Category Archives for "Growing Up"

How to move on from a relationship with a person who accused you of wrong things.

Gracey asks: I am in a relationship where things seemed to be beautiful at the beginning, but that began to change when we started having trust issues. Although my partner told me he’s always had trust issues in relationships, I thought ours would be different. He started going through my phone checking my messages, stalking me on social media and questioning me about my friends. He started restricting me from seeing some of my male friends. Recently I met someone I really liked and we began to flow at the beginning. I told him I was already in a relationship even though it seemed to be crumbling. He said he’s willing to hang on for me. We started meeting and I enjoyed his company. My boyfriend found out and tried to disconnect the 3rd party and I. But I like this person and I wasn’t willing to let go. Then my boyfriend took my phone and went through my chat with the 3rd. He got upset and called us quits. He sent the 3rd party a message stating he can have me all to himself. I do want to start a new relationship with the 3rd party but I don’t know how to because my self-respect is already at stake. How do I handle this?

Hi Gracey –

For most of your question, I thought I’d be writing you about how to deal with someone with trust issues, and how difficult that is.  But when I reached the end, I realized we’re dealing with a completely different problem.

It’s like those nights when Handsome has ordered a pizza, and I spend an hour trying to figure out how I can steal some of it from him, and wondering if I should do something that would upset him so much, and debating how I can justify it to him and myself… and then suddenly he turns around and hands me the half of it he didn’t eat! 

On one hand, I feel great – I got just what I wanted without any of the trouble.  But on the other, I was so prepared for the trouble that getting handed the pizza feels, well, a little anticlimactic!

So you have the delightful problem of figuring out how to live with the fact that, instead of you having to leave this guy, he left you!

And I’ll bet you’ll get to feeling fine about that one pretty soon.

But you also have this OTHER problem, which is that

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How to know when to try difficult tasks.

mina asks: Lately I’ve been struggling about making decisions. Why do people aim for something impossible? Is it always worth a try? Despite the fact that you clearly don’t have a chance to win? Are risks really worth doing, just to make yourself happy?

Hi mina –

What a great question!

I live in this question all the time.  You see, if I’m lying in wait for squirrels, and one shows up, I face a gamble.  If I run to it and catch it, then that’s great, I win.  But if I run and miss it, I’ve just notified it and every other squirrel around that I’m here and on the hunt.  I would have been way better off staying hidden and waiting till one comes closer to me.  But often, none does come close to me, so I’d have been better off trying to catch that first one, right?

Auugh!  It’s really confusing!

So my solution to your question, “Is it always worth a try,” is to… simply not ask it! 

Let me explain. 

If something’s easily achievable (like, say, my eating the dinner Handsome puts out for me every night), then there’s no reason not to go for it, of course.  

And if something’s absolutely impossible to achieve (say, my catching a bird that’s flying twenty feet above my head), then there’s no reason to try, except just for fun, the way puppies just love to run for no reason at all.

But if it’s in-between, like with those squirrels?  Then the question becomes, not “Is it always worth a try,” but rather one of

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Should you move away if you feel you don’t fit in?

Wooff asks: I want to go to a university abroad rather than stay in my country, but my mom is not supportive. Her reason being is due to financial reasons but I said I would go if I got a scholarship. It’s not about money, which they have enough to support me with. It’s just more about the fact that she knows that I plan on settling abroad. I really have nowhere else to go or ask someone without getting a heavily biased opinion. Ever since I’ve been young, I’ve wanted to go abroad. While I owe a lot to my country, I do not want to stay in it. At all. I get stared down by men if I do not wear a certain type of clothing. People use their influence/connections to get to higher ranks. You have to be a people pleaser to be successful (which I am not). I have to behave a certain way to please other people, I cannot walk freely with my boyfriend hand in hand. I live in a third world country. I have no freedom, people only watch out for themselves. And I cannot survive here. I am by nature a very sensitive person. And I have been abroad and I love how everything feels so free there. My mom keeps saying “I raised you and now you want to leave me. A lot of people here are surviving. You can go abroad when we’re dead.” I would not have chosen to be born if I knew being in a family is such a give and take situation. I did not chose to be born here. I don’t want to survive anymore, I want to live. I want the basic right to clean air, if that’s not too much to ask for. If she had the best intentions in mind for me (which I doubt now), she would want me to have my best life. I suggested that they could leave with me but she said it’s not that easy. The reason I’d be staying is because I was forced. I think it’s my right to want a better life for me and my future family. I lived as a second class citizen my whole life in this country. Reading in my country’s education system rather than international education system. Only because I was told that it was too expensive and they could not afford it. But now that the decision has come to choose my universities, I want to go abroad. Yes, I’ll prepare for both here and abroad, but if I could get a decent scholarship, I’d leave. But I’m not getting any support to try for abroad. Maybe the best course of action would be to try for both, while focusing mainly on abroad. I don’t want to take a gap year but maybe that would be the best? What do you think Shirelle? Am I being selfish? Am I in the wrong? What should I do? Conform again or live my life? I’m sorry if I sound hateful, but I’ve been living with this anger since high school, and even now, it hasn’t gone away completely. Would really appreciate an unbiased opinion.

Dear Wooff –

So before I answer you, Handsome said “Tell her to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘Independence Day.’  That’s exactly where she’s at.  At least she won’t feel so alone.”  And I never disagree with Handsome… on music.  (On what he feeds me, and where he lets me go, I disagree with him all the time.  But enough about that.)

Wooff, there are lots of people, I suppose most people, who are very good at living the way they’re supposed to.  They’re nice people, who relate to the social standards of their culture, they work hard enough, they’re good to their families, and sure they make mistakes but overall they do fine.

And then there are the other kinds of people.  People who don’t fit in so well.  They might be good-natured, they might be very kind, they might be brilliant in some ways, but they’ve just never quite felt like they belonged.

There are dogs like that too.  I’m one of them.  And I think you’re one of those people.  So you and I are alike in more ways than just your name and my species sound!

What I’m saying, Wooff, and what Handsome’s saying with that song, is that this isn’t just about right now, and it’s not just about choosing a university, and it’s not even just about your parents and your country.   This is you.  And the you you’re going to be, at some level, forever.

And what this means is that you’re going to be re-inventing yourself, probably a lot.  If you move to another country, if you move back, if you dress less conservatively or more, if you go to one university or another or none, even what you choose to study there. 

I know it feels scary.  You’re right.  People who comfortably live by the rules don’t have to face this particular fear (Of course everyone faces lots of other ones, so it doesn’t mean their lives are necessarily better than yours; they just don’t have to deal with this).  You might alienate people you really love, or you might give in to them and feel that you’ve cheated yourself.

In fact, I’m going to change that last comment.  You WILL alienate people you love.  And you WILL give in to them and feel that you’ve cheated yourself.  You will also be misjudged in bad ways, and given credit for strengths you don’t feel you deserve.  You will struggle and fail, and you’ll struggle and succeed, and sometimes you’ll just give up on the struggle.

My dear friend, of course I can’t tell you whether to stay in your country for university or not.  I don’t know nearly enough to give a decent answer.  But from what you wrote, I sure

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How to help your friend pursue their own dreams

Danish asks: The girl whom I love is in a little trouble. She wants to do photography but her parents are forcing her to study medicine. But can you please tell me how can she become a professional photographer?

Hi Danish –

Boy I wish I could help.  Any photographers I’ve ever dealt with just got their work by submitting photo after photo to magazines, TV shows, websites, anyone, till they sell some.  And I’m sure studying it helps, especially if the teacher has contacts in the business who can help her along.

But beyond that, I really don’t know much about that world.  Her best bet is to talk with any teachers she can.

And I will add – just because her official study is in medicine, that doesn’t mean she can’t take a photography class or two, and connect with the faculty and other students in it.  Lots of students major in a “serious” profession while working on their artistic dreams.  

Just off the top of my furry head – Michael Crichton (the great science fiction writer, creator of “The Andromeda Strain,” “Jurassic Park,” and the TV show “E.R.”) and George Miller (the amazing director of the “Mad Max” movies and “Happy Feet”) went through medical school and became doctors, before their explosive artistic successes.

So my big advice to her is to go for her dreams, even if she keeps obedient to her parents!

All my best,


How to make a relationship last

samzy asks: I need steps and advice to build a good relationship with a new girlfriend to make it successful

Hi samzy –

CONGRATULATIONS!  That’s great news!  New romance is the BEST!

And yet…

It’s funny, I’ve never been asked exactly this before.  I get a lot of questions about aspects of relationships, but not a simple broad “how to build a good one” like this.  And I like the question, but I think the answer is in all those others. 

Because no two relationships are ever exactly alike.

In some, you need to figure out how to build trust so the other person won’t suspect things about you all the time.  While in others, you need to figure out ways to deal with your suspicions about them.

In some, you need to learn how to give them enough space to not feel crowded, while in others, you need to learn how to lovingly demand space for yourself.

In some, you need to deal with the other person wanting more physical intimacy than you’re comfortable with, while in others you need to learn how to tolerate their need for moving more slowly than you’d like.

So really, the biggest advice I can give is three things, each of which is always true.

First, always work on

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2 A Life of Time – how time awareness makes life better

A Life of Time – how time awareness makes life better

So let me begin this one with what they call a Disclaimer. 

            Imagine that you were asked to write about the great historic landing of humans on the moon that took place 50 years ago this year.  You might write about the history behind it, the international “Space Race” to get there first, some of the personalities involved, and almost certainly the famous words “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Great.

            But would you also write about the minute details of the physics and astronomy and engineering that enabled this miracle to happen?  Probably not.  Probably you don’t have nearly the knowledge to do so.  But that’s fine; you can still appreciate the historical majesty of the moment.

            Well that’s what it’s like for me to talk about Time.

            We dogs have NO sense of time, in the way you humans do.  Or maybe it’s better to say that we have the sense of time you do when you’re around one year old.  You know how babies go through that stage where they freak out the moment their mother leaves their sight?  That’s us!  “She’s gone forever!  I’ll never see her again!”  And that’s why we go so bonkers when you come home to us after a day… or an hour!  You’re back, and our lives begin again.

            Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, I want to talk about exactly this.  About Time.

            Humans develop a profound awareness of time by adulthood.  That childhood mindset of “Why isn’t it Christmas yet” turns into an innate calendar that – most of the time – keeps a huge number of facts in great order.  For example, to those of you who are fans of it, answer quickly: how many hours are left till the series finale of that TV show about dragons and kingdoms?  (I’ll bet you can answer that in under a minute!).  And to the rest of you, how long till you owe your next tax payment?  Or till your next big test at school?  Or, better, till vacation starts?!  Or how long has it been since you first met that perfect someone?!

            Now we animals are so connected to the Earth and Skies that we might pick up on things you don’t.  Maybe your cat starts meowing right at the time you usually feed her – though of course she has no clock.  Or your dog wakes you up if you’re not out of bed by 6:30, even though the sun is at different places at that hour throughout the year.  And if you ever read the book or see the movie Lassie Come Home, it tells of a dog who always meets her boy right when school gets out, to such a perfect degree that people in their town set their clocks by when they see her walking to the schoolhouse.

            But we are no good at all with long-term time.  That way you can tell when your holiday will begin or you’ll learn who wins the Iron Throne.  We can’t think that way at all.

            Now as I said, babies have our sense of time, and it improves as you humans get older.  But lots of people make the mistake of thinking that just because a person isn’t a baby anymore, they have a fully-developed time sense.  Actually, a human’s conception of time keeps developing all the way into their late teens or early twenties! 

            For example, here’s something funny I see a lot.  When kids are about thirteen years old, in the first week of the school year, they’re assigned some big project that’s due in four months.  Now the super-motivated students (or okay, I’ll call you guys Nerds – it’s not an insult in my book!) will do the assignment right away.  Good for you.  And everyone else will mean to do it, but suddenly they’ll find that three months and three weeks and three days have passed and that thing is due in FOUR DAYS and it’s all a crazy crisis with tears and yelling and angry families and… 

            And it’s completely ridiculous.

            Whether you’re that top student or the bottom of your class, NO one at that age has the time sense to plan out and do that assignment the way it ought to be done.  I blame the teacher, not the kids.  They should know better.  (Unless the teacher consciously used it as a teaching tool, to help the students develop their time sense better.  But I don’t usually see that happening).

            Now you’ll hear about university students “pulling an all-nighter” to finish a project in time, but that’s usually because they should have planned out a week or two better, not four months.  Their brains are further along.

            What I’m beginning to realize, though, is that hitting that ability at age 19 or 22, where you can finally make long-term plans, is great – but it’s still not everything.  There are actually MANY senses of time one can have.  And the more you do, the better.

            So there’s the sense we dogs have, through connection to the Earth and Skies, of time on a deep feeling level.

            Then there’s the sense humans get by about age ten – “I’m bored, isn’t it time for school to get out yet?”

            Then there’s the long-term sense one gets a decade later – “That’s great that I finished what I needed to do today.  Now I should put an hour or two in on that long-term project, and maybe think a bit about what to get my girlfriend for her birthday, which is only two months away.”

            Oh and then there’s a true sense of timing – like what a great musician has, keeping a perfect beat no matter how complicated an arrangement is.  Now that one… I’m not sure that can be learned.  It might be just a gift!

            But I recently discovered another.  One that can make an enormous difference in a person’s life, if they’re willing and able to take it on. 

            Sit where you are, reading this, and try to keep reading, while remaining completely aware of time passing.

            Can you feel it?  You might even feel something physically, like a breeze passing through you as you focus on it.

            And now, if you can do that, try to also sense your body in its space.  As you feel time passing, do you feel how your back, your butt, your legs and arms, your feet and hands, your toes and fingers, your nose and ears are all existing – in time, and in space.  And every movement you do is just affecting where you are in both. 

            It’s a weird feeling, isn’t it?

            Now imagine you lived that way all the time.  Or at least tried to. 

            It wouldn’t be that anxious place I see you humans in all the time, “Oh I’m gonna be late!”  “Oh we’re going to miss the movie!”  Or “Oh I’m going to turn eighteen without ever having had a boyfriend!”  That’s a pretty awful place to live.

            But instead, you’d be aware of time… within the moment.  And doing that, you’d probably make a lot fewer mistakes.  You wouldn’t be late as often, because you’d know at the time  that you were getting dressed too slowly or just right.  You wouldn’t get distracted as often; or rather, distractions wouldn’t be such a problem, because you’d be aware of what you were being distracted from, and able to pop right back into it.

            I think great dancers and athletes have a lot of this quality.  An unending awareness of where they are in time and space.  And butterflies – who are just the most awesome things that exist.  Even if I try to eat them when they get close to me!

            I envy you guys, having these abilities to experience and measure time, and to plan and show up on time, or even late!  Yes, we dogs can’t “show up late” because we can’t conceive of when “on time” is!

            But even more I envy those few of you who can really experience time as it’s happening.  You ballerinas and goalies.  You trapeze artists.  You magicians.

            Although, that’s what you all are to me.  Magicians.  And every bit of awareness of time you gain, the more magic you do, and the more you are.

            Maybe, if reincarnation is real, I’ll have that ability in my next life. 

            But I have no idea when that’ll be!  Hey I don’t even know when that show’s going to come on!

Should you go to the school you want to, even if your crush is there and might suspect your reason?

tinamv asks: This is kind of silly but I really want to do musical theatre classes, but the only good school in my area is the same one that my crush goes to, and I don’t want him to think I’m following him or anything because (embarrassingly) he already knows I like him. What should I do? Should I go anyway and ignore if he says anything? He and I are friends now, and I don’t want to like do anything to make him feel awkward. It’s very nerve-wracking.

Hi tinamv –

         I find your question kind of funny, because I think you’re hitting on the two things that most terrify my Pack members – performing and approaching crushes.  Both make humans incredibly self-conscious.  And you’re kind of  talking about dealing with both.

         With two exceptions.

         First, you seem to like  performing.  You’re not being forced by a teacher to get up and sing in a chorus, you’re looking at having spotlights on you while you act, sing, and dance!  In this regard, you are FEARLESS!

         And second, as far as your crush goes, the ‘damage’ is already done.  He already knows you like him.  You’re even friends.

         So you’ve already done the two hardest parts of this.

         The only part left is the goofy self-consciousness all humans are prone to, where you’re imagining the way someone else will think.  And literally considering changing your entire life plan, and giving up on your great dream, because of the possibility your imagination of his thinking might be right!

         So, tinamv, do you know what the word mantra means?  It’s a special word that people repeat over and over, mainly in meditation.  Often it’s in an ancient language like Sanskrit, but you can probably imagine the effect it would have on a person’s mind and spirit if they repeat a word that means “Love” or “Holy” or “Goodness” over and over again for hours a day.  Right?

         Well I’m giving you a mantra.  Just for now.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

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How to deal with double-standards

Jhalli asks: If a girl changes her boyfriend in a particular time to find someone better for her life, but doesn’t find him – and approximately she changes her boyfriend more than 5 times? One day 2 or 3 boys out of them say that that girl is characterless, or a girl who slept with every boy and changed to another when she was satisfied, or they blackmail her with her photo and their chat. In this case, who is wrong – those boys or the girl? If the girl then why, and in that case, which path or step is right for her to follow? And if both then why?

Hi Jhalli –


Do you know the term “Double-Standard?”  It means when a person has (or a lot of people have) the view that some people need to follow one rule in life, but others don’t.   At its most extreme it’s the definition of oppression (one race can drink out of these water fountains but others can’t; one race has the right to walk freely on the street but this race can’t!).  But today it’s usually more subtle.


What you’re dealing with is, of course, not as awful as the sort of oppression a bad government might do, but, in a social context, just INSANE.


I have no argument with those who believe that people should stay completely innocent till they marry.  If that’s the way they want to live, that’s fine.  But to say that men can run around and date whoever they want but women have to only be with one man their whole life – that’s cruel.


I’ll admit it probably made sense a while ago, when women had less control over their own bodies, and there was literally the problem where, if a woman got close to more than one man, she might find herself with a baby with an unknown father!  Okay.  But today you have LOTS of ways to keep that from happening, and just going out to dinner with two, or five, different guys, isn’t going to create any big problem!


I’m not saying that these boys mean to Continue reading

What to do when missing someone keeps you from being able to work.

Smile asks: You may remember my question about my guy best friend. We became closer than ever after your amazing advice, but he has to leave for higher studies now, and I have one more year to complete in my current school (he was my senior). We will not be able to contact with each other for a long time because he is going to hostel (where phones are not allowed). We both completely understand that leaving for studies is important for his future, but both of us felt frustrated and sad after we said our final farewell. I hate goodbyes, and I feel like I will hate school more than ever now because he was my only true friend. It has now reached a point where I can’t concentrate on anything else except my sadness and the thought of him going. I also know that he feels the same, but there seems nothing we could do about it . I miss him so much. Please help me deal with it.

Hi Smile –


What a sad story!  I wish I knew more – like how long he’ll be there, and if he can use a phone sometimes (maybe on weekends?).  I can’t imagine he’s being cut off from all contact, unless he’s joining a monastery or on some other spiritual path where he needs to do that.


But in the meantime, you’re stuck with this problem on a daily basis.


Now sadly, there’s nothing I can recommend to make you stop missing him.  And I imagine you wouldn’t want  to stop missing him.  You love him and everything’s good between you; why would you want him not to matter?


What we need is for you to find something else to focus on in the meantime.  Yes, you have schoolwork, but of course your brain is going to get distracted with that (there’s a reason they call it work; if it was always exciting it wouldn’t require such effort!).  So imagine he was still there, and you could talk to him every day – but you also had a few hours to spend on something besides him and your schoolwork.  What would you most like it to be?  Would you like to learn a new skill?  Play an instrument?  Get involved in a sport?  Maybe do a volunteer activity?  (Like work at an animal shelter taking care of scrumptious pups like me who need love and attention and extra treats?!!!)


But I want you to do something else too, right away.  I want you to Continue reading

What to do when you’re attracted to someone like your abusive parent

HoneyBunny asks: I want to have a stable relationship. I will tell you something about my family background first, as many people keep on saying that my mind is unstable because of my family issues. So my mum and dad got separated 7 years ago, and my dad got into a relationship with some other lady, and my mum got married and has started staying with her husband in another city. She does provide me everything, but her presence is what I crave. I have no contact with my real father or his family. And I was in a relationship with a guy and we ended up because he was apparently cheating on me. And I like someone now but that guy is just like my real father. I don’t want myself to fall for him, because he isn’t doing any job – he drinks a lot, and even abuses a lot, but still I am very much attracted to him. Please suggest something.

Hi HoneyBunny –


This is really unfair!  This is too many awful things happening to you all at once!  I can’t even tell if you’re living with an adult now, or if you’re too young to be living that way, and … ARRGH it’s just not right!


So I have to say, it makes TOTAL sense that you would be drawn to a man who reminds you of your father.  You have a deep need for this man who has disappeared from your life, and are trying to replace him with someone similar.


What’s GREAT is that you’re aware of the guy’s problems, and especially that they are the same as your dad’s.


I just sent out a newsletter with a piece on this exact issue – what to ask yourself before dating someone.  If you didn’t get it, you might want to look at it:


But in the meantime, you have a bigger job, which is to find out how to get what you need from a guy who doesn’t have these flaws.


What I want you to do is to Continue reading