Saturday, November 21, 2009

Video Envy

My paid blogging gig at finally updated the videos. I watched my own submission, of course, to remember what I said and see how I was edited. I also did my Monday morning quarterbacking where I critiqued my own performance. My eyes were too wide, I laughed at myself too much, I sounded weird, I sat too long before saying hello, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

Then, I watched the videos for my four fellow MS bloggers on the site. I love and hated watching them. I loved learning more about my fellow MS bloggers--Bill, Kimberly, Lisa, and Jen. I loved hearing their knowledge, experience, humor, and positive perspective. But I hated the feelings of envy that crept into my psyche as I watched their videos. Here's what that mean little voice told me: They had better lighting, better backgrounds, seemed more comfortable in front of the camera, were more helpful, and were better prepared than I was. They used the tripod more effectively than I did and the video seemed to be steady and shot at the right angle.

I hate when I do that. I feel good about myself but then I let insecurity and envy errode my confidence. I feel proud of other people and but then I start to worry that those feelings must mean that those people are better than me.

Why do I do that?

I know that I am not unique and that, most times, my emotions are of the universal variety so perhaps you've felt this, too. So...why do we do that?

I want to be supportive and enjoy seeing my fellow human beings flourish. Believe it or not, I really don't want it to be all about me. I want to demonstrate my belief--in attitude and behavior--that there is no limit to positivity. You can reach your goals without keeping me from reaching mine. And vice versa. There is enough to go around. Happiness and goodness are not limited resources. That part of me that worries to the contrary is lying to me. Your strengths do not diminish mine or increase my weaknesses.

So...go check out the blog and if you give the rest of them more kudos than me, I will cry.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visually-Impaired Two-Year Olds Shouldn't Walk in the Dark

I thought about titling this essay "The Perils of Public Transportation" or "A Cautionary Tale About The Importance of Asking for Help" or maybe "My Big Honking Bruise."

Last Friday night, I had an attack of the "Do Myself" demons. I had a haircut appointment after work which is about a 15-minute walk from my house. Piece of cake. Usually I go to a Friday night meeting one town away. Well, since I wasn't going to be home at the usual time I leave for the meeting I decided that I would get there myself rather than calling a friend for a ride.

I proudly used my new Google phone app which allows the GPS to determine my location and how to get where I want to go via public transportation. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I would have to take two buses to get there and that the first bus wasn't scheduled to arrive for about 30 minutes. There I was standing at a clearly marked, well-lit bus stop on a well-traveled sidewalk and for some reason that now seems absurd I decided to walk to the bus connection.

So off I went, thinking it would be about a 1 mile walk. I walked on the right side of the ride so I would see the bus stop. As I walked it got darker and darker. Then the sidewalk disappeared. Then the street lights disappeared. Then, I tripped over a rock buried in the leaves and fell on the ground, smashing the front of my hip on the rock as I hit the ground.

I wanted to cry. Well, I kind of did just for a second. Then I realized I was lying in the leaves at the side of the road and that I was not so much hurt as humiliated and really, really pissed off.

The anger helped me get up, brush myself off and keep on trudging. Plus, I had been walking for more than a mile and I figured I was closer to the bus stop than to home. I decided that when the first bus came by I would flag it down, take it to the transfer point, and then catch the second bus to my meeting where I would whine and complain about poor me and my bruised hip.

So, I kept on trudging, continually looking over my left should for the bus. I finally saw it and started waving. The only problem was that it was dark, there were no street lights, and I was wearing a black coat. zoomed on by.

After another couple of miles walking carefully in the dark so I wouldn't trip over another rock, I reached the bus stop. I called a friend who lived in New York to cry and whine. I did not, though, call anyone who could pick me up and give me a ride either home or to the meeting.

Eventually, another bus came along but it I figured out that the meeting would be over before I ever got there. Instead, I took it to a TJ Maxx , spent an hour in retail therapy and then took a cab home.

The moral of the story: When I act like a two-year old, stamp my foot and insist on doing something all by myself, it does not make me independent. It makes me stubborn. Sometimes being able to ask for help is the only way I can achieve independence and freedom.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Planes on This Runway

I had a blast being one of the models at the MS Society's Fashion Plates event last Friday. While walking the runway is not exactly old hat, it was wonderful to participate again and to see so many of the same wonderful women from last year.

Ruby was my photographer for the day. She had some help from Debbie Bettie who was a terrific chaperon for Ruby while I was in hair and makeup and strutting my stuff on the

Ruby definitely has an artistic eye and demonstrated her creativity while she and Debbie Bettie walked around Boston with Deb's digital camera before the show began.

<--Ruby and Christina watched all the fun from the Julie M. Baker (A.K.A. Lazy Julie) table.
MaryAnn is a great women I met during last year's event. I hope to stay in touch with her and a bunch of the other women who do not let MS stop them from living full and happy lives.

Miss New Hampshire, before and after hair, makeup, and wardrobe. She participated in the fashion show last year, too. I think MS has touched her life and it has become the cause of her "reign" as Miss New Hampshire. She is a wonderful woman and not at all what I expected of a beauty queen, although I found her crown a little intimidating when she wore it during the finale.

Tami, at least I think this is a photo of Tami, is escorted by a dapper volunteer. Tami is a long distance biker and has the legs to prove it. She participates in a two-day MS bike ride every year and I want to BE her when I grow up and/or get off the couch.

Our beautiful hair was coiffed by the generous and talented team at Salon Red. Our makeup was compliments of the lovely ladies at Lord and Taylor's Clinique counter. They all had great hair and makeup skills, naturally, but they also made us all feel like we were the most beautiful women they had ever seen--an awesome feeling to have as you walk out onto a runway in front of a couple hundred people.

This was the "other Julie" who was one of the newbie models. She was diagnosed about the same time as me but had one of those jerky primary care physicians who ignored her early symptoms. I'm very grateful that was not my experience.

Meet Claire, who is a terrific power of example and, unfortunately, she shares the disease of MS with her daughter who also participated in the fashion show last year. I don't think it's very common for there to be mothers and daughters (or fathers and sons) who both have MS. In my case, there is no one on either side of my family with MS, so the genetic link is out.

The names of these other beautiful MS models have escaped me but they were all visions as the showed off the finery and a joy to hang out with backstage, as well. Ruby tells me that all the models were quite sassy on the runway.

And now....drum roll photographic evidence of my second foray into high fashion modeling.

I would have never picked out this gray and grown outfit and/or tied the big bow around the neck with this brown wool scarf, but I felt very hip strutting my stuff in this avante-garde outfit.

The stage manager of the event took this photo backstage. I loved the way I felt in this amethyst dress so much that I bought it (the dress, not the feeling.) I'm thinking of it as my Field of Dreams dress since I do not yet have an event to wear it. If I buy it, the invitations will come.

<-- You can tell I was sucking in while --> on the runway when you see me let it out in these two pictures as I came off the stage. :-) All I can say is, thank GOD for whoever invented spanx.

Ruby came backstage after the event and I took this picture of her with Miss Massachusetts.

I would be remiss if I did not thank others who supported this event, as well, including: Liz and Pete who donated to the cause by purchasing a ticket for a deserving woman with MS who couldn't afford to attend. Carrie and her PCA who also sat at the Lazy Julie table but who I never got to see; Jennifer who donated a Mary Kay gift certificate for the raffle baskets; Nancy, who donated a Real Life Yoga gift certificate, and Lisa Mullins who graciously offered to donate a host-led tour of The World studios at WGBH. (I'm joining the planning committee next year, Lisa, so I can make sure they take you up on this terrific raffle prize.) And to all my other friends, virtual and otherwise, who give me moral support and encouragement.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Random Funnies that Have Nothing to Do With MS

Why Women Can't Sleep -- This viral joke is unapologetically sexist and very, very funny.

Can people BECOME agoraphobic or just hermit-like if they stay in their houses too long and/or often? Since working at home, I've found myself shrieking when the mail carrier drops the mail in the slot each afternoon.

Why would someone do this and, more importantly, why would any self-respecting cat not scratch the person's eyes out for trying to shame him/her in such a way?

This story goes under the heading of Dumber than Dirt.

In Zane's lunch today, I put in apple slices and caramel. After school I asked him if he liked his snack and he told me that he couldn't bring that particular snack to school anymore. Why? Because his friend, Stephen, is afraid of caramel. I love 6-year olds.

I have a million funny stories about Ruby but she would kill me dead for sharing almost any of them. I will reach back in the way back machine, just to be safe. I will never forget some of the words that Ruby mispronounced when she was a toddler. Some of my favorites were "hoppycopper" (helicopter); "momocycle" (motorcycle); and the way she mixed up the name of a certain female body part with the name of her Auntie Regina.

I love The Onion and I actually enjoy the vegetable of the same name although I enjoy them cooked much more than raw.

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed at home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. And this little piggy went “cough, sneeze” and the whole world’s media went mad over the imminent destruction of the human race, and every journalist found ut that they didn’t have to do too much work if they just did “Find ‘bird’, replace with ’swine’” on all their saved articles from a year ago, er, all the way home.

This one goes under the heading of: Really?????!!!!!!!!!!!! For a baseball game???????????? I wonder if she had acts associated with the price of the seats? A happy ending hand job for a single bleacher seat and a full night of S&M sexual slavery for a pair of seats behind home plate?

Dane Cook is a funny guy (and even cuter than he is now in this video from his younger days.) This got me thinking about my first job at McDonald's in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada the summer I turned 16. I know Suzie Ormand says when you do amazing work at an average job, your dreams will come true (or something like that) but I can honestly say I did NOT do amazing work at this job and I apologize profusely for anyone who ate one of the quarter pounders I made during the summer of 1980.
Dane Cook - Crappy Jobs
Dane Cook Kool Aid VideoMore Dane Cook VideosJoke of the Day

And, finally, I love Jon Stewart and I'm thinking of reviving the insult of calling someone a douche bag except that I think it's outdated and sexist. Men don't douche, after all, and gynaecologists now discourage women from the practice anyway. But then again, maybe that's why it's a good insult...? I'm wondering what the male equivalent would be...? A jock strap? A colonic? A scrotum something or other?

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Monday, November 02, 2009

No Fair! (Stamp Foot)

OK. So this is a minor bi%&# session that I need to get out of my system.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic, incurable (so far), and potentially progressive neurological disease. It sucks, right? And I've gone out of my way to be positive and even share my good humor about it all with the world, right? Yeah me. I'm a fricken hero.

So, don't you think that means that I should be cut some slack with other physical issues? Shouldn't I be exempt from other illnesses?

But no, that is not the case. As I may or may have not mentioned here previously, I have Ulcerative Colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease that has some pretty terrible and embarrassing symptoms I will not be describing here or anywhere). My UC hasn't really been much of an issue since being diagnosed with MS. For the most part, it's been in remission. I even wondered, if it might have been related to the MS since it's an inflammatory illness and perhaps helped by the MS treatment.

Well, not lately. It is raging. So much so that even me, the bad patient, called my primary and received a referral to a gastroenterologist who I'm supposed to see this coming week, I think. This is, yet another, doctor's appointment for which I have no sick time to pay for the time off of work. (I spent the last of my "time off" watching my father die in hospice last spring, thank you very much, and have been living on borrowed time since.)

So, now I'm going to get yelled at by YET another doctor for not taking care of myself since I haven't been to see a gastroenterologist for the last--oh, I don't know--7 years or so, although I was diagnosed with UC in 1994 and I'm supposed to know better. And then, after the lecture, I'm going to have to make an appointment for a colonoscopy, which is basically drinking poison to clean out my GI tract and then letting a doctor stick a tube somewhere that I use as an exit only to take pictures of my empty colon to make sure I only have UC and not colon cancer.