Category Archives: growing

Pink Moscato

Pink Moscato

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I found myself getting caught up in that well-known downward spiral of perfectionism… I wanted to write but it had been long enough that I wanted what I wrote to be significant and amazing, so I stalled…and on and on the cycle went…only each time I wanted to write, the content had to be exponentially more amazing than the previous time.  So one day, at a relative low, I cracked open a bottle of pink moscato and just wrote. 

Let me recap: I had a baby – an actual, real life BABY!  He grew inside of me and after a painful and (I can proudly say) a drugless 5-hour labor, he somehow made it out into the world. I kept looking at him in awe thinking, “Whoa – he’s really a real REAL baby – like a BABY baby.” Even as I was being wheeled out of the hospital (turns out, you’re not allowed to walk out – hospital policy), I kept thinking, “So wait, they’re just going to let me leave with this baby? That’s IT? I can just HAVE him?” I guess when you wait until you’re 36 to have your first baby, the whole process seems much more unnatural and strange. As it was, I felt like I was downright stealing a baby.  Even after I felt every moment of searing pain to get him out of me, he still didn’t feel like mine.  He’s been with me for 12 weeks now and I often wake up to see him next to me in bed and think, “Who are you and how did you just suddenly get here in my life?” It’s not an angry thought – it’s purely a curious thought. How the heck did those 10 increasingly fatter months lead to this ever-growing little life? 

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As far as babies go, I think I got lucky. He’s what the nurses called an early smiler, and he smiles pretty much any time I or anyone smiles at him…which is pretty darn cool and awesome and funny and great.  To have this little face smiling at me – even if it’s 3am – is soul-filling.  I’m pretty sure someone could live longer if they were deprived of food but had baby smiles every day…pretty sure.  So Jack was born on his actual due date – which Google claims is only 4% of babies – making him the top 4% of punctual people on the planet. Other than that, I try very very hard not to be the mom who compares her baby to everyone else while insisting that he is smarter and more alert and more developed than average (which I’m convinced he is).  It must have been the negative stereotypes, but the Baby Einstein moms who play nonstop foreign language and Mozart to ensure their baby’s superiority completely turns me off and gives me the heebie jeebies. I sing and dance with Jack, but I’ve decided that he’ll let me know when he’s ready to learn things and I will TRY not compare him to anyone else.  That said, in these last 12 weeks, I have only come into contact with 3 other newborns. The first seemed super chubby and I was glad Jack wasn’t, the second had a humungous head and I was glad Jack didn’t, and the third was a super cute girl (his cousin) and even then I was glad I had a boy…so I’m 0 for 3 on comparing. Even the doctor’s office seems to encourage comparison – they printed stats about Jack saying that he is in the 90th percentile for length, the 20th percentile for his head (explaining why the big headed baby seemed so big-headed), and the 40th percentile for weight…so I can’t help but compare right away – average weight but super long body with a smaller-than-average head.

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What a crazy journey it’s been up to this point.  I sometimes think about writing a book about surviving the Army.  I can look at the last 10 years and see a clear love/hate relationship with the U.S. Army.  It tore my marriage apart; it supported me; it gave; it took; it took back; it gave again. In the end, it’s been like most circumstances in this world – it’s not so much about the institution itself so much as how I responded to it and what I chose to do with it.  When I felt and acted like a victim, I was most certainly its rag doll puppet.  When I rose up and took control and used it to my benefit, I found myself abundantly satisfied.

Though there were times I never ever thought I’d be a mom in this life, I look at my little man (who really is quite long), and find myself amazed at this crazy life.  All the turns and speed bumps and dead ends and detours I’ve taken, my path seems less-than-straight.  I’ve messed up, made mistakes, started over, apologized, forgiven (myself and others), started over again, and found myself lost on countless occasions.  And yet, I have a healthy, handsome, smiling baby boy. It’s quite a thing, this life. I’ve stopped trying to second guess it, and have started accepting with open hands the gifts I’m given.  I’ve been given friends from all over the world, a body which seems to heal from just about anything, a heart which has proven resilient beyond expectation, and a little life that has been trusted to me. Wow. Life is certainly unexpected and fickle and inexplicable…and wonderful. 

OH – I forgot to explain my “relative low” that got me to crack open the pink moscato. I’m chalking it up to the standard adjustment a new mom goes through…that of shedding her old life view and everything that goes along with it.  I stopped and looked at myself in a public mirror today, and saw nursing bra straps hanging out, frizzy hair sticking out from under my hat above each ear, 18 or so extra pounds, and an overall unkept appearance. It’s that frumpy, frazzled, and fatigued self – the triple F-word threat – that takes some getting used to and patience. I think my immediate future holds squats, lunges, situps, some naps, and most definitely more moscato!  

A New Year, A New Chance

A New Year, A New Chance

I committed the cardinal blog sin and didn’t update a cliff-hanger blog.  I suppose the excuse that “I’ve had a lot going on” is the token excuse that we all tend to insert when things in our lives don’t get updated or addressed or completed…but I’m going to go ahead and use it. “I’ve had a lot going on.” 

The update is that after some follow-up tests, the ever-growing baby inside my ever-growing belly is thus far healthy.  I broke down in tears (as I’ve done over just about everything in this heightened hormonal state) when I found out the baby wasn’t going to start out at a genetic disadvantage. It wasn’t that the baby would have been any less special and central in my life, but it was most definitely the fear that I simply couldn’t do it on my own.  

But the good news coupled with a new year brought a bit of a sense of hope to my quivering psyche. As I sat with countless hot chocolates in my comfy, baggy pjs over Christmas, I looked around with newfound gratitude at the gift my family is…surrounded with ecstatic kids ripping through gift after gift and loving hands placed on my popped belly. 

I think it’s a universal outlook any one of us can take in this new year. No matter how much shit we were hit with last year, the beauty of a NEW year is a sense of a fresh start. Just like today is a new chance to remedy yesterday’s miserable mistakes, this year is a whole new year. Here are some additional encouragments about this year you may not have been aware of. In the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of the Horse. The spirit of the horse is recognized in people’s unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is designated with the characteristics of energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. …not a bad grouping for a year if you ask me. 

The truth is, none of us is starting out at a disadvantage in this new year. We are simply starting out.  Being pregnant (sans job) is just a part of life… as are any of our predicaments.  Whether it’s divorce, unemployment, surpise prenancy, health problems, money problems, deployed away from family, heartache, heartbreak, loneliness, lost soul, or devastating loss, the fact is that if you stop and look around, we all have one or more of those checkmarks to claim at any given point…Lord knows I’m no stranger to many of those things! It’s not at all belittling to say those things are just circumstances…the setting and props on the stage of which you are the star.  And this is a new act. You know that saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you choose to do with it.”  It’s not the setting of your stage that defines you, it’s YOU who defines you.  The actor, and not the props, is what matters the most. In other words, don’t submit to your props! You’re not the victim; you’re the star…now BE the star.

Give yourself the gift of a deep breath in, the faith in the knowledge that simply by being alive, you’ve been given the gift of another new year, and a whole new chance to discover and experience the gifts of life being presented to you. For me, I suspect my gift this year will come in a little blue bundle (it’s a boy, by the way). It’s taken a readjustment to see this as a “gift,” but I think life’s Author just might know me better than I do. For my sister exhausted with three kids, it may come in the moments of laughter she holds onto each day from funny or ridiculous things her kids do and say. For my other sister planning her May wedding, it will come in a new life joined with someone she loves very much. For my 90-year old grandpa, it comes in moments like L.A. Lakers victories, and phone calls and visits from grandchildren, as well as his ever-professed satisfaction with having lived a good and full life overflowing with love. For my friends in Afghanistan, it’s in Skype calls with family, care packages, and sitting around the hooka appreciating the friendships that have formed in a far-off land. These gifts are otherwise known as joy. Let yourself be open enough to be surprised by joy this year!

Scary Day

Scary Day


I’ve woken up to the shaking of a nearby explosion. I’ve been lost in dark alleys in the wrong parts of town in strange countries (don’t tell my mom that one). I’ve been caught unprepared in a blitz snowstorm on the top of a remote mountain, stranded on another mountain in a severe lightning storm (the metal in the toes of my boots actually smoked from being so hot), and was lost underwater in the hull of a sunken ship. Each of those were moments where I was scared and even if just for a moment, feared for my life. But nothing prepared me for the sort of fear I experienced a few days ago. I was driving up to Denver getting ready to fly out to Los Angeles the next day to visit my grandpa – incidentally my most favorite person in the universe – when I got a call from my OB/GYN (aka baby doctor). She explained calmly that my last ultrasound – which disappointingly didn’t reveal the baby’s sex – did reveal an inconsistency in the heart which was an indication of Down Syndrome and that I needed another blood test to confirm whether that was or wasn’t the case…but that it could wait until I got back from my trip. I struggled to be as polite as possible while I tried to process what she was saying and still keep the car between the white lines on the highway. After she hung up, the brunt of what she just said started to hit. I may be looking at being a single mom of a baby with Down Syndrome. Did I just hear that right?! At first the tears started slowly, but within a couple miles, they turned into steady streams and were quickly accommodated with loud and uncontrollable sobs and hyperventilating. Can I just take a moment to beg healthcare professionals out there NEVER to give less than positive news to patients WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING?? I couldn’t breath, couldn’t think, and couldn’t see – because of the tears filling both eyes and the fact that my one eye can still only open about halfway from the recent surgery.

What I just can’t wrap my brain around is: what if it’s true? What if I’m going to be a single mom with a challenged baby? HOW THE HELL DO I DO THAT? Since that phone call, I’ve been more scared than any other life-threatening moment in my life. It’s more than just me here on the line now – it’s a whole new person depending on me – me the sporadic, fly by the seat of my pants, try anything once, risk-taking “mommy” who is now scared shitless into a stagnant state of dread. The only answer that keeps coming to me is, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” Thanks a lot, subconscious, that’s all you got? Not, “this too shall pass,” or, “you are only given what you can handle.” Nope – no such reassuring thoughts – just “I can’t do it.” I’ve had an unending stream of prayers that consists of one sentence…”Please let this baby be healthy. Please let this baby be healthy. Please let this baby be healthy.” I know in my head there are resources to help people like me to adjust to a special needs baby like that, but I just don’t think I’m that strong.

Incidentally, I turned around and went back to the doctor’s office to get the test done. I’m in LA now with my grandpa and trying to think about other things until the results come in a few more days. The Price is Right is on with volume level 50 – not exactly a way to clear the mind from troubling thoughts – or maybe it’ll turn out to be some untapped sound therapy I’ve never tried.

The truth of the whole matter is this potential reality is so big that I can’t wrap my brain around it – not yet. I suppose it’s good self-advice in that we humans can and often do drive ourselves crazy with fears over what may or may not happen. If I were to leave my thoughts to their own demise, I’d be laying on the floor in a pool of my own saliva mumbling and paralyzed from fear. I’ve often heard the saying that 90% of what people fear in life never happens. Now if I can just internalize and pause with a little patience before I have to face whatever lies ahead. It’s not ignoring fear; it’s letting that fear sit next to me but not consume me. It’s breathing in one breath at a time and when I feel shaky and unsure and scared, to steady myself until I know just what my new reality will be. This is definitely a life lesson in the works – one we’re all faced with. Once again I find myself on the stage of life – my setting and obstacles may be a little different than other people’s, but we’re all dealt the same big lessons. And you know what? This too shall pass…written appropriately with fear tears filling my eyes…breathe, Amy, breathe.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings


I have a lot to reconcile in life, but I’ve always learned from my mistakes and somehow I’ve kept going, pushing through the challenges and obstacles in life. I have come to believe that strength is in every one of us…that inner push that comes from something so unconscious in us that we don’t even know it’s there until it’s called upon.

I went to Afghanistan in search of something…a new start, some adventure, insight into this 12-year war…maybe it was a little of all of those. In many ways I identified with Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat Pray Love when she went off on a journey in search of living a fuller, more meaningful life…of course she chose Italy feasting on wine and pasta and I chose Afghanistan and war and barbed wire. Although her route was slightly more appealing, the missions were similar – to embark on a 1/3-life-crisis journey to reset and begin anew.

In Afghanistan I did find adventure, saw new lands, and met new friends, but my new start came in the most unexpected of ways. I was laying in a hospital bed shivering in a surgery gown waiting for surgery on my eye – an inexplicable infection – when a nurse came in with a funny look in her eyes. She explained that while I still needed surgery, I could no longer have pain medication due to the fact that I was pregnant. I was cold, in pain, and most of all, stunned in a state of segmented and incomplete thoughts except for the one clear memory from over a year prior when a doctor told me I would need science (fertility medicine or in-vitro fertilization) to get pregnant. I’m pretty sure my confused look urged the nurses to say something soothing, but all they managed to say was, “Congratulations!” In hindsight, a hard slap to the face and yelling “Surprise!” would have been so much better.

With an additional confirmation blood test, I went into eye surgery – only there had been an attack that day and I was low on the priority list for the operating room, so I got moved to the dental clinic. The doctor fumbled as he had no choice but to convert dental cleaning tools into surgical instruments for an eyelid. Without pain medication, I was alert and gripped the vinyl chair arms with all my strength to stay still as the doctor made incisions in my eyelid with the scalpel…or whatever he was using to cut. I felt tears streaming down my face, but I couldn’t tell whether they were from the shock of the news or the pain.

The doctor finally finished, patched up my eye, and sent me on my way. I was still in my one-eyed hazy shock on the helicopter ride back to my base unable to see the hills and mud huts below or even think past each successive minute. I got out of the helicopter when it landed, the deafening sound and wind coupled with my one eye fog made everything feel like a distant dream. I shuffled across the landing area to my tiny room, opened the door, and flung myself onto my bed for three days of crying. No food, no interaction, no work (they thought I was still up at the hospital), just crying. Have you ever cried for three straight days? It was a far cry (so to speak) from my strongest moment. I was confused, ashamed, regretful, angry and scared…and nowhere in all of that that could I even begin to reconcile a baby.

I always wanted to have a baby eventually with someone I loved, but I didn’t want one like this. The dad was not someone I was even in a relationship with, and I was suddenly looking at the reality of being a single mom. It’s taken me months and months to come to grips with this new beginning, this new journey. It’s only the start of a very new and scary and unknown journey, but it’s a start nonetheless.

I never pictured my life would turn out this way, but then again when DOES it go the way we plan? I’ve heard the saying more than once and have said it even more often, but if you wan to make God laugh, just tell him what you’re going to do tomorrow. I’m pretty sure He had a good laugh with me, and I had a few choice words for Him at first too. But my actions were clearly what leapfrogged me onto my new path and I couldn’t blame God or anyone else. Well, I could blame the dad, but as I’ve been reminded by friends when I’m all fired up, it takes two to tango.

Whether I agree with Mother Nature or not, this baby is coming – I find out tomorrow if it’s is a boy or a girl. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it, and I know I’ll probably stumble along the way as I’ve done in the past, but I’ve accepted that this is indeed my new beginning.

Listen. Dream. Go.

Listen. Dream. Go.


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

As I stop in the middle of this sand and heat, I think about the lessons of life – the many lessons of life that we will at some point inevitably learn, and I ponder which one was most significant in getting me here to this place I’ve dreamt about for years. I think it’s the importance of listening to and believing in myself. When I began to voice what I wanted – which was to come here to Afthanistan – I faced some confused and strongly opposing opinions. If anyone has read prior posts, they know that I’m a default people pleaser…or as I like to say now, a recovering people pleaser…so expressing an idea that is in opposition to others took some lady balls. It took a long time to voice even to myself what I wanted, and longer yet to boost up the courage to say it out loud. At first I felt silly and I would add disclaimers like, “I know it’s a stupid idea, but I think I want to go to Afghanistan.” Thank God I found the fire in my belly to keep listening to myself and take action on doing the thing I could barely speak. I couldn’t tell anyone in my life – wait, I told my sister because she could tell something was up – and felt like I was living a deceptive life when I submitted my employment application to various companies. Then when one was interested in me, I would break out in a nervous sweat in replying back that I would like to continue forward with the hiring process – like I was committing a crime or some awful act.

But I stuck with it. I think part of me was afraid that I’d buckle if I told people too early – that I would listen to unsolicited advice about what a dangerous idea it was and I wouldn’t go through with it – so I protectively stayed silent. But I listened to my heart when my words weren’t even there yet and pushed on. It didn’t feel wrong, but felt good and exciting and right when I pushed “send” on those employment emails.

I’m not promoting living a double life in order to do the things you want to in life in a careless fashion – that’s not the lesson at all. I’m putting out the voice of encouragement to trust in your own dreams and don’t shy away from them because of other people’s criticisms. Listen to yourself. Listen to your heart. And if you think you’ll buckle, then yes do what you need to do for you to dodge those fire hoses (that’s what my high school running coach used to call people that like to squelch dreams). Ultimately, everyone in my life got behind me and is supporting me now. But even if some hadn’t, I was prepared to ask them that if they didn’t agree with me, could they just love and trust me?

I regret that I held back on jumping off my cliff and doing this thing I’ve wanted to do for so many years. I tried to accept the life I was in before and become the person that I needed to be to make that life work, but ultimately I wasn’t very good at it because I was so restless and unhappy and living counter to my dreams…which would always seep in again and permeate my imagination. Now I can stand here and smile a smile from the inside out – a contented smile of happiness with myself that I did this – I took the steps to put me here. I finally listened to myself.

Confessions…

Confessions…

Dear readers,
I have a bit of a confession…I’ve been intentionally NOT writing that in the past couple months I decided to take the adventure of my life and go to Afghanistan for a year. I continued to blog about the feelings and issues I was going through, but in much more vague entries – partly because I didn’t know if I’d be able to pull it off and go, and partly because I hadn’t even told the important people in my life of my plans and I didn’t want them finding out from my blog. I started double-blogging by writing my own personal story into a word document which I have saved and have continued to add to all along the way – through the fear of telling my family to the preparations and in-processing and travel overseas. I woke up this morning to my first morning in Afghanistan, so I guess I made it! After this, I will post entries about my journey to this point now, and onward about many stories I have yet to experience. There have been many tears and funny moments and loving conversations and memorable times in the last couple months that have gotten me to this point now, and I would love nothing more than to share those…though there is one port-a-potty incident that my mother warned me to “clean up” before posting.

In essence, I decided to take my own advice over these last few months of blogging, and get out there and do the undoable thing that I never thought I could do. Many people didn’t understand and said, “Yes, but WHY Afghanistan?!” Of all the crazy things to do! I simply asked them to love and support and trust me…and told them to read my blog because I will try to answer that along the way.

Since I left my home over two weeks ago, I have had a soaring sensation in my heart, and I know that I made the right decision for me. Jumping off my own cliff was right for me, and now I’m off in the adventure of my life to discover who knows what!

More to follow once I figure out how to find wifi and hook up to my own computer – there’s a time limit in this internet cafe and I’m nearly out of time.

Best wishes and happy reading!
~Amy

Struggle is Nature’s Way of Strengthening

Struggle is Nature’s Way of Strengthening

I recently started watching the series “Lost” on Netflix. I know, I’m only seven or eight years behind the power curve on this one – and it’s even worse that it was filmed on Hawaii right around the corner from where I live. In any case, if anyone has seen it, you may remember that after the plane crashes in the very beginning, one of the guys is a drug user who has to face detox. Another older man decides to help him by offering no help whatsoever. When the drug addict is crashing and at his wit’s end, he screams out to the man with anger at why he isn’t helping him more. Then the older man says, “Come here, let me show you something.” …you know what? This is better if you see it yourself.

“If there is no struggle, there is no change.” ~Frederick Douglass

I love this analogy. But I’m going to be so bold as to go ahead and label struggle as something else in life…change. The moth had to struggle in order to change. In fact, most change comes about through struggle. It goes without saying then that if we endure a struggle, we will experience change, and if we desire change, we must endure the struggle.

Many people fear struggle because it can be painful – and like I’ve written about before, ours is a species to avoid pain whatever the cost. Pain is a funny thing though. It reminds me of a competition. When I have a big race or competition coming up, I will go around with crazy butterflies in my stomach the whole day before…it’s a sort of fear or nervousness about the pain I will be in during the race. All I have to do is think about the race and the butterflies will start flitting about. But then the craziest thing happens. The second I line up at the starting line and the gun goes off, my butterflies disappear. Once the race – or the pain as it can be paralleled – begins, there is no more fear or worry about it because you’re in it and doing it.

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no point in fearing change because the worry and fear ahead of time don’t really matter or make any difference, and when you’re in the struggle itself, you won’t be afraid anyways; you’ll be doing the thing you didn’t think you could do and you will change into your own butterfly (I still like the word butterfly better than moth even if the moth is the prettier of the two).

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr




Self-Rejection

Self-Rejection

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen (one of my favorite authors)

People Please No More!

People Please No More!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

For those of you non people-pleasers out there, I’d like to introduce you to a very unfortunate lot of some pretty great people who don’t realize just how great they are…the people pleasers. You may be related to one, you may work with one, you may be married to one, but I can guarantee that you have at least one in your life. You can recognize these sorry chaps by some of their distinguishing qualities of…drum roll…people pleasing! This takes many forms, but translates to people that are friendly, outgoing, easily liked, helpful, supportive and are generous with their time and energy. They’ll usually be smiling and will be encouraging and fun to be around. They’ll also be the first to volunteer when needed, and they’ll be the ones to keep the peace in families and at work. Most of them are talented, creative, loyal, gregarious, encouraging, warm, popular, and seem to have it all “together.” You may be asking yourself how all of these traits could be in any one person, and why in the world it would be a bad thing?

People pleasers crave and can even be addicted to attention and positive feedback from other people – it’s like a drug to them – and they will do whatever it takes to get another hit. And just like drug addicts, their own inward health and mental well being are the true victims that suffer quiet atrophy from perpetual neglect. While a people-pleaser will go to the ends of the earth to help other people live more fully, they slowly lose touch of their own voice and soul.

On the outside, these people are the ones other people are drawn to – they have it all. But on the inside, they are a dark, decrepit void that is dominated by fear. They fear rejection, they fear failure, they fear loss of personal identity and self worth. They feel inferior, undeserving, and not good enough. They isolate themselves and are afraid to make decisions lest it be the wrong choice. They live in a constant fear they will let others down, and constantly feel unappreciated, taken for granted, and taken advantage of. They are exhausted and run down from always trying to be perfect and make everyone else happy…which is impossible, so they always feel like a miserable failure. Is it any wonder that they suffer from low self-esteem as they ignore their personal rights and deny any personal problems? Can you begin to see why I call these people a sorry lot? They give and give from ever-depleting inner strength until there is nothing left but a carcass of what used to be a beautiful person. You may think I’m writing over-dramatically, but in my desire to help people recognize their true worth, I have experienced and witnessed this cold way of life. Many people-pleasers end up in abusive relationships because they stay around trying to please unpleasable partners. They don’t realize they have the right to demand respect and mutual, giving love, and instead they settle for being yelled at, pushed around, belittled and hurt. And the crazy thing is, they would rather remain in that state over letting the person who hurt them down or “found out” that they are not as good as they appear to the world.

It breaks my heart to see these poor, generous souls decay toward empty bitterness. They end up with no personal identity or rights. They can’t achieve personal goals or handle leadership roles because they can’t make decisive decisions or solve problems. They are immobilized by irrational beliefs and guilt of not doing enough, not pleasing enough, not accomplishing enough. They don’t trust the sincerity of others because they themselves maintain a helpful and giving façade. They often burn out both at work and at home, and they rarely have genuinely intimate relationships because they’re so guarded and scared to reveal their own vulnerabilities…but they never even give themselves permission to be on equal footing with everyone else in their life. Oh, and did I mention they can’t relax and can rarely enjoy themselves? It’s criminal!


Now I turn my attention to you people-pleasers that might be reading this. This is a dismal life path you are choosing – and make no mistake, you choose it each and every day. You will continue to choose it until you comprehend the true, immeasurable value of the treasured soul in you that you continue to ignore, neglect and abuse. You may get some mini high off helping others, or you may not be able to stop yourself from being the one to break uncomfortable silences and inject yourself into fights to smooth tensions. But you either strengthen or weaken yourself with every word and every act, and if you continue on this people-pleasing trail you are on, you will end up bitter, empty and withered. You will hate everyone you’ve “sacrificed” for because they willingly took your time, your help, your love, and your energy over the years, and you will never understand that they didn’t do this to you – you did. Here are some hard truths for you to swallow: you don’t need to be liked by everyone, people do no like you in proportion to how much you give them, you’re allowed to upset other people, you are not responsible for other peoples’ happiness, you are allowed to make mistakes, there is strength in vulnerability, it’s who you are and not what you do that counts, and hardest to believe of all, you please people simply by BEING YOU. What’s more, IT’S OK NOT TO BE LIKED BY PEOPLE. I should also add that you don’t need to be understanding or tolerant of people who hurt you.

It is imperative that we be our own champion – we need to be in our own corner of the ring rooting and standing up for ourselves. But right now you are in someone else’s corner – be it your spouse, your boss, your friends, and absurdly enough even total strangers. I’ve spent over three decades being in that other corner, and the universe has started to teach me a thing or two about the value of loving, knowing, and standing up for myself. The wonderful news is that in your “disease to please,” you have cultivated some very great traits if they can be used from a healthy place. If you can understand that you are actually beautiful, then you can give to others from a genuine place of love and concern. If you see yourself as worthy, you won’t need to get approval and affirmation from others through your deeds – and instead you can give for the sake of giving and let it restore your reserve instead of empty it.

Stop putting yourself last and realize that you serve the world best not through your littleness, but through your living fully. Set your own boundaries and say NO MORE to being the best doormat around. Your worth does not come from your deeds or from how liked you are – it is an intrinsic quality already present in you. Cut yourself some slack and let go of this unquenchable need to be seen as perfect. Can you imagine how much energy you could save yourself? That’s energy that could be used toward actually living a full and healthy life…and maybe for once, you could relax and enjoy yourself!

“Social chameleons, though, don’t mind in the least saying one thing and doing another, if that will win them social approval. They simply live with the discrepancy between their public face and their private reality.” ~Daniel Goleman

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Suess

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

This blog is dedicated to my very beautiful friend, Miranda. I hope you can come to see how incredible you are!

Resources I used to write this blog:

  • The People Pleasing Pattern: Transforming Compliance to Autonomy
  • Is People Pleasing Preventing You from Pleasing the Right People?
  • The Perils of People Pleasing
  • The People-Pleasing Personality
  • The Disease to Please (great book!) by Harriet Braiker
  • Power in Emotion

    Power in Emotion

    “Sometimes I feel as though there are two me’s, one coasting directly on top of the other: the superficial me, who nods when she’s supposed to nod and says what she’s supposed to say, and some other, deeper part, the part that worries and dreams… Most of the time they move along in sync and I hardly notice the split, but sometimes it feels as though I’m two whole different people and I could rip apart at any second.” ~Lauren Oliver

    I have a bit of a plug stuck in my mouth when it comes to verbalizing just what it is I’m feeling…especially any negative feelings. I can cry for a week straight, then when someone asks how I’m feeling, I say with a straight face that I do not know. Maybe it’s the whole growing up in a Catholic family where you don’t really talk about the negative emotions – you just remove yourself from the situation and try to think about something else. It turns out, go figure, that walking away and ignoring negative emotions not only hurts our bodies physically with added internal stress leading to a depleted immune system, but it also takes away our own personal power. When we walk away and look the other way from our own emotions, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to choose how to respond to difficult situations. In essence, I stifle myself from maturing and gaining experience from the tough stuff of life…and I prevent myself from knowing ME better.

    Here’s my lesson for myself for the day: If I feel anger, frustration, rejection, hurt or humiliation, I should recognize that I have choices…and from those choices I can either choose to gain or lose power through acknowledging what I’m feeling. So often we try to push the emotions down and away to escape suffering, but that ends up working against us. It creates a sort of pressure cooker that will fester and eventually blow up.

    Finding the ability to recognize what is physically going on inside of you can be a challenge in itself, especially if you were in the habit (like me) of stuffing it back inside for decades at a time. But mustering up the courage and willingness to verbalize what you are feeling – even if just to yourself – can be a very healing experience. Don’t vent and blame, but trust yourself or someone else to listen open-heartedly to what you have to say. It can be a tremendous source of relief to have someone you feel safe enough to share your true feelings with. I grew up writing feelings in journals, but I never got in the habit of sharing with others, and it’s been a long adult life lesson to see the necessity of knowing and sharing my feelings with others in order to have deeper and more intimate and real relationships. We don’t always understand why we feel what we do, but our feelings have validity. I often feel as if I shouldn’t feel particular feelings – like I don’t have a right to be sad or upset – but learning that I am free to feel and am not wrong to feel, and I have a right to share those feelings, I come to a new personal freedom…not to mention I save my body from another internal beating.

    It’s much easier for me to know and identify the good feelings…contentment, fired up, relieved, mellow. No problemo. But the bad ones are a big problemo para mi. By the way, I’m writing this from Los Angeles as I visit my grandpa, so maybe that’s why my Espanol is coming out…don’t get much of that in Hawaii! As I was researching emotions, I found some helpful charts (below) to help us all identify just what it is we’re feeling.

    “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” ~Mr. Rogers

    “The best way out is always through.” ~Robert Frost

    …or for those of you who prefer pictures…

    Some of these thoughts were found from the article The Matrix of Emotions.