Q & A with Bright Side Up Author Amy Spencer {+ a giveaway!}

by Rachel on February 10, 2012

{Today I have the honor of turning my blog over to Amy Spencer, who is answering all the questions you submitted for her after I wrote about her new book, Bright Side Up. I think that after you read her answers, you’ll understand why I was gushing about this book — and her — so much!}

First of all, thank you all so much! Rachel, thanks for your amazing and thought-provoking post. And you guys for asking such questions, telling your stories and, wow, sharing so much Meeting Your Half-Orange love! And I love your questions—some of them are pretty big and deep and I wish I had time to meet up and answer them in person! But let’s do the next best thing…

Yay! It makes me happy to know there is a book in the world like this. It took a traumatic experience for me to (finally) learn how to truly live my life in a positive way, that heavy sarcasm can often equal pessimism and that by really letting go and looking forward in a positive way will bring you what you really want in life. My question for Amy would be: how do you get yourself out of a slump? While being optimistic and positive is a good thing, it takes work and sometimes life likes to beat us up a bit. So, if you’re having trouble finding the good, where do you go to get it? – Sarah @ The Cyclist’s Wife

First of all, Sarah, I want to say how much I love the line “that heavy sarcasm can equal pessimism.” Wow, you nailed it there in so few words. Often, when we’re not getting what we want, we turn to humor to deal with it. And this can be a good thing! But sometimes people get overly self-deprecating and negative, and while they disguise it as humor (e.g. “Yep, I’m already a washed up old maid at 30!”) it’s actually still affecting their lives. Joking around is great, but if the sarcastic negative jokes are your “default,” it’s worth looking at your inner “preferences” and making a change.

As for your question! Here’s one idea for how to get yourself out of a slump: You try what I call living ten minutes in the life of the ideal you. We often have a vision of what our perfect life is and then get bummed we realize our current life doesn’t match it all. For instance, in your ideal life, you’re spending half the year in Italy, and the other half planting an organic garden, buying a new car with our extra money, doing Pilates six days a week, and cooking healthy meals like the contestants on Top Chef. But in our real life we’re using overdraft to pay our bills, heating up Stouffer’s frozen pizza for dinner, and watching TiVo all night. In other words: slump. What I find it really helps is to take action by spending just ten minutes a day doing something the “ideal you” would do. Okay, you can’t spend half the year in Italy (this year!), but you can spend ten minutes on Rosetta Stone learning language or ten minutes listening to a beautiful opera song. Maybe you can’t plant the whole organic garden, but you can spend ten minutes putting an herb seed in a pot on your windowsill. Use that pocket of time to do something that makes you feel bigger and brighter and happier: Write a poem. Write a thank you note and mail it. Do fifty kettle bell squats. Take a walk around your block without your Smartphone and take in the sights and sounds around you. Make a cup of green tea and read a chapter of a good book while you sip it.

True happiness isn’t just about finding glee in huge perfect big moments, it’s about sustaining a more steady feeling of contentment that comes from knowing you are living a valuable, authentic, good life. That’s the life you daydream about living, right? One that feels easy and effortless and healthy and happy. That’s where I think you go to get the good stuff: yourself. You just need to kick yourself in the butt a little for ten minutes a day to get it.

I guess my question is, how do you remain optimistic when there truly isn’t that much to be happy about? My relationship is great — but everything else sucks! I’ve been laid off three times in the last two years, I’m struggling with bills constantly — I currently work two jobs and am seriously looking for a third. We can’t even CONSIDER moving forward with a ring or wedding because of financial constraints. It’s hard to see all my friends getting married, buying houses and having kids when we can’t even keep the cable on. – Kate

That was my same question — I’ve run into similar problems with you and the truth is, it sucks. when you dont have a stable income or are constantly interviewing for positions, it is so emotionally draining despite having the support of friends or family. – Aly

First-time commenter here – love Rachel’s blog and am an avid lurker. But all this talk about optimism finally got me to comment! I was barely surviving at work when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I quit that project, and then had to withdraw from a 2-year work/travel agreement I had worked on all of last year (while getting over a broken-off engagement), and moved back to Hickville. So, far from friends, surrounded by family hounding me to “get settled down already – you’re almost 30!”, and right now, looking for at-home work so I can look after Mom. I try to keep busy with art and reading, but goddamnit, it’s turning out harder than I thought. And I’m the sunny one in my group!!I am not sure what to ask Amy, really. See, I do have it easier than most people but knowing that still doesn’t get me out of a funk. Any suggestions, Amy? – H

Hi Kate and Aly and H (by the way, saying that reminds me of Kate & Allie, one of my favorite old shows from years ago, so thanks!). I’m putting you together because you all express feeling buried under multiple problems and wondering how the heck you climb back to the top. I’m so sorry to hear all of you are going through such rough spells, and H, I’m so, so sorry to hear about your Mom’s breast cancer. Life can do that to us sometimes, making us work really hard for the simple pleasures. Two things are coming to mind on ways that might help taking a new perspective on it.

The first is something I use both physically and emotionally: If you’re feeling pain in one area of your body or in a few areas of your life, ask yourself, “Where doesn’t it hurt?” I use this in small ways and big ones. At the dentist when the hygienist is attacking my gums, I think about my feet and wiggle them around because they feel so pain-free and happy. And I use this in life, too, when really bad stuff is shadowing the good. Because as much as life can hurt, there is always something that doesn’t hurt. There’s always a pain-free, put-your-feet-up part. But only each of us can name what it is. Maybe it’s a great relationship, which, through the eyes of people who are pining for their true loves, is a gift they would give anything for. Maybe it’s the support of friends and family. My good friend has a difficult family to say the least (calls about the mental hospital, Alzheimer’s, drug addiction and restraining orders come weekly) and to him, the idea of a supportive family would be gold at his feet. Maybe it’s your work ethic that can help you excel in the jobs you get, or your ability to enjoy time alone, or your talents.

We all do this, of course. We look at the good stuff we have and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah I have that, but the other stuff is terrible!” But really? Our “Yeah, yeah, yeah” stuff is huge! As you three can all attest, having steady work that pays the bills would be a really big deal, and yet I know there are people who think, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have a steady job and pay my rent, but I want to get my food in the door and reach my dreams” or “But I want love.” Remember that: Each of our “Yeah, yeah, yeah”s are someone else’s big dreams. And it’s not a silly thing to spend some time actively appreciating that part.

The second thing I want to just say is that I find the really, super tough times in life are the ones who make us who we are. It’s like a 20-minute aerobic routine versus a hard core boot camp: The more intense and difficult it is, the more you change and grow by the end of it. In Bright Side Up, I talk about “putting a bow on it for your future self,” and by that I mean that if you can’t see something redeeming about your life today—if things seem grueling and awful with no light at the end of the tunnel—then remember this: Your future self called and has something to tell you: “Thank you.” Because these hard times are building you. With every tough day, you are becoming stronger, smarter, wiser, and more resilient. You’re learning to be more grateful and appreciative for what you have, more forgiving, patient, and empathetic to the experiences of every single person you’ll meet for the rest of your life. As I say in the book, “If you can’t see a benefit in your present, maybe you’re giving a present to your future.” Yeah, today’s rough. But it’s making you the version of yourself who’s even better than the one you are right now. Try asking this: What are you learning? How are you growing? Who are you today who is already stronger and smarter and better than the person you were six months or two years ago? And how is today’s experience giving you for tomorrow?

My husband is out-of-town for his job 70 percent of the time, we’re having to dip into our retirement to make ends meet, all but one of my good friends have either moved or disappeared from my life, my job is sucking the life out of me and a year-long job search hasn’t helped, I lost my church community (long story) and haven’t found a new one yet, AND my relationship with my father is at a standstill of a mess, a painful situation for a former daddy’s girl. Currently fending off depression as best I can, ’cause I’ve been there before and don’t want to go back. (For the record and perspective, except for 6 months of depression in college due to family issues, I’ve always been quite the half-glass-full optimist…so this is not my usual way of looking at things. But as Kate referenced, apparently there may be seasons in life when there’s not much to be happy about — and as much as I try to appreciate “the little things,” they don’t always add up to be enough. – Melinda

Hey Melinda, I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time, too. And I hope what I said above helps in some way. But I also wanted to touch on the final thing you say here about “the little things.” It’s true, we talk so much about how we need to appreciate the little things. But what I think is funny is that just as often, it’s the big things we forget to notice. Maybe we remind ourselves to appreciate our cup of hot coffee in the morning…and then we forget to appreciate that we made it in a coffeemaker plugged into the wall of our home that has electricity is keeping us safe and sheltered which is more than so many people in this country and world have! Sometimes really stepping back and taking the Google view of our lives helps us see that stuff. And maybe it’s a reminder that these rough times will pass and that things will get better. Winter turns to spring every year, every time. And our rough seasons will pass too. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. And the farther back a view you take on this big, big life, the shorter the distance to the light will look.

I’m so glad you did this review–I didn’t even know about Amy’s new book and I think I really need it! My question is how do you maintain your happy once you “get” happy? I feel like I’m at a place where I should be happy–my life is pretty great all around–but I still have a lot of down times where I beat myself up or don’t feel confident. I can see the things I should be happy about, but I tend to focus on the negative, and I don’t like being that way! – Melissa

Just so you know, Melissa, I have those down times too! The fact is, it’s not natural or healthy to be happy all the time, and downtimes are a part of the journey. So please, don’t beat yourself up, for beating yourself up! It’s normal, it’s natural. Plus, without the down times, how would we know we were experiencing a good one?

When it comes to your confidence, please, please remember, we are all unique, special, amazing people, in bodies of all shapes and sizes, personalities across the board, and all of us good at different things. So if you’re not feeling confident, remember, you’re the only one of you. You’re the only one who looks like you, walks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, and laughs like you, and that is a gift to everyone you come across. As I say in Bright Side Up, your life is art. In the same way mistakes in a stamp make them collectors’ items, you are art in just the same way so whatever you might get down about, remember that might just the thing you should be showing off.

And when it comes to feeling generally down, I find one trick that helps is to ask your 100-year-old self what you should do. Picture your older, wiser self, with a lifetime of experiences and loves behind you, rocking proudly on your front porch. And if you’re stuck or nervous or scared or uncertain about what to do next, ask your 100-year-old self what you should do! Because that version of you will be a voice of conviction and strength who reminds you that this little bump you’ve hit is just that—a bump. You will get over it, move past it, and learn from it. This is a down, but there will be an up. There will be lots of ups, actually. And when you’re in your next one, you’ll be even more grateful to be there because you can look back at the down and really see how far you’ve come.

Kate and Melissa took my questions! Hehe. I LOVED “Meeting Your Half Orange” – and I think I heard about it here first! About a month after I read the book I got an e-mail from a long-time friend who I’d been romantically interested in. Things had never worked out for us and I’d moved on. But it turns out, he had not, and tomorrow is one year since our first date. – Jacki

I know this wasn’t a question, Jacki, but I just had to say yay! That is amazing! I’m so happy the book worked for you. And by “worked” I don’t always mean “led you to the guy of your dreams the next day” but I mean that it changed the way you felt about your life and viewed saw the love opportunities that came your way. And I’m so happy this love opportunity is going strong!

My question is similar to Melissa’s. I think there’s more to being with your half-orange than just meeting them. What are her best advice for “keeping” your half-orange? For keeping positive through the rough patches and maintaining that spark? – Mel

Yup, I was wondering that too! – Rachel

These are great questions about keeping your half orange, I love it! And yeah, I do have a book full of ideas on how to keep things happy…maybe I will get to write that one, too. Here’s one thing I find really helps: Look at your relationship from the tourists point of view. Here’s what I mean. I think it’s safe to say that the people who live in Giza, Egypt you don’t take photos of themselves every day in front of the pyramids, right? Because when you live there and walked past them every day, they don’t seem as special. We do that, too. We get used to what’s around us every day. That’s called habituation, and it’s necessary for survival, as our brains just can’t handle reacting to the same things every day just as fully as they did day one.

So my advice is to look at your life and ask yourself this: “If I had to run an open top bus tour of my relationship to visitors who didn’t have one like it, what would you show off?” Make a list of all the great Kodak-worthy stop that are right in front of you. Maybe your partner makes a great spaghetti carbonara or has the same taste in spicy takeout. Maybe they’re kind when they see your friends, or maybe they teach you how to be tough. Maybe they watch The Bachelor with you, or maybe they show you what all the fuss of European football is all about. In relationships, we get so used to looking at the things we wish they did, and all the qualities we wish they had, that we forget to a tourist who doesn’t have a relationship like this, look at all the stuff worth writing a postcard home about! Write out the stops on your tour. Then, the next time your partner does that funny dance when Beyoncé comes on, you’ll remember you really do have it going on.

Once your optimism has led you to All The Wonderful Things, how do you deal with the fear that you’re going to lose it all? I seriously am turning into a crazy person with my fears of death of a loved one, something horrible happening to my pets, losing my job, the world ending, etc. – Rachel 

Oh my gosh, Rachel, you’re describing me to myself! I actually have an intense fear of death for myself and my loved ones. I’m not kidding! I exhale with relief every time my husband and family and friends and I make it through another day. But what’s funny is that I think my over-the-top fear of death is exactly what gives me my optimism in life! Because what better way to appreciate the day you’re living now then to fear you might lose it tomorrow? Now, I’m not recommending everyone start worrying. But I do that if you have a great fear of losing something, appreciate this a sign that you have something worth having. How exciting, right? It’s a gift to have someone or something in your life so special that you are terrified of losing it. And as hard as you struggle with the fears, give thanks. Because that’s a pretty good sign that you got something awesome going on.

Now that you’re branded as an optimist, do you feel pressure to be optimistic all the time? I feel like there are a lot of cynics in the world who might be hoping to “prove you wrong” so to speak. – Rachel

That’s so funny, because lately people have been asking me that! But actually, no, I don’t feel pressure to be optimistic all the time. Optimism I just do. Always have and I always will. Because I really do believe that in the big board game of our lives, things will work out for the best if we’re determined that they do. Here’s what’s interesting—and those of you who read Meeting Your Half-Orange might remember this. Optimism and positivity are actually two different things. Optimism is a belief, believing that things will work out in the end. Positivity, on the other hand, is a feeling, working up the energy to feel positive. So optimism is just something I believe in, plain and simple. As for feeling positive, I don’t feel pressure from others to be positive, but if I’m feeling down for too long, I just don’t like that feeling, and prefer to come at it from a new angle.

Cynics love to say that optimism and positivity are not Band-Aids on the big problems of life. And that’s true! They’re not a Band-Aids. I seem them more as healing salves, tools that can actively help you feel better about your life or situation. My book Bright Side Up doesn’t tell you to smile through the bad times. What it does is remind you that there are different perspectives to take on every thing that happens. In every bad situation, there is another angle to take on it. Every day, it is our choice to look at the different perspectives and choose which one we feel works best. And you know what? Sometimes I feel like taking the perspective that shows me laying on my couch under the duvet eating a heaping bowl of popcorn watching Parenthood and sobbing. And sometimes I take the one where I’m kicking my depressed butt out of the house and going for a power walk so my endorphins can help me feel better. But I really try not to worry about other people’s opinions on how I live my life. Because however someone else might feel about it, I’m darn happy with how I’m doing it.

I consider myself an optimist but I feel like I can’t always get there in a day. Sometimes you just want to wallow for a little while, right? How much time should we give ourselves to just feel upset/angry/cranky before we start utilizing the tips in your book? – Rachel 

Oh, yeah, I’m all about wallowing sometimes! (See: Me on couch with popcorn and Parenthood, above). I’m a big fan of rest in general. I like to remind us all that of 24 hours in a day, 1/3 of them are supposed be spent sleeping! One third! And I think the same can be said for our general state of mind. We can’t be happy and upbeat and energetic and even hopeful 100% of the time. I don’t think we’re built to sustain that. So when you don’t have it in you, rest. Wallow if you feel like it. Mute your phone, order takeout, be cranky, rip up the junk mail with extra fervor just for fun. And then, yeah, when you’re starting to get annoyed with even yourself, open up Bright Side Up or something else that might offer you another positive point of view, and read a page. Just take one small step, slowly and let it rejuvenate you just enough. You don’t need to go from 0 to 60 of happiness. Sometimes going five miles faster feels just better enough. And that’s the idea behind my book. I don’t mean for people to start using all one hundred ways to be happy right this second! Read the book, take it all in, and use the ideas that feel right when you need them. I wrote it to give people tools to carry with you for the rest of your life. This life thing is a long-term game, right? And I think if you can get better at seeing a new perspective of the situations you’re in, you’ll feel much happier in life along the way.

Well! I feel much better about my crazy fear of someone I love dying and I loved reading all of Amy’s answers to your questions! 

Now for the giveaway: to enter to win a copy of Bright Side Up, leave a comment on this post saying something negative that has been on your mind lately that you’re going to turn into a positive. For example: “I’m totally irritated that Indiana ruined a rug last night by stomping his own excrement into it like he was turning grapes into wine, but I’m really pumped because that means tonight I get to go to Target and buy a new rug! And I love Target!” 

Leave your comment by Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 11:59 PM EST and I’ll choose a random winner from there!

{Updated: the giveaway is now closed and the winner is comment #32: Becca. Her comment: “Uh, where do I start? Not sure if it’s “SAD” or what, but I have been in a Funk lately. One area I’ve been struggling with for a while is my job. There’s lots of frustration going on, but one thing I feel like I can control is my productivity. I feel like my projects are going no where, and I have no idea what I do with my time each day. I’m going to spend some time next week setting deadlines for myself and a couple goals.” Becca, I’ll e-mail you to get your info soon ASAP!}

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 cassie February 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I keep worrying and dwelling on the chance that I am more in love with my boyfriend than he is with me. I need to focus on the fact that I am lucky to have found someone to love so much who loves me back.


2 deva at deva by definition February 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I’m totally bummed that our stove has been…kaput for over a week now (and we don’t know if we are buying a new one yet), but excited that I get to try lots of new crock pot recipes.


3 Rachel s February 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with my tendencies to bake goodies and promptly eat myself sick. I’ve had this big bag of sugar giving me the side eye from my pantry shelf for awhile, and wanted to just throw it away so i wouldnt keep baking things. But I’ve also been trying to budget better and not let money go to waste…so it’s a predicament. Today I took the sugar and made two huge jars of sugar scrub to keep in my bathroom! I love bath stuff!


4 Anna February 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I’m REALLY IRRITATED that I can’t run right now because something was wrong with my foot, but I’m glad because, in going to a free injury clinic, I found out that the problem is actually with my hip flexors. I’m looking forward to fixing the problem and avoiding this in the future. Plus, the fix-it exercises will make my legs awesomely strong.


5 RAIN February 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I have been kind of down on my wardrobe lately. Every morning I feel like I can’t find something fashionable and comfortable to wear.
So, I am going to go through my closet this weekend and weed some clothes out and assess what I need and don’t need, wear and don’t wear.

Kind of a superficial thing…but it has been bothering me!


6 Becca February 11, 2012 at 11:55 am

I totally go through this every morning! I just donated a bunch of clothes, I’m just struggling to replace them. I think I’ll do some online shopping at The Limited to stock up!


7 Kristi Miller February 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I recently went through my closet– reorganized, donated what I didn’t wear, made some tough decisions about getting rid of jeans I’ve been trying to fit in since high school, and color coded the remaining items. I also turned all the hangers around backwards– when i wear something, the hanger is turned the correct way, whatever hangers haven’t been switched in 1 year will be donated! Color coding will change your life. Trust me.

Good luck! and I’m following your blog now!


8 Julann February 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I have been consumed that my ex did not pick me, but someone else. I am going to do my best to let go and realize I deserve to be with someone that does not even have to consider choosing someone else. I deserve someone that wants to be with only me. I deserve more than what I have been giving myself credit for.


9 Katy H. February 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I’ve always considered myself subpar, slow, and weak when it comes to sports, but that’s never stopped me from trying anyway. This winter, I signed up for a highly competitive, but friendly indoor Ultimate Frisbee league. Before the season even started I had already psyched myself out that I was going to be the worst player on the team and couldn’t throw or defend worth a damn and I was gonna hate going every single week. On the day of my first game, I decided to wash the negativity down the drain because it wasn’t doing anything but holding me back and I had nothing to lose by walking in to the game with confidence. I’m glad I did because it turns out my teammates, while yes they are all better players than me, are actually really friendly and helpful at showing me how to get better. I missed a game and they all asked where I was and said they missed me. Now frisbee night is my favorite night of the week. BTW, I’m currently reading Half-Orange and I definitely applied some of the principles to my athletic confidence. Thanks Amy for the inspiration!


10 Sarah February 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Wow, that brightened my day!
Recently, I’ve been feeling sort of bored and slump-y, but recently I had a “getting it” moment – I will not always have this much free time. I’m not actually unhappy or bored, I was just feeling that way because I thought I looked that way. I don’t mind being by myself, and I LOVE having the time to work out a lot, etc. So I’m going to cherish the “me time” while I have it instead of wishing my life was more… whatever.


11 Jenny February 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

This might sound silly, but every time I finish a really good book, I get kind of bummed out… like I never wanted it to end. So after finishing a great one last night, I’m sort of… blah… today. But I’m planning to start The Hunger Games series this weekend!


12 julie February 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

All the changes at work require constant flexibility and…drive me nuts….On the upside- I’ve been at this agency for 8 years and I really feel like I’m learning more and growing every day!


13 Kaitlin February 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

My husband and I had a miscarriage in October and I was completely devastated. Now I worry about getting pregnant again and having it all go healthy. The positive I take from this is at least having to “try to make a baby” is always fun and when it does happen we know the baby will be our little miracle!


14 Jacki February 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Yay! I’m having such a fangirl moment here. Amy, I love this definition of “worked” – “And by “worked” I don’t always mean “led you to the guy of your dreams the next day” but I mean that it changed the way you felt about your life and viewed saw the love opportunities that came your way.”

That’s just how it was. The bonus was that the love of my life came along quickly! :)

Lately my negatives are all work. The manager’s approach is to send out scathing emails to our entire team that say (I’m paraphrasing) “YOU SUCK, WORK HARDER!!” She has no concept of what we actually do, or deal with, or how long it can take to fix a report. So my positive spin … um, well I have to be happy I’ve got an income, for sure, but really at this point I’m letting this place teach me what I DON’T want to do as a professional, how I WON’T manage people when I’m the boss, and it’s making me even more determined to find a way to create a new career for myself. I will be able to thank this place one day for never letting me become comfortable or satisfied staying put.


15 Melissa February 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

My (lack of) job & dudes in my life has been incredibly frustrating and disappointing for a while now, but I have been making a conscious effort to have a better attitude and focus on the positive things in my life and what I bring to the table since the new year started, and I have been interviewing like crazy over the past month, and believe I will have a new job worthy of me soon (and hopefully from there the dude will follow).


16 Sarah @ The Cyclist's Wife February 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Amy/Rachel, thank you for the response. I absolutely love the 10 minute idea! I will be putting this in my pocket for my next slump. This is such a positive post, thanks for spreading the love to everyone.


17 Emily February 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I love a lot of things about my life right now, but there’s this thing I can’t get past: my husband has been unemployed for a long time. We’re “almost making it,” which really means that we’re slowly digging our hole deeper and deeper. Today, we got some icky financial bad news, and we DIDN’T get the call we were hoping for about a new job.

On days like today, I really struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel hopeless, like we’ll never get out of this hole.

The best I can do, today, is to “put a bow on it for future me.” We’re going to come out of this stronger as a couple, financially smarter, and so much more grateful for stability. In fact, I know I’ve already learned a lot from this experience: like how to be happier with less, how to thrift shop, and what’s really valuable to me. Now I’m ready for the “future” part, please!


18 Tina February 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I’m extremely overwhelmed at my new job and it’s been getting me down, but I also need to remember that it’s been my dream to work here. I’ll start focusing on the good days instead of dwelling on the crazy, hectic ones!


19 Angie February 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Work people have been pissing me off so badly that I want to quit. I seriously cannot stand the morons I work with, whose lives are so miserable they try to bring everyone else down, BUT it is positive because it’s motivating me to finally go to grad school and do what I (think I) want to do.


20 Anna February 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I’m annoyed that I didn’t bring enough clothing with me when I moved to NYC a few months ago, but on the bright side, it makes dressing easier and my closet/dresser isn’t exploding!


21 Rachel @ Healthy Chicks February 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Ohhhh myyyy Rachel, I can not thank you enough to introducing me to Amy Spencer and her amazing story and books. This post was a true inspiration, and yes I am reading it at 9 p.m. on a Friday night with a glass of Pinot nonetheless.

I can’t wait to purchase Meeting Your Half Orange for a few friends in need, and already have Bright Side Up on my “must buy” list.

Negative thought of the week: I tend to get worried I’m not “successful enough” compared to some of my 9-5 friends or that I won’t make enough money to live the life I want to live, a common concern as I’m just starting my own business as a holistic health coach.

Turning it Around: I created a vision board (huge fan) of all the stuff I want in life and remind myself every day of all that I can achieve and how darn hard I work at it. It reminds me that I’m passionate and worth it! Things are already starting to look up in just these past two days. Opportunity knocks when you need it :)


22 Jen February 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I’m really irritated that my in-laws are visiting all weekend, when I have a million other things to do and don’t *always* enjoy their company 100%. But, I’m going to see it as a positive chance to see my husband happy with his parents and get a couple of free meals at fancy restaurants out of the deal! :)


23 Katie February 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm

My work has been crazy for the past few months! However, I have learned to enjoy the days flying but and have learned to set boundaries! Since I know I am busy, I am more motivated to get everything done so I can leave work on time and work out! It’s a happy medium and I have come to enjoy it!


24 Megan February 11, 2012 at 12:57 am

Amazing post!! I had never really thought about the fact that my sarcasm was attempting to push away the bigger issues underneath, but that makes total sense (duh Megan). I had kind of a rough start to university, and now in my second year I’ve been struggling a lot with feeling “worth it.” Mainly because I don’t. Not having any guys on the scene (or having had any guys on the scene…for quite a while) sort of compounds on those fears. Anyways, I’m going to turn that around by searching the library catologue for Amy’s Half Orange book as soon as I click submit!


25 Elizabeth February 11, 2012 at 1:23 am

I’m frustrated right now with the lack of boys in my life, but thankful that I can use this time to concentrate on more personal things!


26 Amanda @ Click. The Good News February 11, 2012 at 7:01 am

Yesterday, our vacation plans totally went to hell in handbasket and about half our trip is ruined. I know these are FWP and WPP, but I was still so upset and mad. I know we are still on vacation and will hopefully find something else fun/exciting to do, but it still sucks and I’m still really bummed. Trying to remain positive and regroup with a plan to be happy…

Thanks for the giveaway!


27 Mallory February 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

I recently moved across the country for a medical fellowship, and it turned out to be very different from what I expected. I’ve been so focused on how this position isn’t measuring up to what it was sold to be, but I think it’s time for a change of perspective. I’m going to learn what I can from my supervisors, and use this experience as a way to really take note of what I do/don’t want in a career. When the time comes for job searching, I’ll be prepared to choose a hospital position that is a better fit.


28 Emma February 11, 2012 at 10:03 am

First of all, I’m glad to see that my intense fear of my loved ones (or myself) dying isn’t totally uncommon. I always think of some line in The OC, where the wise blonde chick tells Seth that Summer is acting like a bitch bc now that she has what she wants/something really great, she’s afraid of losing it. I completely agree with Amy that The Fear can be directed in a positive way to remind you to appreciate your loved ones to the max.

As for something negative turned positive: I’m a ‘pleasure-delayer,’ do I often take something I don’t want to do and tell myself Im doing it to ‘earn’ something positive. For example, I have to clean the bathroom to earn going out to dinner. Right now, work has *taken over my life* in a way that I hate; but I know everything I’m doing now will be worth it while I’m on vacation next week (for my BFF from high school’s wedding!) because I will be able to relax, knowing how much I’ve already accomplished.

Thank you for the post and the giveaway, Amy and Rachel!


29 Michelle February 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

I’m at an age where I’m ready for kids & everyone around me keeps announcing they’re pregnant. It isn’t happening that easily for us, so I’m going to enjoy some cocktails & a big plate of sushi!


30 Danielle February 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do in graduate school, but I can recognize that I am working towards a degree in a field that I love and learning more each day!


31 Caitlin February 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

I recently moved to Denver with my boyfriend. While he was transferred with work, I am left applying to a ridiculous amount of jobs and not hearing back from any. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been trying to work out everyday and reveling in the fact that I have a ton of “me” time. I know everything will come together in time.


32 Becca February 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Uh, where do I start? Not sure if it’s “SAD” or what, but I have been in a Funk lately. One area I’ve been struggling with for a while is my job. There’s lots of frustration going on, but one thing I feel like I can control is my productivity. I feel like my projects are going no where, and I have no idea what I do with my time each day. I’m going to spend some time next week setting deadlines for myself and a couple goals.


33 Katie @ Doing Dewey February 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I hate not living in the same place as my boyfriend, but I’m enjoying finding new ways to do things together and having more time to develop my own hobbies.


34 Anne Weber-Falk February 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I am bummed that my daughter won’t do her fair share around the house but I will use this as a teaching lesson for all of us to motivate her more and keep all of us on task to make our shared space nicer and more comfortable.


35 Kate February 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Things are rotten at work right now (negative co-workers who sabotage and talk behind your back) but I am going to appreciate the fact that I have one really wonderful down to earth friend at this job and we are going out to dinner! (Our second Friend Date!) and second, remember that I’m DONE with the job come end of May… there is a light at the end of the tunnel (and the fact that I do have a job and that it pays well is something to remember and appreciate!).


36 Elizabeth February 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I’ve been pretty down on the fact that I’m single (and have been for a long time). However, I’m in law school so spend a ton of time studying, and I realized that if I wasn’t single, I wouldn’t be able to spend as much of my non-studying time to do the things that I want! For now, I’m appreciative of the fact that I can go running, or hang out with my girlfriends, or just lay comatose on the couch watching re-runs in my free time without worrying about another person’s schedule. Turning a negative into a positive!

Also I loved this post! It really gave me more insight on how to look at life differently when I’m not happy.


37 Ana February 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Lately, I’ve been frustrated and disappointed in myself because I’ve been studying my ass off for my med school exams, but I still score below the mean. I’ve been trying to deal with this by 1) being grateful that I’m even in med school (I have a few friends who are reapplying this year) and getting closer to my dream of becoming a doctor 2) reminding myself that there are more important things than high grades to being a good doctor 3) the score is not as important as learning what my weaknesses are and improving upon them (It’s better to get things wrong on a test than messing up while interacting with patients) 4) not comparing myself to others, and focusing on doing the best that I can 5) being grateful for highly motivated classmates who encourage me to work hard


38 Lindsey February 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I have been freaking out about wedding planning. Trying to find a place in our (SMALL) budget that doesn’t totally suck, and everything else on top of it. I’ve started to focus on the fact that I will be marrying my best friend so in the end, the wedding doesn’t matter- it’s the marriage. Cliché but true!


39 Jessica February 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I’m pissed that I’ll be playing bridesmaid to three of my very best friends this summer and I don’t even have a date to bring to/dance with at the weddings. On the bright side, I get to play dress up in pretty dresses and makeup three times and hang out in the front of a room of men I’ve mostly never met, so I just may find a good one (or two) ;).


40 Corey February 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I’ve been really upset lately because I feel like I am doing school work 24/7, with literally no time for a social life or relaxing. Normally I’m more positive about school (I actually love being in school most of the time!), but it’s really been getting to me recently. I think I just need to focus on being thankful that I am able to be in and afford school when so many aren’t or can’t. While reading chapters upon chapters every night along with writing papers and doing assignments is not the most fun thing ever, I’m really lucky I have the opportunity to do so.


41 Erin February 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I’ve been feeling really out of shape and overweight lately. Instead of wallowing about it, I decided to join a gym and find a bunch of workouts online that I can do there.


42 Heidi Nicole February 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I rolled my ankle on ice during a run this week…my first three weeks of marathon training rocked and then I rolled my stupid ankle. My ankle is better but its almost the end of week 4 of training and I’m 22 miles short. I can’t make those miles up. It pisses me off!

But…I’d rather have something like this go down in the first few weeks of marathon training rather than the last few weeks, I might not be able to make up the miles per say, but I can most definitely recover my training time!


43 Cameo February 12, 2012 at 11:10 am

My colleague is acting like a bat-shit, crazy person and accusing me of being some sort of power-hungry mastermind. Positive: I come across as powerful! Wait, no…. The real positive is that I have had enough therapy and thus I have the tools to deal with people who come unhinged and get all passive-aggressive and personal over stupid work shit. I will be as empathetic and compassionate as I can while continuing to search for a new job.

Did I do that right? Feels off. I think I need the book.


44 Kristi Miller February 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I love this! Good luck in your job search!


45 Stephanie February 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’ve been mostly gloom and doom for the past few months. I have been studying for a huge professional licensing exam since December (bye bye social life), am grieving the loss of the longest friendship of my life, suffered a horrific ankle sprain last week, am going through a huge transition at my job while actively searching for a new one, and have been in a long-distance relationship for over a year and a half.

But I know that the test will be over in a few weeks, that I have the inner strength to get through the grief and move forward despite losing that friendship, that the ankle will heal, that I will make it through the work issues (not to mention my good fortune to actually HAVE a job and be invited to interview for new positions), and that I am so lucky to have met, fallen for, and made it work with a wonderful man despite the distance between us.

Thank you, Rachel and Amy, for helping remind me of all the good things in my life.


46 Casey February 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm

What a wonderful experience for you to interview your favorite author!!

I found this post when Jaclyn linked up for Lots of Link Love with me this week. I hope you’ll consider checking it out, and maybe even link up with my for the next Lots of Link Love on February 25th!



47 ashleigh February 13, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’ve been stressed about my new apt because it’s really expensive but everything seems to be going wrong or not up to my standards of living.. too cold, electrical outlets don’t work, bath doesn’t work. I keep reminding myself that it’s just temporary and with no lease I can move as soon as I find something better!


48 Lindsey @ Stink and Hincks February 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

I am frustrated with the the relationship that I have with my sister and the lack of effort I feel that she puts forth into it…but! I am so thankful to have a sister and cherish the memories when we were the very best of friends.


49 Lindsay February 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

I’ve been bumming out recently at the idea that after living with my boyfriend for 2 years, I’m finally going to grad school…in Charleston, SC while he stays in NJ for his job, But on the upside he does HAVE a job and I’m lucky enough to even have the opportunity to do this program. Plus it’ll make every time we do see each other even more special and I’ll get twice as much me time in the meantime!


50 Jess February 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’ve slacked off in the last eight months or so about running. When I used to run 10 miles without an issue, I’m now struggling to run 3 miles without stopping. But this motivates me to lace up my shoes and get out the door (and to go to yoga more…my core aches now).


51 Frances February 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I’m bummed that I have to drive out of town for work again tomorrow, but I’m excited that the car and opposing counsel’s office will have heat as the heat in my office is currently not working and I have frozen fingers.


52 H February 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hi Amy & Rachel! Thanks for your kind wishes re: Mom, and y’all might be happy to know that Chemo#3 is out of the way with surgery happening later this month – the docs are really optimistic about recovery and survival, so plenty to be thankful about :)

And funny you mentioned boot camp, Amy – I have been considering re-starting AND finishing marathon training. I had started in 2008 from being a total beginner, kept at it for 6 months but ended up giving running up for less time-consuming but more stressful things (school, mostly), then picked it up again in 2010-11 before it fell to the wayside again (due to working as a freelance consultant). P’haps, third time’s the charm, eh?

Thanks again, y’all!


53 Maggie February 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Am very sad to be at work right now instead of watching Downton Abbey, which has taken over my life. Never fear. I will turn this sadness into a positive around 6 pm this evening.


54 Kristi Miller February 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I’m suggesting this book for our book club! I loved all of the answers to reader’s posts. I loved what Amy said in one of her responses– winter turns to spring every year, every time. What a great message.

I’m totally broke after closing costs and down payments, but I scrimped and saved and now I’m totally pumped that I will be closing on my first place on Friday! I did it all on my own which is an awesome feeling!


55 Mel February 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Rachel you are not alone – I have way-too-frequent “omfg mortality” moments, staying up late making sure my siblings/ loved ones are OK. Glad to know lots of others relate.

I really liked Amy’s advice too! I have an ongoing note in my phone that I call “the list” where I write down little things about my guy / relationship that I like. I was never sure why I do it (I’ve done it with other relationships too) but it has come in handy during the tough times. I also liked how most of this advice offered a change in perspective instead of “in your face” optimism.

As for me: my living/ work situation is less than ideal and it’s starting to wear on me that I’m at home working a job that doesn’t afford me any other options (good job but PT, hourly and no benefits). I also don’t know if I want to stay in the field! Fortunately, the job has allowed me flexibility to make plans, connected me with a supportive boss and given me unparalleled experience and responsibility. I’m thinking that all my experience now will add up to the right gig eventually.


56 Kristi Miller February 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I completely agree with your comments!


57 Megan February 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I’m really irritated that I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in a week because my kitten only operates on business hours. But I am so grateful that I have the kitten because, living alone in a new city, it gives me company and something to take care of!


58 Carolyn February 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Instead of being bummed that my vacation isn’t panning out, I’m going to try to be happy that now I have time to save up money for my next vacation and that maybe there’s a reason I wasn’t supposed to go on the originally-planned vacation.


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