In the big wild world

Cheering each other on

 

Are You Carrying Around An Old Piece of Guilt Candy?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Have you ever cleaned out your purse or messenger bag or carry-on luggage and found a little piece of old candy you forgot about?

Maybe it was a cellophane-wrapped sugar candy or a lollipop. Maybe it was a broken piece of holiday Candy Cane, or a piece of gum sitting so long on the bottom, the sugary goo had bled through the paper itself. It makes you wonder: Why didn’t I just eat this and get it out of the way when I took it? Why have I been carrying around this yucky little thing for so long without even realizing it?

Well, I think we all do the same thing with our emotional experiences, too. Sometimes, we experience something that makes us feel so embarrassed or guilty or full of shame, that we hold onto it like an old butterscotch.

We carry that guilt like candy left to sit and get sticky in our emotional brains, collecting dust bunnies from the corners of our heart for no good reason at all. I call that “guilt candy” and it’s time we cleaned out our emotional pocketbooks of them once and for all.

Sometimes, we experience something that makes us feel so embarrassed or guilty or full of shame, that we hold onto it like an old butterscotch.

Let me explain by telling you about the old piece of guilt candy I’ve carried around too long.

When I was a kid, I went to visit the offices of Newsday with my Dad, Ken Spencer, who worked as a feature photographer for the paper for over three decades. On our tour through the building, I was shown  the newsroom, the paper machines and I got to meet some of the writers. The real actual newspaper writers! It was one of the most exciting and memorable days of my childhood. Yet there is one conversation I’ll never forget—for a strange reason.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 11.26.22 AMOne writer was showing me his desk and his computer (very likely a Commodore Vic 20 at the time). And, oh, I was in absolute awe as he showed me how he typed up his stories on his computer. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he showed me how he pulled down the “Print” screen. And how, with one press of a button, his story would be sent to the printer. With just a few seconds pause, the writer walked us across the room, twenty desks away, and up to the printer. “And here,” he said, pulling his article from the printer , “is the story we just printed.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“That’s it?” I said, in awe that with just one tiny press of the “Return” button, those words on his screen were being somehow sent fifty paces across the room. Just one button! 

“That’s it?” said the writer. “Gosh, what does it take to impress you?”

He was joking and laughing as he said it, and I was too confused by his laughter to get what he found so funny. But a few minutes later it finally hit me what he meant. That when I said “That’s it” I meant “One press of a button?! That’s all it took to get it here?!” But when I said “That’s it” he thought I meant, “Really, that’s all ya got?”

I was so young and shy and didn’t want to correct him that I let him joke and then carried on with the tour. And I spent the rest of the day feeling bad that he misunderstood me. Actually, it wasn’t just the rest of the day.  I have carried that small, silly misunderstanding with me for thirty years. For thirty years, I have wished I could tell him that wasn’t what I meant, that he misunderstood, that I was blown away!

It has stuck with me in the strangest way, being misunderstood and mistaken for being ungrateful. But you know what’s funny? I’ll bet that if I was able to mention this to him today, he’d probably say, “I took you on a tour of what?” I couldn’t be more sure he has no recollection of it at all.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Carry around little old pieces of guilt candy that the other people in our lives haven’t even registered as a blip on the radar?

Check in with yourself and clear out your own old pieces of guilt candy. Trust me, it feels good to get it out and take the first step in letting it go.

—Amy

 

Love Every “Single” Second You Have!

Friday, July 11th, 2014

When I was looking for love years ago, a lot of people told me: “Love yourself. Because you have to love yourself before you can love someone else.” All true of course. But I found that hard to gauge in the same way that, say, “Stop eating when you’re starting to feel full” is. Me, I don’t feel full until my plate is empty, and with no way to measure self-contentment, how do I know if I love myself enough?

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Look at the beautiful life in front of you and live it up now.

What was easier to do, I realized, was to start loving my life. Because that was something I could do in an active, measurable way. For example:

Instead of going for drinks in desperation with any stranger I met (I mean, how many glasses of rosé can one girl drink?), I began to spend more time with my friends and my family who I loved. I went for lingering brunches and inhaled my freedom. I walked for hours around the city appreciating my health, my home, my apartment, my job and everything else I had going for me.

And because I didn’t have a husband and kids (though I wanted both), I traveled more than ever, and felt even better about my life when I was out exploring the world. And the more I appreciated my life, the happier and more fulfilled I felt. And the happier and more fulfilled I felt, the more I glowed. And the more I glowed, the more confident I was. And the more confident I was, well…that’s when the men came flocking. Yes, I had plenty of down days (my God!) But I had far more happy ones, and I’m grateful now that I made sure to have them.

So I suggest the same to someone looking for love this summer: Love every single second you have—and I mean that literally. Think about it: If all goes according to hope and plan and you do meet someone and fall in love, won’t you wish you didn’t waste these weeks or months of singleness you had left? If a crystal ball could tell you that you are going to meet someone in three months, aren’t there a few things you might want to do with the commitment-free single nights you have left? (Like, I don’t know, make out with a hot bartender you see absolutely no future with, just because you can?)

While you search for a partner, try not to bog yourself down with must-do dating rules or depressing thoughts or too many dates that you forget who you are and what you’re looking for in the first place. Look for love, of course, but while you’re doing it, live and love the life you have now. The more you do, the more likely it is that love will come flocking to you to find out your secret.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

How Does This One Woman Stay Happy?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

When I was trying to pull up a specific “Vitamin Optimism” I had written some time ago for this site, I Googled it. And along with all of the ones I’d written, I found a blog post written by a woman a year and a half ago called “Vitamin Optimism.” And I loved it.

So today, let me let Keesa Ocampo share how she shifts from the negative into the positive for the good of her life. As she says in one place:

“Optimism has kept me in good stead by making me resourceful. It’s opened my eyes to signs from God or the universe or whatever you call your divine being.”

I love that. If you have optimism—which means simply that you believe a good outcome is possible in your life—you know that one thing that can help get you there is opening your eyes and allowing help from the world and people around you to get you there.

Read Keesa’s wonderful post and get inspired to seek out the beauty in your life, too.

Big love,

Make Your “Life Bonanza” List

Monday, September 12th, 2011

This is a new update of an old post that I stumbled across and wanted to share in a new way.

Last month, my friends and I got together on a Friday night. We were about to fall asleep on the couches in front of the TV when we decided to give ourselves some get-up-and-go: We made a list of all the fun things we could potentially do, cut the ideas into separate pieces and put them all in a hat. (Yes, we’re grown-ups.)

What's the "night swimming" on your life list? (Image by Amy Spencer; Manzanillo, Costa Rica, 2011)

We decided we’d do the first three items we picked from the hat. Suddenly, the adrenaline was running high:“Uh oh,” I thought, “Someone suggested “Ring & Run?” What if we picked that one? (Wait, are we grown-ups?)

In the end, we picked “Get a cocktail,” “Go swimming in the bay” and “Dance to a song of Todd’s choice.” It turned out to be an epic evening of night swimming, dancing and dares as we tackled the items on the list. It’s a great tactic for all sorts of joy we want out of life. And the magic is in the list.

An article in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research reported a few moons ago that exercisers who wrote down ideas about how to make their effort more enjoyable ended up doing those things, which did, in fact, make their exercise more enjoyable. Ta-daaa!

Sounds like a great idea to apply to your whole life, doesn’t it? The lead author of the exercise study said that drawing on positive past experiences is more motivating than abstract ideas. So use that to your advantage when you make your life or work or love or dating list: When have you had the most fun in those areas in the past? In work: Was it when you had a job with creative input or when you were working outdoors? In dating: Was it when you went to a goofy-sounding single’s event with a friend or agreed to go on a blind date for fun? In life: When you signed up for a sailing trip? When you introduced yourself to the wackiest-looking person at the party? Come up with positive experiences in your past, and put similar ideas on paper for your future. Call it your Life Bonanza List.

No, you don’t have to do all the things on the list—the way we actually didn’t do the “Ring & Run” on ours. I think it’s healthy just to remind yourself how much fun life and work and dating can be. So think about making the list—either on paper or in your mind—whether you do any of the items or not. I think you’ll be more positive for the process. And if you do end up on a double-bowling-date laughing your gutter balls off? More power and funny shoes to ya.

You might also like:
Your Super Pep Talk for Love

Big love,

 

Never, Never Give Up

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I have been driving past this beautiful piece of street art in Los Angeles for a few weeks now, and I can’t get over how much I love it. So I finally snapped a shot of it and wanted to share it with you.

If you’re feeling down about love, depressed about your living situation, defeated about your career, insecure about your passion, poor in your finances, losing hope, or worried in some way that what you want most in your life is not going to happen, you have one person who will always be there for you: you. Don’t let yourself down and don’t give up on yourself. Never, never give up.

Big love,