Running With Wives

Picture this:

I’m 4 minutes into a jog on the treadmill and I’ve only burned 47 calories.

You know what that is?  That’s two peanuts, a raisin and an m&m.

I probably had 14 handfuls of that combo this week, so you do the math.

It’s going to be a long work out.

Because misery loves company, I will become friends with the motivation fitness model on the treadmill next to me.

Except, she doesn’t look miserable.

She is happily sprinting.

In her bra.

Not a sports bra, but a real bra.

I quickly think,  “good for her!  A sports bra doesn’t show off an 8 pack, but a real bra does!  That’s just the inspiration I need to work out a bit harder today!  Thanks God.”

I have the burning desire to ask her how to get all 8 abs, even though at this point, it would take 2 bouts of agressive food poisoning for me to see the pre-existing 6.

As I turn to tap her on the arm, all of my senses are immediately engaged by a hybrid of scents.

I also notice how her arm shines “bright like a diamond” –leading to a theory:

While she was at Victoria’s Secret, choosing which bra looked best with her spandex capris, she must have fallen victim to Victoria’s REAL secret- her business plan!

“Why not buy 17 lotions and sprays?  Mix and match! Buy them all!!”

I think she did.

Did I even re-apply my deodorant before I got here?

When did I last upgrade my workout gear?

You see, I’m wearing a chest-flattening sports bra under a 2008 KU Basketball t-shirt.

But I recognize the obvious:

Nothing says Lululemon like a giant Jayhawk on a cut-it-yourself sleeveless t-shirt (from 7 years ago).

Rock Chalk.

She carefully removes her headphones, as to not mess up her ponytail, makes sure the sweat hasn’t compromised the glue of her eyelashes, looks at me and sweetly says, “yes?”

(I already feel like we’ve known each other for years.)

I tell her how her body is motivating me to run faster and I need to know her secret to an 8 pack.

She’s flattered and tells me all about her diet (everything in moderation), exercise habits (errrrryday) and the secrets to burning belly fat.

She does this with the fervor of a six year old recounting what Santa brought him for Christmas.

But because she too knows that misery loves company,

she pulls on a thin layer of skin attached to her lower left ab and says, “I didn’t know I could ever have fat here.  Yet, when I cut carbs for 3 days, it all goes away.”

I wanted to connect with my new have-no-idea-what-your-name-is bestie, so I think about showing her my left ab,

but it’s currently hiding under “winter 2014.”

She’s so inspired by my gumption to talk with perfection that she decides to kick up her fitness advice, saying “here, try this!”

Resetting my treadmill; she ups my jog to now sprint at 11mph during 2 minute intervals.

When she sees the fear in my face as I straddle the racing belt below, she takes a mental note of my reluctance to hop back on and calmly says, “you can start at 8.5 if you want.  That’s what most models are told to do…or you can do your own thing.”

I now secretly wish she would hop off of her treadmill and say, “great talking to you, bye,” because I do want to do “my own thing.

But when I look over, she is only 13 minutes into her fat burn.

And judging by her body, she has at least 77 minutes to go.

I shamefully decrease my speed from her 11 to my ambitious 8.2 and remind myself that stranger danger is real.

The One for All Powerball

An hour before the Powerball drawing, I decided to spend ten bucks and scratch a few numbers on a ticket.

Shortly after, I spent a few minutes doing what every other ticket holder was doing: thinking of what I would do with four hundred million dollars.

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(Because to me, $400 million is like a billion.)

So at 8 pm, I had two things to look forward to:  American Idol and the Powerball drawing.

Welcome to my glamorous life.

In Los Angeles.

Anyway, at 8:11, my mom called to ask me if I checked my numbers and I looked at the clock and said, “oh, I almost forgot.”

As she was reading off the numbers, I had FOUR out of the five, but not all five and the Powerball.

I promptly took my pinky finger away from the bottom of my lip.

My mom relays the numbers to my dad and he yells out in the background, “well, she won a hundred bucks!”

And my mom points out the obvious, “you were one number away from a million and two numbers away from the Powerball!”

Thanks, mom.

I began to play tricks on myself– mind bending ones, like, “did I almost pick 19, instead of 16?  What if I flip the six over and it becomes a nine?”

I still didn’t have the 13.

Oh.

After having flashbacks of playing MASH with my friends growing up, a peace poured over me.

My life isn’t going to change!

I don’t know if I could “upgrade” my life right now.

I’m truly in love with where I am.

I would bawl my eyes out if I were to leave my antithesis-of-a-mansion apartment; this little space that I’ve often fought to keep.

It’s the very place which, many mornings, motivated me get out of bed to do what I love, so I could come back to just live what I love.

It’s home.

Plus, everything in my little space reminds me of the countless hours I worked for nothing until I was able to get real contract work.  Every piece of furniture, (for which I checked my savings) or hand-me-down piece I repurposed, sits indicative of how much I’ve grown.

Long ago, I adopted the toddler mantra, “I do it all by myself!” And let’s face it:  the LA common-place “sugar daddy” was never in my plan.

Could you imagine looking at these same things with disgust?

“I dated him for that handbag and chandelier?”

I feel bad for the girls who do and just wish I could pass out magic erasers.

You know, for bad decisions.

“One for you, one for you, and you?  You’ll need two.”

Ladies, just don’t.

I’m able to look at “things” in my life and feel the same satisfaction I had when I rewarded myself upon landing a new contract or job.

For example, when I worked for the New England Patriots, I was making two hundred dollars a week, (I knew it would be a great resume builder).

When they won the Super Bowl that year, I bought myself a ring to commemorate my experience.

From Banana Republic.

It’s a giant flower with fake diamonds.

Touchdown!

(But I’ll forever know what it represents in my life.)

Had I won the four hundred million, sure, I could buy a real diamond flower ring, but would it have the same effect on my heart?

No.

And when it comes to home, the feeling you get when pulling inexpensive art, a hand-me-down table and your grandmother’s old pictures together is insurmountable.

If I had millions, I’d fire any designer who didn’t at least get me one piece of cheap art from TJ Maxx.

Look, I’m not crazy. I could think of a million wonderful ways to spend a giant fortune; sharing it with my friends and family.

But my one fear is that I’d find myself leaving my new mansion to hop into whatever car I wanted that day and drive past my little apartment…

wishing I could afford what I once had.

Because no amount of money can buy the satisfaction that comes with a life

where you feel like you really win

when you first have to try.

Thank you, God.

Grocery Store Dropout

My three week 2015 health initiative has been successful.

I just ran out of chicken and my inventory is running low on veggies, bottled water and lemons, so I head to the store.

I park the car, grab my bags (because people in southern California look at you like you’re the problem if you don’t bring your own bags) and walk into the market.

Even though I only have to get a few things, I grab a giant cart.

I need to lean on it.

After checking to see if all four wheels move in line with each other, I grab some “organic” grapes and lemons.  Of course I pay extra for organic, but secretly think, “the trick may be on me.”

I slowly inch my way into cheese.  What if I have people over and I need a meat and cheese platter?  I already have the grapes.

I pick up some salami. I think about smelling it, but you can’t smell it and toss it back into the display, so I commit.

I add the A-listers: bottled water and chicken breasts.

Despite the one-note charcuterie platter, the contents of my cart seem rather depressing.

I become inspired to search for new recipes on my phone, so I pull my cart over to an area that seems desolate.

Spices.

After finding myself on Facebook, I see one of my friends just posted a bikini selfie and I think, “I should at least put the cheese back.”

Wait, I need recipe ideas.

So I go back to my phone and Google:  easy recipes, no prep time.

Response: “simple chocolate chip cookies.

Thank God I’m in spices, because as a matter of fact, I do need vanilla.

On my way out of the baking aisle, I hear my inner voice:

“what if I have a PMS-induced nervous breakdown and cookie dough is the only thing that will solve the rage within?”

Justified.

I make my way to the front of the store to see which line is shortest, simultaneously counting the items in my cart to see if I qualify for the express lane.

Had I not blacked out in the baking aisle…

As I stand in line, I see a fitness magazine, “New Year, New You. 15 Ways to get Healthy.”

The shame and guilt pour over me as I unload my cart, so I look at the checker straight in the eye, bat my lying eyelashes and and say, “I’m baking cookies for my boyfriend.”

He looks at my messy top bun, assesses my sweat pants and says, “do you want to use your club card?”

He believed me.

Life, to the “Tea”

One of my great passions is interior design.

So when my grandmother passed away, I asked my mother if I could have an antique chair she kept in her bedroom.

I also asked for a set of her china.

I didn’t ask for a set of china because I think I need china.

Having a set of her china had special meaning to me, and here’s why:

My grandmother was well-traveled.  After a trip to London, she taught me about tea. I was maybe 6 or 7.

As my grandmother’s granddaughter, I never had to pretend I was having a tea party.

She’d bake rolls for us and bring out her most beautiful cups and saucers.  She’d polish silverware just for our afternoon tea.  We would sit in her family room at an actual tea table with 2 matching chairs, where she taught me how to sip tea as well as put butter and jelly on a roll with a real butter knife.

Yet, if you were to sit down with me now, I’d conveniently forget those things and, depending on where we were, smear the end of the roll across a pat of butter on my bread plate and shove it into my mouth. 

‘Ello…

She also taught me how to stir sugar in my teacup with a teaspoon.

Really, there’s only one way, but…(shoulder shrug).

We’d pour milk out of a creamer, detailed in the same pattern as the the cups and saucers, which also matched the sugar bowl…and the sugar inside matched her stories.

And in writing that, I realize my grandmother brought much more than just tea to me.

You see, despite her worldly travels, she wasn’t jaded, this gem of a human. She’d tell me about her childhood; how her mother abandoned her and how her “daddy” was wonderful.

Then she added how she was once “poor as a church mouse,” but reminded me that being rich in love was most important, anyway.

She’d also tell me about London, Princess Diana and how wonderful she was to everyone.

When she’d recount the places she’d been, she didn’t miss a detail or fail to articulate the beauty of her experiences and what life lesson was learned, (with the most humble heart).

At the time, I didn’t fully understand the undertones of what she was trying to say.

I was disillusioned by my days at the neighborhood pool, where the only care I had was hoping the bottoms of my feet wouldn’t burn when the “ice cream man” rolled into the parking lot.

Oh, and if I had enough change for a bomb pop.

But, through tea, my grandmother was planting seeds:  teaching me the importance of having class, to never be concerned with wealth and constantly reminded me (my whole life) “God always provides.”

She also looked at me and said, “if you marry for money, you’ll earn every dime.”

So, earn your own dimes and marry a hardworking church mouse who makes me feel rich in love?

Got it.

Little did I know, she was equipping me with sentiments I’d carry in my heart to this very day.

It’s almost as if she knew I’d live in a city where some people don’t learn about tea.  I’m just thankful I didn’t forget how to stir in the sugar.

I never forget the sugar.

Below:

Ideas for displaying china.  Stack it, mix it or match it–just don’t forget to use it.

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Nell Hills, Kansas City, Missouri

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Wildfox Store, Sunset Plaza. Los Angeles

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Wildfox Store, Sunset Plaza. Los Angeles.

Dressed to the Ones

IMG_1095Looking back at pictures, we tend to laugh at what we were wearing; muttering sentiments of “I can’t believe I wore that…was that really the style?”

Yet, my fashion choices bring me to tears.

Real, sad ones.

Why?

Friends, my old pictures don’t read “out-of-style.”

I was never IN style.

In 2005, one of my best friends came to visit me at the Super Bowl, (I was working for the Patriots).  She arrived at my hotel with an arsenal of adorable outfits, but I remember telling her quote, “while living in Los Angeles, I’ve learned that you just want to be, you know, unpredictable.  As in not matching.”

So we were diligent in our efforts that week…trying to look unpredictable at every party.

In my defense, I used to look at runway fashion and think, “wow, I would never put that together.”

I’d later learn why I wouldn’t.

We all have gifts.  Dressing myself well isn’t one of mine.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I fully intended to be on-point.  This Missouri girl fell victim to Rodeo Drive, which didn’t do anything but put me on par with Britney Spears, circa ALL THE TIME.

I’d buy a great handbag and completely ruin it wearing it with ill-fitting tops and bad jeans.  Or, I’d buy great jeans and put a bad jacket with them and pair that outfit with an ugly scarf, aka “the finisher.”

I knew things weren’t clicking when in 2004, I wore cut-at-the-ankle Seven jeans and a blue Theory tank top with WHITE Aldo pumps and matching belt to an 80’s concert and got some genuine compliments.

We were in Kansas City, Kansas.

I later went through a shiksa phase.  I got asked out at a party by a well-dressed Jewish guy who knew more about Barney’s than Barney.

I once told him I was headed to the mall and he said, “you go to THE MALL?”

Noted.

So, I drove my Honda to Barney’s, which is next to Saks and by Neiman Marcus.

But I was from Missouri.

I missed the mall.

I went back to the mall and searched out brands that seemed Barney’s-like.

More confusion ensued.  I ended up trying, and even a few times buying, runway clothes.

I’m five three.

Years have passed and I’ve realized that fashion should be about you and how you feel most comfortable.  I like to look homeless, but carry a great bag.  I know that I feel best in gray t-shirts and boyfriend style jeans.  I like a heavy watch on my small wrist.

My hillbilly grandfather once told me that I looked like a “dressed up stick” and suggested I “make more money so I could afford to patch up the holes in my blue-jeans.”

I said, “you’re right,” and when my then-contract was renewed, I kept the jeans, went to Chanel and bought my mom a bag.

As predicted.

Adventures in Hypochondria

When I had chicken pox, I asked my mom if I was going to die.

I was 7.

When I discovered the tricep on the back of my left arm, I immediately thought it was a long tumor.  I was in 3rd grade.

I would peruse medical encyclopedias in the school library– looking for any sign that this wouldn’t be my last year of recess or collecting scratch and sniff erasers.

God, I miss those.

I’ve been studying medicine for years.

Which medical school do I attend?

Google.

My professors are ask.com, ehealthforum, wrong diagnosis (that has to be the equivalent of 1st year med school hell) mayoclinic (cliff notes) and livestrong.

Oh and not to leave out the trusty teacher assistants:   the contributing members of any discussion board that may be currently discussing any or all symptoms of my at-home-diagnosis.

In 2014, all of my medical findings were negated by actual doctors.  I didn’t have skin cancer, scalp cancer or tonsil cancer (it was strep).

About strep.  When I discovered a yellowish bubble on my left tonsil last Fall, I took a q-tip to it.  Part of it ruptured.  So this is what I googled:

Punctured tonsil abscess accidentally swallowed pus.

After 6 hours and two phone charges later, my diagnosis and prognosis were as follows:  possible tonsil cancer, but most definitely death after a long, risky surgery in which the abscess could or could not successfully be removed.

I stayed up, shaking, until 7am the next morning thinking about my first surgery.

Then I called my uncle, who just happens to be one of the best ENT surgeons in the country.  I sent a picture with a play-by-play of the night before.  He speed dialed “Melana’s pharmacy in LA” called in an Rx ,  but told me if I really wanted to feel better to just go see someone here in Los Angeles.

So, I did what any one else in my case would do,  I researched the best ENT at Cedars Sinai and promptly made an appointment.

This was a specialists office, so the receptionist asked, “can you tell us the name of the doctor who referred you?”

My heart sank.  I was trying to make an appointment meant for people who really needed to see a specialist.

I needed a specialist.

“Um, I don’t have a referring doc, but my uncle is an ENT in Missouri and told me that I may feel better if I see an ENT here in Los Angeles.”

I made the appointment.

I think after the nurse met with me, she told the doctor that I was verifiably crazy.  He came in, did a few tests and explained to me that I’m not a person who has a lifestyle that warrants head and neck cancers.  He also warned me that tonsils are like meatballs and they can sometimes shrink or stay enlarged.

Bye.

So, I have two swedish meatballs in the back of my throat.

I’m sure that ENT chicken scratched “HYPOCHONDRIA” in my file.

I do check all the boxes.

This year, my left eye went blurry.

I went to a top eye doctor in Los Angeles.  He found my eyes to be suffering from allergies for which he gave me eye drops!  EYE DROPS?!?  So I half laugh and confess to him,  “I came in here thinking you were going to tell me I had a tumor pressing on my optic nerve.”

He didn’t flinch.  He responds by rote, “well, we do check for that, but we really can’t tell for sure without an MRI.”

I almost fainted.

It was Friday.  He was off to St. Barts for a 10 day holiday.  I was off to my apartment where I got a second opinion on my i-phone.

Because when you ask the top doctor for his opinion first, you realize “I am the second opinion.”

May I remind you, it’s only January.  Prognosis:  hopeful.

Signed,

Doctor M

Plastic Surgery, Maps and such

It was THE FINAL QUESTION.  We’ve all seen it on television:  the top 3 girls line up on the pageant stage and each select a judges question out of the fishbowl to answer in front of a live audience.

No big deal.

No pressure.

At all.

It was just day 3, the final hour, the final moment of the competition.  My feet were killing me and I wanted a greasy cheeseburger from Hayes, (you can’t take the Gladstone out of the girl).

They call me up to select my question.

Let me preface this situation.  I honestly didn’t think I was going to win, and here’s why:  I was standing on stage with 2 other girls in the finals, and not just any two girls. One of them was my long-time friend and pageant roommate for the weekend, the strikingly gorgeous Leah, (dark hair, green eyes, perfect eyebrows, ballet body, to-die-for face, a history for besting every category at Miss Teen USA and…she also happens to be ridiculously smart and fun, from a family I also adore).  I once knew a guy who switched from K-State to KU after seeing her at a party there.  Not kidding.

I’ll take runner-up, happily.  I wasn’t winning this one.

My question ends up being this:  “Do you think girls who have had plastic surgery should be able to compete in pageants with girls who haven’t?”

The audience froze.

I didn’t.

This was a no-brainer for me.  I begin to speak into the mic, very matter-of-factly, “Absolutely…if plastic surgery helps someone’s confidence, I don’t have a problem with it.  I definitely think people who’ve had it should be allowed to compete with girls who haven’t, because believe me, if there was a leg-stretcher, I’d be on one– I’m short and these (lifting up the train of my gown to show my sky-high heels) puppies hurt.”

The audience laughed.  I hobbled away from the mic.  At this point, I had the crown nothing to lose.

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And that’s the day plastic surgery helped me win without actually having had it, (I did use duct tape and spray glue–ubiquitous dressing room basics).  My votes had nothing to do with “beauty.”  I just got lucky to get a question that I could answer well.  I wasn’t the most beautiful girl there.  I was equipped with low expectations which allowed me to have a great attitude about that moment, and subsequently communicated it in that otherwise pressure-cooker situation.

We all come across opportunities where someone else may seem better qualified or should be the obvious choice. That’s where the challenge comes.  Are you going to bow out?  NO.

I would have been thrilled for my friend to win; she was as deserving with her well-thought out answer.  I would have just competed the next year.

And this the point:  In life, you just have to go into opportunities with low expectations and hope for the best. The best, in my heart, was what ever God had in my plan that night.  I asked for His direction.  And that night, He wanted me to be Miss Missouri USA, I guess.   So, I got that question, answered it and He answered me.

In addition, I think it’s perfectly okay to embrace your imperfections, but still want to change something that bothers you, (in a way that best suits you).

Would I ever get plastic surgery?  Yes, I’d stretch my legs if I could, (I think). I’m just super scared of going under the knife for any reason, (the reason I still have bunions).

True story.

I have bunions.

Great Expectations

Welcome.

Women think about a million things at the same time.  While the “fear of cellulite” may attack one part of our psyche, we’re also able to build ourselves up, daydream, redesign our space,  dive into red lipstick and analyze relationships in another.

Many of us find ourselves moving through life with strangers; clicking through bits of information, inspiration and visual stimuli with a desire to find something to which we can relate.

Basically, if you have ADD, you’ve come to the right place.

Caveat:  While I’ll occasionally keystroke beauty and design, I don’t blog about fashion.  I’m a gray t-shirt girl, (and a repeat offender when it comes to comfort).

Let’s get lost together, shall we?  Brew some coffee, click around and remember, cellulite is not forever, (but I have seen super models who have it and it made me feel really good).

There’s HOPE in everything, (and really, that’s just the point).

Love,
M

Latergram

Fall 2013

Met a girl last night.  Every sentence she uttered was like an affirmation of my theory that I’m just lacking in cool points…all day.

You know those days where you kinda feel on top of the world?

For me, it’s when my car has been washed (within the last month), my gas indicator says I have at least 36 miles to empty, I haven’t resorted to dry shampoo yet for the week and I’ve been able recognize the staff at my gym, (but to my credit, the fitness industry does suffer from quick turnover).

So when this lovely girl hops into my car last night, she talks among the four of us, (very nonchalantly) about her impressive marathon resume.  My stomach starts to sink, but I do remind myself that I hit the YMCA 3 times during my Thanksgiving visit to KC, so it’s not complete confidence suicide…yet.

She’s a total sweetheart.  This is part of her life.

We get into the party.  She’s perfectly dressed.  As we talk about life, she clues me in about how dryer sheets don’t break down, etc.

I’ve been killing dolphins this whole time?

And as I look to my left,  a lady says, “I stopped using those, too.  I only use Downy softener.”

Wait, I sometimes use both?

After finding out she stopped using Facebook “awhile ago,” we started following each other on Instagram, to which I preface, “look, I’m not artsy.  I post a lot of boring pictures and I’m obsessed with taking the same pictures of my dog…at the same park.”

Her Instagram is filled with what Instagram is fully purposed–amazing artsy shots of beautifully lit friends in their most natural environments…you know–weekends at Burning Man.

I’ve never been to Burning Man.  I don’t have the heart to tell her that I’ve never had the desire to go.

Clearly, my attempts at self expression lie within the pages of Facebook.  FACEBOOK?!?

She’s also gluten-free, a total athlete and (of course) a former model.

But she exudes beauty from within and that’s 100 percent why I’m inspired.  She genuinely cares about the earth and others.

I may run today.  I may even eat a kale salad and drink a gallon of water.

I may even wash the dirty jeans I wore last night…and throw out my dryer sheets.

Sigh.