Category: Creativity

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…

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…