Back to Square One

by Amy on October 11, 2018

Last week I wrote about my latest bout of depression.
I mentioned I had a theory about what led up to it…
But first you need to know about The Change Cycle. Martha Beck writes about it in Finding Your Own North Star, the book that, ironically, rescued me after a particularly nasty episode of depression.
It’s a model for coping with life change. There are four squares. But the important one for our purposes is square one.
We’ve all experienced something that has sent us reeling smack into chaos (aka square one).
Sometimes it’s a “cataclysmic event” we have no control over — for me that was the death of my mother.
It might even be something wonderful that fundamentally alters your world – for me that was the birth of my twins.
Sometimes though, the change that sends you “back to square one” is an inner shift that happens gradually rendering you unable to be the same person, live the same life.
I am the queen of this one. Let’s call it THE INNER SHIFT. Up until recently, however, my inner shifts did NOT happen gradually. Mostly because I spent my life trying to fit my square pegged ass into one round hole after another. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)
Like the time I worked for a company called mentor graphics that sounded interesting until I learned several weeks later that the company did not in fact mentor graphic artists but did something with semi conductors (I never figured it out).
My boss didn’t like all the time I spent organizing fundraisers on the side. One day she asked me to come in early for a “special project.” Then she never showed up. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the bitch was being passive aggressive. So I packed up my office and left.
I fled many a corporate job in this manner.
This was my pattern. Try to be someone else, become miserable trying to be this person, flee quickly and dramatically at any provocation.
I just wasn’t cut out for 9 to 5 work.
Like a wind up doll bumping straight into a wall, I’d crash back into square one over and over again.
After years of therapy, self coaching, psych-k, kundalini yoga, aromatherapy, Ho’oponono, colonics (just kidding I haven’t tried that yet), rigorous exercise and a lot of tennis, I’m still the queen of THE INNER SHIFT.
A few years back I was earning multiple six figures in my coaching biz and had just expanded my team only to realize, after two weeks of kundalini yoga in the jungles of Costa Rica, that I wanted to scale way back.
Yeah. That.
I forgot to mention that a huge part of the work of square one, outside of all the time re-evaluating the pessimistic, fear mongering, self destructive thoughts that come up once you’re there, is just plain grief work. You have to cry a lot — grieve the old you and the life you created which no longer works. Otherwise it’s square one purgatory folks. You’re never getting out. You’re a wind up doll crashing again and again into square one.
Which brings me to the present.
I just realized I’m in square one AGAIN. (It took me a while to figure it out, damnit.) I’m in a “liminal period,” or what Martha describes as “the bizarre, formless, zero-identity netherworld of Square One,” where you are “temporarily a kind of nobody.”
I got here via another inner shift. But this time the inner shift came in a way I did not expect…
It wasn’t a catalytic event.
It wasn’t a new job or a new baby…I didn’t win the lottery or experience some other kind of good fortune that changes everything. DARN.
It was an inner shift BUT it didn’t come from the same self destructive pattern of trying to fit myself into a life that isn’t right for me.
It came from self reflection.
And self coaching.
And all kinds of inner work.
That finally allowed me to break a life long cycle of looking for happiness outside of myself.
This is a major breakthrough, right?! Major!
Well, this “breakthrough” sent me smack into a depressive episode.
Because liminal periods suck. Being a “nobody” aka with no identity is practically torture to someone who has spent her entire life trying to seek significance in one way shape or form or another. What does one do with themselves? How does one organize her day when she has lost that drive, that ego-driven ambition that has been her faithful companion for-EVER?
I should have seen this coming. After all I teach a course called Being You Uncensored for people who identify as “approval addicts.” After they have done the work in this course, a lot of my people talk about feeling the same way, anchoress, lost, unsure of who they are now that they aren’t looking for other people to approve of them.
It’s a very good problem to have right?
I just find it odd that after all the self help, eight years of breakthroughs, ahas and “leveling up,” I am just now experiencing an inner shift so B.I.G. it has sent me into a dramatic square one melt down.
I suspect there are others, like me, experiencing this uber special (I’m being sarcastic) kind of square one liminal period. (They’re probably curled up in a fetal position wondering what the hell is happening.)
If this is you, know that there’s nothing wrong! This is actually normal! Phew.
You’ve got to unfurl yourself from the fetal position. You are not going crazy. You have some things to do… Grrl, you’ve got to cry! And rest and cry some more and make peace with the not knowing… who you are, what you want, what the hell to do with your non-self.
There is a magic in it too. “Being nobody nowhere, [you] can become anything and go anywhere,” Martha writes.
I”m starting to laugh a little more and my heart is pulling me in new directions. Now that I know I’ve been marinating in square one, I’m feeling better. Square two is on it’s way. It smells like wet dirt and grass and the center of a giant sunflower. And I’m gearing up to dream and plan.
For more info about The Change Cycle check out Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. To check out my course called Being You Uncensored, click here:
#nofilter #thisisme


Where did Amy go? Part 3

by Amy on September 27, 2018

It’s me again.
This is a blog post about mental illness.
I’m no expert on mental illness.
I’ll just write from my own experience.
I could keep tossing euphemisms against the wall.
The blahs, the blues… But let’s just call a spade a spade? Depression fucking sucks.
I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. Except I didn’t know it was depression. Which apparently is a common thing among women which is why I’m writing about this now.
Feeling sad or anxious or scared or lonely was pretty normal for me as a kid.
So when I got older I just assumed it was normal to feel sad or anxious or scared or lonely.
It wasn’t until I became a life coach and I learned how to feel better that I came upon a resource about depression.
The symptoms…
A loss of interest in things.
Wanting to sleep all the time.
Changes in appetite.
In a podcast called The Hilarious World of Depression Dick Cavett describes it this way:
“If there was a magic wand that could make you feel better, you wouldn’t get up to get it because you’re just too tired and it probably wouldn’t work anyway.”
This is not “burn out.” It’s something entirely different.
My first major episode outside of childhood (I had panic attacks as a kid for YEARS) was in Seattle after turning thirty. I didn’t want to get out of bed, when I did I smoked and drank and nearly drove myself to suicide (which is another symptom of depression).
My second bout was in my mid thirties during the years of infertility and treatments to get pregnant. The third, after my mom died and the twins were born three months later.
Sometimes things like death and childbirth and mars retrograde and feedback on writing projects trigger it. In other words, things we can’t control.
Many times the trigger is internal — the shitty stories we tell ourselves.
Like the first time I got depressed, for example, when I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 30. Super human things like getting into the top international relations school in the world, speaking five languages, living in China.
I didn’t achieve these things by thirty (surprise, surprise). So I concluded I’d never amount to anything, that I was wasted space. That’s enough to make anyone depressed.
Fast forward to today… I am forty five. I have been a life coach for eight years. I know what depression is. I have tools.
And yet…
The past few weeks every damn thing has felt overwhelming to me… Getting out of bed, walking to the bus stop, calling the vet, eating. I slept 12 hours last night, got the kids ready for school then went back to sleep until noon. I cried because my earbuds got stuck in the zipper of my wallet.
I have a few theories about what triggered it this time. That’s another blog post. But the good news is I know what I’m dealing with.
If you’re reading this and you can relate but this whole time you’ve been telling yourself it’s just “burn out,” know this: depression is real and you should take it very seriously.
Here’s are some things that help:
1. Do something healthy to shift your energy every day as many times as you can *especially* when you don’t want to do it. And you probably won’t want to do it. So force yourself.
Try yoga, meditation, any kind of exercise, massage, acupuncture, nature, sex, swimming, tennis.
2. Don’t talk yourself out of these things.
You might tell yourself that you “shoudn’t” be getting that massage because you have so many other things to do. Bullshit. It is imperative that you do these things. This is part of how you will get better. Period.
3. Don’t isolate.
It can be embarrassing to admit to feeling so shitty *especially* when everything seems great on the surface. Hell, look at my life… supportive spouse, great kids, everyone is healthy, everyone is safe, there is a really pretty airstream outside our house, I have the tennis channel. Depression doesn’t give a shit about your socionomic status or your gender or your life circumstances. Talk to someone, get help.
4. Avoid the quick fix. Before I knew what it was, I would find ways to self medicate. Alcohol was a great way to feel better in the short term. I didn’t realize that booze is a depressant that ultimately makes you feel even worse in the long term. I haven’t had a drink for five years but I won’t lie, I still want to feel better the quick and easy way. But I know shopping sprees at madewell and no bake cookies from Whole Foods (why don’t they sell the big size???) might feel good in the moment but in the end once the money hits the bank account and the sugar high is gone you’re still sitting there crying about your earbuds.
5. Check your shame and watch your thoughts.
It’s easy to feel like a complete and utter failure when you spend half the day sleeping and the rest of the day clicking ads on Facebook. But no amount of self flagellation will help you get better. Practice being nice to yourself. Watch the way you think and how it makes you feel about yourself. Find kinder thoughts.
6. Take really really good care of yourself.
This — now more than ever — is the time for amazing self care. Take vitamins ( Long Life Vitality Supplements from doTERRA help me manage my mood), drink green juice, diffuse essential oils, take baths, rest, say no to things you don’t want to do. This is worth repeating. Don’t talk yourself out of these things. It IS your medicine right now.
It’s been a week since I’ve written this. And lo and behold I’m feeling soooo much better. For me, depression comes and depression goes. I never know quite when it will hit. But I know what it is now and I know what to do.
My hunch is I’m not the only one who goes through this. If you can relate, you are so NOT alone. Take amazing care of yourself and know that it will get better.
Take care of yourself, love, you’re so worth it.


Where did Amy go? Part 2

September 13, 2018

Last week I mentioned I’ve been marinating in the blahs… I blamed the stars, well Mars Retrograde to be exact. Yeah well, that *might* not be the whole story. You see I’ve been working on a memoir. You know that long term project you start that you *think* might take a year or so? Well […]

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Where did Amy go? Part 1

September 6, 2018

Two words . Mars retrograde. Like you, my energy fluctuates. At times it feels like I have endless reserves. Other times, it feels like I can barely get out of bed. Lately, well since May if we’re honest, I’ve been feeling blah. Yes, blah. THE WORST KIND OF BLAH. The kind where you are grumpy and jaded […]

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You Unsegmented

May 31, 2018

I love Astrology. Once, several years ago, I started an astrology website with my friend, an astrologer, Dena DeCastro. But I didn’t want people to know. Especially my coaching clients or the people who subscribed to my newsletter. “What should I do?” I asked my life coach. “I don’t want people to think I’m woo […]

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“You Think Too Much.”

April 6, 2018

“You Think Too Much.” I get this a lot. And, frankly, I find it irritating. What else am I supposed to do? I have a brain, therefore I think. I get it…I’m supposed to listen to my heart. It will steer me in the best direction. In some ways I’m the opposite of an over […]

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WARNING: Having a Dream May Lead to Massive Disappointment

March 30, 2018

I keep thinking about a conversation I had years ago with a woman working in the registrar’s office of my college. I was ordering transcripts for an application to work in Japan as an English teacher. She wanted to know what I was working on. “I’m applying for the JET Programme with my husband,” I […]

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Give Me a Break?

March 1, 2018

Confession: I am not the best communicator. I’m blunt and I don’t take the time to explain myself or soften things. Yet ironically, I’m as sensitive as they come— I read into everything other people say. Which is why I’d have a very hard time having a conversation with myself. That is, if I didn’t […]

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Fake Joy or Real Joy?

February 9, 2018

After I stopped drinking, I developed an obsession with dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. I’d buy a huge container of them and eat the whole thing in a couple days. I would drive to TJ’s just for the peanut butter cups, nothing else… I’d get a rush eating the initial few on […]

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Last Week was a Train Wreck

January 25, 2018

Last week was a train wreck… I lost my brand new t-shirt the day it came in the mail. I tried it on then it promptly disappeared. After an exhaustive search, I did not locate my new shirt. Gone. Without a trace. Then I completely spaced a meeting. I confirmed it the day before, even […]

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21 Essentials for a High Vibe, Happy Life

January 18, 2018

I have to tell you, I’ve been pretty happy these days. So damn happy that I haven’t had much to blog about. As you know, if you’ve been following me for a bit, this hasn’t always been the case. So I started to think about the things that have contributed to this new found, happy vibe. […]

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New Year, Same You

January 5, 2018

Happy New Year! I’m not going to lie, I love self help new year rhetoric. Vision board? Check. New Planner? Purchased. Word of the Year? Pondering. And yes, I have completed a list of goals, each goal nested within a A/B decision tree of contingency micro goals, complete with an exhaustive list of behavioral and […]

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Meet Alice

November 29, 2017

This is my daughter Alice. Most people nowadays think she is a he. When she introduces herself as Alice, they think she is saying “Alex.” One day early in the school year, a bunch of older girls laughed at her for going into the girl’s bathroom. “Look!” they said. “There’s a boy using the girls […]

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What is Your Genius?

November 3, 2017

Wednesday was my four year sober anniversary. I was never a stereotypical “drunk.” But I loved to fill my free time with activities centered around drinking. Having wine at the end of the day, going to Happy Hour, Getting drinks with friends. I used to think I needed it to have a good time.Giving up […]

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My Double Life

October 5, 2017

I found some photos of me posing in my underwear. From twenty five years ago. We were living in Los Angeles. Our neighbors were working actors. We’d see them on TV. He had a co-starring role in Beverly Hills 90210. Once they told me I could get work doing beer commercials. As a femenist the […]

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For Better of For Worse

September 15, 2017

This morning my daughter went MIA before school. We only had 10 minutes left before it was time to leave for the bus and she still hadn’t finished her homework, eaten any breakfast, brushed her teeth or put on her shoes. I found her outside barefoot with some neighbor friends playing with a remote control […]

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What They Don’t Tell You About Spin Class

September 6, 2017

I remember the first ever time I walked into a Burn Cycle class. My friend invited me to go with her… “First time?” She asked. “Yes…” I replied. That’s when she raised her eyebrows and gave me an ominous look that said sarcastically, “good luck.” Just getting on the bike itself seemed to require a […]

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The Great Time Blocking Experiment

August 8, 2017

  God this is a boring topic. But I just have to because so many of you are suffering like I was suffering. It’s summer. The sky is blue. The kids are home. I just got the Tennis Channel. It’s so hard to get anything done! I’m definitely not as ambitious as I once was. […]

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Chronic Sleep Deprivation — I had no idea!

June 8, 2017

It is said that If you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put that same frog in warm water and slowly heat it to boiling, the frog won’t notice the danger and it will boil to death. For years I have had to get up multiple times at […]

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An Open Letter to Introverts (From an Introvert)

May 18, 2017

  It all started in grade school. I couldn’t figure it out. Why did all the other girls get so giddy over slumber parties?   I hated them.   Most of the time I would go anyway and pretend to be having fun until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Then I would either retreat […]

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14,000 Things

May 12, 2017

Yesterday Ron’s sister would have been forty years old. She was killed in a car accident when she was 21. I happened to be talking to a friend yesterday who has brain cancer. The meds are hard on her. “But you know what,” she said to me, “I am so happy to be alive. I […]

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When the doer cannot do

April 14, 2017

It’s Thursday. I have had the flu all week. And today I learned I have a bladder infection too. Bonus! I cancelled a tennis match, a podcast interview, three tennis lessons (two for me and one for my kids), missed an entire week of jiujitsu because I couldn’t drive the kids, skipped the Facebook Live […]

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God, Source, Spirit, The Angels, The Muses…

April 6, 2017

I am driving down Broadway Boulevard. It is Summer 2008. The twins are about six months old. Looking through the rearview window, I see them strapped into their car seats. As usual, Anthony is not happy. He is doing that thing he does before an all out crying fit. Alice is looking at me. Her […]

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Show Me A Successful Entrepreneur

March 10, 2017

Show me a successful entrepreneur in the service industry and I’ll show you a person who loves themselves enough, loves the work enough to let themselves fail. Somebody who is willing to get out there despite the possibility of bad hair, typos, toilet paper on the shoe, awkward exchanges (Them: Nice to meet you. You: […]

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How to be a Winner

March 2, 2017

Last week I beat a really good tennis player. In straight sets. 6-2, 6-2. If you don’t know tennis, I pretty much kicked her butt. “Wow, my back was really bothering me today.” This is all she had to say after the match. I lost to her a few months ago so I’m pretty sure […]

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Be here, now

February 24, 2017

A few nights ago, my husband said something mildly stupid that hurt my feelings. I am as soft-bellied as they come. I get my feelings hurt with an astonishing frequency. It is one of the many downsides of having a moon in Scorpio. Anyway…We were in bed, my back turned against him. I was convinced […]

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Stop Expecting Them to “Get” It: Why Some Partnerships Fail

February 9, 2017

“What’s on the agenda this weekend?” My husband asks. I open up my planner. “Battle of the books in the early afternoon Saturday, then Jazmina’s Quinciniera in the eve. Then Sunday is Janina’s birthday party at the pool.” “I’m not going to that,” He says. “But…” I answer. “I work all week and I don’t […]

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How to Think When You’re Overwhelmed

February 2, 2017

  I figured out the main theme of my book. This is the theme that informs everything. It’s the big “So What?” of the book. I was talking to my friend about it the other day. She asked me if I knew the theme when I started writing. “I haven’t wanted to start my book,” […]

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Saint Ron: Why the Truth Hurts (If You Let It)

January 27, 2017

“You should be canonized for putting up with her all these years.” This was a comment made about me to my husband. The same person I blocked to escape his poisonous text messages found a way to get to me through my husband. I won’t lie. When I heard that he said this about me […]

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5 Survival Tips When You #$%^& Up

January 20, 2017

I was recently invited to play on a bad-ass women’s tennis team. Wanting to make a good impression, I volunteered right away to practice doubles with a group of women. Got a babysitter and everything. On the night of practice, I got to the tennis club ten minutes early. Nobody there… “Strange,” I thought as […]

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Setting Boundaries with Setting Boundaries

January 12, 2017

For a long time my dream was to create a successful six figure, and then multiple six figure, coaching practice. After achieving the $200,000 a year mark I considered going for $500,000 a year. I created the business plan, I had the team in place, but I never made it. “Being an entrepreneur is the most lucrative […]

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We March

November 1, 2016

She is in a dark room, there is music on the other side of the door, and voices. She is crying and afraid. She doesn’t like being in here in the dark, alone. But no one hears her crying. Then the door opens and a man looks in. She can see the outline of his […]

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The Adult Brain of a Bullied Kid

October 6, 2016

We were on a bus, heading into Portland for a field trip. It was going to be a great day. We were going to try sushi for the first time and see China town. I was in seventh grade. Sitting on the bus, the girl next to me was leaning up against the window talking across […]

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35 Excuses Keeping You From Being Happy

July 27, 2016

No excuses. Just happy. My mom used to call me a “malcontent.” I hated it when she called me that. But now I see that she was right. I always had a reason why I couldn’t be happy. Here are a few excuses I used to make that kept me from being happy. Chances are […]

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You are five.

February 25, 2015

Who were you when you were five? When I was five… I loved flowers — I vividly remember the plants from my childhood – the sunflowers in my backyard, the rose bushes by the patio, the filbert orchards and the Oregon grapes with berries you couldn’t really eat. I loved to swim – that feeling […]

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What is your greatest fear?

May 23, 2018

What is your biggest fear? I posted that question to my business page yesterday. And somebody responded “Essential Oil MLMs.” Then added “ I really like most of her articles and found them helpful. The EO stuff is a bit much.” (BTW I hate it when people talk about me like I”m not there.) It’s […]

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Meet Dobby

April 26, 2018

This is #Dobby. Dobby doesn’t care about the bus schedule or the call you have to make, or what they think over at Puppy School. She barks with the conviction and assurance of a puppy who knows it is time to play. She runs —ears back, tongue flopping, stubby legs pumping — as if she were the […]

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