Eating, Grieving & Friendship (a love story)

 

In my first YouTube video, I mention the health benefits of taking a break from toxic relationships.

 

You can have a healthy relationship with someone as long as they let you have your story. Including your parents, siblings, spouse, friends, etc. If you are not allowed to tell your TRUE story because someone keeps changing it in a way that dismisses or invalidates the very essence of your being, that is a toxic relationship you are free to let go of. You’re welcome.

 

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It’s not easy to let go of or take breaks from relationships. It involves GRIEVING. I’m talking about Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance…in a constant cycle…for the rest of your life. (You’re welcome?).

 

I’ve been spending some time each day multitasking sunshine and reading on my hammock. It’s awesome.

 

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Intuitive Healing is a book that I highly recommend. I’m not that into doctors in general because of my experience with flagrant disregard for emotional health, but this lady seems like the kind of M.D. I could have a doctor/patient relationship with. This book gives me permission to use my INTUITION regarding personal health and wellness (finally!).

 

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Here is an excerpt that I read today from Intuitive Healing:

 

“Here’s a formula for healing everything from anxiety to abuse: Darkness is transmuted into light by love. A practical alchemy. Give yourself latitude in expressing self-love. No rules: just your personal truth in the moment. Suppose you’re depressed. You may decide to enter psychotherapy, take antidepressants, not take antidepressants, go on a meditation retreat, call a time-out with your mother, or build sandcastles on the beach. Follow your intuition. If you’ve lost touch with it—stop. Find someone to help you reconnect. This is fundamental work I do with all my patients. Part of healing is reaching out. If you can’t love yourself (those times may come), you must let others love you until you can. When I’ve sunk the lowest, what has saved me over and over again are the eyes of my friends shining on me.”

 

Recently, I spent some time with my dear friend Liz (the one who taught me about House Plants!), her husband (the one I starred with in my first musical in 4th grade: Christmas on Main Street), and their adorable son, Zev.

 

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It was really special because this was the first time our toddlers had ever met.

 

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They hit it off right away (just like me and Liz and Tim) and are pretty tight now.

 

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Once again, my good friend Liz taught me a bunch of stuff—about wellness, parenting and life. What is resonating with me currently is what Liz taught me about preparing meals:

 

I eat while I cook.

 

What?

 

Yeah, I always do.

 

What??

 

I make a small plate of starters that I nibble on while I prepare dinner, I listen to music and, to be honest with you, I enjoy a glass of red wine. Basically, I make preparing meals as enjoyable as possible for myself.

 

What???

 

She then went outside and fed my husband from her plate of triscuits, hummus and carrots and I could immediately see the frustration in him subside (the charcoal grill was giving him a tough time due to rain and he said he was hungry over an hour ago).

 

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Liz

Is

Awesome.

 

I mentioned in my PTSD RECOVERY video that it’s hard for me to eat 5 times a day. I wrote a blog about seeing a nutritionist and discovering my eating was disordered. The advice I received from Liz was the most helpful to date: eat while you cook.

 

At first it seemed…wild…excessive…fancy.

 

Then I ate the triscuits and hummus and carrots and it just…seemed…right.

 

I was back on. Engaging. Funny. I realized that I was now winning a battle with a head ache that I did not even know I had been fighting.

 

Liz invited me to partner with her in a weekly comedic podcast similar to one she and her husband enjoy called: uhh yeah dude (but ours will obviously be way better). Liz thinks the world is missing out on how funny and interesting the combination of the two of us always is. I agree. (Liz is smart).

 

Stay tuned for the launch of our podcast. Hopefully we come up with a better name for it than Mrs. Tadpole #1 & Mrs. Tadpole #2 (the names of our characters from my 8th grade musical: Last Chance High).

 

XO

~Rachel

Talkin bout a REVOLUTION

 

Are you aware that in 1776 when the American Constitution was drafted, we all really were equal, men and women?

It was a beautiful year.

Then in 1777 New York State took away women’s right to vote.

Then in 1780 Massachusettes did it too. New Hampshire followed suit in 1784.

In 1787 every single State enacted laws to prevent women from the right to vote except New Jersey. That was when our beautiful constitution was just a decade old. Hate spread like wildfire.

By 1807 New Jersey stopped letting women vote too.

Women were made slaves within a year of the passing of the Constitution and no one ever says that out loud. That’s what it means when you read our legal history and learn women went from BEING property to being able to own property without further clarification or reparations. In case you don’t know, women then fought to the death from 1807 to 1920 just to be able to vote.

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If you don’t understand what happened in our own history, please look at this website to learn how to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/history-and-successes.htm and then pat yourself on the back for being part of the solution!

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We don’t want to go back to the days when laws were passed declaring family planning and contraceptive information obscene do we? When Planned Parenthood began in 1916, women couldn’t even vote, that’s how obvious it was that all women were slaves. It is much more subversive now. Things have gotten a lot more confusing today thanks to the Supreme Court and it’s embarrassing blunders, but we don’t have to remain confused if we all just educate ourselves because knowledge is power!

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I made another music video for my friend, Libby Schug, in honor of “Independence Day” 2014. Stay tuned for my next YouTube video further explaining The Net.

XO

~Rachel

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Creative Volunteerism (I made my first music video!)

 

I mentioned in my first YouTube video that Volunteerism can be healing to your soul.

Currently, I am teaching myself to write a grant so that the Truancy Diversion Project I volunteer for to keep kids in school can get funded; I have about 8 days to help my friend and mentor submit the application (fingers crossed!).

Today, while I read volumes of information so that I could organize it into the grant application, I made a music video for my dear friend, Libby Schug (I also made her website for her!).

Little Bird is a tribute to Libby’s Nana and is a fantastic representation of how music heals (as well as nature).

It is my belief that humans constantly cycle through the stages of grief, we never graduate fully and none are any better than the other; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance–these are all feelings to be embraced equally because they demonstrate the bond. When I feel angry or sad, I honor those feelings and I even try to CELEBRATE them because it means I am a human who has LOVED fully and truly with everything I am.

I look forward to my next YouTube video, but I am very satisfied with using my spare time this week to volunteer for others; it feels amazing actually.

XO

~Rachel

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PTSD RECOVERY (I made my first YouTube video!)

 

So I made my first YouTube video.

 

It’s called PTSD RECOVERY and I made it in honor of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness month (June).

 

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The process of making my first video was incredible. I had fun, I used my brain, I thought outside the box, I got out of my head, I was creative, I felt proud of myself.

 

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I was operating on all cylinders.

 

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I am a Director.

 

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Did I get frustrated during the process of learning something new?

 

Of course I did! I always do. What am I gonna do, cry about it? Of course I did! I always do. But then I did some of my own Mind, Body & Heart exercises and I felt a lot better.

 

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I potted 3 plants, did yoga, took a bath, ate, drank water, journaled, slept, wrote this blog, complained to my friends and husband and jig saw puzzled (uploading my video took more than 24 hours with several attempts).

 

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People keep asking me why I am making/made this video. Volunteerism is healing to your soul. This is my own personal spontaneous act of service to help people who suffer from PTSD to recover.

 

I am a social change activist. It is very common to be insensitive and downright mean to people who have PTSD. That has to change. PTSD is an injury that requires sensitivity and kindness.

 

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Growing up in the 80’s, my older brothers and I happened to watch that Rambo movie, First Blood, just about every day of my life. Greatest PTSD story ever told. All he wanted was something to eat. Blowing up a whole town because of outrageous abuses of authority when you’re hungry made total sense to me.

 

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What did not make sense about First Blood is that nobody CARED. It was obvious that Rambo was suffering from a serious injury but not one person demonstrated care or concern, empathy or kindness; not even after learning he was a war hero.

 

I’d like to change that.

 

Millions of Americans suffer from PTSD, not just war veterans.

 

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I hope my video helps raise awareness about PTSD and how to recover.

 

If you have 20 minutes, watch PTSD RECOVERY; if you find it helpful, kindly share it with someone you feel could benefit from the content as well.

 

XO

~Rachel

Kelly Rae Roberts, will you be my friend (yes, no or maybe)?

 

Before Disney’s Frozen, there was this:

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I saw it in a shop window in Boulder City, NV on April 21, 2013 and almost had to sit down because I was so…struck.

I was overwhelmed.

I felt strong, sad, lonely, inspired, hopeful, angry, joyful and I was not sure whether I was going to scream or cry or scream cry.  So I just looked at my husband and said: she’s coming home with us.

She hangs on the wall outside of my bedroom so that we can see each other at the start of each day.  Let it go.  I move forward.

I google searched the artist the next day and was struck by how similar we are (http://kellyraeroberts.com/about).  Kelly Rae Roberts gave up her career as a social worker to follow her true purpose and she has a toddler boy.  If I hadn’t gone to law school, I would have been a social worker for women and children in domestic violence situations.  If I hadn’t given birth, I would probably still be practicing family law, but I too felt compelled to follow my true purpose; I just didn’t know exactly what that was yet.

There is this cute little stationary store in Village Square in Las Vegas called Alligator Soup.  I walked by it one day and could see them on the wall, even though the angle was not ideal, so I went inside and just stared.  Like a dozen Kelly Rae Roberts pieces staring back at me, calling to me, pulling at my heart.  When the clerk asked me if I needed any help, the tears brimming in my eyes spilled over and I had to take a minute before I told her that oh yes, I was taking some home with me.

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“Kindness matters.  The hope and kindness we give to the world not only nurtures us but it becomes a gift for someone else to receive for their own healing.”

Every single time I look at it, I pause and am moved by its beauty.  It is hung on the wall when you enter the front door of my home.

Kindness is a huge theme in this household.  As an advocate for social change, I understand that it is the loss of feeling, the loss of caring, the loss of kindness and compassion that is my BIGGEST hurdle.  If people don’t care, then things stay the same or get worse.  If things are SAD and people FEEL sad, then they are more likely to DO SOMETHING to change it for the better.

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“The whispers of our lives want us to take notice. They may just be whispers, small voices tucked deep inside the pockets of our hearts, but we must hold their possibilities close to our chests and allow them to step into the light.”

This piece…you know…I don’t want to say any of them are my favorite because I love all of them…but this spoke to me the loudest.  Obviously because I saw potential in myself that I was not tapping into. An important part of me was in the dark. I owned this piece for 5 months before I allowed myself to say: I am a writer. When that happened, I stopped crying every time I looked at it.  I don’t cry because I am just so proud of myself for having the courage to be ME.

Part of being ME involves sharing my light; that fills me up. I could not stand to be the only one basking in the glow of Kelly Rae Roberts, so I started buying them as gifts for family, friends, people I just met…Off the top of my head I can think of 17 pieces of Kelly Rae Roberts art that I have gifted away and I get even more joy out of that.

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So I treated myself to what I consider to be the crowning glory of all Kelly Rae’s: Kindness Changes Everything.  My son pointed it out and said “pretty” for the first 3 weeks this was hung in our family room and I think that his awestruck facial expression alone was worth it.  I want my son to know the truth: kindness changes everything.

I started to follow Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog and I noticed that she began to do this “wear your joy” project right about the same time I noticed that I needed to start putting myself back together after the “new mom” phase.  Showering, getting dressed in clothes that make you feel like YOURSELF, smiling when you look in the mirror.  Thank you Kelly Rae Roberts for the wear your joy project.

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This is me being kind to myself for my 32nd Birthday.  I am wearing my new boots and Kelly Rae scarf from my mom and enjoying my new Kelly Rae iPhone case that was my birthday gift to myself.  I blow dried my hair! I was beginning to recognize myself again after having a baby, which is a miracle because I very dramatically told my close friends that the old Rachel died and this less passionate, more boring shell of a person was here to take her place. (Thanks for letting me vent, guys!).

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“Slow down. Breathe in the season. Wish upon a star.”

Breathing is a big deal for me.  I don’t always remember to breathe.  This was a Christmas gift from my Aunt Pam and I LOVE it! It hangs in the hallway between my bedroom and bathroom and I can see it from my bed. I see her when I wake up, I breathe and I smile. Thank you, Aunt Pam!

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“Dream. My wish for you is that you feel the full breath of  possibility. And that love and kindness embrace your heart always.”

This was my Husband’s 2014 Valentine’s Day wish for me. It hangs on the wall next to my bed. I try to breathe that in as much as possible. My Husband wanted to remind me to give myself the love and kindness I deserve, to protect my own heart as I practice courage on a daily basis.

It’s not easy. But it is the right thing to do.

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“Remember who you wanted to be.”

I remember when I was in first grade and began to write stories for the first time. We used the rectangular paper with the dotted lines that ensured your printing would be huge and hopefully legible.  I remember watching my classmates struggle to finish the assignment: write 4 sentences, a paragraph if you will.

I got bored waiting and wrote a much longer story, mine took up 4 pieces of perforated paper and still I waited for my classmates to finish.  I remember feeling energized, excited and competent.

My first grade teacher was one of my all time favorites.  Mrs. Andelora supported my strengths and encouraged me to pursue what came very naturally to me. I think about her all the time. Mrs. Andelora was an amazing teacher.

I remember now who I wanted to be: a writer.

Kelly Rae Roberts wrote this ebook that has helped me embrace the HOW; it’s called Flying Lessons.  I bought the whole Shabang, parts 1, 2 & 3 and highly recommend it to anyone interested in owning a successful creative business.

What REALLY struck me about the ebook was a random link.  The link brought me to Liv Lane’s blog and her blog contained a link that brought me to an entry from 2012 in Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog.

BAM!

That’s when I figured it out.

Finally.

Like me, Kelly Rae Roberts was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after her first child was born. We are kindred spirits.

When I purchased my first Kelly Rae, Let it Go, I didn’t even know I had PTSD yet…but I knew what this meant:

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The cage…over her brain…the wings…

Here is an excerpt from Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog:

“I wanted to share this story because I believe in telling the truth of our stories. Not all stories we hold close need to be released, but some do, I believe. And this is one of those stories for me. With every piece of art I create, I release it out into the world in an effort to make more room in my heart spaces for more, new, fresh art. If I hold onto it, I can’t move forward – I need the mental space. Same is true for some stories – they need releasing so that we can make room for new, fresh, emerging experiences and new stories, so that we are no longer defined by a particular story by holding it too close.

Besides, our connections live inside our stories, where we see ourselves mirrored in one another’s stories, where comfort and belonging reside. Some of these stories are private and some are not. Either way, there is just so much, so much beauty in our brokenness and our wholeness. I believe in sharing both.” (Kelly Rae Roberts).

The courage it took for Kelly Rae Roberts to speak out about her PTSD caused a visceral response within me because I’m supposed to do it, too. I am supposed to share my messy, complicated story.

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This is my Kelly Rae Roberts writing furniture.  My Husband got them for me for our 4 year wedding anniversary this May because he believes in me and wants me to succeed.  I cried so hard when we unwrapped the huge package, I could not believe how LOVED this couch made me feel.  Our cat understood immediately and has been napping on it ever since we brought it into the bedroom.

The chair sits at my vanity in my bathroom and every day when I get out of bed and get myself ready for the day, I sit in that beautiful chair and declare: “I choose hope.”

Thank you Kelly Rae Roberts. For everything.

The next creation I launch will be my YouTube video about PTSD and it will be in the month of June in honor of PTSD awareness month.  

Stay tuned!

It’s about to get real.

For more information on PTSD, please visit the website: a gift from within.

Thank you for your support!

XO

~Rachel

 

 

Eating Disorders and Amsterdam

 

It was not until October 2013 that I realized I had an eating disorder.

 

I was feeling a lot of anxiety when my pediatrician informed me our son could now eat the same things that we eat. Bottle feeding time was one of the more emotionally satisfying parts of my day…but I guess I saw this coming when we were spoon feeding him all those pureed fruits and vegetables.

 

The problem was, I usually skipped either breakfast or lunch, preferring to snack on something like peanut M&M’s and then ate whatever I wanted for dinner. I could tell this would not be appropriate for my son to mirror, as he seemed to be eating every two hours and I did not have a solid (food) plan.

 

So I made an appointment with a Nutritionist to learn how to feed my new toddler.

 

I LOVE her. She is really nice and her voice sounds exactly like my Aunt Renee’s, which I found fascinating and very comforting. We discussed the purpose of my visit and while I was explaining my ignorance on how to feed my son “real people” food it occurred to me that I was making no sense.

 

That’s harsh. I was making total sense, but I felt SUPER critical of the point I was trying to impress upon her because I am a lawyer, which means I have the ability to properly conduct my own research and apply my findings to my decision.

 

Not one time did I try to Google search how to feed my toddler before sitting down to that appointment. I realized in that moment that I knew how to feed my child, I just did not know how to continue blindly not feeding myself anymore. It had become apparent to me and now as a parent, I needed to make a change so that I could MODEL proper eating habits to my son.

 

When my nutritionist brought up the term eating disorder, the first thing I told her was that I thought I was not thin enough for that concern. The next few thoughts popped up simultaneously: I have never voluntarily thrown up in my life and I eat WHATEVER I want without feeling guilt.

 

But not whenever.

 

I could not eat WHENEVER I wanted.

 

Eating was part of a reward system. My own personal inner reward system I established long ago where I get to eat whatever I want but only when I say so.

 

When I deserve it.

 

When I am worthy.

 

How does that work?

 

Couldn’t really tell ya, I changed up the rules on myself all the time, really kept myself on my toes. I could eat the M&M’s if I got all my work done, but not if one thing went wrong. It was hard to keep up because I would become confused from dehydration and too fatigued to physically prepare healthy food.

 

eat·ing dis·or·der

noun

any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits.

 

My nutritionist advised me that ORDERED eating involves regularly feeding and hydrating your body because your body needs it. Ordered eating has nothing to do with deserving or worthiness or rewards.

 

Apparently, you are supposed to eat when you are hungry.

 

How did I not know this?

 

My nutritionist asked me if I would ever tell my son “no” if he asked me for food and I emphatically said that I would NEVER deny my hungry baby. She asked if I would be willing to love myself that much and I started to cry.

 

Why not?

 

My nutritionist recommended a book called Intuitive Eating (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312321236?ie=UTF8&tag=evelyntrcom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0312321236) for me and How to Get your Child to Eat But Not Too Much (http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Your-Kid-Eat/dp/0915950839) for my son.

 

Now I try to eat 5 times per day but it is very hard. My best meal times are together with my son, as I have no problem preparing healthy foods for us. My worst meal times are usually when I am alone. For a mom, alone time is pretty valuable and sometimes I feel like eating is a form of squandering that precious time. Then I realize that it is not squandering it because if I don’t eat I will have to lay down because my body literally NEEDS fuel to keep going. I am not a machine.

 

One thing that has helped me is identifying what it is specifically that can set me off and trying to just work around it. For example, handling raw chicken can be so disgusting to me that I can’t eat the meal when I’m done cooking it. Because my husband loves me and wants me to be healthy and eat, he now handles all the raw chicken in our household.

 

Also, when I am overwhelmed with other issues, I have a tough time deciding on WHAT to eat, which used to lead to eating NOTHING, but now I phone a friend. I designated certain supportive people in my life who were willing to at any moment make food suggestions to me in a kind and supportive manner (like: I think you should go get a smoothie right now and let me tell you with enthusiasm what foods sound good to me right now off the top of my head kind of friends). It helps.

 

Mostly, I just tell myself while I am eating: this is an act of loving my body.

 

Eating disorders have nothing to do with hating food. It’s a form of hating on yourself that needs to stop. I do not want my son to hate himself, therefore, at all costs, I will love myself. I do love myself. I model self love.

 

Seven months later I am telling this story because my friend Julia has been wanting me to for awhile now.

 

Today is Julia’s Birthday!

 

I met Julia in Law School but really got to know her well when we studied abroad together in Amsterdam. This is how I always remember Julia:

 

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We traveled in a pack of 4 and Julia always had the plan, the map and lead the way.

 

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I was SO thrilled to be in Amsterdam that I had no ambition to lead the way or make the plan, and there is no way I will ever pretend to look at a map. That’s not me. I would rather declare that where we ended up was my intent all along than try to navigate a map. I loved to travel behind Julia and take in the sights, no worries.

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Museums, shopping, landmarks, bike rides, oh and school.

 

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We walked at least 10 miles per day.

 

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I was in complete awe of Julia. Brilliant legal mind, confident, capable, quick witted, she was so funny.

 

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I would have let her lead me anywhere, map or no map.

 

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But I did find one thing odd.

 

Eating was NEVER on our agenda.

 

My friend Sarah and I had to fight for it at least twice a day. Hey, use that map to take us to food now ok?

 

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Soup. It was usually soup. Much of our conversation during the soup eating had to do with how much fatter we noticed we were as Americans compared to the Dutch women we were seeing. We were there for 5 weeks and not one of us got hit on one time by a local. When we were shopping a sales clerk laughed while Julia was trying on a skirt and said “oh no, that skirt is for little tiny French girl.” Julia was so small, I did not understand what was so funny. We literally just agreed with the clerk though and left.

 

Now I realize how much hating your body can distract you from simply feeding your body in an ordered manner. When you love your body, you feed it.

 

Losing Julia was very painful. Gaining Julia as a guardian angel has been very precious to me.

 

Per the recommendation of my dear friend, Shannon, every night I usually go to sleep listening to this YouTube guided meditation video called Lilian Eden Meet Your Spirit Guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9s5Ldf7kQo&feature=kp

(Love you, Shannon!)

 

10 times out of 10 my spirit guide is my step-brother, Jody, but 3-4 nights per week Julia also shows up and reminds me about these eating epiphanies. I wake up and I know that Julia wants me to share my experience. So this is it, my friend.

 

Happy Birthday!

 

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Today there is a ceremony to dedicate a room in the Ronald MacDonald House in your name.

http://rmhcwny.org

 

I miss the sound of your voice.

 

I love you.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

 

I love my best friend!

 

My best friend, Kristen, can do anything.

 

Everyone, please say it with me now: Kristen can do anything.

 

I am focusing my supportive energy onto my best friend right now because she is about to do something big: go get her real estate license. Class starts tomorrow. I feel a sense of what my future will be when I proudly send my son to school in a few more years. Literally, I am bursting with pride and it is glorious!

 

Pride?

 

Yeah pride.

 

Do you still have your seventh grade BFF notebook?

 

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I do.

 

 

Did your best friend join the tense tennis team to hang out with you even though it precluded her from starring on the fun soccer team?

 

 

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Mine did.

 

 

That’s why I am not ashamed now (finally) at 32 years old to show this 8th grade Best Buddies yearbook shot:

 

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Hmmm….I am still pretty embarrassed about my circular face and 90’s glasses…but it is kind of funny now. Not as funny as Kristen was in our 9th grade musical:

 

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The hat? Those glasses?!

 

Kristen is SO funny. She is so funny because she is so smart. I love how her mind works. We have always been connected, able to understand and appreciate each other. Kristen’s brother used to remark often about how cool it was that we seemed to speak our own language to each other.

 

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You don’t want to know what we were actually thinking in this 9th grade semi formal picture. Pretend we think we look as beautiful as we actually do look.

 

When I think about Kristen, I always think that she can do anything. The example that usually pops into my head is not the best example of my own capabilities, but I am good at other stuff, so I don’t mind sharing:

 

I got a flat tire. I pulled over. I had just turned 21 and was going to Law School but I didn’t even think about changing the tire. I thought about how my step dad was out of town. I thought about how I have older brothers and no one was available to help me. While I thought about these things, Kristen got out of my car, got into my trunk and started pulling out the spare tire, asking me about a car jack.

 

I just stared at her.

 

Kristen stuck her head back into my trunk and pulled out some sort of lever. Then I watched her in awe as she changed the tire.

 

Because we were both 21, I took her out to celebrate my gratitude. I love her.

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Believe it or not, Kristen and I actually set our wedding dates one week apart (Kristen set her wedding date and then much later I sheepishly asked her if she would please travel to my destination wedding exactly one week after her own wedding and she said YES!). So my best friend and I planned our weddings at the same time.

 

We went to dress fittings at David’s Bridal:

 

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We are still working on our dressing room confidence faces.

 

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Kristen got married May 1, 2010 at the Botanical Gardens in Lackawanna, NY.

 

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I got married on May 8, 2010 at Emerald at Queensridge in Las Vegas, NV.

 

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I treasure every moment of our wedding planning time together because I relocated to Las Vegas one month after my wedding. At first, it was no big deal.  But then I got pregnant.  And then 3 months later, Kristen got pregnant.

 

I really missed her presence. Kristen can do anything. My pregnancy was REALLY tough. So was hers. I was texting her pictures of me like, look how fat I am:

 

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And she would respond with her own picture of, look how fat I am:

 

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We should’ve been waddling around together!

 

Our babies only met one time when my son was 10 months old and her daughter was 7 months old:

 

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That is not enough. I cannot tell you how much I miss my best friend now that I have been living apart from her for 4 years.

 

Well, I can tell you what I did for my 32nd Birthday last November. That illustrates my point. Suddenly I decided I wanted to go fly to Buffalo and spend my Birthday with my best friend.   We bought plane tickets with less than 7 days before travel.

 

What was on my agenda?

 

Serious professional BFF photo shoot.

 

Yup. Big time. Botanical Garden photo shoot. I contacted the best photographer in WNY, Tanya of Tanya Kurnik images: http://www.imagesbytanyakurnik.com

 

Tanya is so beautiful, I did not even notice she was 8 months pregnant. She certainly made us 2 introverts feel very comfortable having our pictures taken. I think she’s so great.

 

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Remember our 8th grade Best Buddies year book picture?

 

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These are way better.

 

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Thank you Tanya!

 

So then we ate some chicken wings at Duffs and before I knew it, I was back home in Vegas. Missing Kristen.

 

A few months later I saw this Groupon for like 80% off Canvas on Demand and I went for it. I think you can tell by my face that this is the best $60 I have ever spent:

 

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If you miss your BFF, I recommend a 16×24 canvas of her professionally photographed face hung in your bedroom and your bathroom. As you can tell by her facial expression, she ALWAYS thinks I am funny no matter what.

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Kristen: you can do anything. I can’t wait to hear about your first day at school and I really wish I could be there with you, writing you notes in our old 7th grade notebook. I love you and am very grateful for our friendship.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

 

House Plants & Feng Shui

 

I am loving my home right now.

 

Why?

 

House plants.

 

Me?!

 

I know.

 

It’s kind of a long story. I never thought that I would have real live plants in my house, as I was raised to believe it was too complicated to figure out how to properly care for them.

 

But then I read this short article about 7 quick steps to Feng Shui and thought it was significant that one of the seven things you can do is incorporate lots of plant life into your home.

 

Hmmmmmmmm…

 

We do have one plant, I admitted to myself. A lucky bamboo given to me by my dear friend and mentor, Jenny, when we moved to Las Vegas in 2010.

 

 

In fact, that bamboo was so lucky, it was still alive in 2014 after many haircuts and those trimmings were alive as well.

 

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So actually, I had 2 plants to take care of that were doing quite well. But I still wasn’t sure what that had to do with Feng Shui.

 

Then I went to Colorado to celebrate my 10-year dating anniversary last October and while we were there we got to visit one of my childhood friends who has always been a role model to me. I have always admired Liz’ style and, once again, I was not disappointed with the new home Liz had put together for her husband and brand new baby. I pointed out her lamps, her end tables, the ottoman she was restoring, the curtains in the baby room, her wedding picture frames, the built in wine glass holders, and then it hit me. Really it was the plants everywhere that I loved most of all. Not just one or two, but plant life wherever the sun would support growth.

 

So I pointed out to Liz that I really LOVED the plants in her home and revealed that I had been thinking about incorporating more plants into my home but…well…I was afraid that I would…kill them.

 

What Liz said next really helped me:

 

Yeah, Rae, plants die and then you get new ones. Enjoy them while you have them.

 

Hmmmmmmmmm…

 

Flash forward three months later and I am noticing that my friend Libby also has beautiful plants inside and outside of her townhome in San Diego. Succulents. Super cool. I want that. So she sends us to her favorite nursery and I pick out 3 new plants to take care of.

 

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I make my husband pull over at the beginning of our 5 hour car trip home at the first Ross I see so that I can pot them immediately when we get home with the special soil that we lugged all the way home from the San Diego nursery.

 

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Desert plants.   Apparently, you only water them once per week. Weird. My husband waters the lucky bamboo plants practically every day. I nervously dote over all of the plants, talk to them, let them know I am glad they are here. Secretly I worry the new plants will die, but I don’t want to let on.

 

In February we took a much needed family vacation to the Grand Canyon. The house we rented was amazing. The mountain view, the loft with the full on drum kit (!), the stars at night, the art on the walls and, wait for it, the plants. The house had plants EVERYWHERE. It was super cool. I found myself staring at a plant no matter where I was and that is when I finally understood Feng Shui.

 

When we got home, I set to work. First I tackled the space near the window in my bathroom. Taking baths here is now officially amazing. The orchid was a gift from my husband and has been in full bloom for over two and a half months. Glorious! The palm tree and pot came from Lowes.

 

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I then became obsessed with hanging plants. I love how the leaves look like hearts.

 

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This next one is hung in my bedroom over my Kelly Rae Roberts couch and I realize that my hanging plant obsession has a lot to do with the pots I found at TJ Maxx Home Goods. Beauty matters, I surround myself in it.

 

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The third hanging plant is hung in my kitchen. I could not find a third glass hanging pot for the life of me, so I ordered this one from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BD6X1II/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and it makes me very happy.

 

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At this point, my husband is like: I think we have enough plants in the house, don’t you?

 

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And I’m like, wow, why would you even say that to me right now? I’m on a roll here. See, what happened is, I got sad. I got sad and then I got these plants from the Home Depot and these pots from Ross:

 

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And I told my husband: selecting the plants, the pots, bringing them home and then getting my hands dirty repotting them is therapeutic for my grieving process.

 

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These are my friends.

 

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I love them.

 

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Are some of them struggling?

 

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Yes. Just that one actually and I think that is a success considering how many I am responsible for. Aren’t we all struggling? Caring isn’t too complicated at all. The reward far outweighs the burdens of responsibility.

 

This used to be a bulb in a plastic bag until I put it in some dirt 10 days ago:

 

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I can’t wait until my Mother’s Day Dahlia blooms, but right now I am thrilled with what looks like celery stalks. I show my 2 year old the rapid progress every day. He loves to say good morning plants (!) when he first wakes up and I am delighted that we share the same favorite (pink) plant:

 

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(don’t tell the other plants we think that).

 

What activities help you through the grieving process? Please leave me a Reply and thank you for reading!

 

XO

 

~Rachel

 

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Maya Angelou

Will you join me in a moment of silence in honor of my hero Maya Angelou?

 

My initial reaction to being told she had died today was screaming followed by scream crying. My husband did not see that coming.

 

Neither did I.

 

It’s just…I thought…I don’t know. I made this website and blog because I was inspired. My dear friend, Sarah, sent me this Meme today:

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I love Sarah so much and felt it was a real gift to hear from her in this way so I invited her to look at my new website, as it is rife with Maya Angelou quotes. I then launched into a desperate plea for her strength, explaining to Sarah that I was too afraid to put myself out there (as in, too afraid to shoot my excellent YouTube video scripts or tell anyone that I started a blog).

 

Sarah told me: I think the Internet is a great resource in having your voice heard and you should 100% go for this.

 

When I began to tell my husband about my conversation with Sarah, he informed me of the great Maya Angelou’s passing. During my scream crying it occurred to me that Sarah reached out to me today so that exact conversation could take place; so that I would 100% go for this. I think it’s what Angel Maya Angelou wants.

 

It makes sense that she would use Sarah, as my connection to Maya Angelou is linked to my friendship with Sarah. In the Spring of 2002 Maya Angelou spoke at our college in New York thanks to the painstaking efforts of the students involved in the Women of Color Club. Her message of activism inspired the rest of my life. When she sang, the huge packed auditorium went dead silent, you could hear a pin drop. It sounded a bit like this:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtdffxj7pNE

 

At the time, Sarah and I had just finished Co-Directing The Vagina Monologues for our school’s first ever V-Day college campaign to benefit the local YWCA Aid to Victims of Violence Unit. Maya Angelou blew our minds. I bought her autobiography afterwards called, “The Heart of a Woman” and was just astounded to learn that, like Eve Ensler, Maya Angelou wrote a play in an effort to create positive social change.

 

THIS was my calling.

 

My heart wanted to right all the wrongs that my GIANT brain could readily see, but I knew that I still needed to learn HOW to be heard. So, I went to law school and excelled. I got to stand up for victims of violence. I got to represent children in the middle of nasty custody disputes. I got to work for Family Court Judges as their Law Clerk. I even got a very nice thank you letter from a Family Law client, which is almost unheard of among attorneys.

 

However, this was not my calling.

 

I don’t want to argue. I don’t want to be lied to. I don’t want to be in a position where I witness children being used as pawns or bait.

 

I want to be heard. I have a lot of important things to say.

 

I don’t have Maya Angelou’s height or booming voice, but her spirit is within me.

 

I will shoot my YouTube videos; that is a promise.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

 

Aside

Belly Breathe

Hey, wanna know what my greatest parental achievement is to date?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA

 

Watch this Sesame Street video.

 

The belly breathe. I promise you I am no parental expert, but this is my story:

 

As I was staring at the computer screen, watching Belly Breathe on YouTube for the millionth time, holding my son, dreaming about how I used to be a lawyer back when people still talked to me and I still left the house regularly, it hit me that I was not breathing.

 

Why aren’t you breathing?

 

I’m thinking.

 

Can’t you do both?

 

Then I started to really pay attention to the song and it became clear why my 10 month old son has been insisting we watch this song every day for the last 2 months: it’s because we breathe together and we talk about breathing. Someone WAS talking to me, my son, as best he could. I thought he was trying to drive me crazy, pointing and grunting, for me to play the song, screaming and crying, for me to play it again. He was arguing with me: mommy, we need this. You need this.

 

So we belly breathe and we talk about it and we apply it to our daily lives.

 

The second he started talking, one of his first words after the basics was: breathe, with my baby actually putting his tiny hands on his tummy and watching his belly go in and out. Mommy proud.

 

“Breathe Mommy,” he says to me sometimes, when I get to thinking too hard about complicated things. Mommy grateful.

 

Flash forward to May 2014. Jackson is 2, I am holding him BC he is sick, his tummy hurts and he needs mama cuddles. So we are belly breathing, as we do in this house, and my sweet boy threw up real adult size + smelling vomit through my hair, deep into my sports bra, onto this brand new Kelly Rae Roberts couch I got for my wedding anniversary gift and onto the carpet. We sink to the floor together, all the while I tell him calmly:

 

That’s right, great job, you are throwing up and you are ok, yes baby, breathe, that’s right, perfect, breathe baby!

 

I get excited at this point, or ‘cited (!), as we call it around here, BC even though he is just 2 years old, he still remembered to breathe, to focus on breathing when he could, even though he was scared and felt out of control. He let it go. He breathed.

 

We high fived.

 

His Dada rushes around removing blankets and clothing that have been puked on, as we sit together and talk about how he just did an incredible job throwing up.

 

Do you feel better?

 

Yup.

 

Ok. Mommy will always take care of you baby.

 

Thank you Mommy.

 

Mommy?

 

Yeah baby?

 

{make throwing up noise} sick. Kitty sick. I sick.

 

Oh you got sick and now you are just pretending to get sick?

 

 

Yes, the belly breathe; it’s a practice in this household.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

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Aside

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