Eat your heart out!

Cheering each other on


Hope is like Chili

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

The other day, I was shopping for ingredients to make some chili. I was having trouble finding one ingredient—I’ve been seeing so many TV chefs using smoked paprika, I thought it might be good in a chili—and after a few trips up and down the aisles, I was losing hope. I started thinking about hope in general. And how we all feel like we’re losing it now and then.

Mmmm. My smoked paprika chili was delish! (Image: Amy Spencer)

Hope, in a way, is like cooking up a hot chili on a cool fall day. If you feel like you’re losing hope, let me say this: First, you’re not alone. We all feel that sometimes. Especially in dating when love sometimes seems so ungraspable.

But second, you can get your hope back. And you do it the same way you’d make that chili. You make a concerted effort. The same way you’d go to the grocery store for meat and kidney beans, you can find the ingredients of hope within yourself.

Do it by thinking about the times in life you thought you’d never get through. Remember the heartbreak you got over? Remember the first day of work you survived? Remember that friend of yours you were so mad at, you thought you’d never get over it? Feelings change. Time passes. Hearts heal. And this is what you’re going to remember as you build up your hope again.

You’ve gotten what you wanted in life before and you can get it again now. I found the smoked paprika (and it was a delicious addition). And if you dig deep enough, look in the right places, and ask for some help to lead you in the right direction, you can find your hope, too. Like chili, it can really help on a cold, lonely day.

You might also like:
Learn, Live, Hope

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,

Take the Menu Challenge!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

When I was single, I started to worry that I was becoming so set in my ways—what I liked to eat, what time I liked going to bed—I’d have a hard time finding a person to fit into them. After all, the older we get, the more we like things the way we like ’em.

Try something new to show you're open to new

Try something new to show you're open to new

This is natural and healthy, it’s called figuring out who you are. But there is something to the idea that if you keep doing exactly the same thing every single day, you may have a hard time seeing the possibility of a new life with someone else. So here’s an OPTIMISM ASSIGNMENT for you: Order something different off the menu at the place you go to all the time.

I know, I know, you love the chopped salad with the goat cheese. And me, I have the hardest time not ordering the shredded beef Szechuan at my Chinese place. But the thing is, ordering the same thing all the time at the same place is a sign that you may be falling into all sorts of predictable patterns in your life. The same walk home. The same drink out. The same shows on TiVo. But love, as we know, is not predictable. So today, practice doing something unpredictable as a symbol that you are open to new things! To new people, to new dates, to new interests, to a new life with a new partner who’ll make you smile every single morning you wake up—no matter what time you went to bed. Take the menu challenge and see it as a step toward opening up even more for the great relationship you’re meant to have.

You might also like:
The Coffee Test
The Freakin’ Fun Dating List

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

Gorge Yourself On Good Things!

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The other night, I went to one of my favorite places to eat: the Brazilian churrascaria Fogo de Chao.

Whatever your pleasure, feast on it.

Whatever your pleasure, feast on it.

I’m a meat girl in the grandest sense (I’ve ordered chicken for dessert before. Seriously.) And every now and then, I like to be able to have as much meat as I want in as many options as possible, from the pichanha to the lamb chop to the filet mignon to the pork loin, all on one big plate. I apologize to the vegetarians who find this unappealing, but the fact is, when I like something, once in a while, I want to gorge on it. And I realized that really? We should do this in life, too.



What’s Your Black Jewell?

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Today, I got one of my favorite packages in the mail: My new supply of popcorn kernels. (And yes, I realize I talked about popcorn yesterday, too. I can’t help it…it’s my vice!)

There's a jewel within every person you meet

What's the jewel in the next person you meet? (Note: This isn't black kernel popcorn, though it still looks good!)

Since I get bored with your average everyday yellow corn kernel I mix it up by getting various kinds of kernels, from ruby red to purple to dwarf whites. But my absolute favorite? Black Jewell, a tiny kernel that pops into a miniature piece of super-crunchy, nutty-flavored, snow white popcorn. (There are lots of other black or even midnight blue kernels, too, and they’re all worth trying.) Yet I wouldn’t have known about Black Jewell were it not for my friend Yvonne who was making some one night when I “popped” over to her place. After just one bite, my life changed just that much for the better.

Well, guess what? Life is full of little moments like this that can change your life for the better and we often have other people to thank for showing us the light. Remember that: Everyone you meet in life is there to teach you something—if, that is, you’re open to figuring out what.

I remember the first person who played me Nina Simone and the first person who fed me something with cilantro in it (after which I apparently screeched to my friend, “It tastes like dish soap, you have to try it!”). I’m sure your life list is equally full of experiences you would have missed out on had you not been open to trying it, tasting it, listening to it, or giving it a shot.

If you’re looking for a relationship, now’s the best time to open your eyes, your ears and your heart and pay attention to what people can teach you. Maybe you learn about a new something, or maybe you learn a new something about yourself. Don’t get so caught up in reaching the finish line of the right relationship that you don’t notice all the great stuff you can learn along the way! And the truth is, if you start looking around you instead of straight ahead, you might find that the right relationship is standing next to you trying to get your attention.

Love isn’t all about getting to the finish line. It’s about finding the Black Jewells along the way—the things that will make your life a little sweeter and make you sing a little louder. So pay attention today: If you’re open to it, you might find something that changes your life even that much for the better.

You might also like:
Man Advice From a 1943 Classic? You Bet!

Big love and happy popping,

Amy Signature 4