Tag Archives: Health

#TRUTHday

8 Sep

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I want to scream at someone, something, my computer, myself, the construction workers across the street who start banging at 7am… anyone really. But what will that solve? Nada. TOO MUCH BAD NEWS lately.

It’s as if there’s a spotlight over the coterie of people I know, and things. just. keephappening. What are my escape route options here? I can shut myself off of social media, but I long to be informed (especially while I am out on maternity leave watching the adult world go by). I can pretend it doesn’t matter, which will get me nowhere, as I suffer trying to make sense of things regardless of what I profess. I can and (likely will anyway) give myself a thousand justifications as to why these things are happening; complete with telling myself to ‘just live in the moment, be grateful, slow down, practice gratitude’ blah blah blah… but I’m over it. As the wise have said, “it is both a blessing and a curse to feeling everything so very deeply.”

So back to trying to process the static of death, infertility, heart defects, brain aneurysms, cancer diagnoses, money woes, professional stagnation etc. etc.  I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m drowning. I want to help everyone. I want to say the perfect thing, bring solace to those who need it, be the funny one who appropriately changes the subject, bring the laughs, wipe the tears, lighten the mood and provide emotional shelter. Did you get all of that? Help me. Help everyone. Whatever you believe in, whomever you call out to for salvation, ask for a reprieve. Things are too heavy lately, so shout it out, send the love, light, prayers and energy filled with hope and positivity to each other and let’s break this cycle.

The truth is bad news, pain, grief and sickness live next door. It’s never an if, it’s a when, and then it’s a how do you process it, and keep moving forward. That’s the fine line. Maybe our current social connectivity has created a false universe where we all believe we are ONLY what we share. We’ve been privy to ‘staged truth’ for too long, and it’s placed us on a fragile pedestal with a cracking foundation. As I’ve said 1000+ times, perception is not reality. Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics, and use our overly connected social space as a resource center, and not simply a show and tell. We can’t help each other if we only know one beautifully staged and photographed side.

Oh, you’re having a hard time in your marriage? Oh, you’re worried your kid is autistic, behind or socially awkward? Oh, you know the ins and outs of metal illness, cancer, eating disorders, fertility treatments and/or fill in the blank? If you speak it, people will come. We all want to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. The ‘fitting in’ clause doesn’t phase out after high school. There’s comfort in knowing someone else out there has been where you’re now standing, and can offer some advice or lend a hand.

I had a miscarriage before Stella and Wren. When I blogged about it, I had an outpouring of support from my own friends and family whom I otherwise would never have known had a similar and shared experience. They said, ‘thanks for talking about it. You gave us a window to tell our story.’ That’s a social win. That’s #TRUTHday personified.

In a social space filled with challenges to dump ice, donate and rally around the less fortunate, I challenge the everyday individual to put the device down, and spend a little more time living rather than creative directing. Store the snapshots in your head. Don’t leave things unsaid IN PERSON to those who matter. Get home and unplug yourself. Sit at dinner and enjoy the conversation sans selfies and food snaps. Don’t be so quick to move on to the next thing. Sit in the moment. Take a deep breath. Realize this time, this snapshot of your life, will never happen again. Own it and absorb how lucky we are to be here.

Vintage anything is better in my opinion. So if we have to call detaching ourselves from the ‘information matrix’ a vintage approach to re-connecting on a cellular, person-to-person level, then so be it. We’re information rich, yet relationship poor. So let’s do something about it. Let’s make #TRUTHday a permanent movement. An anomaly in that it’s a step back to where we used to be, and a step forward to making it the norm again.

Luella Says… new hashtag movement starts now. #TRUTHday.

truthdayLet’s lift the veil and share our experiences for what they are. A check and balance if you will, of showing life the way it is; complete with blemishes, stains and frayed edges. Let’s really talk to each other. Be truthful, and know not every day is picture perfect. We might actually surprise ourselves with how big our villages become.

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Epilogue.

1 Aug

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It’s a Tuesday and I’m in a dress and my running shoes. More specifically, I’m un-showered after a 4-mile run, but undressed and redressed to address my need for quick breastfeeding access. (You got all that, there will be a test later.) I’m sitting at my computer trying to eek out an hour of creative flow time while Stella is at her ‘one day a week’ daycare and Wren cries and wiggles out of her swaddle for the 100th time. ‘Why aren’t you napping? You grow when you nap, if you want to start talking and running (because that’s definitely next) shut your eyes and buy your ticket to dreamland. Mama needs 5 minutes. (Actually more in the day to week range but who needs the truth).’ I hate this post even before I write it because it means one of my favorite ladies is no longer strolling the earth, championing Jazzercise and keeping Bartles & Jaymes in business. Shirl you were you, every day, simply put and we were all better people to know you. You also gave birth to one of my favorite people so there’s that too. I love you and hope you know, wherever you are, (I guess you’re everywhere now) that you made a lasting impression.  The sky has officially gained a star. #ShirleyStrong

I can’t say I’ve been privy to a lot of tragedy. I’ve had a steady flow of anti-luck, are you kidding me, yep that just happened, deep disappointments, important people vacating without reason and 2nd places, but in the end it doesn’t come close to the pain of losing someone you love and need desperately to stick around. Sometimes it’s hard to relate to those who are going through it. There is a natural division of those who understand and those who are waiting to. As a Mom, now somehow caught up in FB groups and mom circles that detail every horror known to man, the world seems and is I guess, so much more fragile. The transparency trap of wanting to know, wanting to be prepared has become less attractive than the ‘ignorance is bliss’ ilk that was the standard for so many generations before us who didn’t or couldn’t connect with every single person in the world. (I mean where was secondary drowning and hand foot & mouth disease when we were growing up???) They say after you have kids, you know what’s it’s like to have your heart walk around outside your body, and that is precisely how it feels. I think (and secretly hope) it goes both ways though. As a parent, I hope my girls will forever rely on me as a barometer for direction and advice. Remember me when they’ve done something they shouldn’t, but need help navigating out of. My Mom did that for me and both of Shirl’s girls still need her in their 30’s so that is a parenting victory to be celebrated. (Tangent/sidebar – I hope I gather a couple of those. These terrible twos are seriously terrible. If I have to tell myself to pull it together, she’s 2 one more time…)

As a bona fide fixer, it’s difficult to grasp the finality of death. What do you mean that’s it?! It’s annoyingly selfish. It makes the world feel like a shallow pool we’re all just breast stroking through for 2 minutes. She had so much left to do. She was the life of the party and always a perfect person to drink a glass of something with. Truthfully I’m filled with emotions I can’t articulate. I think of her, I think of my best friend, I think of how much of Shirl is tied into my own childhood, and then I get pissed that life has moved on, and the reality of time has taken hold. How did we already get to the last chapter, we were just in the middle of the storyline a year ago?!

The only thing I can think of to make it a little more palatable, is to live happy. Amidst bs, traffic, bad news, fights, lost friendships, toddlers, financial struggles,  __________ etc. etc. We must all live happy. Some days will be easier than others, but it’s up to all of us to dig in, find it, celebrate it and then rinse and repeat. Shirl did and so maybe the silver lining is the constant reminder that it’s the only way, no excuses. As the ever-wise Rumi said, “Look past your own thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment.” Sure that was the 13th century, but it’s transcendent so get on board.

Luella Says, I pledge to live #100HappyDays,

 

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Who wants to join me? www.100happydays.com

 

 

Gray.

7 Sep

Having a baby changed my life. (bet you never heard those words uttered before.) The irony is it’s totally true. I hate clichés in prose and in life and although there are different interpretations and some experiences are easier than others; the baseline remains constant. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do…period. Every inch, every second spent since June 9th has changed me into a different human being. The world’s brighter, experiences feel richer, emotions run deeper (if that’s even possible for me) and I’ve made it out of the fray and lived to tell this tale to you.

The first couple weeks were so difficult, it’s almost hard to discuss. It sucked in short and even though I love Stella more than I could ever imagine possible, I felt so unprepared and unqualified. I kept looking for a time out button somewhere to just take a 2 minute break but alas this person I worked so hard to get was here, my number was called and I was out on the field indefinitely. Overwhelming simply doesn’t cover it. I felt blue, exhausted, awkward, ugly and not able to live in the moment. Who was I, what had I become? I kept thinking “but the books and the people I talked to used words like amazing, blissful, simple and easy when it’s yours.” My expectations were so far off it’s not even worth detailing. Each day felt like a year and the nagging feeling of failure was a constant companion. I had met my match, motherhood was here and I wasn’t sure it was for me. But then I woke up one day around 3 – 4 weeks in and felt better; albeit the leap was small and low to the ground but it was progress. Miraculously the proverbial light appeared. She cried less that day, small victories were attained and dare I say, I began to get the hang of it.

Which brings me to my long-winded point. Life can be spent living in the notion of black and white, good or bad, 1 or 100 but there is a middle; a gray area if you will, that exists and boasts good weather and yummy cocktails. As of late, I am allowing myself to visit this area more often. To be a constant work in progress, to not have all the answers, the control, the perfection is not only ok, it’s necessary. Up to this point, I always told myself, don’t let anything you do define you. Keep reaching, never settle, always give 500%, think out of the box, practice first in, last out and follow your shot. Now I’ve embarked on something I want to be known for. A great wife and a “show and tell” worthy Mom. The highs and lows are higher and darker than anticipated but the every day is pretty damn amazing. Yep I went there. The word that eluded me for so long in my new world of mommy-hood has landed and been assigned. I get to mold this little human and teach her what I can, while she still wants to listen to me. My husband and I get to watch a mash-up of ourselves navigate the world hopefully with my rhythm and his charisma.

I felt compelled to write this down because in my obsessive googling whilst still pregnant and in the first couple days post partum, if I had stumbled upon this little blog and known there really was someone out there feeling just as I did, potentially the light would’ve appeared sooner. I would’ve been able to handle how awful I was feeling knowing it was fleeting and concretely things were going to get easier. Women lie to each other, everyone puts their best foot forward and perception is hardly often reality. Consider me the attendant behind the customer service desk at Mommy World, telling you I know how you feel and can whole heartedly promise it gets easier and better each day. (keep repeating that to yourself at 2am when they still won’t sleep or stop crying for that matter) I worried about the difference between “baby blues” and post partum depression and desperately hoped this too would pass. If you can get out of bed and don’t feel like harming yourself or your child, most likely it’s the former. Be diligent about chatting with your OB about it regardless but eventually it leaves the building. It did for me and now I can share some pearls I gathered with you.

First Month Musts:

1. Wake up and shower if even for 2 minutes. Bring your baby in the bathroom if you have to but SHOWER to start your day.

2. Get a calendar and cross off each day at the end of it with a big X. For some reason it helps build confidence knowing one more day is in the books, accomplished and done.

3. Watch HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK, the 5 s’s are your friend.

4. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help BUT also spend enough time doing it yourself. If you farm everything out, your only prolonging the rookie period.

5. Have no expectations for anything, your birth plan, your baby, yourself, your partner or your family and friends. People will let you down and you might let yourself down as well. Set the bar on the lowest rung.

6. Know your bump will go down eventually. I’m at 3 months and it’s still around. Each week it gets better.

7. Talk to your spouse, boyfriend, partner or friend about how you’re feeling and be brutally honest. Also chat with your baby about it. I told Stella many times, Mommy is feeling rough today but know I love you and we’ll get through this together.

8. Try to ease back into your old social routine as early as possible. Take them on walks and meet up with friends. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, you have to start somewhere.

9. Go on food adventures. Ralph and I would put Stella in the car and she would scream cry until she fell asleep and we’d go to different food institutions around Los Angeles. We always got it to go and brought it back home to eat but just the excitement of semi doing something social felt like the best, booze filled dinner party ever.

10. Go on multiple walks a day. Even if you make it around the block it’s a victory.

11. Colic is bs, it’s likely acid reflux. Check the infant GERD checklist and if your baby has a lot of the symptoms ask for a prescription of compound PREVACID. It worked wonders for us. I hate medicine and we waited 2 months to give it to her but she was in pain.

12. Stock up on BIO GAIA probiotic drops at Walgreens. They’re expensive but they work so well on their tummies for gas and overall discomfort.

13. You will not feel like this for 18 years. New problems arise just when you figure out answers to the former but nonetheless you’re better, smarter and faster than you were yesterday.

14. Know your baby is going to scream, wail, cry and turn purple. Don’t think this means you have to stay in your house. Get out, it also always seem louder to the parents.

15. Try to keep it light. Babies work off your energy, try not to get too worked up. (self grade: F for me on this point)

16. Burp them like a heartbeat. Pat pat, Pat pat, Pat pat. It works.

17. Set up stations around your house and use those every day to entertain or placate your baby. Do them in different rooms if possible. Station suggestions: Activity Mat, Swing, Mirror, Crib, Mat/blanket on the floor, Pack n Play, Bouncer, Your lap, Lounger, Changing Table cushion.

18. The uglier the better when it comes to mobiles or hanging toys. This one is hard for my design aesthetic but it’s true so embrace it.

19. If you’re breastfeeding start pumping and storing milk right away. I didn’t and playing catch up when they’re eating more is difficult. Use the rule of 2’s. 2 hours at room temp, 2 days in the fridge, 2 months in the freezer.

20. Know it’s normal for your baby to: cough, sneeze (multiple times), grunt, growl, choke while eating, snore, make weird noises in their sleep, drool, chew on their hand and feet, cry when you change or dress them, have crossed eyes.

21. Babies have a crying language and it actually is pretty true for Stella. Neh means I am hungry, Oww means I am tired, Eh Eh means I have a burp, Eairr means gas.

22.Sing, talk and read to them as if they completely understand from the first day you bring them home. Get real close to their face while you’re doing it so they can see your expressions.

23. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, introduce a bottle by 4 weeks. One a day filled with pumped milk is a great way to get them acquainted, allow your husband or someone else to bond through feeding and if you don’t they won’t take one when or if you go back to work.

24. Cry when they cry, sleep when they sleep, laugh when they laugh.

25. Buy the BREST FRIEND and wear it to feed at night. It serves as a shelf and lord knows that helps when you can barely keep your eyes open.

I would love to connect with any of you soon-to-be or new moms. I told myself I would never be a stroller strider or go to parties and only talk about my kids but I get it now. I am one of you, we are all in this together.

This is not a black and white world

To be alive I say that the colours must swirl

And I believe that maybe today

We will all get to appreciate The Beauty of Gray 

LIVE – The Beauty of Gray

Where There is Darkness, There is Light.

11 Jan

Have you ever wanted to stop time and literally spend an entire day in just one moment? Soaking it in, reveling and trying to imprint the details in your life memory bank forever? I have and its been happening a lot lately.

I equate it to getting older, being more aware of mortality, aging, being in love, experiencing loss and learning hard truths and realizing how quickly things can change.I have never been good with change but always seem to be in a constant state of it. Life just simply goes by too fast. There is no formula, surgery, potion or elixir that can change that.

As Chris Pureka says, Time is the Anchor, Change is a Constant.I had an entirely different post planned about fashion and my beloved Green Bay Packers but that will need to wait a day. I awoke this morning to the news that a close friend’s mother and a singer songwriter we love and follow are both facing one of life’s hardest realities; cancer.

I was struck with their honesty and perspective so much so that I felt compelled to share it with you. Here they are, two different people, two different versions their paths anonymously connected by unfortunate news and the courage to carry on.

As we all know, Cancer doesn’t care. It sees no color, gender, age, race or sexual orientation. It is undiscriminating, taxing and incredibly selfish. It is a real life monster under the bed HOWEVER, in the grandest sense possible, there is always hope. Hope breeds positivity and lightness and I think reaches far deeper than any treatment or remedy.The power of positive thinking, love and tenacity goes a long way. As my friend Heather eloquently said 4 years ago when she received her diagnosis, “I am going to kick cancer’s ass, it has messed with the wrong girl.” As we speak, she is pregnant and healthy.I consider this news a reminder of what is important. A re-balancing of my life’s priorities and focus. A necessary nudge to reach out, educate myself and be a lending ear and shoulder for those in my life who might need some extra support.

Read the brave words and perspectives of the affected who have now become warriors in their fight back to healthy.

Luella says…C Stands for Change and Courage.

Our close friend Sandra said,

“My family is about to embark on a challenging journey. It will be up to each person to transform the situation into an opportunity for faith, hope, and happiness. My mom’s cancer is back. It’s in her liver and lungs. Wanted to share this early before it became too overwhelming to share.”

Doris Muramatsu of GIRLY MAN writes,

“One image that keeps circling my mind is of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s an 823 ft hill in the middle of the city, climbable from almost any direction. The views up top are breathtaking, you feel otherworldly and closer to God. It was climbing this hill back in October 2010 when I knew something in me had shifted. I was no longer a healthy person. Perhaps it was the moment when my chromosomes decided to mutate; I’d like to think they’d pick a transcendent experience such as this hike to do so rather than during one of my more earthly chores such as brushing my teeth.  Of course, I don’t even think I was conscious of this shift. All I knew was that my legs felt like cement blocks and my breath huffed double time with every step I took. I had to stop every 2 minutes or so to regain my breath and couldn’t understand why or how so many people could just amble up the hill with such ease. But the sun, making a rare appearance, shone down on JJ and me, and the highland grass shimmered. Something was beckoning me to keep moving forward because to stop would admit defeat. Sure, my legs and ankles swelled daily for seemingly no reason, and sure I was dangerously short of breath. But I couldn’t admit defeat yet.

I finally made it to the top and rejoiced. I felt proud of myself and thoughts of being sick were set aside for one more day. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I were really sick. In retrospect, I can hardly believe that I returned from the UK and immediately played shows in Atlanta and Birmingham, then the next weekend in North Carolina and South Carolina. Then I somehow managed to do a grueling 2 and half week tour in the Northeast, playing a show almost every night and teaching a harmony workshop. And every day I was zonked out in the van, barely able to lift my head, barely able to eat. I’d garner my strength for the show and give my all during those 90 minutes, (though I coughed through a good portion of it) but I felt scarily disconnected from my body. My midriff looked foreign to me, like I was in one of those books where you can flip the top, middle, and bottom portions and create the policeman wearing a pink tutu with ostrich feet. I was the Asian girl with E.T.’s belly wearing tights and cool Fluevogs. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror.

It made me think about what I would want to hear if I were about to make my transition: (for my own sanity, I like to think of death as a gateway into more life, just in a different form) the good memories, fun times, the love and laughter. Because doesn’t it all boil down to the love we share, what we give to each other and what we take in, and being able to see each other through the eyes of Source? (or God if you want to call it that?) That’s the one big thing that I realized the day I was going to receive my diagnosis in that hospital in Jersey. I was freaking out, shaking violently underneath that swath of hospital gown. And underlying that fear was the profound certainty that I wasn’t done with my life–I still wanted more. I realized that music was my absolute calling and how lucky I was to have found Ty, Nate, and JJ. How lucky we were to be able to create together. As I focused on each of them, and then on my parents and my other dearest friends, tears of joy streamed down my face. In that moment, I basically experienced the opposite of fear: love. It instantly lifted me to the grandest, most comforting space I have ever been simply because I was allowing myself to bask in its eternal truth. I was one with the Universe. (I hope I don’t sound crazy!) My mood completely transformed, and I think I even glowed because I was vibrating on such a high level.

Five people in white coats came in just then to give me my diagnosis. (It was the oncologist, the resident, and 3 medical students–I was quite the teaching example.) I shone in a state of grace and acceptance. I was ready.”

Just click here to follow her story on her blog.

Nothing else to say really. Be aware of life’s highs and lows, either way keep learning from your experiences.

Be a work in progress.

Less is Enough.

20 Dec

My husband is a great sport when it comes to allowing me to decorate our home. As you probably know by now, I love Shabby-chic, Victorian era antiques that don’t scream masculinity. Anyway I have been trying to adopt a middle ground lately by getting rid of things we don’t need.

This is not an easy task because our house is trés petite and decor takes on the effect of clutter when it appears displayed on top of itself. Anyway, I am starting to pare down and I am proud to say I am making a bit of headway.I have also been adjusting to life post “dream job.” It has been a hard 5 months of searching, interviewing, interning and consulting, failing, breaking through and everywhere in between. I was very used to having the right answers and or controlling my outcomes to get what I wanted and for a while I took it personally that this was happening to me.

I felt like life was progressing without me and I was stuck back in a fog of what should I do? Who do I want to be now?But like the removal of clutter from our home, I started (inadvertently) reorganizing my head space.  Life isn’t smooth, fair or easy a lot of the time. Taking what you have, continuing to grow and learn through experience and still coming out wanting and trying to be the best version of yourself is the greatest measure of success.

I have grown immensely during this time and vow to re-emerge from the ashes a better wife, friend, sister, daughter, employee and person.My husband passed on this blog post taken from Zen Habits. Please read it and then seek to find what rules work best for your life.

Luella says…Courtney says.

 

Lessons from Less

By: Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.

When I was 16, I wanted more. When I was 24, I wanted even more than that. So, I worked harder, earned more, spent more, to have more, only to owe more. I was exhausted at the end of the day and tired when I woke up most mornings. I ate on the fly, fell behind, ran late and could never catch up. Sound familiar?

I thought everything I was doing was for a better life. I thought what I was doing was normal and right. I had become so used to bills in the mailbox, and feeling rundown, that I didn’t know anything was wrong. So, how did I go from wanting more, more, more to craving less? I would love to tell you that I woke up one morning a changed person, but that’s not the way it went down. Even though I had begun to make small changes, I needed a wake up call … and it had to be really loud.

On July, 7th 2006 I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis. That was my wake up call, and to say it was loud is an understatement. The diagnosis was nothing short of traumatic. I didn’t have enough information to take action. I only knew enough to be really scared. I had so many questions. Could I still ski with my family? Would I be able to help my daughter with homework? Would I even be walking in a year?

No one had the answers to those overwhelming questions, so I had to focus on what was most important: my health and my family. Nothing else mattered. If I had moved forward with these big questions and fearful thinking, my daughter and husband would have been so worried. I realized that if I started thinking differently, so would they. My questions went from, “What is this disease going to do to my body and mind?” to “How am I going to reverse MS?”

The answer to my question was change. Small shifts and big change were necessary to become the best possible version of myself. When I started making changes in my life, I didn’t know that they would lead to minimalism, but they did. In fact, while the changes I made were fighting MS, they were also redefining my whole life. The changes I made are not all essential in the life of a minimalist, but they are all essential to my minimalist lifestyle.

What I did to change my life:

I became a vegetarian. Research shows that MS patients, and people dealing with other autoimmune conditions that eat fewer saturated fats and “inflammatory foods” maintain better health. (I would challenge that this goes for most everyone.) Giving up meat was one of the best ways I could really “do something” about my new diagnosis. I stopped eating meat to achieve better health.

When I started my vegetarian journey, I started reading. I read about raising animals for meat. I read about factory farming. I learned about the impact of our actions on our bodies, animals and the earth. By really opening my eyes and heart to how meat was put on my plate, I lost my appetite for it. I was motivated by health and changed with compassion.

I fell in love with yoga. Practicing Yoga gives me strength, flexibility, focus, peace of mind and freedom from fear. I want to keep my body strong, and my mind calm and focused so I can effectively fight this disease and take care of my family. While I am in search of less, I want to be more sensitive and loving, more adaptive and more resilient. Yoga gives me that, too.

I got rid of my stuff. While I always felt compelled to put something on an empty surface, I have come to love an empty space. It takes living without it to realize how clutter affects your life and takes away from your freedom and creativity. I am reminded of that every time I walk into my kitchen and instead of seeing a cluttered counter, I see sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window. I am still letting go of my stuff and feel lighter everyday.

I decided to live without debt. You may not think that your bank account can affect your health, but considering money can cause great stress, and stress can make you sick, it only makes sense that poor money management equals poor health. My husband and I made the decision to be debt free, and paid off our last debt this summer except for our house. What will we do with our money now that we don’t have any monthly payments? Whatever we want.

I hung up the phone. I do not use my phone when I’m driving anymore. I don’t text at red lights or make calls on the back roads. I can remember too many times where I would arrive at a destination and not remember how I got there because I was so involved in a phone call. Admitting that I had essentially been risking my life and the lives of other drivers wasn’t easy, but it was necessary to make the change and the commitment to be phone free in the car.

Another benefit is that now, when I pick my daughter up from school, she has my full attention. She doesn’t have to compete with business or other phone fueled distractions. I am there for her.

I redefined better. As I mentioned before, all of my bad habits came from wanting something better, something more. In the changes I’ve made, I have redefined what better means to me and my family. The health and happiness of my marriage and family comes before everything else. My husband and I have decided that “more” isn’t the answer for us.

Now at 41, forever changed, and virtually symptom free, I am becoming me. I know I haven’t figured it all out but am content. I don’t make as much as I used to. I didn’t take a big vacation this year or make any big purchases, but there is no doubt that I am happier. Less speaks to me. Less lets me love more deeply and less lets me really be me.

My wake up calls have become more subtle, but because I have the time and space to pay attention, I hear them loud and clear. When I first started to practice doing less and being more, I discovered Zen Habits. It was another wake up call, but it sounded like a whisper, “You can do this. You can change.” It is not a coincidence that Leo Babauta’s story of change changed me. I was ready to listen, ready to change.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that less is enough. Of course, I am still learning, still changing and still a work in progress, but now it is my turn to inspire change with my story.

Use Courtney’s story as a positive wake up call and get your outlook in order as we enter the new year.

No matter how deep the hole feels, there is ALWAYS a way out. Stay positive and believe in yourself.

Put This On.

22 Oct

 

I love the word apothecary. It evokes a sense of history, a time when potions and elixirs were made and sold in local Mom and Pop type stores. So many beauty companies we know and love today started with a chemist in the back of one of those. They no longer exist really and now we have so many beauty and skin care choices it is hard to know where to start.


Let’s start with the basics.

I believe hydration is the single most important factor in anti-aging.

Be aware of parabens and plastics that are in many of the products we like to use. Going green in what you are putting on your largest organ (skin) is so important.

Get in the know here: GREEN BEAUTY GUIDE

It doesn’t have to be super fancy or expensive to work. You just need to remain diligent in your application and be wary of too much sun, cigarettes and not drinking enough plain water.

Below are products that have been tried and tested on both my husband and myself long before I  knew I would be discussing it in a blog. They are the best of MANY go rounds. They are easy to find and almost completely Beauty on a Budget.

 

Luella says…Finally Something to Get Addicted to

FACE

DAILY MOISTURIZER

For the LADIES

AMORE PACIFIC Moisture Bound Lotion – Lightweight, Brightening, long-lasting.

KORRES Pomegranate Balancing Lotion – From Greece amazingly light and refreshing with a soft skin after finish.

SKINceuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30 – Great base to wear underneath the above mentioned moisturizers. Ultimate sun protection.

MASKS & FACE CARE

SABON NYC A & E Vitamin Mask – Amazing super moisturizing formula. When you take it off, your skin feels like butter.

OLE HENRIKSEN Aloe Vera Cleanser – Great non-dehydrating cleanser. Eco-Friendly, with aloe healing  properties.

MANUKA HONEY Organic Natural Mask – A natural anti-aging remedy. Straight Manuka honey applied directly to your face. Tightening and moisturizing.OLE HENRIKSEN New Beginning Scrub – Gentle scrub with brightening and oxygenating effects.

NIGHT CREAM

SABON NYC White Tea Night CreamUnbelievable White Tea scented, soft and rejuvenating nighttime formula.

KORRES Quercetin and Oak Age Reversing Night Cream – A bit thicker and filled with restorative properties.

 

For the GENTS & CHAPS

KIEHL’S Soothing Face Creme for Men – Great every day face lotion.

SABON NYC After Shave Cream – Wonderfully scented, replenishing and rejuvenating.

ANTHONY UV Protection SPF 15 – Important Oil Free SPF base layer.

KIEHL’S Facial Fuel Cleanser – Invigorating day cleanser. Amazing skin pick me up.

ART OF SHAVING Unscented Mini Kit – Perfect for the “old school” shaving enthusiast.

OLE HENRIKSEN Walnut Exfoliating Scrub for Men – Refreshing, cleansing and brightening exfoliator.

EYES

BLISS SPA Baggage HandlerWheat based, quick action eye lift and de-puffer.

SKYN Icelandic Relief Eye Cream –Tightening, thick restorative eye cream.

BODY

MAMA MIO Boob TubeAmazing chest & neck daily lotion with lift and tightening properties. Truly works!!

MOISTUREL Body CreamBest, cheap overall body cream around.

MAMA MIO Shrink to Fit Cellulite Cream – Cellulite and firming cream. Amazing.

HAIR

MOROCCAN OIL for Shine and Body – Yummy smelling and silky smooth finish for any hair type. LOVE it.

NECTAR OF THE GODS Detangler – BEST detangler around, period. Little goes a long way.

AVEDA Grooming Clay for Men -Non-Greasy sculpting clay that keeps its shape.

 

Moisturizer is your friend. Taking care of your skin is the best remedy for feeling good.

You’re only as old as you think you are.

Uncertainty is the New Black.

13 Oct

Life is challenging. It’s not always simple, explained, fair or honest. The human spirit is an amazing thing though. It rejuvenates, restores and reboots when we least expect it. Our experiences past and present set our course. Although sometimes it is difficult to deviate from the emotions that come along for the ride; believe that everything is happening for a reason.

I recently left my dream job. It had been 8 years of ups, downs and throughs but it was time to move on. I felt shattered, scared and insecure. I wasn’t used to idle time or having nothing to fix, sell or market. It was a hard time for me personally. I thought how am I going to survive in this job market? How are we going to afford our life on one salary? Where should I go from here? Why didn’t I choose a different industry when I was fresh out of college, unjaded and entry-level? (I could keep going but I digress)

The point of this is to tell you, FIRSTHAND, there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It doesn’t matter what your struggle is. Health, weight, broken hearts, friendships undone, unemployment or career changes, child stress, aging, loss or divorce; the solution is the same. Time. Self Belief. Positive Thinking (hard but important). Forgiveness.

I don’t have my new profession secured yet but I am on the verge. There are opportunities out there. You just have to be motivated enough to find them. For me, the unknown has become exciting instead of daunting. I am refreshed, inspired and renewed both creatively and personally. I have been able to take stock of what I DO have and who I get to share my life experiences with. I realize I am a millionaire in the people I call family and friends. We all are when we take the time to recognize it.

Patty Griffin sings in When it Don’t Come Easy,

“I don’t know nothing except change will come
Year after year what we do is undone
Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home

You’re out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you’re walking in the wrong direction

But if you break down
I’ll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I’ll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don’t come easy”

Luella says…Advice Collected, now Shared

(Please note, I am 31 years old. This is advice I have been given, seen the fruits of or used myself. I am not an expert and this advice is NOT ground breaking. It has been out there for a long time, I am merely paying it forward.)

  

1. Job Searching guidelines.

 

  • Linkedin.com –Update and perfect your profile. Connect with as many colleagues as you can. Ask for recommendations, join industry groups and try to add some of the application plug-ins available for you.
  • Twitter – Join and start following major industry leaders. If you respect someone, see who they are following and do the same. Follow @tweetmyjobs for a HUGE database of relevant job opportunities that are listed in real time. Follow @tweetmyresume and ReTweet your information every 24 hours. Follow your industry job listing boards ie: @stylecareers, Follow @Keppie_Careers, @Betterjobsearch, @susanireland, @simplyhired and @jobfox for great articles relating to jobs, interviewing, salary negotiations and resumes.
  • Tell everyone. The majority of jobs are placed through Who you Know. I am not great at asking for help. Don’t be like me, do it anyway. You will be amazed at the amount of people who would LOVE to help you. Karma comes round circle.
  • Remember and repeat to yourself that a job is a just a job, it doesn’t define you as a person. It is just an addition to who you already are.
  • Research recruiters and have more than one working for you. Have faith in them but keep working independently as well.
  • Teach yourself a skill in your time off. I am learning Photoshop and launched this blog. It is helping me market myself beyond my resume.  
  • If you are in college or entry-level, don’t shrug off internships. Lauren Berger, Founder and CEO of Intern Queen is the resource to look into. You can also Follow her on Twitter at @InternQueen

 

2. Health guidelines

  •  Always get a second opinion  and seek out the right Doctor for YOU. Bedside manner and gut feeling are HUGELY important.
  • Read An Inconvenient Tumor by Christie Bishop. A hard but remarkable perspective/blog about cancer.
  • Embrace the option of  holistic medicine. I am a HUGE follower of www.EarthClinic.com which has wonderful household remedies for every ailment big to small.
  • Get it looked at. Period.
  • Follow @RealAge , @dermdoc  and @DaveZinczenko on Twitter
  • Parents check out my friend Vanessa’s HUGELY successful parenting blog www.radicalparenting.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Vanessavanpetten
  • Check your insurance to see if it covers things such as Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Counseling, Acupuncture etc. If it does, take advantage of it.
  • If you are injured and recovering follow through with your Physical Therapy. There really is a right way to heal, we don’t stay 23 forever.
  • Go to the Dentist. Floss, you would be shocked at the amount of normal diseases that could be prevented if you flossed your teeth.
  • Excercise. You have the power, prove it.

 

3.  Love/Relationship/Friendship guidelines

  • After a break-up, don’t lament and only remember the good things. Live in the dislike category for a while. It helps you get a solid footing in which to move on from.
  • Cut your hair, rearrange your bedroom and start exercising. (you should be anyway, but it will make you feel beautiful)
  • If you are single go evenwhen you don’t feel like it. Changing up your schedule can bring the unexpected person into your life. (I met my husband at a bowling alley. If you know  me, this is shocking but I went anyway.)
  • Sometimes friendships have to take a time out. If they are worthy of the lifelong stamp, they will come back to be.
  • As the book says, be aware of the He/She is JUST not into me clause. It has happened to all of us.
  • Be rightful in knowing, relationships of any kind are a compromise. You can’t do all the work. It will eventually lead to disappointment.
  • The energy and positivity you put out, is what will come back to you.
  • Ladies don’t be afraid to make the first move. (I bit my pride problem and emailed my husband the next day after meeting him. Try it, trust me).
  • Realize fighting in some ways, is communication. Make sure to listen and be heard at the same time. It is an acquired skill, practice.

 

 The take away is this. Whatever it is you are struggling with remember it is temporary. This was hard for me to hear when I needed to but it does prove itself ten fold.

Uncertainty = bliss? I think so, the only way through it is through it.

Run Luella Run.

29 Sep

Today my post has nothing to do with Fashion. I had something completely different planned but was so blown away last night by ESPN’s 30 For 30 on Terry Fox, that I decided to change it up.

Too often, (I will speak for myself here) I get wrapped up in what doesn’t matter. I think we all do. Everything truly happens as it is supposed to and we can’t change what we can’t control. Take Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guywho missed his flight to LA on September 11th, 2001 by 5 minutes as an example. A series of events occurred that morning that ultimately saved his life. When asked if he lives differently because of it, he says no. He believes it was just a coincidence and will not let that define the rest of his life. Similar to Terry who didn’t allow his cancer diagnosis or his disability to stop him. He was profoundly succesful in his quest of raising awareness for Cancer in the early 1980’s when nobody was talking about it. Imagine if he had allowed self-doubt, exhaustion or politics to change his course. He was the ultimate Iron Man.

After watching the inspirational documentary last night, I realize Terry served his purpose in life. It has been 30 years since his fateful run across Canada on one leg and in that time, according to the documentary, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $500 MILLION dollars for cancer research. How can we ever calculate what that has meant for others who have been stricken with the disease since his passing? The impact of his determination is astounding. I kept telling myself, this is not a movie, Terry is NOT a character and this story was not written by David Benioff, Quentin Tarantino or Jason Reitman. It was life at its most inspiring and most unfair. 

 

 

 

The next time I find myself getting wrapped up in the unimportant details, I will think of him and all that he went through and change my tune. For Terry, the run was much more than raising money. I don’t think he realized when he started but he was living the next 60-70 years of his life in those 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi). It is the most noble ending ever written.

For a lighter take on it, I am totally inspired. My husband and I are running the Manhattan Beach 10K on Saturday and I am not in my best running shape. Besides Terry Fox, music is what will inspire me to finish strong. I asked some of my closest friends for a list of their “ultimate, inspiring, makes you run faster, want to fist pump and air pull songs”  so I can share them with you. If you can’t run, put music on and dance around in your living room. It is very difficult to be stressed, upset, sad, blue or all of the above if you are jumping around to your favorite jam. Try it and let me know how it goes.  

Here is the Luella Top 40

(in no particular order, click on song for video)

 1. Freakshow – Britney Spears

2. Fighter – Christina Aguilera

3. Long Way to Happy – P!NK

4. Better Off Dead – Bad Religion

5. Midnight Show – The Killers

6. Right Now – Van Halen

7. Love the Way You Lie – Eminem Featuring Rihanna

8. No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age

9. Make Me – Janet Jackson

10. Changes – Tupac

11. Teeth – Lady Gaga

12. Mercy Me – Alkaline Trio

13. Lovestoned – Justin Timberlake

14. Young Forever – Jay Z Featuring Mr. Hudson

15. Dirty Diana – Michael Jackson

16. Rock Show – Blink 182

17. DJ Got Me Falling in Love – Usher

18. An Open Letter to NYC – Beastie Boys

19. Breathe Me – Sia

20. Robot Rock – Daft Punk

21. Don’t Stop the Music – Rihanna

22. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

23. Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri

24. Optimistic Thought – Blues Traveler

25. Loca – Shakira + Dizee Rascall

26. Chances – Five for Fighting

27. Again Today – Brandi Carlile

28. Rap Game – D12

29. Telephone – Lady Gaga Featuring Beyonce

30. At the End – iiO

31. Scream – Michael Jackson

32. Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam

33. Heartbreaker – P!NK

34. Play Your Part (Part 1) – Girl Talk

35. On Fire – Eminem

36. Misery Business – Paramore

37. You Lost Me – Christina Aguilera

38. Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler

39. Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

40. Repo Man – Ray LaMontagne

 

Feel Free to comment with some of your own. I can use as much inspiration on Saturday for my run, and through life in general; we all can. Be good to yourself and to those you love.   

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