A ‘GTL’ Memorial Day Weekend #MDW

Hi y’all! Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! I was actually thinking earlier about how, even though my weekend was more on the relaxing/ getting organized side, it actually still fit into my old-school “Guido Jersey”-themed Summer Kick-Off MDW’s… Ya know, back when I could more easily bounce back from a weekend of lush drinking and dancing on bar stools.

In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m from New Jersey. When I lived in California and someone asked me where I was from, they usually responded with, “But you don’t look like Snooki!?”, after I told them.” I, then, usually retaliated with: “You’re stereotyping.” And, also a: “Not everyone looks like they are DTF in New Jersey.” I always got a kick out of their faces after that one. 🤣

Anyways, I did go out Friday evening– Had a fun time catching up with a friend I met last year on a film set, (It was actually the first film I shot, just six months after my surgery) and then we met up with my coworkers at a Summer Kick-Off/ Birthday Party.

 

Saturday I hung out with my brother, sister and her family at her friends’ BBQ in Pennsylvania (not too many fist pumpers there), and then the rest of my weekend was more on the GTL scale (Gym, Tan, Laundry.) – which I’m completelyyyyy and utterly okay with. In fact, I’m proud of myself.

*Disclaimer, I do not go tanning anymore. I ruined my skin quite enough in college when I fried myself twice a week. The "T" for "Tan" nowadays represents some other form of grooming. In this case, mani/ped.

Any ways, I tell you all this because I know I spoke about patterns in my last post. Patterns and break downs/ panic attacks, etc. Well, earlier this week my “patterns” got the best of me and I finally cracked. Wasn’t exactly a good moment for me. However, it helped push me past the “awareness” period I was in, and into a “take action” zone. Enough was enough with all of this chaos. It was time to get organized. After weeks of living a chicken, running around with my head cut off lifestyle, I’m sure you can only imagine what my car and room looked like. (I’m a commuter, also remember that. Yeah… there’s the bigger picture.) So I spent the past few days “manicuring” my car and room- (don’t worry, my own nails and feet also got some necessary attention)- And now I feel like a whole new person!

It’s so true that if you are living in chaos and clutter, your mind will reflect chaos and clutter. So if you are feeling this way, don’t feel down on yourself for partying this weekend. That’s necessary too! All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl. Just make a note, this week, to declutter and get organized. Which leads me to my next tip… Write. It. Downnnn!

A friend and I were talking a few months ago about how we have/ have had anxiety attacks (at that time I hadn’t had one in a while… Shot myself in the foot there, didn’t I?). We both live somewhat entrepreneurial lifestyles which can be great in many instances, but in others, it can be extremely complicated and stressful. The biggest and best thing I’ve learned lately is to write shiiiyyyat down. We saw each other again recently and talked about how writing our tasks down has made our lives so much easier and less complicated. Because even though you might have a great memory, you’re actually exhausting energy thinking about and grappling for the different tasks you have to accomplish. If it’s written right in front of you, you’re not exhausting any energy thinking about it, because it’s right there. It also feels sooooooo good to cross it off after you’ve accomplished it. Seriously, try it! And really strike it through. MUCH better than just placing a simple check next to it. Checkkkkkk! 😉👍🏻

Also along the lines of writing things down… Time Blocking. Now this is something people have been telling me to do for a couple of months now. And I know I need to do it. I even SAY I’m going to do it. And yet I still haven’t done it. Bottom line, I’m resisting and just need to tackle the damn task. So that’s my next goal “To Do”, after I’m done with this post. (See, I’m purposely writing this here to hold myself accountable. And I’m holding all of YOU accountable today, to help me with that. HA!).. And maybe it will inspire some of you to do the same thing, if this is something you need help with. I met a new friend at my sister’s friends’ BBQ (I looooove meeting new people BTW. It just fascinates me how there are so many people out there that are so interesting and have such wonderful stories to share 0:) Sorry, had to deter there to express that, for a moment.) Anywho, he’s ALL about time blocking- which was funny that the Universe/God introduced us. It’s like it was literally yelling at me, “TIME BLOCK ALREADY, CAROLINE! IT WORKS!!!” Okay, okay, okay alreadyyyyy…

Now, what does any of this have to do with Scoliosis? Also, like I said in my last post, Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. Your mind and nervous system is probably sending you in different directions, on a pretty continuous basis. That’s okay! You are most probably a very creative person. Which is AHHMAZINGGGG! Embrace it. But it is probably, also, your Achilles heel. Find the balance by writing things down. Just seeing your thoughts and “To Do” tasks down on paper can do wonders for your mind and assist you with staying on a more fluid and concise road. (Vs. the trepid, yet spastic and curvy road of your past.)

Listen, no one is perfect. And all of your flaws and past mistakes, are actually beautiful, imperfect and have made you who you are and are still bringing you to where you are going. Embrace them! And be kind to yourself… that’s another thing I think we all are working on. I know it can be tough to look in the mirror and see a body that is curved differently than others. It’s probably easier to pick yourself a part for a rib swaying in the wrong direction… or for that scar that you NEVER wear backless shirts to reveal… or for those rods you feel inside your muscles, that make you stiff or conscientious of the way you’re sitting or standing at a fitting, in a performance, at work or on a date. I know, I get it. But let it go. Those qualities are things about you that make you stronger, gentler and more intriguing. Do yoga, stop over-thinking everything and just breathe. You are imperfect. You are H U M A N. Breathe.

I stumbled across this card a very dear friend to me gave me, right around the time that I had just moved back from California and was about to have my spine fused. I was depressed and down on myself. I didn't TRULY value it's message, then. I mean, I got it, but when I saw it again, while cleaning my room this weekend, it made me genuinely happy. And that was when I knew I was TRULY on a road to the beauty in imperfections. I KNOW I would be a different person today if I hadn't made the mistakes I made or gone on the journeys I have been on. For all of them, and for all the people I have met along the way, or left behind in the past- I am so INCREDIBLY grateful. You have made me who I am, today. A fierce Woman Warrior, that I am truly proud of. Be proud of your journeys, as well... Life is beautiful and we only get one ✨💫🌟

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and thinks positive thoughts. It’s a short one, so if you have nothing positive to think about, remind yourself of that. Or go for a long walk, exercise, eat some Dark Chocolate (there’s healthy ones!)… get those endorphins going. Or better yet, go get yourself a manicure 💅💋😉

‘Til next post. XOXO,

Your Little Fighter 💫

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.)

IMG_7182

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”.

IMG_2161

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:)

IMG_7834

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 )

IMG_8418 IMG_8419

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! 😉

IMG_8467

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

Exes and oh’s,

You’re Little Fighter <3