At the movies

Cheering each other on


Two Surprisingly Simple Vogue Dating Tips

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It was a happy day in our household this week. Why? We just got Apple TV so we could easily watch our streaming Netflix on the big screen. Huh. Guess our 1000 cable channels, On Demand options, Netflix DVDs and the 1 Terabyte hard drive full of movies and TV episodes Gustavo’s friend Mike gave us wasn’t enough to watch. In any case, it’s already paying off.

Dating advice from this documentary? Who knew?

I finally got to see The September Issue, which has been on my “to see” list for a year now. You know the film, right? It’s the documentary about the making of Vogue magazine’s September 2007 issue. It follows all the major players, including editor in chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington. And I was so taken by the talents and attitude of Grace that I wanted to share two things she said in the film that can help you in your love journey as a dating optimist. Your two very Vogue tips for love:

1. Embrace being a romantic!

When Grace was in Paris for work, she took a side trip to the Palace of Versailles. As she looked out into the garden, she quietly took in the view and said this:

“It’s beautiful. I think I got left behind somewhere because I’m, you know, still a romantic.”

I meet so many people—women especially—who scoff at the word “romantic.” Heck, I was one of those women. I used to say I didn’t want cliché flowers and dinners on Valentine’s Day, that I didn’t want a nice engagement ring, that I wasn’t about holding hands and using nicknames and showing PDA and other ooey gooey love stuff. But now that I’m with my half-orange, I’ve realized something: Believing “romantic” doesn’t mean you embrace Hallmark cards and candlelight dinners. It means you’re open to life and open to love. I think the more “romantic” you are in life, the greater your opportunity to have love.

How can you be a romantic in life? Believe in hope, believe that there is vulnerability and love in all of us and that bad situations can be handled by shifting our perspective and embracing the good within it. Believe in quiet moments where you listen to birds chirp and smell fresh cut grass and feel the wind on your face. Believe that even a bad date can be salvaged by finding what’s worthy or interesting or hilarious about the person you’re with or the situation you’re in. And believe that you—that we all—deserve a great love in life, a teammate to travel the journeys of life with. Be a romantic. Find what’s beautiful at the Palace of Versailles or the view from your own front door, and be open to the beautiful experiences life has to offer.

2. Forget about perfect—we’re meant to be different!

After Grace styled a “color blocking” fashion shoot that featured a profile shot of the documentary cameraman Bob, Anna Wintour apparently looked at his little belly in the printout of the shot and joked to him that he needed to go to the gym. When Bob told Grace this, she scoffed. This is what she said:

“Personally, I think it’s better that you’re not, like, skinny skinny. I really do. To me, it much more makes the point that you’re real people and not models. Everybody isn’t perfect in this world. I mean, it’s enough that the models are perfect. You don’t need to go to the gym.”

There again, Grace nails it. There’s enough “perfect” out there with all the Photoshopped ads, plastic-surgery pumped up people, and graphically enhanced characters we’re faced with every day. Our aim in life shouldn’t be to mimic that. We’re all different and we’re all meant to be different.

So if you find yourself grumbling about some physical aspect of yourself that you worry no one will love (that mole, those toes, that crooked tooth) remember that your half-orange isn’t looking for a picture of perfection. Your half-orange is looking for a fun, fabulous life-affirming love. With you. Yes, stay healthy, live your best life. But you don’t need to work off or Photoshop out every “flaw” you think you have. Your half-orange is going to love you just the way you are.

You might also like:
Love Yourself Big C Style

Big love,


Dolphins, Moose and Dating

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

The other night, my husband told a guy he knew that we were heading to Japan soon. (We’re going Sunday and I’m stoked!) The man shook his head, and said, “Have you seen The Cove?”

A photo of a diver with gorgeous dolphins from

“Not yet,” said Gustavo.

“Oh man,” the guy said of the film that won the Best Documentary Oscar this year. “It’s so messed up. Watching those Japanese fishermen slaughtering those dolphins made me lose respect for them. I can’t go to Japan now after seeing that.”

“It’s really sad,” said Gustavo, “I hear ya.” They stood there for a second taking in the weight of it.

“So,” said Gustavo, changing the subject. “What are you up to this weekend?”

“I have the best plans,” said the guy. “My friends and I are going elk and moose hunting!”

Okay. So. I know this topic is sensitive and we could debate the “We eat cows, they eat dolphins” and “Why do we eat any animals at all” topic until we’re blue in the face. But what I want to focus on right now is not the debate, but that this guy did not recognize the mixed message he was sending: After a rant about how bad it is to kill one animal, he was setting out to kill another one!

I was blown away by his blindness until I realized how much we all speak in mixed messages in more subtle ways.

If you’re single, you may have said at some point, “Dating sucks. All guys/girls are jerks. Ugh, I’m so over it.” And yet if I asked you why you were dating, you probably would have said, “To have a happy, fulfilling, wonderful relationship in love.” In its own way, those two ideas are like the dolphin and the moose. You want a happy, uplifting, loving relationship, and yet you’re growling about how sucky everything is with a scowl on your face? Talk about a mixed message.

Don’t think you can complain about being single or sarcastically groan about dating or roll your eyes and mock the whole thing…and then hope that your secret desire for a bright happy relationship will come! Nuh-uh. Life doesn’t work like that. You have to be the part you want to be.

You only get the promotion when you talk positively about how much you want it. You only get picked for the football play when you tell your fellow players you’re confident you can pull it off. You only get the loan when you convince the lender you have every positive intention of paying it back. And in love, you only get a happy, wonderful, loving relationship when you positively express that you actually want one!

Whether you’re talking about dolphins and moose or talking about what you want out of life, look at the message you’re sending. Do your words match your intentions? Because your words need to match your intentions! If you’re talking about how much dating sucks, it will suck. Un-mix your message and start talking about what you want. I’m going to finish watching The Cove on my TiVo and try to do the same.

You might also like:
If You Think You’re Happy…
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Big love,

My 4 Favorite Love Lessons from “Eat Pray Love”

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Ate Popcorn, Learned, Loved

I was a little behind the eight ball on seeing Eat Pray Love, but I finally got armed with a large bucket of popcorn and saw it. Sure, it was a little cliché here and there, but I thought Julia Roberts playing Liz was adorable and gorgeous, and the message about taking control of your destiny (like I wrote about in The Tightrope Walk of Negative Thinking) was spot on.

I suppose there are small subtle SPOILERS here, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, take heed. Here are my four favorite lessons:

1. Eating for your inside is more important than starving for your outside. I love love loved the scene in the pizza place in Naples where Liz and her friend Sofie are about to chow down on a pie. When Liz worries it’ll make her fatter, Liz goes on a rant about how sick she is of people holding back on the good things for fear of gaining weight. Then she says something like: Right now we’ll enjoy this, and tomorrow we’ll go buy bigger jeans. I feel like it’s a lesson that pertains to so much more than eating. It’s about taking in all good things, splurging with life a little. So what if the hot coffee barista who asked you out is ten years younger? If you’re single with no other commitments, live a little. Right now, enjoy the date and tomorrow you can get back on the serious relationship train. Eat all the pizzas and Napoleans and full-fat lattes of life!

2. Ashram statues don’t have all the answers. It took Richard from Texas to remind Liz that she’s not going to find all her answers in the meditation room in India; we have to find the answers within ourselves. Obvious? Yes. Worth repeating? Hells yeah. It’s like writing, too: People say that if they could only get away to some magical, inspiring place, then they’ll be able to start writing; but writing doesn’t come from the place, it comes from inside. So if you find yourself stalling instead of dealing with an issue that may be, say, holding you back from intimacy, stop looking everywhere else but at yourself. You are where change begins.

3. Bali is freaking beautiful. I don’t know about you, but I’ve put it on my list of Must-See places to visit.

4. Sometimes, it’s okay to pray. I say sometimes because many people don’t pray and for those people, I want to say; it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what God you choose—Catholic, Hindu, or an energy of the universe you want to call God—but sometimes life feels hard enough that it’s time to put your problems and your choices in someone or something else’s hands. This is why I was so moved by the scene before Liz ended her marriage, when she gave it up to God and asked for guidance. Marianne Williamson encourages doing this, and as uncomfortable as the idea might feel for you, if life seems heavy and hard and you cannot see an end to the pain or pressures, sit down, get quiet, and pray for an answer. Let guidance come to you.

You might also like:
Julie & Julia: Your Optimism Gurus!
3 L
ove Lessons from It’s Complicated

Big love,

What’s YOUR Star Wars Mug?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

My husband loves his Star Wars mug. To me, it’s a bit of an eyesore. To my husband, it’s the bright spot in his day, a flashback to his youth, the best coffee vessel on earth.

We all have our own "Star Wars mug." (Image: Amy Spencer)

As I was cleaning the dishes the other day and putting away the helmet, I smiled for the first time when I looked at it. And the reason I came up with what that I was reminded how important it is to value the little things you may not love that your partner holds dear—and know there are plenty of things about us that they hold dear, too.

He, for instance, puts up with the fact that four days out of seven, I’ve filled the room with the scent of fresh-popped corn. He miraculously doesn’t seem to mind that I always want a bite of his food, even when I swear I’m so full I could die. He hasn’t left me over how much I hate doing laundry. And I know my obsession with chairs has become an issue when I realize the Louis XIV chair I was “going to reupholster this week” has been sitting in the laundry room for over a year. So the teeny tiny Star Wars mug? I mean, geez, loving it is the least I could do.

I guess I’m saying this is worth remembering as you date. You know, maybe we should focusing on that stuff as soon as we meet somebody (“He plays Fantasy Football, for goodness’ sake!”) and think, instead, how lucky we might be if they’d be open and easygoing enough to take the stuff we dole out. We all have our personal Star Wars mug. I have a lot of them. And I know I’m lucky to have found someone to appreciate them all. In your dating life, too, may the force learn to love it.

So…what’s your Star Wars mug? Come on, I know you have one!

You might also like:
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Big love,

There’s No Bliss Without the Pain!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It’s probably more likely that you women will know about the film I’m about to mention, but I found a love lesson in it that’s worth passing on to all of you.

Filmmakers Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake

Filmmakers Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake

The movie? Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born. It’s an incredible documentary film about childbirth and how hospitals handle it in our culture these days. I watched it a few months ago, and came across it recently. And this time, I was moved by the words of one female expert, who said this about natural childbirth compared to a surgical C-section that I wanted to pass on.

“You get the highest oxytocin rush you’ll ever have in your life when you give birth naturally. You will go into an altered state of consciousness, and in a kind of a state of “Yes, there’s bliss” and “Yes, there’s pain” and it’s all tied up together and you cannot have the bliss without the pain.”

Now, I haven’t had a kid yet and would like to, and after seeing this film, the idea of natural childbirth sounds amazing—but, hey, we’ll see what happens when those labor pains start hitting and like every other woman, I want to shout “Get the druuuuuugs!”

But this isn’t a post about childbirth. This is a post about dating. Because there is no C-section for dating. There is no magical, surgical, pain-free version of finding love. Dating is a natural process we all have to struggle through to make it to the other side and find love. And yes, there’s bliss and yes, there’s pain, and it’s all tied up together. You cannot have one without the other. Without a little heartbreak or rejection by the wrong person, how would you ever be freed up for the right one?

banner240x400So just remember that if you feel a little pain coming. It’s like labor. It’ll come in spurts, and it’ll hurt, but it’s all a sign that at the end of that road is a blissful, incredible loving relationship that is so worth it—that sends such a rush of oxytocin through your body and soul—that you won’t remember a lick of the pain it took to get you there. The bliss makes it all worth it.

You might also like:
Embrace Your Embarrassments!
Time to Un-do an Un-Relationship?

Big love,

Amy Signature 4