Memories, Mindfulness and Family

Sometimes I feel an itch to write and be creative… but I don’t know what the hell to write about. Or actually, it’s not that I don’t know what to write, it’s more like I have so many thoughts and ideas spinning around in this crazy head of mine that I don’t know which to grab on to and run with — Argggh!

Some might refer to this as being “heady”, while other fellow writers might file it away under “writers block”. Amy Poehler talks about the hardships of writing in her New York Times Best Seller, “Yes Please!” She basically reiterates over and over that writing is hard and she hates it. “The End.” This would make me laugh out loud because I completely and utterly could relate! (Side note, this was not the only thing she wrote about. It’s a really great read about her journey as an artist, woman and mom. Read it, it’s great.)

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So yeah… writer’s block. See how I’m procrastinating? I first started this draft last week on the eve that my baby brother was coming home for a visit. Right now, he’s exploring life in Denver, Colorado, but decided to come home for his birthday. As we waited for his delayed flight to finally land, I decided to tackle a new entry, but instead, wrote about how I have “writer’s block” and how I asked my Mother to pick up, not one, but three different ice creams from the grocery store so we would have dessert options that night. (Don’t worry, it’s been edited now so I’m going to spare you the boringness… Is that a word?)

But this just goes to show a few things… One, I was starving and trying to tackle a blog entry. (Great idea, Caroline!) Two, when you are going through something, you are too far “in it” to actually see what it’s really about… let alone write about it. Last week I had A LOT on my mind. Today is Sunday and I went to church. I can’t say that all of the things I had issues with this past week were solved, but I can say that I’m at least at peace with all of it heading in the right direction.

I was thinking about this at church earlier and thought about how in my last post, I said I wasn’t religious. I realize now that I guess I don’t consider myself “religious” because I still do things that probably aren’t the most “holy of holy”.

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But isn’t that part of being human? I don’t know. I’m still figuring out my beliefs and life, so I’m not going to put a label on anything… and I actually don’t think I need to. All I know is that I feel better now. Plus, it always makes a person feel better about themselves when they are able to be there for another… and today, I was able to do that for my Mama 0:)

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She came home crying after dropping my brother off at the airport. “My heart hurts,” she sobbed. My Dad responded with, “Uh oh, well maybe you should make an appointment with Dr. Rao this week.” Dr. Rao is my parents’ heart doctor, FYI. (Very funny, DAD.) To be honest, it was sort of funny and made us laugh ;P But she still needed some comfort. So I went over and held my Mom’s head in my arms while she cried (and of course I teared up as well because I’m emotional like that.) But it made me feel good to be able to just give her some support and be there for her… I always feel good when I can do this for her, or my Dad, because it feels like I’m giving something back to them for all of the support they gave me throughout my back surgery and journey with my health.

As we get older, I think it’s harder for us to be there for one another. We all work, have families, and are aspiring for the next best thing… a bigger house or apartment, an engagement ring, a baby, a raise, a promotion, an acting job, our story to be published, night school after work, cooking classes… and then still have adult responsibilities – like paying bills, cleaning our homes, taking care of ourselves and our families, etc…. it goes on. You get it. So yes, it is hard. But my brother said one thing in particular that stuck with me while he was here, and it went somewhere along the lines of that at the end of the day, you really only have family and friends. Because we are all going to die one day, so you might as well spend your days with people who love you and fill your heart up. Sorry, I know I’m getting sappy here but it’s been on my mind lately so I wanted to share it.

IMG_8482                                             The Broham. He might kill me for putting this in... Whatever <3

The other thing on my mind lately? Accessing old memories. Now I’m not talking about the ones where you reminisce about the first time you rode a bike, had your first sip of alcohol or first kiss (though those are fun to look back on too, though ;P ). I’m talking about the ones ingrained in our bodies, brains and make-up. Our human survival instincts. So like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been craving ice cream lately. And watermelon. (It is summer, after all!) So, last week, I had some time to kill in between an audition and a meeting in Union Square and hit up Barnes & Noble.

(I LOVE Barnes & Nobles! I could spend hours in that store… walking around and reading snippets of the books I’ve been “meaning to read”, grabbing a coffee, staring at the cheesecake in the Starbucks food display window – don’t do itttt, don’t dooo ittttt! – and of course, stumbling upon a new Best Seller, Romance Novel, Nutrition discovery or Celebrity Cook Book. Most of the time I don’t end up buying anything… mainly because I’ll go home and purchase it for $10 less on Amazon Prime. (Sorry Barnes, I swear I love you ;P )

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Anyways, that day, I stumbled upon one book about adrenal fatigue and heightened cortisol levels (which I have suffered from). It also touches on why you crave certain foods and what it could be, that your system is lacking. One of the usual “culprits”?  I C E  C R E A M !  (See? I’m normal!.. And not pregnant, I swear ;P ) This, apparently, usually means that your body is lacking calcium and magnesium. So, I made a mental note to add more leafy greens and yogurt to my diet this week.

There were other interesting food facts, BUT the most interesting of all was something I had already learned about through my acting training but was nice to be reminded of… How our brains store sensory memory. Ice cream triggers memories of childhood – A time in our lives when we were (usually) provided the most codling, comfort and support. I’ve been super stressed lately… hence the reason for my body craving some coddling, comfort and support!  (I’ll have three scoops of the Banana Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor with chocolate sprinkles in a waffle cone, please? 😀 )

Ironically, also last week, my trainer, where I go for Physical Therapy, showed me a new exercise hat involves accessing an old memory we first learned to do when we were babies. Before we could walk or crawl, we learned how to turn over. I’m 11 months post-op now, and I’ve been in physical therapy for 3-4 months. My uncle asked me earlier this week, how my back was doing. “Ya know.” I replied. (Although I’m EXTREMELY grateful when people ask me how I’m holding up, on certain days, it’s more sensitive of a subject matter than others. Oh the human psyche.)

Obviously there are other variables involved on those particular days, but in a nut-shell, I’m still stiff. I’m DEFINITELY not as stiff as I was prior to me beginning physical therapy, but I still have progress to be made. All that being said, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is going to be something that I will be living with for the rest of my life. I have two rods in my back now. They will be there forever. The negative part is that some days I’ll be stiffer than others. (Stress, weather, exercise, lack of exercise, emotions, etc. – they all play their roles.) On the positive side, however; when y’all are 90 years old and look like hunched over question marks, I’ll still be looking like a straight-up exclamation point! Booooo-yahhhh! 😛 LOL! #SorryImNotSorry

IMG_5687                                              My scar a few months post-op. It looks SOOO much better now. A reminder to myself to take a new picture of what it looks like NOW. Regardless of what it looks like though, I LOVE IT. It's my battle wound and a part of who I am.

Anyways, the exercise has me laying down, flat, facing the ceiling with arms out-stretched above my head. I then lift one arm straight towards the ceiling, tongue in cheek, and twist my head towards the opposite arms arm-pit (yummmm). The other arm reaches over and across my body and I use my eyes, by focusing on a specific spot, and my tongue, to help leverage myself to flip over WITHOUT USING MY LEGS. (We are “babies” remember? We don’t know how to use our legs yet.) Sounds weird that your eyes and tongue would help you flip your body over but it definitely helps.

Anyways… So every morning, when I attempt this extremely difficult exercise (yes people, it’s really hard. For ANYONE. – Back surgery or heavy weight-lifter status…) I access an “old familiar feeling” while struggling to turn over. Now, I know I’m an uber-sensitive person and have a great imagination, but I swear there is a familiarity to the motion. As if I’ve already done it before. Interesting, right?! Whatever, I think so. Also interesting that this simple exercise is helping to stretch my ribs out more, make them more malleable and flexible again and also activates and strengthens my core. Yep, INTERESTINGGGG! 😀 😉

Anyways, at the bottom of this post is a video I recorded a couple of weeks, post surgery. I’m still on pain meds and experiencing different shifts and pulls in my body in it. (You’re spine is still fusing for three months after your surgery, keep in mind. So be patient with yourself. And kind. —> MOST IMPORTANT 😉 ) I’m also extremely constipated from all the pain meds so I took up walking (hence my sweatiness in the video). This was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my body and mind! I still walk almost every day! (And dance. Yes, I dance around my neighborhood. My neighbors catch me dancing and singing all the time. They love my crazy ass though, so it’s totally fine ;P )

Some people have recommended swimming to help strengthen and loosen the muscles but, as of right now, that’s not going to work for me. I tried it for the first time yesterday (11 months post-op) and I felt extremely claustrophobic in my own torso afterwards. So I don’t recommend it, but again, every body is different! 😉

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K, enjoy! Oh! And drink aloe water… that helped a lot with constipation too 🙂

Exes and oh’s,

You’re Little Fighter <3

 

 

#UpToUs

Hi y’all!! How’s everyone doing? I, for one, am feeling a bit melancholy this week.

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I do believe that laughter is the best medicine and that there’s enormous amounts of power in positive thinking, but I also believe that when you feel something you should feel it. With what is going on in the world right now with all of the shootings, bombings, racism, lack of respect for each other as human beings– it’s honestly and truly just sickening.

I know that, as an artist, I am more sensitive than other people. Perhaps not everyone can relate to a situation unless they, themselves, are going through or have gone through it. I get that. So maybe you aren’t affected this week by what went on in Dallas, Minnesota or Baton Rouge… Which is honestly mind-boggling to me, BUT that’s okay. I get it. I accept and respect people for who they are. (Hey! – I have brothers, okay? If you’re male, you hate to feel anythingggg… although, one of my brothers is actually very sensitive and hates to admit it. HA! 😉 )

Anyways, society tells us – men especially – to not cry, to buck up, calm down, relax, shut up… I could go on but you get the point. So I’m just one of the many (yes, there are many others speaking out against this now), to tell you not to be the norm. If you’re upset, frustrated, saddened, etc. right now, then it’s okay! In fact, YOU SHOULD BE! But, get it out. Write it down, journal it, go for a run, listen to some awesome music, cry, scream, draw, box, DANCE!!– Do somethingggg if you don’t want to actually TALK about it — but get it out.

I think it’s great that people are protesting peacefully. But it should be peaceful. Our nation was founded on Freedom of Speech. Police officers around the world are risking their lives to make the cities safe for its citizens’ to voice their concerns, yet they are still being given no respect. Hundreds of people were arrested across the country this weekend. Why?! Why can’t we have a civil conversation and respect each others’ opinions? Before the Dallas shootings, I was actually really proud of NYC for their camaraderie with the protests. I was in the city that day for an audition and it actually seemed like just another day… even the police were being supportive of the protesters. That’s the way it should be.

So, I think if people were more apt to go through the motions of dealing with their feelings, then there would be less violence in the world. People wouldn’t be bottling up all these emotions, causing so much confusion and pent-up aggression, and more people would be communicating (key word here). Relationships would be better… between human beings and countries. I really do think the world would be a better place. But… that’s obviously not going to happen… Or can it?

I just went for a really awesome walk, listening to Meghan Trainor’s new album, “Thank You” (if you haven’t heard it yet – GO LISTEN! It’s phenom!!), and danced around my neighborhood. (If you follow me on social media or know me personally, then you know I dance my feelings out a lot. And most of the time it’s around the streets of my little neighborhood in New Jersey 😛 )

Earlier today, I went to church and it was actually a really awesome sermon because he spoke about what is going on in the world and how priests and our government are doing nothing anymore to help our country. He also added that he doesn’t blame them. Society gets uncomfortable when people bring up God. It’s not “cool” and it’s “outdated”, or perhaps it’s just not “PC” enough. I, for one, don’t really give a shit what you think. I believe in God and I post about it. Whatever.

I’ve been on dates recently and if I’m friends with him on social media, he always ends up bringing up the fact that I’m “religious”. (Which I think is really funny because I don’t really consider myself “religious”. I’m “spiritual”. 😉 ) I was raised Catholic but I don’t believe in a lot of the things the Catholic Church preaches. So I don’t really consider myself religious for that reason. However, I am proud to say that I have a really awesome relationship with God. I think he’s awesome 0:)

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He helped me through my journey with my health, my spinal surgery and he helps me now when I’m feeling lost, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated with my career, or even with stupid frivolous issues — Like “boys”. (Insert eye-roll here.)

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The priest also spoke about the government and how it is in shambles and being pulled in so many different directions, today. There’s so much corruption within the system, that no one trusts the politicians anymore… Which led him to preach about how it us up to us. “Us” as in “the people”.

Shailene Woodley posted a photo on her Instagram page with the hashtag #UpToUs, encouraging everyone to put race and gender and everything else aside and start being kinder to each other. I completely agree. When I heard about what happened with Philando Castile and the cops in Dallas, I was honestly so disgusted with mankind and our country that I needed to take some time to process all that I was feeling. How can there be so much hate in this world? And why does everyone have to lump people together? Why is racism still an issue? Why do people still see colors? And why do people point out the color of their own skin? Why are we killing one another??! I’ve been told that I don’t really get this because I am white and have never really experienced racism. I admitted that they are right. But, I have experienced injustices throughout my lifetime, just as any other human being has.

Now, I get the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In fact, I really loved what Obama said a few days ago about how, “when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.” Amen! I completely agree with that. However, some people take the movement to complete extremes. These are the “bad apples” of the movement. Just as there are “bad apples” in the police force. So shouldn’t we start looking at all of this as a whole? Especially after what has happened over the past week… or actually over the past month! (Let’s not forget Orlando, people! God bless their souls 🙁 ) And shouldn’t we start looking at how far we have come?

In fact, I think y’all would be happy and interested to hear that I have found it to be harder for me to get a job as a white, thin, blonde, female actor, still building her career, in today’s world. Yep, no lie. It’s all about “ethnically ambiguous”, “plus-sized” and “quirky” humans these days. My manager even said, “I hate to say that your beauty is hurting you… but as a blonde, thin, female today, it’s harder to get you in rooms.” So you should know that. I’m frustrated with this, yes. But I also think it shows just how far our country has come. And that, I am very proud of. So can’t we start looking at the positives in life, take notice of the mountains we have crossed and stop competing with one another? We are all humans. Let’s support each other and start acting like it.

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Sorry guys, I don’t usually talk about politics, religion or this type of stuff in my blog entries or social media posts, but I thought it was important this time. I talk about my feelings… remember? 😉

 

Exes and oh’s,

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