Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Come Back To What You Need

As most of you know, last week myself and my family were dealing with the news that one of the spots in my dad's brain showed significant growth. We found out late Tuesday afternoon. Over the next few days, all of us pondered what direction this would go. We really only had two options: steroids or surgery. Steroids once through my dad into a psychosis, and not one of us ever want to deal with that again. He's also already had two brain surgeries- how many brain surgeries can a man have?

Apparently, three. Or more, maybe. Because on May 6th, my dad will have his third brain surgery to remove yet another growth. The neurosurgeon says the spot is an easy one, and that the surgery should be a breeze. So that's a relief. Kind of.

It's still brain surgery. It's still his THIRD brain surgery.

It's yet another "roadblock". It's another unpredictable next step. And it's scary.

While we were dealing with that news, and with decision making, I was having one of my busiest weeks at work. It was a good busy- a lot of exciting things were accomplished and I was able to build on some really strong relationships to set me up for some success later down the road. But it was pretty hard to enjoy all of that while worrying about my dad, and my mom, and being mad at cancer and scared and annoyed AND trying to "stay positive" because Lord knows that's what everyone would tell me to do.

One more layer to add so that you can get an idea of how my brain was feeling by the end of the week: I'm also moving in a month. Moving can be stressful on anyone. But my move is a big change. Tom and I are going to be living together. Trust me, he and I are both incredibly excited and giddy over this, but we're also both scared. Neither of us have lived with a significant other before, and personally I never thought I would live with someone until I married them. But, somehow, our course has led us here, to this next step. And if you know me at all, you know I'm scared of next steps. Any next step. Anything that is unknown or new to me, terrifies me.

So it's no surprise to me that over the weekend, I slept... a lot. My entire body was feeling the exhaustion. I slept in, let the couch consume me, and went to bed before the sun was down. I needed sleep. Or maybe, I needed to shut down my brain. Either way, I slept a lot.

On Sunday evening, I took a walk. I was feeling completely overwhelmed with the thought of starting a new week (yet another busy week at that). I was wanting the weekend to go on forever.

At some point during my walk, "This Love" by Taylor Swift started playing. I love some T Swift, and that song, but for whatever reason, hearing it on Sunday night just brought out a lot of emotion in me. The calm, whimsical melody brought out a peace in me. Something about it reminded me that I am right where I need to be, and that although times are stressful and unknown and chaotic, it's all going to be okay. I don't really know HOW I got that message, it's not exactly the message of the song, but in that moment, that is how I interpreted it, and that is what brought me peace.

The song says that she let a love go, and then it came back to her. I guess somehow I related this to my relationship with God. Sometimes I run away from God, or put up a wall, or lose trust in God. But God always comes back. That trust comes back.

I'm sharing my story with you because I know there are people out there who are feeling chaotic, messy, scared, and maybe hopeless. But let me remind you that you are where you are meant to be, life is happening as it should, and you are not acting alone. God is by your side.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thanks For the Memories

I fully admit to having a slight addiction to social media. I love to see what my friends are posting, to keep up with the news and celebrities in such a quick, efficient way. Social Media has made it so much easier for us to connect- even if it's through a screen.

I'm also very nostalgic person. I celebrate really silly anniversaries, I remember dates well, I look through old cards and letters often. So you can imagine, then, that I am a big fan of the Timehop app, as well as the Facebook Memories feature. Those are the first two things I check in the morning. I love to see what I was doing a year ago. I smile as I scroll past the pictures and the tweets and the funny conversations.

But sometimes, those apps can leave me in a funk. It reminds me of people who have passed away, of darker times in my life, and of friends whom I no longer speak to. Usually, I can take the attitude of "yes, that was hard, but look! you got through it!". Other times, though, it just makes me feel sad. I start to dissect what went wrong, and then I start to blame things on myself. It's not the healthiest attitude.

I also can't help but wonder if the people in those memories are reading the same thing I am. And if they are, what are they thinking? Are they sad our friendship ended? Do they have negative feelings towards me? Are they wondering about me? Are they wondering if I am wondering about them? I have, at times, thought about reaching out to those people. But I always hang back. I tell myself that the friendship ended for a reason.  That may sound harsh, but trust me, in some cases, it's best to appreciate what we had at the time and let it go at that. But there are the others who I certainly could reach out to. They were and still are good people.  And I easily can reach out, with social media. But I don't. Why is that? Maybe I'm afraid of what they will say...or what they won't say. I'm really not sure what holds me back.

This post is not insightful by any means, and I'm not here to offer and solutions or advice. It's simply been on my mind, and I thought others could relate. These apps, like most things in life, have two sides.

What are your thoughts on apps like Timehop and the Facebook Memories?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Self Care

For the longest time, I associated the term "self care" with basic health and wellness needs. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, etc. But over the last year or so, I have come to realize that self care is so much more than that.

Yes, all of the things I mentioned up above are important. As I've stressed several times on my own health journey, I really don't believe you can be helpful to yourself or anyone else unless you are feeling your best self.

But my point today is that it's not all about eating vegetables and getting sleep. It's about knowing your mind and your body well enough to know what you need at any given moment, and then acting on that need. It could be as small as getting up from your desk to walk a few laps around the office when you are starting to get a headache from your work. It could be treating yourself to a yoga class. It could be just sitting at your kitchen table, listening to music. The point is, it's whatever will get you through. It's whatever helps you take another step in life, or jump over another hurdle. We cannot expect to succeed if we do not take care of ourselves whole heartedly. We can't leave ourselves behind, we're stuck with who we are- so we need to embrace that person and treat them like the beautiful soul that they are.

If you had a friend or a family member that wasn't taking care of themselves, you would say something, wouldn't you? Most of us would. We would express our concerns. So we need to do that very same thing for our own selves. When you are starting to feel run down, or beat up, ask yourself "what do I need in this moment?".

Eventually, with practice, that will become second nature. You will start to put yourself first. Not in a selfish way. You will just start to know what you need to keep on keeping on. But even the most experienced self-carers (totally not a word) slip up, get lost in the chaos and forget. That's okay. It just takes a few moments to get back into that mindset.

There are thousands of articles on the Internet that tell you how to practice self care. They have some good tips, but I say---- self care is what you want it to be. There's no checklist or how to guide. It could be something different every time! That's where listening is key. You'll be surprised at what your own self might be telling you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

American Idol Performances.

Okay, so call me a nerd if you want, but over the last few days I have been desperately trying to compile a list of my all time favorite Idol performances and IT. IS. SO. HARD. I mean, we have 15 years worth of performances here. So instead of making a traditional countdown list (which you can pretty much find on any Entertainment Blog right now), I've broken mine into categories.


Yes, over the years there have been a few auditions that grabbed me right from the start. Here are a few of my favorites:

Melinda Doolittle, For Once In My Life

Elliot Yamin, A Song For You

Casey Abrams, I Don't Need No Doctor

Jax, I Want To Hold Your Hand

And... of course....The Queen Bee. 

Hollywood Week

Frenchie Davis and Kimberly Locke, Band of Gold

Blake Lewis, Rudy Cardenas, Chris Sligh, and Thomas Lowe, “How Deep Is Your Love” (season 6)

Kris Allen, Matt Giraud, India Morrision and Justin Williams (Season 8) I Want You Back

Deandre, Candice, and Jessica (Season 11) It Doesn't Matter Anymore


This is a theme that has been done again and again on Idol. Here are some of my favorites:

David Cook, Eleanor Rigby (Season 7)

Carly Smithson, Blackbird (Season 7)

David Archuleta, Imagine (Season 7)

Casey Abrams, With A Little Help From My Friends (Season 10)

Syesha Mercado, Yesterday (season 7)

La Porsha, Come Together (Season 15)

Brought Tears To My Eyes
Melinda Doolittle, Home (Season 6) 

Jason Castro, Hallelujah (Season 7)

Jordin Sparks, I Who Have Nothing (Season 6)

Adam Lambert, Mad World (Season 8)

Candice Glover, LoveSong

Made Me Jump Up and Scream "YAAAAAAAAAS"

Josh Ledet, Man's World (Season 11)

Kelly Clarkson, Natural Woman (Season 1) 

Jennifer Hudson, Circle of Life (Season 3)

Quentin, I Put A Spell On You (Season 14)

Girls Who Rock

Crystal Bowersox, Me and Bobby McGee (Season 9)

Allison Iraheta, Cry Baby (Season 8) 

Haley Reinhart, Bennie and the Jets (Season 10)

Elise Testone, Whole Lotta Love (Season 11)

Made It Their Own

Blake Lewis, You Give Love A Bad Name (Season 6)

Kris Allen, Heartless (Season 8) 

Joey Cook, Miss Independent (Season 14)

David Cook, Billie Jean (Season 7)


Crystal and Lee, Falling Slowly (Season 9)

Michael Johns and Carly Smithson, The Letter (Season 7)

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams, Moanin (season 10)

Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta, Slow Ride (Season 8)

And now, the performance that really hooked me in, made me start seriously following Idol and do all the crazy things like join fan clubs and follow the tour.

Melinda Doolittle, There Will Come A Day

That's a wrap.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Long Live All The Walls We Crashed Through

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was in an "Introduction to Acting Class".  In our very first week, we practiced with some improve. My classmate, Mollie, stood on our little stage and talked about American Idol. Specifically, she shared that her cat would hear the theme music to American Idol and run to the TV. She then shared that her cat seemed particularly fond of Kelly Clarkson.


But in all seriousness, as I sat and listened to Mollie tell her story, I felt a sense of relief. Someone else watched American Idol. I had been following it all season, and Kelly was my favorite too. Even if Mollie was just sharing a story about her cat, I didn't feel so alone in my admiration for the show and for Kelly.

I think that's the biggest gift American Idol has given me- the feeling that I am not alone. Over the years, I've had many moments like that one I had in my Intro to Acting class. It happened when I hear Melinda Doolittle sing, when I met Sam and realized that she, too had a love for American Idol. It happened when I found the Backups through a google search, it happened when Sam and I met Brenna outside a venue. It happened when we kept crossing paths with Julie and Kristen and Desi and everyone else. It's happened when I've met some of the contestants, when I've heard their original music or when I'm in a packed concert venue.

More often than not, I am made fun of for liking this show so much. "But no one has really DONE anything...besides Kelly or Carrie"...people say.

The people who say that are wrong. The people who have been on that show, whether they were 10th place or a winner, have done something. Maybe they aren't superstars, but most of them are doing just what they love to do: they are making music and performing live shows. Had it not been for American Idol, they may not be able to do that.

But perhaps more importantly, they are touching lives. They are making people like me feel not so alone. If you ask me, that's far more impressive than creating hits or winning awards.

I've loved American Idol for 15 years. Aside from my family, and two life long friends, that's the longest I've ever loved anything or anyone. This week, we are saying goodbye as it ends it's final season. I am not just saying goodbye to a cheesy reality tv show. I am embracing 15 years of memories, friendship, blessings...and music. And yes, I know that the memories will live on. I just can't believe the platform that started it all for me is going to disappear.

I am sad, but I am extremely grateful that Idol has brought me so many friends that I can continue to share memories with. To my "Idol Pals", (you know who you are), thank you for embracing me, and for being part of my story...but mostly, thank you for helping me feel that I am not alone.