Hate is good as any to keep a person going, better than most.―Sandor Clegane to Arya Stark

I’m going to tell you a story about a man I once knew, if he was a man. Some say he was born a beast, birthed dark, a black sheep with its throat cut open to curse us for all the reasons he could not belong to the light.  He wasn’t right to be a man and yet he was. I saw it in his eyes when he died, that one small piece of humanity.

People called him The Hound, but he looked like a pit bull with half his skull torn to hamburger. The flesh was a mangle of meat riddled with meal worms.  His scars looked like maggots forever feasting on face, and then there was his other side, strangely soft, prepubescent to agony, unmarred. The same was true of his soul, but to be twisted and burned. That’s the thing about torture. It’s an adaptation of spirit even before the skin begins to blister and boil. I wonder what part of him cried out first as the hand of his kin held his face to fire, soul or vessel. I see the memory of his maiming in manhood, but he was just a boy when he was mutilated to life.  What an introduction it was, with no courting. Face withered to near death by five. It took one childhood hand to hold his head to ruin, tiny by years but stronger than a favorable fate.  If he’d only been born bigger than the mountain.

Do you know what sound a hound makes? It bays to scent, deep, a prolonged howl. Imagine that howl along with the pitch of rabbit screaming death’s hollow. That is what it sounded like when he changed from boy to beast, that was the sound he made when his brother burned him. The story told near legend with most asking, “Why?”

“Why did his brother burn him?”

I must admit that I’ve heard the story told with so many versions that I can no longer settle on one truth. I believe them all, even the simplest. The simplest truth came from The Hound himself. He said his brother held his face to the fire to burn over a toy, one that wasn’t his to play with.

“Over a toy?”

Yes, a toy, or so it was presumed as punishment. There was no altercation before the tragedy and it was tragic. Little Sandor, yes he had a name before ‘infamous dog’, was only curious when he bent to pick up the toy belonging to his older brother. He had it in his hands long enough to look up and into fire.  He was burnt as quickly as if the toy itself was lit, without word or warning. Jack opened the box, it went boom, and when it did all of the king’s horses, and all of the king’s men couldn’t put poor Sandor back together again. Hell, they could barely free him from the fire and it was but a boy holding him there: in hell’s fire. Gregor was a boy with Lucifer’s strength. It took twelve, a dirty dozen angels, to pull the little pup from flames, the dog Gregor had been roasting like a weenie with baby buns, or was that his baby brother Sandor?

I can only imagine the healing and all the years that happened after to pile on scars, each one a new identity to a forever changing mutiny.  The Hound a mask of horror painted by the nightmare of his brother.  They grew up together after that. I never missed that part of the story by all the ways that I imagined it, even if none of it is real.  Is any part of this story true?

I stopped writing to invite my boyfriend to listen to what I’d written so far. He laid on the sofa next to me with his eyes closed as I read aloud my story of The Hound. When I was done he sat to ask, “That’s from The Game Of Thrones? Are you trying to retell the story in your own words?”

No, I’m trying to tell my own story through fiction. I know The Hound, a man who meets that reflection. He is hateful, near dead save one sliver. I’ve studied this man for the sum of my whole life much like Arya Stark in a goblin squat above her fallen hound. My eyes, glass in an empty head, carved to save sight for the pleasure of hope. This man is my friend and I hate him for all he wants me to hate and he has always wanted that for me.  Hate, the fire to purge pain and wouldn’t he love to spare me from the torture of before. Go straight to hell with the wrath and fury of the unforgiven and they do not deserve it. Forgiveness, once is already too much. They deserve to rot as you rise from ash, and if you’ve been hurt then you deserve it. I warned you. I told you to kill them all, women and children, but you’ve always been too kind. I hope I’m there to ask you how good it feels to die with a knife in your back, how dying feels. How kind will you feel then, when you are choking on good-bye.”

How is it that I’ve known these words in real life and I promise that I have, in this, our most civilized time.  I wondered why my lessons were so brutal. Even know he is preparing for his last breath, my own hound, hoarding food, with talk of compounds and end of days. If only I could be smart enough to see it coming because he warned me to pay attention.

I could get lost in the details of the end except that I am still here and what is real can only be what is before me. Right now I’m sitting in front of a computer screen in desperate need of a shower.  My coffee is cold and near empty and I’m writing because I enjoy it.  As to the retelling of what has already been written, why would I bother to try to see it differently?  It’s what I hold onto by message that I meant to account for.


I see the word and come back to…


I only want one of those to win, but hate is the easiest.  The hound wanted me to hate him before he died. I started writing this blog on the day I killed my dog for protecting my own house, unless he bit the woman for enjoyment. I can’t really say. I only know that the city wanted him destroyed and so he was, by our hand and so it had to be.  It was an honorable thing to do if there is honor in killing a friend and he was that to us. He was our cherished and adored friend, our protector. We loved him for what he was. He was a hound with a beautiful snow white face. Our dog’s name was Oly and he is ached for.

Sometimes I hate to look at myself. The scars looked like maggots forever feasting on face.

Then there are days I feel beautiful, prepubescent to pain.





FACEBOOK: Do you like me?

Good morning facebook friends!!! I have facebook friends again. Someone please like this post so that I feel…..

I feel that most people say too much on facebook and in life: myself included, myself betrayed. My own voice betrays me, and sometimes thoughts too. If only I’d kept my mouth shut maybe I’d still have that friend, or that one, or that one….

Does anybody out there still like me?

“Of course they do Amber!” Don’t be silly….”

Do they?

taking sapphire to school

I question myself on a regular basis and then there are days I accuse, “Why should they like you Amber? You are too loud, too abrasive, too much of everything with nothing near middle. You forget birthdays. You’re cheap, selfish, and lazy…..”

OUCH. Someone stop me before I get to true loathing and I do. I sometimes allow my absolute and total destruction until I am a character in black paint or does that sound racist… f*ck…. you should add that too. I am sure I have that malignancy and perhaps I should get a cancer screening.

“Amber!!! You are none of those horrible things and you don’t have cancer.”

I have friends for that reason. They argue with my fear, worry, and doubt. My best friends tell me I am crazy.

Can you imagine what I would become without friends! Thank you facebook!! What would I do without you….


We’ve only had facebook since 2004 and I’m more than sure I had at least 804 friends before then…. or did I? How can I keep track of people without like buttons?

My life has become a poll of public opinion.


How many people do you think like Donald Trump? He’s doing just fine in the Capital, painted clown that he is.


Do you think he cares how many people like him?

My answer is no. He is successful because he capitalizes on need not likability. People like getting things they need. Simple business. Easy profit.

Walmart is an example of Trump likability. There are a lot of people that HATE Walmart and the Walmatians that shop there. Those same haters are having those ugly judgmental thoughts while they are filling up their shopping cart…. at Walmart.


Hate is a powerful word, especially in bold.

“Did you say hate the people or hate the store because I ain’t no people hater.”

It’s enough to make you stop to consider which side you’d be on. Do you hate Walmart? Are you a hater and if you are do you still do business in their store?  If the answer is yes… why?

These are the things I think about at 7:42 am on a Monday morning. I’m also thinking about brushing my teeth, and that I have my own business to run. I need to take a shower, and then I’m making the bed. Crawling into my sheets tonight will be the reward to a day well earned and loved. I love what I do to the passion of all people who walk through my door, gifts. My days are full of gifts and there is fruit born from that love. My personal training business allows me to help people in their journeys toward and through continued health: creating goals and bests. My life is devoted to that purpose. Proactive health and wellness to the making of the best life.

My best life includes art. I also make a living as a photographer. A Smile Like Yours Photography is a fine art portrait studio. I am known for my high-end gallery portraits though my new business model promotes more of an influx of clientele. My current price structure is seventy-five percent less to my clients mostly on the account that I’m in the mood to see volumes of people. I enjoy them and then I also want them to have and hold their memories. All of my sessions include the images with printing rights. This provides my clientele with the opportunity  to make their own prints, share them online, and of course there is archiving.

We are nothing without our memories…

The beginning and focus of this blog was likability and yes, there are times I allow my own heart to get caught up in the concept of it mattering. Do you like me? It shouldn’t matter but it does.  Likeabilty in life is generally earned by giving and contribution. How much does your life add to the world by the value of what you do?

Like that.

I do.

May your day be filled with smiles,

Amber Garibay



My dearest Kay,Good morning beautiful you,I’m thinking about you this morning. Wondering how you are doing this week walking your 20 minutes a day in the heat? Last week found you unstoppable and you have been. I don’t imagine much of anything will keep you from succeeding on this journey.

Progression by desire and heart with all the time in the world to reach your goals and you have been these months. First we built a foundation, increasing your core strength. We worked with care to prevent injury and there were times you felt stifled for progress and I promised….

“It will come with time.”

It has too, not the weight loss you were so focused on at first (that has come slowly) , but a vessel capable of building stronger mass, a body capable of doing MORE.

On June 21, 2014 you slopped in the mud to celebrate the fact that you can now….



5k’s and Dirty Dashes, feet on pavement, what day will find you the fastest?

and when you aren’t running I’ve asked you to walk.

and when you are walking I want you to understand that even if you can’t always see it those steps are moving you toward something priceless.


I am proud of YOU!

Much Love,
Amber Garibay


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This morning’s post is a shout out to Kay Thurman Cinotto. I logged in to check her progress and what did I read…

“Day #3 of my trainer’s challenge!!! YIPPEE..My challenge this week was to do 20 minutes on the treadmill every day for 7 days ..Over and beyond any other workouts I do each day…Days #1, #2 and #3 DONE! (including intervals of jogging)…WHEW! This is quite a commitment…!! I need to go clean up a bit now, before I sweat all over my keyboard….Thank you Amber Garibay for being the best motivational trainer I’ve ever had!! Love you!”


Yay!!!!  GO! KAY GO!!!

DAY # 1: Mission accomplished
DAY #2: Mission accomplished
DAY #3: Mission accomplished

Thank YOU Kay!!! Thank you for giving me the gift of more time. This time you are giving yourself. It is a fountain of youth. Keep walking…

Walk for your mom. Walk because you are a mom. Walk because you are loved.


I am honored to be your personal trainer. Proud and honored.

Sending a smile,
Amber Garibay





June 24, 2014- day one food journaling.

It should be known that I absolutely despise keeping a food journal and I abhor the idea of measuring my food portions on a scale.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that food journals have a place. My own clients keep them as I instruct.  I’m still going to tell you that I don’t like them.


The Chehalis Trail June 2014

Photography: Josh Nicholas


Two cups of coffee my way: 2 tablespoons coffeemate and stevia

Raspberry Hybiscus Hot Tea with Stevia (drink as needed which is often)


16 almonds

5 Pringles- They were Ranch Flavored

Hamburger Stir Fry (Breakfast and Lunch)

A Naval Oarange

5 Black Cherries

Spaghetti- whole grain pasta, fresh mushrooms, Italian sausage, and ground beef.

and yes there was garilc bread


I ate more than I should have.

Three pieces of bread

then there was an oreo waffer.

I only ate one of those though.

Not one whole package either,

One waffer.

Shocking I know… I usually eat the entire package.

I love waffers. 


I renamed the title of this blog. It was originally called a food journal but like I mentioned before I really hate writing down the food I eat and further more to be obsessed by what I put in my mouth. Yesterday I ate a big fat d…..


I didn’t have the doughnut but I considered it. There was a time yesterday that I wanted pizza dipped in bacon covered in cheese smashed inside a cheeseburger on a bacon samich.


No,  I didn’t spell it wrong.


I wanted one of those. Ghetto fat fried.

Can I get a side of tots?

Yesterday was my first day of actual commitment. I hired Braden Hamilton of My Cubicle Coach to be my personal trainer  a couple of weeks back but I am only now dialing in to compliance. Fitness is a progression much like a stretch. I have not been very flexible. My priority has been everyone else and then there is pure lazy.  I’ve done a lot of snuggling watching Game Of Thrones. There is usually ice cream involved and an addiction to waffers, Vanilla. Chocolate. Strawberry. Lemon, Coconut. Each package gone the same day I smuggled it home with the idea that I could ration my empty calories.

Braden wants me to enter my consumption to ensure I progress toward my goals.

My goal is to try every flavor of waffer cookies they make. Then I would like to do a taste comparison.

Life should be tasted. I want a fitness program that understands that. My personal trainer understands that. He is building my program as I am building theirs. My own personal training clients are all laser focused on meeting their goals, enough that I am inspired to show them I know exactly how they feel. I can walk the walk and when I can’t I most certainly make up for it by quaking like a duck.My first two workouts with Braden Hamilton as my coach were near too easy as they were meant to be. Assessments… he was making assessments. The smile disappeared from my face when the work began and it did.  My third workout was brutal. He knew exactly what I could handle safely and he pushed me to that.

HIM: “Come on Amber. You can do this. Five more.”

ME: “Nope. This face means I’m done.

bad hair band returns




Amber Fierce



dirty girl















       sparkle Author: Amber Garibay is a nationally recognized, award-winning, professional photographer in business for a decade at A Smile Like Yours. She became a personal trainer in 2013 after recovering from a ten-year battle with obesity. Her writing career began  at the beginning of her seventy pound weight loss journey and evolved as did her career into fitness. Studio 200 is located in The Clearbrook Business Park which she shares with her business partner: Braden Hamilton.  Braden is also a  personal trainer, trained himself by Olympic coaches as his athletic abilities nearly took him there. The Olympics.  Studio 200 is their gold, a business boasting personal bests: a gym and a photography studio.  This blog is an accumulation of Life, Fitness, Photography, and Business.   Yes! Your feedback is welcome, as is your hello. You can write Amber @ for bookings 


Smart. I remember wanting to be that when I was young. It was an attribute I treasured more than any: more than looks, more than likes, more than love. To me it meant power and ability beyond opinion. Smart is factual, popular and not. I was not popular or at least that was my perception of self. How many likes does one need to be one of the golden coveted? I’ve never been sure but I do know that I felt like I was on the outskirts of right for whatever reason. It’s an interesting place to be where I am now, nearly forty (37), looking back at myself, through myself, and forward. Just the other day I was scrubbing my kitchen floor wondering how many brain cells I have killed over the years and then about how many more it would take for me to graduate to stupid. Why do I need to aspire? Haven’t I been there and done that? Do I really need to be smart?

Smart begs comparison. Smarter than who? I’m thinking about a kid named Willy. He was in my class through elementary. He was a big kid, a thick kid, not in the way that was tubby, more in the way that was grubby. I am more than sure that he never bathed. His puffed up fingers swelled to black crusty tips, fingernails full of things he picked including his nose. He wiped his boogers on his desk while most of us were working on tests. Willy did not do what the other kids did. He sat in complete refusal flunking out, eating the goo he was collecting from his face. He was a snot but he was brilliant, or at least that was the whisper because we all wondered. We wondered about him and the different that he was. Rumor had it that he was gifted, with test scores (when he’d take them) off the charts. I thought about Willy when I was stuck on questions because I often was. I thought about what it would take for me to will my brain to work the way his could, acclaimed without need for trying. Easy to the boredom of  not being inspired by anything including hygiene.

I wonder if boogers are high in protein…

I wonder how Bill Gates imagined Microsoft. How?

How does one attain that level of intelligence if it isn’t taught. Bill Gates did not go to college initially, but that’s not to say he wasn’t learning. Who was he influenced by and how can I meet them? How can I be smart enough to meet the people who know. I want to know. The want seduces me until I imagine that I too can win.


I love that he is silver mixed with slate and that his eyes pool blue. I would swim in them if I didn’t feel dizzy in the depths but I do. I do feel dizzy in there gazing. Gazing at playful and he is. The man I love is playful mischief sparkling, twinkling like fireflies mating with pixies. It is a dust to be high in but there is only space when you dive into the sky without liberty to know exactly when the ground will come. What if it never does? He knocked me off my feet and tore my legs off. Love.

I don’t even know how this mess got here but it did. I swear it was near spotless yesterday, house that I am endlessly cleaning. This is my life perfect. A small chuckle as I run my tongue across teeth I haven’t brushed yet. What time is it? 10:45 am. It feels good not wearing a bra. The fleece is soft across my nipples. There is always so much I have to do to begin my day before my work begins that I have to talk myself through it. “Come on Amber. This is mindless. Just move and reorganize. One room at a time. Maximize each placement to utilize efficiency….”

Squirrel. I think I’ll plop myself in front of the computer. Yes, I’ll do that. I’ll sit here and write a blog. How’z that for productivity…

Revenue generating….


I feel pulled because I have promotions I want to put out, business I need to tend to and… I have throw pillows on the floor. I don’t care that placing them in perfect homey composition will cost me productivity. I’m going to jump in them like leaves at the end of the day when I finally surrender to the fact that it’s all going to messy again tomorrow. Good business is meticulous organization. Base first. Home is first always.

10:55 am time to check the laundry and make rounds putting things away. I’m going to clean until 11:30. Let’s see what I can accomplish…






The year was 2010. My big fat secret began then but it wasn’t really a secret. Everyone I knew could tell. I was fat.

Fat is not a nice word. People get mad at me for using it until I don’t know what else to call it. Obese? Yes, I was fat enough to meet that measure. I was obese in 2010. Funny how that category sounds less severe. “Obese”… much nicer than FAT. People do not like being called fat.


FATgirl     FATman    FATcat     FAThead     Fatslob    Fatfinger    Fatkid        Fatso…


So, what are you going to do it about it?

I called you FAT!

Is it not true?

I felt like I was living a lie, like I needed to lie for people to leave me alone in the reality of  not being OK with myself. Yes, I was fat. Two hundred pounds on a woman of five feet four inches bares no contest. The argument I had was that I couldn’t publicly call myself gross. People don’t like disparity and unpleasantries. Positive. Be more positive.

I was positively fat and it felt gross. I felt gross. My loved ones didn’t want to hear it. “You are beautiful Amber…”

We are all beautiful says the beautiful soul. Mine is corrupt and strangled. Heavy. I felt heavy.



(fat secret is a free fitness website anyone can use to help them reach their goals)

Posted but set to private. secret. My profile picture was a wine glass. I couldn’t stand my face.

09 January 2010

Excuses, I find my self making them, waiting for them to happen each day. Just one reason to eat too much, to drink too much. Yesterday gave me another excuse to slip and I did. I do not know when I will finally say enough is enough and stop making excuses. I do not like living like this. I do not like avoiding my reflection for fear of seeing what I have become. There are no pictures of me because I do not want my daughter to remember me this way. If photographs were evidence of the life she has had for the last 5 years I do not exist. I live in sweat pants and baggy sweaters when I am not working and when I am working I wear the same outfit over and over because I refuse to go buy the next size up. Today, when the excuses come, as they always do, I want to let them go. I want to make the right choices and finish this day with a victory.

09 January 2010

Todays Goals:
1. Walk 2 miles Goal Complete
2. Eat only healthy foods Goal Achieved
3. Record everything in my food journal Goal Achieved
4. Get all of my grad cards orders done. Almost but not not quite
5. Do not drink more than 12 ounces of wine Goal Achieved

The year is 2014. I am now thirty seven years old and I haven’t been fat in so long that it sounds ridiculous when I call myself “Fat” now and I do. My current weight is 136.5 but I rarely weigh myself because weight no longer concerns me. Fat concerns me. I knew I was getting fat before I stepped on the scale for my personal trainer this week. Yes, I have a personal trainer even though I am a personal trainer. That’s right… I said I am a personal trainer. FAT AMBER TEACHES FITNESS. 






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