Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

A return to healing…

I woke up way too early this morning, and I had only intended to wake up very early this morning. But considering the trip I’m taking, it’s completely understandable that when I woke up at 3:30 this morning to use the bathroom I couldn’t get back to sleep. When 4 a.m. hit and I realized if I fell back asleep I’d be a surly, pissy mess when my alarm went off at 5, if not sleeping through the alarm, I said to hell with it and made coffee and then sat down to write this post.

Today I’m heading back to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And this has been a long-waited for trip, one that ends with the honor of my officiating the wedding ceremony of two dear friends, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa and Mark Stone. I’ve watched the two of them form a friendship that has turned into a perfect match I think everyone wishes they could find. Never have I seen a couple better suited for one another, and being around Cinta and Mark in person (which isn’t an easy feat as I live in Dallas and they split their time between Phoenix and Spain), I walk away beaming with joy at having spent time with two people who are meant to be together. God bless social media and the way it makes it possible to find those who are your true soul mates.

So you can imagine how incredibly honored I was to have them ask me to officiate their wedding ceremony. And while the location of the ceremony has changed a few times, my plan for the trip has remained the same: horrifically terrified of flying, I planned on driving. And I’m a fan of road trips: the longest ones I’ve taken were to my wedding in 2004 in Las Vegas, and I’ve driven from Dallas to the Pennsylvania area twice.

But one of the biggest draws to not sucking it up and asking my doctor for an extra large dose of Xanax to board a plane is the chance to return to New Mexico, a state my father took me to in 1994 for the yearly Albuquerque balloon festival. We flew out in October, and my first glimpse through the airport windows had me breathless and I immediately fell in love. Followed quite quickly by the realization I had received my period two weeks early and getting bitch slapped with altitude sickness. Despite that? It was one of the momentous trips of my life, and I experienced a peace in New Mexico I had never before felt in my life.

My parents divorced in the spring of 1994, and our trip to Albuquerque (and the surrounding areas) was Dad’s way of bringing some healing to our now family of three. It is impossible to not let go of your hurts and worries when you stand in so much natural beauty, when you see God’s paintbrush right before your very eyes, when you walk through pueblos and see artifacts far older than anything you’ve seen before in your life. When you see the real beauty of Mother Nature and how she has shaped our world.

We returned to Texas several days later, and I was forever changed from the trip.

I’ve been back to New Mexico since: a business trip or two, driving through to and from my wedding in 2004. But yesterday afternoon, while finishing packing for the trip I’m leaving on today, I realized that its just a few short weeks shy of when my father took us to the state twenty years ago. And two months after his death, I’m still reeling. My heart’s still quite broken, and I’m aware it will remain so for some time. There’s no expiration date on grieving. But knowing that by this time tomorrow I will be in a place that was one that brought healing to my heart twenty years ago has taken some of the edge off the hurt I’ve been facing since we lost my father.

During Dad’s final week, we had talked about my up-coming trip. And having a more lucid moment, Dad looked at me and said, “Make sure you drink lots of water the higher up you get in the mountains to avoid altitude sickness. But hey at least you don’t have to worry about getting your period this time around.” And I’d laughed and made a crass joke about if I did happen to get my period, the New Mexico truly is the most healing place on the planet.

And this trip is one I most definitely need. Where I’ve taken time off and been away from my kids since beginning life as an author, that time off has been related to work in one way or another: My week long trip to the east coast two years ago was to research a book, and my week off last October was to run IndieVengeance Day. But this will be an actual vacation, one I most definitely need. And it will end with some of my favorite people on the planet around. They might not be the family I was born into, or the family I was raised in, but they’re my chosen family, and I’m grateful for them.

Lots of Love,


~Amber Jerome Norrgard





You’ll see me

Bright and shining

My cool beauty

Capturing your eyes

As I navigate the room

Like I’ve done it a million times

So calm

Collected and at ease


But I’ll

Shiver and shake

My interior dull

Nothing to note

And I’ll move carefully

Afraid of everyone

So timid

The definition of terror and panic

IndieVengeance Day 2014: Revenge of the Indies!

IndieVengeance Day 2014: Revenge of the Indies!

IVD Flyer

A Good~Bye To My Father.

On July 21, 2014, just one week after his seventy-second birthday, my father, Donald E. Jerome, “Paw-Paw”, “Uncle Gene” passed away peacefully in his sleep.

My brother and I spent the last few days of our father’s life with him, hoping he’d bounce back as he so easily did in the past. But after many years of physical pain, many years of his body struggling, he went home to heaven.

I met with a friend this week to talk about my father’s death. And while dad and I have had our share of arguments and disagreements over the years, still, at the end, everything was at peace between us. Any words needing to be said were said. And Dad, despite being so weak he could hardly speak, true to his nature of making sure his loved ones were taken care of made, ordered me to make sure I ate something. And I, his daughter in every way and true to my nature told him I’d eat when he’d finally rest and get much needed sleep. Naturally, Dad countered that he’d sleep when I’d go get myself something to eat.

And so, like we’d done so many times in my adult life, my final conversation with my father was a spirited debate with a twinkle in his eyes and his lips curved into that gentle smile I’ll miss terribly.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep eight hours later.

In the coming months, I’m sure I’ll recount stories of my father. For now, I’m writing this the day before his funeral, in a rare quiet moment after having put the final touches on his Eulogy. This post is being scheduled to release an hour after his funeral tomorrow. I don’t know how you write an Eulogy, all I know is how I felt about my father and what he taught me about life, and I wanted to honor him as best as I could. It’s near impossible to truly sum up such a generous and compassionate individual with mere words.

I love you Dad. Thank you for all you taught me about life, either with your words or your actions. Thank you for all the times you put what was best for me above your feelings. Thank you for teaching me how to be a parent, for teaching me how to work for what I want, for teaching me that there is no greater gift than that of unconditional love, and that what truly matters in this world has no monetary value. I was blessed on the day God saw fit to place me in your family as your daughter when I was given up for adoption.


I found myself struggling to write this. And that’s comical considering what I do for a living. At one point this week, it made sense to my grief stricken mind that maybe there’s someone more qualified than I to write my father’s eulogy; maybe there’s someone who can find the right words to define a man who has meant so much to so many people. So I thought of not writing the eulogy. I thought of asking someone else to do it for me. And certainly, no one would blame me, because I’ve just lost my father. I wanted to just not do it, to just give up.

And then my mind drifted to when I was a child, particularly to Saturday mornings. I’d get up, get a bowl of cereal, and if Dad was going to his office, he’d ask me if I wanted to go with him. And of course I did. They had a break room with cookies in it, and I could always sneak down and get a few. And Dad’s office had this photo cube that was a radio as well. And even better, devoid of people as it was on Saturday mornings, it echoed. To a child, making noise, especially echoey noise, was almost as awesome as being told breakfast was going to be cake and lunch was going to be ice cream.

And in my father’s office there was a plaque. And on that plaque there was a very famous quote: “Never, never, never give up” by Sir Winston Churchill, a distant relative.

Dad lived his life by those words. Dad taught his daughter the very meaning of those words by his every action in his life. And so, I sent an email to my editor whining about  not being able to do it, took a deep breath, and began to just write.

I could stand here today and tell you when Dad was born and when he died. I can tell you where he went to college, and what he did as a career. But those few little facts? They in no way encompass who he was as a person. They in no way tell the story of a man who defined himself not by the amount of his bank account but by the wealth of his soul.

Dad always helped those in need: he was a big supporter of several charities, he gave his time as a Eucharistic minister visiting those unable to receive the Eucharist as well as helping those less fortunate through his work through Love Truck and the Samaritan Inn, or the gift of his kind and thoughtful words for those who needed them.

Dad was also stubborn, and while that word sometimes comes with a negative association, for Donald Eugene Jerome, his headstrong and determined personality is what led him to achieve more than most people. He always believed you could achieve whatever it was you wanted to achieve, and what mattered was not where you came from or what you have done before, but where you would go and what you would do. And he never gave up. Rather than let obstacles in his way stop him from what he wanted, he simply found a way to work through them. He grew up in poverty, yet put himself through college to receive his degree. Rather than let infertility rob him of fatherhood, he adopted two children. He refused to allow health issues and physical disabilities prevent him from living a full life. By my age, he had lived in South America, all throughout the United States, and traveled to Mexico and Canada. In his retirement years, he fulfilled a long lived dream of seeing Rome and the Vatican.

Dad was happiest when he was with his family, and his greatest joys in his life were his seven grandchildren: Amethyst, Luke, Tyler, Autumn, Cody, Benjamin and Sawyer.

But if I had to choose one word to define my father, it would be faith. Not once, despite losing siblings and both his parents, despite having physical handicaps and declining health, did my father ever ask God “why?”  He simply would take a deep breath and ask God for the strength to make it through whatever he was faced with. When I would face my own struggles, Dad would remind me of the Serenity Prayer and tell me that if God brings us to it, He’ll bring us through it.

People often say how they wish they’ll pass on. Dad got his wish: his two children with him during his final days. He was right with God. He had said the words he’d wished to say to those he loved. And as he’d wished for, he went home to heaven peacefully in his sleep.

My father achieved much in his time on earth: A successful career, a family, service to those less unfortunate. But above everything else, he died a man wealthy in what was the most important gift and blessing he’d ever wanted: The love of his family.


Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Knowing When To Step Back

I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride since I first hit publish in January 2012. There were podcasts to host, podcasts to guest on, blog posts to write as a guest blogger, blog posts of my own to write. Friends needing a shoulder and a soft place to land. Twenty-two books I published myself along with three collaborations. School lunches, schedules and field trips. Promoting friends’ work. Setting up signings and other author events. Starting my own publishing house. Launching a new career of college professor. Family illnesses. My own illnesses and testing and treatments to endure. The loss of several people I love in my life either by death or their choosing to leave my life. Bills to pay, huge decisions to make. Healing.

I haven’t gotten to that last one yet.

A couple of years ago, I stood at a fork in the road, and I looked over everything, mainly the mistakes I’ve made time and time again. And I promised myself, I’d learn to put me first. I’d learn to tell people “no” rather than “yes” when I was already buckling under the weight of life. And throughout my life, there’s been a theme of me never learning to value myself enough to put myself first. This doesn’t mean I stop being there for those who need me. This doesn’t mean I start becoming a selfish asshole. It simply means that at thirty-seven, I am far past the age where I should have learned that if I don’t take care of myself first and foremost, sooner rather than later there will be no more me to take care of those I love. Certainly, my children are exempt from this: they always will have me coming at a flat-out run if they need me.

And I’m care taker at my core. Roll your eyes all you want, I’ll ask you to let me know that you’ve arrived safely. I’m going to offer to bring you juice and soup if you’re sick. If I’m able to help you, I’m going to help you. That’s just who I am.

But who I am also is a person with needs. A person who has largely neglected herself in order to help other people through their hurts and trials. A person who adds three extra things onto her already over booked schedule in an effort to help someone out. A person who more often than not puts her hurt second to someone else’s.

And with a new five week course to teach coming up, partnered with the planning of IndieVengence Day 2014 and The Quillective Project’s yearly anthology to publish, I find myself exhausted at the simple idea of day to day, simple tasks. And recently, I found myself dreading writing a short story I’d been excited about when the idea for it popped into my head.

I’ve so wrung myself out and so over-commited myself and so forgotten myself that writing, the one thing I have found more solace and healing in than anything else, has become something I just can’t do.

It’s time for me to let go of things that no longer work. It’s time for me to let go of and move on from things that won’t work. It’s time to let go of and step back from things in my life that are hurtful and toxic.

And it’s hard to write this to  you dear reader. It’s hard to admit I’ve hit such a rough patch in my road of life that I’m not sure how I got here or how to get through or around it. I’m so bogged down that I can’t see the way back from which I came.

I feel quite alone and isolated. It is a very startling realization that two and a half years past the time you promised yourself you’d do better for yourself, you’ve yet to do anything to carve out something that belongs to you, and you alone. It’s painful realizing you’ve given so much of yourself to other people and things that you no longer have any for yourself.

This is just a pause button on my life. And as painful as it is to step back and let go of things, it’s what I need to do.

Much love and huggles, and take care, my lovies:


~Amber Jerome~Norrgard


Raise A Glass

Let’s raise a glass to those

Who aren’t afraid to show kindness

Who aren’t afraid to say “no” when there is cruelty around

Let’s raise a glass

Let’s raise a glass to those

Unencumbered by fear

To those who reach far beyond what the nay sayers see as possible

To those who give of themselves

In thought and deed

Never forgetting those less fortunate

Let’s raise a glass

Let’s raise a glass to those

Unafraid to say the words

That are written upon their hearts and souls

Let’s raise a glass

Let’s raise a glass to those

Who never give up

Who never given in

Who hold onto truth and live it

Making it the air that they breathe.


~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Everyone Has A ‘But’

Roses are my favorite flower. The configuration of their petals, the way they blossom, revealing a sun like interior, their incredible scent, how their petals feel like a baby’s skin.

Back in the nineties, I worked for Albertson’s in the Drug and General Merchandise department. Coming up on Valentine’s Day in 1996, I was placed on the overnight shift in order to assist the floral department manager in floral arrangements. I’d taken a floral design course in high school and for that reason, I found myself yawning over a ten-gallon tub of roses. The manager of the department gave me a stripper (guys, put your tongues back in your mouths, that’s the actual term for what you use to remove thorns on roses), and I set to work.

I had a total of thirty-three pricks on my fingers that day from the thorns I encountered.

Roses, for all their glory and amazing beauty still have thorns.

Which leads me to the title of this particular post: ‘Everyone has a but.

Giggle-worthiness aside, the title of this blog references how when we are talking about someone we know, we tend to state their good qualities, followed by their but, whatever it is that is their quirk that sets them aside and makes them imperfect. “She’s got a great personality and a sense of humor, but she tends to be afraid of commitment,” “He’s very sweet and thoughtful, but he tends to have a wandering eye when he’s out to dinner with his girlfriend,” and “She’s a good friend, but she’s very spoiled” are examples of buts.

But are buts really all that bad? We all have our own individual imperfections, our flaws, some form of a rose’s thorn. But if we did not have these flaws, we’d be perfect. And perfection isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.  And ideals of perfection tend to be a form of masking of the true story, so even perfection is flawed.

But let’s say there was a perfect person: everything about them is without flaws, without thorns, without the but. Wouldn’t that feel a great deal intimidating? Could you really bring anything to perfection to add to it in any significant way?

The answer is no. Because once perfection is achieved, in any one person or any one thing, that’s the end of it. There’s nothing more to be brought to it or added to it. And having lived behind the lie of perfection for a good bit of my life, its not worth it.

Me? I have several thorns, several buts, as anyone who truly knows me can attest to: I’m anxious in situations I’m not familiar with, I have a hard time letting go of things and people long past the point when I should have. I don’t place enough necessity on what’s best for myself and instead put other people first. I’m unable to go half way, and am very much a balls-to-the-wall type personality in all areas of my life. I’m far too sensitive, far too emotional of a person in a world where people rarely value kindness and compassion.

But I am kind. I am compassionate. I will help someone if it’s within my ability to help them. I’m loyal. I fight like hell for those I love. I  make a big deal out of the little things. I say I love you without hesitation when I feel it. I forgive easily and with grace. I abhor cruelty in any form.

I have many, many buts, many, many thorns. But if you take a stripper and remove those, you’ll find someone who will always be there for you, always support you. You’ll find someone who can see your own thorns and ignore them for the larger picture: a rose, gentle in its beauty, soft in its touch, sweet in its scent.


~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Battles with Bullies

Back in 2002 when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and told that I had a less in one million chance of conceiving a child naturally (PCOS and Endometriosis on their own are a fertility nightmare ~ combined? not something I’d wish on my worst enemy), I said one prayer: God, give me one healthy happy child.

I’m happy to say he delivered on my request, not once, not twice, but three times, blessing me with three miracles, which is more than I could have hoped for. And while my road to motherhood and the journey since December 18, 2004 has been filled with bumps, bruises and surgeries (helllloooooooo no period at the young age of 33!), it has been the greatest and most amazing blessing of my life.

But the past year and a half has been tumultuous. Not for myself personally, but for my oldest, Amethyst.

Amethyst has long been the source of my joy and a dream child. I’m not bashing her younger brother and sister: they too bring me a ton of joy. They’re just loud in their joy bringing. And messy. And outlandish. In short, they’re duplicates of their dear old mom, and the question of why my father went gray so early in his life has finally been answered. But Amethyst? She’s quiet. She’s thoughtful. She’s shy (but in this comical way where she’ll shout it out on a street and crack me and my friends up). She’s kind, considerate, loving, generous, compassionate and carries within her a trait of empathy that makes me proud to be her mother. And even if I weren’t the luckiest woman on this planet to be given such a daughter, I’d simply be proud to know such an incredible soul.

But this world we live in seems determined to squash those who aren’t assholes.

Amethyst has had her fair share of dealing with bullies at her school. And please, mark my next words: the school did what they were supposed to do. I’m not blaming them. When Amethyst would tell me about an incident at school, I’d contact her teacher. And her teacher always, and I mean ALWAYS took the appropriate steps necessary to resolve the issue. And with each incident, I’d cross my fingers and hope that it would be the last one. And sometimes it would look like it would be. But a space of time would pass, and a new perpetrator would come on the scene, and I’d take the appropriate steps, the teacher would take the appropriate steps, and everything would start up again.

So what do you do after emails, and phone calls, and conferences with teachers and school administrators have happened and still, a new bully comes out of the wood work to terrorize your child? Your child who was at one time thrilled to attend school, but now is walking from your car with slumped shoulders, the light out of her eyes?

How many incidents do you sit by and hope its the last one before you take action?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I know I did the best I could with what I was given. I know I made myself readily available to talk to my daughter any time she felt she needed to talk. And I made certain she knew that her father and I would support her in what she decided. I do not doubt I did anything wrong, and I know I did what I should have, but in many ways, I feel I’ve failed this gift I’ve been given. And that’s a hurtful feeling to carry with you as a mother.

Amethyst made the decision for herself last night. She’s been home sick the past several days with an allergy cold, and yesterday afternoon when I gave her a dose of medicine for her stuff  nose, she told me she wished she could stay sick until the summer vacation began so she didn’t have to return to school.

My heart sank, because my daughter was at a crossroads, and it was time to nudge her into decision time. And being Amethyst, she took a sheet of paper, and wrote out a list of pros and cons. She asked me if she’d still see the few classmates who have been true friends with her, and I told her absolutely. She asked for a couple hours to think on things, and I gave them to her.

I took a long walk and remembered how my own battle with bullies went: my parents telling me to ignore the assholes that made fun of me for not being able to run in gym class because I was suffering from Grave’s disease and was on a medication to control my  heart rate so I wouldn’t have a heart attack or stroke out at the young age of fifteen. How they made fun of me for gaining so much weight my sophomore year in high school due to the medication I was on (that saved my life) that bottomed out my metabolism. How I never felt heard by my parents. And I hoped my daughter had at the very least in her own battles with bullies, felt heard and loved by me.

Upon returning home, Amethyst told me she wanted to be homeschooled. And I gave her a hug and told her I was proud of her, and that I support her no matter what. And her shoulders stopped slumping, and her eyes finally lit back up after such a long absence of that light being gone.

She’s still under the weather with her allergy cold today. But she’s happy. She’s smiling, and she’s laughing, and I’ve got my girl back.

As her mother, there will be many more times where I will have to sit by and let her fight her own battles, let her make her own decisions. As much as I wanted to yank my daughter from her school when the first incident took place, that might not have been the best course of action. And maybe I was wrong.

What I do know is that today, she’s back as she truly is: while not completely healthy, she will be once the allergy cold is gone, but she’s 110% more happy today than she was yesterday.

God does answer prayers you know.


Amber Jerome~Norrgard


Life Lessons from How I Met Your Mother

A few months ago, I decided to check out How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I’ve seen internet memes of the show, and I’ve had several friends quote the show to me. I figured worse case scenario, if I didn’t like the first episode, I’d only of wasted half an hour of my time.

Instead, I’ve been hooked through the nose, much more so than I was with Friends or Scrubs, two shows I cried openly during the series finale. And I may  have avoided seeing How I Met Your Mother for the simple reason that I hate the end of things. But one thing that has stood out to me about the show, and I’m very much not joking about this, is that there are several lessons you can take from it that are applicable to real life.

The Pause Button During Fighting Lesson: The characters Marshall and Lily have a rule when they fight: at any point during the fight, one or both of them can call time out by saying the phrase pause button. And while the character Ted points out in telling the story to his children that Marshall and Lily’s fights often lasted weeks due to this rule, let’s look at it objectively: Even though they’re fictional characters, they’re characters everyone knows in real life, the couple that everything just works for, the couple that everyone strives to become with their significant other. They fight, they get annoyed with one another, they make mistakes, but at the end of the day, they still love and support one another. Why this lesson is so important: When we fight, we tend to lose sight of what’s important. And when we fight with those we love? We tend to forget this is someone who’s on our side, who we love and who loves us. Taking a five minute breather gives you time to reassess what you’re fighting about (and if it’s even what you started fighting about to begin with), take the time to think over whether or not the fight is worth the time and energy being spent, and most importantly remember that you’re not fighting your enemy, you’re fighting someone you love. Try it the next time you get into it with a loved one and see how things resolve differently.

The “Don’t Mosby Yourself” Lesson: The character Ted Mosby is known for over-thinking things, so much so his friends refer to people who engage in this activity as “Mosbying” themselves. During an episode in Season One, the character Barney convinces Ted to drink five shots of a mystery concoction the bartender Carl has whipped up. Ted ends up waking up the next morning with a strange woman in his bed, a sprained ankle, a phone number written on his arm and a pineapple on his bedside table, having had one hell of a night his friends have to piece together for him, all on account of not thinking. Why this lesson is so important: Sometimes, it’s better to not think and to just let go and do. I myself am very guilty of over-thinking everything, to the point where I miss out on some very important things going on. In August of 2012, a friend of mine was here for a few days visiting. Taking him on Art Walk Dallas before dinner the last night he was here, I was rushing us to and fro, barely stopping to see things when he put his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I ever slowed down. Taking a seat at a near-by table in the garden we were in, I simply sat and spent a few minutes with my friend. And those are five minutes I still remember vividly: the sounds of the traffic on the street, the flowers in the garden, the way the temperature was actually mild for late-summer in Dallas. To date, those five minutes are ones I count as my favorite in my memories of this friend. If we over-think things, we miss out on experiences and life itself.

The “Eight or Higher” Lesson: After the characters Marshall and Lily have their son Marvin, they enact the “Eight or Higher Rule” which is fairly simple: unless what’s going on is an eight or higher, they’re not going to be able to listen. Why this lesson is so important: Unless you’ve had a newborn in your life on a frequent basis (read: as it’s primary care taker), you might not understand why this is something that’s applicable to life. Or maybe you will. For myself, this applies because I tend to unload. In certain friendships, when you get accustomed to someone being your sounding board, it’s very hard to hold back and not blast them with everything (good or bad) that’s going on in your life. But having been on both sides of this, I can tell you that more often than not, the blasting ends up becoming all bad: which leads to worry, stress, and ultimately, cracks within even the strongest friendships. By all means, talk to your nearest and dearest, but don’t always go to them with everything that’s weighing you down: take a hard look at what you’re dealing with and see if its something they really need to know about.  Medical issues, the death of a loved one, employment problems? These are all 8’s. The same old crap you’ve been struggling with? Might want to hold off on unloading, especially if it’s something you’ve gone over several times before.

The “Barney is Awesome” Lesson:  Barney Stintson is awesome. Despite the fact he can be a bit of a dog in terms of women, still, this is the guy who gets up every day, puts on a suit, and vows to do something legendary, even though he’s failed beautifically before. Why this lesson is so important: Perspective baby! Even when things go wrong, even when things are boring, Barney still spins it in a positive light, and his eternal optimism? Infectious to the point that even though I’m well aware he’s a fictional character, I’d love to meet him and hang out with him, because I know I’d be guaranteed one hell of a story to tell in the future.

The “Post-Threesome” Lesson: In one episode, the character Ted realizes he’s in a prime spot to fulfill a bucket list item a lot of people have: the threesome. While the writers of the show never answer the question as to whether or not Ted actually goes through with it, there’s a lesson to be learned in the “after” when Barney is asking Ted if he did or did not. Rather than answering Barney’s constant pestering questions, Ted simply states that there are some experiences you don’t talk about after you have them. Why this lesson is so important: Somethings in our life are just for us, or just for us and the person we share them with. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes, it’s better to just jealously guard the experience and keep it your own.

The “T-Bone Car Accident” Lesson: In another episode, Ted is T-boned by a car while sitting in a taxi, and later on, Barney is hit by a bus. Both men realize how they feel about other women in their life due to their accidents, and Ted actually proposes to his girlfriend. Why this lesson is so important: Life is short. Too often we utter the words, “If I’d known I was going to lose them, I would have told them how I felt.” We shouldn’t be hit by a car, bus, or by life itself to suck it up, be a grown up and say how we feel about those most important in our lives. Don’t wait until the worst happens to say the most important words.

The “All Things Happen for a Reason” Lesson: When you break it down, How I Met Your Mother is a commentary on how everything happens for a reason, we just can’t see it at the time. And even if it takes nine years to find the answer as to why, those nine years are worth the wait. Sadly, not knowing why is often painful. Best to hold on tight during rough times and remind yourself that things do happen for the right reasons, even if we can’t see them immediately.

The “Letting Go” Lesson: This is a lesson that’s peppered throughout the entire series. But the episode I’m going to focus on is the episode where Barney and Robin decide after being a couple for a significant amount of time that they’re not happy, and for the sake of their friendship overall to break up. By the time they’ve ended their relationship, they’ve made one another so miserable that Robin is no longer showering, is so annoyed with Barney that she constantly chants “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” and is hunched over. Barney has taken to eating non-stop and the former playboy has no interest in sex. During the break up scene, Barney says to Robin that now is the bad part, where they can’t go back to being friends and Robin counters that maybe it’s not so much a break up as two friends getting back together. Why this lesson is so important: The reality is, we often hold on far longer than we should: to a career, a way of life we’ve been living, a relationship that we’ve long out grown. Whether we’re holding on because we’re hopeful things will get better, we’re fearful of the unknown and want to stay with the painfully familiar, or we just can’t let go, it’s still best to recognize when things have reached the point where more damage will take place if you don’t let go. Holding on for far too long is a recipe for a larger hurt later on. As someone who’s made this very painful mistake in my life, I can tell you it’s far better to let go early and save some grace than to keep holding on to the point your hand goes numb.

The “Putting Them First” Lesson: After Marshall and Lily become parents, their lives change drastically, which is par for the course with a newborn and parenthood. During a fight between the five characters on the show, Barney points out that Lily and Marshall haven’t had time for their friends since becoming parents, and his largest complaint is that they no longer close down the bar. Lily’s response is to tell Barney that there’s a good reason they’re not out until two a.m.: because no matter what else goes on, at five a.m., they’re going to be getting up with their son to feed him. The episode ends with Marshal and Lily sucking it up, getting a sitter and closing the bar down to reconnect with their friends; when the clock strikes five a.m., you hear baby Marvin crying, and see that Ted, Barney and Robin are camped out in Lily and Marshall’s living room. When Lily and Marshall appear to get their crying son, Barney, Robin and Ted tell them to go back to bed, they’ve got this. Why this lesson is so important: It wasn’t the closing down of the bar that was so important to Barney, Robin and Ted. It was the fact that they missed their friends being a part of anything they might be doing. And while it’s completely understandable why Lily and Marshall were no longer out most of the night, still, they took their lumps for the purpose of preserving a friendship, and in return, their friends took their lumps to preserve the friendship by putting themselves in the position their friends were in. The very yin and yang aspect of this episode is what touched me: Everyone put forth the effort and put those they loved first. In life, we sometimes have to put those we love first: as a parent, this is second nature. You don’t think about it when your child is sick or needs you for quality time. But too often as adults, we forget that sometimes, giving someone our undivided attention is a platinum gift, and taking time from our lives, whether it’s to stay up all night talking, meet for coffee or close down a bar for those we love shows them we love them. And most often, when we make this effort, we’re given back the same from our friends. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and lose the sleep.

The “Suit Up!!!” Lesson: The character Barney from the show is famous for several reasons. But one of his first lines ever said on the show was actually “Suit up!” Why this lesson is so important: While there are times where we have to “suit up” so to speak (weddings, funerals, work), there are times where jeans are more appropriate. Other times, sweats are what’s called for. Still other times, it’s important to say “Why the hell not” and put on your best suit or dress for no reason at all. Why? Because life is short. And while it’s short, at times it can be painful. Why not celebrate the non-moment moments with as much fanfare and fabulousness as you celebrate the big ones? Life only happens once, might as well enjoy the ride balls-to-the-wall, even if it’s just to grab a drink with a friend.

The “Naked Man” Lesson: In one episode of the show, Ted comes home to find Robyn’s date naked on the couch. Later on, we learn that Robyn had sex with her date, based on the fact that he went for it with no shame in going after what he wants. Why this lesson is so important: How often have you looked back on your life and thought that had you just taken a leap of faith, no matter how large or small, you might have had an experience you’d never forget? We don’t regret those experiences, because we didn’t let fear keep us from having them. We only regret the experiences we missed out on because of our fear. Sometime, you just gotta strip down, strike a pose, and hope for the best. At worse… well, we won’t go there. Because if you’re reading this, you’re probably a creative person and can formulate a very bad “worse”. But we’ll just leave it at you never know what might happen if you give your fear the middle finger and go for what you want.

The “Trust Your Friends’ Judgment” Lesson: Lily is probably the character I identify with the most for several reasons: Red hair and the temperament that goes with that particular physical feature, her love of family and her friends, her fierce interior Momma Bear, her creative side. But most of all, I identify with Lily because of her incredible intuition. My one “party trick” is the ability to size up people and situations within five minutes and give you an accurate read. I’m so accurate in fact that I have friends ask me to size up potential boyfriends/girlfriends. While this intuition comes with the downside of being right about those who are less, shall we say kind in this world of ours and the resulting hurt a loved one goes through, still, it comes in handy. During one episode, Ted finds out Lily has sabotaged a few of his relationships. And while Lily went about things the wrong way, still her intentions were the best: she loves her friend, she wants to save him misery in the future. Where as I myself would never sabotage a relationship, I’m still not going to keep my mouth shut when something doesn’t feel right to me. This has led to some monster fights between friends and myself, only to later have the friend in question come back and tell me I was right. And whereas I hate to be wrong, in this situation, it actually hurts to be right. Why this lesson is so important: Our true friends, the ones who are there for us and want whats best for us aren’t going to lie. If they see something that raises a red flag in their mind, they’re going to tell you because they love you, and they want to protect you. Loved ones can see things we can’t see because they’re outside the situation. If the person who’s telling you something is off is someone who’s been there for you, is supportive and is honest, listen to them. You don’t have to agree with them, but understand that they’re coming from a good place and only want what’s best for you.

The “You Never Know The Whole Story” Lesson: In one episode, the character Ted relays to his children that Barney was never around when things were going bad, citing Barney taking off any time Marshall was having a hard time with his break-up with Lily rather than sticking around to comfort his friends. And during Marshall and Lily’s break-up, we see Barney acting like a dog when he takes Marshall out to pick up women. But a season later? It turns out that Barney wasn’t stealing the numbers and the women Marshall was interested for himself. And he wasn’t just bolting from the bar to avoid being a friend. He was, in his own bass-ackwards way, protecting the relationship between two of his friends. He stole women from Marshall knowing it could possibly ruin the chance of he and Lily getting back together. And the time he bolted from the bar when Marshall was heartbroken and needing a friend to talk to? He was actually flying to San Francisco to give Lily a piece of his mind and a plane ticket back to New York so she’d return to Marshall. Why this lesson is so important: We’ve all seen someone who’s had a scowl on their face, drooping shoulders, not much for conversation. You can look at them and assume you know what’s going on, but unless you yourself are with them continuously, you don’t know the whole story. That person scowling could have in fact been stood up by a date. The person with the drooping shoulders? They could have just lost a loved one. The person not saying much? They might be trying to muddle through a heart break.  Even when we think we know the whole story, we don’t know the whole story.

The “We Are Our Truest Selves With Those We Love” Lesson: The characters on How I Met Your Mother often times engage in questionable behavior: They hide in the bathroom after hearing their friends are moving to the suburbs, they get fantastically drunk and throw up on one another, they drop information bombs at the worst possible times. But they also spend hours decorating their apartment in Christmas lights, stay up all night talking, partake in ridiculous drinking games together, and high five and fist bump when the moment calls for it. Why this lesson is so important: Back when I first became a parent, I read an online article that encouraged parents to not take it personally if it felt like their child only threw tantrums around them, stating that it was a sign of trust between the child and their parent. And this is one of the best statements I’ve read that truly defines who humans are: we only show our best to those who deserve our worst. And while that can be an issue if all we’re getting is the worst from a person, still the writer of the article was right. Later, I read an internet meme that said quite beautifully, “Don’t expect to get my best if you can’t handle my worst.” The truth is, we can’t truly be ourselves, and I’m talking about who we are at our core at our weakest, strongest, beautiful and most flawed, unless we’re in the company of those that love us. The thing to remember is that we need to give our best to those who can handle us at our worst.


~Amber Jerome~Norrgard





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