Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's a Bumpy Ride to the Promised Land

You can just see the top of the Hollywood sign letters peeking up over the truck. The end of an era.

One of the first things we learned in life coach training last year was a handy little assessment gauge called the Change Cycle. It's comprised of four basic stages that spin together to take us through transitions. To better understand the phases, you can think of the metamorphosis a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.

Stage 1 is where the caterpillar decides to make the change, thinking in her squishy little head, "I have no idea what the hell is going on...but that's okay..."

Stage 2 is where she builds a cocoon and spends many days in there liquifying and re-imagining herself into a winged creature. This is my favorite phase. Who doesn't like to dream while wrapped up in a comfy blanky?

Stage 3 is where she has to struggle and struggle to free herself from the cocoon. The mantra for this phase is "This is so much harder than I thought it would be...and that's okay."

Stage 4 is the promised land. She's finally a real, live butterfly, free from her cocoon and able to fly wherever she darn well pleases.

Let me go on record and just say: Stage 3 is a bitch.

Apparently if you try to help a butterfly bust out of its cocoon, it will die sooner. The more it has to struggle to become free in stage 3, the stronger it will become.

In coaching, we describe stage 3 as a series of trials and errors. Fits and starts. Attempts and failures. Man, oh man does it wear on you...

This whole moving thing has put Mr. W and I smack dab in the middle of that kind of struggle. For weeks (actually months) it has felt like life is a series of two steps forward, one step back.

After making the first move to Santa Ynez with the cats, I was not only tasked with acclimating to my new (and lovely) space, I got to deal with two trips to the vet, a peeing-on-bedding incident, and a visit from a phone line repairman who I briefly thought might murder me.

We thought the cats were adjusting really well...until this guy climbed on top
of the cute pillows there and unleashed a flood.

I didn't make it through a single day the first week without crying about something.

Last Friday I drove back to Hollywood so Mr. W and I could pack up all of the furniture for the second part of the move. This process, too, was riddled with challenges. The trailer we rented to tow one of our cars wouldn't hold either. The refrigerator took 6 people to get down the front stairs of our house. The truck packing took hours longer than anticipated. 

Unpacking was going pretty smoothly but the cat with the bladder infection decided to pee on our aerobed and bedding three more times this week. Did I mention I don't have a washer and dryer here yet? Tons of fun.

The views here are stunning and are definitely helping me get re-centered. But with that fresh air and open sky comes a whole slew of new wildlife.

I couldn't capture the big bright moon with my little camera. It's really nice
to see the stars at night instead of strobe lights and helicopters.

Tuesday night I came down the hall into the dining room and saw a mouse-sized black cricket crawling next to the sliding glass door. I didn't know what it was at first and my heart hit the roof. It's funny how quickly you can slip into fight or flight... Too big for my beloved bug vacuum, the cricket fell victim to my broom.

I have to say even though he freaked me out, I was kind of happy to see him because I've always heard crickets are good luck.

Maybe the giant moth that I had to capture last night was lucky, too... A symbol of the winged creature I hope to soon become, flying freely in my new promised land.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Phase 1 Moving Day...Please Pour Me a Shot

Oh Stephanie Zinone, I so feel you sister. Just when I found him I lost him. He came home
a month ago and now we'll be living apart again. Thank you, Grease 2, for this gem.

I can't remember which class it was now, but in one of my advertising courses in college we learned a little bit about the psychology behind cognitive dissonance. I think we were discussing buyer's remorse. I don't remember a lot of things I learned in my college days, but the concept of cognitive dissonance has stuck with me all these years. And right now I'm in the thick of it.

I am holding two very opposing thoughts about where I want to live. And starting tomorrow, one of them is a done deal.

It's funny because I've been dreaming about the big move to California's central coast wine country for years—and dreaming of getting out of Hollywood ever since that severed-head-on-the-hiking-trail incident. So it's surprising even to me that I would be feeling any bit of sadness about the transition.

I suppose the biggest contributor to my conflicted feelings is the fact that Mr. W won't be moving with me. Yet, of course. He has to stay in LA until post-production is finished on his film. I just got him back from Vancouver last month and now we'll be apart again.

Live in a city that's not your favorite with your husband you adore OR live in a town you absolutely love, sans husband. 

It feels like Sophie's Choice.

And then there are all the memories that live here. It's where we fell in love. It's where we learned each other and made pancakes and tested our cholesterol with a kit from the Internet. It's where I met our friend Pete. Where we cried and cracked up and shared secrets.

We're not selling the house yet (because the market isn't quite where we need it to be), so it's not like I won't be able to visit. But it won't be ours.

I started to picture other people in the kitchen and it was so bizarre to even entertain the thought.

Maybe the last owner of our new house feels the same. Strange that some odd couple from LA could be sleeping in his bedroom.

Cognitive dissonance.

Life is a weird ride. Thanks goodness we have movies like Grease 2 to provide a soundtrack. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Enduring the Smashdown: A Story of Moms and Mammaries


I didn't write about it at the time because my mom wasn't keen on blasting the news across the Internet, but in late January of this year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. As far as the dreadful C-word goes, she was incredibly lucky. Her case was caught very early and was very treatable.

She had to undergo two surgeries to remove the tumor and deal with several weeks of radiation. But she's been in the clear for a few months now.

Given that her cancer was the first case in my immediate family (a favorite extended cousin had colon cancer several years ago but she kicked its butt, thank goodness) we were all pretty tipped upside-down when we got the news. What did it mean for our mom? What did it mean for our chances of getting cancer one day? What did we need to do to fix the situation immediately?

My sister is a nurse, so she sort of led the charge on information procurement. She kept all of us very well informed, which was comforting even if we didn't always know what it all meant.

My mom was a rock. No, a rockstar. She almost treated it like she'd been inducted into a club that a bunch of her other friends had already joined. From the beginning, she assured all of us she would be fine. And she was right. It's nice to have a mom telling you everything's going to be okay—particularly when it's her you're worried about most.

So in the aftermath of what may have turned out to be a blessing that'll keep all of us a little more vigilant about screening ourselves, eating right, and mitigating the risk factors we can control, I got the news that I was the lucky recipient of an early baseline mammogram.

My doctor referred me in April and I just finally went for my appointment this week.

I was so thankful that my wonderful friend Sizzle wrote a mammogram post and prepared me for what to expect. Thanks to her, I knew to wear pants so I wasn't standing fully exposed while a tech (wo)man-handled my ta-tas. My cousin also gave me a hilarious rendition of what was going to happen that went something like: "You'll change into a little gown and then they'll put you in a dimly lit room with soft music playing. It's kind of like being at the spa, except instead of giving you a massage, they give you the smashdown."

The smashdown. Made me laugh out loud.

I had heard horror stories from people about the pain and awkwardness of the whole process, so I was prepared for the worst. I thought of those times at the dentist when they'd hit a nerve and I'd grip the armrests while my eyes popped out of my head.

The mammie was totally not like that.

The only thing I can liken it to is getting my senior portrait taken in high school. Except I wore a top for that and the photographer didn't feel me up. But the whole "Drop your left shoulder down while holding your right one up and face your body this direction while tilting your chin that way" instruction felt oddly the same. I didn't look down at my boobies when they got smooshed and it didn't really hurt when they were doing it. Overall, it was much less traumatic than I expected.

Which is good because I plan to stay on top of my screenings from now until eternity. Like my mom, I want them to catch anything suspicious at a very early stage. And although I don't really want to come down with the C-word at any point, it would be an honor to be in that club with so many strong, amazing women who have.