibrate and find our rhythm after the holidays- I know I am. 🙋🏼To borrow a quote from Stuart on Mad TV, “I’m going at my own pace!”

I tried to find a GIF of that sketch, but apparently it was too deep of a cut, even for Google, so for all you fellow 90’s teens who can appreciate it, here’s a different GIF of Stuart:

Anyway, I decided that instead of trying to come out of the 2018 gate with some deep, thought provoking, world changing piece, it would be more fun to take a quick look back at some of our favorite posts from 2017. So I did some investigating and these were the top 5 most-viewed posts from the blog last year. Some of them are my own personal favorites as well.

Here they are, in case you missed them!

When Your Body is Having a Mid-Life Crisis Read More…

~ Guest Post by Amy Steingard ~

Hey you.  I know what you’re thinking today.

Yesterday, you said, “Tomorrow I’m going to start that thing, dream, book, calling, work.”

You know what your thing is.  It’s tap dancing right on your heart, and it’s impossible to ignore.

And then this morning hit in a flurry of cereal with spilled milk, lost homework, dirty diapers, and the middle child home with the stomach flu that you know will run through your entire family. You surrender to your circumstances and say a defeated, “Tomorrow.”

I’m with you, sister.  There’s a dream in my heart, too, that sometimes feels buried under the clutter and weight of motherhood and life.  I feel like I am never going to get there…never going to have the time or the emotional fortitude to make that dream happen. A bad day with my kids can cause me to question EVERYTHING about myself and the work I want to do.

Hi, I’m Amy.  I yelled at my kids today and ate chocolate in the bathroom with a screaming toddler 6 inches on the other side of the door, but my passion in life is to be an encourager of women.

Hypocritical much?

I will blame motherhood and lack of time all the live long day.  I will blame my kids, my husband, my house, my lack of resources. I make excuses why I can’t do the thing right now, and while all those are valid and persuasive reasons to not pursue my dream, deep down it’s all an underhanded cop-out.

Those things that we claim hold us back, that’s just life, and, frankly, life has wisdom of it’s own. Life and, most specifically, our imperfections are what makes us endlessly fascinating.  Kathryn Craft explains this better than I ever can, “[Life] dumps s— on you and stirs you up until your soil is fertile.  Accept the challenge and plant some seeds. This is how artists grow.” Read More…

We were recently able to sneak away to Maui for 17 whole days- an amount of time that felt downright scandalous to set aside for the sole purpose of rest which is probably why I secretly planned to accomplish a lot of “inner work” while I was there.

You know, dreaming, planning, reflecting, figuring out my next right step in all major categories of life, that sort of thing.

FULL DISCLOSURE:

There was none of that.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Instead I rested.

Like, actually rested.

And you know what?

Not being productive might be the most productive thing I’ve ever done.

It was like my entire soul exhaled when I wasn’t even aware I’d been holding my breath.

I didn’t recognize it until I’d finally relaxed (which wasn’t until around Day 4 because it takes a while to fully decompress) but it turns out I’m actually a pretty high-strung person. Maybe not on the surface.

But inwardly?

My mind is always buzzing. It’s leaping to the next thing on my to-do list, or fretting over what that list should consist of, or it’s indulging my inner monologue which runs an endlessly critical loop of worry, pressure, and/or guilt.

Wow, I really sound like a basket case here, don’t I? But hey, I’m just being honest. I’m not proud of it, but the truth is that the real me is not very chill. Which is why it was so good to quit dressing up rest with a secret agenda for “inner work” for once. To take the time to rest, be with my people, play in the ocean, and completely SHUT IT DOWN.


It reminded me of this thing that Emily Freeman said last year at the Hope*Writers workshop. She was talking about waiting as an important part of creative work and she pointed out that music isn’t solely made up of different notes strung together, it’s equally about the pause between those notes. Read More…

 

~ Guest Post by Karen Gavreau ~

Thanksgiving is a reflective time filled with gratitude for blessings.

We bullet point the many good things we are grateful for.

Thankful for health. Thankful for children. Thankful for shelter. And on and on. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

But in the middle of the night, when my insomnia and inspiration collide, I start thinking about the tough things I am also thankful for as a Mom – the less obvious ones. The things they would never put in a Hallmark card.

Midnight quiet can bring clarity. Read More…

 

~ Guest Post by Katie Carper ~

I recently had this conversation with my 10 year-old daughter, Selah:

S: Mom, you remind me of the pig from SING.

Me: In what way? (besides an elevated BMI)

S: Well, you take care of all of us like Rosita takes care of her piggies. She has a dream to sing and you have a dream to write. I want you to know it’s okay if we’re not your only dream.

Her sensitivity stunned me into silence.

Selah’s right. I can relate to Rosita. She’s married and works as a full-time parent managing her home and the daily needs of her piggies. She feels the tension of raising littles while trying to make her singing dream a reality.

My husband & I work hard to balance our roles as Dad and Mom while he works full-time at camp and I work full-time at home. I handle most of the household responsibilities and childcare, while he works outside the home, providing our main source of income. We do not take for granted this gift of choice in how we manage our home and raise our kids and we are grateful that we get to spend our days doing what we (mostly) enjoy.

BUT.

I also believe I was created to string words together into something meaningful. Parenting full-time doesn’t mean I forsake my other dream forever. It just means I have to be a little more creative in making it a reality now. Read More…

 

~ Guest Post by Abi Partridge ~

As I write this I am in the middle of a month where I have committed to write every day on simple creativity. This daily challenge, is motivating me to write because I can sit around thinking that I don’t have something to say, but just the act of putting fingers to keyboard is enough to prompt me to write something. To write something, anything, and most of it – some of it- will be helpful, encouraging to someone else – I hope! But it’s not easy, almost every day I battle with getting something down in words, and the truth of it is that I know some of it will resonate, some of it will hit blank ears. There may be some gems, there will be some duff posts. There will be some words that help someone, some that may hinder. But it is a process and I know that I will learn more about myself and my reader through putting the words out there. I write because I can’t not write, and I write that it may help someone else, because I can’t only write to get my words out. I write because my heart is to share what I know because I know we read to know we are not alone.

You can’t do this

I know some of you think: “it’s all right for you” –  “you have days of time with your children in school, you don’t have a job, you have time and space to be creative”. How do I know this? Because I’ve thought it too. I’ve done comparison and thoughts of “it’s all right for them but… I couldn’t, I can’t.” But do you want to know a secret? It’s not easy for me either. I do have children in school but if I don’t have the writing done by the time they are home then I lose out on the computer, my eldest son has an important school year and usually needs the laptop for homework. My husband also is currently between jobs and needs our only laptop for job applications and freelance work. I am also juggling applying for jobs – (writing doesn’t pay the bills yet), the stress of a life-changing situation that has caused much heartache, disappointment and doubt, and a home that we are never sure quite how long we are to be in it.

Behind every story, every creative’s work, there is a life going on. Read More…