Passion cures the clamorous mind.

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I remember when I was three or four I composed my first song. I didn’t know how to write or read music, so I literally wrote “La la la” on a piece of paper. I wrote it in a strange sort of prose- with odd spacing- probably thinking of COURSE i would remember the melody. Alas, when I re-discovered that paper maybe twelve years later, I did not remember anything. Honestly I was SO beyond excited when I found the note and when I opened it up and read it my heart was broken by the:

La la la   la la

lalalalalalalala

lala

hahaha is more like it!

The last time I had a major work hiatus previous to this past one, I decided to use the time to exercise my mind and learn something new. I decided on the violin, and I never looked back. I practiced fervorously every day. I was quickly addicted and I wasn’t horrible. My teacher told me she was impressed. I mean granted I was like 30+ years old with previous piano lessons of which she was unaware but regardless, she told me I was doing unexpectedly well and that I picked it up faster than anyone she had ever met. And I LOVED IT. Not the praise, I LOVED playing.

The Benefits of Learning A Musical Instrument

  1. Increases the capacity of your memory.
  2. Enhances coordination.
  3. Fosters self expression.
  4. Relieves stress.
  5. Creates a sense of achievement.
  6. Boosts listening skills.
  7. Promotes happiness in your life and to those around you.

I miss my violin, and the zen of playing it. I need to get her out of storage. Seriously.

We should all resolve to do something wonderful that placates our minds in 2017.

xoxo

QJ

QJ

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After suffering there is supreme happiness?

I’m back to having moments of hating this time of year. I don’t know how I got here or whats going on either but I just have these momentary bouts of feeling lost. I miss my father more than I can express. I’ve suppressed  the pain because there is nothing more that I can do with it. Its not just my dad. Its everything. Everything I grew up with. I miss my youth. I miss the home where it always smelled familiar. Though I don’t want to return there permanently, I wish I could just go back for a visit in that third person time traveler sort of way to observe it and breathe it in. I miss the delicate snowflakes that would softly cloak the blades of grass that ensconced my yard, the biting outside air perfectly contrasting the internal warmth that permeated our home. I remember my mother, in her extremely ugly and tight usually mustard colored turtleneck sweaters, walking around the family room table. I don’t know what she was doing, but together though separately,  we were listening to records. I was learning about Chopin and Prokofiev and history and theater. Sometimes we’d take a break and laugh at Fanny Brice playing Baby Snooks torturing her little brother, Robesspiere. I can recall contemplating  “Robesspiere? What a strange name”.  Snooks’ antics were so hysterical and her way of thinking was tremendously outside the box. These are the lessons that provided me with the tools of imagination. We didn’t watch much TV. In fact, we only had a 19″ black and white until I was almost 16 years old. No cable until I left for college. Instead of zoning on a TV or on video games, I used to sit there at that round hunk of wood, allowing the symphonic poems to stir my imagination and guide me until my pencil moved, and, before I knew it, was expelling a story. I loved to hear the music, close my eyes, and envision an entire ballet or Opera. Stories of love, and fear, and revenge all wrapped into one. Bold costumes and makeup and all the characters were there, just not necessarily the specifics. I could always feel the music so strongly in every ounce of my being and though it may have been madness, it was something I could do that would always bring me home, back to familiar smells and to the warmth from our hearth. In college I would put on my headphones and walk the long mile to class watching an entire narrative unfold in my imagination. That house is gone now along with the family that made it a home. My father is gone, my mother is slipping, and my siblings have grown and changed. All of that is fine and part of life and I understand and accept that. I just miss the feeling of safety. The feeling that good things can still come and that dreams don’t have to die, but instead can be realized.

Meanwhile, I am working on a project that is definitely not alleviating my situation. I am a story teller. I was born a story teller. I was raised to be a story teller. I am terrified that the awfulness of what I am exposed to on this particular project will destroy me. Of course, realizing I have an extra vivid imagination, I logically know I wont be “destroyed”, but I am in pain from what I imagine feels like Chinese water torture. Its a slow agonizing discomfort that will continue to build on itself until my imagination parishes into tiny little dust bunnies that will disseminate from a gust of wind.

I realize the point of this blog is to help people see the silver lining and to share my discoveries on how to stay young at heart and age well, so I apologize for posting something prior to finding a way to twist the scenario around.

For now I guess my answer is I will just keep on going to ballet because at least there I can feel the music and move to it. I wish I didn’t have physical limitations so I could move to it the way I feel it but for now I can allow it to flow through me and touch my imagination. I will also focus on all the new things I’m learning. Also I recently freelanced for Cartoon Network. I really missed it there and it felt amazing to step back into that environment. I will reach out and see if I can collaborate with them some more.  I hope that these can be my bandaid until I figure things out. The buddhists believe that suffering is the path to enlightenment……I will keep you posted.

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Must Love Dogs

 

 

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Such a cutie! Dogs are definitely man’s (and woman’s) best friend! 

I loved working for a salon. I was just thinking about that today. It was so much fun. The sisterhood, the camaraderie, and all that laughter! The exchange of services didn’t hurt either. An eyebrow wax and facial for highlights or a pedicure for a pedicure! But mostly it was the sense of fitting into something that was bigger than myself. I was a part of something, a group of women that would have run through fire for each other. Its really odd to me how there wasn’t much cattiness. We all really got along and had each other’s back. I miss that. I miss that a lot.

We all know its hard to make new friends as we get older. It really is. My two closest girl friends moved across the country and  I’ve been doing some soul searching in attempt to figure out where I can make new friends. Definitely not to replace the old, they’re not replaceable! But I do need a local support group, people I can connect with in my neighborhood. The new job is good. Its great, actually. I feel much more part of the whole team here. I’m invited into conversations and well received. I love that. Most days we all eat lunch together as well, which is awesome. The crew is exceptionally cool. We have a dynamic group of very different personalities that all seem to get along and respect each other (so far, anyways). I think back to the Emmy’s consideration party for Jane The Virgin and how well that crew got along. I feel like this one is on that path. Its very refreshing.

In my quest to meet new friends, I’ve decided to look to new volunteer ventures, especially since I am on the cusp of releasing myself from the Junior League of Los Angeles. With this in mind, last weekend I decided to visit the Much Love Animal Rescue charity event at Bloomingdales. This event was brought to my attention by Tori Spelling via Instagram. There were two motivators that pushed me to attend the party. 1. Dogs. 2. Tori. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I adore Tori Spelling. She’s an amazingly witty and humorous writer and just deep down a good person. I’m inspired by her. Shall I do a list? I think so….

Things I’ve learned from Tori Spelling:

  1. Its ok and probably a good idea to laugh at yourself.
  2. On a similiar note, always take the humorous angle first. My dad said this too- find the funny in every situation. Its always there. And it really helps to just laugh!
  3. Be kind as if you think the best of everyone.
  4. The unconditional love of animals is real, not a figment of my imagination.
  5. Big families are a good thing- including extended members.
  6. Share your experiences with others. Especially the ones that you can help educate or inspire, even if it makes you vulnerable.
  7. Love yourself no matter what. Not in an egotistical way, but in a respectful way.
  8. Nurture your friendships. They are important. Tori (and I ) have both had the same best friend for years. I won’t say how long because I don’t want to give up my age- but trust me, a long time.

With this being said, of COURSE I was excited to meet her AND to help out the puppy dogs!

The Event:

I was a bit disappointed the turn out appeared very slight. Surprisingly the line to meet Tori was short, which was great but also not so great- I had hoped a lot of people were participating so that Much Love Animal Rescue could raise a considerable amount of money.

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I just adore Tori. She’s so down to earth and unaffected. I appreciate her strong desire to help animals as well as her deep love for dogs (it matches mine) and also how much she loves her family. She’s one of the least entitled people I’ve ever met and am so happy that in person she’s exactly what I imagined. 

Available to those that showed their receipts of purchase from Bloomies (a percentage of the proceeds went to the charity), there was a DJ, food and drinks, and a station to make a beaded bracelet. At the bead station I met Dean (Tori’s husband) and her daughter (I think Stella?), both exceptionally sweet and kind hearted. Dean was holding a rescue dog that they were taking home with them! That dog looked so content (not to mention adorable) in his arms. Her daughter was SUPER sweet and helped me design my bracelet. She also made one for her dad. I loved seeing how “normal” their family was and how well they interacted.  I appreciate that both Dean and Tori treated me as an equal who happened to be attending the same event.

 

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I love this bracelet that Tori’s daughter and I made together. I had assumed I’d throw it in a drawer but I actually have worn it a few times already!

The dogs were SO CUTE. I fell in love with this little dark tan baby girl that looked like a wired haired dachshund. MSM, however, didn’t budge on the the “no dog” policy that we’re currently obliged to follow at the apartment complex.

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The adorable Cami, who was ultimately adopted by the McDermotts. Photo from the Much Love website. Please go check out all the other adorable pups looking for humans to love. Link below….

In an effort to donate, I purchased the most BEAUTIFUL NARS compact. My thought was that I wished they had set up this event at Saks, since I don’t buy anything clothing wise (for the most part) without Danielle. But here’s the compact:

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Nars’ holiday cheek and lip palette is SO beautiful. I was happy to have an excuse to splurge a little on some new makeup.
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Look at the stunning cheek colors. Highlighter and blush all in one place, this compact is just gorgeous. And the texture is like butter, a great sign that they colors will last.

Sadly I did not make a new friend at the event. Lets face it, no matter how cool Tori is, I knew there would be no way we’d be exchanging numbers and grabbing coffee next week (sadly). Here lays the selfish reason I was bummed the turn out wasn’t bigger. I literally only spoke with Tori, Dean, their daughter, and the bead lady! (Bead lady was actually super cool). Despite no new friendships  I’m grateful I attended because the rescue itself seems amazing. I may reach out and see if they need any volunteers (or even better, board members) to help plan events. But first I want to look into other 501c3. I need to pick just one in which to get involved so I don’t spread myself too thin. I have learned, though, that its important to feel passionately about the non profit you do work with, and I DEFINITELY love dogs….so this one may be the right fit.

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In case your interested in getting involved, here’s a quick link to the rescue: Much Love Animal Rescue This is an amazing foundation that provides foster homes to pets in need. Of course they also help find forever homes for these adorable fur babies.

What the heck to wear to a dog rescue fund raiser at the mall:

I kept it casual because I wanted to keep it real.

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A candid shot of Tori and I perusing the floor, taken by my own personal paparazzi, MSM 🙂 How adorable is that baby bump on T? My outfit: Top: Chaser Layered blouse: Rails Jeans: Rag and Bone Bag: Gucci

I like the idea of making friends through volunteering or being on a board of a non profit because I think it will bring me to like-minded people, where a basis for friendship can be real and substantial.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted!

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Cabin in the Woods

house

For the 20th anniversary of her 25th birthday, my friend Ina decided to experience wine tasting in Paso Robles. MSM and I have touched on wine tasting here, but we only went to two vineyards (see my post from last thanksgiving), so I was more than excited about this trip. Ina wanted to make sure she could bring her fur child, Elvis, so she searched through Air BnB for dog friendly locations. She couldn’t have picked a more spectacular place than the one she picked! Nestled in the “town” of Templeton, this secluded cabin in the woods was a breathtaking hideout and the perfect getaway. Its also a perfect place for Halloween!

Upon arrival we weren’t sure into what we were getting. At one A.M (we had to leave after a class I’m taking that ends at 10pm)  MSM plowed up a steep incline ensconced in brush and  filth, hardly indicative of a road. Damion, Ina’s husband, was whispering Jason’s infamous “chachacah ahahah”. Where was this place?? Up and around a hill and suddenly the cabin was revealed. At this point we were expecting something straight out of the film Army of Darkness (or Friday the 13th), but instead before us was a beautiful cabin with an exterior enveloped in immeasurably large windows. The interior was modern with built in book shelves FULL of books. The house came equip with an outdoor BBQ and a gorgeous galley kitchen, Wusthof knives and all clad pans included. Any chef would have been excited. Ina was allowed first dibs on rooms, since it was her birthday :). She picked the upper loft so MSM and I stayed in the downstairs room covered in windows. I LOVED IT. It was like sleeping in a tree house! The windows in this house had no curtains, but when the sun came up in the morning it was so peaceful the light did not deter our sleep. I felt home for the first time in a long time. We were surrounded by trees and sky and blue jays. It was wonderful. Even our shower was completely open to nature (yep, floor to ceiling windows in the bathroom). It was so much fun to wash up in what felt like a real waterfall!

shower
A view with a shower or a shower with a view?

After eating a gourmet breakfast of veggie scramble with toast (prepared by our men), the wine tour van picked us up for a fun day of wine tasting. And yes, with our help, they were able to find the abode. Though we had to walk down the hill. hahaha.

Vineyards of Paso Robles:

Midnight

Midnight Vineyard was our first stop and was probably my favorite. The hostesses were so sweet and gave us great education on their wines. Also they had an adorable dog-like cat that just came to greet us and then curled up by our feet. This vineyard produced a white wine that I really enjoyed. I’m not a big white person, but it was dry and crisp and delicious.

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I had such a great time walking around the grounds of Midnight. Ina and I climbed onto a tractor, a reoccurring motif throughout our afternoon.
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Chardonnay is Midnight’s 19 year old Vineyard cat. She was a ferrel cat that adopted the owners a long time ago. So sweet and adorable. It was love at first sight for her and I. 

 

Dark Star

Despite the cool name (reminds me of Star Wars for some reason…) MSM and I sat this one out, so we did not taste the wine. BUT we did meet these two cuties:

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At Dark Star we met the rest of our pack. These two lovely blondes and their family joined us the remainder of the day. 

 

Red Soles

Red soles was a huge hit. The wine was very good, especially the Rosé. ANNNND, Red Soles is also a distillery which the rest of our crew loved. MSM enjoyed their limoncello and Damion liked the rum. The hard stuff somewhat reminded me of rubbing alcohol, so I stuck with wine.

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Always a sucker for the footprints. And Rosé.

 

J. Lohr

J. Lohr was Ina’s birthday pick, and I can see why. The wine here was quite good. The grounds were stunning. Here we stopped for a picnic lunch before our tastings.

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Another Vineyard dog. Who can say “no” to a corgi? Not me! Look at that face!

 

Via Vega

Via Vega was the last leg of our tour. A very amusing vineyard, but not the best wine in the world, in my opinion. I don’t like writing negative reviews, so I’ll try to be constructive here. I’m not sure if I just need to revisit Via Vega under different circumstances because the owner was in a hurry to close up this day in order to get to his beloved annual Beaver Festival. I DID like that every year Via Vega produces a stock whose wine sales are used to raise money for their neighboring Zoo. I appreciate the philanthropic notion as well as anyone that promotes something to help animals. Unfortunately , I felt this place was a “vineyard for beer lovers”. During the tasting they didn’t really educate us about the wines at all, the owner just poured our ounces and told stories about himself. When we first arrived we were peeking about the nooks and crannies of this unconventionally decorated tasting room and the owner basically yelled at us to “get on with it” so that he could close early. He came across as a bit abrasive, which turned me off from the wines. Wasn’t loving his vibe. But i DID love their vineyard dog.

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I didn’t love the wine at Via Vega, but their dog was ADORABLE! I’m really excited that all these vineyards are so pet friendly!
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Another tractor to crawl on. This one channeled my inner Ronald Miller 🙂
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Birthday girl with the two adorable golden’s that joined our tasting entourage.

 

Denouement

After a day of wine tasting we were all exhausted. Big Chill Style, we cooked a great Curtis Stone recipe for dinner (we were all slicing and dicing). We ate, and pretty much crashed on the sofa until we moved into our respective beds. Even Elvis was tired.

elvis_cabin
Elvis guarded the house while we all relaxed after a long day of wine tasting and vineyard exploration.

The next morning MSM and I took a hike around the property. The whole place was landscaped with secret spots and benches. It was incredible. So quiet and inviting but interesting with its little hints of horror movies- for example a small unfinished shed out back, or the murder of yellow jackets that swarmed around us (Damion was stung, thank goodness he’s not allergic!). After our walk the guys watched football and I did something I’ve been wanting to do FOREVER. I grabbed a book, laid down on a surprisingly comfortable futon, and, with natural sunlight abundant, I read. No interruptions. It. Was. Incredible.

jill_woods

msm_coffee
Inside the Cabin In The Woods was an opulence of books and natural light. A reader’s dream. Coffee mug is actual size!

We all discussed visiting here again some day. I can not WAIT!

What the heck to wear while wine tasting in Paso Robles:

Answer: Layers. I think I said that last time. It was cool in the morning and then became abruptly HOT HOT HOT.

Second answer: Comfortable shoes. Heels are great and sexy, but not the best idea here. Especially if your like me and you like to explore the surroundings.

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This Layer was comprised of: Shoes: Fendi  Shorts: One Teaspoon  Top: Charlotte Russe (i.e wear something you can spill wine on and not care) Above: outfits Top : current elliott Tank: Jackelope, Austin  Shorts: Joie  Sneakers: Asics
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This seemingly hot fedora from Rag and Bone was the perfect protection from the sun. Oddly my head didn’t over heat at all. I definitely recommend a fedora when wine tasting. They protect you from the sun and are so stylish!

J’aime boire du vin rouge à midi! <– I’m learning something from duo lingo! 🙂

More later…..

xo

QJ

QJ

Dad.

 

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A few years ago I wrote this essay about my father and I wanted to re share it here. My dad always loved my writing and often suggested I focus on it. He is one of the reasons I started this blog! Four years ago, on Oct 12 2012, my father passed away from complications of dementia. He was 87 years young. I say “young” because even until the end he maintained his child-like sense of curiosity and humor. He was gifted at finding excitement in even the most banal things. He was one of my biggest supporters, always helping me to see the silver lining and to seek the “funny” in every situation.  I miss him immensely.

When I was two or three my father taught me how to ski. At first I didn’t love the sport, but I DID love my beautiful red ski boots. Once a shoe lover,always a shoe lover, I guess. I adored their candy red shell, and how it felt to walk around in them with that fun clunky gait. Ba-bam ba-bam. Those of you who have skied know the rhythm of which I speak. The sport grew on me and eventually I learned to really enjoy it. In high school, I followed in my brother’s footsteps and became a certified ski instructor. Other than my current career, this was probably the best job I ever had. It was rewarding teaching people a sport and it felt great to be part of a like minded group of amazing and fun people who remain my friends even today. I also loved the bonding between my brother and me. Over the years I went on family ski trips to Colorado, Utah, Vermont, New York State, Austria, Switzerland, and others that I’m probably forgetting. But the trips that stick out the most in my mind are the ones I took alone with my father. Whether it was a local day trip to the Cleveland Ski Club, to Peak-and-Peak (just two hours from home), or to Park City, Utah, Skiing with my dad was always very special. It gave us time to bond and have fun together. To laugh, share ideas, and also to sit in peace together on the chair lift and take in the beauty of nature. “Look Jilly, isn’t it beautiful?”, my father would say. Somehow being there in the snow, hearing only the swishing of the skis and the creaking motor of the chair, everything else in the world was quiet as if the blanket of snow was silencing the earth into a peaceful lull. I asked my dad once why he loved skiing so much and he said “because we live in Ohio and I needed to find something fun to do outside despite the winter cold.” And then in an exhilarated tone he added “Also, don’t you feel so free flying down that Mountain?!!”. My father skied until he was 85. And the two years he was stuck in the home before he passed away, there was always a Ski magazine next to him. By teaching me the art of skiing my father taught me so much more. How to see the best in something, how to find the good in a challenging situation, how to learn from your mistakes or at least laugh at them, how to see beauty where other people don’t, the importance of silence. But the greatest thing he did, I’m not even sure he was aware of. I had avoided skiing for a long time once my father became ill and especially after he passed away. This past weekend I went for the first time in five years. I was nervous and tried to make excuses not to go but my friends very supportively nudged me on. I sat on the chairlift and looked out. I saw the beauty of the blue sky. The snow covered mountains, the green pines, the frozen lakes. As I sat there, going up the mountain, I could hear the beautiful peace and quiet of the blanketed earth, the familiar sound of the lift motor, and most importantly I could hear my father say “Look Jilly, Isn’t it beautiful?” and for that brief moment he was there with me. By teaching me skiing my father gave me a gift. The gift of him.

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Dad’s first selfie! This is a photo of my dad and I during a winter visit in 2011. I’m so glad he was still laughing. We had so much fun that day taking a walk around the home where he lived. He slipped on ice and fell but thankfully wasn’t hurt. Despite his illness he remembered to lift his head so he didn’t hit it.

Life is way too short. Lets embrace every moment.

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Hiatus.

hi·a·tus
hīˈādəs/
noun
A pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.
elmatador
Hello all you lovelies! I hope everyone has had a superb summer. The past few months have been full of change and I figured what better day to fill you all in on all the new developments than the first day of of a new season?  Today is the first day of Fall and with the leaves changing in the east and the winds changing in the west, I will share my changes here….
 life-is-about-change
July was a particularly difficult month. Loosing a pet just never seems to get easier. Not sure if you love cats, or dogs, or lizards, or birds, or E. all of the above, but whatever floats your boat, the loss of a pet just sucks. Humans are resilient beings and time does heal, but there will always be a little place in your heart that stays tender to each lost loved one. I have experienced a lot of loss over the years including pets, family, and friends. I wish I could draw a picture of the kaleidoscope of little tiny spots that fill my figurative heart. Its funny though because the spots aren’t black holes of void, they are spots full love and fun and stories. Transactions and circumstances that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I know its cliché but its better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I would love to hang the drawing of my spotted heart so that every day I could see, together in one place, all the people and things that I have loved.
 fullsizerender
Over the summer I DID attempt to attack the pineapple drink brigade but alas, I was only able to imbibe in one. And that one was created by a temp bar tender and tasted like poop. It was supposed to be a vodka drink with thyme, lavender and lemon but I’m pretty sure she just gave me ginger beer over ice with some tequila in it. Despite the unsuccessful flavor, the experience was super fun.
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This pineapple drink at Hotel Casa Del Mar was awful. Despite the taste, I sure loved drinking from that bronzed chalice. SO festive! Not sure what instagated this new obsession with pineapples, but I want one of these in my house. Did you know that back during colonization, having a pineapple displayed was a way to welcome guests?
When August arrived, my six year stint with my beloved Regular Show came to an end. I have thoroughly  enjoyed every moment. JG, the show runner, is not only creatively brilliant but he is amazing with collaboration. Always supportive, he was fabulous at pushing his team to be the best they can be. And the success of the show was a result of that. I will miss Mordecai and Rigby. Yes, I know that they aren’t real, but their stories were very real to me. Fun, dynamic, exciting. The rest of the crew, also fabulous, have become family to me. Its not easy in the entertainment industry to find a production where you get to work side by side with such talented people who have no ego issues. I’ve been blessed to have been a part of such an amazing team.
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Mid August the studio awarded me three weeks vacation to replenish my soul. In my industry this is known as the  joyous hiatus, a time eagerly awaited by entertainment employees with high hopes of fun and relaxation and often times exotic travels. Knowing I was to return to CN mid September technically allowed me to relax but unbeknownst to  more than a few, I had a lot going on behind the scenes regarding work. I was called into a few interviews at other studios and the entire three weeks I spent in negotiations and trying to figure out what direction to follow. A champaign problem for sure, but stressful all the same. I did take two days to myself  to do absolutely nothing. One day I spent in Malibu, the other in Laguna. Both equally amazing.
I had forgotten what it felt like to not have a deadline over my head. I had forgotten how to relax. The lull of the ocean waves and the glorious sounds of bird song pulled me back to “me”.
Reminders from Soul Rejuvenation:
1. The significance of meditation
2. What it feels like to be at a slower pace
3. Life is too short to rush through it. 
4. Its ok if you can’t get everything done when your supposed to.
5. NOT everything is important. Prioritize what is important to YOU.
6. Sometimes its ok to just eat the whole loaf.
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Relaxing in Malibu was a needed respite from every day pressures. Salty wind, warm sand, and the accompaniment of this feathered friend I named Gene, in honor of Gene Wilder who had passed away earlier this day. Gene reminds me to laugh, and to choose not to worry.
Also during my break I did a ten day Ballet “bootcamp” This was intense but fun. I wanted to see what life was like as a professional ballerina. I took 2-3 hours of barre each day (including 3 pointe classes), pilates, weight lifting, and cardio. I ate super clean too.  I think the experience was marred a bit by not knowing how to really pace myself and the stress of work negotiations but over all it was amazing. On the negative side, I was SO SORE. omg! I did get a few massages but I think by the end of it I was actually more stiff and less flexible! I think next year i’d like to do a 7 day ballet camp instead. A camp that is planned out for the dancers because I think  I may have been over training- just a little ;).
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I loved being a professional ballerina for ten days! I improved a lot in many ways but I was SO sore and tight I’m thinking my schedule was counter productive. Looking forward to doing a real ballet camp maybe next year. One that is scheduled out for us.
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Practicing pique at barre en pointe.
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Taking a break between pilates and barre class.
Of course I always leave at least some time for fun with MSM and friends. Summer isn’t summer without at least one visit to the Cinespia outdoor screening, this year we saw True Romance. We also danced the night away at a few concerts (Psychedelic Furs at the Pier was particularly amazing), shared cocktails at Sunset, and spent time lounging at the beach. I attended a UT alum BBQ where they flew in Salt Lick from Austin! So yummy. My great great great grand “little” from KD came to visit and we shared lunch in Temecula. It was an enjoyable and lively Summer!
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It was so much fun participating in the Texas Exes Salt Lick BBQ fundraiser. They had delicious BBQ flown over from Austin that day! Along with chips and REAL queso- which is virtually impossible to find in LA 🙂 Whoot ya’ll!
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Proud UT Alumna!

 

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I got to go to the opening of the new California incline before the cars were allowed to drive on it. This will be the only time anyone will have seen this busy thoroughfare in an empty state. People could dance in the middle of the street and dogs could walk freely with no fear of being hit by a car. The city hired a DJ. It was really festive. I just loved this cute pup!
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Beautiful iron gate I found while hiking in Malibu.
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Enjoying a french macaroon in Laguna Beach. Bon Apetít!
Now I sit here typing at a new work station in a new location-  a location I can’t divulge just yet because I’m not sure how permanent it is. Still waiting for negotiations to be closed. But its all VERY exciting.
changes
Found this photo on google search and I just adore it! Onto bigger and better things….
Huge Lesson Learned:
Change is scary but its GOOD. Rather than calling it “change” I’d like to think of it as its synonym, “development”. Its so important to keep on moving forward. To keep on growing and to keep on pushing yourself past what feels comfortable. I love and appreciate MSM for pushing me to take this position even though I was terrified and worried that I “wasn’t ready”. Learning new skills, expanding my network….I feel ten years younger. I am rejuvenated and re-energized. Who knew that all the heaviness I had been feeling was all because I had ceilinged out at my old post. Its ok to need to move on. Its actually imperative. I’ve known some amazing people who seem to have the talent of knowing when its time to push for growth. They know who they are, and I want to take a moment just to say Thank You all for listening to me and for nudging me to make a move.
haitus
It is important to always try on new hats, or in this case sunglasses! During my break I had a great time shopping at The Grove with my friend Cheryl. 
Although my hiatus was mostly stressful, it was a well needed break from my comfort zone (where I was actually comfortable but necessarily 100% happy). Ripping me away from my “normal” allowed me the time to get pushed back on track.
Keep on learning ya’ll!
Toodles for now.
xo
QJ
QJ

Abby.

abbyPortrait

I have had the hardest time concentrating this week. I recently found out that my beautiful baby girl, Abby the Bernese Mountain Dog aka Abby Airmail Equus Calhoun, will need to be put to rest. If I was allowed to keep her around, she would have turned 12 on August 23rd, a date that also would have marked my Mother and Father’s 64th wedding anniversary (had my father still been alive). On top of that,  this craziness in France, and all the unnecessary shootings are exasperating my melancholy state of mind. The cruelty of people can be so overwhelming to a sensitive soul like mine.  To add to things, we are wrapping up the final episode of season 8 at work and MSM starts a new job on Monday. Just a lot of endings are hitting at once. And I’m not good at endings. In fact, I’m terrible with them.

 

I’d like to focus this blog post on Abby, my devoted fur daughter who has brought so much love and joy to my life. I remember the very first day we picked her up from the airport (she was born on a farm in Oklahoma and sent to us). I opened her crate door and gazed upon the most adorable rollie-pollie curly-haired puppy I had ever seen. And she was eating her poop! This habit, I am embarrassed to admit, never ceased. I wont get into those stories even though they are funny to me, to avoid potentially offending someone who is reading this.

AbbyBaby
Abby’s baby photo. I have more but sadly they are all in storage. This one is printed out! Rember when people used to print their photos?!

Baby Abby was so beyond adorable. I can picture her laying flat on her side in her Ex-pen during the training months, jerking from puppy dreams of running in fields and eating treats (and poop :P). One year, when Abby was about 3 or 4, I had invited company over for dinner. I set up a beautiful french cheese spread, about four pounds of exquisite stinky cheeses paired with fruit and crackers. When the doorbell rang, I exited the room to greet my friends. When we walked over to the cheese spread, Abby had eaten THE ENTIRE THING. ALL FOUR POUNDS of cheese! She loved to run in the yard and she adored stealing her (Shih-Tzu) tiny big sister’s toys and burying them because if Abby couldn’t have them, either could Daisy! Abby had a wonderful full life. She experienced camping in Joshua Tree, fishing in Bishop, and hiking in Orange County, Los Angeles, Ojai, and Pismo. She lived at the beach with a 180 degree view of the pacific, and inland with beautiful foothills as her backdrop.

Berners are incredibly affectionate and Abby is no exception. In fact, she really is basically pure love. One of her favorite things is being with her people. She sits on our feet and sleeps or grabs our hands and insists we pet her. If we stop for a beat she tosses and turns and pushes our hand back for more petting. She loves to lick our faces (hopefully not after poop eating) or stare right at us, with her face an inch away from ours, and burp  “I love you”. She adores cuddling on the sofa during our favorite TV shows or movies. At night she used to prefer sleeping on a cool surface, usually by a door so she could protect her pack. For some reason as she aged, and this is one of my favorites, she crawls into bed at night, lays next to me, and sighs.

When Abby was four, along came her brother Stanley. Stanley has been like a remora shark to Abby. He follows her everywhere. I’m very worried for him now. What will he do without his sweet sister?

siblingLove
Sibling love.

When Abby came into my life I was married. I had a lot to offer her- a father, a yard, a house with a dog door, time, money, and, of course, love. A ton of love. When my marriage ended my whole life shattered. Everything I knew had suddenly and drastically changed. Everything I dreamt for the future could no longer occur because the players in my game of life had changed. I was on my own, ungrounded,  and feeling like a failure. As I worked on rebuilding my life I did okay with the pups and always appreciated and reciprocated their support. Eventually, due to finances,  working a zillion hours a week, and not being able to afford a house with a yard (or an apartment that allowed dogs over 20lbs),  I chose to re-home them for what I thought would be a temporary three to six months. I did this, despite being the person that ALWAY got on a soap box about how giving up your pets is basically synonymous with murder and how only losers and A-holes do it. I could rationalize my choice because I had every intention of bringing them home soon. I wasn’t giving them away, I was temporarily fostering them so they were in a better place while I was getting re-situated. Despite rationalization, re-homing them even temporarily was heart breaking.  I had sold my home in OC with thoughts of buying in LA not knowing I was fooling myself because there was NO WAY I could afford a home up here at that time (in a safe neighborhood). I am happy that for the past year my fur kids have had a great home with a family that loves them, a small yard and a dog park close by that they visit often. They are very happy and healthy. It’s a three-hour round trip commute to where they are now but I’ve been going every other month to visit. And I pay for all their medical expenses, grooming, and food. I still love them. They are still mine in my heart. But I am also sad because I haven’t been able to be with them on a daily basis. It has been extremely difficult.

ChristmasPups

In December, due to a degenerative neurological issue in her spine, Abby began to lose the use of her rear left leg. This progressed to both rear legs. Now Abby’s pain has gotten worse, pain meds are no longer working, her back legs are no longer functioning at all, she soils herself daily, and she can’t move- I am beyond devastated. I am having ethical issues regarding putting her down, but I also know it will take the pain away from her and can kind of wrap my head around why its more humane to put her to rest. It hurts that  I will never be able to bring her home. I like to think she IS home. In her new home with her new mom and dad. But its hard to accept that. She’s eleven. She was basically eleven when they got her. She’s my dog and I’ve missed her every day I haven’t been with her this year, but at least previously I could get in a car and go see her or have the foster parents send a photo. I am SO grateful that MSM surprised us this past Christmas with a five-day trip to Carmel, where I got to snuggle with Miss Abby and Stanley. We cuddled, and played, and hiked, and ran on the beach. It was so amazing and beautiful and I can not express the amount of gratitude I feel for having those last few successive days as a family with her. Of course I’ve visited her often since then, including a full weekend last month, but that time in December was the best because it was extended and it was when she was mostly healthy.

Vallentyne Photography
Vallentyne Photography I’m so grateful that we did a photo shoot with Heather Vallentyne. Everyone with dogs should do this!!!
Vallentyne Photography
Vallentyne Photography Abby as a teenager. She loved to run on the beach.

 

I love you my sweet Abby girl. May you rest peacefully in heaven, eat all the stinky cheese you desire, run in the grassy fields, and bury your big sister’s toys. I hope Daisy is there for you and will help you through. My heart will always be with you. It’s so hard to let go.

 

Abby

My game plan for dealing with all these endings:

  1. A yogi once said, of his broken gem collection, “Those things were for my joy, not for my misery.” I have been learning meditation, and I think I need to take the day on Saturday to meditate on this. My good friend Dave told me, regarding dealing with a passing pet;  “Nothing and no one lasts forever. Rather than focusing on the loss, focus on how grateful you are for the time you had with the pet, and all the good things about her”
  2.  Do not attempt to push away the sadness, ride through it. To ease the pain I will pamper myself with a massage and/or mani/pedi.
  3. I will focus on present happiness with a ballet class and/or a walk on the beach with MSM.
  4. I will honor Abby’s life with a ceremonial dinner and toast.
  5. I will have an Annual wine and Stinky Cheese pairing party in honor of Abby.
mygirlAbby
I’m so grateful that I got to spend the weekend with my Abby last month. We snuggled and talked. She couldn’t play much, but we were happy to be wtih each other. 

Loss is always a reminder that life is too short. I need to take this time to take a chance and do some things that I’m normally too afraid to do. Its time to focus on career growth, where I want to go, and who I want to be. So often out of the pain of loss comes a new beginning that usually leads to something good. Can you think of something you currently love that you can trace back as ultimately starting from a loss? I bet your answer is “yes.”

xoxo

QJ

QJ