My Life A Year Post Brain Surgery

Angelism: Nothing is ever really behind you… if something happened to you, and your experience was truly memorable (good or bad), it’s only a matter of time before that ingrained memory appears again.

As with any victim of trauma, once you face something bigger than you can wrap you head around, it takes over and becomes a part of you. This experience or circumstance doesn’t have to stop you, or consume your life,  but it is a part of your story and a reason at times you will fall back a step or two. When fight-or-flight hits, no matter how many people tell you to move through it and forget about it; the visions, memories, emotion, and weight of the experience, can, does, and inevitably comes back. How you choose to manage it is what matters.

Many of you know I had brain surgery last year on 12/12/18. A year ago this month, I was very unsure of what the hell was going to become of my life. Although I was confident I would power through, the unknown was terrifying. It was a personal journey that I had to brave. Though I had support and love all around me, I was the one who was about to have a hole drilled in my head. I had to wake up every day knowing this shitty situation was all mine to manage. I am happy to report I am on the other side of a successful craniotomy and thus far have recovered well.  As of now that large olive sized tumor invading space in my brain is no longer there. Now, I spend a lifetime praying it doesn’t return.

Fortunately, in the last six months or so, I have thought very little about what I went through. My surgery and condition comes up in conversation once in awhile and I move through the chatter quite quickly. I still feel the scar when I scratch my head, I see the wispy hairs of a variety of lengths growing back to remind me of the trauma to my skull, and occasionally I feel some weird sensations in my head; thankfully overall I feel good and I have moved on. Life resumed as usual for me, it simply did not stop moving forward because I had a traumatic experience. I’ve been doing well and I am pleased with the results.

Now, this is where my Angelism comes in: Nothing is ever really behind you… if something happened to you, and your experience was truly memorable (good or bad), it’s only a matter of time before that ingrained memory appears again. This quote could not be more true. I found myself yesterday in line at the grocery store, reviewing my  Facebook (FB) memories, when BOOM! Publicly tears welled up in my eyes, tears I could not fight. There I stood, reading my social media post that I created the day before my surgery announcing to my family and friends my diagnosis and the procedure I was about to endure. In this post I asked them for prayers and well wishes. The wave of unstoppable emotions simply took over. I paid for my groceries and quickly went to my car where I was compelled  to read through over 200 FB comments. It was beyond overwhelming. I was sad, happy, angry, scared, and super emotional, for no REAL reason. In this unexpected moment, all the feels came rushing back.

Hitting this one-year milestone post brain surgery has apparently triggered some PTSD that I could not escape. The last 12 months have been a challenge and they have taught me so much. My personal journey was one that took more strength than most people will ever realize.  I have never been a weak person. I always hold my head high, I fight for what I want, I strive to win, and I never give up. I have managed all of this very well and am super proud of myself. I stayed strong and had to fake that strength many days. If I’ve learned one thing it is that vulnerability is one diagnosis away. A diagnosis that can make someone tough like me, feel scared and weak, on any day, of any year, at any stage in life.

These pictures have me wishing I could be that “no worry” kid again. Little Angel had no idea how strong she’d have to be as an adult. A hard day back then was falling off my skateboard or playing outside too long and getting a sunburn. I see my little face and am driven to stay strong because from day one I have always been determined! 

 

MY BRAIN TUMOR DIAGNOSIS LESSONS:

  • Never give up on yourself or your circumstance. You are always a work in progress and sometimes you have to do work that you did not sign up for. For no good reason, a terrible circumstance will choose you. Be ready to fight!
  • Ask for help. People are willing to assist but often they do not know how to. Tell people what you need, how you would like them to show up for you, and the space they should give you. You will be surprised how willing to help friends and family are when they understand exactly what you want.
  • Get organized. The best gift you can give yourself is to get your shit together. This is good advice for anything in life but it was particularly helpful pre-surgery to have organized my life for three weeks in the future so I just had to power through the healing process free of worry.
  • Seek additional opinions. In my case I met with four well-known neurosurgeons in Los Angeles. I wanted to understand how they would approach my surgery and what the aftercare plan and expectations were. I learned a lot in this process and in the end I went with my gut. It was nice to have options.
  • Say I love you. With any surgery, you simply never know. I’m always very affectionate but I found myself being even more lovey and grateful. Should any of those days have been my last, I wanted people to know just how appreciative I was for my life and them being a part of it.
  • Come up for air. A scary diagnosis or traumatic event for that matter can really drown a person. The anxiety, fear, and nightmares that come uncontrollably require attention and management. I caught myself losing sleep, and having nightmares of my brain bleeding out during surgery. I’d lose my breath at the thought of an unsuccessful surgery and would get stomach pains thinking that I may not make it through this. The symptoms were real, but I fought! I hit the gym, I prayed, and set good intentions. I began to dream of a stronger, better me post surgery. It really helped!
  • Be patient. This was probably my biggest challenge. I am a workaholic. I love to stay busy and when I am not busy I love to venture out, enjoy life, and party. The idea of resting and relaxing, while in pain and not being mobile for three weeks sounded awful. I literally prepped for this by writing myself a letter, reminding me how important it is to remain patient during my healing journey. I still read this letter at times to ground me.

  • Cry and cry some more. Tears are therapeutic. Cry for your old self, cry for your new self, cry for the outpour of love you feel, cry for the inability to connect with someone who understands, cry for the unknown, cry because you are alone, cry because you survived, cry for the pain you see in those who worry for you, cry knowing that you may have conquered this day but possibly someone else was not as lucky, and cry because this is just one step of many in an unknown journey. There are so many reasons to cry, I learned you simply have to shed the tears and move along.
  • Respect that others do not understand and neither do you. Every individual human on this planet has baggage and it is unique and specific to them. What keeps you up at night is not something anyone else will relate to, especially if they do not have a very similar situation to compare it to. I knew I would need support so I  joined two online support groups where I could connect with people on a similar journey. This was the most helpful step I took. I also have a dear friend who had brain surgery two years before me. We are now bonded in a way others cannot relate to. But I highly suggest you accept the fact that people will not understand. They can’t possibly “get it” and to expect otherwise is unfair. Focus on healing you, because you cannot change others to see, feel, and understand that which is your personal journey.
  • Accept that the only guarantee in life is death. I know this sounds morbid and maybe it is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to die ever if I can help it, but I also only want to live if I am well. In this process I became OK with the idea that this could possibly be my time to go. I very proudly LIVE MY LIFE. I travel often, I eat the dessert, and order the extra shot with my beer. I soak in the sun, stay up late, celebrate every moment I can, and I’m not scared to take risks. I am transparent, what you see is what you get! I move with good intention, and I express love and appreciation all the time. I have no unfinished business. I feel whole, so therefore if my life needs to end tomorrow, I know I lived well. Somehow, this acceptance of my beautiful life, with no regrets, and no unfinished business, really gave me a sense of peace. The day of surgery, I got my anesthesia cocktail, closed my eyes, and drifted off to the unknown with complete confidence.

I’m positive there are lessons that I am forgetting but this is what comes to mind in my heightened emotional state. I thank you for reading if you made it this far. Here is a proud picture comparison. Image on left was me about 16 hours before surgery. I probably cried a dozen times that day trying to pump myself up to willingly check into a hospital and let a complete team of strangers drill into my head. To the right is my most recent work photo taken a few months ago. Thank goodness for professional photos giving me a beauty boost. All I can say at this stage is, “WOW what a difference a year makes! Whatever your journey, hang on… the hard days pass and in the end you’re better for it!”

Images below of my memorable day that I am so grateful to have behind me. My surgeon was amazing and he is known for cutting and shaving very little. With so much gratitude I give a shout out to Dr. Daniel Kelly, he was fantastic!

And well, because this is funny and we can all use a laugh…

 


Today I Lost My Boyfriend Dylan McKay :(

Angelism: Not all boyfriends have to be real. Some first loves simply teach us through their role on television or through the lyrics in a song. 

Today is a sad day for women around the world. If you were a teen or young adult in the 90’s, your heart is crushed. The passing of Luke Perry has us Gen X kids speechless. Women are in tears reminiscing of their youth crush now gone, and men of this generation are officially questioning their own mortality. Luke Perry, AKA Dylan McKay from 90210, passed away from a stroke today at the age of 52.

As a huge Beverly Hills 90210 fan, I simply must take a moment to share and honor what the character of Dylan McKay taught me.

1)  Bad boys are good!

2) Sideburns are super hot!

3) Denim on denim does work!

4) It’s OK to wait to take the virginity of the girl you love.

5) Have a hot, nice, best friend and one nerdy one.

6) A black convertible old school Porsche makes a guy look damn sexy.

7) Ditch school and go have fun. It’s always worth it!

8) Sometimes getting drunk and passing out is OK.

9) Kiss softly… whisper sweet nothings… buy flowers…. and hold the door for your girl.

10) Losing My Religion to this day is still a good song because every time I hear it I picture Dylan and Brenda making out. So lesson learned, for every good make-out session you gotta have a memorable SONG!

Thank you Luke for being one of my first boyfriends. Your character in 90210 taught me a little bit about what I did and didn’t want in a young guy. Your ability to be tough and cool, all while kind and sweet, was adorable. You taught me about peer pressure, sex, money, drugs, and alcohol. You made it OK to have family issues and personal struggles. You taught me sometimes a man is strong and determined and other times he’s a lost soul. Your character had depth and flavor, and decades later, I still appreciate the gift you gave to me. Rest in peace Luke Perry/ Dylan McKay. I love you!


Confidence Is Everything

Angelism: CONFIDENCE! Having it is the key to a healthy and wonderful life no matter what your size, sex, color, or social status.

Money can’t buy confidence but if it could it would be worth saving every penny for. I learned long ago that confidence is everything. Today, after watching Rebel Wilson in her newest movie, Isn’t it Romantic, I was reminded of how limiting life can be for people who don’t possess confidence. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know who you are and what you want. We are all unique; self-doubt does not discriminate so don’t let it rule your existence. 

Many of you know I’m a huge fan of Los Angeles. If I had a dollar for every time I have promoted my love for the City of Angels I would be rich. But this is a city you must have confidence in or you are doomed! Surrounded by wealthy, fit, and beautiful people, who are tan, energetic, and always out having fun, can be very intimidating. You have to know and accept your place, not fear being one of many fish in a giant sea, and you must work hard because LA does not hand out favors. I have lived here for sixteen years and I have loved every minute of it. Despite the high-cost and traffic, there is nowhere I’d rather be. I’m confident this is my home and it feels good. I’m not an actress, model, or a rich trust fund baby. Not “having it all” doesn’t deter me, I’m where I want to be and I love living a life I enjoy.

Now back to today’s movie. I so appreciated that it completely dissed on romantic comedy films. It showed all the fake fluff that makes what every day people find dreamy and lust for. I may have mad love for LA, but I dislike the things that make this city feel plastic. Fake-like humans, for example the Kardashians, are not realistic. The average person does not have four hours to get ready or endless funds to look perfect. I think it’s awful how they like to pretend that this is a natural way of going about your days. The amount of vanity that family has is scary. The other plastic side of LA are the fakers. Faking your reality is ridiculous. Be who you are because real people and true friends can read right through you. Using social media outlets like Facebook to try and convince all your hundreds/ thousands of friends that you are happy in your crappy marriage when everyone knows you are on verge of divorce is lame. People can read through your lies and believe me they are laughing and gossiping about you. Be the best you, and enjoy it, even if it’s during a divorce!

Confidence is being the same sexy person whether you are sweaty and gross at the gym or in full make-up ready for the red carpet. It means aging gracefully and accepting the wisdom and adventure that it brings. I’m all for doing a little work to enhance your appearance if you really think it will look nice, but if you get so much Botox your eyes don’t blink, and so many injections that your cheeks don’t move, then you are insecure and people will judge. To earn respect and be appreciated for what you bring to this world DON’T BE FAKE. Have confidence and stop living in fear of what others think.

Life isn’t easy, money doesn’t grow on trees, jobs are disposable, kids are annoying, family members fight, accidents occur, relationships let you down, people are cruel, and shit happens. Be confident that no matter what comes your way you have the smarts to figure it out. Confidence is going to bed with no worries, no wandering thoughts of negativity keeping you up, and no questioning your choices because you trust that you can handle life.

Adulting Requires Alcohol

 

Angelism: Nothing prepared me for adulting more than a little (or a lot of) alcohol!

Hands down this is my favorite shirt and it speaks volumes of exactly how I feel. This top was kindly gifted to me by a bestie Yasmin who knows my personality inside and out! Truth is, I’m a fun party girl at heart. Not in a hot mess, wasted, can’t get my life together way; but a let’s rage and have fun tonight like rock-stars because responsibility will strike again soon! Sadly, that soon is always sooner than I prefer.

Monday – Friday, working for the man, abiding by all the darn rules of life, and living responsibly, I have to stick to a strict schedule. I eat healthy meals, drink lots of water, put myself to bed on time, and reluctantly put on my big girl panties every day. I stay focused and driven, lead my team, and care for those who need me. Every week with a smile, I power through all the little requirements of my big fat adult life: my job, maintaining relationships, paying rent, filtering through the stack of bills and contracts, whatever it is, I get my shit done. But, come Friday night, look out because I will be ready to drop it like it’s hot!

I don’t promote alcholism, but…. I do believe everything is good for you in moderation. I simply cram my daily 1-2 drinks of moderation into only my weekend days because adult beverages are yummy and I usually want a half dozen or more. Whether it is wine and champagne, beer and shots, or a fresh fruity cocktail, a good drink tastes delicious and it takes the edge off. A couple drinks opens people up, generates energy, and often leads to fun and some pretty entertaining memories. In a nutshell, best part of being an adult for me is being able to buy liquor and get into bars so that I may enjoy an adult night of whatever the hell I want.

So, cheers to all those like me who appreciate a fun-filled Blackout Friday, Saturday to Forget, or Sunday Funday Bubbly Brunch! I do not judge your desire to have bottomless mimosas with breakfast. Alcohol makes being an adult a little bit more manageable.


Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper a couple?

Angelism: Attraction is hard to hide. Even a simple crush can be obvious. Don’t be blind to these connections in your own life.

know nothing of these two fabulous celebrities personally, but I recognize crushing, goo-goo eyes when I see it! Does anyone else notice the way Gaga looks at Bradley? I cannot be the only one who thinks this. Truly, in my most intimate of moments, I’m not sure I have ever gushed with such intensity for someone, especially publicly. Thus far in the media they are claiming it’s admiration, an instant friendship, and a genuine connection; I’m calling bullshit and stating my theory is that this is (or was) hot and heavy, between the sheets, total infatuation.

This could likely be another Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie awkward situation.  The difference here though is I do not feel that Bradley is as interested in Gaga as one may think. I get the vibe of He’s Just Not That Into You, and  that he is playing nice during award season to maintain the image of their sincere bond and commitment to the story and work. I think Bradley already tapped that ass and is thinking he can ride this out and move along when the buzz of the movie and soundtrack fades.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both of these celebs. I think they are extremely talented and they deserve an insane amount of attention for their work in A Star is Born. Whether they end up together or not, I only wish them the best. But, something tells me there is more to this connection off screen and I can’t wait to watch it unfold in the weeks and months to come. We all know, any kind of knocking-boots on the down-low always surfaces as the cover story in Hollywood. Time will tell!

Read more at CheatSheet.com


People are FREEZING!

On the way class looking like this! WTF?

Angelism: Climate change is real! The universe continues to show us how angry it is, I suggest we listen and stop resisting.

January 2019 brought an official winter to Los Angeles. Here in SoCal we have been hit with weather so chilly that it has included rain, thunder, and lightning. Weather so cold that we actually had a few 40 degree nights! Locals are all complaining about how miserable it is oustside and how awful it is to drive and do things in “this weather.” Although I am one of these whiney people, I’m fully aware that we all need to shut the f#ck up!  People are literally freezing and dying in other states. Yes, legit dying! They are being advised not to have conversations outside because their lungs are freezing from sub-zero temperatures. So to do my part, I will embrace our cold weather here in California and spread some happiness dressed like an eskimo on my 50 degree winter days. Figure this is me doing my small part to commit to a complaint free world! 🙂

Sending hugs and love to those in the Midwest and East Coast. Sounds like there is more harsh weather ahead. Stay warm!

Extreme 48 degrees below zero weather (read more)

2019 Tips on staying warm (read more)

 


Give Up Yet?

Angelism: New year new year! This does not work! Your goals don’t mean a damn thing after February 1st! 

92% of New Years Resolutions Fail!

January encourages everyone to get their shit together. New Years goals are blasted on marketing materials and every retailer promotes workout gear and diet plans. By February most people feel like failures. The gung-ho take off for a perfect start to a great new year is crap and has us all chowing down on chocolate and champagne by Valentines day. So why year after year do we all put so much weight on the New Years Goal? My assumption is our intentions are good and it feels right to have a fresh start. End of day, if you don’t have good habits already, you’re likely to fail!

The focus should be setting small achievable goals spaced out throughout the year. Maybe at first you decide to give up soda. Then after two months you give up ice cream. After that maybe you vow to stop eating fast food. These little life changes spaced out over the course of your year will allow for long-term success. But you have to REALLY want it. Goals are only achievable when you manage them realistically and adjust them as needed when life changes come up.

https://www.bradsdeals.com/blog/how-to-keep-your-new-years-resolution


Adulting Sucks!

Angelism: Wish not to grow up, for once you grow up you will quickly learn that adulting sucks!

I have hated ADULTING  all of my adult life.  I can kick myself for not thinking of this amazing idea to create a school where teachers educate young adults on how to exist in this crazy world. WHAT A GREAT CONCEPT! Need help using a coffee maker, folding a fitted sheet, taking care of pet, making the appropriate decision on what fork to use at a fancy restaurant, how to buy a car, how set up household accounts, or manage your money/debt? This is a million dollar idea and kudos to the team who invented it. I can’t wait to watch these schools boom all over our country. WE NEED THIS! Maybe this will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!! The last two generations have been too soft and fragile. The reality of adulting is overwhelming for so many but no time like the now to get your shit together! Greatest school to be created in the last 20 years as far as I am concerned. https://adultingschool.com/

Sad Day… Actor Alan Thicke Dead at 69 Years Old

Angelism: Enjoy every second you are gifted in this life, your last breath may be the one you are taking right now. 

My heart breaks a little today hearing this news. Alan Thicke, dead at 69 years of age, apparently was out playing hockey with his 19 year old son when he suffered from a heart-attack. Do you think when Alan left the house to go play with his son today that he had the thought by end of the day he’d be dead? He always looked great for his age, seemingly took good care of himself, and always appeared to be vibrant and full of energy. I simply can’t believe it!

I grew up with the show Growing Pains and Alan was one of my favorite TV dads. This show was on for many seasons, is in syndication still today, and launched a great many careers including Kirk Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio. When I see it on TV, I always stop and enjoy the sweetness that this show/family portrayed. Life was very different then. It was simple yet equally as complicated when it comes to raising kids and working together as a family. Anyhow, I feel my generation just suffered a great loss. RIP Mr. Alan Thicke.
To read more on this check out these articles:

Discovering DNA

Angelism: Knowledge is power & knowing the details of your roots is amazing & eye opening. 

 
I was told I was a mut growing up and that was why I was beautiful. I wonder if my family hoped I’d never question all that was actually me. I definitely had curiosity over the years on how my mix came together. People along the way asked, “What nationality are you?” Truthfully I couldn’t quite put a finger on what I was. I’m not easily judged as any one nationality; showing up in this world with light eyes, dark wavy hair, freckles, tall, solid structure, curvy, physically strong, dominant nose, big eyes and large face; I appear to be many things. My Dad said on his side that I was 25% Italian, and 25% Spanish, and on my mom’s side, I was 25% Polish, some Portuguese and who knows what else? Having traveled to Spain and Italy I definitely felt a pull to those cultures. At 40, it was time to discover the truth.
Turns out, I really am a bit of a melting pot. A rainbow of colors on the map above which is exciting and shocking all at the same time. Being mostly European was expected, but this breakdown was news to me. I had no idea I was Balkan, French, and German, nor would I have thought that I had British or Irish in me.
I also did not foresee being Native American or East Asian. I knew I would have some African roots in me as we have always heard there was some Puerto Rican heritage on my mom’s side. I think it is an amazing thing to see this all mapped out down to each little DNA marker that makes up me.

 

I highly encourage that if you ever had any interest in knowing where your roots are from that you take one of these tests. I did the 23andMe.com DNA test that also reported on traits, wellness, and carrier status for certain health risks. I was so impressed with this report, that today I ordered a cancer gene test from getcolor.com because knowledge is power, and I want to know as much as I can.
My takeaway is that this explains my love for travel, and exploring a variety of things. My family history shows that we are movers, and I will assume we were willing to take risks and rebel once in awhile, as well as date outside of our race. It also explains why I have a love for so many types of food, and why I’m attracted to a variety of cultures, music, and lifestyles. My boyfriend took this test as well and he is much more of a purebred, 99.8% Northern European. He is my very white German, British, Irish, French and Scandinavian man. I love that my family history shook things up. Turns out I have cousins everywhere, and I think that’s exciting! Cheers to diversity, blending, and the melting pot that is the USA. Glad that this Trump wall wasn’t up 100+ years ago, none of my family would have made it over here. LOL!!!