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Settling in… a little TOO much!

Where had the time gone?! It has been ages since I last blogged.  What have I’ve been up to?  Well, my adventures have brought me down to Oldsmar, FL.  It has been quite a ride since my last post – job hunts, long drives, illnesses, sadness, and the beach.  Quite an up and down ride since my move down here in May!

I quickly found a outside sales job that I just as quickly found was not the fit for me.  After a scary few weeks of unemployment I did find a great job teaching at Gymboree Play and Music.  Yes, my childlike personality (fine, immaturity) makes me a fun fit with 3 year olds! It is a great job where I get to help children and their parents learn developmental skills all through play and music.  The downside of the job, unfortunately, it that little kids are kind of germy…  Cute, funny, little, carrier monkeys.  Since my start in August, I am working on my second chest cold.  Because of the amount of meds I’m already on, I have been trying to beat this cold holistically, but finally had to give in to Big Pharma and bring out the big guns. With my MS impaired immune system, I need to stay ahead of these colds to avoid triggering relapses, so Airborne, hand sanitizer and Zinc are my friends.

Speaking of friends, I’ve also started up the Pinellas County Bully Breed Walks to meet folks who are Pit Bull advocates, and to give Sally and Abby a chance to socialize (Ford is a grumpus who we have to keep with just his pack).  These walks were inspired by Stubby’s Heroes’ First Atlanta Bully Breed March in October of 2012. This group is made up of bully breed caretakers such as pet owners, foster parents and advocates, that want to get exercise, socialize their dogs, and build up the care taker community.  It is a fun, great way to meet new folks and get familiar with the area.  Since August we have had walks in Largo, Dunedin and Clearwater Beach.  November’s walk will be in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg.

I’m looking forward to a visit to Atlanta in a couple of weeks to reunite with family and the Usual Suspects.  We are having a memorial for my mother on the year of her passing.  This has been a difficult year of losing loved ones – first her last November, and then my dear friend David passing last August.  It has been an emotional roller coaster and David and Sonny have been my closest friends down here in Florida –  and they are 2 hours away! I am hoping that through work and the Bully Walks, Matt and I will make some new friends – its just sometimes we don’t like new people!  I guess that’s why we love each other!!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to devote too much time to my Big Adventure List.  Since I was out of work for so long, I’m having to stretch my non-existent budget to do things that are cheap and/or free.  So, lots of beach time! Matt and I have also become active with bicycling the Pinellas Trail, kayaking in Safety Harbor, and taking the Furkids for walks.  You would think that with all this activity I’m getting in tip top shape.  Sadly, no.  Stress, not so good eating and steroids have my weight creeping up and up, much to my dismay.  So, working with my doctor, I’m changing up some meds, and starting on a diet and daily exercise regime to get me down to 135 lbs by my 40th birthday.  A few posts back, you will probably recall me making this statement.  As usual, life got in the way, and I got off track.  To recap what my thoughts were back in January…

But it isn’t just about looking good.  It is more about taking control of my health.  I want to eat cleaner.  I want to get out and enjoy nature more without being winded.  I want my joints to feel better.  And yes, I want to look good.

So, my short term goals for this long term challenge are:

  1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  2. Bring homemade meals for lunches – No more BajaFresh, :(
  3. Workout 3-4 times a week (Cardio and strength – Planet Fitness Membership already done!)
  4. Morning yoga / stretching
  5. Multivitamin every morning
  6. Cut back on alcohol consumption
  7. Smaller portions at dinner time and no food after 7:00 pm
  8. Go to sleep by 10:00 pm and get 8 hours of sleep

I really need to buckle down over the next 6 months.  I am giving Matt permission to make comments such as, “Are you sure you need that piece of bread” without me decking him or crying.  I need this to work so I can move into the second half of my life healthier and happier.

And I am also making a pledge to myself to get back to blogging.  I feared that my day to day life was a little too boring for frequent posts (I mean, do you really care what happened on my DVR’d Dance Moms?) So, it is upon me to find more things worthy of blogging and getting back on track with my adventures!

I promise to work hard!!

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When your body doesn’t want to do what you know in your heart and mind you are good at.

…Or how I went from the #36 Ranked salesperson in the country to unemployed in the same day…

Frustrated. Angry. Embarrassed. Afraid. Depressed. Tired. All these words describe me right now.

After a month of unemployment, I was hired as an outside sales person for a growing company where ownership potential was within my reach within a few years. I was excited (and nervous) to be starting out in something new after 5 years in the tourism industry.

I arrived for my first day of training, and right away I knew I was going to be doing something different and fun. My teammates were nice and I knew I right away I would now have friends in my new city. After a week of training, I managed to earn my “solo” status, and would be out in the field on my own.

I opted to go on a business trip, in order to be able to get promoted to Leadership. I was jazzed – within two weeks I would have jumped up to the level it sometimes takes months to get to.

And I was good at the job. Although I hated it when I was young when my father would take me on business trips or have me work the merchandise mart selling jewelry on the weekends, I must have picked something up from him. I liked going out and interacting with new folks. And though I heard a lot of “no’s” before I got to the “yes”, those folks who bought their paper, ink and toner from me were all so nice and interesting to get to know. On my first day solo, I managed to rank #43 out of 700 salespeople in the country – go me! The next day I woke up to the news that I had moved up to #36.  I was kicking butt and taking names!

Then came the 95 degree days.  A large bulk of the job had me walking door to door.  I knew moving to Florida, that heat intolerance would be an issue for my MS, but during my training it wasn’t too bad.  Aside from sweating like I stole something most the day, I was okay.  Until suddenly my vision blurred.  This happens often when I’m tired or hot, or when I’m in a busy place like a mall or an airport, so I didn’t think too hard on it and continued on with the day.

The tingling in my left leg was gradual, as if I had been running for a while on a treadmill and I was just tired.  After stopping for a quick lunch, I went to get out of my car and go to my next client, and I had full on pins and needles.  I worked through it, and even managed to sign up a new client, all the while, feeling my left leg go completely numb. As I got up to leave, my leg gave out underneath me and I managed to avoid hitting my face on the counter as I fell.  Great last impression on a new customer, right?

I got out to my car and immediately called Matt. He of course had been concerned from the beginning about this job, and had been urging me to look for something less taxing.  After half an hour of sitting in the A/C of my car, and not having my vision clear or my leg come back to life, I started to panic.  Was I in a full-blown episode? Crying, I called Matt again, and we came to the conclusion together that I couldn’t do this job.  Fear immediately turned to shame as I knew I was going to have to face my teammates and tell them I was leaving.  This was a great group of people I had gotten to know in just a short time, and I felt as if I was letting them down, that they had wasted two weeks of training on me.  So I took the coward’s way out and stole back to the hotel, threw everything into my suitcase and snuck out like a thief in the night.  I gave my boss a call and gave him the news.

He tried to get me to stay with a really good sales pitch (he’s pretty great at his job) and I almost gave in.  Until I realized that I have to put my health in front of my ego. Did I enjoy the praise from my boss and coworkers? Yes. Did I like the recognition of my work? Of course. Was it worth possibly ending up in a wheelchair someday? No.

So here I am, back to the drawing board. Searching for a job that, while not necessarily behind a desk all day, at least has me in the A/C for the majority of it.  That is where the anxiety comes in.  My vision is back to normal, and the heaviness in my leg has lifted some, but my mind is as sharp as ever.  My wallet, however is empty and Mama has bills to pay!

So, think good thoughts my way as I make my way back onto the job boards.  Any and all advice is appreciated as I search for that perfect fit.  Wish me luck! And thanks for reading my pity post.  🙂

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Got a nice shout out today from a young writer who follows me up in Newfoundland (I think…). I don’t know much about Newfoundland aside from what I learned reading “The Shipping News” (I wonder if Leah has ever had seal flipper pie?) Well, anyway, it reminded me that I have not had a post in sometime and for that I am sorry, I have been keeping busy, though, and hope to have something for you soon. In the meantime, check out Leah’s blog and her suggestions….

Aspie Diaries

Hey blog world! Thanks to the Freshly Pressed page here on WordPress, “The Book Of Awesome” and several other sources I’ve discovered lots of really neat blogs that I think everyone should definately take a look at! This is a blog I discovered when reading “The Book Of Awesome” which was written by the author of 1000 awesome things. His name is Neil Pasricha and I absolutely think his blog is awesome! He’s already reached #1 so there are no new posts but I still think it’s worth a read. It’ll make you laugh and put a smile on your face! This is a blog written by… well I don’t know who it’s written by. The author doesn’t give out his name. I go to this site to read the live AGT blog. Every Monday and Tuesday he watches the show and as he watches he blog…

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April 12 – Know Your Meme

I’m a little late on the Meme Bandwagon.  I realize I’m hopping on some of these just as the world is getting sick of them, however, I needed to blow off some stress from the job, and thus, the following was created.



Yes, a good part of the day is spent correcting people on the correct pronunciation of Segway… and answering annoying questions.  Sadly, 90% of my conversations go like this (except for the NSFW part towards the end…  that’s all in my head)


Which inspired this.



And then this.



Public Service Announcement Here – If you frequently purchase half price coupons from sites like Living Social, Groupon, etc…  Don’t be that guy who waits until the day before it expires to try and redeem it – especially when it is for a service like a tour with limited availability.  Just don’t.

Well, now that that is off my chest, we are off to make a “Shit Segway Tour Guides Say” video…

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April 5th – 10th: Just Be Nice

I know, I know, I said I would post everyday on my new experiences…  One of the groovy highlights of MS is it’s unpredictability, and I have been struggling the last week with fatigue and nausea.  Pity party for one, over here…  but I have been trying to keep up my resolve to try something new everyday!!


There are very few things about my old Kia Sportage that I miss.  It was the first car I bought with my own money, but it had problems from day one and spent more time in the shop than in my driveway.  I finally got rid of it when it threw a rod and punched a hole through my oil pan.  I donated it to charity, thinking it would be sold for scrap, but low and behold I actually saw it on the road a few days ago (or at least its bumper).  How did I recognize it?  Well on the bumper was a City Segway Tours bumper sticker and my favorite bumper sticker ever – a simple request:  Just Be Nice.

I miss that bumper sticker.  My car now is geeked out with my NASA and Think Geek’s Timmy bumper stickers.  But it was the Just Be Nice sticker (and my good buddy Wil Wheaton’s personal motto) that inspired this New Thing.

I’m not (I’m pretty sure) a mean person, but I know from time to time I can be a little distant or formal with folks, especially strangers.  I thought I’d try and change that.  So for the past few days, every person that I interacted with, I made a conscious effort to extend a compliment to them.  Strangers on the elevator were complimented on their shoes or purse; co-workers got a sincere thank for their hard work or some positive feedback passed along from customers; tenants in my building were praised on their dogs.  And something wonderful happened.  That person seemed, if for only a brief second, connected with me and I could feel the pride and happiness coming off of them.  It made me feel happy to have brought a little bit of sunshine in their life.

Try it yourself sometime.  I promise it will make the day a happy one.

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Cell Fish

If anyone wonders what that fishy smell is, it just might be my cell phone.

I realize this may take some explaining…

Last night I had the unique opportunity to become a participant in Penn & Teller’s Show at the Rio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The duo started the show off by asking everyone to pull out their cell phones and hold them in the air. I thought this was going to be the typical “Please silence your cell phones” plea, until they explained that this would be a unique opportunity for someone to come on stage, be part of a trick, and have the opportunity to video tape it up close and learn the secret. Oooh, ooh, pick me!!

And pick me they did. I was brought up to the stage and asked by Penn if I had a friend in the audience who could call me. My friend and co-worker Matt G. volunteered, so they had him call me. After identifying that it was indeed my ringtone and phone, they started to video from the stage. After introducing themselves and me, they then proceeded to introduce me to Criss Angel! Well, not really Criss Angel but a life-size cutout of him. After getting a nice video Criss and I, they then had me watch as Penn dropped my phone into an empty paper cup, place it on the floor, and then stomp it to smithereens. Well, if you read my last blog post, you would know I have a pretty tough iPhone, but this time – it was gone.

Penn then had Matt G. call my phone again. Suddenly, there was a faint ringing in the back of the theater. The spotlight searched out a gentleman near the back of the theater who they asked to reach under his seat and pull out what he found there. He discovered a very large Styrofoam box. As they passed it up to the stage and I collected it, Penn asked Matt to call the phone again. Sure enough, the ringing was coming from inside the sealed, taped box. We opened it up and what was inside? A fish. A Tilapia, to be exact.

After having Matt call one more time, I was amazed (and slightly horrified) that the fish was indeed emitting my ringtone. They sliced the head off and there inside, in a plastic bag, was my cell phone!! It was handed back to me with just the one request that I not watch the video of how it was done until after the show.

Now that I know the secrets of the Universe (or at least just this trick), I debated whether or not to share the video and explanation. But then I had a thought: P&T’s entire show is about debunking magic myths and getting the audience involved in how it is done. They flat out showed us in a wonderful monologue and mime routine where they illustrated the seven fundamentals to slight of hand:


Not always in this order, of course

(Also, I realized that in revealing the step by step of how the trick is done wouldn’t lessen any the enjoyment of one watching, because the pure artistry in the way these two perform is amazing. Magic, if you will.)

So here it is – the secret of the iPhone in the Fish, or, “Cell Fish.”

While looking for a volunteer, they seemed to specifically look for someone with an iPhone. After I was selected, I was asked to remove the case. Then as their banter started and the video began, so did the trick.

First up, the Steal. Not so much a steal as a gift, since I willingly handed off my phone to Penn. Then, Criss Angel. As they brought out the cut out, Penn notices he isn’t wearing his customary 20 lb cross and proceeds to put it around his neck. In doing so, he Ditches the phone into a pouch on the back of the cut out while Loading an identical phone he had Palmed from his sleeve and then proceeding to continue as if it is my phone. The cut out is moved off stage where a stagehand places my phone into a plastic bag and then into a fish with a slit cut into one side. The fish phone is flipped, hiding the slit, packed in ice and sealed in a Styrofoam box then run to the back of the theater I assume though a tunnel / trap door under the guest’s seat.

While all this backstage activity is going on, I am being Misdirected onstage. As Penn is placing the Switched phone into the cup, he drops the lid on the ground. As I bend over to pick it up, he throws the imposter phone over his shoulder to the audience’s enjoyment where it is caught by Teller, and while I am not in on the joke that the audience is with the Duo, I don’t notice because Penn is just so funny and charismatic and I’m enjoying being on stage.

Now for the Simulation. I am guessing that it would be hard to hear the ringing of a phone, inside a bag, inside a fish, packed in ice, sealed in a Styrofoam box under the seat of a 380 lb man. So, I’m thinking the tech crew had recorded the initial ringing of my phone and then looped it back through a speaker under the seat.

The rest of the trick is pure showmanship as the box is dramatically passed forward, through the shock of opening the box and finding a raw fish. The horror upon hearing the ringing coming from inside said stinky, raw fish and ending with our amazement of how a phone got inside a whole fish.

Penn and Teller have long been one of my favorite acts. Their straightforward approach to classic tricks, and then the breaking down of those tricks is always entertaining yet I still often scratch my head and say, “But really, how did they do that?!” It is pure artistry. I am thrilled to have been a part of it, even if for only a few minutes.

Video: Cell Fish (The video ends after the fish is presented backstage, but before it goes in the fish, I presume because they didn’t think I’d want 2-3 minutes of the inside of a raw fish. For that I am thankful).

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The New Normal (Or, Seizing The Carp)

When I decided to start this blog, it was solely to chronicle my adventures during the next 12 months.  Why I chose to do these adventures wasn’t  to be a big part of it, and I didn’t want to bore everyone with why I have this bucket list.

Yesterday, however, I received some news that shook me to the core.  One of my oldest friends here in Atlanta died suddenly.  He had been battling melanoma, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for him to go so suddenly.

It brought into sharp focus how precious this gift of life is to us all.  We are lucky every day that we are on this earth, and the idea that it could all go away suddenly makes you want to squeeze every last drop out of it.

About 4 months ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  This was definitely a life changing moment, and everyday has been an exercise in learning what my “new normal” is.  From now on, it will be normal for me to have to take nerve blockers daily for pain that make me sleepy and cognitively fuzzy.  It is normal for me to jab myself with a needle once a week with medicine to keep me from having another exacerbation of MS.  It’s normal for me to open a new doctor’s bill every time I get the mail.  And it’s normal for me to have that niggling fear in the back of my brain that while my MS is manageable now, one day it might not be.

Also, I’m re-learning what I can and can’t do physically because of the fatigue associated with MS.  That was the real reason behind this list.  I wanted to make sure that everyday the list of things I “can’t” do shrinks, and the list of things I “can” do grows and becomes a list of things I have done.

This year is the year for me to push the limits and discover what the next “New Normal” is.  I’m looking forward to it.

So, in the spirit of Mr. Keating and Newsies, I shall let 2012 be the year I seize the day!


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