Pursue your passion

Warning: 9 month old rotten onions may be found here.

Here’s the thing… I’m not the best at keeping things organized. It’s totally okay. We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. Where do I begin? Many will agree that I’m not a great driver, I’m terrible at throwing a ball, I’m not good at limiting my taco intake, I should not be trusted to create an excel spreadsheet… especially if it involves those fancy formulas. I am a creative thinker, using my right brain muscle more than I probably should. I’m quick to acknowledge my weaknesses because it helps me to continue to improve and work to be the best I can be. And, to connect with someone who can help me learn, grow and be better.

Cue the upbeat, intro music: meet Molly & Janelle, owners of “Get It Together Organization”.

Molly, Janelle & I… Getting it Together!

I’ve known Molly for over 5 years in a few different capacities, so when she reached out to let me know that she was starting a business with her friend Janelle, my heart did a happy dance. For two reasons:

  • Reason 1: Anytime someone tells me that they are following their passion and using their gifts to impact the world in a positive way, I feel a surge of warmth through my veins. When we discover what brings us joy and in turn, spread joy to others and change lives, it’s a beautiful thing.
  • Reason 2: I needed their help. I am quick to get rid of “stuff” and am happy when I get to de-clutter because my house is half the size of my daughter’s Barbie dream house, but I often don’t know how to create systems that maximize organization and efficiency (as you’ll soon notice).

It’s the right brain thing… for real! According to Healthline, “the right brain has a more creative and less organized way of thinking.”
I’m living proof.

Molly offered to have her and Janelle come to my house to take a look at some areas that could use fine tuning. I immediately thought of 5 spaces that could use their magic touch (including my garage, more on that here!) When they arrived, I felt as though two of my dear friends were coming to hang out. They were warm, enthusiastic, supportive and not judgmental in the least bit.

What really stood out to me was how they worked together; both equally excited about all of the possibilities, brainstorming ways to maximize each space, talking in their own language about measurements and organizational supplies.

Molly shared the many benefits of being organized, one of which really resonated with me:

Being organized saves you money and reduces waste. I often find that when things don’t have a place, people end up buying it again…even though they already have several of that item in their home. If it has a place to live, you will know where to find it.”

Molly MacMunn
Molly & Janelle making a plan for my Kohl chaos kitchen

They decided to work with the kitchen; since I had just renovated it less than a year ago and hadn’t really thought through where to put things. My much-needed rescue reorganizers began snapping photos, taking measurements and chatting about ideas. It was so fun to watch as they squealed with excitement every time they opened a drawer or a cabinet, just at the mere thought of what they could do to make it better for me.

Molly & Janelle spent a solid 45 minutes taking photos and measurements in order to come back with a plan for progress. After they left, they emailed me an Amazon link to a list they created just for me, with all of the items they thought would maximize my space and provide the ultimate organization. It was so simple – I ordered the items they suggested and had them ready to go for when they would return to transform my entire kitchen for the better!

When Molly & Janelle arrived to get the job done, they showed up with a hot coffee in hand for me, put on their cute matching aprons and spread a boatload of encouraging, positive vibes. As we started to sort through each and every cabinet and drawer, it became very apparent that I needed them in my life, in a big way.

So, I’m about to get really personal here… below are photos of my kitchen BEFORE & AFTER I invited these magical planning wizards to come over.

If you are wondering if I happened to have expired chips in the back of that shelf and a bag of rotten onions from 9 months ago sitting in an unreachable cabinet above the fridge, the answer is YES.

I was in tears when I saw the transformation. Not only because I was completely blown away by what they were able to do with my small kitchen space, but because I knew that they have made updates that will drastically improve my day to day life. These rock stars helped me to get rid of so many things I don’t even use and make the most of what I already have! No longer will I have to use my oven as storage for my pots and pans and will now be able to see all of my spices instead of only cooking with Old Bay because it’s the only thing I can see & reach.

Even my kiddos are thrilled with the updates! The fun containers, easy access to snacks, and including, but not pictured, the folding step stool that nestles perfectly between the wall and the fridge. With a house full of shorty’s, how did we not have that before?


When they left, they took all of the items I wanted to donate with them and left a card and a bottle of champagne to celebrate my “new” space. I look forward to once again being around their enthusiasm for their work and witnessing the joy they feel when helping others. I may call my house “Kohl Chaos”, but that no longer applies in my kitchen! Thanks to this power duo, my home is more enjoyable to be in and I feel like I am starting to really Get It Together. And that includes knowing exactly where I put my onions.

Get Molly & Janelle to help you tackle a space in your home! For more information, visit gitorganization.com

Power of positivity

We gon’ be alright, put that on my life.

Macklemore’s music fills every bit of my veins with energy. His words, his passion, his conviction. He is so true to who he is and shares his message with the world through impactful lyrics. I admire his ability to create music that resonates so deeply.

Take “Same Love” for example…

a song about being free to love who we want to love & not being confined to stereotypes that cripple our ability to keep an open mind about how life “should” be lived. His song “Good Ole Days” shares the message that we need to live for today; stay in the moment and enjoy the journey instead of rushing to get to the next moment. “Glorious” is filling my soul with all the words I need right now:

“I feel glorious, glorious

Got a chance to start again

I was born for this, born for this

It’s who I am, how could I forget?”

As I began the new year with renewed energy and optimism, I knew that I wanted to use this song to inspire others through music, dance & movement. It’s easy to lose inspiration when things seem to be falling apart, but teaching dance continues to remind me that the arts have the power to heal and transform hearts and minds.

I teach an adult hip hop class at my dance studio, Ohana School of Performing Arts and this year we have turned it into a performance team. This group fills my bucket each and every week. These adults are all juggling their own lives… as teachers, entrepreneurs, parents, healthcare workers, first responders; all coming from the chaos of their own lives once a week to dance together. One student even logs in to class virtually from Florida. They practice the choreography while at work, in a parking lot, in their kitchen making dinner for their family or in their head while driving.

We all come together to connect, learn and to allow dance to heal our souls.

Unfortunately, there haven’t been many opportunities to perform due to state restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to continue to carry out our mission of spreading peace & positivity through performance, we put together a video to showcase their passion and to inspire others.

No matter what sets your soul on fire … be it dancing, painting with watercolors, shooting hoops, playing an instrument … never lose sight of it. It’s never too late to try something new and you are never too old to do what brings you joy.

This song has so many important reminders for us to hear:

…things are just things, they don’t make you who you are.
…when I leave here on this earth, did I take more than I gave?
…I got my breath, I got my faith and I remember why I came.
…every day is a chance to start again, and no matter how dark the journey gets, the sun will come out and shine for us all.

Our wish for you is that you see the sunlight, even in the hardest times. And always remember, this life is glorious.

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Me + sports = NOT awesome.

Gym class was my worst enemy. I was always picked last for teams. I despised wearing the ripped mesh, stretched out overshirt thingy that smelled like stale sweat. I wanted nothing more than to dodge dodgeball. And, somehow, for some strange reason, I was always constipated, had cramps or sprained my ankle on days when we had gym. I think everyone was fine with my excuses, including the gym teacher. Having me sit on the bleachers was safer for everyone.

Dance was my passion, no doubt about it, but one year I decided to try softball. Why?  Because the cool kids played sports. I felt like one of the popular kids, rockin’ my purple & green sting rays uniform. My friend Leanne’s Dad was the coach, so I would hitch rides with them to practices and games. Before heading to the field, I would do my hair and makeup and douse myself in cotton candy scented body splash. No wonder her Dad nicknamed me “stinky”. My memories of softball involve getting attacked by bees in the outfield while rehearsing choreography for dance routines and dreading any cute boys showing up to watch me embarrass myself. Whenever a ball would come my way I would either duck and cover or run the other way, screaming in fear. When it was my turn to bat, I was told to never swing, but to bunt. So I let the ball come to my bat and I would run for my life. Literally, for my life, out of fear of being totally humiliated because my outfield skills were less than satisfactory. I had to make up for it with my non-swinging, running skills. The coach nicely encouraged my parents to have me stick to dance. 

My only other experience playing sports was dribbling a basketball in my driveway growing up. I remember watching Space Jam and thinking I could be a pretty sweet basketball player because I got super fired up whenever I heard “Whoomp, there it is.” I didn’t think that being in the  10th percentile for height would ever work against me. Or the fact that I had zero coordination when it came to sports.  

My son is a huge fan of sports; thank goodness his Dad was a star athlete and can help him in that department. I do try: I bought one of those ball-pitching machines on amazon. I throw the football with him but it’s always him teaching (or laughing at) me. And, tossing a lacrosse ball to each other has turned into kick-ball-change lacrosse. It’s a new jazz dance-lacrosse hybrid sport that I invented. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have had the game of football explained to me, yet I still pretend to watch and understand it. I’m 35 years old and am pretty good at understanding things that are explained to me. For some reason, my brain rejects the understanding of sports. When I was in middle school I was a cheerleader, for football. That’s how I thought I learned to spell the word rowdy with confidence.  “R-O-W-D-I-E, that’s the way you spell rowdie!” No, no it’s not. That’s a lie.  I would yell “first in 10, let’s do it again” like  a bad-ass. Like I know what that meant.  I still have no idea. Or “Hey, hey you, get out of our way because today is the day we will put you away.” Where are we putting you? What does that mean? I actually have no idea what is happening. At all. What are downs? Yard lines? And quarter, running, full…so. many. backs. I own a few Patriots shirts. I think Edelman is hot. Tom Brady is the GOAT, apparently. I love going to football watching parties. For the taco dip. 

Seth Stutman & I when we hosted Mass Appeal on WWLP 22NEWS together.

As much as I joke about how sports and me just never got along, I never realized how distressing it was until my kids started playing basketball. 

From 5th-8th grade, I was bullied. I was called names, made fun of if I still had makeup on my eyes from the dance competition I was in the weekend before, laughed at for the way I dressed. I confided in “friends” about a traumatic situation that had happened to me, and they shared my secret with the entire school and spread rumors about me. I cried everyday, begging my mom to let me stay home. Our school guidance counselor, Mr. Freeman, became my best friend. I would eat lunch with him everyday in his office. Everyone was afraid of him, but to me, he was my go-to for encouragement and support.  It was during this time that I realized I didn’t fit in there. The gymnasium, where everyone loved to go to play sports, have gym class and went for pep rallies, was my most despised place to be. Eventually, I transferred to Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School and found my people. 

Fast forward 20 years, I brought my kids to basketball practice;  into the same gym in the same school where I grew up. I had a physical reaction, hearing the balls bouncing  on the echoing gym floor made me stop dead in my tracks. I couldn’t bring myself to enter the gym. I noticed my eyes were filling with tears. It triggered all of the memories of middle school; days I didn’t want to remember. It was the first time I realized just how much I negatively associate sports with such a difficult period in my life. 

Interestingly, life has a way of showing us signs when we need them most. Just today, I had a video from 2 years ago pop up on my newsfeed from my Facebook memories. It was from when I was filling in as co-host on Mass Appeal with Danny New, and was all about the fun things you can buy to celebrate the Super Bowl. I shared it, tagged Danny and proceeded to scroll his page to see what he has been up to since transferring to his new TV job in Tampa, FL. My heart fell heavy when I read that he had recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He wrote about how it was discovered:

“A not-so-fun life update: I have thyroid cancer. It was discovered on an MRI after I threw out my back golfing. The bad news: I suck at golf. The good news: Sucking at golf possibly saved my life.” – Danny New

This response from Danny is no surprise, as he’s always a “glass half full” person. But, the irony: I sat early this morning to finish writing this blog post, took a short break, find a video memory with Danny, share it with him, do a little Facebook stalk, only to discover such difficult news about my friend and to learn a valuable lesson that relates to exactly what I was writing about.  I read his words: “sucking at golf possibly saved my life.”

Interesting that I never thought about how I can turn my disdain for all things sports into a positive; appreciating the ways it helped me to grow, learn & chase my true passions. As Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” Perhaps my brain will give understanding football another chance and I’ll actually take a break from the snack table to learn what 1st in 10 means. The biggest lesson learned:  your life can change drastically in a single moment; a single diagnosis. So live for now and embrace all that makes you who you are.  

Sending all my love & good vibes to you, Danny! You can conquer anything with your positive mindset & optimistic view on life! You’ve got this! <3

Power of positivity

Be ever-mindful of silver linings.

What is a silver lining? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s a “consoling or hopeful prospect. How many consoling or hopeful prospects did you consider in the past 9 months?

Throughout 2020, many people have referred to the silver linings in their life. Situations and conditions weren’t ideal, but so many chose to see the hope and the light during a time that felt dark and uncertain. I received an email on August 12th from a love warrior, fellow mother and friend of mine Marianna Litovich, in which she wrote, “I’m staying ever-mindful of silver linings.” I read these words and loved the saying so much. I wrote it on the chalkboard in my house and I repeated it to myself often.

I continued to remind myself that for every challenge thrown my way, someone, somewhere would give anything to trade my challenge with theirs.

And, I trusted that so many of the difficult situations I was faced with would eventually bring so much good. It was hard to see in the moment, but I held onto faith that even the toughest times would bring about a future of happiness. After all, I’ve lived through quite a few of these moments to confidently say “everything happens for a reason.”

We often hear stories about how one single moment or decision can drastically change your life. Just a few from my life journey:

  1. Sometimes a “mistake” can end up being the best decision you ever make.” – Mandy Hale

    For so long, my dream was to be on So You Think You Can Dance. I felt as though it was what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be. In January, 2010, my Mom and I stood in line in the pouring rain in New York City for over 10 hours. I wanted this more than anything I had ever wanted in my life. I had my 8 count routine ready to perform. When my chance came to audition, I fell on my butt in front of EVERYONE. I got cut. I was humiliated, devastated and crushed. I cried the entire 3 hour drive home.

    In February 2010, 22NEWS was promoting auditions for “Search for a Star”, a chance to host a brand new live TV show; no experience necessary. I decided to audition and ended up getting the job. A job that would completely change my life for the better. Funny how life works. If I DID get onto So You Think You Can Dance, I never would have auditioned for the TV host job. And my life wouldn’t be what it is today. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Now I can say, “Thank goodness I fell on my ass in front of hundreds of people.” Never thought I would say that.

2. “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” – Angel Flonis Harefa

It was a rainy Wednesday night. I got out of work at 22NEWS at 5PM, and had plans to go to Unity Dance Spectrum in Chicopee, MA to shoot a story about a dance class for all abilities. It was after-hours and I had decided to do this story on my own time. I remember thinking, “I’m so tired, the weather is yucky, maybe I’ll just cancel for tonight.” But I knew that they were expecting me, so I went to do the story. I interviewed the studio owner and the class instructor, who were so dedicated to spreading joy through dance. I watched the joy on the dancers’ faces as they took their turn going across the floor; with ribbon dancers, huge smiles and loads of confidence. The energy was so amazing. I loved seeing these diverse dancers with so many different stories come together to dance & support one another. I wrapped up the shoot, got in my car and started to cry. I was so moved by this class, it was in that moment I decided I wanted to see more of this joy in the world. I decided to quit my day job and open a dance studio for all ages and abilities. 5 years later, one of the volunteer instructors from that very class, Danielle Stelma, now runs the class, “Western Mass Dance & Movement” at my dance studio, Ohana School of Performing Arts. Talk about life coming full circle, and one simple decision made all the difference in my life.

The universe has a plan for each of us. Even in our most difficult moments, we are growing, we are learning & we are paving the way for our next adventure. If you want to enjoy the beautiful rainbow, you’ll have to endure the rain.

As we rang in the new year last December 31st, did we ever even fathom what the year 2020 would be like? Who would have thought that that a global pandemic would be the catalyst for a year filled with animosity, hate, negativity and immense challenge?

If you lost your job this year, trust that it was the path you were meant to take in this life. As Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” As hard as it may be to consider, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you.

If you lost a loved one this year, trust that they will shine their light on you for the rest of your life. You will always have an angel to guide you as your continue your own journey. Trust that they are at peace in a place far more beautiful than this world.

If you had to close your small family-owned business, trust that you were meant for great things and the best is yet to come. Believe that this is not the end. Instead of seeing it as the end of something wonderful, view it as the beginning of something even better.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.
Walter Anderson

The most precious gift we all have is our life. So what? 2020 was challenging. It had some hurdles that we all had to jump over.

But if you are reading this, you are alive and that is truly something to celebrate, today and always. Let’s go, 2021!

Power of positivity

I’m not like Iggy Azalea. I’m not fancy.

My closet is about the size of my big toenail. For real though, I am constantly purging clothing because there just isn’t anywhere to store it. I’ve already taken over my seven-year-old son’s closet with my “part-time TV gig clothing”. My clothing closet is likely meant to store a couple of winter coats and old bridesmaids dresses, but it’s currently a healthy combination of flannel shirts, various gray sweaters in 50 different shades (ok, maybe more like 11), sweatshirts and Ohana gear. I have closet envy whenever I see a closet that is the size of my bathroom. Bad example. Most walk-in closets are bigger than my bathroom. You know what I mean… those closets you can “walk-in” to. Why am I envious? Is it because of their ability to organize their stuff so nicely, or because they can do a pirouette between their color-coordinated blouses and shoe shelves? I remind myself that having more space often leads to having more stuff; which isn’t always a good thing, as I have learned from 2 men who decided to change their lifestyle.


I recently watched “Minimalism” on Netflix, and was so inspired by their desire to live more freely with less material objects. In an effort to help people end their obsession with stuff, minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus share that, “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Who would have thought that getting rid of material things and living more simply would bring freedom. They share that, “Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. We focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps make that room.”

I need to be clear: I am certainly not a minimalist. I store my pots and pans in my oven because I don’t have any room in my kitchen cabinets. In my defense, I don’t have many cabinets. But, I am inspired by the message and working hard everyday to live more fully with less things.

Watching “Tiny House Nation” with my kids has been a real eye-opener, too. It’s amazing how people can downsize so drastically and find themselves happier than ever before. My kids keep saying “We want to live in a tiny house!” Dude, we already do! It’s like a human pinball machine over here. I easily get wrapped up in what I need to have to feel complete or accomplished as a homeowner (I talk more about my garage envy here). Yet, I think these shows serve as a healthy reminder to change the conversation that our consumer-driven society is having. Change our focus from “I’m better & more successful with a big house and lots of expensive stuff” to “I’m better & more successful with the happiness in my life and the people I share it with.” I try to always look at my home as the cozy place where we get to share memories, holidays, life. It’s not much, it’s not fancy, and I will be making a dining room table out of my kids’ 2 desks for Thanksgiving because we don’t have a table to sit at. Nor do we have a dining room. I don’t even have matching dinner plates or fine china (because I’m not fancy) so I got some matching ones at the Dollar Tree. And, I got some plastic champagne flutes. Boom. Done.

This Thanksgiving holiday, we will all be minimizing what we normally enjoy due to COVID-19. Let’s turn our perspective towards all the many wonderful moments we get to share and enjoy. In Josh & Ryan’s words: Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all. Happy Thanksgiving to you & all the many things you have that aren’t things at all.

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Can you call it “beauty sleep” when you’re wearing anti-snoring devices and bunion correctors?

Experts say … sleep is important. Ever heard of Sleeping Beauty? How long did she sleep for? I just googled the question, and apparently in the original fairy tale, it was 100 years. Now I want to know, how did she look so young and glam after being asleep for that long? I just googled “beauty sleep” and it’s a real thing, for sure. According to Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist, if you start getting 1 to 3 more hours of Zzz’s, and you could see some improvement in as little as a day. Keep it up, and “within 2 to 3 weeks, people will notice that you’re sleeping better by the way you look,” Breus says.

Okay, so remember when Beyonce said “I woke up like this.” That’s a bunch of BS. Who really wakes up like that? I mean, I go to sleep looking far from flawless, never mind how I look when I wake up.

Here’s my prepare-for-sleep-routine:

First, I snore. I only know this because I’ve been told that I do and because I wake myself up from snoring, especially when I get a massage. I’m just waiting for someone to buy me a “I don’t snore, I dream I’m a chainsaw” tee-shirt. I saw my doctor for the issue years ago. I was hoping for some miracle method to help me with the struggle, but he just told me to put tennis balls in a backpack and wear that to bed. He was serious. What? Dude, I’m dating. What am I supposed to tell my boyfriend? Oh, don’t mind the knapsack, I’m just packing my bag for sleepytown.

So, then I got some breath right strips, which I quickly found out do not work. At least for severe cases like mine. Who knows how long it actually stays on your nose, because I usually wake up with it stuck to my forehead. See how she isn’t smiling…and then she is. It’s a lie.

I decided to try this “silicone anti snore nasal dilator stop snoring nose clip.” I chose the red option; go for the “Rudolph-chic” look. Bonus: it also doubles as a runny-nose deposit reservoir.

I’ve got a backpack, a sticker on my nose and a device that plugs into my nostrils. Alas, still snoring. So, I decide to splurge on the “Аnti-Snore Stop Snoring Chin Strap.” I looked like I had shiny blue child-size speedo underwear around my head. The snoring continued.

On to the next contraption… ever heard of the “Anti Snoring Tongue Retaining Device Snore Solution”. It’s like a condom for your tongue. Look at this guy, snuggling his girlfriend like it’s no big deal. Also, extra comfort? Nothing about a rubber jellyfish shaped mouthpiece around my tongue was comfortable.


In addition to all of my anti-snore devices, I use zit cream at night, because sleepy time is when you really take care of those pesky pimples. I also have my retainers in so that my teeth are kept in a straight line. And a silky hair cap to keep my hair from frizzing even more than it already does.

And my Mom had bought me a pair of bunion correctors. Well, it was an entire kit (clearly she was trying to tell me something. Hint taken).

The issue with those is that:

  1. They are painful to wear.
  2. They are difficult to figure out. So many straps and so much velcro.
  3. They are made with hard plastic, so I click when I walk. Sounds like a horse is clip clopping to the bathroom to pee at 2am.

Now you’ll never see a picture of me with all of my sleep equipment. Just paint the mental picture for yourself:

A backpack with tennis balls, a breath right strip stuck to my nose, a red nostril piece plugged in, a shiny blue chin strap, a tongue condom, zit cream, retainers, a silk sleep cap and bunion correctors.

I look like an exotic backpacking sea creature from a horror movie.

What I’m saying is, perception is not reality. What you see on the outside is how everyone “shows up”. On social media, at events, on television. There’s photoshop, filters, fake eyelashes, perfect angles, bomb lighting. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the perfection that everyone else seems to flaunt. Don’t let their seemingly perfect figure/ complexion/ hair/life make you feel less than. You are the only YOU there is and the only YOU there ever has been or ever will be. Embrace it. Even the most flawless humans are human. I guarantee Beyonce is headed to bed wearing zit cream, a breath right strip and shiny blue underwear around her head too. Love who you are, always. Bunions and all.

Power of positivity

You always have a choice. Choose to be kind.

Have you ever felt that yuck in your stomach… that moment where you wish you could take back your words? Take back that negative thought or judgment? Where you wish you would have thought a little longer before you acted a certain way towards someone? We all have. I am guilty, for sure. I have caught myself feeling terrible for judging someone before I really knew their story. But, then we learn and grow from the experience, and hopefully the next time we aren’t quick to be critical. We remind ourselves to choose again. Your decision to choose love might just be exactly what someone needs to turn their life around.

“You never know when you’ll be the person who ignites an awakening in someone else. That’s why it’s so important to weave kindness and love into all of your interactions. You can’t predict when you will be the catalyst for something wonderful to light up another human being – but there will be many such moments. And your love and compassion will be the exact thing someone needs to feel understood, and okay, and inspired. “ – Scott stabile 

Someone cuts you off on the highway. You want to honk and get angry. What you don’t know is that someone just got a phone call that their loved one has little time left and they are rushing to get by their side. They are trying to process their emotions and furiously rushing to see them. Take a deep breathe and be grateful you aren’t rushing to the same place.

Someone is callous to you in line at the grocery store. What you don’t know is that someone is at the store buying food for their family and they’re unsure if their card will decline. They are anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, tired and embarrassed. They need to bring food home for their children but are afraid they may not be able to today. Kill them with kindness instead of being rude back.

You are in your car at a red light. Someone is taking a long time to cross the street, and the light turns green. You get angry and impatient. What you don’t know is that person is blind. Be patient and compassionate.

You’re sitting in your living room, staring out the window, enjoying the sunshine as it warms your face. You see someone walk up to your mailbox and open it. You immediately think that they are about to steal something from you. You quickly run outside and yell, “What do you think you’re doing looking in my mailbox?” The person looks at you nervously, shaken up by your enraged energy. “I’m sorry, your mail accidentally got left in my mailbox. I just stopped by to bring it to you. I thought I’d just leave it here, in your mailbox.” Someone was actually doing a kind deed. Take a moment to consider what’s happening before assuming the worst. Approach with kindness.

While waiting in line to meet Mickey Mouse in Disney World, you see someone “cut” to the front of the line. You get angry, and march over to the cast member to complain that someone skipped the line. What you didn’t know is that the family who got to go to the front of the line are in Disney World because their 6 year old son has a rare disease that has given him months to live. The Make-A-Wish Foundation made his wish to meet Mickey Mouse come true. Be grateful. You get to be in Disney World with your healthy child.

We can all be so quick to judge others’ without knowing the full story. If we take a moment to stop and listen to others and hear it from their perspective, perhaps we would have more love in the world. I’m constantly reminded of this whenever things don’t go perfectly or seem to be against me. The reality is, life could always be so much worse. It’s a lesson in perspective & humility.

This is a gentle reminder for me, you, all of us: be kind to everyone. Be patient and understanding. If everything you see is rooted in your own identity, it will be impossible to see from another’s point of view. Consider what life is like for someone whose shoes you have not walked a mile in.

“We’re all going through shit. Each one of us, in our own way. Let’s remember that when we see each other on the street in stores at work and at home. Everywhere. Let’s be good to one another and cut each other some slack.”

Amen, Scott Stabile. Amen.

Power of positivity

Are you expecting? Or did you just eat a footlong sub?

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see strength? Do you see beauty? Grace? A warrior? Or, do you see smile lines from the joy and laughter you’ve been blessed with? Or do you see someone who doesn’t fit the “mold” of what you think you should look like?

Real talk: I am constantly guilty of criticizing what I see when I look in the mirror. I’m working towards authentic self-love every single damn day. I’ve got lots of hang-ups and things I am self-conscious about: my big nose, my height, cellulite, my flat feet, my missing tooth. The biggest struggle is with the pooch-belly I have from bearing 2 children. Well, technically, diastasis recti, which by definition is “the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis, or “six-pack” muscles, which meet at the midline of your stomach. Six pack muscles? That’s funny.

That post-baby pooch belly is not just the result of having 2 kids. It’s also the aftermath of many “YOLO” moments. Oh, there’s homemade brownies for dessert? YOLO! There’s freshly-baked french bread with dipping oil? YOLO! Seriously though, doesn’t the phrase “you only live once” somehow make everything justifiable?

I’ve been the victim of a few “insert foot in mouth” moments. Like the time my son asked me if I had a baby in my belly because it was big. My son is my second child. I only have 2 children. That’s the thing about kids… absolutely no filter.

When I was working as a TV host, I was at a shoot with a client and had one of the guests put her hand on my stomach and, very excitedly ask, “Is that a belly I’m seeing? When are you due?!” Wow, lady. Actually, the only thing taking up real estate in my belly is a footlong subway grinder (…and nacho cheese doritos). Did you feel the kick? That’s gas bubbles from the processed American cheese and pickled banana peppers. So. Awkward. Imagine her back pedaling her way out of that one. “Oh! I meant food baby!” to which I wanted to say (but didn’t) “Oh really? You did? You’re wondering when I’m due. For what? My next trip to the bathroom?” Needless to say, I wore spanx to every shoot after that. I’ve got spanx in every form: the biketard spanx, the full body onesie spanx, the shorts, the corset. That shit is magic.

You know what else is magic? Spray tanning abs onto your stomach. For real. I’m no body painting expert, but a couple of kriss kross lines (3 rows, 2 columns) and you’re sure to look like Shakira at the big game halftime show. The trick is getting the spray that goes on golden brown so you can see where it’s going. Not sure that I’m really fooling anyone. Nobody has ever asked me how I got six-pack abs overnight. But, it makes me feel a little more confident in a two-piece! Or at the very least, prevents people from asking when my third child is due to arrive.

If you really wanna know all the answers to rock solid abs, just ask Alexa. “Alexa, how can I get a six pack?” She just told me that 7-11 sells 6 packs of beer, soda, malt beverages & water. Welp, she isn’t wrong. I could use a cold beer after seeing these photos:

Not a baby. –>

Definitely a baby. –>

Listen, the point is, this is something I struggle with everyday. But why? Is it because I feel the need to look like I did when I was 21? Or because I will be prettier with a flatter stomach? Or people will like me more? Will I be happier?

My dear friend & fellow local entrepreneur Melaney Houle (check out her blog here) is constantly sharing words of wisdom surrounding body positivity. She owns a boutique that focuses on celebrating individuality and empowering women to feel beautiful & confident in their own skin. Their mission statement preaches, “We believe that every woman deserves to feel her best every single day. We believe that women are powerful and beautiful JUST AS THEY ARE.” Melaney’s words advocating body positivity are so refreshing:

“I started to view my legs, which were often an area of insecurity, as powerful pillars of strength. These jiggly thighs have enabled me to climb mountains, kick my legs to swim in the sea, run in the yard with my babies. These legs, despite my own criticism of their appearance, have carried me through LIFE. They have walked me through the darkest valleys and back out into the sunshine. ”
– Melaney Houle

These worlds have inspired me to change the way I view my body in the mirror. I am a pillar of strength. My pooch-belly mom-tummy can be viewed as a trophy for safely carrying & delivering two babies into this world. It’s the belly that shakes with laughter from all of the joy I get the fortune of being surrounded by. This belly is healthy, even if it isn’t flat. This belly doesn’t define me, my character or my heart. This belly won’t be seen in a crop top, but will be celebrated in spanx.

Our insecurities are real, I get it. But let’s not let them consume or define us (believe me, I’m talking to myself here, too!). Our inner light is what reveals our most sincere, truest beauty. We can’t keep trying to be someone else’s definition of “perfect.” Be you, live a healthy life but don’t sacrifice the piece of cake because you want the world to see your abs in a two piece. Spray tan that shit on and call it a day. Who’s with me?!

Power of positivity

A timeline of my teeth and a lesson in perspective.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. The memories aren’t all sunshine & rainbows, because we’re going to be looking closely at my dental journey. Sounds boring, right?

Buckle your seatbelt. It’s a bumpy ride.

1985: I was born. I didn’t have any teeth.

1991-ish: Do you remember buying shoes at Caldor and they were always attached with a piece of plastic? I was about 6 years old when I realized losing a tooth meant money from the tooth fairy (cha-ching!) so I would hide behind furniture and use that plastic piece to pull my teeth out. I think I “lost” 4 in one week. Had I known that at age 34 I would be getting my permanent teeth pulled, I probably would have reconsidered. And, I apparently had not yet learned about entrepreneurship and that a lemonade stand at my parents annual tag sale would have been more lucrative.

This was me, in 2nd grade. Mrs. Goulding’s class. It was Halloween ( in case that wasn’t obvious) and that was not a wig, nor my attempt at witchy looking hair. That was just my hair. And my teeth pre-braces.

A year later… got the hair under control, sort of. And, all of my baby teeth are gone (because I yanked them all out).

1996: There wasn’t a question of if; it was when. The time was now. I was 10 years old and I got my braces. Funny that I used to want braces so badly that I would take bubble gum and put it across my teeth and stick earring backs to it. Yes, really. That’s what 8 year olds did before youtube & iPads.

On the left: Me with braces in 1996.

On the right: Lord Farquaad from Shrek.

Uncanny resemblance.

Me with my “brace face”… smiling big because I probably just had a dance party in my room, rockin’ out to “100% Pure Love” by Crystal Waters that I recorded from the radio on a cassette tape.

2000: After 4 years, I finally get my braces off. I smiled all the time; I felt pretty & confident for the first time in my life.

2004: I was chewing on a pencil while studying for an exam at Wagner College on Staten Island, and my back left molar breaks in half. I immediately drive 3 hours home to see my dentist. I get a root canal and a crown.

2007: I was smiling and dancing at my Mom’s zumba studio in Holyoke, when I looked in the mirror and noticed my bottom tooth was black. I thought I was hallucinating. I looked like a pirate. Turns out, a blood vessel popped underneath my tooth and the blood turned my tooth black. I had a root canal on that tooth and had it internally bleached 3 times.

2008: I didn’t wear my retainer as often as I should have (important lesson learned for anyone getting braces off!) So, my teeth shifted… and I got invisalign for 2 years.

2018: My back molar (the one that cracked and had a crown) had to get extracted due to an infection, and I had to get a flipper while the bone healed. If you didn’t know, a flipper is essentially a fake tooth that clips in. I called it my Glade plug-in. After 3 months with a missing tooth, I got a mini dental implant and a permanent tooth was put in.

2019: I feel like I have a loose tooth, so I get it checked out (no, I didn’t yank it out because the tooth fairy goes MIA when you turn 18). Turns out, I have another bone infection above the tooth next to my implant. I see an endodontist to have an apicoectomy (gum surgery) and have the infection cleaned up.

June 2020: The infection comes back. I have to get the tooth extracted, get a bone graft due to significant bone loss, get another flipper (glade plug-in 2.0), wait 3 months and get another implant. In the meantime, I order a tooth replacement kit on Etsy for $20 because my flipper didn’t fit great. Worked like a charm. Who knew?

That’s the black hole of bone loss caused from years of orthodontic work, tooth movement & infection.

Today: Thursday, October 29th, 2020, I went to the periodontist to get my implant put in. I assumed this meant that I would also be getting rid of the flipper and would be getting my permanent tooth installed. Big day!!
Turns out, the bone graft didn’t take. I had to get more artificial bone put in around the screw that was implanted in hopes that it will heal around the implant. And, I have to wait and wear the flipper for another 3 months.

X-ray taken today. The screw on the left is the implant that was just installed. The right is my implant from 2 years ago. I guess you could say I’m all screwed up.
If you look closely you can see my plug-in, Glade. Not to be confused with my boyfriend, Wade.

So, I cried in the chair. I cried because I am tired of clipping this tooth in everyday, after already having been through this once before. I’m tired of not smiling big out of fear that people will wonder “what the heck is that pink stuff” stuck above my tooth. I hated the sound of the drill, vibrating into my bone. In 34 years, I’ve seen a dentist, an orthodontist, an endodontist, a periodontist… how many dontists are there?
I hated that I have gone through so much with my damn teeth. I was angry and feeling sorry for myself. Until I checked myself up, gave myself a pep talk about perspective and was reminded of this analogy:

You are standing in a field, all alone. It’s cold. It’s raining. You are soaking wet. In the distance you see a tornado coming at you. What do you do? You run. You don’t even care that it’s raining, or you are cold, or that you are alone. You have bigger problems.

Now, take away the tornado. You are alone, it’s cold, it’s raining and you are soaking wet. You cry because you wish it would stop raining. That’s your biggest problem.

Now, take away the rain. You are alone, it’s cold. You cry because you are cold. That’s your biggest problem.

Now, take away the cold. You are alone. You cry because you are alone. That’s your biggest problem. However, none of these other problems even phased you when you had a tornado coming your direction. Our problems seem so big if we neglect to be grateful for what we do have.

If I had some of the problems that so many people are unfortunately living: job loss, loss of a loved one, a terrifying diagnosis, house fire… this tooth would be no big deal. Of course, we are all allowed to feel sadness, despair, frustration and feel sorry for ourselves. We are human. But as I came home to my 2 kids, safe and healthy, my warm home, a comfy couch, a cozy blanket and friends and family offering to help me out, I realized I can live another 3 months with this damn plug-in tooth, because I have so many blessings that far outweigh the negative. And it’s very ironic… a compliment that I often get is “you have really nice teeth.” If you ONLY knew. And now you do. And guess what? Teeth or no teeth, I will never stop smiling, because I get to live another day above ground. And because I no longer look like Lord Farquaad.

Pursue your passion

Never underestimate the power of performance.

Damn, 2020. Will the chaos ever stop?

Job loss is one of the most common hardships we are feeling right now. COVID-19 has forced many small businesses to involuntarily close, has required large companies to lay off mass numbers of employees and has compelled many people to re-evaluate their lives.

Today I got an emotional text from my sister, who lives in Florida, telling me that Disney World has just laid off thousands of equity performers. Many of her friends are performers and are being forced to leave their dream career. Two of these equity performers, a husband and wife with 3 beautiful daughters, happen to be two of my friends who are very close to my heart. I worked with them both at World of Disney NYC over 10 years ago. They also happen to be two of the most talented performers I have ever known.

Brooke Finlayson, Disney Performer & Friend
Travis Finlayson, Disney Performer & Friend

Not only did this news make my heart crumble with feelings of empathy for their family, but also for every single performer. Not only is this heartbreaking for the arts industry as a whole, but also for every audience member who fell in love with the Finding Nemo show, Festival of the Lion King, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and the Beauty & the Beast stage show. For every Disney fan that loved the equally charming and comedic moments of Turtle Talk with Crush and Citizens of Hollywood.

Aside from losing a job, they’re losing a huge part of who they are. Their creative means of expression, their outlet. Not only for performers on stage, but the crew who works to create the magic. Lighting designers, sound engineers, stagehands. This news compounded with the announcement that Broadway will be closed until May 2021. Where are these performers able to continue honing their craft? How can they continue to shine their light to bring hope & encouragement to us all during one of the most challenging times? Take away the performing arts… it’s as if the lights have gone out on the world.

So many performers chase their dreams and sacrifice so much to have a career that allows them to share their gifts and inspire the world. It is what makes them feel alive. It’s what they were put here to do. Not only does it fuel the performer’s soul, but it simultaneiously brings so many humans to life. Do you remember when you went to a concert, or saw a broadway show or watched a performance that brought you to life and inspired you? Live performance creates a ripple effect, inspiring us to live more vibrantly; to see things differently. Art heals. Art saves. My heart is broken to hear this news, and not only because more jobs were lost, but because an artist’s career that was preceeded by sacrifice, determination, hard work, courage & discipline is put on hold.  

As a friend reminded me a few months ago … “be ever-mindful of silver linings” ( thank you, Marianna Litovich). This simple mantra allows everyone to continue to hold onto the hope that this is only temporary and perhaps this opens the door for something even more beautiful to come about.

The world is not the same without performance. The energy is not the same. I know this, because I’m living it. Keep dancing. Keep singing. Keep acting. Keep playing. Keep having kitchen dance parties. Keep singing in the shower. Keep writing. Keep creating.

Art is a powerful catalyst for positive change in the world. Keep supporting the arts.

Don’t lose the piece of the puzzle that makes you feel whole.
And no matter what … just. keep. swimming.