Archive for August, 2009


The Coffee Test

Monday, August 31st, 2009

If you’re single and seeking love, it’s easy to circle around the same big question: What kind of person are you meant to be with? I mean, we all have different aspects to our personalities, right? Sometimes I crave sushi at a hip spot, sometimes I want ribs from a dive place. Some nights I’m up for a big party, and others I’d prefer laying in bed reading a Harry Potter book (I’m still only halfway through, but determined to finish).

Friendship + something steamy = a great relationship!

Friendship + something steamy = a great relationship!

With such divergent desires in life, how can you know what partner would be right for you? In fact, some days it begs an even bigger question: Who are you, really? Well, my answer to you is this: You’re the person you are when you hang out with your best friend—the person who represents what I like to call, “The Coffee Test.”

I’m talking about your main BFF—the one friend doesn’t mind if you pick up a dropped piece of pizza cheese off the table and eat it. The friend you’re not embarrassed to say, “Ooh, stop!” as they scroll past a cheesy movie with the TV remote. No judgments, no masks, no hard work.

Think about how relaxed you are with your best friend. How you can roll out of bed some grumbling Saturday morning, put on some sweats, and meet up at a coffee shop where you’ll share a few funny recaps—or maybe just a few grunts. That calm, laid-back easygoing version of you in the coffee shop? That’s how you want to feel when you’re sitting across from the love of your life.

Because really, why get yourself into a relationship in which you’ll have to exert extra effort pretending that you’re funnier or more outgoing or less chatty or needier more well-spoken or more cool or fabulous than you are in your everyday life?

Yes, we all have different aspects to us depending on the hour. But the fact is this: You want a relationship in which you are the best, happiest, more chilled out, normal, calm you you can be. And the person you are when you’re chilling in a coffee shop blowing on your latte so you don’t get fuzzy tongue? That’s the version of yourself you should be showing the world most. Give yourself “the coffee test” with your best pal to see what you’re really like in your own, relaxed happy skin. You may get a jolt of understanding with your espresso.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

How to Live in the Moment

Friday, August 28th, 2009

It’s so easy to talk about “living in the moment,” but not quite as easy to do. The other day, however, I forced myself to try, and it was such a rewarding experiment, I want to pass it on to you.

Me, I left my top on. ("Vacation" by Gusto)

Me, I left my top on. ("Vacation" by Gusto)

I was with my husband, my sister and two of my friends, in a fab house in the hills of L.A. As much as I love my own home, my backyard is covered in crabgrass, so lying on a lounge chair by a pool with a cold drink at my feet and nowhere special I needed to be makes for a good day.

Yet as happy as I was in the moment, I kept losing myself to thoughts that pulled me away from it: I wonder if that email came through? What should we get for dinner? Ooh, and I have to remember to add that to my To Do list. Sure, my body was there, but my thoughts weren’t. And when I snapped to, I wondered: How much of the good stuff do we lose like this because our minds are somewhere else, because they’ve moved on to future plans, to rushing around,to texting, to tweeting? This moment was too good, and I was determined to “live in the moment” the way we all say we should. So, I went sense by sense through what I was feeling from the base of my toes to the top of my head. I ask this of you, too: Put down the camera, turn off the phone and take a picture with your mind.

Trust me, I’m not one to put down my iPhone easily; I’m addicted to the Trivial Pursuit App and I love me a good Twitterific visit. But I promise you: You will feel better sitting with silence for a few minutes and taking your life in. Here’s how:

Ask, “What do I feel?” Work your way up or down your body so you get it all. That day, for instance,  I felt my heels on the soft cushion. My back touching a pillow. My eyes and chest warmed by the sun. I also felt a perfectly soft breeze. And a bit of a scratch on my left thigh, which I attended to.

Ask, “What do I hear?” Close your eyes if it helps to focus. I heard birds that day. A dog barking. The pool filter. My friend laughing from inside the kitchen.

Ask, “What do I smell?” This one’s such an underrated sense, but is so closely tied to emotion and memory. Breathe deeply through your nose and see what you get. Me, I mostly smelled my suntan lotion. (You can make me wear sunscreen, but it still has to smell like coconuts frying on the beach!)

Ask, “What do I taste?” I tasted a mimosa. And some nacho chips stuck in my teeth. This could be improved upon.

Ask, “What do I see?” Take a shot with your mind of what’s ahead of you: the colors, the movement of things. I saw a blue pool, green hedges, my wet towel balled up on the ground that I wished I’d laid out to dry (dang it). Then look around you. What’s behind you that you hadn’t seen? Who’s beside you who you could be appreciating?

I did this exercise a few years ago with my sister’s friends in the South of France, at a dinner on the sand when no one had a camera to capture the moment. Instead, we took turns talking about what we saw, heard, felt. And even now, the moonlight on the water and the lapping of those waves is more ingrained in my mind than the cute dog I snapped on my iPhone yesterday.

Still, it is a cute dog, right?

Still, it IS a cute dog, right?

We need to give ourselves the gifts of capturing these moments. Yes, Facebook updates and Twitpics (and, ahem, blogging) is all fun, and so is planning all the great stuff you’re inspired to do as soon as you finish reading this! But what about being present in this moment of life? Not through a lens, not through a filter, not as a stepping stone to tomorrow. Look at what your life is giving you todaythis hour—to be happy about and grateful for. How can we really know what we want tomorrow if we don’t know how we feel about today? Let’s give ourselves that gift more often than we do. The next time you find the present fleeting and life sort of passing you by, tune into your senses and take in the moment. You just may realize you love your life more than you knew you did.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

4 Life Lessons From: “Flipping Out”!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

You should know this about me: I watch some TV. And by some I mean a lot. About half my favorites are on Bravo lately (I’ve said before, if they invent a Bravo chip that implants straight into the brain, I’m first in line.). Topping the list this week is Flipping Out, about obsessive perfectionist Jeff Lewis who flips multi-million dollar houses (or renovates and redesigns them) for a living with his hilarious team.

And as with most lowbrow entertainment, I can’t help but find high levels of wisdom buried within. I suppose you could call it justification for my viewing habits. (Actually…I call it that.) Well then, let’s justify some reality TV by showing the four lessons we can learn from this week’s episode of Flipping Out!

Jeff got giddy about his first date (from

Jeff got giddy about his first "date" (from

Lesson #1: Sometimes it takes two dates to know if you click. When Jeff went to meet with a client considering him for a redesign project, he compared the experience to dating: “I don’t want to go on three dates and then you decide you don’t want to date me anymore,” said Jeff. “Like, I want you to know on the first date that I’m somebody you want to see for the long-term.”

In theory, heck yeah, I’m with you. Why get dragged through long pointless dates if one of you knows it’s just not right? But the truth is, sometimes we’re off our game on the first date. Sometimes we’re caught up in the awkwardness and nervousness. Sometimes you don’t get deep enough to get to the crucial heart of the person you’re with after twenty-odd minutes of small talk. Jeff was already sold on them (well, the clients were going to pay him after all), but the clients wanted a second date. So he reluctantly went. In his case it worked out. In real life, second chances can make all the difference, too!

Jenni gets her happy on (from

Jenni got her happy on (from

Lesson #2: It’s okay to get really excited—and really sad—about being single. Jenni, Jeff’s newly divorced assistant (and co-star, really), is on a new quest this season: for love. And this week, she had some big highs and big lows. First, there were moments of laugh-y excitement about a potential set-up. Later in the show, she was let down when it didn’t go through, and had a soggy-eyed moment as she helped taste-test someone else’s wedding cake. (Ugh, right?) But Jenni’s doing it right on both counts, because looking for love is like a magnified version of life: Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, but the important thing is that you feel passionately on both sides of the spectrum. It takes heart to find love, so let yourself feel it all!

Lesson #3: If you plan for failure, you’ll get it. A new character this season is Rachel, a years-old friend of Jeff’s now working as his second assistant. But things aren’t looking like she’ll be able to handle much more of the job, and she blames Jeff’s keen eye for flaws—i.e. she feels that Jeff keeps his eyes peeled for what is going wrong, which brings the wrong out. I feel like you’re almost set up to fail with that sort of thing,” said Rachel.“Something’s bound to go wrong, especially if someone’s gunning for something to go wrong. When you ask for mistakes or when you assume there will be, there usually will be.”

She’s really onto something, so listen up! It’s kind of like when you’re driving and you point to something on the side of the road…and then realize you’re accidentally steering right toward it? In life, we can’t help but follow our focus. If all you see at the finish line is failure, you’ll run right through the rope. Ta-daaaa, you lose! So if you want to win, you have to see success at the end of the road.

Lesson #4: Brown-er salsa is better than the regular red kind. It really is, you know. Jeff threw a minor fit that Rachel only brought home four brown salsas from Baja Fresh instead of ten, and I know why. The brown salsa is the best kind! Not just at Baja Fresh, but anywhere. I think they add some smoked peppers in those, or more pepper maybe. But Jeff’s right. Always get extra brown salsa. If nothing else, that’ll make you smile.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

“Do you mainly write for females or are there guys like me on the fringe looking in? Just curious, but I find I relate to a woman’s perspective in regards to love and life a lot easier than any of the ridiculous advice from my male friends.” —J.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

What, puking up the pint of whiskey your friends encouraged you to drink isn’t helping take your mind off that girl, J? Short answer to your question, I write for females and guys. Though I suppose the HOT! PINK! color prevalent on the site might lead you to suspect otherwise. But my background is in working with both women and men: I spent four years editing at Maxim magazine, another three as an editor at Glamour, then I hosted a talk radio show for a couple years on the Sirius Maxim channel…and I’m now using my experience with both genders to write about love and dating universally.

The way I see it, men and women are the alike in two big ways: We both get the lunch scared out of us on the way down the Freefall ride at amusement parks. And we both want to be loved. It’s that simple. And if your guy friends are not up for getting down to the heart of it, then I definitely encourage you to check in here—and with your female friends—to feed the part of you that wants to go a little deeper. We women dig men who are in tune with their emotions and know what they want in a relationship. And I, for one, am happy to help you do that. And I hope my posts speak to you that way.

So any of you other guys out there who think you’re on “the fringe,” just know that I’m here for you, too!

If Life %*!&ing Blows One Day…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

…well, you’re allowed to curse your a** off about about it. Encouraged, even. Why? Because science says so!

Bleeptimism at it's best

Bleeptimism at it's best

Thank Richard Stephens, a professor of psychology at Keele University in the U.K., who published a study last month in NeuroReport that found profanity eases your pain.

Here’s how it worked: The study had participants put their hands in buckets of ice-cold water, and measured how long they could keep their hand in, and how much pain they were able to endure. The catch? They told half the group to repeat a curse word frequently and as loudly as they wanted; the other half were told to utter banal, neutral words. The result? The cursers were able to keep their hands in the ice water for 40 percent longer and reported feeling less pain than those talking about, say, toast.

Cursing, Stephens found, raises the heart rate, and induces a fight-or-flight response, which, as The Week explained it, “temporarily mutes the sensation of pain, so we can respond quickly to a threat.”

Now, the pain the study talked about was physical, it made their knuckles ache. But in my opinion, the words that ease the pain in your hands may also help ease the pain in your heart or spirit on a given day. I mean, hell, I’ve been there when a man I loved told me he just wanted to be friends. I’ve been there when a guy I liked turned away from me and hooked right up with someone else. And in life, I’ve had projects fall through, payments not come, and failing technology destroy ten hours of a good day in four seconds flat. And that pain is not imagined; that’s real hurt, real anger, real heartbreak. So if cursing helps lessen the pain—even for a few seconds—and gets you that much closer to taking the weight of a bad moment off your shoulders, I say let loose! (Provided you’ve first scanned the area for superiors or small children.)

So for those of you worrying that too much “cheerfulness” is required to be optimistic about life and love, fear not…cursing like Gordon Ramsey can help you get there, too. So go ahead, you have my bleeping—I mean, my blessing.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4