Pain and Suffering: Lessons Learned from Physical Therapy

On January 7, 2012, I was rear-Tboned by a large SUV. In my brand new car. Literally. We had made one payment on the Corolla. Long story short, I messed up my right shoulder and arm. After three months of physical therapy, my doctor ordered arthroscopic surgery of my shoulder. May 31st rolled around, the surgery was completed, and I was put back into PT. (That’s about as brief as I can make the story.)

Today, I began Phase III of the shoulder rehabilitation program and introduced 1 lb weights to begin strengthening the arm. Mind you, this comes on the heels of a painful few days due to a muscle spasm in my deltoid…  which had to be worked out through a deep tissue massage by my therapist. It’s a love-hate relationship these days with my PT. Love it because it helps, hate it because it hurts.

What I’ve Learned from 7 Months of Physical Therapy:

  1. Your therapist is both your friend and your worst enemy, only unlike your friends, they don’t care what you think of their methods.
  2. Just because I stop breathing doesn’t mean my therapist is going to stop the exercise.
  3. Regular, daily used household items can double as torture instruments when in the hands of a physical therapist. Rubber bands, folding chairs, paint rollers, and rubber gloves are scary things.
  4. “Would you like some Biofreeze on that?” is a cunning ploy used by therapists to make “deep tissue massage” sound more appealing.
  5. Saying “I can’t” makes no difference. You’re going to do it anyways.
  6. Losing count during repetitions just means you get to start over again.
  7. Asking me about movies, travel, or work does not take my mind off the pain, it simply challenges my multi-tasking abilities.
  8. Ice and Ibuprofen: the recipe for relief
  9. “Try this” never turns out the way you think it will.
  10. No Pain, No Gain

All that being said, I am truly thankful for the physical therapists that have been working with me over the past 7 months. While it is still far in the future, there is an end in sight only because of them. Thank you, James and Eric, for putting up with my complaining, pushing me through the pain, and helping me along this road to recovery!

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America, My Beautiful: Personalizing the American Dream

 

Let’s be honest, in spite of all the negativity floating around on the political airways, the skyrocketing of unemployment rates, the tragic instances of human nature that mar our daily newspapers, this country, our America, is the grandest nation on Earth. It is the home of impassioned patriots and determined pilgrims. Some of the world’s most beautifully painted natural canvasses are found deep within Smokey Mountain forests, Grand Canyon depths, rocky coasts of Maine, sand castle-studded beaches of Florida, and open spaces of the northwest. It is the birthplace of the “American Dream”, the inception of a once unheard of peace and prosperity, and the true “land of beginning again” for thousands of refugees, past and present. It is my America. It is my home sweet home.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Having lived overseas, I understand the differences of America and other nations. The strains of liberty float on the breeze if you’re willing to listen. The possibilities of bright, new tomorrows glisten in the eyes of students and those seeking to begin again. The civil liberties, freedom of speech, and ability to “be who you want to be” stand in direct opposition to many nations on the face of this globe. It began as a dream, was built upon an ideal, and stands as a beacon of liberty.

Love your country.  Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him.  ~Giuseppe Mazzini

This July 4th, I am reflecting upon the lyrics of America the Beautiful. This singular reflection is a personal quest to reaffirm those principles upon which our country was founded, to reawaken a desire to go back to the basics of American freedoms. Join me upon my journey to truly honor my nation, the land of heroes, patriots, and pilgrims. For truly, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” ~Lee Greenwood

 

 

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Happy birthday, America.

Avoiding the “Uh-Oh’s” of International Travel: Packing Must-Have Items

My husband  and I are preparing to travel to China with 22 college students for the month of May. Though immensely looking forward to the trip, I always get a little worried about finding myself without an American necessity while travelling overseas. Since I spent two years as a professor of Oral English in Dalian, China, I have a very good understanding about what can be bought in China, what should be brought from home, and what isn’t really necessary.

In a recent prep meeting with the team (20 of which are females), I created a list of packing essentials. In lieu of a regular “subject matter” blog, I imagined that it could be helpful to my readers as they anticipate summer travel adventures in far-off places. Always remember to check weight limits before you travel; I was once burned in Tokyo because I didn’t check the weight limits. Not cool.

I’ve listed several “elements” of packing including an emergency kit (kept in your backpack, carry-on, or purse at all times), checked baggage, carry-on bags, and possible items to include. Hope this helps!

Emergency Kit Essentials

Energy Bar
Powdered Drink Mix
Starbucks VIA
Band Aids/First Aid kit
Travel Pepto Bismal
Vitamins (C, multi)
Asprin/Advil/etc
Blister relief
Extra supply of ANY/ALL medications
Favorite Candy
Roll of Travel TP
Mouthwash
Hand Sanitizer
Chapstick
Sunscreen
Wet Wipes
Shout Wipes
Sewing Kit
Deodorant
Girl Stuff
Perfume Counter Sample
Tissues

Positively Prepared Packing

 Girl Monthly Stuff
Girl Monthly Stuff medicines/heat pads
Personal Journal (unlined)
Shampoo/Conditioner
Gel/Mouse/etc
Deodorant x2
Body Spray
Hand Lotion (Scented)
Make Up
Shower Gel
Toothpaste
Neosporin
Razor + replacement blade/cream
ACE bandage
Alarm Clock
Chargers (ereader/laptop/etc)
Adapter
Extra batteries
USB drive for extra photo storage
Magazines/Book (1/2)
Ziploc bags (quart and sandwich size)
Bug Spray
Safety Pins
(Think about necessity of hair dryer/straightener)

S.O.S Snacks (Save Our Sanity)

EasyMac
Granola Bars
Energy Bars
Favorite Cereal
Microwave oatmeal
Powdered drink mix/coffee
Pre-packaged, microwaveable goodies
Rice Krispie Treats
Candy Bars
Gum (and lots of it!)
Peanut Butter snack packs
Dried Fruit
Nuts
Crackers
Sugary Snack Cakes

Necessary Adornments (based on 3 weeks)

 6-10 shirts (t-shirts, casual, business, short and long sleeved)
At least 2 pairs of flats
Tennis shoes
Dress shoes
Jacket – outer or business
Sweatshirt
3 pairs jeans/casual pants (one you wear, one clean, one in the wash)
Dressy pants (black, navy, khaki, no white)
1/2 skirts
One formal
Lots of socks
Double amount of undergarments
Winter hat/beanie
Gloves
PJs (no more than 2 – tshirts can double)
Backpack

Survival by Carry-on

Medications (do not check them!)
Epi-pen or other emergency medical items
License, Passport, Tickets
Emergency Contact Card
Travel Pillow
Advil/Asprin
Pepto Bismal/Tums (travel sized)
Granola/Candy Bar
Deodorant
Chapstick
Extra shirt
Earplugs
Sleep mask
Shout wipes
Girl stuff
Gum
Suitcase keys
Ipod/ereader/paperback book
Soduku/Games
Pen/Paper
Remember: you’ll have a personal tv

In one-quart Ziploc bag:

Hand cream
Moisturizer
Toothbrush/Toothpaste
Mouthwash
Water Spritz bottle
Contact lens solution/Eyedrops
Anti-bacterial gel (travel sized favorite scent)

Optional:

Extra undergarments
Easy flats
Socks
Extra pair of contacts
Sleeping pills
Collapsible travel cup

Seriously? That’s a No-No.

 Sentimental Jewelry
Family/Personal Treasures
Extra credit cards
Wallet ID Stuff
Perishable food
Your Entire Library
Liquids over 3 oz.
Large Quantities of Cash
Shorts/Minis

Possible Maybes

Day pack/messenger bag/purse
Guidebooks (Lonely Planet)
Laptop
Towel
Umbrella
Something to swim in
English-Chinese phrasebook
Money belt (worn close to skin)

Make Up Miracles

Only take what you will use!
Foundation
Powder
Mascara
Eye liner
Blush
Compact of eyeshadow colors
Lipstick
Makeup remover sheets


Happy Summer Travels!

Musings Spurned by Dieting

Perseverance, dedication, consistency, resolution. These ideals have been floating around my head this week, desperately trying to latch hold of and vanquish my inherent laziness; a mental turmoil resulting from the self-inflicted diet plan that has transformed my life. Since I am hardly able to achieve release from warring words without pouring them onto a page, I will attempt to explore these similar concepts in today’s oh-so-tardy blog adventure.

First, the definitions:

Perseverance: the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Dedication: the state of being dedicated. Awesome.
Dedicated:  to devote (oneself, one’s time, etc) wholly to a special purpose or cause; commit wholeheartedly or unreservedly.
Consistency: steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, purpose, form, etc.
Resolution:  the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose or intent; determined.

We see a pattern emerging from these definitions (other than the use of the root word in each definition). All four concepts include the existence of a clearly defined purpose. This is true in every aspect of life; without purpose and direction, we falter on a course that has no goal, vacillating between possibilities and reality.

The Heart of the Matter: Purpose

What is your purpose? The singular purpose that created this post would be the desperate need to slim down and lose the first-year-of-marriage plump. As many of you may know, diets stink. The one I’m on is relatively easy, but in the end, it’s still a diet. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. It is achievable, and I’m well on my way to that number. (6 lbs as of today!) Weight loss is my purpose; but the bigger picture strains to be observed.

Let’s consider a maritime adventure. Without a directional medium, whether a compass, sonar, or a chart, the captain would be lost at sea, in imminent danger of rocks, currents, and shallow waters. He must possess perseverance to reach his destination, dedication to commit to the safety of his crew, consistency to adhere to the charted course, and resolution to achieve his purpose. If he lacks one of these traits, the voyage would be susceptible to a number of perils. Without purpose, a ship will not reach a prescribed destination. The philosophical genius, Seneca said, “When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”

Further, without purpose, a goal cannot reached, a skill will not be acquired, an achievement cannot be unlocked, a dream does not reach fruition. Not only in this diet endeavor, but also in the intersecting crossroads of my existence, I strive to have purpose. To exist fully within the framework of a goal; to consistently press toward the mark; not to lose sight of the majestic possibility of the finish line. In my work, I strive to complete publications that adequately reflect the fascinating subjects I interview. In life, I seek to please my Audience of One, ever grasping for the victor’s crown. In love, I yearn to be the companion, friend, and help-meet that I was created to be for my Honey, endeavoring to make him perfectly content.

Purpose: what is yours?

We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn’t for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose… embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God’s wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

Once Again to 中国

My husband and I have a unique opportunity to co-lead a trip to China this Spring. We will be chaperoning a team of 20-something college students on a quest to bring the secrets of the English language to China. Our trip will span almost an entire month and will be focused on promoting good will and volunteering efforts in several cities of mainland China. Our goal is to bring a bit of western culture to this land rich in cultural identity and social prosperity.

China has always been near and dear to my heart. Having spent two years as an English teacher at North Eastern University in Dalian, China, I learned a wee bit of the language–enough to get by in the bartering system at the local food markets! I am delighted to have this chance to return to the land that created so many wonderful memories. It will be a pleasure to share the secrets of China with my husband.

Be the change we wish to see in the world.”

An Audience of One: Part 2

Yes, I’ve already written about acting for an Audience of One, but since I’m currently involved in a community theatre production of Miracle on 34th Street, I thought it would be timely to revisit this thought. Once again, I find myself in the throngs of busyness, trying to keep the house clean, making yummy meals for the husband, and not letting my productivity at work slip, while endlessly rehearsing lines in my head, becoming “Doris Walker”, and keeping my head above water during this holiday season. It’s been a fun six weeks… hence the lack of postings on this blog.

I previously stated in An Audience of One that my favorite part of the show is the monologue. As Doris Walker, I am playing a part that I’ve never truly experienced, that of a stuck-in-her-own-shell, realistic, somewhat hardened divorcee with a ten-year old daughter. It has been a task trying to identify with the feelings that Doris displays throughout the show, but it has been a delightful challenge. My husband saw the show last weekend and remarked, “It was so odd; I know you, but I didn’t know you!” As an actress, that was the sweetest thing he could have said.

As I said before, acting demands excellence; to be a successful actor, you have to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions to an audience. The audience must not only watch events as they take place, they must understand why characters respond to events as they do and feel emotional connections to the actors. In my opinion, it is easier to establish an emotional connection with the audience around Christmas time. Everyone is looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of buying, wrapping, sending, giving, and eating during this most wonderful time of the year. They’re trying to fill the need, supply the desire, find the perfect present, and get the gifts to Grandma before the 25th. It is such a privilege to offer brief moments of magic through the looking glass of the stage.

Looking Beyond the Stage

Once again, I wish to look beyond the stage, beyond the audience, and through the twinkling spotlights. I wish to turn this blog into a lens of introspection with a question: In all our busyness, do we truly take the time to stop and thank God? We just baked our pumpkin pies, carved our delightfully seasoned turkeys, and ate our fill of canned cranberry sauce. We just paused as a nation to offer thanksgiving to God for the initiative of lonely pilgrims desperate for religious freedom and a new beginning. Our hearts were just filled with the love, laughter, and family togetherness of the holiday. We just experienced Thanksgiving.

And yet, what has December become? In my life, this year is full of rehearsals, performances, and photoshoots. For you, it may be shopping, church cantatas, gift wrapping, travelling, or other methods of creating “holiday cheer.” Can we really say that we have continued in a spirit of Thanksgiving through these few weeks since November 24th? Are we living our holiday season for the Audience of One? Can we truly say in all our busyness, we continuously thank the One who has provided the ability and means to even celebrate Christmas?

Looking Beyond the Holiday

More than just pausing to be thankful, do we honestly remember what Christmas truly means? It is the remembrance of the divine moment when Hope was born. Christmas is more than pretty presents, sparkling tinsel, and caroling in the snow. It is the epitome of living for an Audience of One. Through Christmas, we begin to understand the One for which we live. By remembering Christ in Christmas, we acknowledge our inability to do anything apart from our Saviour, our fallibility, our inherent selfishness, and our breathtaking, undeserved future.

As much as I pour my energy, time, and thought into the character of Doris Walker for Miracle on 34th Street, I should radiate Christianity. I should go about my busy holiday planning and shopping as a Christian. I should be a vibrant light, a true testimony, a willing servant to others. I shouldn’t focus on the “getting” of the season, but on the giving. There shouldn’t be a difference between what I say in the store (to get that last “perfect” gift on Christmas Eve!) and the way I live what I believe. I should exhibit the true Christmas spirit through living my life for my Audience of One.

Just as I cannot see the audience when I stand in the spotlight, I should live my life this Christmas with only my Audience of One in view. 

Self Respect vs. Halloween Costumes

When did Halloween become National Dress Like a Floozy Day? In the interest of full disclosure, this post may offend some of you. I will be using this blog post to address something that has been bothering me all weekend.

On Saturday, my husband and I went out to dinner with his grandparents in honor of his birthday. (Happy birthday, Sweetie!) We went to Applebees because Grandpa was craving Riblets. Unbeknownst to us, Saturday was the day that the management had decided to allow their greeters and servers to dress up for Halloween. This could have been an enjoyable experience if not for the plethora of cleavage and gartered thighs that constantly paraded past our table—delivering food, nonetheless. Not only did this bother me from a modesty standpoint, but also from a cleanliness, “you’re handling my food” point of view.

After we said goodbye to the grandparents, we began the hour drive home, stopping at Wal-mart and Target once we got to Tampa. Customers roamed the aisles in their Halloween garb—the bulk of which consisted of, once again, plunging necklines and mini-miniskirts. When did it become ok to parade around in less-than-covering outfits simply because of a date on the calendar? Why would any self-respecting woman choose to dress like that in public?

Where has self-respect gone?

True, most of the women wearing such costumes are not who their clothes (or lack thereof) portray. They’re using Halloween as an excuse to let the alter ego out, to throw caution to the wind, and to accept consequences of such decisions. “Consequences? What consequences?” You say? Think about it. Today’s world. Public parking lots and wild parties. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but showing that much skin is an invitation, no matter what time of year.

This experience caused me to pose the question, “Don’t you have more respect for yourself? Your assets are not only skin deep!” Self-respect should permeate all aspects of your life, including Halloween costumes. If you can’t respect yourself enough to tastefully dress up for Halloween, respect those around you and dress appropriately. It is a tragic commentary on the state of the American woman when so many throw out their sense of decorum for the sake of a party.

What is self-respect?

The dictionary defines self respect as proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one’s character. The very words “dignity” and “character” could never be used to describe what my husband and I saw on Saturday night. Why do we feel that we have to “floozify” our attire in order to be accepted at Halloween parties?

Let’s go deeper than Halloween costumes: what has happened to self-respect in American society? So many young women feel that they have to show off “what they got” rather than develop their own character, personality, and opinions about life, liberty, and happiness. Fashion has become a matter of exhibition. Don’t believe me? Have you been to the mall lately? Where are the women who stand up for self-respect, for decency and modesty, and for the charactered upbringing of today’s youth.

That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong. ~William J.H. Boetcker

Where does the fault lie?

Quite honestly, the fault lies with us. We who are adults need to be setting the example for the next generation of women. We set the bar. What we allow in moderation (ahem… Halloween costumes), they will flourish in excess. We think it’s ok to show cleavage and garters for dress-up parties; they think it’s ok year-round.

Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners. ~Laurence Sterne

 I guess this blog post is a call to respect ourselves. It is a challenge to be more than an alter ego for Halloween. Make a difference, be respectful, be the example. Those little Trick-or-Treating eyes are watching.

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

Warning: This post results from an interesting conversation and an unnerving event, both of which happened after 9:30 pm. You’ve been warned.

Being the holiday season, I auditioned for Miracle on 34th Street at St. Petersburg City Theatre and was offered the part of Doris Walker. Our schedule is quite stacked because both Halloween and Thanksgiving fall within our rehearsal period—a combination that results in at least four nights at the theatre. With opening night little more than a month away, we’re trying to squeeze as much as we can into each rehearsal.

In an attempt to utilize our time on stage and finish blocking Act 1, the adult cast members decided to stay after the children were sent home last night.  We were all a bit tired, but thankful for the time to work out our blocking. I’m not going to sugar-coat it: I was beyond tired. My husband has said that I turn into a pumpkin at 10 pm. I don’t think it’s that bad, but I definitley do get a little loopy. “Loopy” in this sense means the production of certain reactions: giddiness, eloquent (or what I believe is eloquent at the time) realizations, lackadaisical involvement in activity, general hyperactivity, and pseudo-drunkenness complete with slurred speech and lack of balance. Last night was no exception.

Thankfully, I was lucky. This time my tiredness did not reduce me to a bumbling idiot, but resulted in a purely philosophical discussion in which I waxed eloquent… I think. Our Santa posed the question: “Would you want to know the date of your death?” to which I and another actor quickly responded, “No!” We then went on to discuss why not. Santa argued that if you knew the date you would leave this earth, you would live with the mindset of accomplishment, making sure to do what needed to be done before your impending demise. I suggested that this was how we should live, period. “Live like you were dying,” I said. Checking off a bucket list shouldn’t begin when your last day is approaching; rather, we should consistently seek out experiences, speak what we believe should be spoken, and accomplish that which makes us matter to this world.

I went on to make the analogy of sickness and the battlefield of the mind. The day before we found out my Dad had cancer, we were planning my trip to China, I was packing my suitcases, checking off my to do list, and getting ready for an international flight. We had no idea what the next day would hold. We were blissfully ignorant until we got the phone call. I often think about that day—the day that my world changed.

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Is ignorance truly bliss?

After our deep discussion at the theatre, I drove home, started relaxing, turned on the tv, took a long shower, and studied my lines. I went about my night like normal, unwinding from the adrenaline of the stage. My husband came home from teaching his night class and we went to bed. Midnight rolled around and we were both startled by a persistent banging on our front door. Turns out one of our neighbors called the police because someone had been standing outside our window. How long this had been going on, we don’t know, but all I understood was the fact that my privacy had been violated without my knowledge. Again, ignorance.

I had no idea what was going on outside my own home. If my neighbor had never called, I would still be in the dark, totally ignorant to the loser standing outside my window. Before the police knocked at my door, it was a normal evening at home; afterwards, I was paranoid and restless, planning the triple-strength privacy curtains that will be purchased for every window in my apartment. One minute I was relaxed, the next I was wound like a spring. 

A Positive Nature of Ignorance

Ignorance is defined as the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc. Often it is used to describe those who are not “smart” or accomplished. Most of the quotes that I found about ignorance dwell on the negative side of the definition, rather than the positive. Honestly, I would much rather be ignorant of some things. I’d rather not understand what it means when a friend says they are starting chemo treatments. I’d be perfectly fine if I didn’t know that the hostel bathroom I spent three nights in while travelling in Beijing had six inch roaches. It would be ok with me if I didn’t know what cow brain jello and silk worm taste like. I wish I couldn’t empathize with those who have lost a parent.

But do I really? Do I really believe that ignorance is bliss?

If I hadn’t experienced the gut-wrenching phone call that informed me that my Dad had cancer, I would never have gone through a year and a half of growing closer to my family. I would have blissfully lived out my time, not caring about making memories or showing my affection. I wouldn’t have formed friendships out of “chance” encounters with strangers. Most importantly, I couldn’t offer the comfort of “been there, and survived.”

If I had never eaten cow brain jello (I’ll spare you the details), I never would have formed the relationship with my Chinese boss that led to an early dismissal from my job duties when my Dad was so sick. My boss wouldn’t have seen me eat her horribly gelatinous jello despite all common sense. She wouldn’t have seen respect, nor would she have returned that respect when I needed it.

So, all of this rambling to say, ignorance is bliss until you realize what you would never have accomplished without the jarring reality of truth.

I still don’t want to know the date of my demise, though…

Capture Beauty

This weekend, I had the privilege of photographing the wedding of two friends, Anna and Nate. Their beautiful ceremony was held in Warren, Maine, a little town north of Portland. There is nothing more breathtaking than fall in Maine. The trees shedding their rainbow leaves, the crisp autumn air, and the crystal clear blue skies were delights to this Florida-bound Coordinator. Because my mother grew up in Maine, I’ve spent many a vacation on its rocky coastline. Lobster dinners, skipping rocks, afternoons on the sailboat, and cold, starry nights have always been favorite parts of my childhood. When I think of beautiful things, Maine is always on the top of the list.

Beauty is as beauty does: What truly is beauty? What defines beautiful? Is it a striking appearance or a complex melody? Does it hide within a verse of poetry or can it be found through an experience? Like so many other things, beauty is described differently by each individiual.

To me, beauty is found in smile lines around aged eyes. It dwells in the stolen glances between lovers. I define beauty as the joy I feel when observing the canvas of creation, a sunset sky, an autumn mountainside, and the crashing of the sea. I find beauty in experiences shared with friends, dinners with loved ones, and chance meetings with eclectic strangers. I see beauty in the dancing steam of my morning coffee. Beauty is tangible; it exists in the minds of its beholders, yet can be observed by the diligent seeker.

I’ve travelled the world. I’ve seen mountains, canyons, oceans, and monuments. I’ve experienced black tie events, thunderous symponies at famous opera houses, and serene international escapes. I have purchased rare jewels and found secret treasures. I have lived fully, loved passionately, and laughed uncontrollably. My life is beautiful, my past is colorful, and my future is ready to be lived. I have experienced beauty; I have truly been blessed.

 Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty must be lived. It must be remembered. To not chronicle beautiful moments is to lose them to the hourglass of time. Capture your moments. Seize the opportunities to experience beauty and hold them forever in your heart.

Home Sweet Apartment: 10 Simple Rules

Over the past ten years, I’ve had a good many neighbors, some of which were the “you-get-the-gold-star” kind, but most have been the classic “I-don’t-give-a-care-if-it-bothers-you” type. After being awoken yet again by my upstairs neighbor’s beat boxing washing machine, I decided to come up with 10 Simple Rules for Apartment Dwellers.

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. 6:30 am is never an acceptable time to do laundry, especially if your washing machine is unbalanced. An unbalanced washing machine needs repair, not constant, early morning usage. Save the laundry for after the socially acceptable time of 9 am or, better yet, the weekends.

3. If your child has tantrums, deal with it, don’t just let them scream in their bedroom for hours. I’m not a parent, so I can’t really empathize with parents of toddlers, but it’s unecessary. I understand that children scream, cry, and stomp around. But, if you live in an apartment (especially on the second, third, or higher floors), your neighbors can hear everything. Allowing your child to scream bloody murder every night is not acceptable. When earplugs can’t drown out your child’s screams, there is a problem.

4. As far as I know, King Kong is not apartment friendly. Therefore, getting up to get a glass of water should not sound like he is your house guest. Stomping isn’t funny.

5. If you have a party, awesome. Have fun. But sitting on your balcony every night, playing your music, drinking your drinks, and sharing your woes with the entire community is not really the most apartment-friendly kind of demeanor. Especially when you’re sharing after midnight. On a workday. Not cool.

6. If you live in an upstairs apartment, please, please do not put any kind of grease down your drain. Get a glass jar for hot grease and keep it under your sink. When you put grease down your drain, it blocks up in mine. The plumbers should not be on a first name basis.

7. Please don’t put your trash in your neighbor’s trash can. My apartment community has the glorious service known as valet trash. It’s a wonderful time saver, but please do not put your McDonald’s bag in my trash can just because it is out for pick up. Use your own can.

8. Living in Florida dictates that you own a variety of colorful swimwear. Awesome. Please use said swimwear at the pool; I don’t want to see your bikini-clad not-so-beach body in the courtyard. That’s why we have two gorgeous pools overlooking Tampa Bay.

9. Pick up after your pets. Really, this should be a given, right?

10. Be nice. I’ll say hi, you’ll smile, and we’ll both go about the rest of our day. It’s really that simple.