My sister Lally and I were enumerating/discussing ex-boyfriends and other unlabeled romances the other night… as sisters will sometimes do on a random summer Saturday…
…and it reminded me that I had a related reader request lying somewhere in my inbox. And here it is!
I actually answered this one straight off when I got it, because it was kind of a no-brainer.
But I did save it, since I knew I’d want to expound a little further someday. Because my reader (and Neil Gaiman) were totally right.
Falling in love really is a messy business. And heartbreak totally sucks.
The worst part? It doesn’t even have to be romantic love for it to hurt. Any kind of love can break your heart. In fact, I sometimes think non-romantic heartbreak hurts even more.
Like losing a parent or a dear friend, for example…
Or having your BFF move away to another country…
Or seeing a child you care about, in any sort of pain. All these things (and more) break your heart too … just as badly, if not WORSE, than a bad breakup with some boy.
(See the rest of the comic here)
It’s sad but true. LOVE BITES, man. So why bother at all, right? Why put your heart out there if you know it’ll likely be broken?
Because the alternative is so much more miserable. Choosing not to love, never getting attached, just so you never get hurt? That’s no way to live a life.
Any life worth living is a continuous cycle of falling in love and getting your heart broken. It’s just the levels of love and heartbreak that vary. Whatever the case, and as sucky as that may seem, the process is necessary.
If you never love and lose, you never learn the truth… that every heartbreak - no matter how howl-at-the-moon-horrible it may be - eventually HEALS. And it’s so important to find that out.
People think surviving life is all about being all hard and tough, but if you ask me, the real triumph is learning that you are resilient. That you’re more rubber than steel. That no matter how far or hard or painfully you fall, you can and will bounce back eventually.
When you realize this, you’ll see that there isn’t much life or love can throw at you that you can’t handle.
That is all. Hope it helps. :)
It’s been a while since I answered a reader request, and I got one the other day that made me sit up and giggle a bit.
Because really, I’ve been nothing BUT lazy the past few days. I don’t know if it’s just because I think I have a good excuse to lie around and “rest” a lot these days, or because since I quit smoking, I also sort of quit coffee and so I’m just sleepy all the time.
Anyway here’s the question…
First of all, sorry for making this public, but I did leave out your name so your secret’s safe, my anonymous reader. :)
Secondly, I kind of giggled when I got this because I happen to think I’m kind of a lazy person myself. I mean, how many posts do I have of me lying around in bed?
Ummm, a lot, trust me.
So yeah, I may not be the best person to answer this. Kind of a “blind leading the blind” scenario, if you ask me. :) But no, kidding aside, I have to admit that although I can be pretty lazy at times (like most weekends) it’s usually because I spent the rest of the week working like crazy.
And that’s the thing. I think that most of us tend to look at ourselves or others being all Slothy McSlothster and think “AHA! LAZY!!” when actually, it’s more often something else. Like plain old TIRED.
I read an interesting article on The Organic Sister that goes as far as to claim that laziness doesn’t even exist.
It’s just a word we’ve given to explain away something deeper and messier that we’d prefer to ignore. Think of it as a symptom. It’s a sign that something else is going on beneath the surface.
Hmm. Interesting. If it’s not laziness, then what could it be? The article gives 6 alternatives to consider:
And the more I think about it, the more I tend to agree. Maybe we’re not actually LAZY. What we think of as laziness could actually be as simple as not having enough sleep or nutrition (which does affect energy levels considerably). Or it could be more complicated. Maybe we’re depressed or afraid, and either unaware of it or unwilling to admit it to ourselves.
Personally I think that laziness is often just a sign that we’re lacking inspiration and motivation. Because you’ll notice that when you’re passionate and excited and really interested in something, laziness and procrastination just fly out the window.
So before trying to figure out how to stop being lazy, maybe it would be good to think first about whether it really is laziness that you need to address, or something else… and move forward from there.
There is no magic cure. There is only your own willpower and determination, and the belief that you deserve more from life than what you are allowing yourself to receive. So stop being your own worst enemy. Get up, get out there, and grab hold of the awesomeness that awaits.
Hope this helps. Good luck! :)
Apologies for what will undoubtedly be TMI, but it’s been “the wrong time of the month” for me for HALF A MONTH now, so I think that might explain why I haven’t quite been myself the past few days. Honestly, I’m feeling so drained. I’m pretty sure this is how vampire victims feel.
So anyway I haven’t much been in the mood for anything except for a few drawings here and there on the Fabstagram, but I did get another reader request, and I think I have enough energy to answer that. So here goes…
Here’s the question:
First of all, let me say that in my book 30 is young. But then that’s me. I’m obviously biased. But interestingly, 30 is also the age that I myself decided to quit my day job and venture out on my own, so I can totally relate.
I think that really happens when you hit a certain point in your life — you look around you and think “Is this it? Is this all my life is going to be?” and your soul cries out “NOOOOOOO!!!”
Well, my soul did anyway. So I quit teaching (which I loved, but was sort of finding a little too draining… hmm, sounds familiar), and decided to give freelance writing a try, with my friend and fellow copywriter Troy.
We had so many plans! So many dreams! And so we set off, wrote ourselves up, and sent out a bunch of flyers by FAX — which might give you an idea of how long ago this was.
We did get a few bites, and made a little money, but sad to say it didn’t quite pan out the way we thought it would. A little under a year later, we weren’t jumping around in freelance glee quite as much anymore.
And eventually I caved and went and got myself employed again. Still writing, luckily, but this time with a steady paycheck and benefits.
This is not very encouraging, is it? I know. I SUCK. But I swear I’m not being a dream-killer. The reason I told this somewhat pathetic story is to drive home some pretty important points:
- If you hate where you are right now, you owe it to your sobbing soul to give a new path a try, even if you might fail.
- If you do fail, it’s not the end of the world. You can always find another day job.
- Things change. Dreams change. Passions change. Goals change. Careers change. The secret to surviving life is recognizing this, and learning to be flexible.
Now that I look back at that time, I realize that I didn’t succeed because (1) I didn’t really think things through and plan properly, and (2) I didn’t realize that doing what you love - on your own - also requires that you do other stuff that you might not love as much.
I am more of a creative type than a businessperson, so the little details of running a business are like “GAH! Yuck!” for me. I actually prefer to be employed, or have someone else take care of the nitty-gritties so I can just be free to create.
The thing is, I never would have known this if I didn’t try. I personally think it would be a little irresponsible of me to tell you straight out to quit your day job, because I don’t know enough about your life and responsibilities. But if you are young (you are, trust me) and not supporting anyone but yourself, GO FOR IT.
Here’s what she said:
Inspiring, right? So yeah, I say go for it. But as Johanna says, think it through properly. Don’t just jump in. Do your research, and do the math. Plan. And save up, because you need to expect that things might not pick up right away.
Hope this helps! If you need a little more input, Homegrown.ph has a fantastic flowchart that might come in handy. (Click on the pic for a larger view)
Whatever it is you decide to do — stay or go — remember that success and happiness are really determined by the attitude you decide to bring into the life you choose. Sometimes, it turns out that you don’t really need to discover new lands — just that you need to look at the land you’re in with new eyes.
Good luck! :)
I don’t know why this is, but it seems my reader requests get tougher and tougher as the months go by. I got another one the other day, and even as I write this, I’m not quite sure how to answer.
Here’s the RR in full. I got it the day after I wrote that post about The Spotlight Effect.
First of all, allow me to say…
OMG. What a nice boyfriend this guy is. Right?? You kinda rock, dude. Seriously.
This is why I feel so terrible about having to admit that I’m not sure I can help you. Getting between a girl and her relationship with her friends can be kind of sticky. Even when we know there’s truth to what’s being said, even when deep inside we’re aware some friends are toxic, we tend to get defensive when others criticize them.
So in this particular issue, both my superpowers and yours are limited. Not only because of the whole “How dare you criticize my friends???” thing, but also because I think the issue is not really so much about your girlfriend’s friends. If she believed in herself a little more, their opinions wouldn’t affect her so much, so I suspect the issue is more one of self-esteem.
And as much as you’d like to, you can’t GIVE someone self-esteem — no matter what you say, or how you say it. A sense of self-worth is something people have to build on their own, and it often takes years — in some cases, practically a lifetime.
I realize this is a bit of a bummer to hear…
… but it’s true.
Having said that however, I do have some advice for you on how to help her as she goes through her journey to the discovery of her own awesomeness.
First of all, understand that if this whole “my friends bring me down because I believe their crap instead of believing in myself” situation is going to change, she has to WANT it to change first.
It’s kind of like quitting smoking. You know it’s bad for you. You know it’s stupid. You know you have to stop. Everyone tells you to stop, every day, and all their arguments make perfect sense. But until you really want to stop, and make a conscious and determined decision to do it, it’s not going to happen.
The same applies to learning to value yourself, or fixing up ANY area of your life. No one can make the decision for you. You have to come to it on your own.
I know you guys are “fixers” by nature, and tend to want to attack and immediately solve any problems we women come to you with. But really sometimes, we just need to vent, and all we want is someone to listen and be loving and supportive. And sometimes, what we’re facing, you just don’t have the power to fix.
Be there for her, but let her fight her own battles — whether with others or herself. If she is ever going to recognize how amazing she really is, she needs to know she can win on her own (or that she can handle defeat or the occasional setback without the world ending or anything).
So advice #2: Don’t try to fix her. In fact, NEVER let her feel that you want to fix her. Trust me on this.
The best thing you can do for anyone (particularly someone with low self-esteem) is to let her know - as often as you can and in whatever way you can - that YOU think SHE IS ENOUGH. Maybe not perfect, but perfectly wonderful nonetheless. Just as she is.
She may not always listen, she may not always believe it to be true. But the fact that she knows you think so will make more of a difference than you think. And at some point, if you’re consistent, she may just start to believe it herself.
I really do hope this helps. As always, the comments are open to anyone who might have some additional advice to give, and if you’re able to anonymously email them to your girlfriend or something, here are some links to some of my old articles that may prove helpful.
- Mend or end? How to deal with a toxic friend
- 10 ways we sabotage our own success
- 6 ways to squash self-doubt
Good luck, my friend. All the best to you and the gf. :)
I got a new reader request the other day, and I have to say, it was the first one I’ve ever received that really had me stumped. Because it was about FASHION, and I’m quite possibly the least fashion-conscious person I know.
As I think I’ve mentioned more than once before, I have no originality or sense of style whatsoever. Honestly, do you think I draw myself in this baggy pink dress all the time just because it’s easy? HELL NO! I really dress like this every day!
So really — I was so not the right person to answer this question:
Hmmm. Shoes. Even worse, shoe brands. I had nothing. I mean I do remember wearing shoes at my wedding, but the details escape me. All I remember is that they were supposedly semi-comfy shoes — that still hurt like a mofo by the end of the night.
Yeah, not helpful at all.
So, sorry about that, Hazel. This stuff is kind of beyond my superpowers. Luckily I have some super-stylish friends who very kindly (and quickly!) came to the rescue when I sent out a fashion distress signal on Facebook this morning.
So here you go… the top 3 answers from some of my most fashionable friends. :)
First up, the bride’s best friends — a couple of superfab designers, who I figured would have the best advice since they probably get asked this question all the time.
And then I also got a gold mine of suggestions from my friend (and well-known beauty guru) Mia Nolasco-Gonzalez. In fact, she gave me so many suggestions that the thread ended up too long to post here. :D
Here’s a summary instead:
So there you go. Also, I’m leaving the floor (or rather, the comments section) open to anyone else who wants to pipe in and give suggestions. Knock yourselves out. ;D
Hope this helps, Hazel! Have fun planning your wedding, and best wishes in advance. :)
I got an interesting reader request the other day. It’s pretty long, so I’ll summarize it here:
Here’s the full version, if you want to read it.
I found it really interesting because I could kind of relate. Not that I hate kids, mind you. Far from it. Love ‘em to pieces. Kids rock. But I don’t have any of my own, and I notice that some people (usually older ones) tend to make a thing out of it. In fact sometimes I want to respond like this just to shut them up.
I mean honestly - never ask that of someone past a certain age. It’s just rude and kind of tactless. I’m not actually sure I AM barren, but hey, I’ve been married 10 years and no kids — it’s a logical conclusion.
Besides, at this age, my eggs are pretty old and grumpy at this point, so maybe trying too hard wouldn’t be such a good idea.
I’m perfectly okay with this childless situation, although I’ll admit I do I feel the occasional pang sometimes…
But do I think being childless makes me - or anyone else - less of a woman? HELL NO.
I know scores of women who have no children (whether by choice or by circumstance) and they’re FABULOUS — real movers and shakers who will leave a mark on this world regardless.
Having said that, I think it’s important to note that you might change your mind about this NO KIDS thing at some point. Many people do. I also have to tell you straight off that your not wanting kids will probably be a deal-breaker for a lot of men. But you know what? Cross that bridge when you get to it. The choice you make at that point will be up to you. No one else can make it for you.
Whatever happens, I think that it’s always good to remember that although the ability to bear children is one of the most wonderful things about being a woman, it’s not the ONLY wonderful thing about us.
I honestly believe we’re all put in this world to make it a better place. (If that isn’t so, then what’s the point of living at all, right?) For some people that involves bringing other human beings into it; for some, something else. I think the key is to try to figure out the role you were meant to play, with the cards you were dealt.
Whatever that role is, just do your best, and try to be the best that you can be.
That is all. Hope this helps. :)
I got a new reader request in the comments of my blog the other day, and I thought that today would be a pretty fitting day to answer it, because it’s Independence Day!
And I kind of wanted to free her. Because I remember being caught in the same trap when I was her age. Here’s the question:
I really do remember being in the same boat in my late twenties, having complicated pseudo-relationships and thinking that I was never going to find the right guy.
And when you’re in that “trap” everyone who tells you to be patient, and that “he’ll come when you’re not looking” is just annoying.
I did eventually meet my hubby-to-be right before I hit 30, during a New Year’s party at the turn of the millennium. You’d think that would’ve been some sort of epic event, but no, I actually thought he was kind of an A-hole.
He was cute though, so I figured he’d be okay to keep around for eye candy purposes. ;)
We started hanging around with each other, but I still never really thought it would amount to anything. In fact, when my friends Anna and Suzette told me that they thought he liked me, I pretty much said that getting together with him was never going to be on my agenda.
Yeah, whatevs. Famous last words. I think we all know where this is going.
Three years later…
And to this day Suzette never lets me forget it.
So anyway… NO, I’m not going to be one of those annoying people telling you that “the One” is just around the corner. (Because as I already mentioned before, I don’t even really believe in “The One.”)
What I WILL tell you is this: While you’re waiting, embrace your freedom.
I’m not saying that when you meet someone you’ll be trading in singlehood for slavery or anything like that. But it is true that there are some things you just really won’t be able to do anymore once you’ve settled down. SO DO THEM NOW.
I consider myself pretty lucky that I married late, because I really did get to do a lot of things then that are maybe not impossible, but more difficult (or not advisable) now. And I wonder… how much more would I have done if I hadn’t been moping around feeling sorry for myself because I hadn’t yet found Mr. Right?
Think about it. This is a wonderful time in your life. It’s so full of possibilities. Don’t waste them. Go. Be happy. Be FREE.
Hope this helps. :)
Happy Freedom Day!
Posters c/o Huffington Post
I got a question from one of my email subscribers yesterday and I asked her if I could turn it into a reader request post, because it reminded me of a rather terrifying story I’d buried deep into the recesses of my cowardly memory. Here’s the question:
I can see how some people might find this annoying, but to be honest, I really don’t have this problem. I actually find imitation rather flattering. Well, except for this one time, when it turned out to be TERRIFYING.
Back when I was a teen, my mom hired a household helper named Alma, who seemed pretty normal in the beginning. And then I don’t know exactly what happened (we suspect it was some sort of heartbreak over a phone pal), but all of a sudden she started acting pretty weird. And for some reason her weirdness was fixated on ME. And I knew this because she started dressing EXACTLY like me…
This was a little off-putting, sure, but hey — no biggie. And then she started doing other weird stuff. Like giving us messages from “the Lord” like he lived inside her head and she was, I don’t know, MOSES or something. There were other things, but like I said, my cowardly brain repressed most of them. So just trust me when I say she grew a little scarier every day.
My mild fear quickly turned into ABJECT TERROR one night when I got home late from a party and checked the phone messages, to find that she had written some long rambling “I’m your Number One fan” type notes to me on the phone message pad. And as I was reading them in silent horror - in semi-darkness, I might add - she just SUDDENLY APPEARED at the top of the stairs behind me, like some sort of supernatural psycho killer…
I’ll be honest. Alma was pretty tiny, and hardly an imposing figure, but to my terrified teenage brain, at that very moment, she kind of looked like this:
So I kind of yelled at her (okay, maybe shrieked or bleated would be a better word here) - something stupid and ineffectual like “OMG GO BACK TO SLEEP!!" — and then I SPRINTED to my room like a cheetah on steroids and hid under the covers.
AND THEN THE KNOCKING AND WAILING BEGAN.
OMGWTF, MAN?!? Luckily my parents were light sleepers, so they went and sorted THAT out while I… I don’t know… probably peed in my pants or something. (Repressed memories and all that.)
So anyway in case you’re wondering, she really was batshit cray-cray, and ended up in the mental hospital after a few days of terrorizing me and my siblings — and at one point even engaging in a super-not-sexy wrestling match with my mother. But this is a very extreme case which really has nothing to do with the question, so let me get back on point now.
Anyway, the Alma incident aside, I really don’t mind copycats at all because I think that imitation in any form is a pretty great compliment. Also, because I’m something of a shameless copycat myself, and my friends and I are those annoying types who like to do and have all the same stuff.
Just ask my BFF Gem, whom I can always count on to go do recon on a bazaar first, so I can arrive later and just buy everything she bought.
I also make her try all sorts of hairstyles and treatments first, and if I like them, then I copy. I have no originality — and very little energy — when it comes to these things
My other BFF Angie and I are the same. Even worse, actually. We wore the exact same dresses to Senior prom (except mine was white and hers was black). OMG. I know, even I’m a little bothered by that now, looking back. And this disturbing behavior has carried over well into adulthood. We no longer wear the same clothes, but we do have matching iPad cases, and almost identical wedding rings.
Gosh, we’re such weirdos. Why did I not realize this earlier??
In our defense, even though my friends and I might have or wear some of the same things, we all have very distinct looks and styles and personalities — so most of the time people really don’t even notice.
And I think that’s the thing I’d like to get across to my email buddy. People may copy you all they like, but they will never BE anything like you. So don’t sweat it. :)
Just take the imitation for what it is - a compliment, and an affirmation of your own awesome style - and rest assured that you are, and always will be, UNIQUE in the eyes of everyone that counts. Because there’s so much more to you than just the clothes you wear and the way you style your hair.
Hope this helps. Cheers!
I got an unexpected Reader Request yesterday from an old friend of mine in Spain. I haven’t seen him since like.. wow, 40 pounds ago or something, so it was really nice to find out that he reads my blog pretty regularly.
Here’s what he wrote. (I’m hiding his identity because he may cross the oceans to kill me when he finds out I posted his RR verbatim - LOL)
Anyway I wanted to tell him that there was a simple solution to that, which I try to encourage my husband and all other men to apply to any “How do I stop arguing with my woman?” dilemma…
Pffft. So simple. :P
But hmmm… For some reason that never seems to fly. Sigh. I suppose I’ll have to be a little more creative. So here goes, mi amigo…
There are a few things about this particular situation that I should probably tackle before actually attempting to give you any tips.
First of all, you’re Spanish. Now I hate to make generalizations, but based on my personal experience, I think it’s safe to say that y’all are a little more feisty and hot-blooded than the average Earth-dweller.
This is why I crack up every time my friend Miguel (also Spanish - well, mostly) wears this T-shirt, and why I happily accepted his request to draw him wearing it so he could use it as an avatar.
So maybe that could be part of the problem. But okay fine, probably not. Just had to put it out there for consideration. :D
I suspect the bigger issue is that you and your FWB (friend with benefits) aren’t really in the same place, and don’t seem to want the same things from this relationship.
As I mentioned in a previous post, relationships are challenging enough, even when you do want the same things. Even in the happiest relationships, disagreements, fights and misunderstandings are bound to pop up every so often.
(Note: This is particularly true when both parties are shameless KNOW-IT-ALLS)
When you don’t want the same things, that just makes everything so much harder. So I think this, more than anything, is probably the root of your problems, and might be the reason you argue so much.
But hey, I could be wrong. So in case I am, here are a few tried and tested anti-arguing tips that you might find helpful.
1. Recognize that men and women simply don’t think the same way.
You don’t have to understand HOW you’re different, you just need to constantly remind yourself that you are. So don’t go into a discussion with the expectation that at the end of it, you will see eye to eye. That’s ideal, but not always doable. The quicker you learn that, the better off you’ll be. Make an effort to find out where the other person is coming from, but if you just really can’t grasp the concepts, learn to agree to disagree.
2. Remember that sometimes it’s better to be kind/gracious than it is to be right.
Honestly, I wish I could tattoo that onto people’s foreheads or something. I find that more arguments are created and extended far beyond their expected life span JUST because we won’t quit until the other person backs down and admits to being wrong.
Well, NEWSFLASH: NO ONE ENTERS AN ARGUMENT THINKING THAT THEY’RE WRONG. So good luck with that.
In some instances, being proven right matters. In many cases, it really doesn’t. Admit it. So just let it go already. And if it turns out that you ARE right, don’t gloat. Don’t trade in long-term harmony and good will for a short-term victory.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. As I mentioned in another post, sometimes you just need to let things slide. Not everything is worth fighting about. You don’t need to accept every single invitation to war. ;)
Ask yourself: Will this even matter a month from now? Or even next week? If it won’t, for Heaven’s sake just say “You have a point, dear.” then walk away and go get some ice cream or something. Don’t engage. Save your energy for the stuff that matters.
My friend Ernie, back in college, once gave me an excellent piece of relationship advice: “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war." And it’s something that stayed with me forever and actually saw me through a lot of difficult situations.
But now that I think about it, it occurs to me that maybe we could go one step further and stop thinking about relationships in terms of war in the first place. Because if you really think about it, there really shouldn’t be any winners or losers if you’re on the same team.
Hope this helps! Cheers and Buena Suerte!
I got another reader request the other day, so since I’m feeling horribly headachey, I thought I’d answer it instead of attempting the longer post I had planned.
Here’s the question:
And here’s the answer. :)
Hehe. I’m sure other bloggers can probably relate. Social media feedback is addictive, after all. I’m pretty lucky though because this doesn’t really happen very often. I usually get at least a few likes or whatever with every new blog post.. And for as long as I don’t try to compare myself with someone like Chuvaness, I’m cool with that. :)
It used to bum me out a bit in the beginning, but then I realized over time that the number of likes/RTs/comments/shares you get for a post isn’t necessarily a good gauge of how many people actually read it.
I’m always surprised when I’m at a party or something and someone tells me that they read my blog, because I still tend to sometimes assume that the only people who read it are those who react.
Not true, apparently. If you’d like a more accurate picture of your readership, check your blog stats on Google Analytics or something similar. What you find might actually blow your mind. :)
And whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself because no one comments on a post, I always make myself feel better by re-reading this lovely note I once received on my Facebook page:
Awww. I lurve him.
It’s the personal messages like these that I get in my Tumblr inbox, or by email or on Facebook or Twitter or in person, face to face, that I really value, over the quick one-click likes or RTs or reblogs.
Having said all that though, the reactions (or lack thereof) that you do get on social media really shouldn’t be ignored, because they give you a pretty good picture of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to content. If you blog for business, that’s important. (If you blog for fun and for the sheer joy of just blabbing away like me, then maybe not so much. But still helpful.)
At the end of the day I think that regardless of feedback — good or bad, online or offline, plentiful or nonexistent — every blogger should JUST KEEP BLOGGING ANYWAY. Because self-expression — whether anyone’s listening or not — is good for the mind and soul. And writing’s kind of like a muscle. You need to keep exercising it, and the more you do it, the better you get.
The thing I personally find most valuable about blogging is that it forces me to take time out to think and reflect on things, so I end up learning more about myself and the world around me with every post I write. That’s fab.
So yup, while my knee-jerk reaction to a zero-feedback post might be “Aw, bummer..” my longer-term reaction is always the same: Keep right on blogging anyway. Because more than anything else, I blog for me.
When people do read and react, then that just makes an already awesome experience even better. So thanks, whoever’s reading this. I lurve you too. :)
Have a fab weekend, everyone!