Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The thing about being thankful...

The thing about being thankful is that I am... from my Soapbox on the new Soapbox Therapy Website...

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Thank you for your support!!!!

Love love love,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The thing about feelings...

The thing about feelings is that all they want is to be felt. They want to do their job…is that too much to ask? Well apparently, yes it is. We all have feelings, it’s part of the deal… but if we’re not huge fans of those feelings then we work overtime to pile on supposed to and if only I and I should or I shouldn’t until all we have is a big confusing mass of what used to be feelings, but now has mutated into judgment like nobody’s business. Awesome.

We’re pros at not feeling our feelings. We get dumped and through our tears we say, “I don’t care, whatever” Um, are you kidding me? We have so much shame and guilt attached to our feelings that it makes me, well, feel a little bummed.

It’s as if feeling hurt all of the sudden means you’re weak, or feeling anxious all of the sudden means you’re obsessive. Somehow, at some point, we decided that we need to be blank vessels with no wrinkles or birthmarks or movement or blood or guts or feelings. Just stand still, look pretty, and don’t breathe too hard or your hair will get messed up. Why can’t our feelings be free of judgment, and just move through us and do their job?

Once we’ve buried our feelings under judgment, our newly lowered self esteem becomes the focus. Now our bodies and our minds and our juiciness inside is all confused… because our actual feelings are being ignored like the plague and we can’t stop wondering why we are so ridiculous for feeling anything at all.

Once we give ourselves permission to feel our feelings, the ugly-upsetting-mess of judgment that we’ve gotten ourselves into shifts into a beautiful-perfect-mess of a real live human. The judgment lifts and we can focus on what’s really going on.

No part of me is saying that our feelings are easy to feel. That’s called denial dear. What I’m saying is, dealing with our feelings is hard enough as it is…we are complex and insanely unbelievable creatures and working with and through our feelings is not only deeply important but takes time and energy and love like crazy…judgment in the kind of doses we’re capable of makes that pretty much impossible.

It’s time to release yourself from thinking you should or shouldn’t feel a certain way, it’s time to liberate yourself from being a blank slate and embrace your blood and guts and bona fide human-being-ness. Feeling sad my love? Cry cry and cry more. And a little more. Feeling angry? Scream your amazing lungs out like you own it. Feeling anxious? Invite it in and don’t forget that it belongs to you, you call the shots. Feeling joyful? You’re doing a disservice to the world if you don’t show it all over your gorgeous face.

Now breathe and thank yourself for being alive and feeling every minute of it.

And that’s the thing about feelings.


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Monday, November 9, 2009

The thing about caring what other people think...

The thing about caring what other people think is that it’s OK. Oh, and it’s human and healthy and perfect and reasonable and natural. So there. Really? Yes, really.

But, there’s a catch.

Imagine a unique and gorgeous glass cup. Fragile, fabulous, and full…sometimes. This cup represents how you and others see you-how amazing you believe and know yourself to be-your confidence. Guess who fills that glass? Other people. I know, I’m confusing all of the messages about self esteem you’ve ever gotten… so let’s clear it up and make sense of it all.

Human beings are relational creatures. We need one another. We need to know we’re heard for what we’re saying, seen for who we are, understood for how we feel, praised for being frikin’ amazing. We need to hear it. We need to feel it. We need someone to look at us and touch us in a way that says…I get you. We need to know that others notice us, love us, and are proud of us. It’s part of being human.

That being said my loves, no matter how many compliments you get about your inside, your outside, your talents, your intelligence, and anything and everything in-between....nothing will stay in that glass if there’s no bottom. Ya, that’s the catch…

The only way for everything poured into your inner glass to stay put and fill you up is to create, build, and sustain a strong glass bottom. That bottom darlings, is the love from within.

Some people have such strong bottoms that they hold in love from others for extended periods of time… they stay full all the time. Those people pretty much don’t exist, let’s be honest. Some people have leaks; love from others seeps out and needs to be refilled. Welcome to being mortal. And others really have no bottom to claim, and all the love and approval they receive enters and exits in almost the same moment…and they need more, like now.

When I hear someone say, “I don’t care what people think of me” I get very curious. Curious because in my book, that’s a big bunch of you know what-just not possible. Like I said, caring is part of being human. When people say they don’t care what others think, in my world, it means one of two things….

One. Their glass bottom is so strong in that moment that it’s holding in love and approval to the top. They’re full. They don’t need any more approval at that moment. These times are amazing and beautiful and delicious, but can be rare, so savor every second of it.

Two. Their glass bottom is so deeply fractured that they just keep saying they don’t care what others think with the secret hope that they actually might be able to convince others, and themselves, that it’s true.

Now what? Well, have a little love.

Send love toward yourself, build your glass bottom. Feed yourself with compliments. Tell yourself how damn hot you are and how ridiculously intelligent you are. You know it’s true! And have a little love for others. Everyone needs it. If you have something nice to say, say it. Do your best to be patient with those who need a more constant stream- they have their reasons.

All of us want to be filled and feel fulfilled…we need each others help. Go ahead my darlings, care what people think…just be mindful of the leaks.

And that’s the thing about caring what other people think


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The thing about dance...

Neither pop culture nor day to day life has been the focus of SoapBox thus far, though both delicious topics full of fabulousness. Themes- life themes, have been where it’s at for me. Recently, though, I can’t help but find myself pulled when it comes to dance...both a new and improved pop culture language, and in my world, a metaphor for life. The joy is almost too much to take.

Dance has been in the headlines and all over TV lately. Dance shows and competitions and everything in between. Technique and emotion all wrapped up into 5,000 hours of television that makes your eyes sting and your heart go pitter patter. Good times. Really though, when I see what’s going on-how dance has infiltrated the airwaves- I wonder, are people finally getting the memo?

Movement and flow, change and transformation, rhythm and pace. That’s dance. And that also happens to be life. Are we finally opening up to the fact that our minds and our bodies are connected? Are we finally, as a culture, embracing the unbelievable machines that our bodies are, and thanking them for being so frikin’ gorgeous and talented and smart and and and? Are we getting there at last?

Granted, the shows are full of people who have danced for years upon years and have strong bodies and technique to prove it. But regardless, it still seems to me that doors are opening for people to finally realize and celebrate this deeply juicy and important metaphor.

The thing about dance is that it’s what we do… it’s all we do. Yes, even you my love, even you. Each moment of this amazing and confusing life is a flow, a back and forth, a breathing deeply, a here and there and everywhere in-between. Every relationship we have is a dance. Some moments are flawless, and others toes are being stepped on at each turn. Some moments we recover quickly, and others, well, we need a minute, or a week, or a year…or 5.

The way we treat ourselves is a dance. Some days we love ourselves, and others we can’t seem to look an inch past our judgments. Every moment is a pull and a push, a lift and a spin. We are left invigorated, dizzy, joyful, backwards. We love at the same time as we hurt, we mourn at the same time as we celebrate, we laugh in the very same moments we cry.

And the music… music speaks to everyone differently. We all speak different languages. It’s part of the deal. It’s what makes us, well, us. Being caring and curious about others is about opening your ears to their music, their rhythms. It’s about opening your heart to understand what they feel, experience how they move and shift, and appreciate how their body responds to the beat.

Sometimes you know the steps, and sometimes you have no clue what you’re doing. Have a love affair with your dance, with your knowing, and with your missteps. I officially give you permission to step on toes, and welcome your toes to be stepped on. I invite you to enjoy the dance… because dancing is what we humans do.

And that’s the thing about dance.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

The thing about our emotions...

Hiya, Brooke.

The Setup: I am the last of 7 children. A VERY long story cut out completely, I want nothing to do with my second oldest brother. I adopted the philosophy several years ago of not keeping people or things in my life that were negative. He didn't make the cut.

While I am perfectly okay with it, and my brother also has done nothing to change the situation, it does occasionally create problems between me and my mom, who I call at least 4 times a week. She'll remind me it's his birthday, or his anniversary. Or his wife's birthday. Or that she's going to a party there. I've tried telling her that I don't need THOSE updates, thank you, she can tell me about anyone or anything else. I live 600 miles away from the rest of the family, so accidental contact isn't really going to be a problem.

Well, that's the background. Now the question. I am terrified that my mom, who is getting up there in years, might one day have to move out of the house we all grew up in, and move in with this brother that I can not stand. She's the type that would rather die in her own bed when that time comes, but I am still worried he might talk her into moving in with him at some point. Then, I would never get to talk to her again. That's my worry.

I want to know how to bring up my concerns to my mom, in a way that gets more of a response than "You're being stupid, I don't want to hear it" from her.

Or, I guess, how can I get over needing an answer to this question without talking to her about it?


Last Child in Stone Ridge.

Dear Stone Ridge,

While I don’t know the “very long story” I can sense from your words how strongly you feel about this situation. Your brother and you are on the outs, with no interest on either side to reconcile… it is what it is. That being said, in order to maintain the relationships you do care about, it’s important to consider some other angles of this story…

So let’s just get right to it…

It’s one thing to be disconnected with your brother and not want him in your life. But you and he have something very much in common. A mother. Just like a divorced couple that has a child. In order to make life for that child the best it can be, some parents will go to the ends of the earth to be cordial and respect one another- for their kid. I think you can learn a lot from this model.

You may not need the updates on your brother and his family. This is true. But what’s also true is that your mom feels a need to give them. It’s her way of showing how bummed she is that you guys aren’t connected. She’s a mother of 7 children…and 2 of her kids don’t speak. I can’t imagine how painful that must be for her to experience. I’m definitely not saying you should reconnect with your brother because your mom is upset, but I do think that her passive messages are something to think about…

Ok…I think you get that part. Next part…

You wrote something very interesting and worth taking a look at. You wrote that if your mom moved in with your brother you would never get to talk to her again. Get? Hm.

Saying that you won’t ever get to talk with your mom again is basically like saying that you don’t have control over the communication, that you don’t have a choice, that someone else will be deciding for you. Totally disempowering darling! When it comes down to it, the only thing you get to do, is decide for yourself. My dear last child in stone ridge, it’s time to take your power back. You’ve given your feelings towards your brother all of the power. You’ve lost yourself in your emotions.

The thing about our emotions is that we own their efforts, their time, their power. They belong to us, and no one else. We call the shots. We get to choose where to spend our emotional energy, and where to conserve. Your anger towards your brother is yours… you get to decide what to do with it. You can let it come between you and your mother, or not.

Taking your power and your emotional energy back may look different to different people… but what I know for sure is what it won’t look like... it won’t look like you on the defense, as if things are being done to you. When you take your emotional energy back, you’ll have the freedom to talk to your mother, no matter where she calls home.

Lastly. You asked if this was something you should talk with your mom about. In my opinion, this is not your mom’s fish to fry. This is a decision that you have to make, because your emotions are yours and yours only. You have a choice regarding how you’re going to handle your anger and dislike towards your brother, and how you are going to make this about you rather than about your mom.

My hope for you Stone Ridge, is that just as you know that not speaking with your brother is your choice. Speaking with your mom is also your choice. You get… to choose.


Please send your questions to! Your identity will always be kept private.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The thing about the battle between selfish and selfless...

There’s an interesting little social battle between the words, selfish and selfless. Everyone wants to be called selfless. Supposedly, selfless people are the nice people. God forbid someone calls you selfish, right?

It’s become understood in our society that selfish is the name you get called after a fight, or in the midst of one. And selfless is the name you get called when someone is complimenting your human-hood. I’m not so into these being the only options. It’s like only having the choice of a crappy unhealthy fast food restaurant, and a ridiculously pricey vegan bistro. There can’t be just selfish and selfless. We’re missing a few levels.

I’m in the business of thinking about things, ideas, experiences, emotions, and words. So, here I go, doing my job again. Let’s pick apart selfish and selfless…This is so much fun I can hardly stand it.

OK, Selfish. Self is of course, my favorite part of the word. Hopefully by now you, my loving gorgeous SoapBox readers, know what capital S, Self means. But just in case…Self is all of it, all of you, all of your deliciousness inside, all of the real you, your inner gold and your inner core, all of your million complex parts. Ok, sorry, I get excited about the Self stuff.

And what about this whole ish thing? According to the dictionary “ish” is a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, with the sense of “belonging to”…

So, selfish means, belonging to your Self. Moving on…

The word selfless really freaks me out. I mean, think about it. Self. Less. Less of yourself. Oye. That’s my most scary thought. Everything I talk about, every passionate moment on my SoapBox is about inviting yourself and your Self in. So, extreme selflessness is on a really scary road towards, well, self-gone.

So, now what? We don’t want to be too selfish, ‘cause we are part of a whole world here. And if we’re too selfless, we begin to lose ourselves. What to do, what to do.

It seems that many peoples cure to selfishness is to become ferociously selfless. And when people are so selfless that they start to lose themselves, they fantasize about doing things only for them, and that’s it. Why either/or? Neither really get me excited.

So, imagine a chart. At the top is Selfish. Then all the way on the other end… Selfless. There is a ton of space in-between, just waiting to be filled with color and texture and balance and the in-between.

There are so many unbelievably important levels of selfishness and selflessness. Surprise…there is healthy selfishness. And there is a reasonable and beautiful level of selflessness.

The thing about the battle between selfish and selfless is that it’s actually not a battle at all…they work best when they work together. I say, invite them both into your world. Let them balance each other out, intertwine, dance. I’m so over the either/or way of living…

Consider rethinking your black and white thinking. The relationship between selfishness and selflessness is such a great example of how life, pretty much all the time, leaves space for color. I call non-black and white thinking, “the color” rather than “the gray area” …and one day I’ll tell you why. But for now, just live in the rainbow. Go with it, invite it all in.

Be selfish sometimes…after all, you do belong to yourself in so many beautiful ways. And, of course, you want to prepare your strong fabulous self to be selfless sometimes…because after all, losing yourself in service and love for others feels pretty damn good.

And that’s the thing about the battle between selfish and selfless…


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The thing about restructuring...

Have you read those books about dreams…the ones that tell you, when your dream has to do with you being naked it’s a sure sign anxiety dream…and so on? Sometimes those books hit the nail on the head, they give that ah-ha moment we all want when we wake up wondering, “Whoa, what was that all about?” But by far my favorite dream “symbol” … a house.

The house represents, well, our home. And if you’ve been reading SoapBox like I know you have, you know that according to me, our real home isn’t actually the house we live in, it’s our bodies and our selves… it’s our gorgeous fabulous juicy unbelievable sparkling selves to be exact… and our emotions, experiences, stories, pasts, and everything in between.

Just like a in a house, we have emotional upkeep. But when we begin to notice changes we need to make in our lives, habits we want to break, reality we want to face, and shifts we want to make… it’s kinda’ like restructuring an already built home. Which is a ridiculous amount of work.

We often just paint, patch, seal, and cover up. The task of fixing the crack in the foundation is often too difficult to bare. So we leave it. And we build on top of it. We decorate. We accessorize. We even invite others in, we entertain, and we build relationships under our roof. All the while, there are cracks beneath our well intentioned feet…

It’s not like the cracks aren’t workable, fixable if you will. But we have to be willing to do the work. Covering it up only lasts so long. This is why reaching out, asking for help, or going to therapy is so hard…and so amazing. Because therapy, for example, asks you to do the housework you’ve been putting off for as long as you can remember. It asks you to go to the ground floor, way back when your inner self was being built, to find where it’s all coming from.

The thing about restructuring is that it’s challenging-for sure, but if you don’t do it, things can begin to fall apart in front of your pretty little face. One of the hardest things to do in life is admit that there’s an issue beneath it all, admit that change needs to happen… or consider that the way you've been doing things aint working. Money, relationships, career... no one wants to scream from the rooftops... "I’ve been going about this all wrong!"

The first step. Come clean. Admit that there may be a crack in the foundation, in the structure of things. Admit that your behaviors aren’t bringing your most authentic self to the table.

Breaking down walls is no easy feat. You built those walls around you, over you and under you for a reason damn it! To keep yourself and everyone else from knowing your stuff. Sometimes the issues lie so deeply that we need someone to help us scoop them out. And that is the most OK thing ever. Beautiful.

So, moral of the story… if you have a dream about a house-any house. It’s really about you my love. Restructuring is hard and ugly sometimes but so worth it. And reaching out and asking for help. Delicious.

And that’s the thing about restructuring.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The thing about red flags...

Dear Brooke,

I am feeling conflicted about several aspects of my relationship. I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago. Neither of us has had prior marriages and neither have children. He is 39 and I am 32. When we first met, he informed me that he "wasn’t sure about getting married and was probably too old for children". I made it pretty clear to him that there wouldn't be a second or third date because I do want to find my life partner and have children. He backed off and said that if he connected with the right person, it could be an option. Hello red flag...if it aint a burning desire and a priority in your life than we're not meant to be....I chose to ignore this red flag, and guess what - I'm exactly where one would think I would be - in limbo.

So a year and a half later we're in love, my parents think he's great, I adore his family, we share the same views with regard to religion, politics, finances and enjoy the same activities....problem is....I have a nagging suspicion that his "time clock" doesn't even closely resemble bigger fear is that I'm with someone who 2-3 years down the road is going to not feel ready to move forward and I’m nervous about waiting until I’m 40 to start having kids.

It’s like he's caught wanting to be a bachelor yet wants to be with me. Another issue compounding my anxiety is that we talk pretty frequently about the future, being married, having kids, where our parents will live when they are too old to live on their I’m hopeful, yet wracked with doubt because his time line seems a little out of whack given our respective ages, not to mention when we do talk about getting married he brings up divorce and me "taking his house and pension".

Of course everyone LOVES to weigh in on this topic. My sister says to just get knocked up, my best friend insists that this is going to end in heartache and to break up with him sooner than later, his mother says wait it out, others say give him an ultimatum. On a side note his father married late in life and didn’t start having kids until he was 40. I’ve tried several different means of communication with varying results....none of which have led to concrete answers. I am clearly not communicating effectively and I need some guidance from you.

Am I wasting my time?

Love in limbo

Dear Limbo love,

There’s so much going on, and I want to support you in figuring out your present situation, But in order to do that, you gotta travel back. Travel back to the day when the red flag was unfolded and strung up to the flagpole for everyone and their mother to see. The day that you, you gorgeous, smart, capable woman… ignored it and ran from it like the frikin’ plague…and agreed to a second date.

As human beings, we never… I mean never… do things that don’t serve us in some way. I know, sounds confusing and a little crazy, but it’s true. We’re always acting on or acting out our issues-- it’s the human condition. We’re incredibly intelligent emotional beings when it comes down to it. We know exactly what to do to get our needs met, even if it means suffering. When kids throw tantrums they’re really saying “see me, hear me, hello I need to be noticed!!” They get their need met. No matter how ugly it looks. So avoiding a red flag, when you seem to know exactly what you want, is a little tantrum of your inner world my love. It happened for a reason…it’s serving’re getting your needs met. Sounds like you have a little addiction to not getting what you want. Un-furrow your brow doll face, I’ll explain…

How is being with someone who may have fundamentally different ideas of what life should look like than you do… serving you? How does not clearly asking for or communicating what you really want…help you? Well, let’s brainstorm some possibilities…

Maybe it’s scary to ask for what you really want because maybe you’ll get it, and maybe you won’t. Maybe you’re scared to actually get what you really want, because it will be so new, you won’t even know what to do with yourself. Maybe you judge yourself for wanting certain things in the first place and that little inner dis-empowering voice yells “hey limbo girl, you are ridiculous and you ask for too much!” Ya, that voice sucks. Maybe you have fear that when and if you actually get what you want, it won’t really be that good anyway and you’ll be disappointed.

Maybe you're addicted to not getting what you want and what you need, so you (unconsciously) seek out relationships that you know you won't get what you need....because you don't know any other way. Think back to some of your other relationships…Hm. Maybe? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. So many possibilities. The point is…you’re getting something out of this.

The thing about red flags is that we think they say “danger, do not proceed” but when we avoid them and get into sticky relationship situations, those red flags turn into big juicy green flags…leading us into our deepest core issues. Ugh, I know… fun times. Therapists love red flags…it’s like a secret trap door to your inner gold.

As soon as that red flag flew and you agreed to a second date, your inner world knew exactly what it was doing honey. This isn’t about wanting marriage and kids, or an inner clock, or any of those details… I sense that this is about your discomfort around really getting what you want, and your fear of disappointment. Reason I think that… Because it seems like by being with this man, you don’t have to risk your deepest dreams ever being a disappointment, ‘cause they aren’t part of the plan. And no one wants disappointment. It’s one of the worst feelings ever. Ever. So we do whatever we can to avoid it. I don’t know your inner workings love, but it seems to me that asking for what you really want and risking disappointment is scarier for you, than settling for what comes close.

So, now that you are curled in a ball either red with anger or with mascara running down your gorgeous face, let me just say this… That red flag that you are judging yourself for ignoring is turning out to be one of the most amazing opportunities of your life. You get to grow infinitely.

Let’s be clear… I’m not telling you to break up with your boyfriend. I’m saying, begin to ask yourself how being in this relationship is serving you? How is it enabling you to stay in your comfort zone? How is it helping you to not have to take risks you haven’t felt ready to take. Explore your relationship with disappointment. Explore your relationship with joy. And when you’re ready to embrace both of those things, begin to ask…clearly and strongly ask… for what you really want.

Love love loveeeee,

send your questions to Brooke at! Your identity will always be kept private.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The thing about reality...

We have this funny on-again off-again relationship with reality. Ya, reality. Reality is lovable and acceptable and attractive when things are happening in a way that pleases us, makes us happy, makes us feel like things are going our way. But when reality isn’t behaving how we wish it would, we fight it, and we fight it until we convince ourselves that we’ve won. But we know better…

The thing about reality is that it always wins. No matter what. Ya, I know, I’m sorry darling. We can’t fight it, though we sure do put forth a ton of effort trying. Think about how much time and energy you’ve put into trying to make a situation that’s happening, not happen-or vice versa. Think about how much emotion you’ve spent on a phone that isn’t ringing… that just isn’t, or a person that isn’t treating you right…they just aren’t, or a credit card bill that just isn’t disappearing…it’s just not. Reality is a bitch sometimes, it’s the truth. But it’s not going anywhere. So, now what?

Now we talk about what happens when we fight reality and how it’s messing us up… and then we come clean so we can move forward, sans the baggage my loves, sans the baggage.

How we fight reality…we go into denial, and we attempt to negotiate a deal that will land us in a better situation. That’s what we do. And props to denial because sometimes it truly does help to keep us safe…safe and sound from facing things that tend to be pretty ugly. Do you really want to face the fact that that person isn’t that into you or that the job you have isn’t your true passion and you’ve known it from the start or that the way you’ve been using and abusing money is sending you into a crappy place but you just keep on going… um, no. No one wants to face that stuff…so denial is there to save the day! Yay! Except…

Except denial is a short term solution. Denial is a trick…it tells us that we’ll feel better, and free, and we won’t have to look at such icky things…good times. But once you inch into denial far enough, you’re further and further from the truth, the authentic reality, so the journey back is that much longer. So, it’s messing us up. Because like I said, reality always wins, and at some point gorgeous, the journey back from the land of denial into reality is going to take place. I know, not what you wanted to hear. But it’s, well, the reality of it.

So, as you sit in front of your computer screen reading these words and you start to wonder, “what am I in denial about?” Then keep going, keep asking, get curious… you’re on the right track, you’re so there. Love it! There is no one to answer to, no one to prove it to, no one to justify yourself to… other than you. So keep going and keep asking and get curious all over again. And then again. And again. Come clean… or at least start the process.

Denial is seductive. It tells us what we want to hear and no matter how strong we are, we succumb to its call. So break it of. Break off the relationship you have with denial. Mourn, cry, be sad… ‘cause every time a relationship ends, no matter how messed up it is, it’s sad. But once you’re ready, take a big deep breath and revisit the on-again off-again relationship you have with reality. And give it another go.

And that’s the thing about reality.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The thing about respect...

Respect is a word constantly in the airwaves, regularly thrown around, and continuously repeated in any situation a person feels they deserve, well, respect. Respect is also a word often taken at face value with no definition attached, to the point of, in my opinion, a fault. So, in the spirit of being on my soapbox and scooping out the meaning of things until there’s nothing left to scoop…I want to give a little tutorial… a little mini-lesson if you will… on the big-heavy-could be amazing if we actually knew what it meant and used it properly-word, respect. So, with respect, here I go…

There are two parts to the word Respect. “re” and “spect”. Let’s start with “re”.

“Re” is a prefix meaning ‘again’ or ‘again and again’, suggesting repetition. Easy enough.

“Spect” can be found in many words, for example spectacle meaning a show, display or vision. Also spectacles referring to eyeglasses or goggles. Another is spectacular; dazzling, astonishing, or breathtaking. And my favorite, spectator. One who is a viewer, watcher, observer or witness. One can conclude that “spect” is included only in words that refer to looking, seeing, observing, and such.

So, respect really means: to see, again and again. Huh. Imagine that. And all this time we thought we knew what we were talking about.

The thing about respect is that its power lies in the pause…the wonder, interest, and curiosity about another human being (or plant, or animal, or earth, or thing, or or or). Respect is not about being nice to someone, taking them more seriously, or having unfounded admiration based on physical appearance, job status, age, race, religion, ethnicity... or anything in between. It’s actually about seeing someone…past it all, looking deeper at who they are, hearing what they’re really saying, learning where they’re really coming from, paying attention what they’re about…again and again...and again. Until maybe, just maybe you get it a little bit…enough to confidently say, “I respect you”.

So darlings, I ask you... Stop, look, and listen. Wonder about the words you’re using…and why. Wonder about the people around you. Plan to respect someone only if you are prepared to find out who they really are, and kindly embrace their human-being-ness. And then, the best part… gracefully cock your head to the side and wonder about who you really are... again and again. Respect yourselves my dears. And love it every second of it.

And that's the thing about respect.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The thing about your story...

Dear Brooke,

My question to you is regarding how much honesty is too much honesty when it comes to relationships and one's past.

You see, I went through a difficult relationship during college (emotionally/mentally abusive, unfortunately) and the healing period to get past it included some even more unfortunate behaviors--namely, a short stint (approximately one month) of being a "party girl", during which I hooked up randomly a few times (literally only a few). It didn't take me very long to realize that behaving that way felt like crap, nor was it "me"; it actually served as a wake up call to look inward and deal with my issues.

I can gladly say that was years ago and today I am a happy, normal individual--with the exception of a few occasional flashbacks of "the things that I've done". Six months ago I met my soul mate, and though it may sound crazy to say that after such a short time--I actually knew he was the one after our first date. At the very beginning of the relationship I divulged vague details about my dirty past, i.e. the fact that I had one. I did this because I wanted to be honest about what I had been through, but I only gave enough details to paint a picture. No guy loves to hear that stuff, but it was accepted and we moved past.

I believe I will end up marrying this guy, and as such something has been plaguing me: How much honesty is too much honesty? What if he asks me things? What answer do I give? Does he need to know names, dates, and positions? I don't think that information would be helpful to anyone. In a world where people are getting married in their late 20's and 30's, we all have some kind of past life before we meet our husbands and wives. How are we meant to deal with honesty about our past? Is there a rule of thumb regarding what we should tell? I hate to lie ever, but what is the harm when the information serves no benefit to anyone?

I look forward to your response.

Greater Good

Dear Greater Good,

No warming up. No small talk. Let’s unpack this baby right frikin’ now.

Your if-it-didn’t-happen-exactly-the-way-it-did-or-you-wouldn’t-be-as-fabulous-as-you-are story… journey…process…was just described by you, little miss good-or-bust as “unfortunate” and “dirty”. OK…could anyone judge themselves more right now? I don’t think so. You need the biggest hug ever, and at the same time… a major ah-ha moment. So, let’s have it.

Seriously my love, who is really judging your past… your man? Nope…It’s you. You are judging your past so much that you are assuming that others will too. You were emotionally abused and coped with it in a way that many humans did the best you could with what you had, and I’m proud of you. Yes, really. But now, you are emotionally abusing yourself. The truth is, once you accept, honor, and respect your past and your journey, so will everyone else.

I know you’re looking for answers…for me to tell you what to do. This actually isn’t about lying or telling the truth or the details or whatever… this is about something that goes way deeper than that. It seems to me that the reason you’re troubled by what to tell and what not to tell is you’re looking for some validation of your story. You want someone to say, “It’s OK, I love you regardless of what you did”. The truth is, my darling, you don’t love you regardless of what you did. You don’t love your past; you don’t respect the choices you made. You are justifying yourself all over the place… “approximately one month” “literally only a few” and right now, in this moment I want you to pause. Take a breath. And listen carefully…

One of the reasons you were able to realize how special this man is, and allow yourself to fall in love is because of your story, because of all the things you did and went through...simple and complicated. If you didn’t do things that felt wrong, how the heck would you know what feels right? It’s time to thank your story. It’s time to celebrate your past. It’s time to love yourself not only regardless of your past, but because of it. Yes, really.

The thing about your story is that it’s well, yours...and it’s important to treat it with care, and big time love. You get to decide what to do with it, where to put it, where not to put it. Your story is a precious gem, a true gift that this life has given you to become your best self. Your story is about a woman who has journeyed through crap relationships and come out alive…a woman who has made decisions that seemed perfect at the time, and learned from all of them…a woman who has a juicy rich beautiful past that made her one strong and capable cookie…a story that is only hers to judge.

I invite you to be proud of your story... especially the parts that you aren’t proud of. Once you embrace this, you’ll know exactly who to tell and how much to share.

Love love love LOVE,

Send your questions to Your identity will be kept confidential.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The thing about the things we hold onto...

My plane was delayed. It happens. So I found myself with unplanned extra time, walking around the airport with my ridiculously heavy bag slung around my shoulder. I thought that I had packed everything in so well…so thoughtfully placed and organized. I even experimented handling the weight by picking it up a few times before I left the house… it passed all initial tests. But the longer I held it, the more I believed that a damaging neck or upper back injury was about to occur. The combination of my bra strap digging into my precious shoulder with the bag strap perfectly placed right over it was just too much to take. Periodic breaks became necessary.

During one of my important pauses I found myself thinking...why do we hold onto so much?

We don’t only hold onto stuff, we hold onto feelings, experiences, pasts. We hold onto guilt, hurt, anger, grudges. We hold onto what we said, what someone else said, what we wish we said. We hold onto shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ all day long. …And the list goes on. But if we’re holding onto such unbelievably outrageously heavy things, isn’t there a point when we have to just put it all down… and breathe?

The thing about the things we hold onto is that they stay and hang out on the surface of our world...more than we care to admit. Even if you think you’ve been wildly successful at pushing it all down, pushing it all away, hiding it all so no one can see… sorry to burst your bubble darling dear…the only person you are fooling is your own precious self. No matter how hard we try to push it all down… certain things are simply indigestible.

Our bodies, our spirits, our souls… these gorgeous things are not built to digest things like guilt, anger, fear, hate, regret. Just like our stomachs can’t digest poison… we have to get it all pumped out… or the consequences are, well, ugly. So it all stays there, at the forefront, poisoning your every moment. The held onto stuff inches it’s way into whatever we do or say or experience. The held onto stuff takes up so much space in our bodies that we can’t invite the good stuff in…we are full of undigested crap. I know, fun.

So, you have undigested-held onto-past-crap that is influencing you more than you were willing to realize…and now you’re admitting it silently to yourself with a little smirk on your face. Yes, you. Love love love it. Welcome to being human. Congratulations, you’ve arrived. But that’s not me giving you permission to hold onto it forever. This is me caring about you like crazy and letting you know I get it while at the same time saying… it’s time to put down your bag honey. Take a breath.

Consider what you hold onto. Be curious. Why do you need it? Why do you want it? How is it serving you? Is it making your day, your life, your self… better? Really? What would your day, your life, your self… look like, feel like, be like if for just a minute, you let it go?

And that’s the thing about the things we hold onto.

Love like crazy,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The thing about expecting everything from one person...

One of the most important things my ex-boyfriend said to me during our relationship was “I can’t be your boyfriend, and your girlfriends.” I had no idea he was so deep, hence our breakup, but as it turns out that lesson stuck with me…

So often we look to our partners to fulfill everything, all of our needs, all of our wants, all of our all of our. That’s a tall frikin’ order, don’t you think? Putting that kind of expectation on one human being is overwhelming to even think about. The expectation to be everything all folded into one body is not only a bummer for the person who is supposed to be super-human, but dangerous for the person placing the expectations as well.

The thing about expecting everything from one person is that it’s dangerous…dangerous because we are bound to be let down. And being let down because of expectations we created out of thin air all on our own...well that just sucks. I’m certainly not saying settle for a partner because no one can be that great anyway... Believe me, that’s not my stance. I do think amazing healthy juicy fabulous relationships are built on finding one ridiculously unbelievable person, being best friends and lovers and and and and… oh, and that too. But it’s important to think of life as a soup. With only 1 ingredient, well, that’s just bound to disappoint.

It’s healthy to add other ingredients into your world, into your life soup if you will. The base can be your relationship if that’s where you're at on your path, or your yoga community or your kids or your mom… whatever is a fit for your world. But add some friends, some purpose, some hobbies. Join a knitting circle, volunteer, have stimulating conversations going on, coffee dates, and even that really scary overwhelming thing we call…solitude. Ya, even have some of that. Believe me, you're everything person will thank you.

We don’t want anyone to look to us for all the answers, all the time. We don’t want to be 100% responsible for 1 person’s happiness and life purpose…that’s just way too much pressure. So why do we do it to our partners…or our 1 best friend…or our mom? One person just can’t do everything. But they love you either way. So, stir your soup darlings. Yes, it’s that important.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The thing about honesty...

Brooke –
I need to ask about this because so often we are asked for ‘an honest opinion’ or ‘tell me honesty if’, etc.

This happened recently with a close friend. She had been to visit my home and we had a nice weekend. Upon her return home, she wrote and said “I had the distinct feeling you are not happy with me. I felt it when I left your place but it was really strong when I woke up. Am I imagining things or am I correct? Did I do something wrong while I was there?”

This friend has always said one of the things she loves best about me my HONESTY. So after much consideration, I replied--

“Now how to answer your question… I am so glad you worded it “not happy with me” rather than mad or angry. I have to be honest BUT keep in mind it is only a small thing which is why it was never brought up. On the way home from the restaurant – the conversation went to Ford Motor Company – trashing transmissions, power-trains, etc….. I did not feel it was appropriate to ‘knock down’ a company your hosts’ worked for and are collecting a pension from. As you know we are “True Ford Blue” and the comments we not appreciated. Since it truly was a small thing – I let it go and asked my hubby to do the same. Nothing to worry about – it is now in the past! You asked so I had to be honest (something that you’ve always admired) otherwise it would have never been mentioned.”

I did not hear from this person for 2 days, so I sent a note asking if I should be worried. Her response was “No, not to worry. Some things are just better dropped than continued. I think that's one of them. (((HUGS)))”

Looks like honesty wasn’t something she wanted to hear. From her response, she doesn’t agree with how we felt. When feelings are hurt (like our case), it’s how we perceived the comment rather than why they made the comment. Am I right?

When I got her response back, I was surprised that it didn’t say “Oh sorry you felt that way” or something. Her response leads me to believe that she doesn’t see our “side”, isn’t the least bit remorseful and is now maybe a little mad at me for being honest. Is that your take? In my opinion, feelings are genuine and can neither be “right” or “wrong” – they just are!!

I guess my question to you is – people really don’t want honesty do they? It would have been far better for the relationship to have just replied – NO nothing is wrong! And move on.

Honest Hannah

Dear Honest Hannah,

How bold and beautiful of you to put yourself out there for such an important and often confusing topic… your experience and example illustrates what so many of us experience. So go you. You are officially a life teacher. And PS. Thank you so much for sharing your own personal emails- they’re really going to help us get down to the nitty gritty… in a good way… I hope.

So there is the cliché “honesty is the best policy” and I agree for the most part. But in SoapBox-World there are 2 main categories of honesty. Take ‘em if you like, leave ‘em if you don’t. First is outer-world-honesty…the details, specifics, quotes, things that happen in the situation, etc. and second is inner-world-honesty…the feelings, emotions, things that go on inside of us, etc.

Outer-world-honesty is way easier to express. This happened, she said this, he said that…bla bla. It’s inner-world-honesty that can get sticky and get us all tripped up on what honesty really looks like... let’s use your experience to illustrate.

In the outer world, your friend said negative things about an organization you are invested in, which seemed inappropriate to you at the time, under the circumstances. OK. It’s so great that you shared that with her because outer-world-honesty really does clear up some confusion sometimes, right? So that’s fabulous. But there’s more…

It seems to me, that although you were honest about the outer-world details of the situation, you were far from honest about the follow up you were hoping for, and about your inner-world experience. You didn’t lie my love, you just left out a few things. You didn’t tell her your feelings were hurt, you didn’t tell her you wanted to know if she understood where you were coming from. You didn’t let her know that you were hoping for a response. You didn’t tell her you wanted her to say she was sorry. Sometimes we don’t share our inner-world honesty because we aren’t convinced our feelings are justified or reasonable, so we say things like… “Nothing to worry about – it is now in the past”

So, what happened was…. Your friend said something hurtful and asked you what had happened. Then you emailed the specifics, like what she said and when, but gave her permission to simply move on. Then, when she said ok, you were upset and confused. So when you say you were honest... you weren’t completely honest darlin’, right? And it led to you being more hurt than you were in the first place.

The thing about honesty is that it’s great and helpful and delicious and organic and amazing…if you are actually being honest…like, fully. And sitting with whatever happens as a result. The complete honest answer would have stated the outer-world details and then been followed by your inner-world feelings and experiences of the situation.

Here is an example of how you can include your inner world honesty: “There was a comment made about Ford in a negative light. You are my friend and I care so much about you and our friendship. I was hurt and upset about the comment because I didn’t feel noticed for the work and effort my family and I have put into Ford. I know it may seem like a small detail, but I also know you will understand where I’m coming from. I really appreciate you initiating this conversation.”…and so on

The most important thing to keep in mind when expressing inner world honesty; use way way way more “I” statements that “You” statements. “You” statements should be kept to a crazy minimum and only used in a positive light. No one wants to have a finger pointing in their face, be cut down, put down, lectured, or made to feel bad. If they feel that way at all, your communication will probably be misunderstood, unheard, or unread all together. If you remind your friends, family, or whoever you have a challenge with that they are important to you (which they are) and you care about the relationship you have with them (which you do) and that you have confidence that they are the kind of person who will understand your point of view…then they will be standing on confident solid ground and are more prepared to hear what you have to say. Don’t lie to them, of course… but just remember your relationship and all of the great things about that person…and say them.

So many of us, in a hurtful situation, just sit back and wait for the other person to miraculously know what’s going on in our inner-world. We get the crazy idea that others know our buttons, how they are pushed, and when they push them. We convince ourselves that others know the depth of our stories and our emotions and what affects us and to what level. Our feelings are not floating in the air for anyone to see, to understand, to respond to…unless we share them.

So, we have found ourselves here. At this place of different levels or shall we say, worlds of honesty. Sometimes, it feels best to only include one world. Such as, leaving the details out and just talking about how you and the other person feel. Or, sometimes it’s really just a silly misunderstanding and you can forgo the deep thoughts and clear things up with a quick detail. But, most of the time, a balance of both is necessary.

Remember, the most important person to be fully honest with…yourself. And to me, the only way to do that is to ask lot’s of questions and as always…get curious about yourself. Honest Hannah, you done good.


Oh, and PS to you and everyone… your best bet is to make some notes to yourself, and then if it’s an option, call or meet a friend in person to talk about things. Email, text, etc. can get confusing and may lead to a greater risk of being misunderstood. Just food for thought…

Send your questions to!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The thing about rules...

When SoapBox Therapy began, I made a rule for myself. I will post every day. I quickly realized that rule was completely unrealistic, as are many I tend to set for myself. It took moving through some major discomfort and working my inner-self-muscles- to finally listen to my gut, to my inner voice… and take a step back to a more realistic place.

So, a Tuesday/Thursday posting regimen began. I allowed myself to be real and took off my superwoman cape. It worked…for me. Then, it didn’t. Last week, life set itself up differently. Not better, not worse. Just a little different. So, again I found myself starring at my rules right in their ugly judgmental face. Ugh.

It got me thinking…what happens to us when the rules aren’t the right fit? Not only the rules we set up for ourselves (I will write a fabulous interesting post every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of my life)…

But the rules the our dating-society set up for us (Your new boyfriend/girlfriend shalt be considered a “rebound” by all of your friends until the proper mourning time is provided after an ugly break up)…

And also the rules our material-society set up for us (you will have those jeans, or you are a fat ugly loser who doesn’t have it together…or you’re alternative)…just to name a few.

When we come in contact with a rule that just doesn’t feel right for us, we get stuck. Literally, it’s like either we follow the rules, or we become paralyzed with confusion and feel unsure and insecure and everything in between. It’s as if the rules, whether good or bad, help us to stay on an effortless road-a strait shoot, for so long. And while on that road, we don’t work the muscles of our inner voice, we don’t have conversations with it, we don’t check in. We just go. Blindly. So our ability to hear our inner voice gets weak, and our strength to trust it…even weaker. Sometimes, we forget that it’s even there. So sad.

And then…in comes a situation where the rule worked before, but now it makes your skin crawl. So Mr. or Mrs. Inner voice starts screaming your name like mad to get your frikin’ attention. “This rule isn’t working for meeeee, helloooooooo!!!!!” And then, you freeze. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know which direction to go. The scary truth: We trust the rules more than we trust ourselves.

Your inner voice is asking you to improvise. To create a new path…your path, and go with it. Yes, you need to get creative, listen carefully to your gut, and then proceed. A life that works takes work my loves… I know, shocking.

The thing about rules is that sometimes they don’t work and they need not be followed. And that’s OK. Maybe you meet your soul mate a few days after you break up with the partner you were with for what-seems-like-forever. And maybe that’s perfect… for you… with that person…at that moment. For example.

I’m not saying that all of society’s rules are simply wrong- I know that’s not the case. I’m saying, decide for yourself. And I’m not saying just forget it and let go and never do things you say you’re going to do cause your just not in the mood…or vise versa. I mean, have some integrity people, right?

I’m just saying that sometimes we say we’re going to do things, or not do things… and then that choice ends up feeling so utterly off that our inner voices start to scream and pray that we’ll quiet down the insane-obnoxious-paralyzing-judgment going on inside of ourselves long enough to listen…and shift.

So, get organized and get clear...ask yourself not only about the rules others set for you, that just don’t feel right—but ask yourself, “What are my rules?” … and then loosen up your grip and be prepared for the possibility that one day, you’ll throw them out the window. And maybe the next day you’ll go out, find them, and re-attach them to your best-self-reality. Who knows? Allow yourself to be fluid, be in the moment…be human.

And that’s the thing about rules.


Send your questions to!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The thing about doing what you love...

The thing about doing what you love is that you really should. Like really, really. And should is my least favorite word. But I’m shoulding. It just feels right in this context. Go with it.

Yes. Do what you love. Not so simple, I realize. But what other option do you have? Joy and passion… those are sustainable. Discomfort and dissatisfaction… ugh, that stuff is like poison. So, in an effort to begin a “do what you love or bust” revolution… I decided to step up to the plate. Here I go…

I love getting on my soapbox. It’s true. I love writing to you, for you, with you…I frikin’ love it. I love wondering who is being affected by which post? Who is getting curious about themselves? Who is growing? I love every part of this. I could cry of joy. Seriously.

I also love helping in person. I love creating a relationship with a beautiful human being and seeing them grow and fall in love with themselves and become the person they want and hope to be… right before my very eyes.

That being said… I’m so excited to announce that beginning today, September 1, 2009 I am officially taking private practice clients! Certain times of the week I will step off the box and onto the couch in my cute office in San Francisco. Life is good.

A little about the way I work...on the couch. I integrate as many different theories and ideas as there are different people in the world. Everything works for someone, but no one thing works for everyone. Get it? I see everyone who walks in my office as a separate amazing complex human being with light and fabulousness inside… even if they don’t. Yet. And the most important voice in the room is the quiet one coming from inside of the person sitting across from me…

I love Carl Jung, feel very strongly about humanistic psychology, and connect to relational therapy as well as self-psychology (Oh, the fun you’ll have on Google today…) My specialty: Working with, treating, and strengthening relationships of all kinds…including the relationship you have to yourself. Love it.

So… to begin this exciting venture I am introducing a group called “The Meaning Of Wife” The group is for women in romantic relationships of all stages... single and contemplating commitment, serious or engaged and considering marriage, married and discovering an expanded identity, recently divorced and reflecting on a new chapter in life...just to name a few. This group is going to be small and deeply supportive--a wonderful way for women to explore both their relationships and themselves.

Oh, and it's 12 sessions. Wednesday nights from 6-7:30pm. Starting September 23, 2009.

My darling readers… please consider this group for your friends, family, or co-workers in San Francisco, Oakland, Marin County, or anywhere in the Bay Area! Pass along the information about the group, the blog, and and and… and tell them to contact me! Questions, concerns, pricing... just call.

I want the group to be small and intimate…so it will fill up fast. Thank you. You are my starlets! My private practice line is 415.294.4044.

And that’s the thing about doing what you love.


An important disclaimer: Brooke received her master’s degree in counseling psychology and is a registered MFTi (marriage and family therapist intern #55548) working towards full licensure in the state of California. SoapBox Therapy is not part of the California MFT licensure process. SoapBox Therapy is commentary and advice based on Brooke's personal opinions and insight and should be regarded as such. SoapBox Therapy is in no way related to or reflective of the opinions or insight of Brooke Miller’s private practice supervisor, Cynthia Hoffman LMFT.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The thing about hate...


Have you ever had the same fight over and over again? Like the day repeating, but the weather has changed? Groundhog day... This is my life. It doesn't happen every day, but often enough. I feel like I am losing my mind!

The issue is, my husband hates my sister- and I hate my husbands father. This dynamic is a constant source of argument that might never die. Aside from these two people, there is nothing to argue about!

Why does my husband throw the dirty "family card" out there? Even when we are bickering about what movie to see, the "family card" gets thrown down and the argument shifts, gets heated, and I turn on the silent treatment. When are we too old to bicker about family? Will it ever end? When???

bickering betty

Dear Bickering Betty,

I love love love this question...first of all because it describes what happens behind so many peoples closed doors--and I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I realize that this may just help someone, in addition to you, who is least expecting it... but I also love it because I get to use one of my favorite metaphors...the scratched record. Fun times. Here we go...

In the beginning of our life we are like a new record, all shiny and new, scratch free, playing smoothly without skipping or getting stuck, no matter what comes our way. Then, life happens. We have happy joyful delicious times, and we have frustrating hurtful painful times. Sometimes the painful times create a big lasting scratch in our record. Some scratches are, really deep.

What happens is this; if that deep scratch isn't healed...we never talked about it, went to therapy, dealt with it... it becomes our default emotional landing.

What I mean is, as our record/life plays on, if the record player ever gets bumped- like something upsets us, ruffles us, etc.—we automatically get thrown right back to our deepest scratched spot- the painful memory, experience, or feeling. And being there is crappy. And scary. And uncomfortable. And we get angry. And even if the person, place, or thing that bumped the record player has nothing to do with the scratch, they get the heat for it.

So now that I may have thoroughly confused you... let's relate this to your situation and put this metaphor to work.

Let's use your husband hating your sister as our example. I don't know him or his life story, but what I sense is that he's a human being who has gone through stuff- life, family, etc. and something affected him in at some point that he has yet to deal with and put to rest-maybe major, maybe minor, but created a scratch nonetheless. And that scratch is still there.

Your sister happens to be a person who bumps your husbands record player…she triggers him, activates him, reminds him of (unconsciously) and makes him feel the feelings that live in the deep scratch in his record. Then he's uncomfortable, and get's angry.

After enough bumps, your sister became the face of his frustration-like an ad campaign. Every time you think of Subway you think, Jared, the Subway guy, ya? So every time he feels frustrated he thinks... my sister-in-law, the frustrating girl. Not so fair, but true and totally normal.

Are you still with me? This is a lot. Take a deep breath. Let's keep going...

When you and your hubby are deciding about a movie, for example, he may feel frustrated. And now, your sister is the representative of frustration. So she get's brought into the mix. Bummer.

So here's the play by play. First, you get scratched at some point in your life. The scratch is deep, and it's easy to fall back into it. Then, you meet someone who bumps you... something about them just activates you and for some reason leads you fall into the icky feelings all over again...

Then, you decide you hate them. Because they bump you into a place and into feelings you don't like experiencing.

The thing about hate is that when you feel it towards another person, it's the universe sending you a message, telling you it's time to look within...and get curious. We don't hate others...we really don't. Hating others isn't part of our natural makeup...what we hate are the feelings that come up as a response to certain people or groups. For example, we don't like feeling afraid, so we hate those who scare us. We don't like feeling insecure, so we hate those who make us question ourselves. We don't like feeling unsafe, so we hate those who threaten our safety, etc.

Feeling hate is a huge gift...that is, if you are willing to unwrap it. If you discover where your feelings of hate towards another human being come from... well then you are a frikin' winner. You get to grow. You get to become more accountable. You get to become more mature, gracious, self aware, and kind. I get chills even thinking about it.

Hating another person or group and then taking a step back and wondering about yourself and where that hatred might be coming from--and taking responsibility for those emotions. Ugh, I mean, that's world peace according to me. So delish I can’t stand it.

My response isn't about why your sister or his dad bumped either of you in the first place. That's a whole other story. That's something that I can't speak to-I don't have enough information. It's your box to unpack, preferably with a therapist individually or as a couple.

What is it about them that makes you both so heated? What don't you like to feel that they bring out in you...and where did it come from? So many possibilities...

My amazing-loving-bickering-human through and through-darling...I could squeeze you right now I'm so happy. Do you realize what just happened? You had a hand in possibly inspiring not only yourself, but another person reading this post think about themselves, their past, life, relationships, a new light.

Now go put your favorite record on, and breathe through the bumps, the scratches, and dance to every gorgeous song along the way...madly, deeply, joyfully.

Love love love,

Send your questions to!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The thing about mothers-in-law...

The thing about mothers-in-law is that sometimes, they drive us a little nuts. Maybe that's just part of the package?

I don't think we should just ‘get over it’ if we feel hurt by our mothers-in-law. It’s just not that easy. The truth is, though… they pushed our partners out of their bodies and for that they deserve just a few props. I know, I know… just stick with me on this one…

Many of us treat our mothers-in-law like they’re in the way, they’re the reason for all havoc breaking loose…and maybe in some cases they absolutely are. But the bottom line- they love their kid and they are jealous as hell. Justifiably so.

I mean, lets just get down to it. They get pregnant. Maybe they’re excited, and maybe they’re not. They push out a kid, they raise them fabulously or horribly, attentively or neglectfully. They deal with all the frustration, joy, emotion, and everything in between that comes with raising that child. THEN, we come along.

We get to fall in love with that human being and they get to fall in love with us…by choice. We don't to choose our parents, but we get to choose our partner. We get to reap the benefits and rewards of their mother's work...their kid. I would imagine that for many mom's, that's not so easy to digest. No matter how charming you are.

So, they changed diapers and dealt with emotional stuff and took care of their kid the best they could with what they had. Admit it. Then a pretty young thang comes along and gets to make googly eyes while they sit there realizing that one of the people keeping them busy, making them feel needed…is out the door… like, really. Emotionally, moving forward...sometimes translated by a mother as… moving on. I imagine like crazy that that can be a painfully rough feeling inside… no matter how much she loves or doesn’t love who her kid chose.

All I’m saying is that even though mothers-in-law can be, well, lots of things… they helped make our partners who they are today, either by being great moms or not so great moms. It couldn’t hurt to spend a little more time thanking them for pushing out the loves of our lives. Literally.

Some mothers-in-law are amazing fabulous confident women who joyfully send their child off into adulthood with no reservations… some are not. Let’s look at those mothers-in-law of the world in a new way, under a new light. Let’s choose to be thankful for them. Let’s choose to respect them. Not because of who they are, but because of who they created.

No matter how difficult this might sound… A “thank you for bringing my partner into this world. You have given me the most amazing gift I could ever ask for” from you would send your mother-in-law over the edge… in a delicious amazing possibly life altering way. Try it. Yes…really.

And then let me know how it goes.

And that’s the thing about mothers-in-law.


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The thing about long distance relationships...

Dear Brooke,

I have been dating the most amazing man for the past 5 months (we'll call him Jake). But it just so happens that this amazing man lives 1500 miles away! (I'm in Chicago and he's in New York). I love him with all my heart and cannot picture my life without him, but there is always that lingering questions of...who will have to give when it comes to moving?

Both of us have pretty settled lives in our respective cities. Jake is currently a student and including law school, he still has another 5 years left. I work for a prominent Illinois politician and love what I am doing. We have discussed the possibility of one of us moving (he could look at law schools in Chicago and I have looked into a job in politics in New York), but neither one of us are gung-ho about packing up and leaving.

After a very long talk one night, Jake finally broke down and said he didn't think he could move to Chicago. Not because he didn't love me or love the city itself, but he couldn't imagine leaving his family. Jake is about 7 years younger than me and in all honesty, when I was his age, I couldn't imagine leaving my family either. But as I've gotten older, my objection to moving has diminished a bit and I confessed that I would move to the East Coast if that is where he decided to go to law school.

When I said that I would consider moving to New York, he said that he would feel incredibly guilty if I moved for him...because he wouldn't do the same for me. Without sounding too dramatic, does this mean that I love him more than he loves me? Or am I reading too much into it? I know he loves me and cares for me immensely, but should I worry that at this point he can't see himself moving to Chicago? Part of me believes because he is much younger than me, his views on moving/leaving his family may change, but I don't want to bank on it.

I know I have met the man of my dreams, but should I see his hesitance to move as a red flag?

Living in Chicago, while my heart is in New York

Dear my sweet sweet Chi-Town love,

So first and foremost, I can visualize your googly eyes and smitten smile from here. You seem very much in love. So yummy. So delish.

One of the things that I promise to my readers, and to you, is that I will never pretend to know what I don’t know. I’m fabulously human, and proud of it. Nothing is black and white. Every situation has color, texture, and feelings that are different from the next, different from the rest. Every relationship is different. That being said…

I don’t know Jake. I love that he’s being honest about his present feelings and limitations, but I can’t tell you why he doesn’t want to move to Chicago. Maybe it’s his age, or the city, or his readiness for an intense commitment? Maybe he just loves his life in NYC and wants you to be in it…there? Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Would he be willing to let the relationship end if you weren’t willing to move? I don’t have that information. I don’t know why he feels guilty for letting you come to him, and what that’s all about. All questions to be curious about. All things to consider asking. Soon.

But for right now… even though you may think that all of those details matter, they really don’t. Let me explain…

My hope for you my love is that you can get quiet with yourself and listen. Listen to that inner voice that we all have. Some may think it’s fluff, but I say with confidence, if you don’t think you have an inner voice, well, then your just not listening.

What do you really feel? Do you really feel that Jake doesn’t love you as much as you love him? Do you really feel that you’re the weaker link in this relationship because you are willing to compromise and try something new? Do you really feel like you love this person enough to take a chance, to take a risk? Do you really feel like Chicago has a no return policy?

Speaking of feeling…we don’t do it enough. We think too much. Sometimes all of our thoughts are on the prom dance floor twirling around, having a blast, and our feelings are sitting on the side, wishing someone would invite them in.

I can’t tell you what to do. I can’t make any decision for you. But I can give you this challenge: Feel about it for a while, pause on the thinking about it part. When you come to your deepest gut feeling, when your inner voice catches your attention…be there for a while. Then think. Job, housing, money, realistic, whatever. But for right now, just feel about it.

Any decision you make is yours. You own it. Choose to allow that decision to empower you. Don’t let it be about “giving in”. Compromise is not a sign of weakness, contrary to popular belief. If you decide to move, you’re not moving because he won’t, you’re moving because you are choosing to. I know this may not be what you wanted to hear. You wanted the answer, right? Sorry gorgeous. It lives in you, not me. You already got the goods my dear.

So here it is. The thing about long distance relationships is that there is no one thing about long distance relationships. Every relationship is different. Thank goodness. The reason someone moves or doesn’t, the reason the relationship works or doesn’t...different every time. The only person who knows what to do, what the next step is… is the person in it, feeling it. And in this case sweet thing, it’s you.

Congratulations, you get to be in charge of your life.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The thing about loving your outside...

The thing about loving your outside…your body…this vehicle that drives you around life- is that it takes work. Just like any other relationship. It takes time, commitment, focus.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society that makes it very easy for us to love every part of ourselves. Actually, sometimes the world we live in makes us feel egotistical, and conceited when we do love our outsides. Nuts I tell ya. Nuts.

Loving your outside is important. Like, really important. It’s not about looks, or weight, or having trendy clothes or whatever…that stuff is just a distraction, believe me. It’s about respecting and being kind to this amazing container that we are all blessed with. Yes, our bodies are our container, holding the best present in the world...our inner gorgeous amazing juicy complex …selves. So stop trashing the wrapping paper people. Have some respect, there are diamonds inside.

Here’s my proposal... Let’s fall in love with our gift box one part at a time. Let’s start with the foundation…our legs. Seriously. Let’s just fall madly, deeply, and passionately in love with our legs. Make a decision. Decide that the most important love affair in your life right now, is with your legs.

Take your legs out on a date, wear short skirts, or for my male readers, if skirts aren’t your thing- show off those calves somehow, some way. Shave every day-or don’t if that’s your style…whatever feels delicious in your world… do it. Thank your legs for holding your entire body up. Appreciate your legs for resting or sitting or folding or walking. Ya, thank your legs for walking. And if your legs don’t work the way you wish they did… send them love. Big love.

Wear t-shirts around the house and that’s it. Let your legs be seen and free. Tell them how sexy they are. Even if you don’t think they are… tell them they are. They need to hear it, and you need to practice saying it. Touch your legs, flirt with them. Celebrate your thighs. I’m not kidding people, celebrate your damn thighs.

Go out with your friends and have an “I love my legs night out” Go to dinner. Talk about your legs and where they’ve taken you…and where they’ve helped you get away from. Talk about when your legs took you dancing or allowed you to take a break. Talk about your legs like you talk about your other relationships. Respect them. Appreciate them. Share your leg stories. Try it. Yes, seriously.

Really…It’s time. It’s time we take a different approach to loving our bodies. We live inside these amazing vessels, yet we trash them and put them down. It makes no sense. Enough already.

Let’s take it one part at a time. Fall in love with your legs. And then send your leg-love stories to

And that’s the thing about loving your outside.


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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The thing about a kid whose parents get divorced...

Dear Brooke,

My first wife and I divorced 7 years ago. We had a daughter together who is now 10. My ex-wife is very neurotic and controlling, which was one of the many issues that led up to our divorce. I get my daughter 3 weekends a month. Since I live close by, I can see her whenever I want.

Since my daughter is her mother's only child, they have a very close relationship. My daughter's mom is overly protective of her. My problem is I feel that my ex-wife is turning my daughter into her. Since my marriage ended, I have gone on to remarry (5 years ago) and have 2 more children. The ex is still single with a series of failed relationships behind her.

Some examples I have may be petty on my part. Let’s call my daughter Jane. Jane has her own cell phone. She feels the need to call her mom over any concerns or feelings she has while she is staying with me. This is something that her mom did / continues to do with her mom (my ex-mother-in-law). This can get extremely intrusive during dinner or family time.

Jane is slightly allergic to peanuts. Whenever we buy a cake for birthdays including hers, she will insist on reading the ingredients to make sure there are no peanuts in it or made in a factory that processed anything with peanuts. Then, she will proceed to take out her cell phone and call her mom and read the label to her and reconfirm that she shouldn't eat the cake. This was done yesterday for my birthday celebration that left me, my wife, and our guests uncomfortable.

Jane’s mother never cared much about her appearance. She would often throw on whatever clothes were clean and would fit. She could care less about having her hair styled, nails done, etc. This progressively got worse when we married. This attribute has been passed on to my daughter. Her clothes are clean, but atrocious in fit and style. We make attempts to get her nice clothes, but she doesn't want to wear them and refuses to take them home. We get hair products so she can do something other than "just brush it" or "throw it up." My wife is often embarrassed to be seen in public with her. She often sticks out when we are out as a family.

I am at my wit's end about this. I recently told Jane that I want to move away from where we live when she is 18; she'll be an adult going to college and my family and I will begin a new chapter in our lives. I let her know that she will always have a place with us, but I cross fingers hoping this doesn't happen for the above mentioned reasons. Sometimes, I feel like dropping her off at her mom's house and telling her that I can't deal with her anymore and getting on with my life, which would include moving up my plans to leave the area 7 to 8 years ahead of schedule.

Jane has unconditional love for me. Although I think about her everyday and worry for her, I don't think my love is as unconditional and I feel very guilty about it. My current wife dreads when Jane comes over because it is like having my ex-wife here, but she is a great sister to our daughters. Our older child counts down the days when Jane comes here and loves to play and hang out with her. Secretly, my wife and I count down the hours that I drop Jane off with her mom.

I think back to a time when things were much simpler in life 7 years ago; I was single it was just Jane and me on the weekends. There was no problem taking her as she was, unconditionally. Now, things are complicated and it takes every once of will power I have not to tell her I feel. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this whole thing. I hope and pray to myself that one day, Jane will rebel against her mom's influence; that she'll want to have a normal mother-daughter relationship rather than the pathological one I observe.

Thanks for "listening",

Frustrated Dad

Dear Frustrated Dad,

I really could write a response to so many different parts of your letter, it’s almost overwhelming for me to even attempt. I’m truly flattered and overjoyed that you wrote… because I think this will be an amazing lesson for so many people. Thank you for being the guinea pig… There is huge potential here for you to become unbelievably stronger after this… and a better dad. The truth is, this dynamic happens way more often than people realize.

OK, I’m just gonna go for it. I hope you're sitting. Digest this as you will…

It seems that the thing you dislike most about your daughter and being around her is that she reminds you of the past. She reminds you of the feelings you had when you were in your unhappy marriage. She reminds you of the life that you were so overjoyed to leave behind. But guess what… you don’t get to leave it fully behind…if you want to be an accountable, responsible adult that is.

You don’t get to fall out of love with the woman you made a child with, and then expect that child to be nothing like, have nothing to do with, or remind you nothing… of her mother. You are trying to say…’never mind, I want a do-over’, and my love, that’s just not part of the deal. You divorced your daughter’s mother, your daughter didn’t. She gets to remain connected. At whatever level she wants. That’s her mother.

At ten years old, three when her parents got divorced, it’s not her responsibility to be nothing like her mother. To not need her mother. It’s your responsibility, as an adult, and as her father… to learn to separate your feelings towards your first marriage, with the feelings you have towards your daughter. She doesn’t deserve to be the container for your past and the negative feelings you associate with it. She gets to be separate. She is not her mother, no matter how much she reminds you of her. She is not your first marriage, no matter how much she reminds you of it. She is a human being that you helped create. She is Jane.

Your opinion that she has “atrocious” clothing and makes your guests “uncomfortable” when calling her mother at dinner… Your wife’s “embarrassment” of your daughter or her particular hair style…well my darling dad… this is all about your judgment…in general, and of your past and of your ex. You don’t want your past creeping up into your nice pretty new package of a life. I know, harsh… I just care about ya too much to let you do this. You feel unhappy that your daughter “sticks out” when you are a family because, well, you don’t really see her as part of your new family, as part of your present life, do you? You look at her, and you see your ex. And that’s just not fair. Get it? I think you get it.

A moment for a breath, or an OMMM, or whatever you need… OK, moving on…

This is a kid who was three years old when her parents got divorced… so I’m going to give you a itsy bitsy mini lesson about what happens, when that happens…

The thing about a kid whose parents get divorced is that they are fractured. A kid whose parents get divorced is living on the fault line of an earthquake all the time. Like, all the time. They feel unsafe. They feel insecure. They wonder if they should have ever been born…after all, their parents want to move on, right?

Divorce rocks a kid’s world. And then, that’s what they know. They know things fall apart without understanding why. They know instability. They know going from family to family, house to house. They know what falling out of love looks like. They know not feeling like they really belong anywhere. They know that their parents, the people that made them, don’t love each other any more, and might not even like each other anymore. Ugh. What a crappy feeling.

What your daughter saw and understood about life, from a very early age is that, you can’t control it… no matter how hard you try, no matter how bad you want to. You can’t stop the earthquake. She always feels unsafe. Anything anyone can do to make her feel loved, welcome, secure, SAFE… she’ll take it. Even if it means latching onto mom or making sure there are no peanuts in the cake.

PS. There is NO divorce manual, so no one ever expected you to know all of this. That’s again, why I’m so glad you wrote. Go you, you trying-to-figure-it all-out-man, you. I feel proud of you already. And… there is major hope and possibility for good delicious change.

OK, let's recap (this was a long one)… First. Jane=Jane. Not past, not ex wife. Second. Jane’s mom=Jane’s mom. No matter what you think of her, she is still Jane’s mommy. Don’t take that mother-daughter bond away…please please please. It’s just too important- and yes, it will grow and change and develop as time passes. Three. Jane=a kid whose parents got divorced and when her dad fell out of love with her mom, he accidentally fell a little out of love with her, and on some level, she knows it. Yuck. And four. You= man with amazing potential to be a wonderful father to all your children. It’s time.

My advice: Has your daughter been in therapy since the divorce? She needs to be. She really does. Why? Because she needs help to process all of her feelings and all of her fractures so she can have a life where she feels safe and loved and knows how to have healthy relationships in her future.

And Sir Dad… I would love to see you in therapy also. Family therapy. Personal therapy. Why? Because it will help you make sense of it all. It will help you hold all of this confusion. It will help you see your daughter for who she is, and who she isn’t. It will help you become a more well rounded, whole, open, and understanding person who really gets it. It’s an investment and it’s worth it. Your wife should go too. She needs to get it also. Email me at and let me know the area where you live. I’ll help you get on the path of finding a therapist. Yes, it means that much to me.

Your family and all of its beautiful parts has such potential to be strong… functional… and a deep source of joy for all of you. I feel so blessed to be part of your journey. Now, go hug your daughter. Tight. Like, really tight.

Love love love.

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