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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.

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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.

Read More…

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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

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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!” 

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People of the Internet! Learn from my mistakes!

CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL.

Regularly. Read More…

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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

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4. In Your Dreams: When Creative Work Feels Impossible

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

– A Guest Post by Steve Wiens

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

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

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8. A Real Life Love Story 

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9. House Flip Before & After

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

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11. 5 Ways To Cultivate Rest This Holiday Season 

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

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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.

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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!

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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…

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“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.

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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…

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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!

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Read More…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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…

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In case you missed it, last week I explained how I’m starting a new series here on the blog because I want us to be fun-havers.

So once a month we’re going to “Play Oprah” (as in, emulate her, not trick her, of course) and we’re going to share our “Favorite Things” with each other.

And then at the end of the month I’m going to give one of those things away! 

To you!

Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Can we say it together in unison?

“Let’s Play Oprah!”

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I think it’s important you know that every time I type that, it’s in my best singsongy Oprah voice. Which is sort of ironic because I don’t think Oprah goes around singsonging her own name, but whatever, just roll with it. I also mentally roll out a red carpet, a small marching band, and throw around celebratory confetti every time I type it, so let’s just pause to make a mental note of that, okay?

At the beginning of each month I’ll write a post just like this one, sharing links to three of my favorite things at the moment and announcing which of those items I’ll be giving away, because in case it wasn’t clear from the first few paragraphs, I’m a firm believer in a big buildup.

And since friends don’t let friends miss out, I encourage you guys to share your favorite things with the rest of us as well. You can comment here on the blog, you can comment using #letsplayoprah on my InstagramFacebook, or Twitter, or you can always simply reply to my email newsletter. I do read every single email and I try my best to reply right away. This will be a fun way for us all to connect with each other and to see what we might have in common.

Plus: Who doesn’t want free stuff? 

Raise your hand if you still get excited about surprise packages in the mail when all you were expecting was bills!

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is enter your email address in the blue lighted bar at the end of this post, or in the opt-in on the right sidebar. What’s awesome about this is that it’s not time sensitive. You can enter anytime during the month, and at the end of each month I’ll choose a winner at random!

If you don’t win, don’t lose heart, you’ll still automatically be entered for following months. See! How easy and fun is this?!

Why have we not done this before?

WHY AM I SUDDENLY HAVING TROUBLE CONTROLLING THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE?

Sorry, I just get so excited.

Okay, so now that all the business is taken care of, without further ado, here are my top three Favorite Things this month:

  1. THE VOXER APP.  If you (like me) are a bit of an introverted extrovert and you love to stay in touch with your people, but you also hate talking on the phone, this app is for you. I mean, I really hate talking on the phone, which is weird because I’m rarely short on words. In person, I can hardly shut up. On the phone? I’m pretty much always awkward. So I live and die by my Voxer app. It’s an audio-messaging system which allows your phone to function like a walkie-talkie. It’s the perfect medium between a phonecall or text, and my favorite thing about it is that you can listen and respond at your own convenience. I have a few writer friends who live across the country in different time zones and we basically owe our entire friendships to the convenience of Voxer. It’s that powerful, guys. So if you’re still part of that %7 of the population who aren’t getting in on this action yet, it’s time to come over to the dark side.

  2. JOE’S Jeans Now, I realize that jeans can be a polarizing fashion item. Some people believe a good pair of jeans are worth upwards of $300 while other’s might feel it’s silly to pay more than $30 for some glorified Levi’s. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I used to scoff at the idea of premium denim but then I tried some on and I was like, “OH. I see.” That being said, I can’t always afford to indulge in the perfect pair of Seven jeans every time I gain or lose 15 pounds (which is roughly every five minutes) so I’ve invested in a few pairs of quality jeans as wardrobe staples, and then I usually pick up a couple of inexpensive pairs to fill in the gap when I’m fluctuating in weight. (Which again, is basically always.) But I have to say that my tried and true, favorite brand are JOE’S jeans. They seem to have mastered the perfect rise, consistently offering a waistline that hugs in all the right places without making me feel matronly. And I could be making this up, but I swear their denim is softer than most. I’ve purchased multiple different styles and cuts, yet every pair feels like that trusty, old, worn-in favorite the minute I pull them on. I’m currently obsessed with The Vixen style because it goes with everything from flats to boots, and it just so happens to be on sale at the moment.

  3. MINDY KALING. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Mindy fan, and while I realize that she isn’t exactly an item that I can give away, she also kind of is. Both of her books were among my all time favorite memoirs, and while I could go on and on about everything she’s taught me about life and why she’s so great, you’ll just have to read this piece  instead, because otherwise Mindy could easily hijack this whole blog post without even trying. Since I loved both of her books equally, and since this is our first giveaway, I’m starting out with a bang and giving away not one, but BOTH of Mindy’s books: “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me (And Other Concerns)” & “Why Not Me?“, AS WELL AS her hilarious 50-card set of talking points, or “conversations starters” if you will, titled, “Questions I Ask When I Want To Talk About Myself: 50 Topics To Share With Friends”.

So that’s it for October! I hope you tune in for next month’s “Let’s Play Oprah” too.

Be sure you’re entered to win, and sound off in the comments!

Tell me all your favorite things!