The Highlight Reel & the Real Reel

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!”

So obviously we’re raising him right and I’ve never been more proud.

They’ve been about 90% of our entertainment this month and we don’t even care if that’s weird. We still have to bottle feed them 3x a day, which takes some serious time, but none of us can bring ourselves to mind because they’re just so sweet. I told Nate we need to calm down already because when we moved out to the countryside 3 years ago we had exactly zero animals and we already have 6 and counting.

Next stop chickens?🤷🏼‍♀️ Who knows. Questions for God.

Another highlight this month was winning my Fantasy Football league. You might recall that last year I was the biggest Loser, and I had to drive around with a license plate of shame for the better part of 2017.

WELL.

I don’t mean to brag or anything, (yes I do) but I started from the bottom and now I’m here. It came to a showdown between my best friend Amber and I in the last round of playoffs. At one point I was only beating her by .7 of a point. Less than one point! It was a close race but I took it in the end and I’m not even going to pretend to let this one go anytime soon.

I used my cash winnings to buy these Lotta From Stockholm shoes I’ve had my eye on for the last two years.

How cute are these, btw? Clogs are making a comeback and I am HERE FOR IT.

This next section we’ll categorize as more of a “Win” than a “Highlight” because it’s been hard and grueling but also good for me. This month I’ve made some small pivotal shifts in my daily habits and so far I feel like they’ve really benefitted me.

I cut out alcohol for a short while. (I miss wine so much, but that is a post for another day.)

I cute waaaay back on soda and coffee. Goodbye fun, effervescent, caffeinated liquids. I miss you. I love you. I’ll come back for you soon.

I drink a gallon of water a day now. (This means roughly 1.5 hours of my day are spent going to the bathroom, but whatever man, gotta hydrate!)

I get up 40 minutes earlier than I technically ‘need to’ so that I can have some quiet time alone with myself and God. This doesn’t always look like prayer and bible reading, but sometimes it does. Other times I journal, sit in silence, or spend most of the time trying to corral my wandering thoughts. I’m not a morning person so getting up early feels like a deep cut for me, but I’ve discovered that it’s actually a gentler, more pleasant way to ease into my day than the usual 90 second dash from my bed to the coffee pot, to the breakfast table where I land in a sleepy stupor and creep my kids out because I keep “zoning out” (staring blankly at them until my brain wakes up.)

Oh, and I work out regularly. Again? Still? Jury’s still out on that one but the point is I’m doing it, dammit!

-Okay Time out-

Are you rolling your eyes yet? I get it. This all sounds a little cliche and obnoxious for a January post so I’ll just stop here with my new ‘healthy habits’ list otherwise I’ll annoy my own self.

I’m only mentioning these because I’ve realized that I’m a highly sensitive, anxious soul and who knows, maybe you are too? These small practices help keep me feeling more centered and calm throughout my hectic day, which I desperately need because I’m also diving back into some deeper creative work that’s been waiting on the shelf for a while.

Which brings us to the “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Three Steps Sideways” portion of our real reel. As most of you know (because I tell you basically everything), I finished my first book proposal last Spring.

Man, it’s hard for me to say that because it was so long ago I feel like I should be further along in this process by now, but I’m not, and that’s okay.

So I finished it but I also knew that it was my first draft of my first book proposal and that it needed work. The process of finding an agent can take some time but luckily I re-connected with someone who’d taken interest in my work a while back. She loved my idea, but agreed that it needed some tweaking.

Months passed, life happened, and then we signed a contract this Fall (yay!) Which means we are now getting down to the nitty gritty business of editing, cutting, and re-writing sections of my proposal.

This is a picture of what my office looked like after a productive writing day yesterday:

Notecards for days. The creative process is messy, y’all.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments I feel totally overwhelmed and plagued with questions of “Who do I think I am, trying to write a book? How in the actual world, short of a miracle, can this thing happen? Can I even do this? Am I in over my head?”

But then I recognize that voice as Resistance.

That vicious beast with it’s finger on my pulse and chokehold on my neck.

And I remember that if I don’t wrestle that beast to the ground and slay it ruthlessly, every single time I sit down to write, then I’ll never get to my dream of the end product, the one that keeps me awake at night because it burns like a fire in my chest. That might sound dramatic, but I mean, shouldn’t everything we work towards and fight for and struggle through begin by feeling a bit dramatic?

But I digress.

The healthy habits help me be ready- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to do the creative work I care so much about. That is all.

Finally one of my highlights-slash-lowlights was my biggest kid turning 11.

It was mostly a highlight because Bella’s turning into an interesting, fun person and dang if she isn’t one of the coolest humans I know. I used to have a lot of fear over the tween/teen years but the closer I get to them, the more I’m realizing that big kids are so much fun!

It was a lowlight because I felt that familiar ache of a heart expanding and contracting at the same time, because she is indeed, growing right up in front of me whether Im ready or not.

Now before I start crying, let’s dish on TV, Books, and some other fun stuff!

Here’s what else I’ve been up to this month:

WATCHING

  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Love it. Cannot say enough words about it. Read my last email for the full scoop.
  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: This is a quirky little show about nothing, created by/ starring Jerry Seinfeld. The episodes are short and sweet, anywhere from 12-20 minutes. The whole premise of the show is that he simply rides in cars with other comedians and they grab a cup of coffee, chat about life, and usually wind up laughing a lot. It’s inspiring to see Jerry do what he does best- bits about everything and nothing that crack you up and make you wish you saw the world through his clever lense. But it’s also really cool to see comedians just be themselves. No act, no bit- just real conversation. My favorite episodes were with Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, and Christoph Waltz.
  • The Crown Season 2: I felt like Season 1 was a slow starter but picked up pace and intensity and by the end I was hooked. Season 2 was riveting all the way through. I am endlessly fascinated with all things history and royalty so this was right up my alley.
  • The Last Kingdom: We used to watch and love Vikings but somewhere around Season 3 it took a weird turn and I did not like it. Eventually we lost interest and quit watching, but this show popped up as a related recommendation on Netflix and on a whim, we clicked on it. It’s so good! Fantastic acting and storylines and it offers the same visceral drama of Vikings but with a much more magnetic and likeable lead, in my opinion. It involves the tension between Danes and Saxons which means there are evil kings, savage warriors, and of course, love stories.

READING

  • Do The Work by Steven Pressfield: I have read and will continue to re-read Steven Pressfield as long as I’m a writer. Scratch that, as long as I’m a human person trying to navigate life. This book, along with The War of Art are some of the most referenced, most utilized, and most valuable pieces I’ve read in the last 10 years. I’ve highlighted almost every page of these dog-eared copies. Whether you identify as a “creative” type or not, whether you’re trying to better yourself, your work, or simply do something that’s important to you, you’re going to want to read these.
  • Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown: Okay, I think I’m about to say something very unpopular here, but I was kind of “meh” about this book. It had good, important points and of course I think Brene is wise and endearing, but it just never grabbed me like I want a book to grab me. That is all.
  • The Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper: I won’t say much about this book either because body issues and “diets’ are a mine field we need not drag ourselves across in this space. I was simply curious about it because I love carbs. Like, LOVE carbs. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I can pass on dessert all day long, but I do have a carb tooth- which no one seems to acknowledge as a real problem. It basically outlines a balanced way of eating that doesn’t eliminate any food groups, so while Bob was a little bit full of himself at points, I still appreciated what he had to offer. Give me carbs or give me death, I say!

LISTENING TO

  • The Next Right Thing Podcast with Emily Freeman: Emily’s work has mattered to my work in monumental ways during the last three years. She has this way of speaking directly into my soul like, every time she opens her mouth. I don’t even understand. I’m just glad. Her podcast is in it’s second season and I love that each episode is only about 15 minutes long. Listening is like a slow exhale and a warm mug of tea…but for your heart. If that makes sense. Just listen. You’ll see what I mean.
  • You in 5 Years Series by Levi Lusko: I discovered Levi’s Fresh Life podcast a few years back and was tickled because we actually went to bible college together in California (about a hundred years ago.) He pastors one of those semi-mega-churches, but never comes across as semi-mega-annoying. I enjoy his teaching style, and this series in particular, is giving me all kinds of feels and hopes for what my life can look like in 5 years.

So that’s it folks! That’s a wrap! As I always sign-off on Voxer with my friend Melissa, “That’s what’s happening over here!”

Here’s to February- may she be short and sweet and full of adventure.

🖤

6 thoughts on “The Highlight Reel & the Real Reel

  1. Elisabeth

    I love your writing, and these newsletters are “just right!” 💗Congratulations on your book contract; I’m so excited for you! Any chance you’ll give us a hint about what the book is about? 🤷🏻‍♀️😊

    1. ambersalhus@msn.com

      Elisabeth, Thank you! Although I must clarify that it was a contract between myself and my agent, agreeing that she will represent me, not a publishing contract…although I do hope that comes next! Wish me luck,
      Xo,
      Amber

  2. Charity Dawggg

    Love all of the above. This made my day! I am also currently obsessed with “You in Five Years” series.. and what the heck I had no idea you guys went to school with Levi Lusko. If you guys getting any cooler could have happened.. you did lol!

    1. ambersalhus@msn.com

      YOU are the coolest Charity! Please never leave. Stay. Be a part of the family.You are my favorite thing since 2017.

  3. Kim Procknow

    Love reading everything you write! Also, you are not alone in the ‘Braving the Wilderness’ camp…so glad you said it first!

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