Angelism: Never waste summertime! Bask in the longer days, warm and relaxing nights, adventurous vacations, and fun in the sun. Summer is meant for making memories, creating special moments, and most importantly taking time for yourself.
Summer is a wonderful season for adventure and fun.My passion and excitement for the summertime began early on. The idea of being off for almost three months at a time during my school years was always something to look forward to. As a kid, my family did not vacation much, but the pool days, theme park adventures, sleepovers with friends, and our family BBQs were all memorable moments. As I got older, in my late teens and early 20’s I developed a genuine desire to see and do more in this great big world. I moved to Los Angeles, where I have now happily lived for almost 20 years, and I did this knowing I would always feel like I am on vacation. Additional travel outside of life here in LA is truly a bonus.
There is something to be said for going to new places and experiencing life there. The people, culture, food, environment, and general laws and regulations vary significantly from state to country. Opening my eyes to these new ways of life, I quickly learned that mindset and social responsibility values are heavily influenced by the environments in which we live. What you choose to believe and make of the world around you is largely dependent on what your day-to-day experiences offer you. Because of my openness to immerse myself in these new communities, I feel like I have become a more accepting and personable human.
Despite fear or desire to be alone with your beliefs, I encourage everyone to get out there. Start small if you must. Take a short weekend adventure and grab your meals at a popular local restaurant rather than the hotel you reside in. Consider going to the beach or lake, rather than hanging poolside at your Airbnb, and shop in the local malls and markets to live as they do. Engage with the employees along the way who serve you, and those strangers who sit next to you on the train. Take the opportunity to get to know someone new, and learn how they view life there. Consider a nearby park for an outdoor concert or lunch date, and if you are religious, attend a local mass. You may even make a friend for life along the way or discover your retirement relocation goals.
Making memories matters…
Wishing you joyful summer vibes, get outside, and have some fun while you still can!
Angelism: Tighten your tongue or you will pay the price.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where verbal and physical fighting was non-existent. My parents created an environment for me that was safe, respectful, and peaceful. They were not perfect by any means but the “No fighting” expectation was enforced. My Dad rarely raised his voice and whenever my mom and I disagreed, we would walk away and wait until dad came home to play the mediator. I’m grateful for this sense of calm and structure in my life. I rarely meet people who know how to communicate productively when upset.
People yearn to yell, be right, justify, and judge in a loud, argumentative way to feel better about themselves. Arguing leads to nothing but hurt and pain for both sides. Show me someone who likes to fight and I will show you an unhappy person. People who argue often have huge egos they can’t manage, or are damaged in some way and the fighting is their protective wall to prevent further hurt. Someone who likes to fight will hang up on you, yell and scream at you regardless of who’s around, and walk away from you while screaming, “Eff off!” These fight or flight types blame you for the disagreement, immediately send you nasty emails and texts to continue the argument, and display a variety of emotions when verbally vomiting all over you. They quickly rally a “my side” troop of people to agree and justify their behavior so they don’t look bad or have to feel poorly about themselves.
If you are guilty of the above behavior then you should analyze why you behave so inappropriately in an argument. If you have friends or a mate like this, I wish you luck! There are times where people get heated and passionate about something and there is no other way to express their point of view than to get loud. When you believe strongly on an issue and go the extra mile to stick up for it, then that’s respectable and appropriate. These disagreements are acceptable, however, they should be few and far between. These fights should be shocking and outside of your character norm, not something people come to expect of you. If you have calm in your life and rarely argue then kudos to you.
With the recent pandemic, 2020 has brought out the ugly in many people. As a country, we are united yet divided. We have job loss, racial injustice, media-madness, homeschooling, and work-from-home. We are being pulled in many directions all while having our normal life limited with constant changes to travel and social restrictions. The frustration within our homes is warranted and is much more difficult to manage at this time. Never forget though that taking your anger out on your loved ones can cause long-term damage. Divorce is on the rise, abuse and suicide are too; we must collect ourselves before engaging in hurtful argumentative interactions especially when those arguments happen around others. Children are genuinely confused about the changes in life, COVID-19 is hard to explain, constantly fighting on top of all this other confusion in life will likely increase their fear and worry.
For all my fighters out there, who argue for the sake of arguing, intentionally disrespectfully drawing attention, or seeking an opportunity to step in and be right so someone else can be wrong, please stop! If you are always in defense mode, I ask, “Are you happy?” Probably not. Get over yourself! Nobody wants to hear your ego’s aggression. Make a goal today to quit being ridiculous. Stop wasting your precious moments constantly trying to prove your point and get digs in on others.
In intimate relationships, do you ever find yourself fighting over the same topic again and again?
For example, do you get mad every day because each night after dinner your husband “forgets” to take out the trash? When he does this, do you go full speed yelling at him about how you do everything and he can’t even take out the trash? What a loser! This is not a good response at all. What you should do is either: (A) embrace the fact that your man is careless, or (B) Make a change that affects him; Say for example that he loves your cooking, tell him, “I have decided I will only cook dinner on the days following your trash run.” If he gets mad, keep your cool, state your point one last time and move on. Your job is to stick to your statement. If he doesn’t take out the trash then you eat your delicious dinner and he can eat his homemade PB&J’s and Top Ramen for as long as he chooses to be unhelpful. Eventually, he will miss you doing things for him. If it seems like he couldn’t care less about taking out the trash, even if it means no home-cooked foods, then know it will never change so stop arguing about it. Everything is give and take. You can’t expect him to change but you can change and set the expectation.
Most people have high expectations of friends and family and the other person is totally unaware of it. When your emotions and feelings about situations and issues get heated all you should do is express it. Don’t fight. Express your thoughts in a loving, non-confrontational way. It is of no benefit to you, or the other person, to start a screaming match. So much more can be accomplished through calm communication.
Angelism: The best action is to AGREE TO DISAGREE. If we were all alike, our relationships would be boring. The best way to learn, grow, and change, is to recognize your differences, accept them, and move along.
Relationships are successful when you embrace and nurture them instead of slamming the door and running away. The lesson all people should learn from this topic of fighting is: If you are surrounded by people that make you angry, disappoint you, don’t show up for you, or have negative opinions about you, then maybe the arguing is a sign that you need to disconnect. It’s hard for a non-fighter to get along with a fighter. Some people feel more alive picking fights and creating drama. If that’s not you, then a friendship or relationship with that kind of person will not last. Let fighters hang with fighters so they can act ridiculous together. If you have a higher expectation for yourself, then make a goal today to walk away and not engage in arguing.
When and if you do fight, journal it. Anytime you catch yourself getting annoyed and engaging in a discussion that is not addressing or solving an issue ask yourself the following questions:
1) Why am I mad?
2) Why am I having the thoughts I am having?
3) When did my anger start?
4) Who started the fight?
5) Why could I not stay calm and walk away?
6) What did the other person do to get me to this point? How did I feel?
7) What did I say that I now regret?
8) Is this the first time I am mad about this topic or one of many times?
9) What are my thoughts now that I am calm about the situation?
10) Should I apologize?
11) Can I accept their apology?
12) How can I prevent this kind of fight from happening again?
13) Have things changed that caused this fight?
14) On a level of 1-10 (1: no biggie – 10: you’re dead to me), how bad was this fight?
15) Was I responsible for this fight or did I gossip with others making this person look bad?
16) Can I make a change that will make this situation better for this relationship?
If fighting is your way of life, the only way to change it is to start within. Take ownership for your part in all arguments. Become aware and work towards creating peace, quality, respect, and love in all your relationships. Life will feel so much sweeter when you surrender the fight!
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If you told me in early February that March 2020 would result in a complete life-style shut down I would have thought you were crazy. Never did I think for a second that a lock-down of life as we know it could even be possible on such a mass level. How easily we are all controlled in our country. We are soldiers ready to line up and do that which we need to do.
I don’t want to sound disrespectful, I understand the importance of staying home, doing our part, and protecting one another. I know that this is an unfamiliar virus that we feel threatened by and taking steps to prevent a spike of cases that we are ill prepared to manage is very important. I will do my part. But a part of doing my part has me pissed off. This is really, really, really going to fuck with so many lives. It already has.
I’m a survivor so at the end of day if I have to live in my car on a new street every day, I can make that happen. I don’t have a mortgage, I’m not raising kids, and I don’t have an elderly family member living in my space that I need to care for. So, although this is confusing and hard, I’m managing fairly well. But we are all on edge. If we have a job today, we are all feeling uncertain it will be available to us tomorrow. We can’t plan for the future because the future is not available to plan for. Things are changing daily, hourly sometimes; and what our leadership says one minute they take back the next minute. Why, why, why has this been so unorganized?
We had months, I repeat months to plan for this. If this was happening overseas, it was happening at the same time in our major cities. To assume we would be untouched by this was naive. Flights in and out of China and Europe, to our major cities of SF, LA, and NY were no doubt all areas of risk the entire time! To wait until mid March to address the urgency of this is really unacceptable. People will die because we didn’t manage this sooner.
Knowing in early January this virus existed and was a deadly concern for elders meant we should have put our 60 and over population on lockdown right away. All large events could have been cancelled immediately as well as all international travel paused. Our country should have been immediately educated on social distancing and advised to have work from home strategies ready for implementation. Steps such as this could have very quickly flattened the curve but sadly none of that happened.
So here we are, totally fucked, with no toilet paper and a handful of Americans not taking it seriously because we actually believed this could not happen to us. Now, whether worth all the effort or not, we have to respect this social responsibility and try. Currently LA’s lockdown has been extended to May 15, 2020. I have no faith they will let us run wild in time for Memorial Day or 4th of July weekend. I predict maybe life will make a comeback tour by mid July or August? I hope I am wrong; only time will tell.
Why I’m So Pissed At Covid-19!
I was looking forward to March 2020 for over a year. I had a 20th Anniversary party planned with friends and family coming from near and far to celebrate. I had a week-long Hawaiian vacation scheduled with some of our dearest friends. I spent the last three months losing weight and getting in good shape to be prepared for our special day. I had booked a DJ, bartender, catering, security, photographer, venue… everything was all lined up. Literally a week or two before the big day covid-19 took a shit on all of our plans. I’m also an April baby so no birthday this year for me. For all these reasons I say, “Fuck You Covid-19!”
The last few weeks have been pretty depressing as I had to cancel all of our plans and fight for refunds which ended up being even more difficult than setting up all the contracts in the first place. I must give one shout out to Budget rental car company. I had a week long non-refundable “paid in full” car reservation and they refunded it in full, no questions asked! United Airlines was less than helpful and Waipouli Beach Resort did not play fair during this time either. They all wanted to keep the money in full and credit us for a future use. Sorry, I could have covid-19 and die next month, so the future is a little uncertain right now! I demanded my money back since non of these services were going to be used. For the first time ever I exercised my right to dispute payments on my credit cards. Good news I won. If you don’t actually receive services you don’t have to pay! Lesson learned.
Hang In There!
At this point, all we can do is hang in there. The covid-19 crisis does not appear to be ending anytime soon. I’ve accepted that we will not vacation anytime soon. I realize that I cannot reschedule our 20th Anniversary party for a future date because who knows when a large gathering will be allowed again. I trust that this will pass but it will suck for a while to come.
We can’t let the fear consume us. We must ask more questions and demand more answers. There is a lot about how this pandemic is being managed that has me concerned. I pray to remain healthy and safe, I pray that everyone I know and love remain unharmed by this, and I wish the best for anyone reading this to be in good health. Larger than this virus will be our collective efforts. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts will certainly increase from such a huge universal loss. Our freedoms and comforts were taken from us in a very short amount of time. We must care for one another as best we can at this time.
Hang in there! Read a good book, call someone you love, write in a journal, watch your favorite movie…. keep your body and mind strong and please stay safe!
Angelism: be who you are and know THAT IT is enough.
Today I raise this question, “Who are you and what do you want?” Remove all the expectations others have of you and answer this for yourself. If you can answer with confidence, then you will be successful no matter what craziness gets thrown your way. Many people go decades without ever considering their wants. Some people settle in their seemingly comfortable and predictable life and never reassess the situation. You change and grow all the time. You learn everyday. If you are not changing and learning with some consistency then you are stuck. Even if you are totally happy in your routine, there is still room to do more to enhance your life. Never limit yourself. Your life will only be happy and interesting if you make it that way.
Who are you?
Do you have a positive or negative answer? If you are drawing a blank, pull it together. You should know the answer to this question. The answer should be your truth – not what you want it to be, but what your family and friends would agree that you are. It’s about owning your character and accepting who you are. Through acceptance you find unconditional love for yourself and others. How well do you know you?
My response to this question currently is:
I’m happy, a good companion, devoted friend, loving and accepting daughter, hard worker, a planner, a dreamer, organized and clean, hopeful, a woman of faith, a leader, a motivator, forgiving, creative, lucky, and fun! I am an emotionally connected individual with a crazy, outgoing, and youthful personality. I am loyal to a fault and have learned from this. I have a positive attitude, for every problem I welcome the opportunity to find a solution. I’m proud of who I am and make every effort to work on my less appealing qualities.
Sometimes I tune people out when I think what they are saying is not important. In the past, I was more focused on my response in a conversation, rather than listening to it. This was a huge life lesson. I sadly can’t sit still when I’m at home because I can think of a million other things more productive that I should do. I have always struggled with my weight, and I beat myself up because of my high expectations. I’m passionate about my beliefs and can come across judgmental because of them. I complain when I shouldn’t, I’m a stubborn Taurus, and I get annoyed when things don’t go as planned. When I believe in something very strongly you can’t convince me otherwise. When I’m right in my head, I’m positively right, period. I own these qualities even though they are not my finest. This is who I am. The good and the bad. I’m not perfect but I’m confident that I know me.
Angelism: I’m not my job, my stuff, or my mistakes. I’m not my past or my misfortunes. I’m me and me is good enough!
What do you want?
Once you are confident in who you are, you then must answer; “What do you want?” Think hard about this. If there was every possibility that you could actually achieve what you want, what would it be?
For me I want:
Health, wealth, love, happiness, quality friendships, independence, a loving relationship, and lots of time to travel. I want to be my own boss, I want to earn financial freedom, and I want to travel the world. I want to write creatively and be a success. I want to give back to the community and those less fortunate than me. I want to continue learning and hopefully live a long healthy life in which to do all these things. I trust in my heart I will get it, if not in this moment then someday. I have been blessed with health, love, happiness, good friends, some amazing travel adventures and a great companion. I have many of my wants and now my focus is financial security. I’m putting independent wealth on my request to the universe. Are you listing universe?
So again, I ask, “Who are you and what do you want?” Your answer may look shorter than this or it may take up multiple sheets of paper. Either way, you should be able to sit down with a pen and paper and answer these two questions thoroughly. In a year, or two, or three, the answer may change drastically. Know who you are and know what you want in each phase of life. Be confident in the answer and open to changing it as life moves on and takes twists and turns.
Angelism: Life can’t LET you down if your positive thoughts ARE THERE TO lift you up!
As we enter a new year, many people will struggle with unattainable goals and unforeseen challenges. About a decade ago, I was asked to write a blog about positive thoughts and how they relate to healing. I was thrilled that this request came my way and was truly happy to write about something I believe strongly in. As we welcome 2020, we should all embrace the fact that our thoughts create and control our reality.
When I was younger, in my teenage years and early twenties, I never thought much about what I said or did. I knew I was happy, I liked having fun, and I felt very fortunate. Through life experiences, friends and family dramas, relationship lows, deaths, and financial constraints, I have confirmed for myself that every situation is as good or bad as I allow it to be in my head. Every experience can be embraced, accepted, and made sense of; but only if I manage it correctly in my mind. I shape the outcome of every experience through my thoughts. My commitment is to maintain the positive thoughts and delete the negative ones.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to be a downer. Many people go day after day complaining about bad drivers, not enough time, mistrust of loved ones, frustration from nagging family and friends, disappointment from increasing prices, and everyone’s favorite a terrible economy. Occasionally, we get slapped in the face with an illness or injury that sets us back and changes who we are, stripping us of the confidence we have worked so hard to achieve. Because of this we fill our space and energy with something all humans have in common – the desire to complain. Complaining is a given. Stand next to someone in Starbucks, and if you so much as roll your eyes or suggest in any way that it’s taking forever, the person behind you will likely say, “It’s annoying, they are always slow here.”
What would it take to be positive? How hard is it for you?
People across the world are becoming more aware of the gift of a good attitude. The idea that you become your thoughts is proving to be true. With well known books like, The Secret, The Power of Now,The Four Agreements, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, and A Complaint Free World, we are reassured that positive thoughts result in a good outcome. Simply think about what you want, envision it, and you get it. Controlling your mind to think in a way that is beneficial to you, and being aware of your words so that you no longer speak in a disrespectful way towards yourself can really pay off.
So does positive thinking have the ability to heal us?
Yes. Many doctors agree that ill patients with a positive attitude and a strong will to fight do much better than the patients who respond with negativity and speak of illness as though it is a death sentence. Doctors confirm that the major contributors to maintaining good health and removing disease from the body is a positive, hopeful, and determined outlook from the patient. Words that you speak to yourself become a reality; an ill person who speaks positively towards their body during a crisis, can often reverse the negative situation, creating quality health and healing for their body and mind.
Now, chances are if you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer you are not going to run home and start expressing words of gratitude about your situation. Every major negative experience deserves its moment of fear, depression, and total upset. However, the sooner you move through those thoughts and create a plan of action to make positive changes, the healthier and stronger you will become.
If you don’t believe this concept to be true, I beg of you to give it a try. First become aware of every negative thought you say or think. Before you actually speak any harshness in this world, see if you can replace it with something beneficial and productive. Instead of complaining about the slow service at Starbucks, can you appreciate the extra time you have in line to play with the adorable baby that is in the stroller behind you? Can you offer up a compliment to someone nearby to fill in the space you normally use to express a complaint? If you happen to have an illness that is worthy of complaining about, it’s acceptable and most people will listen. Don’t let any shortcomings in your life win, challenge yourself to move past all limitations. Think your way out of being sick and you may begin to feel better.
People who live with a strong mind, positive attitude, and peace in their hearts, have been known to practice many of the following habits. You may want to read up on these ideas individually to fully understand how integrating them may benefit you. Begin with one or two of the below habits and add more as time passes. Let’s see if you can slowly change your life for the better.
Habits of positive people:
Speak kind words
Read motivational & inspiring books
Embrace each new day with good thoughts
Write in a gratitude journal daily
Live in the moment, listen, be aware
Think positively about money
Be thankful for all things good & bad
Let things go
Surround yourself with joy: art, flowers, books, music & more
Have goals/ dreams & trust they can be achieved
Pay it forward/ do acts of kindness
Welcome love & positive people
Meditate & exercise often
Eat well & take care of your health
Be free of judgment
Take care of yourself/ feed your soul
Respect your negative thoughts & replace with positive ones
Healing and establishing wellness through thought is very real. I live its power every day. I am a brain surgery survivor. I have had plenty of negative things happen in my life that tried to take me down, but I positively thought my way through it. Living mentally strong and happy makes life so much more enjoyable.
ANGELISM: Not every day is easy, but Every day is worth it.
Take the lessons each day brings you and move along to the next. We don’t need a New Year to set goals and be well. We can embrace the “stay positive” concept every day of our life. It is the only goal we need to set, everything else will follow.
Angelism: Complaining out loud expresses what you don’t like or want. life IS MUCH HAPPIER WHEN YOU spEAK positively and express what YOU do like and want. Be the POSITIVE change – STOP COMPLAINING!
Almost a decade ago I read the book A Complaint Free World and it was a huge wake-up call. To date, it is one of my favorite books and the message has truly stuck with me. Complaining is common and I’m often a receiver and a sender. Although I consider myself a happy, upbeat, positive person, I do catch myself complaining. I know I will never give up complaining 100%; I genuinely think that would be impossible. One reason I complain is for the entertainment value or simply to get what I want in the moment. Occasionally a little obnoxious verbiage is fun, and over-dramatizing topics once in a while makes a story even better! Overall, the clarity this book brought to me was the awareness of the constant, useless, serves-no-purpose, out-loud complaints, that none of us should waste our time on. Here are some examples of common complaints that I still catch myself saying:
I have a headache
I have too much work
I hate the gym
Why can’t people do shit right
My cat is annoying
This remote never works for me
I’m cold/ hot
I hate this song
This driver is a maniac
I don’t want to cook
I feel fat
I so need a diet
I can’t think
My day was awful
My hair is a fro
This show is stupid
My Internet is too slow
Damn cell phone
This line at this grocery store horrible
Why is everything so expensive
My knees hurt
I hate adulting
This useless out-loud chatter gives off bad vibes and creates negative energy. If any of you have read this book, or have seen Will Bowen (author) speak, then you know that the goal is to wear a purple bracelet or rubber-band around your wrist and every time you complain you have to switch the bracelet to the other wrist. I tried this forever ago and the first day I got a bruise from swapping the bracelet so much. The goal is to go 21 days without complaining. This is a goal I never achieved but still strive to. It’s because of this book, I remain very aware of my words and the commentary around me. Making the shift to be more positive is difficult. Simply becoming more present to it is a step in the right direction. Now, I often catch myself apologizing to people in earshot of my wasteful negative words.
One of my favorite quotes: “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain. —MAYA ANGELOU”
Everyone should read this book. Ending negative chatter feels nice and creates a quiet space in your mind to think of words that have good intent. In the quiet moments you can analyze and replace your almost shared bad thoughts with more pleasant ones. Take the challenge and stop being a Debbie Downer today! The goal of this little book is to have a complaint free world. What a wonderful mission! 5/5 stars for me. More details can be found here.
The holidays are challenging. It’s my favorite time of year, yet the most difficult. I love parties, visiting with friends and family, sharing gifts, and creating memories. Additionally, I like to enjoy all the food and beverages that come with these moments. The sluggish, lethargic feeling of fatness that is the result of Halloween through New Years really weighs on me. Literally, weight on me! I never seem to get through a holiday without packing on pounds and losing my cardio strength.
Many people struggle during this time. The holidays are like an annual free pass to get extra chubby and say, “Fuck it, I’ll wear all my fat clothes for two months!” My rolls may spill over my jeans but they button so that’s a plus! My boobs may form a tri-tit in the front center of my bra but at least it still wraps around my back. Wearing yoga pants and sweaters seems OK during this feasting season. The average American gains about ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. You would think after ten months of eating right and exercising regularly that a two month splurge wouldn’t be so hazardous to my health. Turns out everything good is bad and the holidays remind me of this again and again.
Now that the holiday madness is in full swing, in my head I am thrilled to start a New Year. I look forward to filling up my schedule with fun plans and setting goals to get organized and start fresh. The energy I have to do things from day one of a new year is amazing. I tell myself that no matter how lazy I am during the holidays, I will get focused come January 1st; however, until January 1st, I sit here feeling fat daily. I want nothing more than to drink a bottle of wine, eat some apple pie with ice cream, and watch movies while cuddling under a blanket near the fire. Sorry not sorry.
Despite my anger towards these eight weeks of laziness, I find a lot of comfort in the delicious homemade foods, fancy cocktails, yummy desserts, and endless treats. This comfort continually blinds me to the fact that every bite I take will add another dimple on my behind and another roll on my waste. In the moment while eating, I don’t consider how hard it will be to fit in my denim, or how many miles I will have to run to burn off the additional muffin top; I focus solely on how many lazy, comfort food, cuddle days I can spend indoors, stuffing my face, while lounging in my pajamas. The reality will hit me the Monday after all the holidays are over and I have to go back to work. That day is brutal.
Soon I will say farewell to the pecan pie and hello to the chicken salad! Until then, all I can do is embrace my holiday curves. Next year I should start my November off ten pounds under my usual weight so I can eat the foods I love and not feel like such a failure. I’m officially getting too old for this shit!
Happy Holidays! Good luck with your holiday pounds.
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 your 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…
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!