SuddenSight Branches Out – and needs your help!

wpid-img_20150723_122916.jpgHello readers!

As I teased earlier this week, SuddenSight will be making some changes this fall. One of those changes will be moving to a new .com platform! But no change comes without a snag or two…

The URL SuddenSight.com is already taken. Drat! So I need your help deciding on a new name. Here are a few I’ve been mulling around:

1. Sudden-Sight.com
2. SuddenSightHealth.com
3. MySuddenSight.com
4. SuddenSightBlog.com
5. ChronicHealthBlog.com

Would LOVE to get your feedback and alternative suggestions!

This fall, the blog will begin featuring guest bloggers discussing their journeys with a chronic disorder, a variety of allergy-friendly recipes, general health and wellness posts, and of course my continued personal posts.

Looking forward to taking this big step forward with you!

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How to Throw Your Best Pity Party Ever!

538524_10100307570358459_563922595_nYou just found out your best friend has been sleeping with your significant other. Your cat has the flu. Your job promotion went to the guy two cubes down who can’t even find AutoSum in Excel. The fecal matter has found its way up and into the proverbial fan, and life seems like it just can’t get any worse.

We’ve all been there. From tragic hair days and fender-benders to volcanic eruptions of hot messes, sometimes the only thing that can truly make you feel better is a party. A Pity Party, that is!

I know what you’re thinking: wadded up tissues in front of a Meg Ryan marathon with a gallon of Moose Tracks slowly melting into sugary-chocolate soup nearby. But a Pity Party doesn’t have to be a cliché. There is so much you can do with this traditional fête!

So dab your bleary eyes, roll up those snotty sleeves, and let me guide you through the magical makings of a Pity Party miracle.

Step One: Theme

More often than not, a Pity Party is spontaneous and comes with its own pre-packaged theme delivered to you FedEx á la Universe. When this happens, there may be little else to do than dress it up in a sparkly sweater while calling your mom. But that doesn’t have to be the end! Yes, the given theme might feature cancer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accessorize with adorable puppy photos from the Internet. I find that puppy-themed pity parties are best when you make sure to avoid adoption websites – else you end up with a new furry friend (or ten).

If you’re having a real downer, you might set the mood with Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album or Beyoncé’s feminist power-ballads (for anger) and Adele’s first few hits or some old-school Goo Goo Dolls (for subtle angst). If you’re feeling really down, you can always break out Babyface, Tori Amos, or the big guns: “Here In Heaven” by Eric Clapton.

Whether your Pity Party is intended to cheer you up or help you let out all the frustration, choosing the perfect theme is key.

Step Two: Decor

What would a party be without the proper decor? Even fraternities have learned to spice up their keggers with Tiki torches and brightly-colored leis. Once you have your theme, decor and wardrobe are your primary means of of setting the tone.

First things first: what are you wearing? My personal favorite outfit for pity parties is a long evening gown, accessorized with a sparkly tiara and bottle of cheap champagne. If you’re in a darker mood, you might try slapping on some thick black eyeliner and crawling into some pj’s from the bottom of your clothes hamper. Nothing says “Pity Party” quite like raccoon eyes and the strong, sour odor of cotton that’s been soaking in B.O. for the past week!

You may go with the traditional look of spreading boxes of tissues throughout your apartment. In that case, you might consider dressing up this version of the Pity Party with monogrammed handkerchiefs. I also highly recommend the childlike solace of a sheet fort, where you can blubber in privacy beneath a linen canopy to block out any and all happy light from the outside world.

Yet another route may be to decorate the living room with Styrofoam boxes of old Chinese food and the remnants of ripped-cardboard “plates” salvaged from multiple delivery pizzas. Which brings me to my next point…

Step Three: Food

As aforementioned, ice cream is the traditional food du jour, served with any and every type of alcoholic beverage. However, there are a multitude of flavors and brands to choose from! Fear not the option of buying several pints when you cannot decide on just one.

Beyond the world of cold and creamy lies a variety of comfort food choices: macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, apple pie, chocolate cake, strawberry cake, cheesecake, carrot cake, really any kind of cake, truffles, salted caramels, lemon bars, candy bars, peanut butter from the jar… You get the idea.

Whatever you serve, just be sure it has enough calories to sustain a horse.

Step Four: Invitations

This may well be the most important part of the Pity Party. I recommend quality over quantity in your guest list. Know that pity parties can be difficult to fill, but they certainly let you know who really matters in your life. Do not be too upset if someone declines; much like Santa Claus, you can put them on a different kind of list later. The important thing is that you surround yourself with exactly the right people.

Or, if you prefer, lock the door and turn off your phone. Give yourself some time to quiet the madding crowd out of your thoughts, and allow yourself to bask in the rich emptiness of a party of one.

In all seriousness, take note of your Pity Party for exactly what it is, and be careful to remember exactly what it is not. It’s okay to take a moment (or an evening) to be upset and frustrated, to cry or shout at the television, to be selfish for a split second in time. Just make sure you’re using good coping skills and not distorting your situation too far out of proportion. Only invite those nearest to you to participate, and don’t leave them cleaning up the mess when you’re finished.

Know that at the end of the day, the world is still turning on its axis. There will always be someone out there worse off than you and someone better off than you. There will always be things worth crying over, but there will also be many things worth smiling about.

So take your moment. Have your party. Then throw out the trash and move forward with tomorrow. Embrace your life – whatever it may be.

Moving Forward, Bending Backward

Today has been a big day for me (no fooling!) The beautiful sun in the sky marked a happy change in my life toward a brighter future.

I started the day with a piloxing class (combination of Pilates, dance, and kickboxing), which only a year ago I could not dream of doing. I made it through the hour-long class and was hyped up with endorphins for the rest of my day! No NSAIDS needs. Take that, stress and fatigue! Sometimes when I’m punching, I think about my rheumatoid arthritis and how my Remicade infusions have beaten it out of my life. It’s a truly freeing feeling.

At the end of the day, I went back to my dance studio for a ballet class! Five years after ballet caused the flare-up of my RA, I am able to enjoy it again. Again, no pain. No joint swelling. I bend and jump with everyone else in the class. It feels like such a miracle. Yet the biggest news of my day involves this very blog and the book I have begun writing also titled “Sudden Sight.”

When I graduated with my BA in December, my official plan was to get my PhD in political science/international relations. It’s a fascinating field, and I would likely make an excellent researcher or professor. My family supported me. My friends thought a doctoral program was nuts, but they wanted me to be happy. I wanted an achievable goal to work toward. I imagined that after I received my doctorate, I would begin work with a think tank or at an academic institution, and I would finally have free time to do my own writing. Looking through graduate school programs, though, I began losing my vigor. Time and again they asked, “What do you want to do?” And time and again, my answers were methodical and trite. Like with acting school, I was using something I was good at as a stepping stone for something I am great at and something I am passionate about: writing.

This past week, one of my dearest friends took me out for a drink and asked me the same question. Except with her, I couldn’t give the same methodical, trite answer. When I told her the truth, she asked the obvious, “Why not just write?” My whole life people have been telling me to write–my mother, my father, hell most of my family, my friends, my teachers, etc. Growing up, it was always my favorite pastime. But somehow, I never factored it in as a possible profession. Perhaps because of cruel words from my father’s second wife that poetry was “stupid” or because I could never see eye to eye with instructors on the meanings of famous works, regardless of my supporting evidence for the opinion. Either way, writing has always been a part of me and will always be a part of me, profession or no.

So why not write? Immediately following my hospital stay with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, that had actually been my first thought. I wanted to write it all down, and to keep writing my stories, both fiction and non. It is amazing how medical tragedy–perhaps tragedy and grief as a whole–can evoke an almost childlike mentality. Sometimes nothing seems possible, but then suddenly everything seems possible. For me, it was like my heart was open and vulnerable in a way it hadn’t been since childhood. I had a new chance at life, and I could live it any way I wanted.

That feeling slipped away, though. The other side to near-death experience is certainly fear of it happening again. I had traveled away from my family and friends to follow my dream of acting, and I had lost everything overnight. Why would writing be any different? Why will writing be different? At least with graduate school, there was a plan that hard work would lead down a specified path to a career. There isn’t a path like that for being a professional writer unless I want to go into journalism. And my health conditions make investigative journalism rather tricky. There is no guarantee that writing will ever feed me or allow me to positively impact the world–my two main goals. And yet, if there is one thing SJS and RA have taught me, it is that no life path has a guarantee of those things.

One of my favorite characters in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has a mantra, “Fear cuts deeper than swords.” It is said, however, that the pen is mightier than the sword. Five years ago I nearly died and went blind. Today, I participated in two flexiblity-heavy dance classes. Tomorrow, I will write in spite of my fear. Here goes!