Tag Archives: growth

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!  

On Loneliness

On Loneliness

I’ve done a lot of contemplating and research on this particular post – starting in Afghanistan – I’ve written and erased and rewritten ”several” times; suffice it to say, my approach and conclusion from what I was first going to write have completely changed. Initially, I looked at the question whether or not loneliness was a choice.  But that was the wrong question, the wrong approach.  I have come to believe that loneliness is no more a choice than a sunburn is when out in the sun for too long. It’s an effect…as is the combination of the sun and lack of sunscreen. Let me explain.

Loneliness sucks. It’s a black, empty void, and a longing for love and attention and community and otherness whose absence glares and taunts us to a point of near torture. I know we’ve all felt the pang of loneliness, and I simply don’t believe someone who tells me they’ve never been lonely. People will do anything to stop being lonely – I know, I’ve been one of them and I’m not proud of the levels to which I’ve stooped, and the morals I’ve sacrificed for even a few moments of feeling less lonely. It’s like what they say about people with motorcycles…there are those who have fallen, and those who have yet to fall. So it is with loneliness…but maybe after a closer look at it, our “fall” won’t have to be so hard. 

After months of research on the topic, the most helpful explanation of loneliness was in a TED lecture on Youtube.  In his talk “The lethality of loneliness,” (from where the two images on the right were taken) John Cacioppo looks at loneliness as any other physical response and early warning system our bodies enact when some sort of adjustment is required. Our bodies feel thirst when it needs more hydration; we feel hunger when our bodies need nourishment; we feel pain when we need to protect and heal our bodies. In the same way, we feel loneliness when our lives need a social adjustment.  It’s a physical response to let us know that we’re lacking something – in this case it is more community and less isolation.  

We are a social species and isolation is like a sickness to us – our bodies let us know when we’re reaching its limit through loneliness.  In the same way babies die without human touch, we suffer and wither from isolation from others. Thus just like it would be ridiculous to ignore thirst and treat it like it doesn’t exist, so it is with turning a blind eye to loneliness.  It’s real and is not something to get used to or ignore. Our bodies are warning us that we need an adjustment – we need to fix this state and put ourselves right again.

At any given point, 40% of people feel lonely…yet it remains a hush-hush topic of embarrassment that we think if we ignore will go away. Studies now show that loneliness can actually contribute to an earlier death. In other words, this embarrassing feeling is not to be swept under the carpet and treated like a nuisance that will fix itself. Our souls need – on a survival scale – to be social with other souls…preferably other nice, kind and funny souls. Being lonely is as normal as being thirsty – and should be treated as a sign or symptom and not a blemish. Just like the image says: recognize the symptom, understand why it’s there and what it means (aka this blog), and respond by reaching out to someone. Reaching out to just one person will help. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be a little more honest and responsive with this uncomfortable feeling? Maybe now we can pick up the damn phone and call a friend…oh yeah and Facebook doesn’t count!

Powerful Beyond Measure

Powerful Beyond Measure

“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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s 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’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

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.

Go Easy on Yourself

Go Easy on Yourself


Well, I’m back in the “real world” – back from Afghanistan. I’ve been back for about two weeks. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I’m still there and have to walk across the gravel to get to the bathroom, while other mornings I wake up and the whole thing just seems like one, big dream. I was just in Afghanistan for more a year – even saying that sounds strange. There’s such an influx of soldiers and civilians trying to leave the country right now that it took me nearly a week to get on a plane out of the country. Imagine being stuck in a US airport for a week – it’s almost unheard of. Now imagine that airport being in Afghanistan and looking more like a giant metal warehouse. It was NOT fun.

As I continue to process what I just went through, I would like to put together a sort of “lessons learned” write-up. As it is, I’m still adjusting back to this world. That seems to surprise people that it’s a challenge, but unless people have been there, they don’t understand the whole “adjusting” back into life here. As I was leaving Afghanistan, a friend gave me some advice that has turned out to be very wise. She said, “Don’t expect too much of yourself, and don’t make too many plans.” It’s pretty much the exact opposite of how we as Americans today try to live our lives…try harder and do more. But now I get it. As stressful as life was back in “A-Stan,” it was at its roots very simple. There was very little (ok NO) natural beauty, so gravel and metal connex boxes became my scenery. Daily decisions were nearly obsolete – I chose between eggs and fruit for breakfast, and chicken and beef for lunch. Now, I sit and look at green grass and nearly cry because it’s so beautiful. When I’m hungry, I go online and find a million possible recipes from which to choose, then I go to the grocery store to get dinner supplies and find I’m completely overwhelmed by the number of choices I have and decisions I have to make just to leave with one simple basket of food. All the “normal stuff” suddenly seems to take twice the effort and energy as it used to. So I repeat the advice given to me as my new mantra, “Don’t expect too much of myself, and don’t make too many plans.”

Maybe this is the approach we should always take with ourselves as we transition from one phase of life to another. Can you imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if we were this gentle and forgiving of ourselves all the time? Whatever that transition may be, we’re always going through them – a divorce, a new city, a new job, a death, a new child…life’s changes sometimes drag us along whether we want to go or not. Perhaps that change is easier to adjust to and more enjoyably processed if we ease up on our own expectations and take one day at a time until we’re comfortable on our new paths. I’m not saying run away from the change, I’m saying accept it gently and slowly. It’s a concept that is foreign to today’s world. Even as I looked for quotes, nearly all the quotes pertained to “be harder on yourself,” or “expect less of others and more of yourself.” I’m putting my fist down and calling for the exact opposite. If I expected more of myself right now, I’d crumble. Instead I’m going to treat myself like a little child and walk myself through this transition one day at a time, and one grocery store basket of food at a time. I will find my new comfort zone eventually, but I’m not going to demand that it be tomorrow. Consider it.

Relationally Challenged

Relationally Challenged

I’m back to blogging – it feels like having coffee with a long-lost friend…who’s never really all that long-lost if they’re a true friend…you just pick up where you left off.

My biggest challenge here so far in this country (aside from the month-long sinus infection and now a staph infection diagnosed today – are you kidding me?!) has been my gender. The simple fact that I have a V and not a P has proved to be quite a troubling issue…and it’s not even because I’m in a country where women are looked down upon and expected to rarely seen and never heard. It’s being a woman here on base among the majority of male soldiers and contractors. Let’s tackle this one challenge at a time.

First is the gossip. As a woman, I stick out. There aren’t that many of us here, and as such, we’re noticed for every single move we make. For example, I had made a friend with a contractor here on base – let’s call him Jack – and asked if he’d like to grab coffee one day at the chapel (because the chapel has two Keurig machines available for a nice cup of joe at all times). We sat out on the small chapel porch out front in the sun and “talked story” (Hawaiian term for shared stories, laughed and forgot about work) for a little bit. I had such a nice time, I kept asking if he’d join me for coffee and it became a daily routine. I asked the guys in my office if they’d like to join for 10am coffee, and sometimes some would. Either way, I knew at 10am I got a mini break while refueling on some caffeine. This past week, I ate lunch with a Croatian soldier, and afterwards he was warned by some other person on this base to be careful where I was concerned because I was Jack’s. Hold up there, I’m whose?? If I play ping pong with someone, if I play pool with someone, if I go running with someone, it’s noticed and talked about in gossip form.

Second are the wives and girlfriends back home. Because their boyfriends and husbands have a female coworker (that would be me), they’re suspicious of any and all interaction I have with them. If I post a funny comment on one of their Facebook (because they all post funny comments to each other’s Facebooks), they immediately get the third degree…”Who’s this AMY chick posting stuff on your page?! What’s she like? Why is she posting to your page?” There was one dramatic instance where one of the guys was having a bit of a struggle with his girlfriend and I suggested he stop writing passive aggressive things to her and for a whole week just write nothing but nice and loving emails and see how she responded. He said he didn’t have any ideas, so I wrote him an email with suggestions on loving things he could write to her. WELL, his girlfriend hacked his email account a few days later and what did she find but my email with all my suggestions. She spent the next two days yelling at him over phone calls about confiding in the AMY GIRL, and since then (about a week ago) he no longer talks to me anymore. I can eat with these guys, work out with them, and work with them for over twelve hours each and every day, but there’s a subtle and constant reminder – I’ll never really be one of the guys here.

Third is lack of women. I really have come to value female friendship over the course of my life…it’s one of those essential elements we as women need for a healthy life. You can try to argue with me that you are happier with men as friends, but I can argue right back with you because I used to be one of those girls, and I can tell you that life is richer and deeper and brighter with strong female friendships. I have one growing friendship with a female Croatian soldier named Vlasta – we work out together and eat meals together sometimes – but she can get pretty busy with missions at times, and sometimes I only see her once a week. In my hyper-awareness of gossip about my every action here, I set out to establish more female friendships. Last night as the work day was wrapping up around 9pm or so, I noticed the only two other girls in my office were leaving to go back to their rooms. I jumped out of my seat and went out the door with them. Once outside I said, “Hey girls, I know you hang out together sometimes, but would you ever be interested in going to grab a bite to eat together or just have some girl time like once a week or so?” Simple enough, right? Here’s me like the girl on the kindergarten playground outright asking the other girls if they will be her friend. One of the girls looked straight at me and without expression said, “No, not really.” SLAM…that was the feeling my heart felt as it was squarely rejected. I forced myself to bounce back and said as lightly as I could, “Oh ok, no problem, have a good night.” I turned and walked away and felt embarrassed and hurt – like the little schoolgirl who was just told she couldn’t be in the cool club. Ouch! I thought when we’re such a minority that us gals were supposed to stick together! What the HECK (I really would like to replace that word with something much worse) was that about? Doesn’t she know I’m cool and fun and funny and loyal and all that other great stuff that comes with a female friendship?? Ok so those two are out – the awkward part is I have to work next to them still. I will continue to be on the lookout for any new women who come to this base – they won’t even know what hit them – I won’t even ask them, I’ll just make them my friend! …poor things don’t know what’s about to hit them.

This has proven to be a difficult struggle for me. I’m a relational person stuck in a strange social test of an environment – like I’m in a glass cage for everyone to observe how I will respond to a life of no relationships or companionship. I think I’m failing the test. …or maybe I’m passing…this is the normal response of a healthy woman…getting to the point where I want to cry out, “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BE MY FRIEND?!” I can be friends with plenty of men here, it’s just I have to not care, and accept the consequence that I’ll be talked about as if I’m sneaking behind dirty connex boxes having sex with all of them. I might have quite the tarnished reputation on this base by the time I leave – all for no effort at all! Grandpa, if you’re reading this, I apologize for my lewd imagery…I blame the Navy! :)

I love that there are life lessons to be gleaned from anywhere we go in life. In the throes of war in Afghanistan, I am learning that I am more of a relational person than I realized, and that not only do I like being in friendships and relationships with other people, but I need it, I crave engaging with others. I think we all do – well, maybe not some of my geeky coworkers who just go back to their rooms and play video games every night (and I’m not talking behind their backs – they openly admit they’d rather be alone) – but I concur with the many wise sages before this time that humans NEED community and relationships and other humans. Lesson learned, Afghanistan, now what’s next?! (This should be good!)

And I took the one less travelled…

And I took the one less travelled…


The Road Less Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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




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