Where’d my Back-to-School season go with all the stupid Old Navy commercials?
Is it too late to pick a cool-ass Halloween costume?
- How about an Angry Bird? lol
Come onnnnnn… REALLY?
So… do you mean to tell me that in, like, three or four days, we’ll all be cooking over hot stoves, or paying large checks at fancy restaurants, or serving the homeless at the local soup kitchen for that long-anticipated (but ALREADY HERE) day of Thanks????
HOLY EL DIA DE GRACIAS, BATMAN! I’m not ready!
But…. but…. but…. well….
I’ll just dive on in.
If you haven’t picked up on this yet, one of the things I absolutely love to do is write. One of my favorite things to write about is what I am truly thankful for. I try to do this over Thanksgiving each year. It’s generally in the form of an email to my closest friends and family. This year I’m doing it here and now for you all, because, well, I think we can all use a good dose of perspective. I hope my perspective helps to improve or solidify yours. Perhaps it will inspire you to share this with others that could benefit from some perspective as well. Nevertheless, it is my gift to us all (myself included).
As I look back on this year, I can summarize it in only one word:
It’s true. I’m sure words like”Scandal,” “Bankruptcy,” “Uprising” among others ring much truer for many of you, and were more expected, but for me, the word is HOPE. And, HOPE, my dears, is a word I choose because it is in stark contrast to the two or three years prior to this. Those years could be summarized for me as some of the darkest, most “interesting” years to say the least. And when I think of the word “interesting,” in this context, I think of “texture”. My life was chock-full-of “texture” between 2008 and late 2010. I could heave a butt-load of “texture”, right about now. I’ve had my fill.
BUT, November of last year (2010) up to now sparked the return of Hope to the canvass of my life. YAYYYYYY!
“Hope” sorta took a vacation during those extremely difficult years just prior. Here’s just some of what went on in what I’ve dubbed as the “ugly skin era” (you’ll see why in a bit) – and this is where the perspective part comes in:
In the spring of 2008, I went through the breakup of a three year relationship. This, I was not entirely devastated over. I loved and truly cherished the man I was with, but I also credited that relationship with the loss of my younger son (and there were many other reasons for the breakup). My son (then barely 12) begged and pleaded to live with his dad when he and my significant other could not get along. I had always promised my son he could live with his dad if he still wanted to at 12, but by 2008 we were in year one of that situation. I finally ended the relationship with that partner, and moved back to Los Angeles from Colorado (where I’d been living an “adventure” for three years). I had hoped my son, who was about to start high school, would gleefully jump back on board and come to live with me again. It was not to be. He’d formed lasting friendships and wanted to ride out his high school years with those friends. I couldn’t blame him. I’d purchased a lovely two bedroom condo in L.A. to accommodate the possibility, but I understood his need to stay settled, but this was devastating. It was a painful sting that still remains (one of life’s little gifts that keeps on giving).
Later that year, due to poor economic conditions, I lost my largest business account (over $250k/year), along with the means to viably support myself, sans that account.
I did what any responsible person would do. I looked for a job. I re-crafted my resume to suite at minimum five hundred different job opportunities, sent it out, along with individualized and personalized letters to each. Out of that period of eighteen months, I had three interviews. Me. The person who prided herself in landing the jobs (plural) of her dreams, whenever she put her mind to it. This time, it was not to be so. I was either over qualified, under-educated or just a bit out of their desired age-range. And in every single case, the same position I was applying for, which was paying pennies on the dollar compared to what I’d earned in decades past, had received hundreds of over qualified, Ivy-League educated applicants. The competition was fierce, and while I muddled through looking for options, I took whatever work I could get.
In early 2008, (just prior to the housing market creating a financial and economic implosion all around us), my mother suffered a major stroke. She struggled to try to reconnect her neural pathways, with limited health insurance, and no long term care coverage.
A little segue here for impact:
My mom was Italian. If you know Italians, you know they love their food. Every spice, consistency, flavor. It’s an art to them. My mom was no exception. She loved to cook, and when we grew up everything mom created in the kitchen was incredible and delicious. Even her “Swiss Steak.”
In December of 2008, before my financial stability took its toll, I flew home for Christmas to cook a lasagna feast for my family. They’d been struggling to keep the family business afloat, the family home up and running, and our mother’s health and wellness up to par. They were exhausted, and they deserved a little treat. That’s where I came in. Our mom came over to the house Christmas day (from the nursing home), and visited with us, while the aroma of garlic and tomatoes filled the air… she smiled even as the hot garlic bread was coming out of the oven. She would NOT enjoy this feast, because she was still unable to swallow after her stroke, and was on a feeding tube.
It was no wonder then, with the next holiday season, she’d had enough. It was just before Thanksgiving. All attempts to integrate swallowing resulted in food in the lungs and recurring bouts with Pneumonia. She was hospitalized with one such bout. After seeing others on her floor receive their Thanksgiving meals of turkey and mashed potatoes, I think mom just hit that breaking point. When the nurse came in to put liquid into her feeding tube, my mother reportedly asked her, “Is this all there is?” (meaning, am I remanded to a feeding tube forever?) When the nurse, said “Yes, honey… for now, it is…” My mom made the decision and informed us all that she was done fighting. She died on December 3rd of that year.
Mom was one of my very best friends. I could call her at any moment, and say something random like “Hey! So… remember that time we were watching that movie and it had the guy and the girl dancing…” I would go on, and my mom would jump right in to try to help me figure out the name of that movie, it’s leading man, or the name of the song he sang. She and I laughed together over the phone, or had those random conversations so regularly, I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone anytime I can’t remember whether Bing Crosby sang “that” song in “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”
I won’t go on and on and boar you with every detail of every loss. I’ve written tributes to both my mother (part 1 and part 2) and my beautiful sister Mimi Sherwood Larimore, who died the following year from a long battle with Ovarian Cancer. She left me as the sister I was closest to… my “connection” to the elders above her in our large family… and she was so much more. The sister that made everyone laugh out loud so that they cried. So much more. But her death (more so than our mom’s, who chose when she would go, and had lived a full, long life) caused that WAKE UP and GET WITH IT realization of what is truly important. What true priorities are – and how precious life is. It created in me that desire and push to reconnect the dots with my older sisters and brothers and form loving lasting bonds with them as well.
So to summarize, here is a snapshot of the two years prior to this recent year of glorious, unadulterated HOPE:
- Break up of a three year relationship & move back to CA
- Son chooses to stay with dad (out of state)
- Business implodes
- Job Search Returns Nada (no unemployment available for “self employed” so now what?)
- Mom Dies
- Sister Dies
- Fellow single mom, whom I help out with a place to live, basically robs me, and never pays what she owes..
- Financial decline leads to condo mortgage going into default (the first time EVER in all my years, even as a struggling single parent).
And this, my dear lovely men and women, brings us to this current year of HOPE.
BEAUTIFUL, INCREDIBLE HOPE.
I say hope, and it is true, but the past year was also when I chose to sell my home at a significant loss (that financial fallout is not yet over…). I also discovered I have the BRCA2 Gene Mutation for Breast & Ovarian Cancer, and will undergo aggressive procedures to eradicate my risk of those cancers very soon. Ahhh, hope. The fuel for KINGS & QUEENS.
Why am I telling you all of this? And why on earth am I re-living these moments right here in black and white for all to read just before Thanksginving… The holiday for which we are to reflect on all we are grateful for? One could easily think I am an attention whore – and – well – DUH but this has nothing to do with that. If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably begun to see the bigger purpose. As I said before – I think perspective is important. And many times I myself get consumed with the seeming insurmountable amounts of crap and negative situations that surround us. I want us all to realize that, despite how difficult the circumstances… we humans are resilient. With a little perspective, (and hope) we can change our lives.
Also, it is incomparably cathartic to recount the losses from a place outside of that loss. So pardon me while I go on and on in order to reach catharsis. LOL!
Yet, after reading of All. That. Loss… especially with my uncanny mad-skill for the dramatic, my reasons for hope may seem extremely simplistic, or too practical to you. They are exceptionally real to me, however, and run very deep.
Here are a few of the simple reasons that this past year is dubbed the year of HOPE:
- November of 2010, I had, for the first time in months, a PR client who could actually pay what I asked, and who ended up being a gold mine (in comparison) of client referrals. I ended up with two other clients as a result of that one client. This great connection sparked the first glimmer of Hope and kicked off my full year of Hope.
- I actually began to see some traction for job searches and my outreach in that regard. This time, I had paying clients, and was in the familiar and comfortable position of being “choosy.”
- I sold my condo at a significant loss, but had access to cash that had been tied up. This enabled me to:
- take care of much needed and long overdue repairs on my car
- get some medical attention for my body (the BRCA2 Gene discovery, as well as the upcoming procedures, notwithstanding),
- purchase much needed equipment for my FUTURE – so I could take my business into a new direction – video / television production. I bought an iMac, a MacBook, a Canon camera and lighting kit, as well as all the editing software we could want or need.
- pay for a self-publishing package so I can FINALLY get that AWARD WINNING (Best Unpublished Manuscript at NY Book Festival, 2007) BOOK PUBLISHED! YAY!
- I was invited to produce my first set of television shows (online), and associate produce my first Award Show. Two bucket list items, realized.
- I fulfilled the desire to honor my sister and her suffering with some sort of story… My BRCA2 gene mutation emboldened me, but I wanted people to know about this horrific feminine cancer somehow. I didn’t quite understand how, but when I was diagnosed, I decided I would share my story. I started video taping everything about my upcoming surgeries, the tests required, the procedure. My hope is to produce a documentary that tells the real story of genetic testing for Breast & Ovarian cancer. I could be a ticking time bomb, or I could live until I’m a hundred, but I want the true story to be told. The loss of my condo, my brand new video taping equipment, my gene mutation (mutants rule!)… all of it happened for a reason, and I plan to seize the moment… the opportunity. I have also agreed to be on an episode of The Doctors that will tell some of the story, and educate people about the testing and procedures available. Ahhhh. Hope.
Like an onion, I’ve been peeled and stripped of what I refer to as the outer, ugly skin — you know… that dried up paper thin layer of skin on the outside?
I didn’t think my layers were ugly. My sister and my mom certainly weren’t. They weren’t even part of my skin. It was MY skin. It was ME that changed. That’s what I get for having the intention to always GROW. WHATEVER… I think I’m pretty grown now! But no, I thought my “skin” was pretty great. I wanted to keep that skin and those layers. When I struggled and cried, and had sleepless nights, my psyche was consumed with the longing of “Can’t I just put some fancy cream on that layer, or take a pill, or read a REALLY GREAT self help book and get the same result?” and “Why is so MUCH happening to me, and why does it never seem to let up?” I’m still HERE though. So all that crap can STICK IT. I’m not going anywhere, and it’s not going to bring me down.
But NOW! Well! Though I’m an ONION (ha ha), I am at the freshest, most VIBRANT point. I am renewed. I’ve let go of so much (and there are no surprises or mistakes). I’ve been stripped of things I thought I truly REQUIRED, and yet, I am still here. I am STILL laughing. Sometimes I think, like a mad-woman, I laugh, but still…
I continue to enjoy love (with my man M.C. Nugget, my two sons, my girlfriends, my sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews). Just watch any of my ridiculously silly, but funny videos, or read any of my blogs or ramblings about life and love. I STILL enjoy EVERY single moment. In truly LIVING each moment, and allowing life to teach me what it will, I am either learning, loving, or laughing (sometimes more than one at a time), in each and every situation.
This is the essence of HOPE, my friends. And this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the gift of HOPE. As I’ve just recently been blessed with one of those rare, goose bumpy moments when I relived the THRILL I have in life… of living so close to the beach, of the vibrancy and health and LOVING LIFE attitude in Southern California… of living with such a percocious band of beach lovers all around me… of being able to ride my beach cruiser to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and sip on a cup of joe, and see other people SMILING AGAIN, after struggling through their OWN rugged terrain of recent years. That very second was magical… and I am so thankful.
My perspective may seem like NOTHING compared to some of the trials you or your loved ones have faced in recent years. But regardless, I’m glad you are here.
Have an incredibly full and very warm and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy each bite. Be sure to bite off more than you can chew! I know I will!
Stay tuned for next week’s post – another episode of MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN MOMENTS. This time I turn a regular ole happy hour into a lesson on Branding. OY. And, I haven’t forgotten to tell you the story of the WHIPPETS and Ms. Cheevious’ friends. One more time: OY.
Love you people!!!
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