Fake Joy or Real Joy?

by Amy on 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 the drive home, but then the high would wear off and all that was left was that icky feeling of having just eaten too much sugar. Still, I’d keep popping them in my mouth throughout the day, hoping for that rush again.

“At least I’m not drinking anymore,” I’d rationalize.

But underneath I knew I couldn’t really credit peanut butter cups for keeping me sober, in fact, those peanut butter cups were part of the same pattern that caused me to drink in the first place.

It reminds me of the old days when I’d go to the mall with my parents after they’d been booze free for a few years.

For my parents, the mall was an orgy of consumption. We’d stroll through stopping to buy things…clothes, toys, books… occasionally pausing to get eat ice-cream or caramel corn or an orange Julius. At the time, I thought I was in heaven, I didn’t realize I was learning a destructive pattern of behavior that I’d bring with me into adulthood.

Fake joy.

We live in a instant gratification world. Most of us are conditioned to some degree to feel better the quick and easy way via readily available sources that flood our brains with an initial rush of dopamine. It might be alcohol, or food, shopping, sex, or even relationships with other people.

I should know. It seems that much of my existence has been an all consuming quest to feel good as quickly and easily as possible. Here are a few of the things I’ve tried:

Clothing, especially designer items.
Social status.

Like my parents, I grew to love alcohol the most, as a quick and easy source of fake joy. Fake because it worked for a short time but wore off quickly and created new kinds of problems. Hang overs. Shame. Extra weight. Bad decisions. Fights. And worst of all, a severe disconnect from my true self. These problems continued to get worse and worse until I decided to stop four years ago. But after I stopped that source of fake joy, I quickly turned to food (chocolate covered peanuts butter cups) and shopping, just like mom and dad.

It’s been a long road but…

Nowadays I source my joy from so many things — my family, my connection to spirit, my memoir project, my friends, my body, my senses, being of service, nature.

All of the above, sources of joy with no expiration date, that inspire me and make my life better.

Here’s how to tell the difference between fake joy and real joy:

FAKE JOY offers a quick hit of pleasure but wears off quickly leaving you feeling empty. It has immediate negative consequences — a hangover, extra calories, lower self esteem, debt, STD’s, etc — and its never free. You have to buy it with actual money or if you don’t purchase it with cash you still have to give something up to get it.

REAL JOY can be less of a “rush,” or quick hit but it offers more sustainable happiness. It doesn’t wear off leaving you feeling empty, it enhances your life and it is sourced in some way, shape, or form from inside of you.

The catch?

The more you turn towards fake sources of joy, the less likely you’ll be able to access real joy. If you’ve conditioned your brain for the quick hit, you’ve got to give yourself some time to rewire that part of your brain that demands that instant rush of dopamine.

Start now! It’s worth it. Feel your feelings, make space, take a lot of hot baths, smell some essential oils. Eventually you’ll get to a point where you don’t need fake joy.

And then my friend…You will be free. And you will teach your kids how to be free through your example.

Is food your favorite source of fake joy? Then I urge you to check out the upcoming free call by my friend Makayla McDonald owner of Food Peace and Body Love who will be teaching a powerful technique to uncover the emotional drivers that trigger compulsive eating. This class is for you if you use food to numb out, to celebrate, to distract, to de-stress, to relax, to reward yourself, or if you just eat too much! Register here: http://www.makaylamcdonald.com/talk.html


Last Week was a Train Wreck

by Amy on 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 lined up a babysitter, put it in my new Fancy Pants START planner

Then on the day of the meeting, I actually sent the babysitter home. “It’s not today!” I insisted. A half hour later, I got an irritated call from the person I was supposed to meet, wondering where the hell I was.

The next morning I forgot to wake the kids up for school. I was sitting at the couch in my fuzzy robe drinking coffee when my son came downstairs.“Mom, I think you better wake up the girls,” he said, shooting me a funny look.

You see most days I maintain a brutally strict schedule to ensure on time arrival at the bus stop to avoid spending that extra forty minutes dealing with the elementary school commute, negotiating narrow streets in futile search for a spot near the entrance, trying not to run over any children, walking my three children into the school, wondering if yesterday’s mascara is still smudged down my cheeks as I avoid eye contact with other parents.

Chalk it up to rigid dedication but we actually get to the bus stop early most of the time. Even though in my mind we are always running late. “Mom, we’re early again!” My kids shrug in unison as we get to the spot and they see that we’re the first one’s there. “Sorry!” I say defensively. Thinking back to five minutes earlier when I was barking at them in the entry, “Where are your shoes?! We going to be late! Let’s go!’

We barely made it this time.

Then a day later, a few minutes before it was time to leave for a hair appointment, I misplaced my keys. The worst part? They were actually in my pocket — I know because I put them in there ON PURPOSE so I wouldn’t lose them. The next minute they were gone. I had to take a Lyft.

I arrived to my appointment in tears. My hair stylist, aka my hairapist, thought I was crying because I had lice. No lice. At least I didn’t have lice this time.

“I think I’m losing my mind,” I confessed. She laughed. “I just forwarded your blog post (21 Essentials for a High Vibe, Happy Life) to three people and you come in here losing your shit! I’m going to tell them not to read it.”

Never one to mince words. That’s why I adore her.

My hairapist suggested it might be PMS.


I figure there are several other feasible explanations…

Ghosts. The spirit world is fucking with me. This would explain the missing t-shirt and keys but what about my absent mind? Perhaps ghosts are capable of mind control…

Some form of mental illness. It runs in the family… Maybe I’m finally going nuts in which case I’m sure there is an oil for that.

Neptune, the watery planet of the spaced out mind, Is sitting on my Mercury for the next half year. Oh lord.

The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack will not leave my head. I’ve got at least three songs on autoplay inside there… “Never enough!” “Why don’t we re-write the stars…” “This is me!”

But my gut tells me this all might take care of itself after a good book and some solid veg time. The Australian Open is on…

There’s really no way to spin this into something inspirational or helpful. Except maybe to say we all lose things, space meetings, and cry at hair appointments (okay maybe I’m the only one who cries at hair appointments).

But it all tends to work itself out in the end.

I found my t-shirt by the way. Isn’t it cute? It says “Love First.” It was in the laundry room. (My keys were in the bathroom.)

Try Rosemary essential oil on the temples for mental clarity and focus 😉


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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The Gift of Criticism

December 28, 2017

Guest post by Jackie Gartman Ah, the holidays. It’s the time of year for candlelit caroling, cocktails by the fire, and a fresh round of criticism from your family, your pals, and even those old and unavoidable frenemies who pop up at events and parties. Whether it’s your aunt raising an eyebrow at how you […]

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Stop Chasing Happy

November 24, 2017

Every five year old knows you can’t be happy until you’re six because you get to go to preschool when you’re six. But the preschoolers all know you can’t be happy until you turn seven when you get to go to school all day. Every seven year old will tell you however that you can’t really […]

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