Posts Tagged ‘surviving set-backs’


“Half a Life”: How To Get Past Your Painful, Terrible Love Scars

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Most often, I write about peppy things. I encourage you to focus on the bloom not the thorn, the sun not the clouds, the healing not the injury. But last night, I was reminded it’s also important to address those injuries sometimes, because we all have scars in varying shapes and sizes. Especially in love.

The new novel by Darin Strauss (McSweeney's Books). It's up to us to find hope through the pain.

This all came to mind last night during an event at Skylight Books in L.A. where my friend Darin Strauss read from his new book Half a Life.

I’ve known Darin for over twenty years (we lived just a few miles from each other growing up) and if you don’t know his work yet, you’d be wise to check it out. He’s published some very successful novels (Chang & Eng,The Real McCoy, More Than It Hurts You) and this, his first memoir, is getting rave reviews. (He read from the book on This American Life, GQ magazine excerpted it, and here’s the review from The New York Times.) In a word, it’s incredible.

Half a Life is the true story of a painful incident in Darin’s teenage life when his car hit a girl on her bike and killed her. It wasn’t his fault, but he spent the next half of his life dealing with the guilt and judging his life through the glasses of the tragedy. In the book, Darin writes:

“The accident taught me this. Things don’t go away. They become you. There is no end, as T.S. Eliot somewhere says, but addition: the trailing consequence of further days and hours. No freedom from the past, or from the future. But we keep making our way, as we have to.”

It makes me think of all the hurts that happen to us in love and relationships that we also have to keep making our way with—for weeks, months or decades. Maybe it’s a partner who cheated or lied and you wonder what you did wrong to deserve it. Maybe it’s a love that unraveled over time and you keep replaying what you could have done differently to stop it. Maybe it’s emotional or physical abuse that scars your heart like a gash can scar a face for good. Or maybe it’s a death or a loss that makes you question if it’s worth loving at all if things hurt this much when it ends.

As Darin’s book reminds us, the painful, terrible scars on our bodies and in our hearts will always be there. But it’s up to us to learn how to live without blaming the people or things that have hurt us, and without blaming ourselves for how long it’s taken to get over it. Life is not about denying the scars from our past, but about weaving them into our present lives and making what good we can of it.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s not fair. But if you can learn to see it from the right angle, those injuries, over time, can become vehicles for something greater for you. Let your scars make you stronger, wiser and more empathetic. Let them deepen who you are as a human, not shield you from wanting to feel things in your future. And let them build you a better life not confine you to a ruined one. We’re stronger than we think, and as our scars heal, so should we.

If you like Half a LifeDarin is blogging about his book tour on—and today he gives a shout-out to Meeting Your Half-Orange and how optimism can help.

You might also like:

Wise Words from an Undone She

Big love,


Monday, June 7th, 2010

Green PillYour dose for today…

“Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.” —Robert Brault

Get your dancing shoes on! (Image: Tango shoes in Buenos Aires, by AS)

Turn up the music and get dancing, because that’s how you’re going to see life from today on! True progress in our lives and hearts is not about gaining ground every step we take. It’s about gaining insight. And some of that insight, well, it ain’t pretty.

Think about it: How do you know what kind of job saps your spirit? By punching in your hours on a depressing time clock and promising yourself you’ll find a career that excites your soul. How do you know what kind of relationship you don’t want? By dating someone who makes you feel down on love. You have to take some steps backward in dating to move forward in love! And, now, you know how to look at it. As your heart-pumping cha-cha on the dance floor of life!

Have you ever learned to move forward from taking a few steps back?

You might also like:
Flipping It: The Chancleta “Flip Flop” Story
VITAMIN OPTIMISM: Your Future Will Kick Ass

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

Grey’s Anatomy: “Be Positive Tomorrow”

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I wanted to answer a question that comes up in dating optimism at some point or another: “Do you always have to be positive about dating?” No. You don’t.

Bailey is a fan of all feelings (Photo: By Ron Tom,

And when I saw the theme of this week’s “Shiny Happy People” episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I thought it was a good time to remind us all of this.

This is how Grey opened the episode:

“It’s a common belief that positive thinking leads to a happier, healthier life. As children we’re told to smile, be cheerful and put on a happy face. As adults, we’re told to look on the bright side, make lemonade and see glasses as half full. Sometimes reality can get in the way of our ability to act the happy part, though. Your health can fail, boyfriends can cheat, friends can disappoint. It’s in these moments when you just want to get real, to drop the act and be your true, scared, unhappy self.”

Later in the episode, when a patient named Amber found out she was going to lose three fingers, her positively-trained reaction was to smile and be grateful that she was alive at all. As her friend said (played by Emma from Glee!) Amber should see the bad news as just a small bump in the big ride of life. But Baily (played by Chandra Wilson) could tell Amber was struggling. She was faking her feelings. So Bailey gave Amber permission to embrace her true, scared, unhappy self instead.

Bailey: “You can cry, Amber, it’s fine. It’s a lot to take in all at once.

Emma from Glee: No, she needs to stay positive. That’s how we get through, we stay positive.

Bailey: She was excited. She was hopeful. She was eager. And that has been crushed. She has the right to have some feelings. She can be positive tomorrow. [to Amber] You can be positive tomorrow.

The truth is, real health and happiness comes from feeling it all. When bad things happen—and bad things do happen to good people, all the time—you may be tempted to try to look on the bright side each and every time. And I encourage you to get better at doing that. But sometimes, the hurt is immense and our heart needs to sit with it for a while. Sometimes we need a good cry so we have the energy to be positive tomorrow.

So if you’ve been going through a rough time and had your hopes in dating, love or life dashed, I say this, as Bailey did: You can cry. It’s fine. Keep wiping tears and writing angry letters that you’ll never send to your ex or to God and keep sobbing it out, because the only way you’ll get past the messy stuff is to empty it from yourself, until you can’t cry another tear and frankly can’t be bothered to. You can be positive tomorrow. And with all those tears shed, you’ll be far more able to.

You might also like:
The Grey’s Way: How Not to Get a Date
Love Lesson from a Serial Killer

Big love,

A Miyagi “Love” Moment

Monday, December 21st, 2009

So clearly we love Ralph Macchio for being the wax on, wax off Karate Kid who learned the art of karate and life from Mr. Miyagi: “First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.” Now, Ralph Macchio (who is 48, by the way—forty-freaking-eight, even though he looks and makes me feel twenty-four) is the one teaching us the lessons.

Who's sharing the wise words now, Daniel-san?

Who's sharing the wise words now, Daniel-san?

This time, it’s coming from Ralph’s latest stint as city councilman Archie Rodriguez on Ugly Betty, who has been dating Betty’s sister Hilda (played so touchingly by Ana Ortiz).

Last week, Hilda finally came to terms with the fact that she’ll never see Archie as more than a really great guy. In fact, at one point in the episode, a salesperson at a department store mistakes Hilda for Archie’s wife, and she leaps to correct the woman with a big, “No! I’m not his wife.”

Soon after that, Archie bowed out of the relationship on his own because he knew he deserved more. This is what he said:

“I love you, Hilda. And, I know you care for me. But there’s someone out there who’s going to be thrilled to be mistaken for my wife. And I deserve to find that person and you deserve to find that person, too. I hoped it could be me, but since it isn’t, it’s time for me to say goodbye.”

How beautifully said. And how worth remembering. If a relationship isn’t working—or a crush isn’t turning into a relationship—remind yourself that it’s not getting you anywhere trying to force love to work. You deserve someone who is going to be thrilled to be at your side! Someone who will brag about you to his or her friends, ramble on about you to their co-workers, and love you like they can’t believe they’re lucky enough to get you. Don’t let yourself settle for anything less.

You might also like:
Babe Ruth: A Dating Strategy?

Big love,

Amy Signature 4

A Gleeful Reminder

Friday, September 18th, 2009

People have been talking about the new show Glee so much (Wednesdays on FOX), I had to check it out. I am, after all, a former Glee Club member myself. Of course, we had to stand on bleachers in polyester red gowns when we sang “Eye of the Tiger” in six-part harmony. These kids have style.

Rachel (played by Lea Michele) celebrated their style (Image: Hulu/Fox)

Rachel (played by Lea Michele) knows what's special

Anyway, the show? Adorge. It’s an optimistic little story about some high-school outcasts with big hearts and beautiful voices (um, can we talk about the pipes on Amber Riley who plays Mercedes?!) who don’t get any respect from the sporty types at school. On this week’s “Acafellas” episode, the club hired a choreographer to create some contest-winning moves, but all he did was viciously call them various forms of useless. Just as they were about to quit, Rachel (who’d been told her nose was too big) stopped them with this:

“When Barbra Streisand was a young ingénue, they told her in order to be a star, she’d have to get a nose job. Thankfully, she refused . . . . Let’s face it. We’re never gonna be as good dancers as Vocal Adrenaline. We’re gonna win because…we’re different. And that’s what makes us special.”

It’s such a simple message, I know that. But I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough. We need to stop trying to fit into other people’s boxes once and for all—in work, in friendships, and in love. We may have spent our high school years trying to fit in, but real life is about standing out! You are unique and you are awesome, as is. And if someone isn’t into you, it’s not your problem, it’s theirs. I mean, really, if some fool can’t see how wonderful you are, then he or she loses the gift of getting to be with you, plain and simple. But don’t worry: your future partner is too smart a cookie to let you get away.

Remember, like the Glee girl said: We’re different. And that’s what makes us special.

You might also like:
Mad Men: More than Eye Candy
A Dating Lesson from Top Chef

Big love,

Amy Signature 4