When Hell Froze Over

Are We There Yet?

Words that should be banned in all extended family vacation car rides from sea to shining sea- words parents must dread as they enter a car, even for the shortest of short distances… are we there yet?! But really, are we? March is like the never ending story.

poshand I don’t mean the Falcor kind of Never Ending Story.

Throughout the day I catch myself enchanted in daydreams that involve beaches, ice cold brews, and flip flops. As the flip flops, or thongs as my mother likes to call them, dance around my head, I can feel their gentle kick to my face as I step outside into the tundra of New York. When did I say I agreed to the winters here? It’s the cycle of New York living- I’m all about embracing being a New Yorker until the weather gets too cold or too hot.

My inspired can do attitude is swiftly turning me into a ninety year old curmudgeon. I can hear myself now:

John, pull the cahhh around, it’s too cold out thehhh.”  

Which brings me to my little secret- a few months ago John and I booked a vacation to Playa del Carmen, Mexico! And I couldn’t be more relieved thankful excited! I decided to hold off on writing about it for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t like to brag because I understand how painful it is to read about the joys of warmth when you are trapped in an arctic hell that has frozen over.

There is nothing more annoying than sitting huddled in your ice cold apartment that isn’t properly heated because your landlord is the devil in your own personal hell (breath) and then you log onto facebook to mindlessly scroll through the lives of others to forget the fact that you are freezing, then you find yourself stalking perusing the tropical paradise vacations of bliss that everyone but you seems to be on. Equally as annoying: when your friends in Florida remind you that you, like all of the intelligent New Yorkers that thought to escape, could be in Florida as well.

Another reason I didn’t want to write about my vaca is because I love trying to forget about vacations I book so when the time draws closer to my trip it’s like a giant surprise. I realize that sounds bizarre, but I am bizarre. I have developed this system where I don’t talk about it, I push it into the portion of my brain that I reserve for ninth grade algebra and zumba classes, and I try and leave it there. On days like today I bring it back into my mind for comfort.

So as I ask the question of the century to mean mean March: are we there yet? I’m fully aware of how annoying I could possibly sound to every reader. Which is why today I felt the need to declare that I will soon be in the sun kissed heaven that is Mexico, along with everyone else on your newsfeed!  Now I will scream from the mountain tops of Word Press, I am going to Mexico for a whole week and if I don’t return it’s because I’ve realized the rent it too damn high and the winters are the definition of evil. 

Interestingly enough… when the summer arrives in New York I will forget all about this post and rave about how fabulous it is to live here. That’s because in the summer I store all memories of winter in the crevice of my brain reserved for tax season, Latin, and the words to every Nickelodeon theme song. I wish you all the best as us folks in New York embrace another snowy week!

Until then, I will be warming up in hot yoga.

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That Time I spent $600 on a Ring

With a title like that, how can you not want to read the rest of my post #pretentious #seriously?! Well, hear me out before you block me for an obnoxious title because I’m going somewhere with it. It all started one year ago as I entered Bloomingdale’s with my mom…

There, sitting behind it’s glass, caged palace, like a trapped Disney Princess was a ring that was in dire need of a rescue operation. It glistened at me as though to say save me and just like that I knew, it will be mine.

Now, to be frank, I’m not a things person, in fact, I do not like to spend more than $10 on a shirt if I don’t have to. I used to love salvo stores and held way too much pride over a bag I found that was less than a dollar. It could be because I destroy and/or lose everything that I touch, but I rather spend my money on things like-

  • my exorbitant rent (worth it for the beach)
  • vacations (the part of life that makes me feel like I’m living)
  • activities that make me happy (races, yoga studios, the gym)

And though I knew the ring and I were destined to be together, I also knew that it would have to wait- when you love something let it go. If it was meant to be, it would be. I thought about this ring more frequently than anyone should think about an inanimate object. Finally, nearly one year after my original deliberation I decided to splurge. My precious… you are mine.

Within one hour I received a compliment on my ring- this thing is paying out. I may have possibly even kissed it goodnight as I tucked it back into it’s special pouch.

As the week wore on I began to feel guilty… I don’t think anyone should have spending guilt, but something bothered me. It seemed like everything I discussed that week was on materialism, child labor, blood diamonds. I felt like the devil was sitting on my finger. Then I went to yoga and had left the ring on my finger. As the ring laughed at me, we discussed intangible and priceless aspects of life- elements that have no value because they are so valuable. Why did I want this ring so damn badly? To stick to being truthful, it’s because it’s shiny and pretty, and I like shiny and pretty things. It’s not that I don’t love this ring, but I did start reflecting on the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is value and worth. It’s how we quantify things in life. Most of what holds value in my life means little to nothing to another person. This week solidified this view even more- after I signed up for the Lupus Foundation of America’s Walk for Lupus, the donations started pouring in and by today I am up to $1,250, surpassing my original goal. A single person that donated $10 contributed to learning more about a disease that is so unknown and ultimately, we can only hope to find a cure within my lifetime. Thanking each person individually will not be enough to express how many times over I am truly thankful. Your donation speaks to the solidarity that I have with each and every person that contributed.

Today was a special day in the school that I work in, a day dedicated to the human spirit and this years theme was overcoming adversity. Though speakers were brought in, I chose to talk to my classes about lupus. The thought of doing this was terrifying on many levels- speaking openly about something I have kept private for so long was unthinkable. My old fears began to resurface, fears of judgement and fears over taking down a protective wall that I have built up for so long. My commitment to lupus and this blog allowed me to challenge my fears as I spoke openly for the first time about living with a chronic illness.

As each class walked in they were greeted with a poll on the smart board. The poll was interactive and enabled them to use their phones to answer the prompt on the board anonymously (website I used). The question was simple:

How much do you know about lupus? 

  • Very well
  • I know a little bit about lupus
  • I’ve heard of it but I don’t know what it is
  • I do not know what it is

As they texted their responses, the results calculated in front of their eyes. They shouted at the board, that was mine! Wow! This is cool! Like the statistics show in the United States, most of my kids had heard of it or didn’t know about lupus at all. We then spent the remainder of the period discussing everything from the basics of what lupus is to my life with lupus. I spoke truthfully of the anger, fear, and isolation that I felt upon diagnosis. I spoke about the growth I’ve experienced and where I’m at now in the ten years that have passed. Ultimately, I’m happy to know that each one walked out of my class today with the ability to now say when asked about lupus that they know about it very well. 

Today brought me more joy than a big old rock on my finger could ever do. Sure, bling bling is fun, but what’s better? A kid coming up to you at the end of class and saying thank you, how can I donate to lupus? 

Lucky Thirteens, 2014

One of my personal favorite posts was written when I started this blog. In it, I explained why I started this blog as well as the struggles I faced when I was first diagnosed with lupus (trip down memory lane for the post!) How’s that for a Throw Back Thursday?

As much as I claim to be an advocate, having lupus still contributes to 50% of my anxiety. I don’t want people to know, but I do want them to know, but I don’t want them to create an opinion, but I want them to understand the disease… It’s a sick cycle. And then there’s the other component, my “survivor’s guilt” as a person that doesn’t have it that bad. I understand the ludicrous nature of that statement, but at times I feel like a sham when I discuss lupus. Maybe I’m just not giving it the credit it deserves. When I’m tired I never attribute it to fatigue, I just figure it was a long week. When my hair falls out I say I am a high-shedding girl. When my body aches I believe it’s because I put in an extra mile at the gym. I refuse to admit that my lupus affects my day to day life and It isn’t until I literally can’t walk or I’m breaking out in rashes that I acknowledge my disease.

For the past ten years one of the biggest issues that I maintain with having a chronic illness is that it has the ability to make me feel like I have no control over my situation. The reality began to come to me this year- I do and I have. Since my diagnoses ten years ago I have made decisions that have impacted my health- and fortunately, for the better. I chose to change my eating habits. I chose to start practicing yoga. I chose to try to run. I chose to sign up for a half marathon. I choose to wear sunblock regularly. I choose to go to sleep when I’m tired. I choose to forfeit a night out for my health. And while these choices are not always the easiest, or my favorite, I choose to do them because this is my life, my health, and my future.

Well, today I took a big step in my life with lupus- not only am I going to present on lupus, but I also signed up for the New York City walk in May. I couldn’t be more thrilled and terrified to put myself out there. As I feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins, I’m proud to be part of the people that advocate for this illness, and I’m proud that I have people on my team- literally, and figuratively. We are the Lucky Thirteens. Four years ago we were a top fundraising team in NYC, here we go!

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‘Murica

Today a friend posed a point that made me think about this question:

Do Americans expect to be happy and therefore are continuously disappointed when their expectations aren’t met? Are we a consumer society, continuously expecting NOW, NOW, NOW?!

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Is this an American thing? Is it a 2014 thing? Followers from other countries, I would love to hear your perspective of American culture and American culture in relation to your own.

Also- are people actually doing this? American parties (click me!)

Happy Tuesday!

Smile, Beautiful

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Just loading that imagine onto this page scared the be-Jesus out of me. But that’s pretty much how I looked as I crawled out of bed in an effort to transition into what the clock called 5:30 and my body called 4:30.

I dragged myself into my living room and for the first time ever did some morning yoga postures, stretching out my tense running legs. I was surprisingly surprised to find that a few stretches (plus the smell of brewing coffee) helped make me more alert. I decided in that moment that our life is the mindset we create- it’s the intention we set for ourselves. I began to think about last Friday and the negativity I was holding on my shoulders as I mustered false smiles and insincere laughter. I have this little pet peeve- I hate insincerity. I hate falsifying anything, let alone my happiness. What kind of crap is that! And with that, I looked to change my perspective for this week.

This morning, I got up, I was a character from The Ring, I completed some yoga stretches, and something clicked. Maybe it was that much needed Saturday dose of vitamin D hitting me, but I knew today was going to be good.

It was an ordinary day, I worked, in fact I put in a 10.5 hour day, I got home with enough time to change only to run out the door to go to yoga. I got home, ate leftovers (ridiculously delicious leftovers…), and now I’m writing. There was nothing unique or special about today. But I smiled all day and I caught myself hysterically laughing on multiple occasions. And today I felt my happiness emanating from my whole being. There was nothing notable, remarkable, or outstanding about today. It was a Monday. But I was smiling, and it was genuine.

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The Turn Around

This time of the year is when many of us start to crash, myself included. The lack of sun, outdoors, and warmth create an atmosphere of misery in which going out for a casual dinner can even become more tedious than desired. So, I have to go outside…again… In the snow… Or rain… Or below 20 temperature? I’m actually watching Netflix tonight. And enjoying a cake by myself. This was even the subject of a recent conversation with friends: we need to force each other to get out or winter will be horrible. Even when you don’t want to, just go. And so, I have slowly, but surely, gotten myself into the winter blues. There seemed to be no remedy except the sun. And then it happened-

The news said it was going to be 50 and sunny, and if you know about us New Yorkers- that might as well be 80 and sunny around this time of year. New Yorkers love to emerge out of our state of hibernation at the first sight of sunshine- you may even think it’s bizarre that on a fifty degree day you will see girls in short shorts and people driving in their convertibles top down. And while this may seem like a harsh winter day to some, for those of us surviving a polar vortex, nearly fifty is heaven.

Despite not feeling my best, I’m on the brink of lupus related issues (fatigue, soreness), John and I decided to make the best out of the day and take our bikes out for the first time since the summer. We meandered around the streets, taking our known routes that have become so familiar to us. We then flocked to the boardwalk like many others that were looking for a chance to live in the presence of sunshine for a day.

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And when it’s sunny in New York, just like a hot summer day, you will naturally finish your day off with frozen yogurt.

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And though I would love for this weather to continue, and days that hit 50 are merely a tease, I’ll take it.

Happy Sunday! And day lights saving, which only means one thing, we are closer to summer!

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And today I’m going to skip the gym and bask in the sunlight before we get snow again this week! I’ll take what I can get.

The Road Less Traveled

Tonight I’m writing for accountability because my sole enjoyment at the moment is coming from my couch and chocolate.

On Sunday I attended a chocolate expo and confession I can’t stop eating my purchases. This is only problematic because I’m pretty sure I’m eating my emotions- eating feels so good. It makes me happy. Somehow, if I can only focus on the sweet and salty taste of the gourmet chocolate treat I’ve been binging on, I can temporarily think about nothing else. Until I’m done with the piece of chocolate and I’m left feeling disappointment- where’d it all go?

To clarify, there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate. If anything, power to you! The issue is that since last week I have been trapped in a hole of nothingness. This blog was created with the intent to spread positivity, so I hate to turn this into a snooze fest, but I have to be real. Since last week life has been emotional to say the least. I am still struggling to rationalize David’s passing and working with teenagers complicates these feelings. Ultimately, I want to fix them. I want to help them. I want to let them know life is beautiful, and wonderful, but full of challenges. I don’t fully understand why I feel this overwhelming sense of needing to help others- the truth is, I feel powerless.

This deep rooted reflective state that I’m in is not helping my health- I can feel the exhaustion from the lupus and I feel my energy and excitement in training waning as a result. I bring this up because all I want to do is eat garbage food. Somehow in my life I have allowed food to be a thing of comfort. Tonight I needed to write that down. This is my post of accountability. Tonight my goal is to turn it around. My favorite things to do when I’m upset are close people off and eat food. Neither of those options seem like the path I should take given how far I have gotten up to this point. So I’m going to take my road less traveled and I’m going to run. Not away from problems like I have done in the past. I’m literally going to go for a run. And I hope in my run I can find solace in the fact that there is only one controllable thing in my life- it’s the choices I make. And that’s why I pay it forward. I want to put happiness back into the world. I believe in saying hello to people, and smiling, and asking people how they are. Not because it’s what’s “right” but because I genuinely care. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep doing it, it will help even one person.

Oh, and thanks google for the inspiration.

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Dear John,

For three years…

You have been my traveling partner
D.C. / Virginia – our first trip in 2011

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Mexico 2012.

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New Orleans 2013

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And all of our trips in between from Boston to Chicago to Vermont to Manhattan

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You are always my date.

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especially at weddings where we can dance our tuchos’ off

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And you help inspire me

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You make me feel strong enough to write and strong enough to run. In fact, you run with me even when you don’t want to.

You even make the mundane better. Because we are tired on Fridays.

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I know how much you love pictures so I felt that this post was the best way to express how much I love you.

Happy three year anniversary, my wonderful, caring, intelligent, kind, hilarious, boyfriend. Three years ago you paid for my ice cream and I was so confused. Friends don’t let other friends pay for ice cream. And then you asked me on a real date- I couldn’t be happier. You are a partner in every sense of the word and I will always appreciate you for that.
Let’s never change- love,

Tal

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