J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 2.
A: My top quote or motto for my life is probably very simple, 2 words, “Be kind.”
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: On our last episode, I spoke with Alissa Parker who shared her story of overcoming the loss of her daughter in the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. That was a touching and inspiring episode so be sure to listen to that if you haven't already. Today I'm talking with Amber Price, a mom of 4 and a blogger at Crazy Little Projects. She used to live in Madison and she was one of my good, good friends. The standout thing you need to know about Amber is that she's massively energetic; she gets 4 times more stuff done in a day than the average woman. She's always doing kind things for others and she loves to make cookies or bring a treat whenever she can; everyone is drawn to Amber. In this interview, you'll hear Amber's motto is, “Be kind.” She definitely does that, but the funny thing is, she does it without fanfare. You'll be able to tell from this interview that she doesn't love talking about herself. She actually faced 2 really big trials in her life so far, one was when her son had viral meningitis, and the other was when she had HELLP syndrome, HELLP, which is actually often deadly. And she talks about them very nonchalantly, and she even says big trials aren't really a problem for her; she knows how to deal with those. A bigger trial for Amber is during the winter when those gray January days happen sometimes she feels a little bit blah. So listen to this episode and you'll hear how Amber deals with those gloomy days, and it ties in with her motto of, “Be kind.” Amber also happens to be a part of our Vibrant Happy Women Facebook community, which you can join by going to jenriday.com/facebook. Without further ado, let's get started with the interview.
How you doing, Amber? Thanks for coming on today.
A: I'm good. How are you?
J: I'm great, thanks. Take a minute and tell us about who you are and what we might want to get to know about you.
A: Well, I'm Amber, I have 4 little boys, they're 12… let's see, they're 12, 10, 8 and 4 for right now, but all 4 of them have… 3 out of 4 have birthdays in June, so that's about to change.
J: Oh, nice.
A: Yeah, you said I'm a blogger it Crazy Little Projects so that's sort of my biggest hobby when I have free time, that's what I'm doing.
J: I'm curious, with 3 June birthdays, are you going to have some birthday blog posts on there, on Crazy Little Projects?
A: Yeah, a lot of times I do. And then my husband's birthdays in June also.
J: Oh my gosh.
A: So June is birthday month, so a lot of times, I do birthday themed things because it's on my mind…
A: … at that point, so…
J: So thinking back, what are some cool birthday ideas you've posted on your blog before?
A: The ones that I've been doing this year that are a lot of fun are some color themed birthday gift like, “I just want to ‘teal’ you happy birthday,” and then a bunch of teal colored things or I did, “I'm tickled pink that it's your birthday,” with a bunch of pink things that you would just give to a friend for their birthday.
J: Oh, nice, I'll have to check that out. One of the things we do here on Vibrant Happy Women is we start every show off with our guest’s personal motto or a favorite quote, so what's yours?
A: My top quote or motto from my life is probably very simple, 2 words, “Be kind.”
A: I feel like that… that just sums up who I want to be, who I want my kids to be, who I want to be around, it's probably the number one reason I picked my husband for who he is, is he's kind; he's always kind. I was thinking back when my oldest (who's 12 now) was about 4, somebody asked him something along the lines of, “What… what does your mom teach you?” and he said, “Be kind, be a friend.” And I was thrilled because that's exactly… if anything I could teach my kids, that's what I would want it to be. So…
J: Aww, that's really, really sweet; a 4-year-old had already picked up on that message.
A: Yeah hopefully, hopefully they're still getting it; I don't know.
J: So how would you apply this motto in your everyday life? What would that look like?
A: Just being nice to other people, just realizing that everybody's a battle every day, and if we're just nice to each other, that helps so much. And then I like… I like the idea of just doing little simple things for people too to just brighten people's days.
J: Amber used to live in Wisconsin with me, and I have to say, Amber really did follow her advice of being kind. She was always taking a gift to someone or making a cute little basket of goodies, so she really lives her motto. Good job, Amber.
A: It's harder now that I've got more kids and busier life, but I try.
J: Delving into our next topic, your lowest moment. So we know all women everywhere have a struggle, and tell us about some of the struggles or low points you faced in your life.
A: I don't know that there's like one big low point in my life that I would pin point. I feel like usually when the big trials hit me, I'm actually better at those. Like I'm… it's like I'm like, “Okay, here's a big trial, I know what to do. I buckle down and I can do this.” But it's the little day-to-day that I think I struggle with more. I was thinking like the January gray gloomy days are what… what can be a struggle for me. I just feel… sometimes, I just feel bored or lonely, you know, it's gray outside, my kids are fighting, what… you know, whatever's going on, it's just… you can just kind of get into a slump in that phase. And that's… those kind of days are probably a bigger struggle for me than when I'm having bigger trials, if that makes any sense.
J: Yeah, definitely. So how do you cope with the gray and gloomy days and the kids are fighting, what do you do?
A: I haven't… I haven't entirely figured that out yet, it's still a big struggle. But, you know, January, for me, is a month where I don't have a lot going on, where a lot of months… for example, the last month of my life has been crazy busy, and then I hit January and I have nothing going on, and I'm like, “Ugh, I wish… I wish that I could spread things out a little bit more.” But in those times where I don't have a lot going on, I kind of have to come up with projects and things that can make me feel fulfilled by the end of the day.
J: Oh yeah.
A: I mean being a mom's great, but, you know, at the end of the day, it's nice to be able to say, “Oh, I accomplished this today,” even if it's just I cleaned out a closet or I went to lunch with a friend or whatever; I feel like I have to find some things to keep me moving and keep me going as much as possible during those times.
A: And then just finding the things that do make me happy and making sure I'm plugging those into my days also. And actually, this year, I took a trip to San Diego in the middle of January; that helped too.
J: That's great. And so you mentioned the little things that do keep you happy, what are those?
A: Definitely being with my friends, I'm very much a people person. So if I can get out of my house and have some social contact every day, I'm way better off. Chocolate is definitely one of those things.
J: Very good.
A: I start every day off with hot chocolate for breakfast and it makes me happy, so that's what I do. And I love to bake, so a lot of times on those gloomy days, I'll bake chocolate chip cookies or something because it makes me happy; and then I can take them to someone too, which makes me happy.
A: And then, yeah, just having things to do, doing nice things for others. Sometimes that if I'm having those gloomy days, I'm like, “Oh, I've just got to get out of the house and do something nice for someone, take them something, just do anything to lift my spirits.” Those are probably my top things.
J: Nice. In addition to kind of the gloominess of January, I know you said you didn't really have a low point, but could you tell us about a time when your life seemed rather hard, at least by the world’s standards and how you cope with that?
A: I can think of a couple. My then 3-year-old was in the hospital with meningitis, it's been about a year and a half and that was scary, definitely. You know, I took him, he was sick for about 3 days leading up to that and just… just kind of odd symptoms. And I woke up Monday morning and needed to take my older boys to school and I put this little guy in the car and I stood him up and he fell to the ground and just started shaking, and I knew then something's very wrong. So I rushed the boys to school and then came home and called the doctor thinking, at that point, he probably just had like a severe ear infection or something that was making him really dizzy.
A: So I packed him up and took him to the doctor expecting that we might end up at a hospital, but thinking ear infection or dehydration or something. And they sent us up to the big Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City and did a lot of tests for the rest of that night, including spinal tap and things. And it was scary just not knowing what was going on, and then they said the word ‘meningitis which ‘,has always been something that scared me a lot; I've had friends die from meningitis in the past.
A: So that was scary, although they quickly reassured us it was… he had viral meningitis, not bacterial, which is a way easier to treat and not a big deal. So he was in the hospital for, let's see, that was Monday and I think we came home Wednesday, so just a couple of days in the hospital.
J: Oh good. But still, that fear when you don't know what it is.
A: Yeah, yeah.
J: Oh, that's scary.
A: Well, and just watching him, he was so miserable all through the night in the hospital, he couldn't sleep, and nurses and doctors coming in and poking him all night long and just miserable.
J: Mm, poor guy. I remember you have a pregnancy story.
A: Yeah, similar, yeah, another. It was the same little guy, when he was born almost 5 years ago, I got really, really sick. I was just sitting at a baseball game I just all of a sudden started to feel really, really not good, and I said to my husband, “I think we need to go home, I'm not feeling good.” And by the time we had packed up and made a plan of what we were going to do, I was like, “I think I need to go to the hospital, I'm just feeling absolutely miserable.” As soon as they checked my blood pressure, they found that it was through the roof, which was especially odd for me because I usually have a really low blood pressure.
A: And so they decided they needed to induce me that night, get the baby out to get the blood pressure to go down, the medications weren't working. And it's all kind of a blur, I don't even remember what all happened during that night, but they… they put me into labor and I think the baby's heart rate was dropping a lot and I literally felt like I was going to die, so they ended up doing an emergency C-section and getting him . And it was the next day that they discovered that I actually had something called HELLP syndrome which is something to do with… I can never remember what the H stands for, but the E L L P is elevated liver and low platelets, and it's a very serious condition that can kill you. Luckily, by the time they discovered I had it, I was on the upswing and I was okay, but it could have been very scary.
A: And then my… and so then the baby was a month early, 35 weeks, and so he was in the NICU for 2 weeks after that. So then there was a lot of driving back and forth to the hospital to feed him and…
J: I remember hearing about this from Amber after the fact and she just was very nonchalant like it was no big deal, she just took it in stride and she always does with… with anything that most of us would find difficult, Amber just says, “Oh, yeah, I'm fine.”
J: I love that.
A: Yeah. I was a little grouchy in the 2 weeks after when I was not getting enough sleep and things, but.
J: Ugh, I bet, all that driving.
J: Oh my goodness. So, Amber, you weathered your… your difficult moments really well and with strength, but I know many of our listeners are struggling, what advice would you have for them when they're going through a low point?
A: I guess a couple of things. One was kind of having a big-picture view knowing that this life is going to have hard times in it and that we're going to get through them and that we grow from going through them. So coming out of either of those things, I learned things about myself, I learned things about how to help others through times like that, I learned who my really great friends and family are. And so I just kind of tried to view it as a learning experience and to buckle down and just get through it at that point.
A: Definitely, my own faith in a God, a Heavenly Father, who's watching out for me and that I could feel his love through it was definitely a big help.
A: And then just relying on others. Like I said, you know, I realized who my close friends and family were and that's… that's kind of a beautiful thing I think when you're going through hard times when… when you notice little… little things that people are doing. I can still remember every person that showed up at our door during either of those times to do anything to help. And I remember every meal that showed up or every little thing that was done and that… that's helped me realize what a big difference something so simple can make for other people then when they're going through things.
J: You kind of learned maybe a little more compassion…
J: … and it makes you want to… to follow that motto of, “Be kind,” just a little more.
A: Yes, yes, for sure.
J: Mm-hmm. So what does living a vibrant and happy life look like for you today?
A: I honestly love my life right now, probably more than I ever have. I feel scared saying that out loud because then I'm like, “Oh no, what if everything's going to come crashing down?”
A: But I also think that we need to be grateful when we do have good things. I'm living… I'm living in Utah which is not where I ever wanted to live, last place I wanted to end up, and I love it here.
A: I've got wonderful friends, my kids are happy, my husband loves his job, I love my house. I sit in my backyard and look out on where we live and I'm like, “I just can't believe how beautiful it is.” My blog is a lot of fun for me; it's my passion and it's fun that I can do something that I love and make money doing it.
J: Mm-hmm. Speaking more about your blog, tell us just a little more about how you got that started.
A: I started blogging, it's been 4 years now. I, at the time, owned a business and I was tired of owning the business, I wanted to move on, but we also needed a little bit of income from me and so I kind of just thought, “Well, I’m seeing blogs out there and let me just give it a try and see if there's money to be made.” And also just as a creative outlet, it's… it's fun to have projects to do, but it was nice to have a reason to do the projects, I guess, and so I just got that going and…
J: So what's your all-time favorite project that you've created for the blog?
A: I can tell you my readers’ favorite project is my messenger bag tutorial.
A: Every day it's the top project on my blog, and it's one of my favorites too. I really enjoy the baking more. I think a lot of my readers come for the sewing, and… and I like the sewing too, but the baking is more my thing right now. So I have some cupcake recipes like a chocolate and salted caramel cupcake, that's my favorite.
A: That’s my favorite treat and, yeah, so I really love that one.
J: So if we were to go to your blog and is there a search bar we could type in chocolate salted caramel cupcake?
A: Yes, yes.
J: So that's over at crazylittleprojects.com if you want to find that recipe or the messenger bag instructions. So, Amber, we've reached kind of my favorite part of the show where we talk about some of your favorite things. Are you ready?
J: What's your favorite personal habit that contributes to your success?
A: Okay, the first one that popped into my mind on this one actually came from you. Years ago when we lived together, you said one time that you always made sure you got 8 hours of sleep every night, and that has stuck with me and I have lived by that. That's like my rule because I… I’ve found that I'm just flat-out happier when I'm getting enough sleep; so I still do it.
J: Great, glad I could help. And I have to say, I've kind of slid downward on that rule (Laughs). I think I got 7 hours of sleep last night. (Laughs)
A: Yeah, I know it doesn't always happen, but I do really try for that because it does make a difference.
J: Right, good rule of thumb.
J: Okay, favorite easy meal that you like to eat often.
A: Well, if we're talking about at home because I go out to lunch way too often. But…
A: … meals that I feed my family, we have a… I have a homemade pizza recipe that everybody loves and it's very easy to make. And so we have that probably about once a week.
J: Would that recipe happen to be on your blog as well?
A: Yes, it is. It's an old one with ugly pictures, but it's there.
J: Okay. What's your favorite household objects?
A: I think it's my laptop. It's funny that I just barely got a laptop when I'm a blogger, I should have gotten one a long time ago. But just in January, I bought a laptop, and I got a hot pink case for it which makes me happy because I love hot pink. And now, I can go… I go periodically… in theory, I was going to do this once a week, but it doesn't work out. But I take it and I go to the local bakery and I get hot chocolate and I work for about 2 hours while my youngest is in preschool.
A: And it's my favorite thing to do.
J: Ah, yep, that’s sounds wonderful.
A: Alone time, getting stuff done, it’s good.
J: Right. What's your favorite book that you'd recommend to the Vibrant Happy Women community and why?
A: My very, very favorite book or at least in my probably top 3 is ‘The Secret Keeper’ by Kate Morton. I love all of her books, she has I think 5 now, but this is my favorite of hers and it's my favorite style of book; I like to call it a family history mystery.
A: So it's kind of a, “Okay, what happened in mom's past or what happened in grandma's past?” and it's a, you know, a character trying to figure that out and it jumps back and forth between, you know, the current time and that character and then it'll jump back to grandma or whoever. And so ‘The Secret Keeper’ does a lot of that and it just… Kate Morton is amazing at weaving all of the little pieces together in the end and just I love… I love her books and that's my favorite of her books.
J: Nice. Favorite item on your bucket lid why?
A: Me and my husband, we haven't done a lot of traveling, but I'd really like to start traveling once our kids, you know, they're getting a little older and hopefully we can; so we both would really, really like to go to London (England in general). I'd like to travel all over, but I think London would be the first place I'd choose, partly because it feels safe because they speak my language, but also just because a lot of our ancestors came from there and a lot of our favorite books were written there and I just… I just would love to see it.
J: What's the best advice you've ever received?
A: A few experiences from my childhood where my dad said things that really stuck with me. And I guess he wasn't saying his advice, but they were just… for example, when I was… I bet I was 3 or 4 years old and he… I remember I was digging around in my… kind of my junk drawer, my toy drawer, and finding something to wrap up and give to someone, I don't remember who or why, and he said, “Amber really likes to do nice things for people.” And I really… I bet I was 3 or 4 at the time and that stuck in my brain and shaped a little bit who I am, “Oh, I'm a 3 year old and now I know Amber likes to do nice things for people.”
A: And maybe that's why I still like to do nice things for people.
J: Do you find yourself using the same kind of phrasing with your own kids to help them form a similar identity?
A: I hope so.
A: I try to help them see like what they're good at and then, yeah, I guess I… yeah, I would say I try to do that. Probably when I was in high school, I remember him saying, “Amber, always wants to root for the underdog,” and that was something I hadn't realized about myself. At the time, I was doing an internship during high school in a, I think, it was like a third grade classroom and I found myself drawn to the kids that needed a little more love and attention. At that point, I thought I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. And when my dad said that, it kind of opened my eyes to who I really was, and I ended up going down the social work route, I think, because I started to realize that I wanted to help the people who didn't have as much in life and things.
A: So those 2 things I feel like, he… he probably doesn't remember saying them to me and has no idea the impact they had on me, but they had a huge impact on who I became.
J: Hmm. So you mentioned social work, tell our listeners where that fit into your timeline.
A: I got my bachelor's degree in social work and then I only did a little bit of work. I worked from 2001 until 2003 in child protection, which was hard, very eye-opening, and I learned a lot from. And then once I had my first baby, then I stopped that, but…
J: Looking back on your life so far, share your favorite happiest moment.
A: For me, I really love it when I have a really good day, just… I guess it goes back to what I was saying in the beginning with the gray January days. On the flip side, my favorite is just a simple day where I end the day and I'm like, “Man, that day just was the best.” And I was thinking my birthday is… I love birthdays; I love making other people's birthdays happy and I love my own birthday. And this year, my birthday was just in March (so recently) and my husband was out of town for work, which was kind of a bummer, but it kind of left it like, “Okay, it's my birthday I'm going to have to make it happy.” And so I lined up all of the best things and I had a great day. I went shopping with a friend in the morning and then met a whole bunch of other friends for lunch that day, then, yeah, I picked my boys up from school, and then we… I took them out to dinner at Smashburger because I loved that place, but I don't eat there very often; and on your birthday, calories don't count. So…
A: And then that night, my best friend came over and we watched a movie and ate Kazuki's like warm cookie dough with ice cream on top.
A: And then, you know, throughout the day, you're getting phone calls and people are showing up at your house and doing… you know, bringing you things and texting you, and it's just… it just was such a perfect day, just so much fun.
J: I like that; and you deserve that. Obviously, they're showing up because you have been such a good friend and all these people come out of the woodwork to give back because you follow that motto of, “Be kind,” so that's neat.
A: Yeah, it's fun.
J: So everyone you can find links to everything we've been chatting about in today's episode at jenriday.com/2; the number 2. So, Amber, now our final, but most important question, if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of actions that maximize your happiness, what would that include; your personal happiness formula?
A: Okay. It seems silly and I already mentioned it, but is that sleep thing. I really… for me, sleep matters a lot.
A: And I guess that could tie into any physical, you know, eating healthy or what… you know, whatever makes you feel healthy and happy. The second one for me is being with people I love; that's… I'm just happy when I'm surrounded by people I love.
A: And then the third thing is just doing the things I love. For me, that's baking or eating chocolate, it's reading or spending time with my husband and the evenings, we'll watch shows, just finding whatever it is that makes you happy and making sure you're putting that into your life on a day-to-day basis.
J: When we were talking about this podcast episode Amber said she would kind of say her model would be, “Make life happy.” And that's really come out in your interview, Amber, you choose to get the sleep that makes you happy, do nice things for people because that makes you happy, and then do the things that make you happy. So…
A: Yeah. Yeah, that's my blog tagline, that's the Crazy Little Projects’ tagline is, “Making life happy.”
J: “Making life happy,” you totally do live that motto; I love that about you. Well, Amber, give the Vibrant Happy Women community a parting actionable challenge and then the best way we can find you and we'll say goodbye.
A: Okay. My challenge is to find one thing that makes you happy that you can do this week and do it, whatever it is. Sometimes, like mine can be simple, hot chocolate in the morning makes me happy, so I you drink hot chocolate every morning. So find one thing that can lift your spirit and make you happy and then do it this week.
J: One happy thing, okay. I'm going to think that through because I want to find the one that makes me the most happy and do it first.
J: And then where can we find you online?
A: crazylittleprojects.com is my blog.
J: Great. And as I mentioned before, our listeners can find links to everything we talked about in this episode by going to jenriday.com/2. And we'll have your recipes or links to your recipes there and they can also go right to your website, crazylittleprojects.com. So, Amber, thank you so much for being generous with your time and expertise and thanks for being on the show.
A: Thank you.
J: Thanks for joining us on the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. Join me next time as I talk with Lisa Byrne, author of ‘Replenish’. She shares the 7 things we can do to feel more grounded and centered in life. In preparation for that episode, I've prepared a free guide for you that will help you begin to analyze the reasons you might be feeling frazzled and overwhelmed in life, and it also includes some ways you can shift so you can start increasing your sense of calm and peace. You can find that download at jenriday.com/overwhelm. Until then, take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.