A Love So Pure

I knew the day would eventually come when I’d have to say goodbye to you.

But when I brought you home from the pound on that fateful day in July 2005, saying goodbye was the farthest thing from my mind. We were just getting to know each other then, and truth be told: I was a little bit afraid of you. You were wild by nature. Doggie gates couldn’t keep you contained… not by a long shot. The first time I left you home alone without the crate, I put you in the kitchen. The gate was twice your height, but you somehow met me at the front door upon my return, with the gate still in tact and upright. So, the next time I left, I hid and watched you through the window. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you scale the gate like a skilled 4-legged rock climber. You catapulted yourself onto the other side and proudly pranced around the living room. That’s when I learned how unstoppable you were.

Soon after you came home with me, I held your little furry body in front of me and asked you if you liked me. You bit me that day, with your sharp puppy teeth and I worried that you weren’t my biggest fan.

And when all the other dogs learned commands like “Sit!” “Stay!” and “Come!” in Puppy Kindergarten, you learned how not to bite and growl. Some said you were too crazy and that puppies shouldn’t act like you. But I’d already fallen in love with you, even if you hadn’t fallen in love with me yet too.

It was love at first wink

So, we worked together to break those pre-disposed aggressive tendencies. I fed you out of my hands for almost six months to counter potential food aggression. I joked that you were my little terror, and I’ll never forget dragging you around the apartment as you latched onto my ankle like a maniac most mornings while I got ready for work. Giving up on you wasn’t an option, and I had faith that you’d eventually evolve into the sweet girl I always knew you could be.

The three-year-old girl next door fell in love with you too only she couldn’t say your name quite right. She called you ‘Nilla like Vanilla, which led to ‘Nilla Bean and ultimately your forever-nickname, Nala Bean.

As time went on, you grew to be so strong. You became my protector, and you made me feel safe, especially as a single female living alone. I knew you had my back and I actually liked the fact that some people were afraid of you when we walked down the street together.

You showed me all the funny and cool tricks that were unique to you: You loved edamame and ate it like a human… popping the beans out and leaving a pile of pods. In your prime, your jaw was so strong that I could lift you off the ground when you latched onto a toy and you just wiggled in the air, refusing to let go. When you discovered how cool flashlights were, I could keep you busy for hours as you chased the beam of light. Balloons were a favorite also, and you loved to bounce them up in the air with your nose. I think your record was 20-something bounces in a row. Chasing and popping bubbles was another super fun pastime of yours.

You gave me more than a couple heart attacks when you sprinted from the house without a leash on (you were so freaking fast!), and I’ll never forget the time you came home in a cop car after one of those getaways. You crossed 54th Avenue, a really busy street here in St. Pete and I was so worried about you.

When a police officer drove by and saw me running through the neighborhood in heels, with makeup streaming down my face from tears, he initially thought I was a crazy lady. He pulled over presumably to see if I was insane, and that’s when I told him how you bolted from the house and I couldn’t find you. Then, we saw you dash through a nearby yard and the officer took off after you. A second police officer just happened to to show up and help. The three of us chased you for over an hour, all the while: you had the time of your life. You bounced, bobbed and weaved through yards and around a lake, enjoying every moment of the game. Eventually, you got tired and hopped into the backseat of the police car, and that’s how we got you home.

When I hit rock bottom with my depression, you were by my side. I hid my mental illness from everyone around me, but you saw it all, and you were there for me in a way that only you could be. Your love was exactly what I needed when I felt like the world around me was crumbling. You looked at me with those sweet brown eyes and rested your little head on my lap when I cried. You always knew how to take care of me, even when I didn’t know how to take care of myself.

You were five years old when Jim entered our lives, but you didn’t let him into your heart right away. He had to earn your trust, just like I did, and I’ll always remember the day I walked into the kitchen to witness the first belly rub you let him give you. He was so excited to have finally bonded with you, and from that day forward, you became “Daddy’s Girl.” I know you know that he loved you just as much as I did. I’ll be forever grateful for the adventures that we all shared.

Family Road Trip!

When we moved into the new place, we discovered beautiful routes to take on our walks and cool places to sit and rest. You made friends in the neighborhood, like the same-age Golden Retriever who always greeted us at the fence with her toy. She’d shake the toy like crazy whenever we walked by, and you pounced in the yard, running back and forth, playing and following her movements. I know the two of you looked forward to seeing each other every day. But after your knee surgery, our walks got shorter and we stopped going by that house.

I wandered the neighborhood this morning and your friend was still there. She’s got a white face now, just like you did, and she doesn’t move nearly as fast. But she must have remembered us… because she sprinted to get her toy and met me at the fence, tail wagging, just like the good ‘ole days.

Our special spot under the shady tree

As you got older, you took up new habits… like sunbathing. When the weather was nice, you loved nothing more than to lay in the sun and roll around in the cool grass. You usually came in the house covered in dirt. Then, we’d give you a bath and you’d go crazy afterwards – running around the house, nose diving into rugs & blankets, in an effort to dry yourself off.

Your quirky, silly personality never ceased to amaze me… like how you crossed your paws, so very lady-like or how you laid sometimes, with your little legs sprawled out like a frog.

You had an uncanny way of ALWAYS photo bombing my product shoots when I took pictures for my ETSY shop. I couldn’t be mad about it though. You sat right inside my hoops and posed like a pro.

When your beautiful face started to turn gray, I began to accept the fact that you wouldn’t be with me forever. Still, I didn’t want to think about it or talk about it. I called you my little badass because you were so resilient, even as an old lady, and I joked that you defied the laws of nature.

And while you still sprinted at the end of our walks because you knew I’d praise you for it, I could tell you were slowing down. Of course, I understood this day would eventually come, but l also couldn’t bear the thought of losing you… my best friend.

But you let me know when it was time, and I had no choice but to let you go.

The carton of leftover strawberries we shared just a few short nights ago still sits in the fridge. And as I type this, my vulnerable heart ping pongs back and forth between feelings of heartbreak and gratitude. Heartbreak because you’re gone and gratitude because I had you in the first place. You would have been 14 on May 5, and even though you’re no longer here in physical form, you will live on in my heart forever. I feel so privileged that I got to be your dog mom. I love you Nala Bean.

Nala Bean: May 5, 2005 – April 29, 2019


From Pissed to Peaceful: How to Deal with Anger

“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” 
—Yogi Bhajan

I think the above quote accurately sums up my reason for writing this blog. I write to better understand the world around me.

Today’s topic is an uncomfortable one for me, and it’s most definitely something that I’d like to move through and heal from. I’m writing about anger, in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of how to process this emotion in a constructive way.

Anger often leads to confrontation. Some people try to avoid both at all costs while it seems that others seek out anger and conflict. For many, anger creates a physical reaction – an adrenaline rush. This could manifest in the form of sweaty palms, a quickened heart beat, and erratic breathing. For others, the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism prompts a “get the hell out of here” response. It’s fascinating how the very same emotion can trigger completely different reactions in people.I became curious about this, so I asked family and friends whether or not their reactions to anger are physical. Some said yes. Others said no.

Does it have something to do with the past events of our lives? If so, should I blame my reactionary ways on my New Yorker father who’s never hesitated to lay on his horn and give someone the middle finger after being cut off in traffic? Or was it caused by the verbally abusive ex-boyfriend who showed me a whole new level of anger? Could it be the fact that my parents divorced when I was young and some of my first memories are of their heated arguments? No. It’s too easy to place blame on my past, and blame only perpetuates the negative emotions.

In a recent podcast interview I listened to, Oprah asked Deepak Chopra what he knows for sure. His response: “Nothing.” This man is considered to be one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time and he claims to know ‘nothing’ for sure. (Side Note: Here’s the podcast if you’d like to check it out):

I started to wonder… Why do we fight so hard to be right?

Like everything I write about, this blog post was driven by an experience. I decided to write about anger after I found myself in the middle of a disagreement. It happened in public, and it was embarrassing. The details of the disagreement are irrelevant. It’s since become clear to me that it was ego vs. ego, as most arguments are. It was a fight to be right, and nobody wins that fight.

In this particular confrontation, I most definitely experienced a physical reaction. It was like an out of body experience, with negative emotions steering the ship instead of rational thinking. When we’re in this head space, it feels like a moment of temporary insanity. The ego is in charge, not our higher selves.

It might be true that those who grew up in very peaceful homes with minimal confrontation are simply less prone to being pissed. They could simply be less reactionary and less likely to fly off the handle when they’re angry as a result. These are the people I aim to learn from. While the past events of our lives may influence our instinctive reactions to anger, they don’t dictate the future. At some point, we need to take responsibility for the way we show up in the world.

Hatred is like drinking poison and then waiting for it to kill your enemy – Nelson Mandala

I think part of what makes this blog uncomfortable for me is the recognition that I still have more work to do in this realm. When I really go within and think about it, I don’t want to create suffering for another person… ever. I don’t hate the person who I was angry with. It was a passing moment – a little blip in time when we didn’t agree on something. That’s it.

It’s less important to be right and more important to be peaceful. And when it comes to the way we choose to present ourselves in this social media-driven “look how awesome I am” world, it’s humbling to publicly admit our faults. The truth is, I could have handled myself better in that situation.

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My husband Jim: The most peaceful person I know and one of my greatest teachers

In an effort to further evolve as human beings, we must learn from our mistakes. In doing so, we hope to recognize behaviors that do not serve us or the world around us. Recognition then turns into self awareness.

Noticing physical reactions to anger when they first show up might enable us to distract ourselves from impulses (“Oh, isn’t that interesting? My heart rate is quickening and my palms are getting sweaty.”) From there, we can use tools like breathing to move into present-moment awareness and choose a better-feeling thought.

The intention is to stop the anger in its early stages before it takes on a life of its own. So, the next time I feel a physical reaction to anger, my intention is to bring my awareness to it as quickly as possible. The goal is to get better at this practice and ultimately show up in a more peaceful way moving forward.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Blog comments are always welcome and appreciated. Finally, and with some help from my sweet little sis, I’ll leave you with happy vibes today:

be joyful


See Ya Later Hater

Negative Nellys, Haters, Naysayers, Debbie Downers. They may have different names but they’ve got the same agenda. They exist to block your path and to bring you down.

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It’s quite possible that many haters don’t even realize they’ve moved into this role. I’d like to think that people don’t go through life with the desire to inflict ill will on others. Therefore, I believe the negative influencers are expressing visceral reactions from lower level consciousness. In other words, they aren’t coming from a place of higher self awareness.

We’ve all been there. My Negative Nelly showed up with a vengeance when I was in my deepest throws of depression. I don’t think I consciously wanted to bring others down, but I was seeing the world from a bleak perspective. So, that’s what I projected to others. It’s clear to me now, but it wasn’t clear to me then. I now know that my negative perspective towards others typically bubbled up from suppressed emotions such as fear, sadness and jealousy.

I’ll share a story that happened just this week. I finally figured out how to offer my Kids DVD as an instant download (something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS but the technology side of it was holding me back – or so I thought. It actually wasn’t that hard). You can check it out here if you’d like.

After I got the goods live on my site, I cruised over to Amazon to check the reviews on the hard copy DVD, which have been great (mostly 4 or 5 star reviews)… until today. Someone left a one star review, along with a nasty comment about our “low budget production.” (Shameless self promotion side note: If you’d be so kind to leave a 5-star review on the DVD, I’d be super grateful!). When I investigated this customer further, it became clear that she’s no stranger to leaving 1-star product reviews. So be it. Here’s what this Debbie Downer doesn’t know:

The DVD project is something that I was (and still am) very proud of. I’ve taught the art of hooping to thousands of kids over the past decade, and I’ve seen the way it’s helped to build their self confidence. I think it’s a win anytime we can get kids moving, playing and expressing themselves creatively. Molly and the Hoola Monsters was born from a genuine desire to help children and to instill healthy habits among youth. And while I may not have had the 80K that I was originally quoted to executive the project, I’m proud of what I created alongside my business partner Suzanne, who helped to make it possible. We also had the opportunity to collaborate with other artists like Beebs & Her Moneymakers and Bean Spence – which made the project even sweeter.

So, yea – I can let the 1-star review get me down. OR I can keep pushing forward on the passion projects that enable me to jump out of bed with rigor and excitement each morning, ready to rock my day.

There were many who thought I’d lost my marbles when I went full time with my hoop dance business also. I quit an 8-year, great paying marketing career to become a full time hula hooper and jewelry maker. Now, this is what my typical work day looks like:

Needless to say, I love my job and what I’ve created with Hoola Monsters, Hoola-Fit, Good Vibe Designs and Hoola Monsters Kids. And I know there are only more good things to come! But none if it would have been possible had I succumbed to the negative comments of my haters and naysayers.

Energy goes where attention flows and when we play into the negative emotions of others, we’re only making the drama more real. So, I now feel compassion towards the haters. They know not what they do. And as long as you don’t internalize their projections, you’re all good!

Here are 5 Ways to Deal with Haters:

  1. Replace the Negative Nellys in your life with Joyful Janes. Surrounding yourself with positive people who support your goals, dreams and visions makes such a difference! Choose people who uplift you, not those who bring you down.
  2. Re-focus your energy when negativity comes into play. In other words, think about something that inspires you and brings you joy (such as dance, art, music, or a nature walk) and go do that! Take a breather, take your time, and then get back to work on your passion projects.
  3. Don’t internalize the comments of haters. It’s not a reflection of you. It’s a reflection of them.
  4. Remember your ‘why.’ In other words, if you have a dream or vision that someone is shooting down, think about why you’re passionate about it in the first place. When we come from a soul purposeful place of passion, we speak from the heart.
  5. Oftentimes, haters are jealous of your willingness to do whatever it takes to pursue a dream. If they don’t have the guts to do it, they don’t want you to do it, either. But remember… a dream is just a dream if it’s not pursued. So, rock on with your bad self and re-frame that negativity into fuel for your success.
be joyful
movement meditation

The Healing Power of Movement Meditation

I recently had the privilege to share my story on The Spiritual Boss Babe podcast with Stephanie Bellinger. We had such an amazing chat about following your heart and pursing your passions in life. We also discussed the healing power of hoop dance, movement meditation, and writing.

It was an honor to be on her show, and… I’ll be honest: I was pretty nervous about the interview ahead of time. I consider Stephanie to be a friend, and she’s also a former hoop dance student of mine. I felt confident that the conversation would flow well, but I was nervous about being so open about my book project.

I’m slowly building my confidence in this regard. It started with this blog and a few Instagram posts. However, branching into the spoken word, in podcast form, was new to me. And, yeah – the butterflies were flyin’ before our chat.

Once the conversation started flowing, my worries quickly diminished. Stephanie made it easy and natural. Her questions also enabled me to re-visit my company’s history and realize the thousands of peoples’ lives that I’ve had the opportunity to impact through hoop dance. This powerful movement meditation practice helped to transform my life and the lives of so many others, and that feels freaking amazing!

A profound sense of gratitude washed over me when she pointed that out.So, without further ado, I invite you listen in on our chat.
You can do so here.

Comment below and let me know what you think! Until next time…

be joyful

Perfectly Imperfect

This is, and always will be, my favorite performance. It was seven years ago. My moves weren’t as crisp, and I didn’t know half the tricks that I know now. I even drop the hoop during my show. It’s not about perfection. It’s about the message, and the way I felt when I danced with intention to this song. To me, it’s perfectly imperfect.

This is the performance that I dedicated to Brad: my same-age cousin who died by suicide after we graduated from high school. The song is “Breathe Me” by Sia. According to the artist, it’s “about being overwhelmed by your inner dialogue and potentially doing yourself harm, and then asking for help.” The first time I heard this song, I knew I would dance to it and dedicate my dance to Brad.

I, too, suffered from suicidal tendencies once – but I’m still here to tell my story. And I am. Movement meditation through hoop dance helped to transform my life and heal my mind.

Flow is the transcendent state of being where we lose sense of time and space, becoming one with the moment. Musicians talk about it, as do writers, athletes, musicians and artists. Flow is the experience where we become truly present in the NOW.

When I found flow through hoop dance, I began to understand that healing was possible for me and that I wasn’t damaged. It helped me realize that my spirit wasn’t broken. Hooping healed my heart, changed my life, and ultimately led me to a place of joy.

I now believe, with every fiber of my being, that we have the power to change our ways of thinking and our ways of being, for the greater good. This is the reason I’m writing my book.

It’s time to look in the mirror and love the person looking back.
It’s time to confront the stories we tell ourselves that do not serve us.
It’s time for us to flow into the joyful lives we were meant to lead.
2019… It’s time.

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About the Author: Abby Joan Lee Abby is the founder of both Hoola-Fit and Hoola Monsters – Florida’s first full service hoop dance company, which specializes in handmade fitness hoops, hoop dance classes and performances. A play professional and hoop dance educator since 2007, Abby has taught hoop dance to thousands of people of all ages, in an effort to motivate, inspire and spread joy through fun fitness. She’s currently working on her first book.

inspiration strikes

When Inspiration Strikes…

On my 30th Birthday, I made a promise to myself…
“When inspiration strikes, honor it.”
I’ve made a conscious effort to live by the mantra ever since. 

I’ve also learned that inspiration comes in many forms, and it can strike at any moment. This presents some challenges for me sometimes, because there never seems to be a shortage of inspiration. Time, on the other hand, well – that’s a different story.  Hoola Monsters has been so super busy with performances and events lately (which I’m incredibly grateful for); in fact, this Thursday, we’re working with ESPN and we’re fire dancing at the Gasparilla Bowl. So exciting! I’m also plugging away on Hoola-Fit, in preparation for the January Online Teacher Training launch. All good stuff.

Being busy isn’t an excuse for not writing, though. I haven’t even blogged in 6 weeks, and that needs to change. So, I’ve put systems in place to prevent the lapse from happening again. What systems you might ask? For starters, I now have a 6 a.m. wake up time (I used to wake up around 7:30 a.m.). One of the benefits of working for yourself is the fact that you can set your own schedule (which also happens to be one of the detriments of working for yourself. No one is checking to see if you clocked in on time). So, I have a “boss” named Alexa now who wakes me up at 6 a.m. and tells me to start writing. The phone then goes to “Do Not Disturb” mode, and I write. I work on the book for two hours each morning, and by 8:30 a.m., I’m at the gym.

I also invested in Scrivener, and it’s totally rocking my world. Scrivener is a word processing system and outliner for authors. I dig it. Additionally, I’ve been networking with other writers, and it’s helping me stay focused. Watching others complete their book projects serves as a form of motivation for me. 

I also won’t beat myself up about missing my October deadline (this is when I originally said my first draft would be complete). Some re-structuring needs to take place in order for the book to be what I intend for it to be.

I’m committed to creating a book that will truly help people. I have a responsibility to share my story authentically while also reflecting on dark times with compassion. It’s a fine line to walk… to be vulnerable, speak my truth, and also help people heal. I want readers to realize that they aren’t defined by the stories they tell themselves. We can change our minds, and we can change our lives. I’m here to serve as an example of that.

So, that’s all I have to share with you guys today. I’ll blog again soon. I promise. Until then… Stay inspired. 

be joyful
meandjim

Gratitude is My Attitude

We move through the world constantly making judgments… judgments about ourselves and judgments about others. But we also have the ability to make choices about those judgements and to decide whether or not we’ll allow them to land.

Last night, I attended a grand opening event for a dermatology office in a boujee part of town, which specializes in procedures like Botox and fillers. I went as my sister’s guest, and she was there for one reason: to network. As a new entrepreneur/ owner of a downtown law firm, she was on a mission to get her business cards into the hands of potential new clients.

I didn’t really expect for it to be my scene, but I also didn’t expect for a nurse practitioner to be scrutinizing the fine lines on my forehead under the kind of lights suitable for dissecting frogs in a 7th grade science class. Did I mention I was eating caprese during the forehead inspection also? It was awkward, to say the least.

I’d come straight from teaching a Children’s Fitness class, after pairing my best yoga pants with sparkly socks and combat boots before arriving at the event. I parallel parked my Honda Element between a Tesla and a Mercedes Benz, and upon entry, I immediately felt out of place. Those who know me also know that it’s rare for me to feel uncomfortable in a social setting. I’m very much an extrovert. But, standing next to my sister who was decked out in business professional attire, complete with camel-colored pumps and a custom name tag, I felt uncomfortable. I’m sure she’s felt similarly, surrounded by my friends at music festivals as we chatted excitedly about bands she’d never heard of. Vanessa… my “little big sister.” We joke that I’m the unconventional, free spirit while she’s the ultra-responsible perfectionist… which makes her more “big sister-like” even though I’m her elder.

After the event, I couldn’t help but reflect on the series of awkward moments… the bright lights, my wrinkles being used as an example of “what happens when you don’t get Botox,” the forced conversation, the champagne that gave me heartburn, and the overall uncomfortable-ness of it all. Was it in my head or was I being judged because I looked differently and dressed differently than the vast majority there? Then, I started thinking… this is the stuff that self-deprecating thoughts thrive on. Why do we make assumptions about what others think? The truth is… I have no idea what the other people there thought of me. And, in making my own assumptions about them, I was guilty of passing judgment, too.

Why do we care so much about the way others perceive us? And why do we so often focus on the negative moments but we so easily forget the positive ones? As these thoughts breezed through my mind, I remembered some other things about yesterday… the young woman who stopped me on the street to compliment my outfit; the little girl from my class who skipped through the door with a handmade card that she’d crafted for me; and the two gigs that I unexpectedly booked that same day because my clients appreciate the art I share. Then, I came to this realization:

creativehappylife

Not everyone is going to like me or understand me, and that’s OK. So what if I don’t fit into a specific mold? I may not look, act, or live like your average 39-year-old, and I’m cool with that. I love being an artist and a creative entrepreneur. I also love the life that I’ve designed for myself, and it’s ok if some people don’t get it. I’m choosing not to dwell on the way others may or may not perceive me. I’m also making a conscious effort to avoid passing judgement on them .

So, here’s a mantra that I’d like to share with you today: “Gratitude is my Attitude.” Let’s avoid focusing on the things that bring us down. At any given moment, we have the ability to bring our attention to the things we’re grateful for. In doing so, we also bring our thoughts and feelings back to a place of joy. So, let’s spend a little more time getting better at that and a little less time judging ourselves and others.

be joyful

firemoon

Pause and Play

I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, I promise. It’s been a month since I last blogged, but rest assured: I’m still committed to my book. Hoola-Fit is one of the main reasons why I’ve taken a brief hiatus. I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into my hoop dance teacher training program, which I originally launched in 2012. I’m now bringing the course online, and boy – it’s been a learning curve! I’m talking 5:30 a.m. alarm clock notifications, countless podcasts, webinars, tutorials and late nights learning/ working. I’m investing the time, money and energy, knowing that I’m laying the foundation for something that will serve the greater good… much like my book.

And even though I’ve put the brakes on writing these past few weeks, the work I’m doing is book-related in its own right. Here’s where I think the connection lives: I found healing and joy through hooping. One of the ways I spread this joy is by teaching hooping and training hoop dance educators through my certification program. In doing so, I’m creating a beautiful team of hoopers who help bring the art form and ‘fun fitness’ to more gyms, dance studios and schools all over the US.

We get to be fun facilitators who remind people how to play. People so often get wrapped up in the craziness of their daily lives… work, chores, family, and never-ending to-do lists (I do it, too). All of these things are important, of course, but so is self care. When people come to hoop class, it’s a reprieve and an escape from the daily grind.

Hoop dance is my preferred form of movement meditation, and it served as a major catalyst in my healing from depression. It also transformed my life and opened countless doors… from the people  who I’ve met on this journey to the opportunities that have come my way as a result. This is what I mean:

Bucs Game

firemoon

This past Sunday, I went straight from performing at the Tampa Bay Bucs game to a fire dancing photo shoot under a moon-filled, starry sky. I’m grateful, to say the least, while also recognizing that I designed my life to be this way. My passion for hooping enabled me to create a job that didn’t previously exist. I’m a creative entrepreneur and play professional who gets to inspire others to follow their passions, too.

My book isn’t just about the sad/ tragic stuff. It’s about the good stuff, too, along with the transformation that occurs when we say yes to the things we’re passionate about. The life I’m living now is an instrumental part of the overall story I’m sharing. So I won’t beat myself up about taking a couple weeks off from the writing part. I pressed the pause button so I could play. And play is my job.

I’m excited to resume my weekly writing schedule next week. And with that said… I hope you do something playful today. Take a moment for fun, self-care, and creativity. I promise you won’t regret it.
be joyful

An Evening with TWLOHA

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Last night, I had the opportunity to attend An Evening With To Write Love on Her Arms. I’ve been following the organization for quite some time and even served as a guest blogger for TWLOHA a few years ago. I’m hoping to re-kindle that relationship and contribute more in the near future, too.

If you’re unfamiliar, TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Needless to say, they’re a badass mental health organization and one that I’m incredibly inspired by.

The event last night consisted of spoken word poetry by Sierra DeMulder which was
freaking incredible! She paints pictures with words, and her poetry is pure art.  I’d never heard of JP Saxe prior to the event, but he was amazing too. I actually had a chance to chat with him a bit after the sho

twloha event

w. In addition to being super talented with the voice of an angel, he was so fun to talk to. I told him a little about Hoola Monsters, along with the book I’m writing. I agreed to send him a copy of my book when it’s finally out in the world, too. I just love the way that events like this bring like-minded people together.

Hearing TWLOHA Founder Jamie Tworkowski speak was a definite highlight for me, and it was my primary reason for attending. The poetry and music were bonus. I’m so inspired by the work that Jamie is doing in the world. Not only is he the creator of TWLOHA, he’s also a NY Times best-selling author and speaker. I picked up his book If You Feel Too Much, and I can’t wait to read it.

At the risk of sounding like a total fan girl, I want to follow in his footsteps as I move into the next phase of my career. I’ll take the NY Times best seller, too. Speaking of, I’ve been busting my butt on the book. I logged more than 4,000 words yesterday and pitched two literary agents who’ve been on my radar for quite some time. I only have a couple more chapters to go until the first draft of my manuscript is complete, and that feels freaking awesome. I’m not going to do the happy dance just  yet, though. I realize that it could be another year before I can actually hold the book in my hands and share it with others. I still need to edit the heck out of it, secure an agent, land a publishing deal, edit some more, finalize the project, and market it like crazy. Then, I get to have the book launch party and do that happy dance. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away and laying the foundation for good things to come.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
be joyful

Never Forgotten

Writing this book is an emotional journey. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also didn’t expect to have tears running down my face at the coffee shop today. I was so immersed in my writing that I didn’t even realize I was crying until the woman behind the counter asked me if I was ok.

It’s Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

Ironically, I’m at the point in my book where I’m writing about my experience in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I was only 7 days into my professional career as a public relations Assistant Account Executive at the headquarters office of a global PR firm. I was so stoked to have landed my dream job, and I was a fresh-faced newbie New Yorker at the time. (This past blog entry gives a play-by-play of the day, through my eyes).

But it’s actually the events that followed which brought me to tears during my writing session today. It was my journal entry from September 13, 2001… my first day back to work, after the events of September 11. I was 22 years old, and it was during my morning commute when I found myself sandwiched between bomb threats at Grand Central Station, Penn Station and Times Square. People were running in different directions, and I felt helpless, not knowing which way to run. Armed military officials patrolled the streets and train stations while helicopters and jets flew overhead.

Bomb threats were coming from what seemed like every direction. The city was frantic, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I eventually made my way back home that day and didn’t return to work until the following week.

Each day during my commute, I found myself reading countless missing persons fliers posted all over Grand Central Station. I looked at the photos and read about the people who were never to be seen again. I did this for months following the terrorist attacks… until the flyers became torn and faded. With each passing day, my heart broke for the families whose loved ones were now gone.

It was only two years after Brad’s death, and the memories of losing him were still so clear. Maybe it made me more empathetic for the families who were experiencing the death of their loved ones too. The ‘how’ was different (terrorism, not suicide) but the emptiness and grief these families faced was the same. I knew there were people – families – behind the fliers, and my heart broke for them again today.

That’s the thing about having your whole life on paper… Moments that may have been long forgotten reappear. The actual photos of their faces…  there were so many, and they’ve since disappeared from my memory, but I’ll never forget the empathy I felt (and still feel) for those families.

I still can’t believe it’s been 17 years.

be joyful