With a little help from your friends

Cheering each other on


A Brilliant Idea: Joy’s “Thanksgiving List”

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Ooh, I love me other people’s genius ideas.

And today, the credit goes to Joy Meredith, author of the thought-provoking book, My Last Wishes: Life, Love, Laughs & a Few Final Notes.

This week, she wrote a wonderfully brilliant post called “The Thanksgiving List” on her blog Finding Joy, about a tradition she started called her Thanksgiving List. First, she makes a list of all the people in her life she’s thankful for and why. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, she calls and tells them so. Here is the short version of how it works:

“On the morning of Thanksgiving,” writes Joy, “I wake up early, make two Pepperidge Farm cherry turnovers, and begin my calls around 9ish.

Working off my notes I take a moment to get present with my gratitude and then I call my friend Ann (the list is alphabetical) and begin the thanking. It is designed to be a quick call, there are no pleasantries or small talk, it starts: Are you ready? Ok, Ann this is why I am thankful for you this year….”

Joy writes more about it—including how she rarely allows them to thank her back how her friends and family have responded to being on the list. So check out her full post for the story.

But I had to pass this on. Because if you want a loving relationship, you have to live a loving life. I mean, think about it: You can’t live like a hermit with a cold fish attitude who’s not engaging in any warmth of emotion with any family or friends around you, and expect that—Poof!—a loving partner is going to recognize you as their dream girl or guy as you grumble your way forward on the drugstore line with a pack of paper towels. You have to tune into that soft side, the heart side. The more you get in touch with your feelings of love and gratitude, and the more you engage in relationships with friends and family, the more open and ready you’ll become for a romantic love in your life.

Joy’s Thanksgiving List is a perfect way to do this. Plus, it can help you pinpoint the right relationship for you. How? It carves out some time in your life to reflect on what really matters to your heart, which can help you make your Big Love List. (My post OPTIMISM WORKSHOP: Your Big Love List will get you started.) But making your Thanksgiving List and your Big Love List can become intertwined: Are you thankful for a friend who always supports you, even when you do stupid stuff? Then you’ll probably want to feel unconditionally supported by a partner, too. Are you thankful for a cousin who always leaves hilarious messages on your phone in a French accent when you’re having a down day? Then feeling like you can laugh with a partner through tough times should be on your love list.

Go on, make your Thanksgiving List. I know I’m going to. Even if you’re not as organized and amazing as Joy obviously is to squeeze in those calls on Thanksgiving morning, making the list itself is a darn good start.

You might also like:
The Coffee Test

Big love,

How to Be An Optimist If You’ve Never Been Kissed

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Gosh, I love embarrassing questions. Mostly because the questions that people think are embarrassing really…aren’t. When I hosted the Sirius radio show Sex Files on the Maxim channel, I used to get calls all the time from people saying, “You’ve probably never heard this one before, but…” And the thing is, I usually had. Because we’re all human, and our experiences—good, bad and embarrassing—are so often similar.

A new book from Health magazine

That’s why I’m such a fan of the new book that one of my favorite editors—Lisa Lombardi at Health magazine—co-authored. What the Yuck? is full of those questions people are afraid to ask but secretly all want to know.

Now, in honor of those “You’ve probably never heard this one before” questions, I’m going to answer one of them right now. (I also regularly post answers to other questions that have been emailed to me in the “Let’s Talk” Q&A section of this site, so check some out!)

The Question:

“You said never to say never…but this one “never” is hard to argue with: I’ve never been on a date, never been asked out, and, as the movie goes, never been kissed. I just finished reading your book. You might wonder why I read your book if I haven’t had any dating experience yet. I’m almost 24 years old and am truly at the point in my life where I want my half-orange to find me. I am becoming the person I want to be: I recently took up competitive running, lost a good amount of weight, and am now starting to enjoy my life as a graduate student. I want to be a dating optimist but I find it extremely hard when, as far as I know, no one has found me date-able. I find it very hard to believe that any man will be able to love me. I know that I need to banish those thoughts but after this long, it’s extremely difficult to do.” —R.

My Answer:

We’ve all had our “never” times, R. There’s no such thing as a rulebook for how fast or slow people are supposed to go. And by the sound of it, you’re going at just the right pace or you.

I’m so happy for you that you say you’re becoming the person you want to be. And that, I must say, is the best thing you can do for your dating self. Because the more you know who you are and what you want in life, the better you’ll approach future dates and potential partners. Now, as for no one finding you date-able…psshaw! (You get that sound effect, right? I’m waving away that idea as nutbaggy!) You are date-able. You are loveable. You will have a wonderful partner in your life who won’t be able to fathom that you deem him worthy to be with you.

And the first step I think you should take to meet that person is to go on a date. Yep, pull off the Band Aid and get on out there. The easiest and best idea I can suggest is online dating, because unlike a bar or a party or a restaurant, all the people you find on that dating site are there for the same thing—to date! Don’t disguise who you are, don’t put up a photo that doesn’t look like you, don’t say you like things you don’t like because guys might like it. Check the box for “want a relationship,” wink at a few people, and have fun. When someone asks you out, go for it. He doesn’t need to be perfect, he doesn’t need to be your future husband, he just needs to be someone who wants to have a coffee or a cocktail or a meal on a cool fall night over good conversation. That’s it. If you know a friend who wants to set you up, or another place to meet someone to date, go for it.

My point is, dive into a date. First dates are notoriously awkward anyway—whether you’ve had 30 first dates (oh, look at that, another Drew Barrymore movie) or none, so you’re not going to stand out for being inexperienced, trust me. Just go with the idea in mind that it’s nothing serious and that this first date or your first kiss doesn’t need to be the be-all, end-all—you’re just breaking that ice and taking the first step into the rest of your dating life. And you can always keep in mind my favorite mantra: The worse it is, the better the story.

I hope that helps, and I hope you can get your optimism up there. Life, remember, is all about first steps. You’ll be taking first steps when you’re fifty, too, so enjoy these first steps into dating and be confident that because you will have a happy ending, you can enjoy the whole ride along the way.

You might also like:

Big love,

Your Partner in Crime

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

In Meeting Your Half-Orange, I said I was looking for a teammate in a relationship, a real partner in crime. And I have a set of friends who reminded me this week of what that means.

Danika & Dan: Partners in crimes...and contests

My friends Danika and Dan are getting married in June, and as a goof, they applied for a contest to win free wedding photography from an amazing photographer named Ian London. They submitted their adorable “How we got engaged” story (it involves her obsession with Ninjas) and to their surprise, made the Top 5 Finalists. Now, because they really want to win, they’ve come together as a team and reached out to get help from as many corners of the friend-and-family world they can. Watching them do this has reminded me how important it is to seek that feeling of a true teammate when you’re looking for love.

Think about that when you’re talking to the next person you meet, the next potential date you find yourself on. Will he throw you the ball, and will he catch it? Will he give and will he take? You’re talking about the ride of a lifetime, so ask yourself this: Will he take my hand and ride life with me with a smile? That’s what Dan & Danika have found in each other, and that’s what I want for you.

Now, in honor of all that teammate energy, do you want some amazing love karma for yourself? Just do this: 1) Click here and then 2) check the box in front of “Danika & Dan” It takes 11 seconds. And they need you, because voting ends tomorrow, May 20th. You can also read their engagement story if you want, by clicking on “Engagement Story Finalists.”

Karma feels good, remember. And as you seek your perfect other half and set off for your own adventures with your partner in crime, you’ll reap what you’ve been giving along the way. To get love, it helps to support love. To have it in your own life, it helps to celebrate it in others.

Think team, think twosome, and get the Orange Buzz in your belly for how powerful it’s going to feel when you have it in your life. And, wait, did you vote for Dan & Danika yet? Either way, I wish you the best co-pilot your ride of life can ask for!

You might also like:
If you still haven’t voted for Danika & Dan, don’t you want to?
The Coffee Test

Big love,

Have An Optimistic Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 12th, 2010

If you think about it, Valentine’s Day is one of the few exclusionary holidays out there. We all get to celebrate Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Halloween. But February 14th? That’s all about couples celebrating their love. So what’s a single to do?

Fill you heart with some happy this year

Fill you heart with some happy this year

Despite the fact that you might be tempted to make retching gestures toward every red heart-shaped doily you see, I have four much more productive suggestions. This Valentine’s Day…

1. …don’t spend it alone. You may be tempted to curl up on the couch in front of some bad TV and try to ignore it altogether. But spending the night by yourself may only remind you that you are, well, by yourself. My suggestion: Find a friend or a few to share it with. Stay in, go out, grab a cocktail, watch a movie, drink some wine, play pool, play board games, hang just for an hour or all night long—just do something that reminds you how nice it feels to have relationships with other people. Maybe you don’t have a love relationship this year, but it’s healthy to remind yourself how good it feels to be loved by those close to you.

2. …there are no anti-Valentine’s Day parties allowed! It’s natural that if you’re feeling down about your love life, you’d want to take down the Hallmark holiday. Phooey on those gooey kissy couples paying too much for their meals, right? Well, this year, I want you to look at it differently. Instead of sending a message that you hate Valentine’s Day—which is putting out a negative message about love—look at it as a visual reminder of what you want in your life: If other couples can have happy relationships, so can you!

3. …throw a Dream Board party! My friend’s friend, who I’ll call Mara, just read Meeting Your Half-Orange, and instead of blowing off the holiday, she’s decided to spend it celebrating the love she wants to bring into her life. Here’s how she put it in an email to me last night:

“It’s the first refreshing yet realistic book that I have read about being single in a very long time and it has made me more hopeful, without being cheesy. Somewhere along the way, I think many of us lose our optimism—and this book definitely helps you regain it. I’m making a Valentine’s Day dinner for my very best friend, who is single, and I’ve decided that we are going to create our own “dream boards” together over dinner and lots of wine. I am so excited about it!”

The explanation for what a Dream Relationship Board is and how to make one is thoroughly explained in my book, and I assure you, it is not a cheesy exercise! I’ve made many a believer out of one, trust me. And once you read the success stories of the singles who did it (including me) you’ll also be so convinced, you’ll want to try the same thing. It’s a healthy, hopeful way to provide yourself with a visual reminder of the big love you want in your life.

4. …buy yourself flowers and candy. Screw waiting for someone else to buy you flowers or candy. Treat yourself to some blooms and a box of chocolates or a bag of candy hearts. And take the little messages on those confections as words your future half-orange will tell you: “Kiss me,” “You’re sexy,”  and before you know it—and if you want it—”Marry me.”

You might also like:
10 Reasons to Be Thankful for Being Single
8 Reasons to Go Out Tonight!

Big love and Happy Optimistic Valentine’s Day,

Amy Signature 4

You’re So Hot

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

We all go through those days where we’re hating how we look—the ol’, “Ugh, there’s nothing flattering in my closet, and even if there was, I don’t fit into it anyway.”

You shine more than you know

You shine more than you know

And if people you’re meeting aren’t jumping at the chance to jump all over you, it’s easy to wonder if anyone will ever find you as hot as you deserve to feel. Well, it’s time to do a reality check on how gorgeous and awesome you really are.

Here’s one way to do it: Ask yourself this: “Do you have any attractive friends? Just one pal who is cute or sexy or crazy-beautiful with confidence?” Then congratulations, you’re hot!

University of Wisconsin researcher April Bleske-Recheck, Ph.D., conducted a study some months back that found humans tend to socialize in a similar-looking social network. It creates competition, she says, but it also attracts similar-looking mates, which is a benefit much greater than the competition.

Ahhh, so there you have it. Women, you’re as cute and sexy and crazy-beautiful as any of those women you work with or hang around with. Guys, you’re as cool and hot as any of the men in your social circle, too. And as soon as someone worthy of you comes along, he or she will notice what makes you stand out from your group in just the right way. They’ll see you as hotter than the rest, inside and out. Remind yourself of that every single day.

You might also like:
Be Happy That…
3 Big Reasons Your Life Rocks (Yes, Your Life!)

Big love,

Amy Signature 4