Tag: Creative Work

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…

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…

~ 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.


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 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…

img_0103They were supposed to come over for some chicken salad and swimming. You know, fun, casual, summer-Friday-type-stuff.

Instead we wound up lingering on the porch despite the 100 degree heat, asking each other general questions about what’s new, when we were all equally caught off guard by the tears that immediately started rolling down my face.

I laughed, a little embarrassed as I brushed away the freshest layer of wetness from my cheeks. Then I made a joke about how it was sweat and definitely *not* tears and shook my fist dramatically at the sweltering Oregon sun.

They laughed, but continued to sit comfortably with me, neither of them moving to change the subject or rushing me to explain my sudden display of emotion. They both know I’m a blurter and it’s only a matter of time until it all comes tumbling out anyway.

“I’m just not sure if I’m doing it right.

You know?

Any of it!

The mothering, the writing, the prioritizing, the expectations I’m setting for myself, my Yeses, my Nos, or the way I’m trying to hold them together all at once…”

They waited. There was more. Because of course there was.

“I feel like I’m on this precipice, and my toes are hanging off the edge… and I don’t know whether I’m supposed to dive off or if I’m supposed to grip the edge harder.”


Yes I know. It all sounds a bit melodramatic. But I can’t help it. You see, I’m neck-deep in a season of flux. Of transition. Of being in the middle. I feel one season slipping away, and another season not yet within my reach, and I’m not at all sure how to bravely inhabit the place I’m in right now.

My littles are becoming bigs and my role as their mother is shifting so quickly that I can hardly keep my bearings. I miss the simpler days scheduled around nap times, when the hardest thing I had to do was keep the 1-year-old out of the toilet and the 3-year-old out of my makeup. (Said with zero sarcasm, because we all know how hard that really is).

Meanwhile, my writing is changing from a hobby that I secretly played at, to a calling I’m taking seriously and a vocation I’m stepping into. Where I used to give myself free rein to play, to embrace my amateurism, and to throw my love of words around like confetti at a parade, I now tend to give myself expectations, timelines, and heaps of pressure to get it right. I’m still learning how to weave together that amateurish love of writing with the narrative that serves you as the reader. There’s a crossover, I think. There has to be. Because I feel a deep resonance when I write from that place. I hope you feel it too.

All my roles are shifting, and while that’s exciting, I worry a lot about whether I’m getting it right here in the transition. The pause between two notes. The split second of awareness between what’s behind and what’s ahead.

I think a big part of me yearns for those simpler mothering and writing days- when the stakes didn’t always feel so high.

But there’s this whole other part of me that also yearns to up the ante and go all in. Get to the next thing.

I guess I’m still learning how to be “all in” as a mom and be “all in” as a writer at the same time. 

Because even though I’m on a creative path that feels right and rings true, even though there’s a deep resonance with this work that makes it difficult in all the best ways, I’m still constantly tripping myself up with hesitation. Fear of making a wrong step.

I’m caught between wanting to freeze time so I can enjoy these fun, independent, capable kids who no longer fit on my lap, and wanting to hurry up so I can grow my own dreams right along with them.

I think that’s why I was crying on my porch about the precipice, and wondering whether or not I’m doing this part right.


Maybe you’re wondering too.

Maybe you’re here, in the middle of that thrilling and scary place, where you feel yourself voyaging between seasons of motherhood, of creativity, or of work, when all the lines are constantly moving and you have no clue how to stay inside them.

Or maybe you’re in that equally thrilling and scary place where, in the middle of all of that,☝🏼your dreams have come bubbling to the surface of your heart, and you can’t ignore them, but maybe you aren’t sure what to do with them either.

How does it all fit together?

How do we live this part well?

No seriously, I’m asking.


Because so far I’ve only got one answer:


Rest is the only way I know how to simultaneously recover from what’s finished and to prepare for what’s ahead.

As a family, we’re coming off an extremely busy season of school, sports, house-flipping, and projects. Personally, I’m coming off of an intense season of book proposal writing as well. It’s finally done now, (ALL THE PRAISE HANDS)… But, I also know it still needs some polishing.

So I have no idea if it’s right or wrong, but this summer I’m saying yes to precisely two things:

  1. Making my proposal the best that it can be.
  2. Soaking up moments with my family this summer through rest.

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet here on the blog this summer. That’s because I know I can’t serve you well with my words, unless I carve out time to rest and be inspired first. So we’re pausing to eat popsicles in the pool with the kids, and play boggle and laugh at our weird dogs by the campfire. I’m jotting down notes and ideas for letters to you and I’m letting them percolate before I rush to my keyboard.

Don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of Dear John letter where I tell you I’m done blogging, “but there’s a casserole it the fridge and you’ll be fine without me.”

No, I’ll still be here, writing to you. I couldn’t quit you if I tried.

This is just me, inviting you into this space, and hoping we can be honest with each other about how we’re not sure if we’re getting any of it right.

It’s me saying I’ll be here, but we may not do any deep dives this summer.

Is that okay?

We may just keep it light and fun and talk about our Favorite Things (like a flip flop with actual arch support, because at 35, these are the things I am forced to investigate for us. Don’t worry, I got you, boo) Or like what to do for fun on a date night, or what happened on the Road Trip this summer… because let me tell you, this year was something extra.


But before I go, I have to tell you about this thing that Sarah Bessey said last week. I came across it while I was writing this very piece about rest, and it was so heart-stoppingly simple and profound that I have to share it with you. She was talking about the power of faithfulness,  of staying, of not giving up on our creative work.

She said, “Cultivate joy and rest and renewal as an act of resistance.”

I can’t stop thinking about that last part.

An act of resistance.

Maybe the only way to push back against the questions, the pressure, the scary unknown stretched out before us… maybe it’s rest. Maybe it’s getting low and getting quiet and trusting God to lead us while we find joy in this brief moment on the precipice.


*this post was sent from my computer and my heart*