Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful on Paper - Week Three.

It is a good thing that I am participating in Thankful on Paper or I would not even be writing!! Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been fighting a cold and that means that free time = sleep in my world this week because I do not even have the time to be playing the sick game!!! All that to say is that I am thankful for Thankful on Paper…moving along…

This week I would like to tell you about my Grandparents, in particular, my Grandmother. Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to central California to visit my Grandparents. The visit was for an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of their arts foundation (the photo above is us at the event). The foundation was really the brain child of my Grandma – she believed that if she could find a way to provide free arts education for the underserved in her community that it would help decrease gang activity and crime and increase the chances of these kids graduating high school and furthering their education. Her thought was “build it and they will come”, so 7 years ago they broke ground on a facility that would allow them to have a ‘home base’ for the classes that had been taught for the previous 3 years. There were many skeptics as to whether the community interest would support such a project, but they have since been proven wrong as today more than 400 kids participate in 45 classes each week! There are countless success stories of the kids whose lives have been changed and this event was a showcase of some of those stories. As I sat there and listened to each person share I was overcome with emotion. She has given her life to these kids and they just adore her.

In that moment I felt so grateful to have been given such an amazing role model! She has shown me that there is pay off in following your passion and in serving others. A little over a year ago when I decided to leave my business to go into nonprofit, I had no hesitation as to whether or not it was the right choice. I could not explain how I knew, I just did. And now I can see why – it is what I have been shown through the incredible example that my Grandparents are. They have worked very hard for what they have and they give of it freely to help better others lives.

One of the students that had graduated the program was sitting at our table for lunch and he was telling us how he started at the foundation as a shy 7 year old and now he is in college and teaching acting classes at the foundation. He said that my grandmother was his angel and that she had truly changed his life. And that is just one example of thousands.

As she gets older and fights for her health (she has Parkinson’s Disease) I hope that she sees what an amazing legacy she has created – one that will keep giving and changing lives long after she’s gone. She inspires me to be a better person and to give to others freely. This trip also made me realize how fragile life really is and that I should take every moment that I can to spend quality time with my family and friends and to tell them that I love them frequently!

I am truly blessed!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful on Paper - Week Two.

So this week’s Thankful on Paper installment comes at you a little late, but better than never!

Tonight I get to go to dinner with my sweet niece (this is us at Mary Poppins last year) and her best friend and as I was looking forward to dinner I decided that I wanted to share with you why I am extra thankful for my niece Jessica. She was the first of my nieces and nephews to be born and I became an auntie at the tender age of 10. Even at that age, I knew that being an auntie was a very big deal…after all, I had to be a good role model. I was always so excited when we got to visit and would hold her as much as I could – she was like a doll to me. As she got older we would play dress up and make-up, she followed me everywhere and I loved every second of it! Through grade school, junior high and high school we became closer – I was the cool auntie (obvs) and at some point they started calling me AJ (short for Auntie Jenny, of course). So ‘AJ’ would come and do her and her friends hair and make up for homecomings and proms and we would hang out and they would fill me in on all the school drama.

As I mentioned in my first Thankful on Paper post, I am focusing on people who have helped me embrace crazy as my superpower. How does this apply to my niece who is 10 years younger than I am, you ask?? Well, she has given me the opportunity to be there for her, she has confided in me, she reached out to me and I consider that an honor. Now that she is all grown up she has given me the chance to share with her my struggles and my mistakes and has shared with me how she can apply those things to her life and that absolutely makes me believe that my crazy is a superpower!

Jess, I am so proud of the woman you are becoming and I am honored to be your AJ. I love you so very much! Thank you for being you!!! - Love AJ

Monday, November 8, 2010

Leaving Las Vegas

Turns out, I am not the only one who has superpowers. I would like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to brag for a moment…yesterday I had the pleasure of cheering on the love of my life as he completed his first half iron-man triathlon in Las Vegas. For those of you who do not know the insanity that this entails, please note the following: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run…all at once, as in back to back, as in OMG this is a different kind of crazy all together. He finished the race in 6:23:37. That is 6 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds of working out, of pushing one’s body to the limit, of focus and determination – I am so impressed and so proud.

Life has been throwing him a few curve balls lately and rather than freak out or resort to self-destructive behavior, he has funneled that negative energy into training and bettering himself. It is inspiring to say the least.

Here are a few photos that I took during the race:

The first photo is him waiting at the swim start (he is in the top corner chillin like an otter, with the green goggles and grin on his face), then the next is the mass start (700 racers) and the last one is him coming in for the finish (he finished quite close to the front, it was awesome!). I was quite pleased that he had green goggles and a beard, it made it easy to pick him out as I watched from the bridge!

This is at the bike start line. I love that his race helmet says laser...duh, he looks laser fast in this photo!

This is the beginning of the run, I thought he looked really good given the fact that he just swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles on a very hilly course, but he told me later that he was spent. Can you even imagine working out that hard and then being like "ok, lets go run a half marathon on a hilly course!" ?? Rockstar!

I didn't get a photo of him finishing because the camera ran out of batteries (MEH!). I tried a cell phone photo, but apparently was so excited and jumping up and down so much that I took a photo of the fence (lame), but this is us getting back to the hotel. He showered and headed straight for bed -- we ordered room service and hung out. It was a perfect end to such a great day!

As I waited at the finish line for him to come in, I got all teary eyed as each person crossed and then totally cried when he came in. Watching people achieve such great accomplishments gets me every time, but more so, at that moment was reminded that I am the luckiest girl alive to have such a wonderful man in my life…for more reasons than I can count.

We are headed home today -- yay road trip! Hope you have a happy Monday friends and I hope you are encouraged to accomplish something that seems impossible this week -- I certainly am!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hello Penelope, old friend.

Penelope is a friend that I have known for a long time, in fact, she was probably in my life even before I knew she was. She’s super fabulous. Everyone loves her. She’s stylish, witty and excitable. She thinks she could take over the world and make it a better place in like a week and she will convince you that is the case and you’d probably believe her, like for reals, she’s that convincing. Penelope knows me better than anyone else. Most likely because she is me: Penelope is Manic Me.

Now before you go getting all concerned and think that in addition to the long list of things that I deal with, I also have multiple personalities let me explain: My fantastic friend Tanya (who I introduced to you yesterday) was with me for the months after I was officially told that I am crazy on paper. As I have shared before, once I got past the initial shock of seeing the word BIPOLAR in print next to my name, I settled into the idea that I finally had an explanation for the years of awfulness that was my insides. Suddenly I knew that the fact that I would be crying about the state of my life and the world one hour and then deciding that I was going to sell all my things and move to Africa to help save AIDS babies the next and then back to crying for those AIDS babies the hour after that, was rapid cycling and can be a symptom of bipolar…

It’s an exhausting symptom in case you were wondering and one that I dealt with a lot (even now sometimes). The process of trying to keep it together so that I could interact with people and not blow my cover was tiresome to say the least. So in trying to explain to Tanya just how I felt, she decided that we were going to name my Manic Me and my Depressed Me and thus Penelope and Matidla (or Penny and Tildy for short) were born. It was the easiest way for me to tell her where I was at any given moment without having to go into a whole long explanation. Although I am sure she could decipher based on the fact that I would either be weeping for no reason or wildly telling her a 30-minute story about a 5-minute interaction that I had with someone at the gas station that totally changed my life, but nonetheless, it was certainly a more fabulous way to tell.

I bring Penny up because she’s been hanging out with me for the last week or so. You see, for the last 5 years right around the time that we “fall backwards” for the time change, I have noticed that Matilda gradually sneaks into my world and before I know it, I have lost 2 months to the sleep monster that I become when Tildy is around. I am very sensitive to season changes (even the pretend ones in LA). So this year when I felt it happening a touch early, Dr. John and I decided that the best thing to do would be to preemptively take an anti-depressant for a week to prevent said occurrence. The thing about taking anti-depressants as a bipolar person is that they work really great to get me out of the dumps, but then there is no ceiling for my anxiety and the next thing I know is that I am not sleeping and hanging out with Penny. But the luxury of being nearly 6 years into this game, is that I know this will happen and can take measures to regulate.

So that is where I am – regulating. This fall/winter I am going to try a light therapy box and see if that helps Matilda stay away, that way I won't have to incorporate another pill into my life and that makes me – all 3 of me – happy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful on Paper - Week One.

Let me start by saying that there are a MILLION people that I am SO thankful for in my life and so deciding on who to write about was quite the task for me. I made the choice to write about people who have had a significant part in my process of embracing my crazy as a superpower.

So, for my first week of being thankful on paper I would like to tell you about my dear friend Tanya. I moved back to LA from Phoenix at the very end of 2004 at which time my life had fallen apart: I had just been diagnosed, a relationship had ended, my career (if you could call it that) was hanging on by a thread and I had no clue what I was doing with my life. I was quite blessed that my mother insisted that I move in with her while I got my medication under control and had some time to figure out my brain before I had to go back into figuring out everything else on that list (and more).

Enter Tanya. She and I have known each other from my speech days (did I mention that I got trophies for talking in college?? Like real actual trophies. For talking. She helped me do that. It was awesome.). When I say that we spent every waking moment together for the better part of a year, I would not be exaggerating (which is shocking for me, I know.). Now you may read this and think ‘cool they were BFF, good times’, but that year was one of the hardest years of my life and I was the hottest mess that I have ever been (which is saying a lot) and Tanya was there every minute.

She was there when one moment I was cooking dinner and the next I was crying over boiling water (its upsetting, duh). She would go with me to the beach and we’d read InStyle and Vogue and watch the surfers and I’d show her a cute pairs of boots then burst into tears. She loved me through the 2 months that I was up and down hourly as my new medication started working (believe me, it was not pretty.). She helped me name my manic self and depressed self so I would have ways to express where I was (more on Penelope and Matilda later). She helped me plan my quit drinking party, she ate chocolate chip pancakes with me, watched bad TV with me and she loved me for every bit of crazy that I was and am. And for that I am so incredibly thankful.

My dear Tanya, you are a true friend and I love you very much! Thank you for encouraging me to embrace the crazy! I am SO thankful on paper for you and I do not know where I would be without you! All my love, J.


And thank you to Rachel for coming up with this amazing idea -- can't wait for Thankful on Paper Week Two!!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

Dressing up for Halloween when I was a kid was the best! For the most of my childhood I was one of 3 things for Halloween: Strawberry Shortcake, Annie or Rainbow Brite. Then of course there was the occasional cheerleader, bride or flapper. This photo above was taken when I was in kindergarten. I love it. There's the Cinderella, The Cute Bug, A witch, pumpkin and then the Strawberry-blond girl in a random dress. My mom says that I came out the morning of the Halloween party in a dress, pink lipstick and tons of her blue eye shadow. When she asked me what I was I simply said, “Don’t be silly mommy, I’m a supermodel”. Duh. Of course I was.

I’ve been told that I was quite the sassy and precocious child (shocking), always talking to everyone and making up my own rules to things. The other story that my mom loves to tell about that Halloween is when she got a call from my teacher informing her that I had misbehaved and caused some of the other kids to not follow the rules. Seeing as how I was usually the golden child (ask my brother) my mom was a touch confused. My teacher went on to explain to my mother something like this:

“…today we had a Halloween game on the playground where the students worked on listening and following rules. The game, called witches goblins and ghosts, requires that the children wander around while listening to festive music and then when the music stops they must run to the which, goblin, or ghost corner, then the last one to make it to a corner must sit out. Well, Jennifer decided that she wanted to make her own corner because she did not like witches, goblins or ghosts. She said that she did not have to follow those rules because her mommy did not like witches, goblins or ghosts either. Instead she insisted that there be a mermaid and princess corner. Once she insisted this happen several of the other children agreed and would only go into this corner. Jennifer is usually a great student, but she really needs to work on listening and following the rules better.”

To which my mother replied something to the effect of:

“Thank you so much for your call and I will certainly talk to Jenn about listening and being respectful of the rules, but don’t you think that if you had the chance to decide between being a witch/goblin/ghost or being a princess/mermaid that you would choose the latter?”

Yay for my mom! I am sure there was some sort of teachable moment that happened that night at dinner when we all sat around the table (I am most certain that I still had my supermodel costume on). But whenever I hear this story or see photos like this, I can’t help but laugh at the thought of a 5 year-old Jenn leading a mermaid/princess revolt in the Halloween listening and following rules game. Hilarious!

What about you? What is your favorite you-as-a-kid-halloween-story?

Hope your weekend is full of excessive amounts of candy, supermodel dresses, tons of blue eye shadow, mermaids and princesses!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So, what's the payoff?

One of the things that I have grown to love is the journey that is me and my bipolar-ness. This journey is not bipolar specific, in fact we are all on our own journey, mine just happens to be a bipolar one. I feel like many people don’t take time to be present in the process and miss out on the rewards come with being present. My personal journey is cyclical, in that every time I battle something big and come out on the other side, I take some time to mellow out and enjoy that victory, but then out of nowhere something new sneaks up on me and all of a sudden I’m on the defense again. These internal conflicts have become less intense as time has gone and of course it depends on the subject matter, but I find that when I am faced with something that I have been fighting for so long there comes a time when I am just ready to get over it and do what ever it takes to be done and move on. Its like once I have moved through all the emotions surrounding the conflict all I want it to logically address the situation and make changes.

That is where I am now with my struggles around productivity, lack of focus and follow through. I have mentioned this many times (here, here, here and here). It has been something that I have fought in some capacity since my early teens. Clearly I have been able to wrangle it in, or else I would not have a job or friends or be functional. But the amount of time and energy that it takes to stay on track is astounding and even with all that effort; there are times when things still fall through the cracks. It is beyond exhausting. About 6 months ago I was at my quarterly crazy doctor appointment and something came up that took her back (which was a touch concerning, after all, she does see crazy people all day long, what could possibly surprise her?) and she started asking questions:

"…Do you have trouble focusing? [yes] Do you have trouble finishing projects? [meh, yes!] Do you put things in piles? [yes, damn those bloody piles!!] Is it difficult for you do get through your day and stay on task? [meeeeeh, yes.] Do you always find yourself putting things off and then pulling it off at the last minute [OMG, get out of my brain!!!!!]..."

The questions went on and the “yeses” and “mehs” kept coming. Well, turns out that ADD is not just for mis-behaved six year old boys any more, its for the the bipolars too!!!! YAAAAY!! Seriously, ADD?? Really? Another acronym? Another thing to read about? Another medication to decide on? Please, make it stop! We spent the rest of our time discussing options. I learned that there are 2 new-ish medications that can treat ADD in someone who is also Bipolar because they are non-stimulants (the traditional ADD medications have the tendency to make someone with is bipolar become manic, and that’s no good.).

So I went home with a trial medication packet and immediately ordered the two books she suggested Delivered from Distraction, by Edward Hallowell, MD and Women with ADD, by Sari Solden. (Side note: each are over 350 pages, small type, no pictures – really? Me and my possible ADD are supposed to “focus” and “follow through” in getting this read??) (Side note to the side note: both are actually really good reads and super informative and I did manage to work them out, despite lack of photos). The more I read, the more encouraged I became. Some studies show that as many as 60% of those with Bipolar are also ADD. Could it be possible that even the aforementioned behaviors are linked to my brain chemistry and it is not that I just don’t have it together? Could I actually take some meds that would help that? Suddenly I got giddy, imagining a time where I could actually rule my own little world and do jazz hands just cuz they are fabulous – I certainly would no longer need them to distract from the things that may have fallen through the huge cracks that are caused by my lack of focus. How bout that, jazz hands for fun – BRING ON THE MEDS!!!

I ended up reading and reading more and more and trying both medications over a 6 month period, neither of which really worked. Such a huge disappointment!!! The disappointment was mostly rooted in the fact that I was so quick and hopeful that, the meds would do the trick. I really longed for it to be an easy way out. Just this one time and then I would be ready to go back to all the hard work and growth and blah blah blah…but that is just not how it works.

I had another appointment with Dr. John (aka, my crazy doctor) last week and had to tell her that the second medication we tried did not work and that I had stopped taking it. We talked about what my specific struggles are and I decided that trying a more traditional medication that would risk mania was not worth it. It has become increasing clear to me that I do really well in situations where I can have an outside perspective to point out some practical ways to actually change my behaviors. I am the type that needs that external accountability in order to change habits and relearn things that I have ingrained into my identity until now. Usually I would consider going to see my old therapist for a few sessions, but in this case all the emotions are separated from the behaviors. The only way I am going to address the frustration and anxiety is to literally DO SOMETHING about the situation, I have done plenty of talking about it, its time for doing.

Yesterday I had my fist appointment with a life coach. She her counseling background includes working with adults who are ADD and bipolar and I am working with her to get my ACTION on! She is great, I am really excited about our coming sessions. Yesterday we talked about my cycle of productivity (or lack of) and how it is that I manage to pull it off every time. After I was giving her the 100th example of this, she asked. “So, what’s the payoff? What do you get from this cycle of behavior? There has to be a reason that you continue to do it the way you do.” This totally ninja'ed my brain and really made me think. I am not a stupid person and therefore would not make myself miserable on purpose, so what is the deal? What’s the payoff? What am I getting out of behaving in this way? And how can I get those same things by behaving differently? So much to think about….I already feel my thought patterns changing…now its time to translate that into action.

How about you? What are some patterns of behavior (big or small) that you have struggled to change? Ask yourself, “What’s the payoff?” If you are anything like me, you just might have a little light go off in your brain and start looking at those things differently. Or you might just have an answer and that is helpful too. Or you might just think I am crazy that’s fine too.

Either way, I hope you have the happiest Saturday!!!

Oh, and ps - check out my new “about me button and page”. I’ve been working on some blog design stuff and some new features…so stay tuned!!! Oh, Oh and pps – if you are interested in reading more about Bipolar or ADD, you can do so here and here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thankful on Paper.

I have a million billion reasons and people to be thankful for…seriously, we all do! I have written a lot on the blog about my friends and family and how there is no way that I could be where I am without them! For realsies, if it takes everyone else a village, then it takes me 2 LARGE villages and let me tell you, I have been blessed above and beyond in that department!!

So when the lovely Mrs. No. 17 (who, BTW, is a big part of my villages) asked if I would be a part of Thankful on Paper, I had to say YES! What a wonderful idea!! I feel like all we hear everywhere right now is negative negative negative (Hello, election ads?? Need I say more?!). I say that it is up to YOU and ME to bring some positiveness into our little parts of the world!

It is easy to participate, the details are below!! And even if you do not have a blog, you could participate on your facebook or via mass email or tell stories or just spread thankfulness by participating on Wednesdays!!!

The deets from Mrs. No. 17 herself:

*The 4 Wednesdays (beginning on Nov 3rd), leading up to Thanksgiving, I'm going to write one person and tell them I am thankful for them and why. I will send it to them them that day (or drop it off at their house) and hopefully express to them how much I care for them and how grateful I am that they are in my life. I would love you to do the same.

*The 4 Thursdays (beginning on Nov 4th), leading up to Thanksgiving, I will write a simple blog post about who I wrote to and why. On those Thursdays, I would love for you to join me and write a post. I will link to each of your blogs on that Thursday so that others can visit your site and be inspired. (I am potentially going to do a LINKY, but might just do it myself as well, not sure). If the person is someone you would like to keep private, that is also fine. You can opt out that week or write a general post keeping it private, but sharing some sentiment of Thankfulness.

Doesn't this sound like the greatest??? It will be fun – I'm in!! How about you?? Comment and tell me that you are in, pretty please???

Monday, October 25, 2010

Magic Little Pill

When I was first diagnosed as bipolar (recap HERE), my biggest concern (aside from the fact that I was officially CUCKOO) was that I would have to take medication for the foreseeable future. The only drug that I had ever heard of treating bipolar was Lithium and everything that I had heard about it made me think that for sure it would make me a fat zombie shell of what I once was. The idea of this TERRIFIED me. Jenn Lafferty = a bubbly, fun, fabulous, jazz hands, sassy pants good time. And if it were to come down to a choice, I was pretty sure that I would suck it up and live in ‘crazy town’ everyday over ‘fat-zombie-shell-of-what-I-once-was’ town.

Thankfully I took a moment to stop being a drama queen (yes it can happen), reminded myself that it was not longer 1952 and got on my google machine to see what the dealio was. Turns out, there have been a lot of advances in crazy drugs (and, it just so happens that, Lithium does work just fine for many people). So I printed out stacks and stacks of research (sorry trees) and was off to meet my new psychiatrist. It was important to me that I see someone who would be open to my questions, open to exploring alternative treatments and willing to discuss (even if at length) my options. My doctor’s first experience with me started out something like this:


I continued to wildly gesticulate and go on and on and then I finally took a breath, at which time, she took that opportunity to looked up from her notes to offer up her suggestion as to what medication I should start with. We opted for one that was fairly new in the treatment of bipolar and took 8 weeks to be effective, but it had few side effects and that was a huge plus for me (and besides, I am all about being a trendsetter).

As I attempted to gracefully dive into the pool of crazy pills, I felt really strongly about not just taking drugs and carrying on my merry way. If I was going to accept this whole thing, then I needed to DO something about it – my life – as a whole. So I quit drinking (which is an legendary story for another time), changed my diet, started exercising, being in bed by 10 and reading a TON about other lifestyle changes that I could make to help me live a balanced life.

The other really hard part about deciding to go on medication was navigating everyone’s opinion on the situation (in case you are wondering, EVERYONE has an opinion). At the time, I was still fragile and it really mattered to me what people thought. One person would tell me that their uncle took a certain medication and is a rockstar and I was positive that I was making the right decision. Then the next day I would talk with someone who’s belief was that all medication is poison and really I should be strong enough to do it naturally, next thing you know I am googling herbs and witch doctor potions. Meh! What does a crazy girl do?!?! Well, I had to accept the fact that it was my life and it really does not matter what people think. They are not the ones who get so depressed that they sleep 18 hours a day and cry the other 6 or who get so manic that they stay up for weeks at time drinking and shopping (not an exaggeration and not as fun as it sounds). It has almost been 6 years since I made the choice to go on medication and honestly it has changed my life. I am not suggesting that going on medication is the only thing to do…I am saying that it was the right thing to do for me.

Not to say that taking this one pill twice a day makes everything magically ok. I am of the belief that my behavior was 50% brain chemistry and 50% habits that I developed as a means of survival. SO just because the chemistry part is addressed that does not mean that the habits disappear (much to my unhappiness!). This is something that I struggle with even to this day. Of course, things have gotten better, but there are still times (many, many times) that I find myself in the same situation thinking, “Really Jennifer Ann? We have not worked through this yet?”

But that is the beauty of life: it’s a process. So on days that I get frustrated with myself, I have started taking a moment to be thankful that I am on a medication that works, that I have an incredible doctor who is brilliant and open, that I have supportive friends and family and that God has given me another day. And that my friends, is magical!

[End note: I have decided that I am writing the drug company that makes my crazy pills to request that they start to make them gold and glittery (how fabulous would that be??), in the mean time, I am perfecting shinny liquid red lips!]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So I have mentioned Pablove a few times on this here blog. The Pablove Foundation is named after an amazing little boy named Pablo who touched the lives of everyone he met and actually he made an indelible mark on thousands of people who never actually met him. Each of those people read his story and followed his brave fight against cancer. Entry after entry they fell in love with Pablo and his family, prayed for him, cried for him, laughed out loud at his zany phrases or super cool outfits…all these things conveyed on the Pablog by his papa Jeff, momma Jo Ann and big brother Grady. How do I know this you ask? Well I was one of those people, and AVID follower of the Pablog.

I met Pablo’s papa, Jeff in the giraffe elevator at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles one night after I had been volunteering for CoachArt. He asked me what CoachArt was and then told me about Pablo. I found the blog and foundation website that night when I went home and I was hooked. I will never forget the day that I read the “No more Fighting” post – I have tears in my eyes as I type this, that is how real and fresh it is in my mind. Pablo was six years and six days old when he left this life. His memorial was PACKED with people, this little boy’s light shined SO bright and changed SO many people, all in six years and six days.

Pablo’s life and fight and the story of his family changed my life. It was a big part of my move into the non-profit world. It challenged me to be the change that I want to see in the world and I am eternally grateful for their courage and willingness to share their story! Every day I see Pablo’s smile up on my cork-board at work (as evidenced below) and that sweet moppy hair and bow tie remind me why I come to work every day!

In honor of Pablo’s fight and so many others, Jeff and his team embark on a massive bike tour each year to raise awareness and much-needed funds for pediatric cancer. Pablove Across America is in its last 2 days and they are SO close to their fund raising goal. I ask that you take a moment and read this post that Jeff out up today (I have included it below so that you can just read it here). It is the eloquent voice of a papa who lost his son to cancer and an explanation of how he has chosen to deal with it. It is truly inspiring!!!

If you can, please donate and help Jeff make his goal. Even if it is a dollar or 5 bucks, every bit counts. And if you click on the link and it says that they made their goal, donate anyway because every penny goes to an amazing organization that will help fund research that will save the lives of so many amazing kids like Pablo. Well if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I could go on and on (as I often do) about Pablo and his amazing family, but I will stop now and let Jeff do the rest of the talking…

Posted on the Pablog today:

Help Me Help Cancer Kids. I Must Hit 100% For Pablove Across America

Everyone has their motivations. Everyone is, more or less, rolling toward some goal, some place, some eventual end. That's the great promise of human life, isn't it?

My motivation, my goal, my place, my end is a little boy named Pablo. That's him in the photo up there.

Jo Ann carried this little being in her womb for nine months. The creature inside her was named Pablo when he was born into this world, on Saturday June 21 2003. I was excited to be a papa. I had no idea what I was in store for. The boy who was my son, this Pablo character, was so much more than I ever dreamed.

Even before he could speak or walk Pablo shined so much light on us, we'd have trouble going to sleep at night. He was the greatest little brother to Grady. He was the greatest son to me and Jo Ann. He was fun and funny. He spoke Spanish before he spoke English. For a time, we had to speak certain words in Spanish in order to communicate effectively with him. 'Beso. Aqui. Mano. Zapato.' As he got older, Pablo invented a new fashion style for himself every few weeks. You remember: green frog rain boots, suits, bow ties, pirate style, prison style, and all manner of cycling caps, including, as evidenced in this photo, his Mike and the Bike cap and matching socks.

I could write about Pablo until the Pablove Across America peloton reaches Solvang this afternoon. It really comes down to three words: Pablo was Pablo. That simple. It still is, really. Anyone who ever met Pablo knows this. If you never met Pablo, trust me. I wouldn't mischaracterize facts about my son. Even a year after his passing, the little dude abides.

Jo Ann, Grady and I love him so much that sometimes nothing in our lives makes sense. It gets hard to love someone you can't hold in your arms. There's nothing harder in the human experience than losing your little brother. Nothing that will shatter you more than a being you carried in your womb passing away before you. And after a long, protracted battle in a f***ing hospital. Nothing.

I had many, many dreams for my son. For a start, I never wanted him to be hungry, or to go to bed sad or alone. You always want a better life for your child than you had growing up. If there's any bit of the American dream left, that's it. At least for me it was.

Funny, until I wrote those words, I'd never imagined all this 'dream' stuff. Looking at my words in the paragraph above, I'd add one other item to that list: I never wanted my son to suffer through cancer treatment. I never wanted to navigate my arms through I.V. tubes as I held him in my arms at night. I never wanted to see Jo Ann so sad she could crumble. Never. And the invitation to the cancer family must have gotten lost in the mail. Cos, suddenly, there we were. And we never got to leave. There is no exit for me and Jo Ann. We are here, always. We accept this. We have no choice.

Having no choice is one of the great motivators I've found in life. When it comes to our work with The Pablove Foundation our experience and our loss fuels the whole operation. No matter how hard I push myself on the bike, it's a comedy compared to what Pablo went through and 10,000 other kids go through every day. At least I have words for my suffering. Pablo was only five. He couldn't tell us what he was going though emotionally, psychologically, cosmically. When I focus on this, I could do damage to any wall, anywhere, in any room I am in while contemplating it. I hate that cancer made my son suffer. I do not understand it.

My motivation on the bike is to contribute—greatly—to pediatric cancer research, and to aid children and families who are where Pablo, Jo Ann, Grady and I have been.

It's that simple.

If you want to join this fight, help me bridge the gap between 84% and 110%.

Please click here and make a contribution to my Pablove Across America fundraising page.


Thank you for taking the time to read my friends!! Be sure to follow Pablog and like Pablove on facebook!! Be inspired! Be the change you want to see in the world!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2 hours, 56 minutes & 46 seconds (and a post that is equally as long)

So it’s been 4 weeks since I completed my very first triathlon. And for some reason it has taken me 4 weeks to write about it. Weird. But we all know I am weird, so no reason to go into that…instead here are the sweaty and red-faced details (plus a few photos as proof)!

The swim - .5 miles: I was in the 12th wave to start the swim which was the 30-34 age group, which had dark green swim caps (Hello, could they have picked a color that looked any more like the dark cold ocean that I could potentially be floating face down in? Meh! What happened to hot pink??). As I walked to get in line with all the other crazies that do this kind of thing willingly, I heard my name and I was so thrilled to see my dad’s wife Susan. They drove over 2 hours to come cheer me on – they are amazing!! I lined up on the beach with thousands of others waiting for my time to run at the sound of the start gun. As the group before me went, I knew that I had 5 minutes….5 minutes before I had to swim a half mile in the 58 degree ocean. U2’s beautiful day was blaring over the speakers (of course, because my life has a soundtrack, duh), the gun goes off, I start running, enter water…I dive under the first wave and come up to another that crashes in my face, causing me to inhale a large amount of salt water, at which time I begin to cough and then FREAK OUT! It is freezing, there are people every where, I am being kicked, I can barely see the final buoy, my lungs are burning, the first 2 life guards I pass ask me if I am ok – at this point I realize that I am froggie swimming and breathing as if I am in a Lamaze class and I have only been in the ocean for about 3 minutes, this is not a good sign...

The long and the not-so-short of it is that I froggie swam the entire way (as in: I did not put my face in the water once), my breathing sounded like I was birthing triplets and every single lifeguard that I passed looked at me with concerned eyes (2 of which I had to stop and make friends with due to a stabbing pain in my side that I did not anticipate). But I made it. I survived the swim. As I exited the ocean, I caught the eye of a lifeguard and with out thinking yelled “ OMG, I CANT BELIEVE THAT I JUST DID THAT!” and he yelled back, “I can, you look great!” and pulled the zipper on my wetsuit for me. What a peach.

This is me stumbling up the beach to the transition area. Just so you know, wetsuits are the least flattering piece of clothing that anyone could wear. Ever. Seriously, I saw Teri Hatcher in hers and she looked like a cow – ok, maybe more like a starving cow in India, but a cow nonetheless.

Total Swim time: 29:19

Transition #1: My first transition was 8 minutes and 42 seconds. Which in the triathlon world may as well have been 8 hours and 42 minutes. Who even knows what I was doing for that long…Tai Chi? Mani/pedi? Getting my palm read? I mean, honestly?!?! Clearly, I was delirious, but I managed to get out of my wet suit, sand off my feet, socks, tennis shoes, Pablove helmet on – grabbed my bike and off I went…

The Bike - 18 miles: Some might say that once the swim is done, the rest is easy. In many ways this is true, mostly in the way that you cannot die an awful death of drowning on a bike. That being said there is a mount and dismount situation involved and that proved to be yet another source of anxiety for me. Lets be honest, not one wants to be the girl who gets on the bike and then crashes before even moving, thus causing others to crash….oh the anxiety!!! Due to this I took my sweet time getting on (and off) the bike. The good part of this is that I got to see my wonderful boss cheering me on right at the bike start (she, too, got up really early and drove forever away Malibu to come cheer me on…I am a lucky lady to have so much love and support!!) – so that was a nice boost of encouragement as I got started.

So, before this ride I had only been on a bike 4 times in over 15 years (all of which happened in the 2 weeks leading up to the race), but 2 of those 4 times were on the course that I was about to ride and there was some comfort in that. The first few miles were hard…I was still feeling really beat down by the swim and questioning if I would actually finish. But as I got in my groove and thought about why I was there and the cause I raised money for (which was $1,000 for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, seriously, my friends and family are amazing!! Thank you!!!) and the pain and trials that those families endure, I felt strong. After all, I was wearing my team Pablove helmet and with that comes and extra dose of “I can do anything!!!” [Side note: read more about Pablove here and here, more on this subject later.]

Here are 2 photos of my hardcore biking in action! I was sharp and focused during the first 9 miles out and the 9 miles back I was just thrilled that I was heading ‘home’. I kept telling myself that all I had to do was get off the bike and then run and then BRUNCH….mmmmmmm, brunch! And yes, that is me smiling for the photo. I may have been sweaty, but that does not mean I won’t pose for a photo. Obvs.

Total Bike time: 1:22:44

Transition #2: As I ran my bike back into the transition area, I see that my love had already finished the race and he was waiting by my stuff to give me a pre-run kiss and cheer me on as shimmied on my way. Drop the bike off, grab my bib number, one energy gummy, sip of water and a quick kiss, 2 minutes and 29 seconds…then I was off…

The Run - 4 miles: I was quite pleased with the fact that I actually started the run actually running. As I left the transition area I saw my sweet cousin and her friend cheering me on (I’m so LOVED) and that was the best! Quickly my legs reminded me that I had just in fact, ridden a bike for 18 miles and they were angry. At this point I decide that my best option was to do intervals: run as long as I can and then jog-walk for a minute and repeat. I won’t lie, the first 2 miles were the longest 2 miles of my life. It was never-ending. People kept passing me on the way back and saying “Hang in there! You are almost there!” and all I could think was “LIES!! You say that because you are almost done!”, but instead I smiled and exhaled something like “Thanks!! You too! Good job!!”

The third mile was bearable because at least I was headed in the direction of brunch and the last mile was in slow motion. I kept closing my eyes and telling myself to keep it together (as seen here) and soon enough I could hear the crowd, the end was near and I could not stop now….

Total Run time: 53:11

The Finish: The clapping and cheering gradually became louder, and I began to run faster (lets be honest, everyone loves a strong sprint in the end) and finally I crossed the finish line. I did it. And I was still standing.

It was a blurr – chest heaving, water, medal, give the timing chip back, photographer, pose, hand on hip (hey, a girl has to be aware of her best angle, even while gasping for breath), ecstatic smile, see D, he snaps another photo, big sweaty hug, cry a little, Dad and Susan, cousin and friend, OMG! I DID IT!!! I FINISHED!

Now, where are we eating brunch?!?!?!

*End note: This past weekend, I finished my second triathlon. The swim was shorter, but equally awful. The rest was fun. I am ready for a break now and I get to cheer my love on in his first half-ironman next month. My last one for the year will be in December. All I can say about that is the swim is in a heated pool. I couldn’t say no.*

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where I need to be.

Hello there! I know that it has been for ever and ever and ever and apologies. I saw this today in a feature from a few days ago on Blessed Little Nest. It is a print from Love Sugar. In addition to being the cutest thing ever (hello, red head...I'm in LOVE), it is exactly what I needed to read today: You are where you need to be.

I have been quite overwhelmed lately (hence the lack of writing) and this reminds me to stop and take a breath. I am where I need to be. I choose to be present and learn from that place.

We have lots and lots to catch up on, including a long over due post about my triathlon...

In the mean time, stop by Love Sugar's esty shop -- I could seriously buy one of each, they are SO delightful! And take a moment today to remind yourself that you are where you need to be. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Less is more, part one.

Lately, I have begun to feel overwhelmed by my stuff. It actually has been a long time coming, but now it just seems like every time I am quiet and with my own thoughts the same thing keeps coming up: SIMPLIFY. I grew up in a pile home. By “pile” home, I mean that everything had its place in very neat and orderly piles. There were not piles everywhere in the house, just special places like the guest room or garage. And when the piles began to creep out of their designated places into the rest of the house, they would be promptly picked up and put back as soon as it was time to have guests over (Or when the cleaning lady came. Seriously.Tthe piles were put away for the cleaning lady. I can share this little tid bit without shame because my mother would admit it herself if you asked her. Thank you therapy.).

Anyway, all of my adult life I have struggled with clutter and keeping things in order, which is not a surprise, I am a firm believer that my surroundings almost always reflect the contents of my brain, which up until now has been mostly cluttered craziness [side note: I am not claiming that my bipolar has anything to do with my clutter issues, but I do believe that it does nothing to help the situation. Besides, if that were the case then most of America would be considered bipolar (hello there is more than one TV show exclusively dedicated to hoarders), which may not be too much of a stretch when you think about it…but that is another post entirely. End side note.].

When ever I stand in the middle of all of my stuff (which is in nice little piles, BTW) and get overwhelmed, I can count on the following happening:

  1. While wiping the tears from my face, I decide that I am going to pull it together and have a “cleaning day”, tackling my madness once and for all.
  2. I schedule said day for the closest Saturday that I have nothing to do (which is usually many weeks from that point.)
  3. In anticipation of said Saturday, I make lists and lists. A flow chart even. That will aid me in “cleaning”.
  4. The day finally comes and I totally sleep in (because I had an insane week and am totally exhausted), but no worries, I wake up excited and ready to go. Workout clothes are put on (duh.) and play list appropriately entitled “piles be gone” is played.
  5. Aforementioned lists and flow chart are brought out and taped up in an accessible place with red marker used to triumphantly cross things off (I LOVE crossing things out in red marker, BTW. Sometimes when I make lists, I will include things that I have already done, just so I can cross them off. Seriously. It’s a problem.).
  6. I drag my piles out one by one and what starts out as a reasonable process involving the ever popular “keep, donate, trash” boxes, turns in to a hurricane of clutter everywhere and before I know it hours have gone by and I am going to be late for the dinner plans that I made (because seriously it won’t take me longer than 6 or so hours to clean ALL my madness, right?!) and I am forced to take what is left and put it into piles that will be gone through the very next day.
  7. I go to dinner feeling all accomplished until the “very next day” turns into months later when I am standing in the middle of all my perfectly piled stuff feeling overwhelmed. Queue tears…

This literally happens about once a quarter, give or take a month or 2. It’s a cycle that I have become very comfortable with. Until yesterday when I stumbled upon a blog via a friend’s facebook post (thanks Katja!): Rowdy Kittens. It is amazing. I started reading and I could not stop, one post turned into 10 and then on to other recommended blogs…it was out of hand. The obvious became painfully clear: IF I DID NOT HAVE SO MUCH STUFF THEN THERE WOULD BE NO PILES. IT’S NOT THE PILES. IT’S NOT THE CRAZY. IT’S THE STUFF. HELLO JLA, IT IS SO OBVIOUS!!! (Please excuse the caps lock, sometimes I need to raise my voice at myself).

Do I really need enough makeup to gussy up a fashion show of 25 drag queens (with eyelashes to spare)? Do I really need 45 pairs of shoes (asks she, cringing)? Is it really necessary that I have enough serving patters to cater a party of 25? Am I really going to wear the “I-had-to-have-it-vintage-jewel-encrusted-micro-mini-party-dress-that-I-need-to-loose-10lbs-to-fit-in”? The simple answer is NO, I do not need all of these things…

So now that I have succumbed to the idea that I need to downsize the stuff in order to deal with the pile issue, I need to process. And in the interest of not making this post any longer (thank you for your time and patience), I will leave you with this. It is an excerpt from a post that I read yesterday at the Simple Rabbit Society (you can read the whole post HERE, it is short and sweet, yet powerful.):

“…So I want to challenge you to love the old [things] you have.

Love the holes in your jeans.
Love the fact that your computer takes a little longer to load.
Love the dents in your car.
Love the dents in your table.
Love the dents in your friends.

I’m not saying let things fall into disrepair. I’m asking you to unlearn the constant dissatisfaction we’re taught and exchange that negativity for affection for the things that have been with you for a month, a year, a lifetime.” – Chloe Adeline of the Simple Rabbit Society.

More to come on this revelation. Consider yourself warned.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On friendship and Lady Gaga.

Two weekends ago I traveled to Arizona to celebrate the birthdays of two very dear friends (one of which is actually today – happy birthday bestie!!!). As part of the festivities 10 of us got all gussied up and went to the Lady Gaga concert (who was amazing, BTW). As you can imagine the evening was a glitter filled wonderland complete with fake eyelashes, a vintage feathered hat, a romper, and lace tights (not to mention the real life hair-bow I managed to create on a friend’s head, the fishnet-body-stocking clad boy [yes, you read that correctly] who we made friends with on the train and the middle aged man dressed as Alejandro, who wore a cape and home made shirt that read “Hot like Mexico”) it was everything that I had hoped for and more. Here is a photo of my ode to Gaga followed by Gaga in all her glory:

So, I moved to Arizona in 1999 at the start of my 3rd year of college. I decided to leave my private religious college to venture into the heathen unknown of Arizona State University to join the speech team. They gave me trophies for talking. It was brilliant, cuz heaven knows that taking is the only thing I was getting trophies for, considering that they did not hand out trophies for drinking. Not even at ASU. But I digress…

Living in Arizona was an interesting time for me. I grew up a lot, which is a natural function of moving away from home in your early 20’s. This marked the time where my crazy really started manifesting itself in a way that it never had before. Manic highs were quite convenient for all night crash studying and in my post-college world all night “pull together what you have been procrastinating for months and months” sessions. Depressions were easily masked by hangovers or being really really really “busy” (read: I lived alone, so no one would know that I was sleeping 18 hours a day). When things were good, it was spectacular! I had amazing friends and we had the best time EVER, each escapade being better than the last – we knew every bartender, bouncer and shoe guy at Nordstrom (at least I did. In fact, I went to my Nordstrom shoe guy’s wedding. Seriously. It was absurd. and I digress, yet again…) – we went out night after night (ah, to be 21 again…), it never got old.

On the flip side, when it was bad, it was awful. I flaked on things constantly, I lied to cover up the flaking, I convinced people that I could do anything (with the intention that I would google/learn and in fact do it, of course), I drank, I shopped, I went out, I became the queen of barely pulling it off, I stopped opening my mail, I flaked some more, I lied, then I lied some more to cover up those lies, I cried a lot, made some more stuff up, I took on projects that I had no business taking on…and the cycle went on and on. The truly crazy part was that because my intention was never to “flake” or “lie” or “fill in the blank”, each time that it happened I had a hard time seeing it as such. I told myself that it was just this time and that I would learn and do it differently the next time. But the cycle continued and I began to cling to it like a life raft – it became part of my identity. A part that I hated with everything in me, yet a part that I could not let go.

Now you may read this and wonder why on earth anyone would tolerate any of these things or be my friend or date me or do business with me – I wondered this constantly. It was like I walked around holding by breath, waiting for someone to figure me out. I still wonder it sometimes. There are things that will sneak into my brain and instantly my stomach turns. I am mortified that I would have ever behaved like that…My parents did not raise me to behave like that…That is not who I wanted to be…and when this diatribe starts, I have to stop and remember that it was partly the crazy and partly the way I survived because it was all that I knew. And in fairness, there were good things about be during that time – very good things, beyond the jazz hands and rounds free of martinis – I know that I was a good friend and I tried hard to be the best person that I could be. And when ever I question why on earth people remember me and those times fondly, I am certain that it is those good things that managed to shine bright enough on the not so good things and that is what is remembered. Or maybe they just remember the free martinis, either way, I am grateful.

The point of all this is that I have incredible friends who loved me through the good and bad, and who continue to do so. They have taught me so much. And while our lives get busy and maybe we don’t talk as much as we should or visit as much as we’d like to, we are all there for each other, no matter what and that is what true friendship is.

So, thank you Lady Gaga (and the aforementioned gentlemen for having birthdays), for giving us the perfect reason to get together. The Gaga-tastic outfits, the fake eyelashes, and the “Bad Romance” encore were good times, but the best parts were the quite moments that I had catching up with my friends. BFF’s indeed!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

52 days til triathlon-tasticness!

So, I am entered to compete (read: attempt to finish) the 2010 Malibu Sprint Triathlon that will be taking place in the wee hours of September 12, 2010. (Which also happens to be one of my oldest, most fabulous and dearest friends 30th b-day – Rachel who rocks my socks!!). The race is comprised of a 1/2 mile swim (in the OCEAN), 18 mile bike ride (WITHOUT training wheels) and a 4 mile run (BACK to BACK to BACK!).

This is amusing for many reasons including, but not limited to the following:

#1) I only know how to not drown (which, turns out is not exactly swimming) AND I happen to be quite frightened of the ocean. I “faced” that fear 2 years ago by sucking it up and going scuba-diving in Maui (I only went 30 feet down and it was Maui, how could I not?!), but now the thought of being in a bathing suit and getting in the ocean at 7am in September with a million other people swimming on top of me and kicking my face makes me want to stab myself in the eye…good times.

#2) Until two days ago I had not ridden a bicycle in more than 10 years (who am I kidding, it's been more like 20) and now every time I sit down I groan like I'm 92. On the bright side it was “just like riding a bike” and I did not crash and die.

#3) While I have (barely) run 4 miles before (on a treadmill), the idea of doing so outside, after swimming and biking makes me question my sanity [again].

So you may be thinking. “Why on earth did you sign up for this triathlon?” Good question – the answer: a lapse in perfectly normal, level-headed judgment. No wait, I wanted to loose a few lbs. Haha, just kidding (kinda)…seriously, I wanted to challenge myself. AND the race benefits Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which is near and dear to my heart because it is the hospital where a lot of the kids come from at CoachArt (which is were I work, you can read about it more HERE and HERE). Plus, D (aka my amazing boyfriend) decided last year that he was going to do triathlons and he did it and did it well (mind you, it helps that he is a really good swimmer and cyclist...details, details…). I had so much fun cheering him on (as you can imagine, I am a natural) and watching him progress and reach his goals. It made me want to try it.

It seemed like a natural fit: get in shape and help the sick kids, right? The thing is, that I find that “natural-ness” fading in to the distance as I am faced with the stark realization that I have 52 days til this thing and I have not yet gotten in the water and spent all of 30 mins on a bicycle. The way I see it is at this point I have 2 options: quit (which is not really an option) or be thankful that I have 52 days to kick my ocean fearing, bicycle adverse, kinda-ok-at-running ass into shape!

So thankful it is! Tomorrow D and I go to the pool and he gives me a swimming lesson (I die.) and then we are going on a bike ride on Sunday. I know that I can do this. Even if I am the last person to cross the finish line (all red faced and teary-eyed, cuz you know I will cry.) at least I will be able to say that I did it.

PS - if you want to help me in my quest to raise money for the aforementioned sick kids (and see a hilarious photo of me on a bike), you can do so HERE. Any amount helps!! Many thanks!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oh yeah, I have a blog?!

I find it amusing that my last post was almost A MONTH ago and entitled “finding the time”, which clearly I have not. I will spare you the diatribe that goes on in my head every time I think about the fact that I have not written in a month (actually 29 days) because it is not really important or productive. The truth of the matter is that I woke up this morning and realized that I really miss writing. I miss hearing from you. I miss talking about the crazy. I miss my blog. Now mind you, I did not wake up with something brilliant to write about, but I do have something brilliant to share – or someone I should say… BAILEY.

For those of you who do not know I work for an organization that provides free art and athletic lessons for chronically ill youth and their siblings. You can check it out HERE (we are ALWAYS looking for new volunteers….I have no shame, I know). Anyway, on Friday of last week I was chatting with the amazingly lovely lady over at Mom is a Four Letter Word, who happens to work at Childrens Hospital Orange County and she sent me 2 videos.

The first one is Bailey singing a song that he made up about his scans being clear and then he shows us some serious “skateboarding” action pre-surgery, followed by the sweetest montage in the history of montages (seriously, with the head patting?!). And then the second one is about Bailey’s obsession with Paula Deen. Yes Paula Deen. It is hilarious and worth watching all 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

These made me laugh out loud. What a sweet and HAPPY kid, despite the fact that he and his family have endured so much. It is just another reminder of how blessed my life is. It is my hope that I radiate that kind of joy to each and every person I encounter. That is the kind of life that I want to live -- a joyful and happy life, no matter what it is that I am dealing with. In case you are wondering…Bailey is now 9 years old and sharing his story with others. He’s just as cute as ever and might want to be a cop when he grows up…you can see a recent story that was done about him on the news HERE.

With that I bid you a happy Thursday…I hope you find something to make a song up about today and that you sing it out loud (even if in your car by yourself). Perhaps mine will be about my blog… Ahem: “Hello, Hello, Hellooooooo! I’m back! I’m back! I’m back! I’m still crazy and it is still my superpower, most of the timeeeee! Thank you for reading and super duper thank you for commenting…I really, really missed you, and you, and you and you, you and you! And I hope you have the happiest day evvvvvverrrrrrrrrr! See ya tomorrow! Bye byeeeeeeeeee!” (Insert curtsy and HUGE smile!). It feels good to be back!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finding the time.

Lately I have been feeling like I am in a constant time crunch!! I know that everyone wishes there were more hours in the day – even if just to sleep more, but seriously there has to be a way to juggle it all with in the 24 hours that the good Lord gave us. Over the past 5 years I have worked my face off in search of a balanced life (yes, I know that working one’s face off for balance is tad contradictory, but stay with me here). I’ve spent most of my life living the opposite of balanced; in fact some might say it was insanity – living on the edge of 2 extremes: deep depression, sleeping 18 hours a day, only facing people when it was absolutely necessary and all things un-pretty to being up for days at a time, being the life of the party, making obsessive lists, seemingly getting lots done, meetings, jazz hands, out every night, martini, martini, martini, talking a million miles a minute, more jazz hands, being the girl that everyone loves who is taking over the world with a smile on her face and Gucci shoes on her feet (!!!!!) [pause for breath], all the while not even acknowledging that there is even the possibility of a middle in between. That middle where the magical state of balance resides. “Balance” was elusive to me, an urban myth that only existed on the pages self-help books and on occasional episodes of Oprah (although lets be honest, most of those ladies were probably making it up).

I will say that I am at a place where I am as close balanced as I ever have been and believe me, that is quite an accomplishment considering where I have come from. That being said, I still struggle with fitting it all in. I am sure you are thinking: ‘learn to say NO’, but it is not even that kind of stuff. Its stuff that I want to fit into my life because it is important to me. Things like (in no particular order):

Working out.
8 hours of sleep (at least).
Working hard at my really amazing job.
Being a good girlfriend to my really amazing boyfriend.
Being a good friend to all my really amazing friends.
Being a good daughter/sister/granddaughter/cousin/niece/auntie.
Quiet time.
Grocery shopping. Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry.
Blogging and responding to comments (which I love, BTW – so please keep ‘em coming)
Writing thank you notes and just because notes and birthday cards.
Reading the 20 books that I really want to read.
A TV show (or 3).
Responding to emails (sorry to those who I always lag on, you know who you are).
Miscellaneous things that come up.

I am sure you can look at this list and find a few things to cross off, but that is not what I am interested in. I want to know how you do it? How do you fit everything that is important to you in? How do you prioritize? Where do you find the time? Have you found that magical place called balance?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ode to my mother.

I love this picture of my mom and me. It has always been one of my favorites. I am not sure how old I am here. I think it was one of my birthdays, or maybe my brothers (as evidenced by the awesome half empty gallon of stain-your-mouth-red punch in the background). I’m pretty sure was taken at the park near the house where I grew up in La Palma, CA. I don’t remember the circumstances when the photo was taken (clearly, I’m getting old), perhaps I was cold or fussy or tired – but the look in my eyes that of a child that is with her momma, safe and warm and going nowhere with anyone else any time soon.

Today is my mother’s birthday. For those of you who know me, you know just how incredibly amazing and fabulous my mother is. I truly am the luckiest little girl to have been blessed with such a mom. Of course she is great for all the reasons that moms are great – she loved and cared for us, she was selfless and giving, she’s smart and funny, she would cut the crust of my sandwiches, she was a career woman AND a great mom, she let me believe that I could sing until about the age of 10 [at which time she sat me down to tell me all the MANY (her words) talents that I had been blessed with, one of which was not singing. And thank God she did, or I may have ended up being one of those girls singing my heart out at an American Idol audition then ugly crying on camera because Simon said that I sucked], she threw me creative birthday parties (one of my favorites involved cabbage patch kids and a fashion show, duh.), she always told me how smart and beautiful and strong I was and that I could do or be anything that I ever wanted (well, with the exception of a singer) as long as I worked hard at it – that’s what moms do. They are awesome.

But more than all that, my mom is especially incredible because she afforded me the opportunities to really become who I am. When things got obviously hard beyond just being a teenager, she (and my dad too) was open minded enough to put me in therapy. When she asked the therapist how she could help me, the therapist suggested that she look at her own life and deal with her issues so she could be a good example for me and that is exactly what she did. She faced the hard stuff, so that I could do the same. And believe me it was hard, we had our ups and downs as every mom and daughter do, but it made each of us stronger. She was not at all perfect, but it was the way she chose to deal with that imperfection that will have a lasting impact on me as her daughter and one day as a mother of my own little ones. She is inspiring, brilliant, brave and beautiful.

Happy Birthday to you, my amazing mother! You had a direct hand in all things that are good about me and I will always be that little girl who needs her momma (lucky you!). Thank you for the example that you are! I am eternally grateful. I love you!

What about you?? Tell me something amazing thing about your mom!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bring Change 2 Mind

Recently I was watching something on hulu and this commercial was at the start of my program:

I had heard that Glenn Close had done some interviews on Good Morning America and The View, but had not seen the PSA. For some reason, I was taken back for a minute, but then watched it again and thought that it was so cool that whoever watched this program on hulu would be exposed to this PSA. No fast forwarding, just a 30 second opportunity to hopefully think for a moment about mental illness. Perhaps that is a naive thought, but a girl can hope.

She and others have started an organization called Bring Change 2 Mind, with the intention to put real human faces to mental illness. Not the faces that we see on the news when someone shoots people at a school or murders their spouse or abuses their children, but the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, aunts, uncles, etc that live day to day with their mental illness. The people who have bravely faced themselves and found ways to live balanced and authentic lives. On the homepage of their website they have many videos of husbands and wives, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, etc being interviewed about their experiences. They are quite moving -- take a gander.

I say bravo to Glenn and Jessie (obvs!) for stepping out there to address this issue and stigma of mental health. What are your thoughts? Does it make you think? Do you relate on either side of the issue? Can we bring change to mind??