Amber Housley

Welcoming a #FruitfulSummer

Fruitful Summer


June started like a breath of fresh air. It felt like a new season, a new marker on the second half of the year. In my mind I had a lot of things I wanted to get down and share with you here.

It never happened.

Instead, I plunged head first into the natural companion to June: the sweet summer season. Our fridge is fully stocked with popsicles and I somehow find little wooden sticks all over my house at any given point. We’ve spent our weekends in the glorious sunshine. Barefeet, sprinklers, pool time, staying up late. Even while fighting a brutal summer cold and my voice going hoarse, I’ve embraced this new season.


My One Little Word for 2015 was “grow.”

I don’t think when I selected it in January that I’d have any idea how much that word would play out. If I look back now at what I set out to accomplish in 2015, there would be a lot of things left undone. A garden that didn’t get started. A gardening journal that didn’t get designed. To do after to do after to do…put on the back burner as we kept up with the daily marathons of work and school routines.

However, in the midst of all that stuff that didn’t get done, a lot of editing happened. And in turn, I started to grow. 

Behind-the-scenes at AH, I simplified things while I took a break to decide the next chapter. Suddenly, I had room to create again. In our family life, I opened the calendars for June and July and they were fairly empty. The hubby and I started discussing a couple of fun things we could do this summer for weekend adventures. Our family’s weekly appointments and meetings calendar isn’t filled to the brim and it feels so good.


Space to breathe. Space to be happy. Space to just take care of my family.

Mostly, space to grow and find out what I wanted next for myself.

A few of the outcomes of all of this:

- I started scrapbooking again. My Friday nights have been my newly found creative time after the kids are in bed.
- I started working out again. I genuinely craved my body moving again. I look forward to sticking to my T25 90-day plan.
- I started clearing out closets and getting rid of “stuff.” I’m hoping to make more progress on this in the weeks to come.

There’s always more things to fill my time up with, but choosing to be intentional and giving myself permission to enjoy the simple pleasures of summer have been restorative (and it’s only June!).

Of course, all of this naturally led to me joining in on the #FruitfulSummer theme with Lara Casey + Making Things Happen.

Over the next few months, I will be following along with the theme of “Fruitful Summer,” and we’ll all be encouraging others to tend to the relationships in their lives so that we can all live more abundantly in love and encouragement. I had the pleasure of being a part of the Fruitful Summer Guide which you can get a copy of + a whole lot of other lovely FREE downloads by joining in here.



I look forward to sharing more updates on this in the weeks and month’s to come. I genuinely miss writing and carry around a lot of thoughts and ideas in my head. If only it was easier to eat a popsicle and type at the same time.

Cheers to making your own #FruitfulSummer!



2015 #Powersheets Goal Setting: Part 1


Hello, friends. How has 2015 been for you so far? Still getting everything in order to make it the best year ever?

I am. This week, I’m working through my Power Sheets for 2015 and found that I needed to just write out a lot of the baggage I’ve been carrying around. What started as a list of what did work and what didn’t work in 2014 combined into one lesson after another.

So, here is my story for 2014 in all its messy parts — and in all its blessings. Hoping it might help just one person out there reading it and maybe to spur some change for yourself.

After writing all this out, I feel quite refreshed, just like how I’m approaching 2015.  I’ll follow-up later this week for some goals for 2015 and I highly recommend you check out Lara’s Goal Setting series over on her blog.

And, here we go….!

Lesson #1: Life will always go on and I don’t have keep up with the hustle that everyone else seems interested in. 

I started 2014 with the best of intentions. I knew our little baby girl was going to add an additional element to juggle and the time leading up to it I really embraced the coming time. I was mentally prepared for her and the affect on our life. Or so I thought…

Fast forward 10 days after her birth and I called a friend on the phone with giant crocodile tears streaming down my face. I was worried that the world would forget about me and my business. That I would be left in the dust and the world would continue on without me.

Yes. It was a big, selfish sob fest.

Looking back, it may seem silly to some to have these thoughts, but I had so much of myself wrapped up in constantly moving forward, that sitting still freaked me out.

It was a good reality check, and after a few words of stern advice from her, I have to say it was the best thing a new mama could have heard. It really set the precedence for the rest of the year.

I kept her words in my head. You will go away for awhile, and it’s okay. When you come back, it will be like you never left. 

Fast forward to the Spring, and momentum had picked up around here. I was on the path of blazing many, many trails. Our office days we were like busy bees as we prepped for the launches of new services, new product lines, and Inspired

Naturally, the pace started to wear down on me. On the outside, I probably looked incredibly confident. Everything was moving forward as it should. My always-planning self felt exhilarating to be mapping out the year of goals, tasks and metrics. But on the other hand, I was growing weary. The demands of being a new mom, working two jobs, being a boss and leader…I started to deflate.

There’s a certain gusto of energy that comes after a new baby. It’s as if you’re trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe it’s trying to reclaim your identity back? I’m not sure. In either case, it ended with me calling another friend who prayed with me on the phone. More tears. I was needing clarity but knew from earlier in the year, I was just trying to keep up with some sort of competition that didn’t really matter.

At that time, I decided I really despised the word hustle. I was wanting more heart and less hustle.

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Lesson #2: Chasing things is incredibly exhausting.
Lesson #2.5: Pause buttons are good.

 (are we sensing a theme here?)

Another blessing from this year was the gift of my heart saying “pause.” After I accepted the position with Studio Calico, it was timed with a week long vacation at the beach with my family. Man, did I need that time to stare at the ocean more than ever. From October up until the past few weeks, I put everything on pause. All the things I had wanted for so long – to prove I could grow a business, to be a boss, to even reaching six figure sales – I checked them all off and it all still felt empty and not fulfilling.

For the first time ever, I knew it was finally time to put on the brakes. I was searching for a lot of answers that my futuristic looking self needed but at the same time consciously knowing I just needed rest.

I trimmed off some extra things we were doing in the business, that while great income producers, needed a lot of extra time supporting and my heart wasn’t fully in it. I pulled back from a lot friends and ‘the outside world’ (i.e. the internet) and just sort of went through the motions. Waiting.

Waiting to know when it felt right again.

That time finally came again in the days after the new year. I can say the rest has been so restorative. I’m grateful that business still hummed along as I sorted things through. Sometimes you need to step back to get your groove back and that’s where I’m at.

In this time I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to just focus on my family again and the parts of my life I had been neglecting for a long time. I have a desire to work creatively again in many new ways. We also have some wonderful clients and projects underway that started in 2014 that I’m ready to give again to.

I think I was five years overdue on the pause button. I’ll be more aware of them in the future and not shy away from fear of what pausing things can do.

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Lesson #3: Keep your race with yourself. Just trust it will work. 

This race I keep referring to – there’s one place it worked. The race with myself instead of against the competition.

Inspired 2014 was a success for me in every sense of the word. Being the fifth production of it, I had fine-tuned things from every previous lesson learned. This was by far my biggest production yet. Every aspect we planned and detailed out just came together almost exactly as I had imagined it.

But during the planning process, I’d sometimes lift my head up and start to see other new workshops and conferences were popping up. As you can imagine, it would just lead my head down the wrong path. I had ugly feelings and thoughts and I hated feeling that way — it went against my ‘cheerleader’ nature. I want everyone to succeed and wholeheartedly believe there is room for everyone is the great wide world. But, I’m human and weak. I recognized the self-defeating nature of comparison and was determined to keep my head down and focused on all the good we could offer at Inspired and the lives we could impact of women and moms like me. When I stayed focused on the good and the energy in what I was doing, it was like magic. I’m so entirely grateful for every speaker, attendee and team members that played a role in it coming together.

As I stared up at the waterfall, knee-deep in fresh creek water, surrounded by friends while a large group was back at the retreat having small group conversations or learning to watercolor paint…I thought to myself, “you did it.”

It taught me that sometimes you have to keep your head down, run your own race, do the hard work, and just have to trust that it will work.

And it did.

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Lesson #4: Only you can define your definition of success.

For years I had my identity placed in the idea that my success was always linked to leaving my corporate job. My entire goal was to replace my salary with my business income. That was success! But the truth was, I had a really great job. A job that provided me with lots of other stimulation that my creative job sometimes lacked. I had incredible luxuries working for this agency and a great group of people I worked with for almost 9 years. Quite frankly, I was also pretty damn good at it. It’s no wonder that I could almost never leave it. 

But I did leave it and as I navigated leaving that work family behind and the identity of my formal self, I felt lost. Here I was placed in this amazing new job and opportunity and at the same time I didn’t want to lose my own sense of self or for outsiders to think I really hadn’t made it.

I wanted to hang a sign around my neck that read:

Hey! I like my new job AND I still have a pretty great business! I didn’t sell out! 

I had to pull together my new definition of success. 

In this new identity, I feel like I’ve been placed in a unique position that doesn’t have a voice today. I have a job that I’m actually not trying to leave (keep in mind, that has been my thought process for 8 years!) and the luxury that comes along with that has finally come to sink in. The opportunity to redesign my business to truly fit my passions and align them with the amount of time and energy I have left is an amazing gift. The work that I am doing by day is really fun and exciting and supporting everything that makes me excited about creative entrepreneurship – now that I’m working for a small (but also big and growing) creative business.  

I feel really compelled to share more of my story and expertise in juggling business with family obligations – and even a full time job – in the year ahead.

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Lesson #5: God does amazing things. 

When I first became a mom five years ago, my interest in God started to grow. However, it has been my participation in the Making Things Happen conference the last two years that has really played such a big role in all this. As I was surrounded by friends like Lara and other women who openly talked about their faith, it was inspiring. To see the example by so many friends of placing their hopes, their weaknesses, their failures and their dreams in God’s hands has been life-changing. Slowly over this time, God has been revealing more of His grace each day. I’ve prayed a lot of prayers and one really important one to me was answered just a few weeks ago as we joined as covenant members at Providence UMC ,on the very same day we baptized Kayla. 

This growing faith has been awkward at times but right all at the same time. I’m like a curious school-ager asking lots of questions and discovering new wonderful things. Everywhere I turn, I feel like a person or message is waiting for me at just the right time. Lara, Nancy and Ashlee have been a source of encouragement from afar via emails and texts at social media and such great examples in turning faith completely over to Him. Jenny saw I was looking for a daily devotional on Instagram and reached out to me to say she wanted to gift it to me. That little book has been a blessing each morning since I received it. This past October, I was struggling with parenting issues and I met Casey who spoke directly to my heart in all the promises God had for me as a mother even when I feel completely ill-equipped. I shared with Kristin how badly I wanted a church home and for our family to have God a part of our lives. I never thought the reality would happen so fast, but it did.

God is so good. I’m looking forward to growing my relationship in 2015. I can see how every lesson learned above was all pointing to this one right here.

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So here we are in the first week of 2015! Can you relate to any of the above lessons? Are you using Power Sheets as well? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Looking forward to putting some goals down and tending lists prepared later this week. It’s going to be a fantastic year.

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far!

- Amber

Making Things Happen October 2014 Recap


It’s been a little of a whirlwind since I returned from Making Things Happen two weeks ago.

I’m so grateful to have been a guest speaker for the last four conferences. I immensely enjoy serving others in this way but I have to admit, the vulnerability leads me to come home and feel like a little piece of me needs a time out from the world.

When this happens, I lay low just reflecting on all that I’ve learned and digesting the little pieces of discovery.

Just letting it all sink in.

I’m very extroverted by nature, but even I need a little quiet time to myself. My self-imposed little break has me feeling now a bit more energized, and I’m happy to be here this evening sharing a little recap from my recent visit to Chapel Hill.

You should first know that each time I attend Making Things Happen, I find that God unfolds a new plan and shakes things up for me. After three previous life-changing MTH experiences (from deciding baby #2 was in my future, to 8 months pregnant last October, to returning last March with 12-week Kayla at home) it’s safe to say, at this point, I just kind of go with it. Hands open, palms up, and ready for what is in store for me.

  making things happen conference recap

My experience this time was one where I arrived already feeling pretty firm in where I was at. There wasn’t going to be any surprises. I already knew very well that 2014 was defined as a roller coaster of a adventure and emotions filled with exhilarating highs and long periods of hard work and exhaustion. I was a new mom all over again, our son started kindergarten, my business doubled in size and I left my long-time career at a marketing firm for an amazing opportunity at a growing scrapbooking company. I’m sure I left out some other important details in that summary but I’m tired just reading that sentence.

The experience for me this time was one of reflection and truth. I had a lot of words and emotions in my head for sometime and this was an opportunity for me to voice them, if only for myself to hear and believe it for myself.

In recent months (and years), I had piled and piled and held so many things in my arms for so long. It felt good in the weeks prior to MTH to just drop it all and decide which meaningful things would stay, and which would be packaged neatly away. I didn’t know what the future held (and I still can’t say I do very clearly), but I knew that I was ready to edit, to purge, and just start with a fresh work surface again.

making things happen

As I sat in my chair in the front of the room, my thoughts drifted back to the girl who first attended MTH in 2011 and I want to hug her.

I want to whisper in her ear and tell her, “Yes! Run hard and fast and chase those dreams. Sometimes you will stumble and sometimes you will leap. You are headed in the right direction. It may not be what you thought…but you will be okay.”

I really do believe it. Though it would have been nice to discover these things years ago, I never would have fully known had I not gone through the journey. The only regret I have is that I wish I had let go a little sooner. Letting go of being in control, letting go of aspirations and achievements and definitions of success that don’t have a lot of meaning to me anymore. I truly just want to serve others through my gifts. I want to inspire others to live a creative and meaningful life. I want to love my family and friends. The End.

As each of us speakers shared in the closing, I looked at the attendees and said something I would have appreciated hearing in the recent past.

That girl with the full arms, the full schedule and long priority list:

Stop thinking your plan is the right one. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Not next week, not next year, not the future you have in mind. Right here, right now. This is where God has placed you to be.

I tend to go back a few weeks and months later and read through my collection of MTH journals. Sometimes I surprise myself at the messages I find that I don’t even remember writing. They are such a treasure from the experience in themselves.

In my most recent journal, I found this neatly written at the top of a page:

“How freeing it is to be not wrapped up in a goal list of achievements of things for me and my business but instead for the heart of my family.”

That sentence alone gives me such gratitude for the Making Things Happen experience.



Day 2 - MTH October 2014 - Glessner Photography 064

As I said earlier, it’s been a few weeks since returning home. I think I’m still getting settled in this newly edited life. It feels really good but some days a little bit awkward. The long-time entrepreneur in me still awakes each day with a little tug to start a new chapter of some sort. This clean workspace I referred to earlier has me excited to create. I don’t know what it looks like, but I’m looking forward to just patiently waiting to see how it unfolds. In the mean time, my weddings and Inspired planning for 2015 on top of my new role at Studio Calico keeps me plenty busy and happy.

And for the first time in a really long while, I don’t feel the need to be in a rush to get anywhere soon.

I’m enjoying exactly where I am.

My phrase written for myself this MTH was fittingly:



The Making Things Happen Conference 2015 registration is now open! You can reserve your seat here. If you have any questions about it, I’d be happy to answer them for you. Making Things Happen is all about living a life with purpose and focusing on what matters most. You can be anywhere in your business or personal journey. We’d love to have you join us.

Thank you to Emily March Payne and Glessner Photography for the photos used in this post!

Your Dream Job Does Not Exist, You Must Create It…or, Maybe Not…

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I sat in my chair quietly observing the group I had walked in late to. There were about a dozen of us creatives. I even recall one of the bloggers being an American Idol finalist.

I think we were all a little unsettled about what we were going to talk about.

It was Alt Summit 2013 and I had signed up for a breakout session “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.” The premise being, what things are you afraid to tell your blogging audience or how can you go about sharing the more real and not-so-perfect side to your audience?

When my turn came to share, I explained to a group of strangers how I felt torn. For years, I had successfully grown my creative business. I had wonderful clients, my work was being published nationally, and I was reaching goals right and left. Yet, at the end of the day I still didn’t feel like it was enough.

You see, I still had a full-time job.

And of course, I was afraid to tell the world about it.

Partly out of respect for my employer…

(a really big marketing firm where I worked on programs for many products you see on store shelves, hotels you vacation at, and stores you shop in)

…and partly because I held onto the now widely-spread belief that you hadn’t made it until you ‘went full-time’ with your business.


(photo from Making Things Happen 2011 after which I spent years dedicated to the pursuit of quitting my day job.)

“Your dream job doesn’t exist! You must create it!” the Pinterest boards all scream.

Yesterday, I posted an Instagram of the view of the building containing the work I’ve done for 8+ years, and people were giving high-fives and cheers.


“You did it!” everyone seemed to yell in the comments.

I’m happy to report that yes, I did.

In a whirlwind of the last few weeks I did put in my notice…

…and then I happily accepted a job offer with an amazing creative company, Studio Calico.

::Insert Record Player Screech::

Let’s rewind to a little over a week ago…

I sat in the kitchen of a dear friend’s home sipping on coffee. I shared my fears about making this change and decision and what it meant to my family and frankly, my ego and heart.

I recalled the years of proclaiming this was the year I was leaving! The tears in frustration in how far I’d come and how far I still had to go on some goal line that never seemed quite concrete.

She looked at me and simply stated, “Maybe you’ve defined this version of success in metrics that maybe don’t fit anymore. Maybe you need to redefine your version of success.”

That was it. I had held my standard to what the creative world deemed as successful. The idea that you had to make some exciting cinematic story giving notice to leave the big bad corporate world behind.

For years, friends would ask me when I was going to quit my ‘day-job.’ I always had a half-dozen responses on timing, on money, on anything else that troubled me at the moment. In time, I even helped others in finding peace by making the best where they could in the situation (i.e. day-job) they were in.

But the reality is, I could have quit by now. I simply chose to ignore it.

The even further truth is there is a whole lot of me who still finds fulfillment in the marketing world outside of my own business. One that contributes significantly to my family and to a part of my heart.

Marrying my marketing skills with a growing creative company? The opportunity for this position was something I simply could not pass up.


(photo of Samantha by Nancy Ray Photography at Inspired 2014)

The 48 women in attendance at Inspired 2014 had the treat of getting to know (my new boss!) Samantha Shepard and the Studio Calico company. You can read her blog post recap here. Studio Calico is the industry leader in worldwide delivery of paper crafting kits to over 79 countries. They have an incredible and enthusiastic customer base and doing really BIG things in the creative and craft industries.

In my new role, I’ll be leading up the digital marketing programs and managing marketing operations for the main SC brand. In addition, I have the amazing opportunity to work with some super talented creatives and designers like Ali Edwards and the gals at A Beautiful Mess.

As a girl who created her first scrapbook in 1995, was published in the some of the very first scrapbooking magazines, who even had her own product line for a short while, and then ‘retired’ from the hobby in 2007….


(scrapbook page from 2005)

Quite simply, this is a dream job.

If you had told my 13 year-old self that one day I’d work at a major scrapbooking company, I would have squealed. Scrapbooking has been part of a lot of my life for decades. It’s what led me to the suburb we live in now (when my husband’s job moved us to Nashville, I hopped on the Two Peas In A Bucket message board to ask what neighborhood we should move to), and friendships with other creatives that I still keep to this day. Scrapbooking was even one of my first dabbles in entrepreneurship – I had a digital scrapbooking site called Citrus Blossoms where I designed downloaded scrapbooking products.

After we were married, and I devoted more time to growing Sweet Life Designs/Amber Housley, scrapbooking fell to the wayside. I’ve really missed it.

It’s amazing to come full circle!

So, you’re wondering, can I have my cake and eat it, too? Can I have the dream job and run the Amber Housley brand?


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(photo by Nancy Ray Photography at Inspired 2014)

Well, for years I’ve lived double-if-not-triple lives. I’ve put on my hat as a wife, mom, career-woman, friend and entrepreneur daily. (My husband is amazing by the way to have such patience and encouragement!)

Most days, I do pretty good, but there are some days when I want to hide under the covers.

I sometimes proclaim, “I just want to be a normal mom!”

But, I’m not normal. I’m somehow programmed to work at this higher level and I’m embracing it with care.

As I mentioned earlier this week and alluded on social media, I’ve realized in order to be successful, I need to edit. In the pursuit of my empire-expansion (seriously, I’ve referred to it as an empire at times) I had a gut-check these last couple of weeks. Slow and steady has been my mantra, but this last year we’ve been more fast and furious as I’ve rolled out a mile-long implementation plan of projects that were entirely unreasonable.

This was also after I gave birth to our second child. One of the biggest blessings with her joining our family is her ability to make me realize how short this time we all have is. That we can spend it doing something we’re just okay with…or we can spend it really fired up and making what matters happen (that last part is something Making Things Happen really dives into – so grateful to be a part of it again in a few weeks!).

So, for the time being, at AH we are going to be focusing on two things that we do really well around here and bring me joy: Weddings & Inspired. I’m excited about expanding the small but mighty team very soon (stay tuned this week!) and for the most part, it will be business as usual around here. We’re thrilled about our 2015 wedding clients and already firming up details for a fabulous Inspired 2015.

This next chapter feels like a fresh new canvas to me. To work on a dream job daily and continue with my own dream work in my business seems like the best possible scenario.

Of course, it also feels really, really freeing in sharing this part of my life with you.

I hope this long-winded story brings encouragement to some of you. You could say I’m leading the charge in a new breed of entrepreneurs who find their passions lie in more than one pretty little creative bucket.



Filming the A&E Reality TV Show “Big Smo”


It’s true. I’ve been keeping a little secret!  I was privileged to tape an episode for the A&E Reality TV show “Big Smo” earlier this year. If you’re not familiar with Big Smo, it is a reality series which follows the life of hick-hop rapper, Big Smo and airs weekly after Duck Dynasty. Big Smo and family live about an hour south of Nashville and he’s an up and coming music industry artist.

Now that the commercials have been airing on A&E, friends and family have been peppering me with lots of questions! Almost everyone said they did a double-take in seeing me on the preview for this week’s episode. The hubby and I giggled when we saw it too, and I had to pause it and take a picture of my first national tv appearance!


The Behind The Scenes…

The producers reached out to me in February (just a few weeks after Kayla was born) to see if I come and film myself as a Nashville wedding planner for Smo and Whitney’s upcoming wedding. Obviously, appearing on national tv a few weeks after I had a baby wasn’t the highest on my priority list, but being on tv was a personal bucket list item, so I figured why not? I was not familiar with Big Smo, but after meeting him and getting to know him and the full management team, I have a feeling he’s going to be big.

Despite my initial reservations, it was a great learning experience and fun! Big Smo, Whitney and family are so kind and personable. It was great getting to know them over the two days of filming. The crew of A&E were equally great. It’s amazing how many production people and work goes into the behind the scenes.

It was the real deal y’all – call times, long days, getting mic’d — which included me persuading them to let me wear my cute statement necklace even though it interfered with the mic – priorities, right?!

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Of course, I’m not sure how in the end the episode will be edited. I took a risk in participating but I believe my genuine passion for weddings, helping others, and professionalism will shine through. The show likes to infuse a lot of comedy so I have no doubt there will be some funny moments. I can’t reveal the specifics of our episode but you can expect some laughs. ;)

The episode airs this Wednesday at 9:30pm Central. Be sure and let me know what you think!

Here’s the episode description and preview:

Smitney | Season 1: Episode 6 | Premiere Date: July 16, 2014

Who says a country boy can’t have nice things? Well, Smo & Whitney’s wedding planner might — unless the couple can find a way to cut down their massive list of kinfolk invitees. Meanwhile, Alex and Haden aren’t distracting Smo from his wedding woes, they’re adding to them, as they jockey for the prized spot as Smo’s best man.