The Art of Leaning

I haven’t done a musings article in a while and I know I don’t blog as much as I should these days. But I try to publish when there is something or someone I feel I want to talk to you about. I could go on about anything and nothing but I’ll leave that up to someone else. I prefer to come to you when something juicy or poignant is in my scope. I’m not sure about you, but I have tuned out many of the personalities who are trying too hard to be chameleons. You were an awkward young gamer and now you’re an older, equally awkward cook? The cuteness is wearing off, but somehow the onesie pajamas stayed.. I’ll just shake my head and move on. There is another post to do there, perhaps. Enough wine and I can do it!

But, don’t let me digress off of the topic that brought me here. 2016 was a very odd year for many of us. I know there were some terrific moments for each of us personally, publicly, privately, individually, and collectively but overall it seems to have left a bad taste in our mouths. What does that have to do with the title I chose for this post? Glad you asked, I’m getting there. In all that was going on in the news, with my family, with friends, and with myself, I began to notice a few things. Even though we have become SO much more social and socially aware, many of us are still so guarded with our feelings, emotions, and circumstances. So much so, that we can’t even articulate some of this to those closest to us.

I’m not advocating that we give up privacy and post all of our trials, tribulations, feelings, and emotions. NO WAY. There is something to be said for privacy, personal space, and keeping most aspects of our personal relationships to ourselves. What I’m seeing is that even with people who are close to us (family, friends, people in our innermost circles) we are still a bit stifled when it comes to expression, especially if we think it will make us look weak or we think it may cause judgment. Where does this come from? I believe it is something we are taught growing up. Especially for men, showing emotions or vulnerability is oftentimes equated with weakness, behavior that makes you less of a man, or something you should be ashamed of.

It can also come from our own personal experiences. When you trust people a number of times and get burned, you definitely and understandably become guarded. Fear keeps you from reaching out, sharing, unburdening yourself of the things that are weighing you down.

The fear that if I tell you this thing that troubles me or the feelings I am feeling, this thing that scares the crap out of me, you will think less of me. We believe people won’t want to be around us or have us in their lives. We think the people we call friends or loved ones will abandon us because we are bad, weird, odd, troubled, tortured, weak. Maybe we think they will think we are too much work when in reality, if they love us, they are already thinking we are worth the effort.

In my experience, most times the thing that is crippling us more than the actual secret we keep is the fear of the reaction to our story or our feelings. If someone truly cares about you, no story you tell them will make you repulsive or undesirable to them, nothing you are feeling will be discounted by them. In cases where people have trusted me with their “thing” (and everyone has a “thing”) it has endeared them to me even more. When someone entrusts you with the very story or feelings that make them feel most impotent, it is a powerful moment between the two of you. I respect those friends who have pushed past that hurdle to speak their truth. I’ve watched them as they struggled with the words, looking at me for reaction because they just knew I’d shudder and then make an excuse to leave so I can get far away from them. They expect you’d never speak to them again. BUT, for me, it has had the opposite affect. I love them even more, I admire and respect them, I hold them in the highest esteem.

Unless you are going to tell me you have bodies hidden in places or you’ve tortured people in your past, I really don’t think there are many things I can’t handle hearing. I don’t think there are many hurdles that friends can’t help friends overcome. The sad part is, what I see and feel so often now, people are walking around with these things bottled up inside like their world will end if they give it a voice.

I think some friendships are actually lost because of a fear that a person can’t handle us at our raw, unfiltered base. Eventually, we start to push the people who care about us most away and sometimes we even realize we are doing it. It’s SO contradictory to say or think that someone we know cares for us deeply wouldn’t be able to handle this or do everything in their power to understand where we are coming from.

Again, I am not talking about posting such things on our Facebook pages, blogging about it, or tweeting it up, but I am hoping we can find a way to break through to the trust we need to have between the select few we hold dear because we know they are the real deal. I think it’s worth a shot even though the thought of it can be crippling. Opening up, learning the art of leaning on another human being, can be horrific if you think about it too much. Especially if you’ve trusted, leaned, and were left to fall. But even in those instances, we were taught that those people weren’t the lifers who will stand by us. We were given the opportunity to let them go or perhaps keep them around in a different capacity. Not everyone is meant to share burdens and that’s ok too. But no one is meant to carry burdens alone.

The other part of this is that when we get burned, we may allow the experience to cause us to unjustly judge someone else without giving them a proper chance to prove themselves. I don’t think everyone has the gift of empathy or knows how to tap into it but as someone who has experience with it, I can tell you that knowing someone is troubled who won’t share it with you can be a little distracting. This takes time to work through so that the empathic one can get past the elephant in the room and remain close to the friend, lover, or family member until they come around.

Have any of you experienced what I am talking about from either end? Have you been the one who knows something is up and is wishing the other person would trust you? Have you been the person who thinks someone is going to run screaming if you tell them your own secret? Have you trusted someone only to learn they weren’t the person you should have opened up to?

What advice would you give someone on either side of the situation?

Or are you of the mind that we should just keep it bottle up and maybe we don’t need to be so open and connected?

I’m curious to see where our enlightenment is headed. I’m hoping it opens us up enough that we can begin to remove the stigmas we’ve created around certain experiences that are becoming more common. Anxiety and depression are two things I can think of that still seem to be issues that shouldn’t be. I have a feeling if we were made to feel comfortable to talk freely about them, we’d find out almost everyone has experiences that are similar and uniting instead of dividing. I’m hoping 2017 is about broadening our knowledge of the situations other people are in and building bridges that give support to them rather than causing them to feel they need to stay isolated when it comes to certain topics.

Anyway, that’s what has been weighing on my mind for a better part of 2016. What are some topics that were weighing on your mind throughout the year? That still have you thinking?

It takes real courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable and any person worth your time should admire you for that. My hope is that we take time to have conversations with each other that go deeper than the usual pleasantries. That we find people who we can truly trust and that we are those people to someone. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to lean on someone and know that they got you and it is an equally wonderful feeling to be that person for someone else. Let’s learn the art of leaning………

 

Have You Met Julie Caitlin Brown, True Renaissance Woman

I hear people use the term “Renaissance” to describe people all the time and I have used it myself to describe people I know who are multi-talented and involved actively in so much. Now that I have researched Julie Caitlin Brown, I think I need a new term because she totally sets a new standard! Julie is an actress (Babylon 5, All About Evil, Thoughts of Suicide on an Otherwise Lovely Day), a musician (Sheddin My Skin, Struck By Lightening), A Talent Agent, and a Life Coach. Julie has also starred on Broadway in Tommy Tune’s “Grand Hotel: The Musical”.

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t sung me her praises and that speaks volumes. I would love for you all to head over and give her Facebook Page a like, Follow her on Twitter, and check out her website.

Be sure to listen to her music, I believe many of you will find it inspirational and relevant to your own journeys. Julie basically taught herself how to play guitar at ten years old and performed her first original song at thirteen at a school assembly.

I think one of the reasons so many people relate to Julie Caitlin Brown is that she has been through her own trials and tribulations yet has managed to come out the other side to shine as she was intended to . She wasn’t the most popular kid in school but quickly learned that she could reach people with her talent and her music. She had the courage to pick up and move to New York Ci†y for the role on Broadway, she produced her own CDs, and had her own cabaret show in San Francisco.

If you head over to the website, you can also pick up some of her motivational audio books and experience some of her wisdom for yourself. I would be absolutely honored to bring you my own interview with Julie one day as well!

Here is a video of Julie performing so you can see how talented she is:

And her is an interview with Julie so you can get to know her a bit better:

Aris Has his Voice on the Pulse of Some Hot Tunes

I’m always honored to be asked to review the work of my artist friends. ESPECIALLY when I’m already a fan of their work. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been listening to Aris Ziagos’ new album Pulse on repeat since it came out last month. To be honest, it has been on repeat in a mix that includes Donna summer, Lady Gaga, and Tina Turner.

The moment I heard clips of the songs and a few full songs in a car ride with Aris, I immediately thought of Donna Summer. This actually began my renewed desire to throw on a few of my favorite Donna hits. The first single from Pulse has been out for a while now and it has been making me want to move since first hearing it. I have said that I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve probably listened to it but I am someone who has at least one ear bud in my ear even while I’m working. A good beat keeps me going and in a good mood no matter how much work I have to do or how intense it is.

I listen to very few albums all the way through without pushing past a few songs, even from my favorite mainstream artists so when I can thrown on one album and listen all the way through that is saying a lot. Pulse is definitely a collection of songs that is good for a long car ride, a hike, a workout, or just while you are cleaning and cooking.

The first song, Love (Thank you) features artist Paula Cole. It remind me immediately of Donna Summer’s hit I Feel Love with it’s sexy, breathy repetition and underlying sexy rhythm. Rain is a storm of emotion, desire, passion, and pain. I’ve said I felt like he was in my diary at some point, especially when I hear this one. It just feels that personal and I think it will to many people.

Speaking of Donna Summer, the title track has a sample of I Feel Love and I can actually hear Donna performing this one with approval. Handle It is definitely for anyone who has been wronged by a lover or just not appreciated for who they are. To me, it sounds like a dare to handle me in all my fabulousness if you think you can. But if you can’t, well the hell with you. It is reminiscent of a Beyonce empowerment piece. Basically, take me for what I am or everything you own will be in a box to the left.

Next, I want to talk about the Reborn remix. I do enjoy a good remix, especially when it is different version of the song that brings a new way to enjoy it. This remix does that for me by giving it a new beat. Make sure you check it all out for yourself at Aris’ website and follow him on social media because you are also going to want to check out his covers.

Have you met Clinton T Hobart and his Fine Art?

If you love all things Disney, you’re going to dig the artwork of Clinton T Hobart. Clinton is a Disney Fine Artist, which means his work is among the rare art that is blessed by the Mouse himself. But don’t think it’s all fairytales and cartoon characters, there are also plenty of portraits, still lifes, and seascapes to be enjoyed. You can find Clinton and his work at Wizard World Comic Cons all over the country and you can find out exactly where he will be by following him on Twitter and giving his Facebook Page a like.

I met Clinton a few weeks ago for some pizza in New York City and had a really cool chat with him about his work, his travels, social media, and life, among other things. I wanted to show you some of his work because I’ve been trying to introduce you to a few talented people I think you will all enjoy knowing for my Have You Met series. You can also visit Clinton’s website to see even more work and find out how you can own a few pieces. True Disney collectors will want to see this!

Why the Race to Erase MS is so important to me

Multiple Sclerosis and I have a bit of a history. It’s not something I talk about often because thankfully, my experience was a scare and it just feels like something I prefer not to remember but it definitely shaped the person I am today. With the Race to Erase MS event coming up, I thought it might be time to share the story, which is also how I became interested in Social Good to begin with.

Let me start from the beginning and to do that, we have to go back to high school for a bit. It was my senior year at Edward R. Murrow high school in Brooklyn and I was enjoying my english classes as always. I remember looking forward to reading Hamlet and studying it in depth. I finally got the teacher I had been hearing so much about and he really had a gift for turning anything we studied into an event.

As luck would have it, I started having trouble with my eyesight. I wore glasses to read but my eyes seemed to be getting worse. I told my parents and they scheduled an appointment for me to see the optometrist. Seemed simple enough, I just needed a stronger or different prescription.

Over the next few days, my eyesight got progressively worse and I mentioned that I was having trouble seeing the blackboard and then I was having trouble seeing my own reflection in the mirror. This terrified my parents so we headed to the optometrist that afternoon. By the time I got to the doctor’s, I couldn’t see anything out of my right eye. I remember him asking me to cover my left eye and tell him what line I could see. I said “none” and he asked “Do you see the light in the box on the wall where the letters are?” I responded, “I can’t even see the wall.”

My father and the doctor left for a few minutes where I later found out that the doctor was telling my father that he suggest we head to the hospital because he had never seen anyone lose their sight so quickly and the prognosis could be a brain tumor or something else that made the doctor uncomfortable sending us home without a cat-scan.

Invicta Women's Baby Lupah Quartz Peace & Love Watch w/ Seven-Piece Leather Strap Set

The decision was made to head to our family ophthalmologist, who may be able to better diagnose me or at least put us in the right direction. The doctor my grandparents and parents had always gone to had just retired but a new doctor had taken over his practice. I’m not sure if any of us had met her yet but that day, I was introduced to Dr Louise Tubio-Cid and I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.

She examined me for what seemed like forever, she was very patient and concerned. Her diagnosis was the same as the optometrist. She couldn’t send me home without more tests that only a hospital could conduct. She was afraid it could be a tumor, or something equally as threatening. She called over to the hospital to have them fit me in immediately.

Well, immediately wasn’t so immediate (not the doctor’s fault) but I finally got my cat-scan. More dreaded news. There were shaded areas on the scan, which meant brain tumors for sure. I have no idea how much time went by but I was being admitted and then we got the news that the next few people who received scans after me, had the same exact results. There was something wrong with the machine so we needed to retake the test.

After the second test, it was determined I did not, in fact, have brain tumors. The new diagnosis was the onset of some form of Multiple Sclerosis. After a battery of neurological tests, I was totally exhausted and I’m not going to lie, downright scared. Now it was about midnight and Dr Tubio-Cid had been calling to check on me and was now standing in front of us at the hospital. She was trying to convince my parents to let me stay overnight but I felt fine and they were more comfortable if I came home so we had to sign me out. I was to go directly to Dr Tubio-Cid’s office for more tests the next day.

That night, I researched MS and heard my parents talking about their own fears. I remember hearing things about being in a wheelchair, not being able to use the right side of my body if it progressed, and more things that were just too much. At 17 years old, I just wanted to finish studying Hamlet and graduate. I wanted to enjoy my senior year and go back to hanging out with my friends. My grandmother asked my parents to bring me over to her house. She had this idea that I would look different or that she would see something different and she needed to see me for herself. I looked the same, just felt exhausted. It was everyone and everything else that looked different to me out of one eye.

I don’t remember how long I actually had to miss school, how long I had to go to Dr. Tubio-Cids office, or how many visits in total I do know that my father had just started a new job and our medical coverage hadn’t kicked in. I know that the doctor didn’t charge for every visit and I know that even with that, it was a very expensive experience. The kindness Dr Tubio-Cid showed is definitely one of those things that changes you and becomes a part of you. You know you have to find a way to pay that type of gesture forward.

I do know that I spent lots of time in that office while she would run tests and there would be no change. Then, one day I was able to make out the box around the chart on the wall! I could see SOMETHING! From that day on, my vision improved slowly, until one day it was back to normal. There was talk that I wouldn’t get my peripheral vision back at all or it may be compromised but, eventually, that came back too.

This is why Social Good has been so important to me. I know I had angels rallying for me and I know that each of us can be an angel to others. I have seen social media used to help raise money for so many amazing causes as well as awareness. I know I was given a pass and I would love to see a day where MS is a non issue, a diagnosis that has a cure. I would love to see everyone get a pass.

When I found out we would be able to attend the Race to Erase MS gala, I jumped at the chance. This is something personal to me. The experience I went through changed me in many ways and had a part in shaping who I am today. I know that together, we can do just about anything.

I encourage you to follow along on Friday April 24th as I bring you information, photos, and coverage from the event where there are a whole host of celebrities that will be attending and speaking. There will also be performances by Ne-Yo and Rita Ora. The gala will be honoring fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger as well.  Saturday, April 25th we will be attending a conference with more information. I’m sure all of us can recall a time when we felt we had someone looking out for us, let’s be that for others.

You can find out more about how you can help and the gala here: EraseMS.org You can find out how you can get one of these classy, great looking watches designed by the talented Nancy Davis here: Evine.com Proceeds go to Erase MS. Be sure to follow @RacetoEraseMS on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

Let me know what causes are near and dear to your heart in the comments and if you are attending the gala on Friday, let me know!

I look forward to tweeting with all of you this weekend!