Amber Housley

2016 Goals + Powersheets

I held back tears as I walked around the gym in the last few minutes of the workout.

I was frustrated.

My head was all there, but my body could not simply lift my feet more than an inch between the two wooden boxes. Even then, I could barely hold them afloat for more than a few seconds. My arms would shake from the weight and I glanced at all the others around me enviously.

How could this be?! I was all in. I showed up again today, even when my aching arms and legs could barely walk down the stairs to shuttle the kids to school. I came anyway for another grueling day, and here I was ending it feeling disappointed. “Why won’t my body just cooperate?” I screamed in my head.

The trainer reassured me, “this was a hard work-out. You will get stronger. We all started here.”
I left a little broken but with more resolve to show up again tomorrow.

You see, I had core strength before, I could do this in the past…but I had let ALL of it go on an unspecified length of a vacation. Not just my health, but a lot of areas of my life.

Wednesday’s workout reminded me that I can’t snap my fingers and be wherever or whatever I want to be. I have to work at it.

you make all things new

(image above by jenwoodhouse.com and the current lock screen and desktop on my phone)

So begins 2016 and a new set of goals and a humbling start line! I share all of this from a good, happy place. A place where I’m all the more wiser and hopeful of a new chapter in many areas of my life. My one little word for 2016 is LIGHT and I’m feeling it very much so day by day.

It was fitting that I started my Lara Casey Power Sheets in November, with an intention to start the tending lists in December. I went through all the exercises of what worked and what didn’t work in 2015, lessons learned, and what I was saying yes and no to. I got all the way up to the big grand goal setting piece and LIFE then happened those next few weeks and I didn’t pick them up again until late last week.

Lara Casey Powersheets 2016 Goal Setting

In the end, it was the best plan of all: and His plan I believe, to reset a few things in my heart to prepare for this year.

Yesterday, I said a bittersweet goodbye to my Studio Calico family. It was an honor to help lead the marketing at this amazing company and I will miss these lovely ladies and many others so much! I will share more about the next chapter in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m just so grateful I had the opportunity to work among such incredibly talented friends, artists, and brands this past year and a half, including not just Studio Calico, but also Ali Edwards, TomKat Studio, A Beautiful Mess, Brene Brown, Baby Boy Bakery and Big Picture Classes.

IMG_7452

 

A few lessons I learned from what DID work in 2015:

1. Faith – This grew greatly in 2015. God put so many faithful women in my life this last year and I’m grateful for their examples. Reading devotionals and the First 5 App. Regularly attending church on Sundays. Listening to worship music in the car. All of it carried me through a very tough year of growing.

2. Creativity – making this a priority in my life worked well. I was grateful that my work at Studio Calico inspired me to start scrapbooking again. I enjoyed this year finding small bits and ways to incorporate creativity and “making” every day – from my planner to my journaling bible. My days are so much better when I have created something. It’s definitely a fuel for me.

3. Relationships – putting more effort in my marriage and my little family has done wonders. “High and Low” daily shares at the dinner table, more date nights, more conversation all has been wonderful. Making regular phone calls with friends like Carli, Nicolle and Rhiannon on my many drives to Kentucky were a life raft at times in this past season.

Other things that did work: Ending the chapter for now on Amber Housley Weddings, volunteering as Room Mom at school, Inspired Retreat, being okay with knowing I can’t do it all, Jesus Calling devotional, Making Things Happen conference, organizing the first Inspired Coterie Mastermind group, family beach vacation, new dahlia blooms and zinnias in the garden, our family scrapbook album, journaling bible, morning coffee dates with my husband, healing and forgiveness in a friendship, GRACE.

Illustrated Faith Journaling Bible Flowers

Lessons I learned from what DIDN’T work:

1. Dwelling on my circumstances and not taking action to change or affect them. Leaning in often to worry, anxiety, and way too much guilt.

2. Not making my business a priority. I spent a lot of 2015 going with the current but not actively paddling anywhere. It felt wasteful and I felt pretty unworthy at times. All of us have been given these gifts and when we lay them to the side without giving the proper care and attention, we are doing a disservice. To realize I am capable of serving and impacting so many and not being intentional or taking action felt pretty crummy. I held onto that feeling for a long time until I realized at the end of 2015 I didn’t want to sit in that shadow anymore.

3. Self-care. Imagine that with three underlines underneath it. I left the Making Things Happen conference in November and had at least a dozen people over the next few weeks text me to ask if I had taken my massage appointment yet. You see, I was gifted a certificate TWO YEARS AGO and another one for my past birthday, and I had done nothing with them. Always justifying I had no time, and there were other things needed me more. Everyone and everything needed me more than myself. This was more than a massage, this was me procrastinating on life (my health, my family, everything) and putting myself last.

God prunes us watercolor quote

I could share my “no’s”, but let’s get on over to the light part shall we and talk about what I’m saying “YES!” to in 2016:

self-care, prayer & faith, my husband, my family, my goals, my business, reading, writing, creating, worship music, phone calls, mail, relationships, grace, encouraging others, getting outside, my health, gardening, Bloom Garden Journal, beach vacations, budgeting, Southern Styled, BELIEVING I AM CAPABLE.

Amber Housely Living

A few of my high-level goals for 2016:

1. Live lighter. Cultivate a life and home with less physical and mental clutter. Revisit family budget. Monthly purges.
2. Refine & rebuild my business. Realign my mission and be intentional with my business activities so they align to my core values. Finish past business learning investments. Simplify. Refine and refresh Inspired Retreat so it serves well and even more so than past gatherings.
3. Live a healthy lifestyle. One the promotes activity and nourishment so I am stronger, lighter, and have more energy for my family.
4. Continue to grow in my faith, learn more, and seek Him more. Dig deeper into our small group study. Memorize verses monthly. Incorporate serving into our family activities.
5. Shine in my role as a wife and mother. Intentionally plan date nights and activities. Find ways to bring more joy to our home and less stress. Simplifying and saying yes when it counts.
6. Make self-care appointments weekly. Massage, pedicure, lunch dates with friends, movie watching, book reading, gratitude journaling.
7. Make “creating” a habit. Weekly scrapbooking and illustrated faith journaling times. Gardening. Cooking. Find a new creative workshop or class to take.
8. Launch Southern Styled. My new online home for sharing business learning and creative making will debut this Spring 2016.
9. Launch the Bloom Garden Planner. My passion project: part garden journal, planner, and memory keeper. I’ve wanted this for two years now and it is finally being developed in time for the new growing season.

Southern Living Dahlia Nashville Tennessee Garden

There’s a lot more to share in the coming weeks, including a ‘bucket list’ of action items that relate to the above goals. I’ll give you a hint to one of them: climbing the rope at the gym I mentioned above.

I look forward to updating you here on the blog monthly as we navigate 2016 together! Do you have your goals for 2016? I’d love to see them! Do know there are no rules to goal setting – you could have 1 goal or 10 – but the main point is to set goals that are rooted in what matters. Share a link or post in the comments below.

The Inspired Retreat October 2015 attendees received a set of the Power Sheets as a wonderful sponsor gift from the Lara Casey Shop. I’m excited to see everyone put them into action these next few weeks!

 

One Little Word: 2016

“I think I’m just exhausted,” I said simply as we were wrapping up our conversation.
“I can see it in your eyes,” my friend kindly, but honestly replied.

I left our post-holiday lunch date, and on the drive home, thought about 2016 and what I wanted from it. Really, I just wanted to feel lighter.

As this year is wrapping up, day by day it is getting lighter.

I want more of that light in 2016.

Rise Up and Shine

 

In 2016…
I will feel lighter.
Live with more joy.
Live lighter with less stuff.
Let my heart be more light.
Let more light in.
Spread the light and be a light for others.
Light the fire in my soul again for things I’m passionate about.

And quite honestly, someone who is definitely more fun to be around than I have been this last year.

It’s funny, because I felt pretty smug a few weeks ago that my 2016 #onelittleword “grace” was all tied up with a bow.

But, Joy. Light. Shine…I loved all these words, too.

“Grace” brought me up to this week, but I felt a nagging sense that “light” was going to take me into the new year, and the next chapter.


 

Later that night, on the same day as our lunch date, I received the letter in the mail that I had wrote to myself back in October at Making Things Happen Conference.

This letter came to mind a few weeks ago and I couldn’t recall if I actually wrote one or not, and if I did write one, I pondered what it contained.

It’s contents were the perfect confirmation and timing:

Amber, you made it!
The sun finally shines again. You are loved and were created to spread joy. Keep taking pauses to take care of you. Self-care is just as important as the love and light you work so hard to give everyone else. May you continue to bask in the light and give thanks for every blessing you are enjoying today.

 

Floral Quote Inspiration(image source: Kelli Trontel)

 

So, I close out this year and this season with so much thanks.

2015 was the year of “grow.”

Goodness, I had no idea how that word and this year would pull and stretch me in the most uncomfortable of ways.

As a gardener, you plant seeds and have faith that it will grow. That the rain and sun will come when they are needed. You give thanks even when the harvest is smaller or bigger or wildly different than what you expected. And when the season is over, you’re already imagining and excited about what could be with the knowledge you are now equipped with.

That is 2015 for me.
Eagerly awaiting 2016 with a new season of planting and a whole lot of trust that this might be the best year yet.
Even if it’s not, His grace is sufficient for me.

So, let’s bring on the “light” of 2016!

Do you have a word for 2016? I’d love to hear it.

You can view my Pinterest board of inspiration featuring imagery and quotes I love for my 2016 year of “light.” I also highly recommend you check out my friend Ali Edwards’ workshop created and dedicated to One Little Word.

One Little Word Light

Making Things Happen Conference & Perfect Timing

 

making things happen conference

 

I look at this picture and I see a girl in the middle of a storm. Smiling and trying to keep it together, but feeling really lost.

Last March, I hit rock bottom.

Not that my rock bottom is anything that super dramatic, but for me, after many years of chasing dreams and things and always being on the go, go, go…my feet failed me and hit the ground hard.

It’s not like it all happened at once in one dramatic flourish, but it was over several months and weeks….and falling in slow motion.

Chapters ended on many things in my life from late 2014 to 2015. A previous career ended, dreams and goals turned upside down in my business, my former life as a mom to just one was now a memory, friendships changed, and not to mention a poorly timed eye surgery that took a longer recovery than initially thought and left me with poor vision for months.

In that time I also started a new job where I placed so many high expectations on myself, I put band aids on issues of what I was capable of and desiring within my own business, I was focused on making everyone else happy around me, and did I mention I struggled hard with being a new mom all over again? My superwoman powers failed me and I pretty much felt like I walking in the dark without an end in sight. I kept most of my struggles wrapped up close, except for the few who could see right through the cover up that something was really wrong.

I’m so grateful for those few…Carli, Nicolle, Heather, Ashlee, Sam, the MTH gals and others.

I am also grateful for my faith that helped pull me through the darkness.

The turning point in it all?

My Making Things Happen conference experience this past April when I finally got real with myself and was tired of holding onto all the baggage.

 

making things happen

 

I’ve been blessed enough to be part of MTH for a few years now as a guest speaker. Each time I go back, I do the hard work with the attendees and share and work through whatever challenges I’m facing at the time. I can absolutely say that each experience is different than the time before because frankly, we all change. Our lives start new chapters, there are new priorities to balance, and new dreams to work toward. Usually I come prepared with a notion of my struggles and things I want to make happen in addition to the encouragement I want to offer others.

But this last time? I felt like i had nothing to give.

So instead I just threw the whole mess on the table. I openly shared about what brought me to that point. About what a mess I was in and all the mistakes I was making and the failures I had.

That even as a returning speaker many times over, I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT. (side note: I never will.)

I had no pretty bow to tie it all up with.

As I finished, I looked at the room of 100+ blankly with tears running down my cheek, and not knowing how to close it, said, “well, that’s it. I’ll let you know how it turns out.”

I later went into a MTH breakout session and told my group that I will definitely be there to support them. But you know what? I needed help, too. I needed their messages of support to get through this.

And they did. Little text messages here and there lifted me up these last few months.

And I prayed.

There’s more to the story between then and now, but months later, and hours spent in the car thinking, I’ve come to know out of this journey that all of this was to bring me closer to Him.

When I tried to think on reasons on why things failed and why friends walked out on me, I believe it was because he wanted to me focus on Him alone. To find my strength and identity there.

 

Making Things Happen Conference

 

Last week I received a card I wrote myself during my time at MTH. It was perfectly timed, of course.

In it, I promised myself that the valley would end and that there would be many more mountain peaks to see.
That I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I said all the words I didn’t feel at that moment and all the words that I hoped I would feel again.

So here I am. Exactly as I was promised, and supposed to be. Grateful to be climbing again with a stronger sense of self, of faith, and purpose.

Things didn’t magically happen and transform themselves during my time at MTH, but they are exactly where my next chapter needed to start.

I’ll be returning to Making Things Happen for the seventh time this Fall. The early bird rate ends today with the opportunity to save half off. If you’re feeling lost or looking for encouragement to take the next leap, I hope you will join us! More details and grab your seat on the site here.

 

Conference photos by Robyn Van Dyke Photography

Grace & Mamahood.

mo

 

Most days, I don’t have this motherhood thing figured out.
I’m asked often how I do it all, and honestly, I don’t. Daddy is traveling and I fed the kids nuggets for dinner two nights in a row while they watched NickJr. I then dropped and broke a glass, and after cleanup, had just a few minutes left for me to eat a handful of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers for my own dinner. After quick baths, I declared that we needed some excitement in the bedtime routine. I loaded them up to make the trek across the street to the lake to watch the sunset. There, I spent 85% of the time losing my patience as I kept them from falling in goose poop or slipping on rocks into the lake. #sigh….

But THIS right here.
THIS made it all worth it.
I’m grateful they won’t remember my own internal list of failures or how I feel in adequate or measure up to other moms I know.
They’ll remember the ducks and the crickets and the sun and their mama that brought them there on an impromptu adventure.
They give me grace over and over again when really I need to give myself some, too.
Grace for you, too. ❤️

Closing the chapter on Amber Housley Weddings

IMG_2414

 

I’m not going to miss the day after wedding feet.

Where every muscle aches from running around and standing for 12+ hours straight.

But boy, I’m going to miss the day after blooms that grace the kitchen table and counters. So much lovely thanks to Trish at Violet Floral Design. Last night, on the drive home, I reflected on 7 years of weddings. There is something so truly special about being a part of a couples very first chapter in their story of life on their wedding day. You feel a part of their life forever. There’s also a special dance that happens behind the scenes as vendors. You laugh, you hustle, you all help each other out so it all comes together so seamlessly. I’ll miss that too. At the end of the night, we all hugged or shook hands and shared our “looking forward to the next time working together” sentiments. For me, there won’t be a next time. I looked up and in an instant the strike crew had flipped the room back to bare and the warehouse was an empty canvas again. That’s just how it is. The beauty takes months, weeks, days, hours to create but in an instance it’s over and ready for the next story.

Friends, it’s so very hard walking away from something that brought me such joy for so many years and something I feel I was truly blessed in doing. But, it is time. On the way home, along the downtown Nashville skyline, I sang along to “This is my fight song”…and it seemed a fitting way to close the chapter on the last year and Amber Housley Weddings.