Category: Creativity

I wrote this guest post a while back for my funny friend (and fellow GIF-lover) Mary Carver, but since it ended up being one of my favorite blurbs that I’ve ever put on the Internet, I decided to share a snippet of it here with you. You can read the whole piece, “What Mindy Paling Taught Me About Life” over on her website.

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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…

So there’s something I’ve been dying to share with you, and now I finally can!

WAIT.

Time out.

I just now realized that was a very leading headline, what with all the Book Dream talk we’ve had around here this year. So before we go any further, NO, I don’t have a book contract (*Yet*, she whispered hopefully to herself). My agent and I are working on the finishing touches of my proposal and I hope to ship it out to publishers soon.

But in other news, I’ve dying to tell you about this podcast, and now I finally can because it released on iTunes!

I was recently invited to be on the Mom Wants More podcast to chat with my friend, Alana Dawson.

I met Alana a year and a half ago at the very first Hope*Writers Workshop. I’d traveled all the way across the country to invest in my burgeoning dream of calling myself a real writer. I only knew a couple people there, and at the end of a very long, very extrovert-y day, I found myself by the campfire out at The Nester’s famous White Barn feeling more than a little bit…exhausted.

It was the exhilarating kind of exhaustion- you know, like a kid who’s ready to pass out after a long day at Disneyland- THRILLED to be there, but also ready to collapse from all the excitement. I remember standing by the campfire, thisclose to fully malfunctioning, thinking to myself “That’s it. I’m officially peopled out. No more talky.”

But then Alana and I started chatting and it was like something inside me exhaled. Have you ever just immediately known in your knower that you’ve found a kindred spirit? When conversation with them is just easy and it fills you up instead of drains you? Talking to Alana is like that.

We have a lot in common- we’re both Enneagram 4’s,  we’re both hope*writers, we’ve both moved about a million times, but the biggest thing we have in common is that we share a similar message.

We’re both passionate about encouraging women, moms especially, to uncover the art of their RIGHT-NOW lives. To pursue their passions, to participate in the bigger story that God is writing for them, to take risks, step out of their comfort zones, and to do so boldly and with an unflagging joy, knowing that they already have all the ability and permission they need. 

So when she asked me to be a guest on her podcast I didn’t need to think about it for a second.

I was in. Read More…

While our kids played in the next room, my friend and I stood in her kitchen, sipping coffee and talking about our dreams- in hushed tones peppered with nervous laughter, as if the very topic was somehow taboo.

Frivolous.

Indulgent.

Maybe even selfish?

“I feel like I’ve lost pieces of myself since having kids…” She spoke quietly, almost to herself, but her words echoed loudly inside my own heart.

I knew exactly what she meant.

I think in an honest moment, many of us would admit we do.

Motherhood, especially in those early years, can be an engulfing experience. It’s a deeply beautiful, life-giving (literally), and fulfilling role that some of us have always dreamt of, but there can be moments when it feels as if motherhood and the minutia of the day might swallow our identity whole. Like we’re constantly needed yet rarely seen.

We’re busy doing those million and one little things that we worry don’t matter, even while knowing, deep in our hearts they do. We teach, we train, we pray, we worry, we kiss, we rock, we soothe, we comfort, we’re filled up and emptied clear out 100 times in a day. We lose sleep and gain access to chambers of our hearts we never knew existed. We’re driven to the edge of our sanity and then pulled back again in one suddenly tender moment.

We ride that rollercoaster of fear and worry, pride and dismay, wonder and bafflement, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We love our life.

And yet…

We wonder about those pieces of ourselves that seem to have disappeared. Our audacity, our playfulness, our ability to dream. They don’t call. They don’t send flowers. They just slipped unceremoniously out the back door.

Will they ever come back? Read More…

She used to yell 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 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? Did I hit my mark?

Or was it self indulgent and foolish and cringeworthy?

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There is a natural ebb and flow to the creative process, but because I am so new to all of it, riding that wave often leaves me feeling a bit seasick.

See, my whole life I operated under the assumption (the lie) that I’m simply not a creative person. I wasn’t even mad about it, really. It was okay. “It just wasn’t my bag, baby.” (Name that movie.)

But in the last couple of years as I’ve woken up to my creative self and begun to pursue my dream of writing, I’ve wrestled long and hard with all the wonky feelings that accompany such a process.

I am DOING THE THING.

I’m bravely entering the creative arena.

I’m boldly claiming my words as my gift, my calling, and my art.

I’m out there leaving my blood, sweat, and tears on the ground.

So why isn’t it getting easier? Wasn’t I supposed to have a thicker skin by now? Why do fear and uncertainty almost always pull me back after a sure step forward?  Read More…

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.

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…

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…

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…