Archive for March, 2012


10 Ways to Look on the Bright Side of Dogstruction

Friday, March 30th, 2012

My friend Beth recently launched a hilarious website called that documents the over-the-top messes our dogs make of our lives.

It’s based on the formula that while you love your pet (or, child or partner or roommate), your pet happens to love your couch, toilet paper, your remote control and your most expensive shoes.

But you know what? There’s a bright side to the dogstruction our doggies make in our lives, too. To prove it, I created a top ten list for Beth to share with her readers—and now I want to share it with you, too!

And whether you have a dog or not, maybe you can see the bright side of your children’s or partner’s mess, too! And so I bring you…

10 Ways to Look on the Bright Side of Dogstruction

1. Remember, the amount of your doggie’s damage is in proportion to how much your dog loves you and wants to be out of that room and hanging with you. So that’s a lot of love.

2. Flip-flop it: That ruined door will make great firewood, after all, and the hole in the drywall? Well, you were looking for the perfect opportunity to put in an outlet in that corner….

3. If doggie didn’t mess stuff up, your house would always look just as you left it. Yawn. How boring is that?

4. The truth is, those blinds/cushions/walls weren’t worthy of you—they being an hour or more old already. Really, you deserve to get (yet another) brand new version of it.

5. Okay, you’re looking at all that your dog destroyed. But then, look at what he or she didn’t destroy. Chances are there’s something else in that room you can be grateful survived your dog’s wrath! This time, anyway.

6. Well, the worse the damage, the better the story to share at your next party. Hey, if you’re really lucky, maybe your dog will destroy your bedroom and laundry room next time!

7. True art is one of a kind, right? Well, enjoy your new art. No one has a bench or window or crate or toy that looks exactly like that, with the stamp of your “artist’s” teeth and paws all over it.

8. Technically, it is just stuff. Stuff you loved, but still, it’s just stuff. At least your true heart and soul—that dog of yours—is safe and okay.

9. Be honest: Did you have something better to photograph and put online to make your friends laugh this week?

10. Sigh. Look at that guilty face. Look at that adorable guilty face. You know you love it. Because despite the maddening dogstruction in your home, your life is so much better with your doggie—or kid or partner—in it.

Check out the hilarious—or Google photos of the messes other people have had to clean up. Because, really, nothing puts your mess in perspective faster than knowing someone else has had it worse.

Big love,

9 Ways to Like Yourself More

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

People say you have to love yourself, right? But sometimes, life with ourselves is a little like dating: Not only are we not feelin’ the love, we don’t even like ourselves. Well, here are ten ideas that can help set off that spark and get you crushing on the best person in the room: you.

Get out there and celebrate what you love about you! (Image: Amy Spencer)

To help you start liking yourself a little more…

1. Show off your best feature. Yep, we’re good at groaning about the worst ones, but what’s the best? Your calves? Your eyebrows? Your hips? Your hair? Whatever you know you’ve got going on, show it the heck off.

2. Decide what battle you would win. I wouldn’t win Jeopardy. Or a marathon. But put me head to head in a who-can-eat-the-most-popcorn battle, and I’ll win. Me and popcorn, we’re a sure thing! Now, I don’t think anyone’s hosting this competition, but I like to picture my trophy in it anyway. Do the same thing. What battle would you win? Smoothest moonwalk? Loudest laugh? Best scrambled eggs? Who-can-lip-sync-to-every-song-on-Men-at-Work’s-Business-as-Usual album? Put your imaginary trophy on your imaginary mantle and shine it up every now and then.

3. Talk back to yourself like a crazy person. By which I mean, have an out loud conversation with yourself about what you don’t like about yourself and why those reasons are ridiculous. If you get down on yourself thinking, “I hate myself for my extra twenty pounds,” that reason might rear itself every time you get dressed. But hearing yourself say that out loud, you can hear why it’s a stupid reason not to like yourself. So tell yourself that out loud. “Self, you are awesome and people like you.” Talk yourself out of your own nonsense. It’s the most non-crazy thing you can do.

4. Give yourself a fair mirror glance. Mirrors are funny things. Yes, they reflect an image of you in that moment, in that light, from that angle. But they’re not a true reflection of what everyone else in life sees when they see you. So give yourself the benefit of seeing yourself the way others do—usually just a quick glance on the sidewalk or sitting a couple of feet away over coffee. I mean, think about it: Those moments you lean into the mirror to analyze your wrinkles or pluck gray hairs from an inch away…who do you see during the day who looks at you that closely? No one. Not even a spouse or partner looks at you as closely as you look at yourself! (Well, my cat Guinness does, but she’s just hoping a piece of tuna drops on my forehead, so that doesn’t count.) So give yourself a realistic reflection in the next mirror you pass: Walk up to it, smile your truest smile for two or three seconds, then turn and go. There. Didn’t you look nice? Admit it: You’d like you. You’re just the kind of person you’d want to run into a sunny afternoon.

5. Have one good hair day. One day, wake up early and really do your hair. If your hair is hopeless in your own hands, pay to get a blow-out for a day for fun. Or, get your hair cut into a style that will give you more good hair days more often. For whatever reason, we are undeniably happier with ourselves when our hair looks good. Give yourself a great hair day and get back in touch with those “Hey, I like me!” feelings.

6. Do something that will make you proud of yourself. My husband and I spend most nights before we go to sleep reading side-by-side in bed. Recently, he’s been picking up the classics like Old Man and the SeaThe Great Gatsby, and Huckleberry Finn, so I’ve been reading them again, too. And you know what? I feel like a million bucks every time I finish one. There’s something about closing the back cover of a book that’s stood the test of time for five decades (and still holds up!) that makes me swell up inside with pride. Mostly because it balances out the time I spend scrolling through Facebook and watching episodes of Bait Car or The Dog Whisperer as if life didn’t have more to offer than this. In between the silly stuff, do something that will make you feel proud of yourself and accomplished. Sew on a button. Paint your bedroom. Plant some rosemary. Learn two chords on the guitar. Give yourself an easy reason to like yourself today.

7. See how your “flaws” can be your strengths. Often, we don’t like some aspect of our personality because we think it’s holding us back. But maybe, in reality, this aspect can also move us forward. If you don’t like that you’re quiet or shy, remember that you’re probably listening and taking in more than the talkers are, and that can be an even more valuable position than someone yapping away. Like your “flaws” for the awesome stuff they can actually give you.

8. Make a list of what you’re good at. And that list can include anything. I’m not talking about skills you get paid for, I’m talking about kitchen accomplishments and party tricks. You know what’s on my list? I’m a superfast reader. I make a delicious gumbo. I can eat a small Dominoes pizza all by myself. I can do a lot of sit-ups. (Mind you, I can’t do a single “boy” push-up, but sit-ups? I’m your girl.) And let’s not forget this one: I can find the positive in absolutely anything. Make this list for yourself. Number a page from one to twenty—heck, from one to fifty, and then start filling it in. Then, look at that list! It’s a reminder that your life isn’t for nothing. You’ve been learning something every single day and you’ve become good at a lot of things—both physically and emotionally—that you should be darn proud of. Just remind yourself.

9. See yourself through your loved ones eyes. Think about the person who loves you more than anyone. Maybe that’s your mom or dad or sibling. Maybe it’s your dog or cat. Maybe it’s your best friend you text with two dozen times daily. Well, for one minute, see yourself the way they do. What do they love about you most? You should be liking yourself for that very same reason.

Those are just nine ways I thought of to start with. Have any of them worked for you? And what else works? Do you have any tricks or mantras or moments when you fall “in like” with yourself all over again? What makes you like you?

Before anyone else can like you—in work, in friendships, in love—you must like you. You have to think you’re the bomb-diggity, good, kind, awesome, proud owner of yourself. Hopefully, some of these ideas will nudge you back there when you need it.

You might also like:
10 Ways to Get to the Heart of People


Big love,

TODAY’S HAPPINESS HOW-TO: Mold Your Life Like Clay

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Paint your doors and plant your trees. Your world is how you decide to mold it. (Image by Amy Spencer; French Quarter, New Orleans, 2011)

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”

I know one thing about clay: If you don’t pick it up and mold it into something, it sits like a lump on the table until someone picks it up or throws it away. Well, our lives are a lot like that clay. If we don’t pick it up and proactively shape what we want for ourselves, who knows what it will become?

Sometimes, I know, it feels like life is happening to us and that we’re mere pawns in the game: The boss gives us an assignment we hate having to do. Some drama goes down with a good friend. Our rent goes up. Our back goes out. A date doesn’t write us back online like we hoped they would.“Why is this happening to me?” we ask our life. “Why are you making it so hard?”

Yes, things happen to us. But we also have an extremely powerful tool to bring to the art table of life: We have the ability to shape our lives by the choices we make and the attitude we present. How?

Try this: Mold each day this week like a piece of clay. Approach that dreaded job assignment with the goal of learning something new. Tell your friend how you feel from the bottom of your heart. Turn your hobby into an inventive way to make cash to cover the rent increase. Use the time you’re laid out in bed with back problems catching up on the good books you keep meaning to read. And if your date isn’t writing you back online, delete them from your love plan and start looking again for someone who willlove you back in a big, big way. Make your life what you want it to be or life will do it for you.

Start today: Shape your own clay. Be the kind, positive, even-keeled, productive, loving person you know you can be, and mold your life, hour by hour and day by day into the one you dream of having. Because if you don’t shape your world the way you want it, someone else will.

What do you want to mold going forward today? What area of your life do you want to take control of once and for all?

Big love,

Get the AUDIO edition of Bright Side Up!

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Well, here’s some exciting news: The audio edition of Bright Side Up is now available!

Amy Spencer recording the BRIGHT SIDE UP audio edition

On a few beautiful L.A. days back in December, I headed into the recording studio and read Bright Side Up aloud. It was a fun reminder of my radio days, when I hosted my own show on Sirius/XM radio for the Maxim channel, answering love advice to callers. Me, a microphone and a small soundproofed room? I’m in! The Bright Side Up audio book runs 5 hours and 14 minutes. Buy it here on

Bright Side Up Audible Audio Edition

This will be my very first audio book, and it was such a joy to record. Here’s the studio set-up, with my print out of the book at my spot, and a bottle of water at my side. (And did I go through a lot of it!)

The studio where I recorded the audio edition

And here I am recording the book over three days:


Amy Spencer, recording the audio version of BRIGHT SIDE UP

Maybe the audio edition will be just the thing to listen to on your work commute or while taking an evening walk, so it can give you something positive to think about as you go through your day. The book is broken into 100 small chapters, so you can even treat yourself to one a day to start your morning right. Download your copy and get it on that iPod!

I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I loved recording it!

Big love,

Life Lessons from My Chair Project (Chapter One): What the Heck, It’s Worth a Try

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Now that I’m not writing a book for a hot minute, I’ve decided to take on a task that’s been on my back burner for far too long—four years, to be precise. The project? I’ve been wanting to reupholster a ratty old Bergere chair I found at a thrift shop.

Guinness getting comfy on Project Chair

Those of you who read Bright Side Up or who follow the weekly optimism practices I create in my fun Vitamin Optimism emails know all about this chair already. Despite my big plans to upholster it, we’ve been sorting socks on it in the laundry room since the day we brought it home.

It’s not a major project, but I’ve still put it off for various reasons. There’s my lack of time, lack of skill and fear I’ll make a mess of a good thing among other excuses. But with weekends back on my plate, I’ve decided, what the heck, it’s worth a try. (Plus, Gustavo swore I’d never get around to fixing it up, so now I really have to just to prove him wrong!)

And I’m going take you guys along on the journey with me. Why? First, because putting my plans out there is one way to be sure I stick to them. (Hold me to it, people!) And second, although this is just the story of me and one chair, I think all the projects we take on in life—big and small—take us down a similar emotional path. Whether we’re fixing up a chair, interviewing for a new job, moving to a new city or looking for love after 40, we’ll face similar ups and downs along the way from eagnerness to fear to excitement to self-doubt and, ultimately, to learning and growth. So I think we can learn from each other.

So here’s the chair I’m going to re-do. My chair BEFORE:

BEFORE: My ratty thrift store Bergere chair

I’m using a beautiful natural beige fabric leftover from re-upholstering our couch, and I’m going to leave the frame unstained and unpainted. In fact, here’s what I’m aiming for, which I just found yesterday in a Restoration Hardware catalog. Except their chair costs $995. And mine, well, won’t.

My chair inspiration:

My chair inspiration!

And as for those life lessons? I’m already diving in. Here’s what I’m learning so far:

Lesson #1: It’s okay to admit I’m scared to mess it up. I know if I paid a professional, this chair would look divine. But that’s taking the fun out of why I took it home in the first place! It’s natural to be scared to mess up when we take on something new. But what fun is life if we’re not stepping out onto the ledge every now and then?

Lesson #2: I’ll never get anywhere without just diving in. I have researched and debated this project long enough. If I don’t do this chair today, I never will. The same can be said of a lot of things we put off starting. Whether you want to lose weight  (“I’ll start on Monday”), exercise more (“I need to save enough money to join a gym first”), start dating again (“I just don’t know if I’m ready yet”) or begin a project yourself, enough of the preparing. Dive in with me! Better we give it a shot than keep wondering if we have it in us at all.

Lesson #3: I have to remember that whatever happens, I win. Whatever I do to this chair will make it better than what it looks like now, which is beat up and un-sit-down-on-able. And the same is true for anything we want to get started on. Writing three pages in your Great American Novel is better than writing none at all. Exercising for one day is better than exercising for none. Taking a step forward is positive, whatever becomes of it. (Though if it ends up looking good, where in the world will I lay out all of the mismatched socks in the laundry room from now on?)

So that’s where I’m at for now. What do you think? Does anyone have any advice for me? Whether it’s a survival tip or a how-not-to-kill-myself-while-sewing all that piping tip (or, uh, a how-to-sew-piping-in-the-first-place tip?), let me know! And while I’m taking on this project, do you have something you’ve been putting off that you want to try diving into with me? Tell me what it is, and maybe we can do it together. Here’s to trying new things. What the heck, right? Like most things in life, it’s worth a shot.

Big love,