Journaling & Healing

Journaling is a fantastic healing exercise.

In my first YouTube video, I showed 4 of my journals and explained what I use them for.

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In my last blog, I complained about how I only brought one of the journals on vacation (obviously to conserve space—traveling with a baby necessitates SO MUCH GEAR—right, who’s with me?).

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My Feelings Journal.  A place I hope to fill with positivity and good feelings. Well, as I mentioned in my last blog, I had a bit of a rough go on my Rocky Mountain National Park vacay due to the triggering of my PTSD injury and, needless to say, my feelings journal took a dark turn.

And that is GREAT.

Why?

Because it’s just a journal. Better the journal take a dark turn than me, right? Listen, I struggled with journaling for a LONG time. Meaning: I did not want to take the recommendation repeated to me over and over that journaling my feelings will help me manage my PTSD symptoms (like RAGE, terror, loneliness, grief, etc).

Why?

I did not want to have a record of thoughts I feel are not me. Who says these things? Who feels this way? Are you sure you want to leave a paper trail of…this…???

LISTEN UP:

I feel very strongly about journaling now because, as I mention in my YouTube video, PTSD RECOVERY, it has actually improved my overall physical health after 10 months of making it a daily practice.

I feel so strongly about encouraging others to do the same thing for their own health that I am willing right here and now to share a journal entry with you. An ugly journal entry to boot. Makes me look terrible.

Here it comes…

WARNING—this journal entry contains ADULT LANGUAGE—I would give it an R rating if it were a movie, but it’s just a journal entry in a blog, use your own judgment…

“Dear Sleep,

Fuck you. We’re not even friends. Every time I let go and go with you, you show me memories that grip me with the fear of imminent death. Over and over again. Like you’re trying to condition me, to strengthen some weird muscle. Well it doesn’t work like that. Cut it out. Fuck you, sleep. Stop showing me death. I will care every fucking time. You can’t break me, sleep, not after all I’ve been through, I’m too strong, I love myself. I do have a family, I made it myself. We are unbreakable. Show me that when I close my eyes. Truth. Reality. Right now in the present. Let it go. I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s over now. Love.

*Right after I wrote this, I went back to staring out the window. Full moon. So bright. Wishing I could see another moose walk by the house like last night. Saw a shadow behind me in the house. Told myself to be brave, it’s my husband or my son. Went toward the shadow in the darkness. It’s my son trying to get back into his own bed where his Dada is now asleep after a power struggle from earlier. “No blankets,” my son tells me sleepily as I help him get his butt back into bed and he curls up next to his Dada. I cover him up anyway, rub his back and he’s asleep immediately. I smile and walk back to the window and BAM—just like I wanted, a huge moose walks right by the house from the bright full moon-lit road into the woods. I’m smiling so huge, feeling all sorts of gratitude when suddenly a baby moose pops out and jogs the same path, following it’s huge mama. Whoa. Wish my husband could’ve seen it. Now I’m at 8 and he is at 7 total sightings so far and it is only day 4 of our week-long trip. Fuck you, sleep—you gotta stay up late to see the best life has to offer.”

So, that was one journal entry…

More?

Ok, here is what I wrote the next day:

“We stopped by the petting zoo at the Ranch on our way back to our cabin and I found myself feeling better. I don’t have my self worth all the way back to realization yet, but it’s better. I deserve to live. A baby cow, a calf if you will, was kinda stuck in a corner with a rope in it’s face; I showed Jackson and another very interested little boy how to help the calf back out of the tight spot he seemed to think he was stuck in. Just like a cowgirl. I was proud of myself. The little boy became my friend and showed me how to feed the donkey and miniature horse because I said I was scared to. I did it. I was proud of myself again. I always make friends like that with children at parks because I pay attention to them and make them feel important, smart, interesting, and like they have a lot to offer. I do that because it didn’t happen for me. It wasn’t like that. I was so worried, so scared, so traumatized and nobody demonstrated care. Nobody asked. Nobody was kind to me. That’s why I ALWAYS made a joke out of my plight—so that someone would listen and respond. That’s it. If I could make them laugh, then I knew they kinda got it. If I told the truth without humor, people would just stare at me and then walk away. Awkwardly. Then I knew for sure I was weird. Not right. Not going to get any help. Ever. If I could make people laugh and show them I could make lemonade out of my lemony circumstances, then at least they would pay attention and know what was happening to me. Then at least I wasn’t all alone. I know now that I am all alone. We all are. But we can have MOMENTS of community, of understanding if we choose the right people to share with on a regular basis. Choose friends and family wisely.”

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Journaling helps. I promise.

XO

~Rachel

Hiking and Healing: Rocky Mountain National Park Style

 

When you live in the desert—summer vacay is essential for your sanity.

 

In my first YouTube video, I mention how my husband and I have a life goal of hiking in every National Park in America. Well, we brought our toddler to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in the hopes of, among other things, spotting moose!

 

It’s OK that I forgot to bring my National Park Passport because I got that park stamp 9 months ago when my husband and I came to celebrate our 10-year dating anniversary.

 

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We saw zero moose on this trip in the Fall of 2013.

 

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We had 15 moose sightings this time in the summer of 2014.

 

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Amazing!

 

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Every single time we saw moose, the hairs on my arms stood up, I got goosebumps, my heart would beat so fast and I would smile HUGE, much bigger than usual. Dream come true.

 

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But I still have PTSD and I was a little nervous because the last time we were in Colorado, my PTSD was triggered, resulting in cyclical vomiting that lead to dehydration and a sexy anniversary out-of-State Emergency Room visit so that I could hook up to an IV, rehydrate and calm down my intestines. Cha Ching. (I am currently in the appeal process with my Insurance Company who decided that visit was not an emergency…it’s hard not to take personal that dehydration leads to death but whatever insurance company, whatever).

 

I don’t know why that happened to me last time I was in Colorado, but I was determined to not let it happen again. I have come SO far in my recovery process and the idea of bringing my toddler to the ER is anxiety provoking in itself.

 

Having my son along on this trip was a very different experience. He did not take a nap one day that whole week. He was so excited he fought sleep the entire time actually; waking at 6 a.m. every day like a rooster and succumbing to exhaustion around 10 p.m. after hours of “it’s bed time, Jackson.”

 

It shouldn’t matter, but the fact that the area we stayed in had no internet or cell phone reception threw me for a loop. In my first YouTube video, PTSD RECOVERY, I describe a myriad of Mind, Body & Heart exercises that I do to heal from my injury. Well, a lot of what I mention involves accessing the internet (Research, my nightly Meditation, my Yoga podcast, etc.!!) and taking that away was kind of devastating to me emotionally.

 

You see, I got triggered.

 

One of the symptoms that my PTSD presents is an exaggerated startle response. I have managed it for decades. Sometimes it is worse than others. Basically it means, I am WAY more startled biologically than the situation warrants.

 

So I’m sitting on the porch of our cabin and it’s after 10 p.m. but I’m still waiting for my husband to join me (meaning my son is still awake and it’s my husband’s turn to make him lay in the bed by staying there cuddling with him until he falls asleep).

 

I hear a noise behind me that seems like 3 adults very carelessly tramping through the forest in the dark. Not talking. Before I turn around, in a matter of seconds, I feel and think a million emotions and thoughts.

 

Terror. Calm down. Don’t scare them by screaming, calm down. Confusion. Yeah but why are they in my back yard? It’s a rental. I don’t know. Oppression. Why would 3 grown people walk so quickly and brashly toward your back porch in the dark at night without talking? Oh no. What can be used as a weapon…nonchalantly…so they don’t get mad in case they weren’t trying to rape you, just talk to you…in the dark…at night…in the woods…alone…no phones…so aggressively…

 

All of that and more in a matter of seconds…it was sickening. So I turn my head slowly to see what’s behind me moving so quickly and it’s a huge moose walking the length of our cabin.

 

My thoughts at this point are so erratic, I can’t describe them well enough to do it justice but I can tell you that I had an overwhelming VERY PRIMAL feeling that I was in the presence of a dinosaur.

 

“Dinosaur”…I whispered in my own head dramatically as I realized that, without thinking, I was already standing at the back door trying desperately to get in the cabin, get away from the 10 foot moose that was 10 feet away from me.

 

The doorknob betrayed me and WHY?!

 

LIKE A HORROR MOVIE, SOMEONE IS STANDING THERE IN THE DARK ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR HOLDING THE KNOB!!!!!!!!!

 

Yeah, it’s my husband coming to join me, finally.

 

A…moose…

 

I guess at this point I am very much like John Candy in the end of the movie The Great Outdoors when he’s all “big bear chase me…”

 

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And seriously, I don’t even go in the house; I am already intellectually ready to get my moose spotting on (though my physical and emotional needs have not yet been totally understood let alone been met) because I know how rare and special this is. And I’m trying…

 

Ah…PTSD. You bastard. Taking my moments and making them…difficult.

 

Honestly, this startling experience really set the tone for the rest of the vacay.

 

It seems so bratty, why can’t you just enjoy your dream vacation?

 

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Impromptu pony ride in our pajamas? Why not.

 

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Hiking:

 

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Visiting with my lifelong friends who came up for one night of AMAZING memories:

 

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But it wasn’t just the lack of internet or phone. No potted plants, no fancy bubble baths, no Jillian Michaels DVD’s, no vision board…limited to only one book and one journal (!?). Tough. Especially when my other PTSD symptom resurfaced: rage. Yup, I have it. RAGE. It came upon me suddenly, as it always does.

 

I try to manage my symptoms as best I can and rage is the easiest for me to spot because it’s so…not me. It’s not logical. It’s not kind. It’s not loving. It’s not what I want to be doing or feeling at all. So what I do in those moments is take a walk (a healing exercise that was, thankfully, still very much available to me on vacation).

 

I mentioned in a really kind, calm, casual way in my first YouTube video that I like to hike or take walks around the block—as a healing exercise. Please allow me to add this caveat: I am not kind, calm or casual when I am walking as a healing exercise. I am furious. When I am done walking (my body knows when it’s over) I am not furious anymore, I feel better.

 

Luckily, when the rage bubbling up finally surfaced, my husband and son were riding a huge horse together into the Rocky Mountain National Park and I was given 2 hours to do what I wanted without a toddler in tow. Perfect time to freak out. I don’t drive when this happens because it’s not safe. So I left the car keys with my husband and walked (stomped) 6 miles back to our cabin from “town.”

 

If I knew it was 6 miles I probably wouldn’t have done it, we had plenty more hiking we were going to do as a family later that day. But I am glad I did. I needed it.

 

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I know now why Rambo walks alone. I mention in an earlier Blog post that Rambo First Blood is the greatest PTSD story ever told. In the beginning of that movie he is shown walking alone for what seems to be miles. Whenever he meets up with someone in that movie, the loneliness only seems to become more evident and it also intensifies. Me and Rambo have a lot to think about while we walk.

 

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Was I doing positive mantras while I walked? Oh hell no. It was ugly…

 

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Yes, I was looking at the Rocky Mountains thinking very dark thoughts. Until I heard an old truck slowing down behind me. I look briefly behind me to see a beat up truck approaching me with the passenger window down.

 

How tough is Rambo now? My first thought was: go ahead and try to murder me, stranger, I’m in the mood to fight right now. Very quickly, my second thought was much more intense: he’s not going to kill you Rachel, it’ll be worse…then my brain imagined all the scenarios that are worse…so when he said:

 

“It puts the lotion in the basket”

 

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I was like: excuse me?

 

“I’m going to the Windy River Ranch, you want a lift?” Literally in the same deep terrifying voice as the killer (Buffalo Bob) from the movie Silence of the Lambs.

 

No thank you, I am super close to my destination (not true) and really enjoying the exercise but thank you for asking!

 

I smile and look him right in the eyes as if to say: don’t hurt me. He keeps driving. I realize now that I am 3 miles from my destination and it bothers me that I have seen so many R rated movies but also that we do live in a country where women are blamed for their rape. I looked down at my American Flag tee shirt like, do I look like a whore? Wedding ring is on. Check. Ok. Replay the movie Silence of the Lambs in my mind for the rest of the walk…think about how it sucks that women get kidnapped for the weirdest reasons.

 

Finally made it to my cabin and now have blisters on the balls of both feet. I cry. Hard. I begrudgingly drink water but feel way too upset to ingest food. I shower, I journal, I nap and when I wake up, my husband takes us out for ice cream.

 

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I’m overcome with emotion as I watch my son’s face jumping off of a dock holding his Dada’s hand.

 

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Over and over again.

 

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It was here in this moment that I began to find myself. My mantras started to flow: this is your family, your family is beautiful, you belong here with your family, I love you, Rachel, stay here with your family who loves you.

 

Love yourself.

 

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The journey is not always pretty. Be kind to yourself along the way.

 

XO

 

~Rachel

Abortion & Dirty Dancing (the making of my 2nd YouTube video!)

 

So I finally did it.

I said what I have been wanting to say, a story I have been building upon for decades.

Decades!?

Yes, since I was 7 years old I have been telling myself the story of Abortion and Dirty Dancing.

This is a 25 year old baby I’m pushing out and I need your support.

Remember Penny? Remember how she got knocked up by Robby the creep and needed $200 so she could get an (illegal) abortion and keep her job??

I do. When I was 7 that hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that I would DEFINITELY spend my summer vacation learning a dance routine to perform one time at the Sheldrake Hotel for my friend (who I just met) that needed help. Damn. Wouldn’t you?

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The making of my second YouTube video was, once again, the experience of ME operating on all cylinders. I was FINALLY getting to say what I wanted to say in Law School 8 years ago, but was too afraid, thinking that if I revealed myself they would withhold my degree…or worse.

Abortion is a very EMOTIONAL subject. I am 100% empath so trust me when I tell you that emotions are running HIGH when it comes to this topic. (Are you an empath too? Take this quiz to find out).

Emotions are awesome, we as human beings are meant to feel and experience them all. I learned every single day in Law School and then in legal practice that emotions are not welcome in Court. Fine. This video I made is about focusing on the real issue (freedom) without using emotion (religion) to justify my legal argument.

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Huge shout out to my husband for making a Sunday date out of CAREfully arranging all the pieces in this set together with me. I noticed he has an eye for set design, as well (LOVE!).

 

My hope is that you find my legal argument REFRESHING!

In 2007 when the Supreme Court decided to legally preclude doctors from using abortions to save women’s lives, the natural order of the universe was disrupted. Science is not intended to save babies and kill their mothers, that’s not natural selection, that’s not evolution, that’s not Darwinism and the societal consequences on a grand scale will be disastrous (a world full of adult feral children?!).

WAKE UP–“pro-life” = big beautiful preggy lady deserves to LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trust me, out of all the people in law school and in my legal community, I am the only one I ever heard talking this way, so if I make you SO angry (by arguing that pregnant women should be allowed to live) that you feel like murdering me, please don’t do that; please try to breathe it out and comfort yourself and remember that I was once an unborn baby too, so by your very definition I remain a precious life that deserves to go on living. Also I have a  baby of my own to raise and murder is definitely illegal in America so try to calm down please.

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During my film making week, I became filled with anxiety and fear about HATERS, but each time, I received a sign to keep going.

 

“Real success isn’t trading your humanity for power, isn’t selling your soul. People who do pay a terrible price, whether or not it appears so, whether or not they know it. If one leads an authentic life, this becomes clear. Very clear. We receive a phenomenal sense of integrity and wholeness. But this is the stickler: Rewards from the external world may or may not follow. Grappling with these issues is at the heart of what it is to be human.” ~ Judith Orloff, Intuitive Healing.

 

The first was the excerpt above that I read in my book while relaxing on my hammock for 15 minutes.

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Then I saw this:

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And I knew that I had to practice courage.

And then I saw THIS:

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And I knew that I had no choice but to keep going.

I know what I am talking about. I know who I am. In my first YouTube video, I mention the health benefits of learning about yourself so that you can truly LOVE yourself. I have done countless exercises (and will continue to do so) to get to know myself but my favorite so far has been the discovery of Carl Jung and the 16 personalities. My therapist recommended I google search the 16 personalities to find out my own personality so that I could better understand myself. I recommend EVERYBODY do so (seriously all the time, I send my friends the link to the quiz and beg them to share their code with me because it teaches me so much about them and how to better interact with people in general).

I am INFJ. Just like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I consider Dirty Dancing to be the greatest movie representation of an INFJ character–Baby–ever told. Do you remember Baby’s face when Johnny tells his cousin that Baby will NEVER be able to learn how to do Penny’s dance routine? Oh, that’s my face. I can do anything, just like Baby from Dirty Dancing. INFJ is an introvert who will take great efforts to appear extroverted for the purposes of the greater good. That’s what I’m doing here with my second YouTube video and my YouTube channel in general for that matter.

I’m blending all the things that I know how to do as a result of my experience and education: Write, Design, Produce, Direct, Public Speak, Raise Awareness for Social Change, Legally Argue, and maintain creative control and artistic integrity. This has lead to me feeling more empowered and more like myself. This has lead to a strange spread of warmth throughout my entire being that I am certain is my body’s way of telling me: I LOVE YOU, RACHEL. Thank you for allowing ME to be ME, Rachel.

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People are noticing (strangers!). I have been asked to do 2 interviews so far about my YouTube videos and volunteerism. WOW! Every day in my house has become a PRIDE parade of me, lead by me and for ME because I am proud to BE me.

Do I still get upset with me? OMG yes! My inner critic still shares space inside of my head but no longer drives the vehicle; no longer has the power to SCARE me away from who I’m supposed to be. Do I still get scared? OMG yes! On the daily, that is actually what my next blog is about: what to do when the inner critic is WAY too loud, even when you’re out of your element.

Stay tuned and thank you for your support!

XO

~Rachel

 

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

 

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