From Frozen to Flower: How I Made it Through Winter to Spring

It's spring! Thank God. I need a little sunshine in my life. OK. Yes, I live in L.A. so pretty much every day is a sunny oasis, but what my life lacked in seasonal changes on the physical plane, it definitely made up for metaphorically.

Because this past November, on the day before Thanksgiving to be exact, I was laid off from my serving job of nearly eight years. Yeah. Thanks for that corporate America. Your timing is impeccable. Despite the overwhelming amount of shadiness dealt out by my former employer at the time, I had an optimistic view of the situation. This would give me the time to finally go after what I really wanted, writing and acting.

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Then the frost set in. December 21 was the first day of winter and, right on cue, I started freaking out.

  • FACT #1: I had no job but Christmas shopping waits for no one
  • FACT #2: I had no job and could no longer vent my problems to co-workers in lieu of therapy
  • FACT #3: I HAD NO JOB! OR DIRECTION... Besides playing with my cat. I did a lot of that.

My body froze, icicles formed around my heart, and winter gales blew all my hopes and dreams down towards Shonda Rhimes' office, who probably has like 18 hit shows by now.  I even called up a friend I used to work with and cried... about missing my serving job! I didn't even know who I was anymore! My whole world had been frozen, and not in the funny Disney musical way.

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The thing is, I was making a lot of money at my old job. This wasn't the Denny's on the corner. This was a five star, five diamond property that charged $48 for a salmon salad! I was making more money than most college graduates right out of business school. I loved that financial freedom, and the first thing that entered my chilly little winter brain was, "Go get another high end serving job."

And I could have. But that would have kept me in my same old "safe" routine. These thoughts were my ego mind trying to keep me stuck. If I got another serving job I wouldn't be creating new beliefs that supported me deserving to make money doing what I love. This part of my winter was tough. It consisted of me challenging every belief that I have and telling it, "thank you, but I'm going to go another way." And this way came with way less money. I had to use every ounce of strength and courage to dig deep down into that barren, snowy wasteland and keep going.

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 2

Barcelona was a dream. Breathtaking architecture and mind blowing food. Read about it  here. Now, on to Valencia!

The first mistake my boyfriend and I made planning this trip was over-ambition. We made it back to our hotel from our amazing fourteen course meal at Moments at 1:00am. And then we had to pack. Our reservation had been at 8:30pm, which was also the earliest possible dinner time. Spaniards do things late. My kind of people but not when I foolishly schedule a train to Valencia at 7am the next morning.

So a little loopy, we woke up at 5am and were on our way! Luckily, we got to sleep two and a half hours on the train because then we were off and running.

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Our first stop was the Valencia Cathedral. Inside, we took a tour and saw some beautiful art work. And then the piece de resistance, the Holy Grail.

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Apparently, this is the chalice Jesus drank out of at the last supper. The Moors brought it over on a ship when they conquered this area in 715 AD. But who knows for sure. There are eight different chalices around the world claimed as the Holy Grail. But I'm gonna go ahead and say this one is real. Because this is the one I saw.

We also saw this:

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This is the real human hand of Saint Augustine. It has never fully decomposed. I was unhealthily obsessed with this piece. It was gross and amazing at the same time. OK. Enough about that. I promised you food.

We rented bikes and rode through old town into the City of Arts and Sciences. We were starving at this point so we stopped at a little outside cafe for some sangria and jamon sandwiches. Jamon sandwiches are literally just prosciutto on a baguette with a little butter. But they are DELICIOUS. I also must note that in the U.S. I am not able to drink milk. (I'm an almond milk girl.) But in Spain I had all kinds of dairy products like butter and cafe con leche and I never had a stomach ache! My theory is that there are too many antibiotics or other preservatives put into our food. So thanks for that U.S. Thanks. Oh, and by the way, this was our background during lunch.

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Yes, that is real. And no, we didn't only have one bike. It was just nicer for the picture.

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of our jamon sandwich but you can see a typical one in the photo at the top. Next, we rode all the way down to the beach and had a delicious meal of cod fritters (left) and grilled cuddlefish (right). Everything melted in your mouth and the flavors! I can tell you one thing, Spanish food is not bland.

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How I Became the Best Me… and Saw Some Dance

I attended the first annual Best You Expo in Long Beach, CA this past Saturday. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.

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But, at first, I came in skeptical because I got the tickets for free. And let's face it, how good could it REALLY be if they're handing these things out like demo tracks on Hollywood Boulevard? (And even THOSE cost $10 if you actually take one. Trust me. One time I was chased.) I received the tickets because I've taken a class on mindvalley.com and they sent me an email. I needed some kind refresher so I signed up for one along with another friend of mine.

When we first got there I still wasn't 100% sold. I was worried there would be red tape, like we could only see the speakers in the booths in the basement, who would tie us up and torture us with meditation until we bought their self help program. But it turned out we had access to everything. Still didn't know what everything was. But we had it.

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The first speaker talked about basic concepts like living in the now, instead of the past or the future. I've heard that one a billion gagillion times but, still, it was fine... until he showed us the trailer of the movie he is producing based on his life. Dude, I love your passion, but 1: You had a typo on the slides you showed us, proofread; and 2: your video quality was grainy and dialogue unoriginal.  I did not come here to see a similar version of my own life under florescent convention center lights. I wanted ANSWERS.

The second speaker we saw was on the Main Stage and deemed herself "The Happiness Guru." She was a very quirky lady who was OK being 100 percent herself. That in itself is a great message because I'm already second guessing my previous paragraph. Was I too mean? Will they know I'm just joking? Do you think the anonymous guy I was talking about will be one of my 57 readers? Anyway, she talked a lot about not listening to anyone else and following your own intuition. Also, don't focus on money. Focus on what makes you happy. Great. I really like writing this blog but I also need to pay rent. Suggestions, PLEASE?

Then comes Kyle Cease. Whom I am now IN LOVE with. (He has a fiance but does that REALLY matter in Hollywood? Joking. Kind of.) This isn't a physical thing, though. I love him because he is ME. He's doing what I want to do. And doing it very successfully and effortlessly. He is a stand up comic that uses his comedy to make people laugh at reality, simultaneously bringing a transformational message. I mean, he opened with ten minutes on how bad the venue was, calling the convention center an airplane hanger, calling out the other booths making noise. "Alaska airlines flight now boarding at Gate 1," he retorts when when we hear someone talking on a bullhorn off in the distance. I cannot do him justice but trust me, he was hilarious. He then went into the core of his message and I want to share the three main points I learned from him.

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  • FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING

Fall in love with anything that is happening. Remember, what you resist persists. I instantly know this is why I was called to this Expo. He goes on to say that you'll never be happy WHEN something happens. First, BE happy, then something happens. Don't worry about being right or wrong. We only do that because we're trying to get something. If we're trying to get something that puts us in a place of lack and pushes it away. Translation in my head: Stop worrying about how many people read this. I do this because it's a passion of mine and makes ME happy. And like five people consistently read it.

Also stop worrying about what's going to happen. He points out that we get anxious by the thought, "I don't know what's going to happen." That's because we have a belief that we SHOULD know what's going to happen. Instead, feel your anxiety or your control issue, love it, and let it go! FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING! That's when freedom happens!

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  • TAP IN TO YOUR INNER APPLE TREE

We've all heard that we can go inside and access the infinite, unconditional love that we are. That's the basis of meditation, getting in touch with God and hearing the truth from our souls. But how often do we REALLY trust this? Kyle assures us that we all have an Oprah or a Ghandi inside us so stop trying to be successful. Trust and let God and life flow. Stop being addicted to controlling things we can't control. Go inside and ask yourself, "what feels light and expands me?" Then follow that passionately. Stop caring what everyone else thinks! He asked us, "Do you think Elvis passed out comment cards after a show?" Do you think he cared? NO! He was freaking Elvis!

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 1

I've taken a two week hiatus. I'm not going to lie, things have been tough. Like I'm sitting here on my couch with greasy hair in my pajamas at 4:30pm tough. I just got back from a vacation, which was wonderful. I originally planned to write an article about how we need to be nicer to ourselves. How stressing about work is ruining our ability to actually enjoy life. But three days back and I'm once again feeling overwhelmed in my job search. And I just can't be the cheerleader today. So I'm going to write about something totally unrelated, my love of good FOOD.

Last April, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Spain. It was AMAZING. When I got back I excitedly called my mom to tell her all about it. After the conversation she said, "But you've only told me about what you ate." DUH. Isn't that the only thing that matters? I've always been a foodie. And when I go to new locations I like to totally immerse myself in their food culture. Today I'm going to take you on a whirlwind tour, detailing how I ate myself through Spain.

BARCELONA:

When we arrived in Barcelona, after travelling for 16 plus hours, we immediately went to the Picasso Museum. Because, you know, who needs sleep? The museum was awesome. My boyfriend and I are both big fans. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed. But me being me, I didn't read the signs. I snapped this.

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I was immediately tackled by security.

Not really. But I was VERY strongly warned. I'm pretty sure I heard the curator mumbling, "Stupid American" as he walked off.

After this we wandered the beautiful winding streets around the museum, full of enchanted alleyways, twists and turns. We were looking for something to eat. After looking at multiple menus we settled on a cute, tiny tapas place and that's when it happened. I realized I was in love with Spain.

To be honest I didn't really know what Spanish food entailed. I ignorantly thought it would be similar to Mexican. I now know that Spanish food is one of my favorites on the planet. Give me tapas any day and I'm golden. At this first spot we ate veal sweetbreads, grilled octopus, and braised oxtail. Everything was out of this world. My only complaint was I didn't have a bigger stomach. I wish I could show you a picture, but at that point we were trying to play it cool and not act like tourists.

That lasted for about 3 hours. Then we took this.

salmon tar tat

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When Government Agencies Make My Head Explode (and not for the reason you think)

It's 7:38 am. I open a letter from Blue Shield Health insurance which tells me my insurance is being denied/and or cancelled because they have not received my whole payment. Which IS A LIE. And it starts. My heart starts beating faster. I can literally feel the heat run down my veins. My shoulder tightens. I soon grow to the size of The Incredible Hulk. And I basically take on the mentality of this Kramer.

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I am lucky enough to get some government assistance on my health insurance because I'm currently unemployed. This is awesome and I'm totally grateful. Except for the part where I have to rely on a bureaucracy to do something right, and in a timely manner. It also tests my tendencies to want to be in CONTROL OF EVERYTHING!!

Here's the story. I originally called to inquire about the Covered California plans late December. At this point I was on a Cobra plan from my previous job and just getting information. But some IDIOT... wait. I'm sorry. That's not loving or enlightened. Some (grimaces in pain trying to come up with something nice) very misguided lady, who was very busy with other important things so she couldn't fully listen to what I was saying, entered me into the computer with a start date of January 1. But I had just called to get a quote for how much government assistance I qualified for. I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR COBRA THROUGH FEBRUARY.

When I realized this, I called back and some other COMPLETE MORON, I mean super nice lady who thought she was being helpful but didn't know what the hell she was talking about, assured me that this was not a problem because I hadn't even picked a health care plan yet so that didn't matter. For my plan to start March 1 I just needed to pick a plan by February 20. This made perfect sense to me so I continued about my business.

So I did pick a plan early February, and when I went to make the first payment it said I OWED TRIPLE for January, February, and March. How I could pay for the month of January on a plan that I didn't even pick until February 15 is beyond all constraints of logic I possess.  So. First stage of hulkness began and I called Covered California, the government run agency that pays for a portion of health insurance for low income residents. I explained the situation to a really understanding and helpful man, who unbeknownst to me was still a HUGE NITWIT. He said he saw what happened and would amend that plan for a March 1 start date. I went onto my online profile for Covered California and it now said I only owed one payment for my insurance to start March 1. Crisis averted.

Except it wasn't. This agent never contacted the insurance companies with the change (I told you he was a nitwit! I mean, a well meaning man who just didn't know he had to follow through.) So I then start getting letters from the insurance companies saying I owe three months of payments. I STILL want to know how they expect me to pay for January and February when I hadn't even received my health insurance cards, therefore couldn't actually use the product they were selling. If this is how consumerism works, clearly I am doing something wrong. And everyone owes me $25 for my book that's coming out next year. I haven't started it yet, but trust me, it's gonna be GOOD.

So I called Covered California AGAIN. And some nice lady (nice, gotta trust nice, because my brain is screaming HALFWIT) told me that they would "accelerate my claim" and send a letter to the insurance companies. But this morning I open the letter from Blue Shield saying my plan was being cancelled for lack of payment. I literally felt like the floor was splitting open and I was pummeling down into fiery lava. Because, surely, this is what Hell feels like. I immediately pick up the phone to call them but, of course, it's still only7:48 in the morning and they aren't open yet. So. I. Have. To. Wait.

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This Toaster Does Not Mean Anything

Day 2 of "A Course in Miracles." I've really enjoyed doing these exercises. They may seem a little nonsensical at first, but then I'll have HUGE moments of clarity throughout the day. Like yesterday, I was at a Soundology Lab at Wanderlust Hollywood (which includes an amazing sound bath full of gongs, bowls, and chimes... which also lent itself to a little light napping; awesome because I'm no longer allowing naps in my  Time Management schedules. Hooray for multi tasking!) At the end of the class we did a seven minute chant "Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung." (which I just realized was Hung instead of the HUM I was saying when I looked it up just now.) You can listen to this beautiful chant HERE . The point is, these words truly didn't mean anything. I literally had no clue what I was saying (apparently, its about life and stuff) but they made me so calm and full of joy!

I think that's a good thing. If you give something a positive meaning that works for you, great! Just be observant throughout the day of both the good or bad meanings you make about things. I'm guessing this will eventually culminate in us realizing that our judgements may or may not actually be true, and we'll finally get control of our ego minds. But, for now, just realize that the things alone really don't mean anything. Like the toaster I pulled out of my cupboard this morning. Doesn't mean anything... except that I get to eat some toast and that's pretty cool. Damn, am I giving meaning to the toaster now?

Here's Lesson Two of "A Course in Miracles":

I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me.
And here's my experience of this!



OK. I promise tomorrow no more cat jokes. Maybe.

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