Being yourself

Cheering each other on


Singles, Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The other day, I was trying to get a spark going in our fire pit, when a friend of mine stopped me and said, “Here’s what you’re doing wrong…” I found myself stiffen a bit, a precursory defense, steadying myself for the blow. It turns out I wasn’t pulling the butane lighter’s saftey back while I was pressing the flame button. A simple fix. Too bad all of life isn’t that easy, right—especially in dating. Well, maybe it is.

Are you tying yourself up in knots with the negatives?

Are you tying yourself up in knots with the negatives?

I realized after fixing my butane button issue that hearing “Here’s what you’re doing wrong” is enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and pay attention. This isn’t easy for me to do that for you: I’m a dating optimist. My first book, Meeting Your Half-Orange, is all about loving who you are and being authentically, gloriously happy in your own skin while you focus all your energy on how you want to feel in your ideal relationship. Which is to say I believe every “single” person is uniquely awesome and that you’re not doing anything “wrong.”

But if you’re killing yourself trying to come up with the end-all reason for why you’re still frustratingly single, the fact is, you are doing something wrong. And to be all “meta” about it, here’s what it is:

What you’re doing wrong is that you’re focusing on what you’re doing wrong.

What you focus on, you see, is everything. And that’s because what you choose to focus on actually affects the neuronal pathways in your brain, which affects how you perceive the world and how the world perceives you. The scientific term in play is neuroplasticity, and I explain how it all works in relation to dating and love in Half-Orange. It is utterly fascinating stuff and it’s no joke!

If you’re single and focusing on “what you’re doing wrong,” then it’s all you’ll see, and it’s all your brain will store in its implicit memory. In other word, it’s time to stop the cycle. Today, focus on what’s right—and only what’s right. Just for today, at least, don’t think about how old you are, or how long you’ve been single, or what past boyfriends or girlfriends or spouses have said about you for a minute. That’s all irrelevant. All that matters is who you are right now, this minute. And if you can look at what’s right about your dating life, you can change what ensues from this minute on.

So do this for me: List three things that you’re doing right, right this minute:




Visualize what you’d write in those blank spots—the awesome things you’re doing that are spot-on. Maybe how you’re giving it a shot with dates you’re not 100% on, because you’re open to seeing what might happen. Maybe how you’ve come to love a physical aspect about yourself—a mole, a height, a curve—and will settle for nothing less than a partner who loves you for it. Maybe how you’ve mastered making tapenade and can’t wait to show it off.

Fill in those blanks your own way. If you don’t, well, that’s what you’re doing wrong. You owe it to yourself and to your love life to give yourself positive props every single day. The more right you see, the less wrong your life will feel, and the better the energy you’ll be putting out there for your wonderful other half to come find you. It’s an easy fix: Pull back the safety and push the right button, and you’ll light the spark you’re working on, too.

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Whaddaya Doin’ New Year’s Eve?

Big love and happy listing,

Amy Signature 4




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:
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Big love,

Listen to the Older, Wiser You

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Man I’ve had a crazy month. Traveling through Costa Rica, finishing my second book, spending a week with my parents visiting from the East Coast, writing some new magazine stories, dealing with some personal stuff…I’m sorry I haven’t had time to squeeze in posting on here! But I found something online I loved so much, I couldn’t help but get back in the blogging game to post it for you here.

Take a look at the letter one person wrote to their younger self:

I stumbled across it on, oh yeah, StumbleUpon. (Um, hello, did you know they have an App now? It’s awesome.) This quote is from the site Dear Young Me that’s also on Twitter (@DearYoungMe). The gist? People submit notes they want to write to their younger selves, full of the advice they wish they’d known then.

I love this particular letter because it’s something I wish I told myself, too! When I graduated from college, some of my friends were already planning their weddings. Four years later, another batch of gals got married. And with every wedding, the “singles table” got smaller—but I was always sitting there, without fail, wondering when my time would come. I kept worrying: Why aren’t I getting married like everyone else? What’s taking my love so long to come?

Well, now that I’ve found my half-orange, I know the answers. I know why I wasn’t getting married back then: Nothing was as good then as it is with Gus! And I know what took my love so long: He and I both had to grow into the people we are today, who could appreciate and love one another for who we were, fully formed, confident and happy.

Don’t worry about everyone else’s timeline! Suck it up, shell out money for their wedding presents, and sit back with confidence. Know that your love will come when it’s good and ready, so you may as well enjoy the singles table at their weddings. Make the most of it! Live up these weeks and years, because you won’t be single forever. And when you’re finally hitched, you’ll want to write a letter to your younger self begging that you appreciate what you have right now.

Browse through Dear Young Me for more inspiration. My advice:

1. Write your own letter to your dearest younger you so you can see how far you’ve come in life and love. I mean, really, look what you’ve learned! Look at the people you know well enough not to date anymore. Look at the lessons you’ve learned about yourself, about what you like, appreciate, can tolerate. And…

2. Really listen to those who have lessons to pass on from an older, wiser place. Sometimes it’s best to learn our own lessons in life. But sometimes, hearing what someone who’s been through it has to say can really help.

Think of what you’d tell your younger self. Then, listen to the older, wiser you. And take your own advice!

You might also like:
Letters to Your Future Husband


Big love,

The Apple Tree Dating Theory

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I found this cute image on StumbleUpon, which I’ve finally stumbled upon as a fabulous way to procrastinate. And the story it tells is a great way to look at why, perhaps, you’re not yet being chosen by the people you like. Consider it the Apple Tree Dating Theory. And while it’s written about girls who like boys, I think this is true of anyone in dating—men or women—and whoever it is they seek to date—men or women. You’re quality, people.

Now, I don’t know who made it, but I got it from this StumbleUpon link if you want to check it out.

Like the image says, you’re amazing. And you will be picked by the right one who’d brave enough to make the climb.

You might also like:
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Big love,



Want Some “Be Yourself” Inspiration? This is IT.

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The other night, I met some girlfriends at the Nuart Theater in L.A. to see the film Bill Cunningham New York. My fashion-minded friend Kerry suggested the idea, and God bless her for it. It’s amazing. Run, don’t walk, to try to find it at a theater near you. And if you can’t, put it on your Netflix wish list today.

Bill Cunningham is the photographer who shoots and compiles the On the Street page for The New York Times Style section each week as well as “Evening Hours.” And if you don’t know him (as I didn’t), well, he’s not who you’d expect to be on the pulse of fashion trends.

Bill is 80 years old (or just past that), spent the last few decades of his life living in a small box of a studio room at Carnegie hall with the bathroom in the hallway, and rides his bicycle through New York to capture what he sees. The reason I loved this film so much wasn’t in the fashion, it was in the heart of Bill Cunningham. He’s the rare breed of a person full of heart, truth, passion for his life and work, and a truly honest and good soul. I cried a few times in the film not because anything sad happened, but because I was moved by how good a person he was.

How will seeing this film help your dating life? It’s a call to live your life as your authentic self. If you want to live in a box, do it. If you want to ride a bike to work, do it. If you want to wear a blue jacket every day for the rest of your life, do it. And if you want to be like Bill’s favorite subjects who wear purple feathers and polka dot suits and show-stopping hats for a stroll down the street, do it. Be who you are, follow your passions, and live your life as only you can. If you want to go for breakfast on a date instead of a dinner, do it. If you want to order dessert for an appetizer, do it. If you want to skip away from a good date as happy as can be, do it. And if you’re on a date with an obnoxious cad and you want to get up from your stool and say, “You know what? It’s been an experience meeting you, but I have some friends to go see,” do that, too.

Bill lives life his own quirky wonderful way, spending his days and nights celebrating true authenticity. He finds beauty in being yourself. As he said in a speech at a gala given in his honor in France:

“It’s the same today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty will find it.”

Go see Bill Cunningham New York and let it inspire you, too.

Big love,