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amber et cetera is a little bit of everything. It's my online home where I write about anything and everything that comes to mind - from the personal to the professional - unfiltered, unfettered, and straight from my misfit brain.

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Help Casper Find Forever



Many of you know that I’ve been rescuing and working with dogs for years, and that I love pitties with all my heart.

Now it’s my turn to lean on the amazing community of dog- and pittie-lovers to find my beloved foster, Casper, his own forever home. He’s my baby boy that I’ve been working with for the last six months to get him training, socialization, and love after he came out of a difficult home situation last January. I stepped up to take him in after his options were looking scarce, and I’ve invested a good deal of time and money in training with him over that time in hopes that it will help him find his forever home.

I had hoped to adopt Casper permanently myself after taking him in, but sadly I cannot, so my job becomes Super Foster Mama, with a plea to share him far and wide and get him the home that he really and truly deserves.

He is 2 years old, neutered, and up to date on shots as well as on heartworm preventative. He’ll also be microchipped for you before he goes anywhere, as well.

Casper is a lovable handful – a puppy that never got to really be a puppy – with LOTS of energy and a goofy personality. He needs a home that will continue to work with him on training (he’s a FAST learner and very smart, food motivated, and willing, but no doubt he’s got energy to burn) and I will provide $500 in training for him from a qualified trainer in your area for whoever can truly give him the kind of home he deserves.

I am willing to transport him as well, personally, just about anywhere in the country. (We’re located in the Chicago suburbs, but have car and will travel!)

He’s crate trained and knows the basics of sit, down, paw, working on stay and “place” taught using positive reinforcement and clicker training. He still needs help with things like impulse/threshold control (OMG DOORBELL AAAAAHHHH), not mouthing when he wants attention or gets excited, and walking nicely on a leash. But seriously, NO ONE does the backyard zoomies like Casper does.

He’s good with other dogs with proper introduction, though he plays rough since he never really learned “doggie” rules, so he’ll need to learn from patient doggie friends that can continue to show him the ropes. He’ll probably chase your kitties (he’s chased mine a few times, though not in a predatory way. They still weren’t interested.) He’s also lived happily and lovingly with my 7-year-old daughter who he follows around like a little white shadow. Heck, he does obedience almost better for her than he does for me!

He can be a smidge timid when he meets a new person, but warms up quickly and has gained a remarkable amount of trust of people while he’s been with me after a not-so-great start to his world. And while he’s a ball of energy, he can also couch potato with the best of them when he’s good and tuckered out. He needs lots of exercise, a big yard to run around in, ways to work his brain and his body to burn off some of that energy. Maybe agility, or frisbees, or something like that? But he has a wonderful temperament in there and it’s really starting to shine now that he’s been in a loving, patient environment.

I have done nothing but cry at the thought of re-homing him because I adore him so much, but finding a devoted family is the best thing for HIM right now, and that’s ultimately what rescue is all about. I have to believe there is *someone* out there that will give him the love, devotion, patience and kindness that I’ve been willing to give him. I know there are more of me out there.

Friends and community, this is when I need you most. I need you to share this far and wide and leverage the power of the Mighty Internet to find Casper his happily furever after. After we’ve come this far, I don’t want to let him down, and he absolutely deserves the very best that human love can provide.

If you never share another thing I post, please let it be this. Thanks.

On Being Outspoken

Much criticism has been leveled this week at the #YesAllWomen discussion, prompted by the mass murder last week in California by a deranged, hateful and clearly sick young man.

Specifically there are plenty of people citing oversensitivity, overdramatization, “bleating” and complaining over trivial experiences, decrying the innocence of all the men who would never do or say such things, saying that the actions of one sick person don’t qualify to legitimize the existence of misogyny (after all, he killed men, too).

I have said it many, many times. And here I will say it again.

Stigma and shame thrive in dark corners and shadows. So does evil and injustice and mistreatment and abuse and discrimination.

We cannot fix what we do not, cannot, or refuse to see.Continue Reading

Facing The Demon That’s Been Hiding…Again.


If anything, I’m probably the person that over-shares.

I’ve been accused of that once or twice. Or a lot.

Everyone’s comfort level with sharing personal things or difficult moments is different. Our tolerance for reading them is different, too. One person’s TMI is another person’s ability to see themselves in someone else and find comfort there.

As I’m writing this post, I’m unsure yet whether I’ll hit publish. If you’re reading, I guess I did. But you’ll know that I wondered whether I should, mostly because I know there are a few people that cringe at this kind of thing. But to be frank, I’m kind of tired of hiding behind things because it makes other people uncomfortable.Continue Reading

On Learning About Being an Empath

This morning, I was sitting at home with one of my misfit rescues, Casper. Enjoying the touches of sunshine on a crisp spring day on the back deck, me sipping coffee while he chased birds and I lazily threw him a ball around the yard.

I had some favorite music on the speakers.

And I was crying. Fully streaming tears that I brushed away with a sweatshirt sleeve.

This is a big deal for me.

See, a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been crying. And that would have been a shame.

I have been learning about my particular flavor of emotional self. Jane has been a salvation in this regard, because she’s helping me give myself permission to be the person that I really am versus what’s easy for others to handle.

I am an empath. A deep, feeling, empath.

This mornings tears were tears of joy, of gratitude. For Casper, feeling his trust and freedom and knowing that he feels safe here with me. For my trainers, who have worked so hard with us the last few months. For my new dog class friends who welcomed me with open arms and friendly acceptance from the very first moment, and how good it feels to belong somewhere.

I was grateful. That’s all. And my tears were simply gratitude made tangible, flowing over in the swell of emotion that was too much for just my heart to bear.

And while it may not seem like a “problem” per se, being an empath has been fraught with challenge, mostly because I didn’t identify it or understand it or what to do with it.

In short, I’m highly emotional and sensitive. But it doesn’t stop there. I take on the emotions of others around me, too. I feel others’ pain viscerally, sometimes physically. I am painfully attuned to the feelings and moods of others.

This isn’t some kind of bizarre superpower where I’m claiming to read people’s minds or anything. I don’t have a bunch of crystals and chakras or whatever else woo-woo stuff. It’s just that I *feel*, to a sometimes extreme degree. To a point where it becomes uncomfortable, painful, difficult and blinding and sometimes it gets terribly in the way of functioning in life. This does not make me better or worse than anyone else. Just different than some, though as I understand this part of me more, I’m connecting with more people who are similar to me.

One sticky point with this kind of thing is that my gut-level reactions to things are often make other people uneasy. I mean, if someone saw me sitting on my deck this morning crying and I explained to them where the tears were coming from, they’d likely do one or more of the following:

  • Tell me they think it’s beautiful that I feel so much, maybe meaning it or maybe silently thinking I should take a Xanax
  • Mumble “Wow, that’s…” and quickly go find another cup of coffee
  • Make a joke to try and “lift” the mood
  • Talk to fill the silence and discomfort
  • Maybe share something they’re grateful for and share a few tears of their own
  • Ask questions about what I’m feeling

My sister is wired like I am. We had a conversation about this yesterday over lunch because she’s coming to terms with the same things about herself in a lot of ways. She’d do the last couple of things (and has, many times).

This kind of emotional wiring means that I have compensated for it for years, not always in healthy ways. Because extreme emotion isn’t always healthy or useful, because it’s sometimes inappropriate and out of place in mixed company or professional situations, you learn to manage those feelings.

Some of it is just everyday stuff, like learning to shush and count to ten before speaking in reaction to something, or playing that obnoxious armchair psychologist to everyone to tell them what you think they’re feeling.

Sometimes it’s keeping away from the news, because stories of war and tragedy can actually make me physically ill. It’s why I can rescue dogs but not work in shelters (props to those who do, and apologies to those who saw me try and then barf in a corner because of the grief I felt :) ).

Less healthy is suppressing feelings because you are concerned that they won’t be accepted (whether true or not). So you overcompensate and become aloof, detached, and difficult to know while those unprocessed feelings turn into anger, resentment, confusion, depression, all sorts of fun things. I’ve ignored the overwhelming joy and gratitude and appreciation for beauty or rapture of simple daily things because it felt like it must be contrived, I mean no one is THAT happy about anything are they?

And let me be really clear: I don’t expect nor need everyone to understand. Not anymore. Nor are people who do get it “better” than those who don’t.

One of the best lessons from Jane in recent months is learning to let go of the need to be understood. Some will, deeply and naturally. Some won’t, ever. Many will be somewhere in between. But I am not them, they are not me, and being understood is not a prerequisite of loving or being loved, giving or receiving kindness or empathy, nor is it something we’re entitled to, strangely enough.

It does mean, quite naturally, that I will truly trust few in my life, because doing so puts some very powerful vulnerabilities in another’s hands with the understanding that they could use them to do serious damage to me. And that’s okay. That used to make me sad. Jane has helped me see that it’s pretty human. All the more reason to cherish the people with whom trust comes naturally and easily.

So, this morning on the deck was homework of sorts. I’m in a safe place – home.

I can feel freely, and let the results of those feelings be whatever they need to be (today, tears and some goofy laughter with my dog in between). I wrote my morning pages and there was a jumble of happy, lots of feelings of newness as I keep exploring this newfound freedom of self and understanding more about who I am.

I’m writing about it to own it, to live it out loud, to embrace this as part of my learning about who I am, giving myself grace and compassion first, and to let you other empaths out there know you aren’t alone.

Comments are off this time. I’m just going to go grab another cup of coffee and find that spot in the sunshine again. Let the tears come if they will.

Happy Sunday, my friends.


Two Reasons Why “How Can I Help You?” Is The Wrong Question To Ask

Two Reasons Why How Can I Help You Is The Wrong Question - amber et cetera

I love the spirit of the question “How Can I Help You?”

For starters, it puts the focus on the other person, emphasizing that you’re looking to give as well as just receive in professional relationships. The intent is a good one, because giving in business is as much a factor of success as anything else. (If you don’t believe me, read this great book by Adam Grant called Give and Take).

However, I don’t think this question is ideal all by itself. Here’s why. Continue Reading

Living My Truth. Reluctantly.

Living my Truth. Reluctantly - amber et cetera

After many difficult months, I am starting to feel like my feet are settling back underneath me.

I feel a new-found sense of quiet in my mind. I’m sleeping better. I’m taking on each day with more confidence, more clarity, and more acceptance of whatever might come along.

The secret?

It’s one that I have *long* rolled my eyes at, believing it to be woo-woo bullshit that’s full of warm fuzzies but not a lot of substance. And I was wrong about that.Continue Reading

Another Way To Look At Brain Picking


We’ve all read the posts about getting asked to work for free, or have our “brain picked”.

It’s not fair. It’s rude. It’s presumptive. It devalues your work, time, and professional worth.

But I’d like to offer another perspective.

Most people genuinely ask for your input because they like you, value what you have to say, or admire your work. I’d offer that the vast majority of them are asking for your input not to be rude or try and eke out something for nothing, but to get a little smarts from someone they value, perhaps when they’re feeling unsure, overwhelmed, or out of their depth.

So, next time you’re asked to do something for nothing, start there.

Start from a place of gratitude that you’ve made an impact on someone enough that they want to attach their work to your name, or get you to help them make important decisions.

Sure, there’s a self-serving jerk or two in the mix asking for something outrageous or being ungrateful while they do it. Ignore them and move on.

Yes, your time is valuable. No, you can’t make a living always working for free.

If it’s not convenient, you can always say no graciously and simply say that you’re grateful that they value your work, but you just can’t take it on right now. You don’t need to be horribly affronted, offended, or indignant that someone even asked (I mean come on, none of us is that important.)

Everyone’s 15 minutes is up sometime. People won’t always be beating a path to your doorstep for your input and advice.

It’s good to be in demand. It’s nice to be admired.

The alternative isn’t very fun, now is it?

How To Complain On Social Media And Actually Get Heard


Social media has given us all very itchy trigger fingers.

Something goes wrong – the cable guy doesn’t show up, a snowstorm grounds the plane, our order arrives all messed up – and we take to the internet to chastise and share our rage with the world.

The thing is that by virtue of everyone taking that approach, it’s noise, and it has little impact. 

Having been in the trenches on the community side on social media, I’ve dealt with everything from polite requests for assistance and outright frothing-at-the-mouth raging. I’ve also been the person who lost her cool, inexcusably, at someone on the other end of the phone when I had a problem with a utility at home.

So here’s what actually works to get your problem noticed, address, and handled with the utmost of speed.Continue Reading

Learning To Trust Myself


Old Mirror Standing Against Wall

It’s been a weird year for me.

For the most part, I think it’s healthy. Very growth-oriented.

The truth is, I’ve had my ass handed to me on several fronts in very painful ways. Business, professional associations, friendships, relationships, even my health and wellness.

I think they call these “growth opportunities” but I can tell you that in playground parlance, we call that getting your dick knocked in the dirt. (Nevermind that I don’t have one. We’re being metaphorical here.)

The other night on Twitter, I asked folks what their biggest lessons were from the last six months.

I got some amazing answers, some funny, some sad, but many of them had a central theme to them. That our lives are what we make of them, and we have to own not just our mistakes but our success and our selves.

A few people asked me what my lesson was in all of this. I had to actually think about it for a bit, but now that I have it, I’ll share it with you.Continue Reading