10 Things It Took Marc a Long Time to Realize

Okay so remember last week’s post on the 10 things it took me a long time to realize and how I asked you all to send in your own lists? Well, here’s Marc’s…

1.           The people you try hardest to please will never respect you, no matter if it’s work or relationships. (or Don’t be a suck-up)

2.           Time will have its way with you, but this doesn’t mean you just lie back, and let it happen. Keep working for the life you want.

3.           You’re not running out of time, time is running out of you, make your time count.

4.           If it’s stupid, lame, or uncool, but it makes you happy – do it anyway.

5.           The worst advice about life you will ever get will come from friends, especially your best friends.

6.           Never ask your best friends for advice. You can ask them for help, but never advice.

7.           When setting fitness goals, don’t pretend you’re 25 when you’re over 40. Be a healthy 40 year-old (or whichever age you are).

8.           Your body replaces cells all the time, and in 10 years you’re walking around with all new ones. So if you’re over 40 you are twice removed from the person who you physically were when you were 20. This is a perfect excuse to let go of your past mistakes.

9.           Prayer, meditation, or Jedi-stuff works if you commit to it.

10.   Learn to give yourself a break, and indulge in a treat once in a while. You’ve earned it.

10 Things It Took Me a Long Time to Realize

1) No matter what you do, you can’t avoid rejection
2) Money doesn’t help—unless it does
3) Smiling can help—even when you’re forcing yourself
4)  Moving doesn’t help—unless it does (if you were me and you lived at the God awful La Belle Hollywood Tower  (link is to pretty much the only negative Yelp review I’ve ever done)
5) Fear masquerades itself as all sorts of other things, including exhaustion,  not taking direction and  nausea
6) Nausea is an incredibly difficult word to spell
7) Really hating someone and then realizing you were the one with the problem can make you feel almost high around them
8) What  people say has everything to do with them unless it really does have to do with you
9) It’s better to not eat when you aren’t hungry
10) Working out doesn’t keep you thin

If you have any of your own to add, please email me and I’ll include them in a future newsletter…

Chelsey: People Who Ask You to Take Their Picture






People who ask me to take their picture. It happens when I’m on trips…Specifically in Hawaii, Iceland, and U.S. National Parks (this might be the most reoccurring space it happens in), or in my hometown from tourists (I hope!).


A few summers ago when I was on a road trip


A couple of times a year


As soon as they are out of sight




My first thought: I didn’t ask to be a part of your vacation. I don’t know you and I don’t care about you. Get a selfie stick, which I will make fun of, but I will be relieved you didn’t ask me to take your picture. I don’t know, just be an adult and figure it out yourself. Like me! I have been an independent person, figuring things out all by myself -all the while managing to not ask anyone to take my picture. I don’t know you and I certainly don’t want my own time interrupted by you.

AND I feel like I am not allowed to say no to this question. I do not want someone to put me in that place and expect something from me. Oooo this might be the main reason! People act like this is just a normal social favor people do (or have to do) just because you asked. Then I look like an asshole for being honest…. which I guess I have never been honest for fear of their judgment. I am not an asshole for not wanting to do this thing you asked!


Oh, yes. Crunchy! With chocolate!

Alicia: Heavy Breathers at the Gym and People Who Talk on Cell Phones in Waiting Rooms




1. People talking loudly on cell phones in quiet waiting areas (doctors offices, etc). I do not want to hear a person’s personal issues loudly. There is a reason people put up signs in waiting rooms saying not to use your cell phone. It’s rude.

2. I am at the gym on a machine (treadmill, elliptical, bike) and there are 5 empty machines on each side of me, readily available. The smelliest, loudest breather in the entire gym takes the machine right next to me despite the fact that there are empty machines ready to be used all around me. Give me space.

First occurrence

Years ago.


Monthly, all the time.


Until the person causing my rage is gone.




It becomes a matter of selfishness and personal respect. The people doing these things do not care about the comfort of those around them.

Do you like peanut  butter?

Yes! Lol

The Terrible Stories We Tell Ourselves

Many of us  have a story we tell ourselves and it’s usually not a good one. From what I can tell, the first sign that we’re telling ourselves a terrible story is that it includes words like “never” or “always.” The second sign is that it always ends up making us feel bad. And yet most of us seem to have no idea we’re even telling ourselves stories; we just consider them our thoughts and buy into the fact that we’re unlovable or never going to find a partner  or always going to be broke or whatever our version of the terrible story  is. I don’t know when I first became aware of the fact that I couldn’t trust my own thoughts about myself but I do remember when I decided the noise had gotten too loud for me to take: I was about 10 years sober and living in New York. At the moment, I  was in my not-that-great apartment thinking  about my at the time not-that-great life when I realized that  I was always telling  myself that everyone else was  going to get what they wanted in life but I was not. I have no idea where the story originated—whether it had been passed down to me generationally or was a result of some childhood experience—but it really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that’s a pretty comprehensive terrible story because it can encapsulate many  fears in one fell swoop  (abandonment, being unlovable, being alone—all the biggies). And so I decided to write down every time I had a thought that reinforced that story so that I could separate myself from these nasty, self-defeating thoughts. I wrote a bunch down. Then I went to Staples and bought printer ink. I’m not sure how I remember the Staples-printer ink part but I do and I did. While walking, I had a few more of those thoughts and so I wrote those down in the notebook I keep in my purse (not to sound 106 years old but I am never going to transition to “writing” everything down in the Notes app on my phone). I remember walking home and feeling pretty good and not because, like some other days, I knew I was stopping at 16 Handles for some way-too-good-to-be-healthy frozen yogurt. I felt lighter. And for a while afterwards, I kept writing down those thoughts/stories.

Alas, I didn’t have the experience that some of our self-help leaders either have or say they have—that is, I didn’t have the epiphany and then never again have to struggle with the same thing again. Oh, no. It pops up—sometimes for days at a time, while sometimes it doesn’t surface for years—but it’s a story  I’ve told it a long time and I tell it well  and so just becoming aware of the fact that I’m doing it doesn’t always  stop me. The groove is well-worn in my brain. But I’m changing it—slowly. I believe in neural pathways changing, not only because smart people say they do but also because I’ve experienced it myself.

So what’s the story you tell yourself? You don’t have to tell me (though you can). I say figure it out and then start writing down the moments you’re telling it until you have those lies on paper (or fine, in your NOTES app in your phone) and can see them for what you are. You’ve made it very far in life and let me assure you that you aren’t unlovable, destined to be alone forever or always going to be broke. Unless you continue to believe you are. I heard someone say in a meeting this week that he learned, after years of misery,  to make  “Everything is going to work out far better than I even expected” his mantra.  When he started doing that, he said, it became true. Not overnight. Not always. Nothing is. But more than before he did. So why not try that too and see what happens?

(The photo btw is from a photo shoot I did for a magazine that went under before my issue came out. There was a producer on the shoot and I’d never heard of a producer for a photo shoot so I semi felt like she was just a random woman who’d wandered in to bark weird things at me.  She kept saying things like, “Show me Anna at 8 years old, thinking about her birthday”—as in super  crazy things to be thinking about when you’re posing in lingerie in a bathtub. I thought she was insane. And they were my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken. I don’t know what the moral of that story  is.)

How To Handle It When You’re the Asshole

Okay, so an interesting thing just happened. I had a whole day planned; it involved taking my car to the dealer for an oil change and lunch with a friend who was going to come to my office in Hollywood from the West side (if you live in LA, you understand that his agreeing to do that, while not as selfless as agreeing to make such a trip during rush hour, is medal-worthy). He’s a friend who said he wanted to talk to me about something specific and also doesn’t hate traffic as much as I do so I didn’t even think about the sacrifice he was making to agree to come all the way to me.

Then I was running late for the appointment at the car dealer and when I called to let them know, I casually asked how long the oil change would take. “Four hours,” the guy said, “including the complimentary wash and inspection.”

“Screw the extras,” I said. “Just change the oil.”

“It will still take four hours because we’re backed up,” he responded.

I knew then that even though I was by then in front of the car dealer (it had been a 20-minute drive because of traffic and we’ve already established how much I hate traffic), I couldn’t get the oil changed and meet my friend for lunch. [BY NOW YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BE JUDGING ME FOR THE TINY THINGS I CONSIDER A PROBLEM BUT EVEN MORE SO WHEN I TELL YOU…] I felt outraged—triggered, one could say. Because of the podcast, I’m now used to analyzing (or anna-lyzing) when my reactions are outlandish and so I was able to immediately understand that what was happening reminded me of non-sensical rules my dad would establish that weren’t just inconvenient but often emotionally damaging.

Still, I realized I’d have to come back to the dealer another day if I wanted to make my lunch so I turned around to drive the 20 minutes back to work only to have my friend text me and say his schedule had changed so if I still wanted to have lunch, I’d have to meet him halfway (something I don’t have time to do).

I was again outraged and was about to call another friend to vent about the HORROR that had descended on me this morning. Then I remembered that my frustration was over the silliest thing in the world and that I’m incredibly lucky not only that I have a job that allows me the freedom to take my car in when I want but also friends who want to have lunch with me, not to mention to have a car at all.

The whole thing reminded me of how a former friend and I used to bond: we started every conversation with the question, “Can I vent?” And then one or the other of us would go off on someone or something and the other would co-sign how right the one venting was and I would hang up always thinking I felt better. But I wasn’t feeling better because it made me hold onto utterly innocuous things that I’d chosen to make a big deal about and that version of feeling worse accumulated over time and not in the moment.

Jill Bolte Taylor explains in My Stroke of Insight that a feeling lasts in the body for 90 seconds and after that we’re making a choice if we’re hanging onto it. Today I remembered this and so, instead of calling a friend to vent, I stopped at an oil change place I was passing and made an appointment for the next day and then called the friend I was supposed to be meeting for lunch. He explained that it would take 40 minutes to get to me and he only had an hour because of something that had come up with his kids and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude that he’d ever been willing to make that drive for me and we made a plan for next week to meet halfway and I hung up the phone feeling incredibly grateful not only for my friend but also for the guy at the dealer who’d told me my car would take four hours to be ready so I wouldn’t have had to discover that hours into my wait there, the other car place I’d stopped at that told me they’d be able to take take care of my car the next day in a half hour and the fact that I’d made the choice I had.

I don’t mean to sound Polyanna-ish and I die a little inside when I use the phrase “attitude of gratitude” but it’s amazing to me that small acts like this can change everything. I now feel entirely different. And if you’re as prone to outrage over small things as I am (you’re probably not—I can really win awards for that), you can be as amazed as I am over how the tiniest alteration in your reaction can change everything.

That picture btw is of me and Danielle and my old car; it was taken by Andy Marx and we were trying to look drunk so we had a photo for an AfterParty story about drunk driving.

How Do We Handle Haters?

Full disclosure: I may totally regret using the above screen grab. I swear I’m not using it so that you guys will go and rail against TheAliAbraham, whoever that is (tho hey, I’ve got no problem with that) but to make a point.

I saw this comment this morning. It was a response to an Instagram photo I posted yesterday that a friend took 15 years ago. Now obviously it’s awful to read something that nasty about yourself, whether you believe it’s true or not (to be clear, by the way, I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was then and don’t believe a word of what he wrote). Now, I’ve read plenty of mean things about me online and honestly it used to sting a lot more but after a while I started taking it as evidence that I was doing something right—that I was out there enough to trigger people.

Because really that’s all it is. I think we’re pretty safe in assuming that TheAliAbraham does not feel excellent about his/her (his, I think) life and, rather than exploring why this might be true, he has chosen to make comments on the social media of people he doesn’t know in the hope that he will make them feel as bad as he does. I get it; for most of my life, I was very angry and judgmental and often wanted the people around me to feel as terrible as I did. We live in a society that teaches us algebra and film studies, not how to process uncomfortable feelings or find contentment. What’s bizarre about the timing of this particular comment is that yesterday I read (and became obsessed with) Sara Benincasa’s “answer” to the stranger who asked her why she’d gained weight. I happened to be at the dentist yesterday when I saw a link to the piece on Twitter and I literally held my phone below the dentist’s drill so I could keep reading. I’ve never read a more brilliant take-down and celebration of accomplishments than this, as Sara brilliantly walks through all the amazing things she’s done over the past few years, marveling sardonically throughout that all these things happened despite her weight. Please read the entire piece – you’ll likely be tempted by this tidbit, which articulates how plenty feel far better than I ever could:

I gained all that weight because I was so busy working and growing as a person, a writer, an actor, a comedian, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a lover, an activist (hi Emily’s List and Humanity for Hillary and Los Angeles LGBT Center!), a thinker, and a cook (ironic, right?!?) that I didn’t have time to pursue what I really, really want to do: spend my precious spare moments making anonymous comments on the blogs of successful, beautiful, hardworking women in a failed attempt to undermine them in order to give me some sense of power as I marinate in my own inadequacy, stuck in the knowledge that no one will ever pay me to write my poorly-crafted thoughts down on paper, to be translated into book or film or television form, and that beyond money (which of course doesn’t lend my thoughts any inherent value) or any degree of fame (which is pointless and wholly unnecessary to a happy and fulfilling existence) no one will ever really want to hear what I have to say at all, because I am essentially worthless and of no value to the world at large. That’s what I really want to do.

Of course, hate spewing isn’t limited to social media. We’re all dealing with it to some degree regularly. I used to spew my own; I’ll never forget when I first started keeping a personal blog and wrote an entry about going to my first book party and mentioning that the author was unfriendly and weird. That author somehow saw the post and commented that he was genuinely sorry that this was how I’d experienced him but he’d been extremely nervous and uncomfortable during his first book party. I felt awful and vowed to never write anything unpleasant about a person online. Really, I wrote what I did because I felt snubbed by him and because it really didn’t occur to me that he was a person—crazy as that sounds. He was a guy who had a book out, something I didn’t have at the time and very much wanted, and I didn’t know how to process my jealousy, primarily because I wasn’t even conscious of it.

So here’s my point: if any of us ever feel like writing something negative about someone else, if we ever feel something negative about someone else, I think we’re best off trying to examine what it is in us that they trigger. There’s an expression popular in recovery circles that encompasses this idea well: If you’re pointing a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you. Feeling bad occasionally is something we all must contend with and because we live in a world that constantly tells us that we’re not supposed to feel bad (please read Mark Manson’s latest for an amazing essay on this), we’re always subconsciously seeking other outlets.

Of course, in a far less earnest way, that’s the whole point of You’ve Got Issues, amIright?

10 Years After I Started Giving Advice for a Living, What Do I Know About Issues?

For a long time, I gave advice for a living.

It was a total accident. An established writer asked me to co-write a story with her for Playboy, that story ended up becoming a big-ish deal and suddenly I was on TV telling people how to handle their sex, dating, work and relationship lives.


I think I gave pretty  good advice. After a good decade of living in the body of an adult but behaving like an adolescent, I had just gotten into recovery and so I told people everything I was learning—about how fear is the biggest issue we all have and how it doesn’t usually look like fear but like anxiety, depression, avoidance, even nausea, about how we’re all so scared of our feelings that we make up stories that only make us feel worse in order to avoid them, about all sorts of things. But still, I would think, I have  a literary writing degree and I only have that because it sounded like the easiest major I could think of! What business did I have giving advice professionally?

I know more now. I’m sober over a decade-and-a-half. I’m a certified coach. I help people with their lives. I  still don’t know  a lot. But I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve learned since I first started giving advice on TV. I didn’t come up with the ideas behind all of this on my own; most of this I  heard someone much wiser than me say and then experienced it firsthand  so I realized it was true. A lot of it I haven’t followed. But anyway here it is:

About dating:

If you say you don’t like his shoes, her laugh,  the fact that he texts emoticons or her friends,  you just don’t like him or her and are trying to come up with a justification because there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why you don’t. But you don’t need a reason. Move on!

If you keep dating the same person with a different face, your subconscious is trying to teach you a lesson which you are still struggling to learn.

Using past experiences to try to predict future events is as illogical as asking a bunch of sugar packets who killed JFK.

If you’re not hearing from the person you’re dating and are wondering if life is worth living, what you’re experiencing has nothing to do with the person you’re dating. When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.

The universe is almost always on a different time table than we’d like it to be. Try your best to enjoy where you are and not attempt to force the universe to put you on a different one.

About relationships:  

When you’re pointing a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you. In other words, there’s a decent chance that you also do  whatever drives you the most crazy about other people.

Your feelings will change. Don’t act on them, one day at a time, and see how you feel tomorrow.

Most of us are re-creating our family of origin relationships and trying to do them right. A lot of us are failing. If your relationship sucks, you can get out—no matter how impossible it seems.

If you’re constantly feeling like you don’t measure up and are always worried your partner is going to change their mind about you, your relationship may suck.

Love feels amazing but it’s not the other person who  makes us feel a certain way. The other person just gives us permission and we’re giving them all the credit. These feelings were always within us.

Oxytocin can be dangerous.

About work:

When someone you work for asks you to do something you think may not be possible, say, “Absolutely” and figure out how later.

Lose every fight you can.

Don’t explain to your boss why you screwed up. Just say you get it and learn from whatever happened.

No one has to earn your respect. Respect everyone and it’s so much easier.

If you’re in a creative  field where you are reviewed by strangers, ignore the trolls—unless your work is ongoing (say, a podcast as opposed to,  say, a book). Then consider the fact that their feedback might be helpful and if it makes sense, apply it.

About friendships:

All friendships are successful. Some are just shorter than others.

How I Learned to Learn New Things

That is a super cheesy way to start a post—I’m acknowledging that—but trust me other things I just titled it were cheesier.

Here’s what I’m trying to say: I’ve been going through an interesting period, where I’ve been attempting to do a whole bunch of career-related  things that are out of my comfort zone  (including, by the way, sending out weekly newsletters).

Now, I have a history, as we all do to some degree, of trying things out of my comfort zone and I have a particular way I do that:

I try, get  frustrated, beat  myself up for not knowing how to do this thing I should in no way already know how to do, either proceed  or not proceed  but definitely take plenty of time  to delve into self-recrimination.

Here’s what’s been happening  lately:

I’ve approached what I’m doing as a learning process. I didn’t intend to do this. The truth is, I met this psychic (Katie Hawkins—faithful listeners will remember her from several Issues episodes and I highly recommend  checking  her out,  as  she does readings over the phone). Anyway I’m not even into psychics but I found myself in Ojai one weekend and when I asked a friend who went to Ojai a lot what I should do, she texted back simply “Rev Katie.”  Katie works out of this bizarre, cool little store across the street from the Byron Katie Institute (no relation) and when I went to her that time, I left feeling more positive about my life than I had in months.

She told me I was going to enter a period of amazing luck.

Snort if you want—well, of course a psychic would tell you that, that’s what you’re paying them for!—but I believed her, despite the fact that I felt supremely unlucky at the time. She told me crazy, random things were going to happen that would feel incredibly coincidental—someone would call with the answer to a question  at just the moment I realized I had the question, opportunities were going to pop up everywhere. I didn’t buy it, of course—I was going through a break up and feeling uninspired in my career and all the typical 21st century things we call crises—but a month or so later, something shifted. I started to feel better. It was like when I had a bulging disk in my L4 (for those of you who don’t speak back problems, that’s lower back and it’s painful) and painkillers and cortisone shots and steroids weren’t helping and I had an epidural scheduled but then one day, after months of pain, I woke up and my back felt slightly better. I decided to cancel the epidural and the talks of surgery I’d been having with my doctor. I moved around more. Two weeks later, I started physical therapy. Three months later my back felt fine and now, three years  later (knock on wood), I’m pretty much pain free.

God damn it, I am getting side tracked. My point is this: I started to feel a little like things were going my way. And I latched onto that and told myself it was true. And then it started to happen: the call at just the right time, the opportunity out of nowhere. Rev Katie was right! I was in the promised  manifesting period!

But then I realized something: I wasn’t experiencing success after success after success. I was getting rejected as much as I was getting exciting new opportunities. It was my interpretation of what I was experiencing that was different.

I had essentially accepted the fact  that I’m pretty ignorant about how to make  these new things I’m trying—the new podcast, the online writing class I’m developing, the webinars I’m planning to host, the new talks and seminars I want to give—successful. As a result, I am giving myself permission to learn—to make mistakes, to spend money and time on putting together an ebook only to realize it’s not the ebook I want to put out, to watch an entire week pass by as I try to figure out the technical aspect of hosting an online class. I’m giving myself permission to fail and get frustrated  by reminding myself that  I didn’t go to graduate school so this is my graduate school and so no matter how much time and money I may be spending on all this, it’s far less time and money than I would be spending on grad school. When, say,  the class module I loaded onto YouTube and then posted in my Amazon S3 account so that I could create a certain lesson for the class doesn’t save correctly even though it should have, my first instinct is to cry and my second is to hire someone to help me. Instead, I’ve been reminding myself how happy I am going to be down the line that I know every aspect of how to create online classes because I wrestled with every aspect of it. You don’t get to hire someone to do it for you when your grad school paper is too hard to write if you want to actually get anything out of the experience.

I only consciously realized I was taking this new approach last week, when I went to lunch with a friend who sells advertising for podcasts. I asked him if he’d want to sell ads for mine and he said no, not yet, my show wasn’t big enough. I left the lunch feeling great—this guy sells ads for some of the biggest podcasts out there and so through our conversation, I gleaned so much. As I got in my car, I wondered where I had gone—I’m the person who feels rejected when she’s not even being rejected and here I’d technically been rejected and I felt great. And that’s when I realized that it was in  giving myself permission to learn and fail and get frustrated and get rejected that  I finally had  enough humility to take in what I’m trying to learn.

I’ve been wanting to learn new things my whole life. It’s only now, halfway through, that I’ve figured out how.

How To Write an Essay is a Good Model for How to Deal With Your Issues

When you’re first learning how to write for magazines and websites, you follow a certain format to get started (if you’re like me, and learn things the slow and hard way, you don’t discover  this format until years after you’re already working as a writer). Essentially, you  ask yourself these questions:

o What happened?

o How did I handle it?

o What did I learn?

It took me  years of writing essays to realize something that should have been obvious to me from the beginning: these were  also the perfect questions  for me to ask myself when dealing with my biggest issues.

See, I’m a firm believer in the idea that while we think we know exactly how we feel about something or someone, we are sure to make entirely new discoveries about it if we take proverbial pen to proverbial paper. I’m not talking keyboard either, people; I mean that thing people used to do where they put a writing instrument in their hand and then slide that over a piece of paper in order to form words.

I’ve been a journal-er since I could first write. I got my  first  diary when I was 10 and I wrote in it every day—about being mad at my mom or my P.E. teacher (yes, that was a real entry I remember) or boys I liked and my friends and all the normal stuff kids write about. (I also graded my days, which wasn’t as normal; for the record, any day that involved going to McDonald’s got an automatic A+.)

Essentially, I got accustomed to sussing out my feelings through writing and so, when I entered 12-step circles and was told to write an inventory of resentments, I was thrilled; as someone who’d excelled at gathering resentments, I felt like I’d  been waiting my whole life for someone to ask me to make a list of all the people who’d wronged me. Now there was some poor sucker who was going to have to listen to me read it. Hallelujah!

Of course, as anyone who knows anything about a fourth step can attest, the whole point is that you write down the person you resent and how they (allegedly) wronged you and then you set to work looking at your part in it. My first fourth step was a revelation (actually every one I’ve done since has also been one; as I said, I learn the slow and hard way). I had about 200 resentments on my first fourth step and when I was finished writing, I discovered that except for in one case  (my grandfather, who was a mean dude), I had played a massive part in the resentment—either by having overly high expectations, making up a story in my head about what someone thought about me and then reacting to this imaginary situation, taking something which was not personal personally or by acting outright rude because of being (unnecessarily) offended by someone. And even in the case of my grandfather, I played a part: I was holding onto a resentment toward a guy who’d been dead over a decade. My point is this: a fourth step really is just like asking yourself what happened, how you handled it and what you learned. It’s  a way to confront yourself without inspiring the defensiveness that might exist if another person was confronting you.

So the next time you’re upset, I say it’s time to ask yourself those three questions and write out the answers. You may be amazed at what you find.

And who knows, it may even be publish-able.