Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Ride

The siren screams. You are on a gurney. In an ambulance. 
The light brightens the road and your journey begins. 
The road is a bumpy one and you think to yourself, “Why am I here? I’m just dealing with fogginess, lightheadedness and low oxygen.” 
The ambulance comes to a slow stop. 
The sirens stop. 
The small talk with the EMTs stop.

The sun hits your skin as they set you down.
The warmth turns to cold though as you are wheeled inside.
A set of large metal doors swing out and open as to give you a big hug hello.
You just wanna say goodbye. 
The low hum of activity you saw outside is now a whirlwind of controlled chaos inside.
Your welcome to the cancer center’s urgent care center.

You are surrounded by dozens of people… but you are alone.
Your phone is your connection to your friends outside.
They distract you... as you wait… in a hallway… on a gurney.
The smell of sickness is around you.
A woman’s puke as she vomits for 10 minutes. 
The sound of sickness engulfs you. A woman pounds on the wall and wails, “Please help! Someone help! I’m in pain. I can’t do this anymore.” 

You take a deep breath and thank God you are not in any pain. 
You are not suffering like they are. 
You sprinkle some positivity and a prayer their way…as you wait.
“This is awful,” you text a friend.
Your back pain starts to act up… as you wait.
Time passes but a doctor finally comes.
You are being admitted. 
“Shit. Why??”
“Oh no!”
“Ughhhhh you poor thing.”
“You’re there and in good hands.”
Real responses to your real problem. Support of friends as you begin a new leg of your journey.
It’s support that’s been trickling in from the few people you have told.
Now… colleagues at work know… as you aren’t coming in in the morning.
You finally call your parents and tell them where you are. 
You had been struggling whether to call them and decided to wait till you had an answer.
“Should we come? We can fly in,” they ask with concern.
“No. It’s just tests. I’m okay. It’s not a blood clot. It’s just tests,” you respond.
You hang up and look up to a familiar face… as you wait. 
Your friend walks in with much needed familiarity and food.
Now, you both wait.
You are moved into a room. She follows. It’s nearly midnight. 
After a couple hours pass she leaves. You are thankful for the visit. 
The doors close behind her and you settle in. 
“Well, at least you have central air here,” you think to yourself.
You hear the beeping of monitors. 
You see shadows through the darkened door windows and you put to rest this day.

24 hours later you emerge with no answers to your symptoms but with relief that it is not cancer. 
It is not something serious. 
It is not a blood clot. 
What it is… time will tell. More tests will tell… hopefully.

You leave the coldness of the air conditioned hospital and feel the wind hit your skin as two doors glide open. 
They are the front doors of the hospital. 
You are grateful to walk out of them.
You know others have not and cannot. 
You wait... this time for a car.
A car finally picks you up and takes you home. 
You shower off the last 24 hours and curl up into bed. 
Your own bed.
It’s 8pm on Friday. You close your eyes. 
You hear the ice cream truck and people playing on the street. 
You hear the hum of your air conditioning and not the hum of nurses outside your door. You put to rest this day… ready for the next.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Screw Perfect

Definition of perfect
a : being entirely without fault or defect :flawless

Perfection and being perfect. What is “perfect?” Everyone is always looking for the perfect job, perfect soul-mate or working towards a perfect body. The idea of perfection… is it hindering us? Is “perfect” even possible? The idea of what is perfect is different for everyone.

Is there really a "perfect" job out there? I think there are perfect jobs for each of our skills and personalities, but that the job itself is not perfect. 

For years I’ve been on a journey to find the “perfect” guy. Nope. He doesn’t exist. Plus, why would you want a perfect partner? Wouldn’t that be boring. We all have flaws. They are what makes us grow … they are part of our history and they make us stronger. 

Our bodies are strong. With Summer around the corner the obsession to get that “perfect” beach body is on many minds. I encourage you to work towards body confidence and the body that makes YOU feel good. There are a million things that make up who you are that have nothing to do with your appearance and weight. Screw perfect! You are already perfect to someone else. Work towards a better you. A better job. A better life. Not a perfect one. Screw perfect. I mean, even a flawless diamond can get dirty and crack. It’s still beautiful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Talk With My 12-Year-Old Self

“Sometimes I wish I would wake up slightly different. My hair would be nicer. I would be skinnier. I wouldn’t be lazy, not yell for stupid reasons, not be as shy, look prettier. Tomorrow I am winning back 1st chair and standing up straight too.” That's what I wrote in my diary on April 3rd 1990. I was 12-years-old. 

If I was my 42-year-old self talking to my 12-year-old self this is what would happen. I’d sit my younger self down in her blue velvet chair in her bedroom with the Michael Jackson pillow on it and say...

“Jess. Why are you so critical of yourself? Cut yourself some slack girl! That’s good you recognize you are yelling for stupid reasons, but you are not that shy. You may be shy around boys but you are an outgoing girl. Don’t be afraid to come out of your shell in those shy moments. It won’t break. 

It’s also okay to wake up, “not grumpy and perky and happy.” You wrote that too. It’s how you deal with those feelings that matter, Jess. Make a list in the morning of what your grateful for and what you have going on that day to look forward to. Do that when you feel down. When you are done with that go to the bathroom mirror. Look in that mirror and say, “You are loved. You are unique. You are amazing.” Speaking of which…

You may not be part of the “in” crowd but you have an amazing small group of friends. You will be grateful for that when you're an adult and they're still some of your closest friends! 

Also, Jess. You are not lazy. Oy vey! You hustle girl! You're in Swing Choir, band, cheerleading and have your own “alley tour” company. The tour is an imaginative and entrepreneurial venture! Many entrepreneurs are successful business people today. Go you for being ahead of the times. Also, it’s OK to have lazy days. It’s okay to take time for you.

Your hair. Embrace the curls! Yes, I see you rolling your eyes… BUT yes! Embrace the frizz. I know you wish you had the long straight hair with the high bangs. What curly-haired girl in the 90s doesn't. BUT your curls make you you. Why do you want to look like everyone else?! Be you! Trust me. Everyone wants your curly locks. You won't believe what your hair looks like today. It’s pretty cool… and curly.

As for being skinnier. (Now I’m rolling my eyes at myself) You have a great body! Despite me saying that I know you don't, and won't, believe it. I’m sorry to say that as you get older your body image issues continue. I don’t think social media (which you have no clue what that is yet) helps. I do want you to know that you ARE beautiful. You will have days that you struggle and feel your body is not “perfect.” What IS perfect anyway? The idea of what is perfect is different for every person on this planet. So really, is perfection even something to aspire to? Be YOU! God created your body for YOU! Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is traveling their own paths in their own bodies. Embrace the skin that you are in. Remember, your body got you to where you are. It has carried you through rough times. Appreciate your home and take care of it. 

You do you, Jess. You are Be-YOU-tiful." 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Me vs The Man: The Rapid Fire of Words

It’s about to be a new week. A new day. Nobody wakes up thinking…
“Today I’m going to be diagnosed with cancer.” 
“Today I’m going to be shot.”
“Today somebody is going to make me feel like crap.” 

No. We wake up with hope. 
We wake up with hope for a day full of success and not failure. 
A day filled with love and not hate. 
A day filled with more good news than bad news.

News is something that’s embedded into our daily lives. News is on our phones, it’s on our televisions and on our tablets. We all know that journalism is something that is full of good and bad news. I go to work knowing I will likely help cover stories that are often sad and tragic. Friends consistently text, “How can you sit there and watch that all day? How do you cover these stories daily?” Someone has to. They’re often the stories that people don’t want to listen to but need to be to heard in order for there to be change. 

It’s a topic I got into Friday with a stranger who knew I was a journalist. He said he recognized me from Twitter and that he knew I worked for “the network” (which the way he said it made it feel like I was part of some secret society out to hurt people). He started yelling at me about how we need to protect our youth from the “evil” being reported on tv. Don’t ask me why he was yelling. Maybe he thought I couldn’t hear him over the rain. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take my earbuds out to directly acknowledge his rant. He continued his rapid fire of words on how school shootings, etc should stop being covered by the media. He continued this one-sided debate as we waited for the bus… in the rain…with our umbrellas shielding us from the elements. I was not amused.

I had just finished a long workweek and was headed to an MRI. I was not in a mood to be lectured about how “news sucks” and that journalists need to do more to “protect” people. I wanted my umbrella to protect me from more than the rain. I wanted the umbrella to protect me from his words too! I am not a big debater. I like to tell stories. I like to make a point now and then on topics and issues that are important to me…but I am not one who thrives on debating with a stranger. I’d rather put words into action and help make the change that’s needed. So, my action was to turn to this guy and sternly say, “Protect people from what? From reality?! From the fact that 17 people were killed in a school and that there needs to be more gun control?! That three officers were shot and killed this week in just two states?! That, yet another child died of the flu? Sir. I’m sorry the news upsets you, but I’m not sorry for reporting it." The man just stared at me. The bus came. We put our umbrellas down and boarded the bus… in silence.

Silence is what I needed in that moment, but it’s not what this nation needs now. The United States isn't just about you and me. It’s about US. I think it’s important to think about things that you haven’t personally experienced and things that haven’t directly effected you because in some way or another they have. They will. They do. These are the stories being told in newscasts in cities around the country.

Don’t turn off the news. Don’t put down your tablets and newspapers. Don’t stop educating yourself just because you don’t like what you are seeing. It’s the world WE live in. It’s a world WE can change. It’s a world WE have a voice in…just remember to use your voice responsibly and educate yourself.

I was educated Friday in a life-lesson I needed reminding of. Umbrellas shield us but don’t protect us from the elements entirely. If we were protected from everything we wouldn’t know right from wrong. We wouldn’t know what changes needed to be made in the world, within our country, within ourselves. Sometimes it’s okay to put away that umbrella and let the rain hit you.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Make Your Own Magic (Part 2)

Be the reason someone smiles today! That's my Birthday wish! It’s for you to do something to make someone smile, feel good about themselves, or make a difference.

You know I'm all about kindness, giving and compassion. It’s something we all can use a little bit more of on a daily basis…especially now. Yesterday, I wrote about creating your own magic. There’s magic happening everyday, but we don’t always take the time to recognize it. It doesn’t have to be just the sweet, sticky kind of magic. It could be the magic full of passion and hope that brings change.

Hope. Hope is one of my favorite words. So as I celebrate my Birthday, my hope is that you’ll take a moment to make someone smile. Make a difference. 
Share your magic. Share the magic that only you have the power to sprinkle about. THEN… sprinkle it on Twitter by re-tweeting this and using the hashtag #MakingMagic.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Make Your Own Magic

Good morning! It’s a new day. A blank slate. A new beginning!
What will you do with your blank slate?
Will you scowl at the man mumbling something over and over…
Or will you give him a welcoming look that makes him smile and chuckle like he just uncovered a four-leaf clover.
A four-leaf clover.
Something you’d likely linger over.
It’s said it represents hope, faith and luck.
So when a moment wreaks havoc, you feel stuck in a rut or run across a schmuck…

You shouldn't wait for other people to make special things happen. You have to create your own magic. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Gift of You

Good morning! Merry Christmas Eve to all of you celebrating! I don’t celebrate Christmas but I do celebrate the gift of another year. Today begins the final week of 2017. Can you believe it!? I can’t! 2017 went way too fast… just like this holiday season. As I wipe the sleep away from my eyes and brew some coffee, the cold brisk air coming in from outside has me thinking and reflecting. 

2017 was a year of adjustment for me. I wrapped up my major cancer treatments in August. Adjusting to life after cancer has been, and continues to be, a journey. “Some days you wake up and feel amazing. Other days you wake up and don’t know if you ever felt okay in the first place. That’s okay! You’re in recovery,” one friend said. Everyday, I remember that simply waking up is a gift. A young woman I know isn’t waking up today. She lost her fight against cancer last week. Her emotional memorial service was yesterday. She spread light, hope and faith. She was one of the people who inspired and cheered me on during my fight. She was a gift. 

We are all gifts. Your family is a gift to you. You are a gift to them. As you unwrap presents remember that the biggest gift is you and what you put out into this world. If you are struggling…remember you are a gift from God. You are not alone. You matter. What you do matters. The kind of energy you radiate into the universe matters. Your actions on social media … on the street … in person...everyday… matter. You matter to those blessed to have you in their lives. Why? You are a gift that cannot be duplicated. 

Happy Holidays to you all!