5 Survival Tips When You #$%^& Up

by Amy on 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 I checked my phone to see if I had the time right.

That’s when I noticed — to my horror — that I was at the WRONG club. They were waiting for me at another club 30 minutes away.

So I called one of the players to explain. I told her I would be there as quickly as I could. Court times are only an hour and fifteen minutes so I knew the three players waiting for me were going to lose much of their court time waiting for me.

I started franticly towards the other club when I realized my teammate had left her phone on. “I told her to get here,” she was telling another teammate in an irritated voice, “we need a fourth. So annoying.” I guess she must have thought she hung up. Ugh.

On the way to the club my car started beeping loudly and a warning light started to flash on and off, on and off. I couldn’t get it to stop and I couldn’t figure out what the warning meant. It’s a brand new car — I don’t know what all these buttons mean!

I didn’t want to drive for another half hour with the mystery beeping… Was I going to break the car? Was I in some kind of danger? I didn’t know. So I pulled over and called my annoyed teammate again. No answer.

Mortified, I left an apologetic message that I was now having car trouble. Eventually, with the help of my husband, I learned I had accidentally put the car in low 4 drive ( I still don’t even know what that is). As soon as I clicked it of that setting the beeping stopped.

All to say that I felt like a COMPLETE AND TOTAL IDIOT that night. Not only did I get the place wrong, my “car trouble,” was just me hitting the wrong lever on my new car and not knowing how to fix it.

My teammates who all took time out of their lives to play doubles, couldn’t, because — thanks to my screw up — they didn’t have enough players.

This is an approval addict’s worst NIGHTMARE — my worst nightmare! I go out of my way to be on time, get my appointments right, respond to emails, you know, all that stuff in my control as NOT to annoy, put anyone out, or cause any sort of inconvenience. All so I do not under any circumstance give other people a good reason to judge me. Hell, there’s enough reasons already without me getting the damn time wrong.

And let me tell you, I wanted to crawl out of my skin.

There must be something in the stars because I did it AGAIN yesterday. This time, a family member called to make sure my family could attend his daughter’s birthday party. I checked my calendar and gave him the green light. Told him we would be able to go, asked to start in the afternoon.

Then yesterday — once again to my horror — I realized I didn’t have something important on my calendar. It was one of those moments you recall in slow motion where you frantically text your friend while looking at your calendar. One of those moments when you hope to GOD that you didn’t just fuck everything up by double booking.

As luck would have it, my Goddaughter’s Quinciniera — the one my friend has been planning for a year — was on the exact same day at the exact same time (as per my request) as the other party. My kids were supposed to participate in the ceremony.

So I texted said family member to let him know I had made a big mistake, and that we wouldn’t be able to attend his daughter’s birthday party. It was my mistake. I should have put the Quincineiera on the calendar.

He was livid. You need to know that this family member has been going through A LOT. He really wanted me and the family to be there for him this day. I got the impression it was more than just a birthday party. We — I — let him down.

All of this is true, one hundred percent. But his anger led him to say ugly things to me, about me. I became his punching bag for the shitty, messed up, horrible year he’s been having.

I wanted to explain myself. Stand up for myself. Get him to see my side. To NOT think horrible things about me.

But I knew he was going to stick to his story about me, he was making that clear in the cascade of ugly text messages he was railing off at me while I was trying to watch This Is Us. So I blocked his texts because — yeah I messed everything up, I let him down, I hurt him — AND it doesn’t give him a free pass to beat me over the head with it or use my failures against me as a weapon.

Here’s the point:

We mess up sometimes, don’t we? I do. And I know you do too.

The worst thing in the world to someone addicted to other people’s approval is to give them a good reason to judge. We’d rather deny our mistakes, or make someone else wrong or desperately try to get them to understand us or —hell with it— bribe them with Starbucks cards to win their favor.

But sometimes, my friend, we have to sit in it. By “it” I mean the knowledge that other people are unhappy and even suffering because of us — our mistakes, our oversight, our disorganization, our messy humanity.

It’s excruciating.

After I got back from my failed attempt to make a good impression with my new teammates, I did the same thing I did last night after I let down my family member…

1) I forgave myself.

Then I used whatever tools I had to give myself some love. I slathered myself with essential oils — Rose for self-love and Bergamot for self-acceptance. I meditated. I prayed. I chanted “I’m sorry. Please forgive. I love you. Thank you.” Over and over.

2) I apologized.

I didn’t succumb to the urge to explain myself in the desperate attempt to get the other side to form a positive impression of me. (Although I did consider bribery. If I buy everyone a Starbucks card will they forgive me?) But I tried to take responsibility like a big girl.

3) I tried to learn from it.

I asked myself things like “How did this happen?” “Where did this go wrong?” “How can you avoid this in the future?”

4) I set boundaries.

Sometimes when you screw up, you just make a bad impression. Sometimes you really piss someone off. And sometimes you hurt people. None of this means you have to take abuse. I repeat, your mistakes do not give other people the green light to mistreat you. Block, unfriend, walk away.

5) I *try* not to stew

I will go over and over and over things in my mind — should I send a card, hell no I shouldn’t send a card, I should have texted him back, I should have read the email — what was I thinking?! — which leads to near-crippling levels of anxiety and lowers the hell out of my energy. When I catch myself, I try to do things that raise my energy — think of things I’m grateful for, say ho’oponopono, or even better, put it all into perspective by watching an episode or two of I Survived Beyond and Back. I *might* eat a few peppermint patties while watching.

In the end, once again, it comes back to love. Sometimes unconditional self love means letting them judge you. If they don’t have it in their hearts to forgive, then, honey, they aren’t worth the energy.

Bottom line: we are all humans, having a human experience which means we fuck it up sometimes.



Setting Boundaries with Setting Boundaries

by Amy on 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 form of therapy available.”

I love this adage. I repeat it often. I had to learn a lot about myself to achieve what I was eventually able to achieve in my business. I had to overcome a lot of fear and insecurity and ego to get there.

As a recovering approval addict (with the occasional relapse), I have had to learn how to set boundaries. A boundary is a form of self protection, a way of maintaining your own space and keeping other people out for your own sake.

There are all kinds of ways to set them. I learned how to set them with people. I let go of many relationships that didn’t serve. I learned to set them in my business. I had to get really honest about my priorities and stop spending time on things that didn’t help me achieve my goals. I learned how to set them day to day. I created “client only” days and “self care” days and “writing days” and stuck to them. I learned how to set boundaries in my home. I decided when my work day started and when it ended and who, other than me, would be folding the laundry and cleaning the house.

Learning to set boundaries, for me, has been akin to reading The Beauty Myth or Self Coaching 101 in a  life-will-never-be-the-same-again sort of way.

But leave it to me to take every damn good thing to the extreme.

  • I didn’t call people just to chat or meet for friends out of the blue for lunch,
  • I hired someone to fold my laundry and straighten up the house, to pick up my kids after school.
  • I put every field trip and family vacation in my calendar each January to plan business stuff around these things.

These are all good things! Things I paid big money to smart women to teach me.

But here’s what eventually happened because I am an OVERACHIEVER. I got tired. I lost friends. All the spontaneity and fun of life became swallowed up by my boundaries. There comes a point — I know because I lived there — when boundaries stop creating freedom, when those walls no longer protect but suffocate.

There are many business coaches who will tell me that I never got to 500k because I didn’t have enough boundaries — I needed to continue to streamline, simplify, hire more team members, outsource, outsource, outsource!

BUT streamlining and outsourcing and delegating via rock-solid boundaries can became an underhanded, self congratulatory form of self-flagellation. If you’re not careful –and you have issues like me — you might trick yourself into feeling successful because you only take clients on Tuesdays, because you won’t meet your friend for lunch (you only have time for revenue generating activities this week), or because someone else folds your laundry. All the while the little needy child in you misguidedly thinks the more more more by doing less less less mentality will get you your version of success so you can finally feel whole.

Unconditional love. It always comes back to that, doesn’t it my friend?

Sometimes I think unconditional love looks like letting yourself take a fucking nap. It looks like folding the laundry your damn self. It looks like meeting your friend for lunch to talk about meaningless shit. It looks like taking your kids to Target without any make-up on.

Because whether or not you achieve your personal vision of success, at the end of the day, you are you. Can you love the person you are even when you are folding your own laundry, success or not?

Sometimes unconditional self love looks like setting a boundary with setting all those boundaries.


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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December 1, 2016

My mother passed away nine years ago on November 30th at 3:07 pm. I am in the kitchen this morning. We are getting ready for the day. My mother’s collection of snowmen are on display. The kids are near ecstatic because their “elf on a sheft” aka “Elfy” came last night even though it’s not officially […]

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A Case Against Living Up To Your Potential

October 18, 2016

One dark and rainy night, driving back into Seattle from a meeting with a client, I clutched the steering wheel and watched the windshield wipers going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I felt numb. “What if I just drive into the opposite lane,” I thought to myself. I was at the […]

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The card I never sent

September 21, 2016

  “Oh my God! I think I’m turning into mom!” My sisters and I used to joke. My mom was a good sport about it 😉 Which is why I bought this card for her many Halloweens ago. And for many Halloweens I thought I would get around to sending it to her… Because it […]

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8 Life Lessons from the Game of Tennis

September 8, 2016

Yesterday I had my first ever city league tennis match. I won. Barely. By a 10-point tie-breaker (12-10). Warming up with my opponent, I was pretty sure I had her. I started strong. In fact, I was starting to feel preemptively sorry for her. Somehow managing to exhibit a ridiculous amount of arrogance while also […]

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What My Son Taught Me About Doing the Easy Thing Instead

August 24, 2016

My son just learned how to tie his shoes. He’s eight. Now, I know a lot of kids learn to tie their shoes sooner.  I personally know a few preschoolers who can. But, truthfully, it hasn’t been on my radar…what with all the Velcro these days. Plus, just like riding a bike, I figured he’d […]

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5 No-Fail Strategies to Stick With It (Even When You Feel Ridiculous)

August 10, 2016

When I was in college I wanted to be a communications major. My communications advisor, during our first meeting, asked me what I wanted to do in communications. “I’d like to report the news,” I told him. “Oh that’s not really journalism. It’s more for models.” In an instant, right then and there, I let […]

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