Tag: Creative Work

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 holding 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 sure how to bravely inhabit the place I’m in right now. Read More…

I tend to start these end-of-the-month letters to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. There’s not a lot of fluff or formality or neatly packaged antidotes about life. These letters are a lot more personal than the rest of my blog posts and a little less refined than usual (I don’t plan out what I’ll say or even edit myself. Read: I basically just sit down at my computer and go rogue.)

I like to think of it like I’m inviting you from the front porch into the living room where we can relax and kick our feet up.

So, Hi.

How are you, even?

Tell me your things.

What was your month like?

Our June was… full.

We made it to the end of the school year, which means that Bella, our oldest is officially a middle schooler now. So, please excuse me while I go dry-heave into my purse.

Sorry, that was a strong mental image. But the thing is, I’m having some strong feelings about all this growing up business and I’m having a hard time processing them just yet.

I mean, look at her!

Something about this age just slays me. She is equal parts little girl and young lady.

Between her performance in the talent show (a hip hop dance. Is it just me, or are kids way cooler nowadays?) and her elementary school graduation ceremony I’m pretty sure I’m still dehydrated from all the crying and emotional sweating I’ve done this month. Read More…

I haven’t spoken about it a whole lot, but our family has been in somewhat of a stressful season. The details aren’t important (or rather, they are, but it’s just not the time or place to do a deep dive) so my husband and I have made the intentional decision to deem this our Summer Of Fun. Because sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing, except change your perspective about things.

SO, Summer of Fun, here we come!

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well I should tell you that it’s our first official day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

///

For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. 

Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…

 

GUYS. We are like, THISCLOSE to summer break!
Actually, some of you are already on summer break.

It’s fine.

We Oregonians are not jealous.

Not only are we forced to live life a general 2-3 hours behind the rest of the country, but our school system is also a solid 3-4 weeks behind most others.

It’s okay.

We see you, doing your cannonballs into pools and opening popsicles and sharing photos of your bare feet on Instagram with the hashtag #summerfun.

We are not bitter.

We will dutifully pack those last 11 lunches (and by “pack”, I mean, throw in an assortment of snacks and call it good because whatever, man. We’ve made about eleventy billion turkey sandwiches -one with mustard, one without, mind you) by this point in the school year and I’m just going to be real and tell you that our level of caring over here is at about about a -2.

I was just texting with a friend yesterday who confided that she let her kids sit in the hot tub and counted it as a bath, and I wrote her back to say we did that very thing last week I don’t even feel bad about it.

Have I mentioned that it’s MAY?

May is that one month out of the year that I always forget to remember is going to be totally bananas. (That sentence didn’t feel grammatically correct, but pls refer back to my general level of caring.)

May is like June’s slightly unhinged kid-sister that you never see coming. You want to hang with June, but but you’ve got to get through May first and she is NOT going to go easy on you.

Everything just ramps up to a fever pitch unit Summer finally comes. The school projects, the field trips (we have had FIVE this month), the home projects (more on that in a minute), the piano recitals, the talent show… I could go on, but you get the picture.

All I know is that June comes tomorrow and I AM HERE FOR IT.

I’ll give you the normal end-of-month rundown on what we’ve been watching/reading/loving/hating but first there’s some exciting stuff in the works for this summer that I wanted to tell you about:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared the Mom Wants More podcast episode I was on with my friend and fellow hope*writer, Alana Dawson?

If you haven’t listened yet, click this image👇🏼


and go take a gander if you have time, because our conversation has everything to do with the heartbeat of why I write to you. I’d love for you to listen in.

Anyway, Alana and I had so much fun chatting we decided we don’t wan’t to stop. Not yet.

So I’m actually going to be co-hosting the Mom Wants More Podcast for the summer!

I’ll do my best to keep you guys in the loop whenever new episodes air, but if you’d like to keep it super easy, just head over to iTunes and click subscribe! That way all new episodes will pop up in your queue and you won’t have to wade through any emails to get them.

Alana and I will be chatting about the benefits of pursuing your passions in the middle of motherhood, how to keep doing it even when it’s hard, how to navigate pursuing multiple passions at once, and how to determine if your creative work is something that could or even should make you money (you might be surprised at our perspective!)

As you know well enough by now, I’m a woman of many words. I like to throw them around like confetti at a parade. It really can’t be helped.

I’ll always love connecting with you through words on a page, but having real life conversations opens up a new level of depth and also brings some extra fun to the table. I’ll still be here writing to you, but I’m also really excited about this new avenue of communicating with you guys.

One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with podcasts is because they’re so convenient! I listen to them while I drive, while I cook, while I fold laundry. It makes me feel ultra productive and I’m not going to lie, I really like that.

As for the scoop on life here on the farm this month, it’s been an interesting mix..

As I mentioned in last month’s letter we’re in the middle of an unexpected season of life. I won’t go into detail right now, but basically we’re dealing with excess stress, a lot of unknowns, and doing our best to live well in this space between questions and answers.

The long and short of it is that it’s been hard and it’s been good.

We trust in God’s plan for us and we believe in our hearts that nothing is truly random. So we’re learning to sit in this tension instead of struggle against it. We’re waking up each day and choosing to dwell in the now and to focus on all the joys, big and small.

We’re enjoying the longer days and spending most morning and evenings on the back porch. We’re snuggling our kids and watching lots of good movies. We’re refusing to let our concerns get in the way of our passions and dreams and plans. We may slow down on a few fronts but we won’t quit. For some reason, that feels important right now.

In fact, I wrote down this quote from Rachel Hollis (I read her book, Girl, Wash Your Face this month and it’s FABULOUS. Highly recommend):

“And on the days that seem the hardest, I hope you remember that by an inch or a mile, forward momentum is the only requirement”

I also wrote down at least a hundred other quotes from the book because she basically had “152 insights into my SOUL” (name that movie) but this one feels extra relevant to our current life season.

On a lighter note, this month we finally put up the hot tub that we ordered at the beginning of the year and that sat in an enormous box in our driveway for over 2 months.

We had to wait til construction was underway for our outdoor entertaining space, but the minute Nate had finished the patio, we slapped that baby up.

It gives me a ridiculous amount of joy, sitting in that tub of hot water. I can’t even tell you why, but it does, so I’m fully embracing it by using it no less than twice a day.

(Come over!)

Life has otherwise been business-as-usual for us. The kids are ready for summer. Bella is about to graduate the 5th grade and it’s giving me a lot of feelings. I’m totally going to be that lady in the back row at the ceremony silently sobbing into her tissue and falling apart while all the other parents smile and clap emphatically.

It’s not that I’m not happy and proud of her- I am. She’s ready for middle school. It’s me who’s not ready. She’s growing up into this cool, confident, quirky person and I love bearing witness to it. It’s just that it’s all happening so quickly, and it makes my heart expand and contract at the same time.

But that is a letter for another day.

Jax is happy-go-lucky, ready to cruise into 3rd grade without a care in the world. Something about his age is magical in that it’s simple and fun.

I’m very much looking forward to slower mornings, longer days, and taking time to slow down and soak them up.

(See how flowery I’m getting here? Check back with me on Day 9 of summer break. I’ll be like, “Why are they like this? FIX IT JESUS.)

It’s fine.

Enough about me.

How are you, dear reader? What’s been hard this month? What’s been filling your cup right now?

Tell me your things.
*this email was sent from my computer and my heart*

 

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…

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…

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…