Another Musical Season (or Enjoying A Repeat Musical)

Even though the last season of our shows at the Pantages just ended about a month ago, the new season just started for us! Technically the new season officially starts in November with the season ticket package we bought, but our group also decided to get a couple of add-on shows so we got to start our season early! That also means that we have 11 shows this season instead of the 7 that came with our package! It’s going to be a full season, but I’m really excited for it.

One thing that is different for this season is that I have more repeat musicals than any other season. Out of the 11 shows, I’ve seen 7 before. That’s a lot considering that in the past seasons I usually only had seen 1 or 2 before. But since I’ve been enjoying seeing musicals more than once lately, I’m actually really excited about it.

And this first show was a repeat one for me. We saw “Beautiful“, which I previously saw about 2 years ago when Dani and I did our Black Friday deal for a mini-season of tickets.

Dani and I had seen the show before, but the 2 other people in our group hadn’t seen it. Michelle, who has been a part of our past 2 seasons and is doing this season too, was new to the show. And my friend Grace is the 4th person in our group this season, but she was unable to make this show. So my birthday twin Joanna took the 4th ticket and she was new to the show too! Joanna actually didn’t know really anything about the show, but when I asked her if she wanted the ticket she was free and the price was right so she said yes!

I remember the first time I saw “Beautiful” that I was almost a bit overwhelmed. There was so much to pay attention to in the show and I knew I missed things. There were some on stage quick changes that I wished I could see again and sometimes I got distracted by the music because I didn’t realize the song was done by Carole King. So it was nice to get to see the show again so I could focus on it in a different way than I could the first time seeing it.

And being able to focus on it in a different way gave me a different appreciation and I got a different enjoyment out of the show. I was so glad that it was just as good (if not better) the second time around because not every musical is one that I think I would enjoy seeing a second time. Some of the shock I felt the last time seeing the show from not realizing things would be happening was gone and I could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the performances. It was funny because I did tell Joanna that there were some amazing on stage quick changes and when they happened she had the same reaction I had the first time. And after the show was done she was telling me how much she loved it.

Dani and I both agreed that this touring cast was amazing. We had some favorites from the last touring cast and this one, but overall it was still a really wonderful show and we enjoyed it. And Michelle really liked it too and I think we all agreed it was a great way to kick off a new season of shows.

The last time I saw “Beautiful”, I said it was my favorite musical I had seen. It’s still one of my favorites, but now that I’ve seen so many musicals I don’t know if I can pick a favorite anymore. I see musicals a different way now that they don’t feel like a rare treat. When you don’t see them that often, I think it’s easier to pick favorites. Now that I see them about every month or every other month, I can notice more specific differences between shows. One show might have the most impressive songs while another has the best overall script. One show might be incredible with costumes and dancing while another can have the best actors. I don’t know how to pick which show is my favorite because for almost every single show I’ve seen in the past few years I can name one thing that was the best in that show.

I really wasn’t concerned that this coming season of shows would be a lot of shows that I’ve seen before. There is only 1 show that I have seen more than once that I really didn’t care for it after the first time. It’s still a bit of a novelty for me to see shows more than once since I went so long without seeing musicals. And fortunately almost all the experiences I’ve had before with repeat shows have been good and usually make me appreciate the musical more. The next show will be a new one for me, but with all the repeat shows coming up I am getting more and more excited to see what it will be like seeing those shows again. I’m just really glad the first show in this season of repeat shows was such a wonderful night out to start things off on a really great note.

A Week Full Of Rowing (or Figuring Out What I Can Do When Nauseous)

This past week of workouts were pretty tough for me. I was dealing with a lot of nausea the entire week (even with expecting it to happen, it still took a toll on me). I modified things as much as I could, but some of the workouts just weren’t designed for someone nauseous to be doing them. But I pushed through as much as I could. And I will say that one thing that helped me a lot was that we had a lot of rowing. Rowing isn’t the easiest thing for me when I am nauseous, but getting to work on it this past week has made it so hopefully in the future it will be a bit better.

Monday’s class was a mix of strength and endurance and unfortunately I was having a pretty bad nausea day. I think this nausea was a mix of the usual hormonal factors but also stress and other emotional things happening in my life. I hated that I felt so gross that morning, but as always when I’m nauseous I was just ready to do what I could do and be happy with that.

The cardio portion of the workout was a run/row format (so bike/row for me). Every round we did more on the bike and rower starting with a .4 trip on the bike and a 100 meter row (for people on the treadmill, it was a .1 mile run). Then each round I added .4 on the bike but every .4 I added resistance. And every time on the rower I added 100 meters. Considering how I was feeling, I was actually impressed with what I did. I only had to take a break once during a bike ride, the rest of my breaks were as I was switching from the bike to the rower. And I was able to increase the resistance every time I was supposed to. Both my pedaling and rowing were slower than normal, but I still got it done.

On the floor, we had 3 blocks. The first block had single arm low rows, squats to single arm high rows, and leg lifts to crunches. For the single arm low rows and single arm high rows, I was able to use my heavier weights. I seem to use heavier weights on my nausea days to make up for any issues I had with cardio. I tried to do the leg lifts to crunches but after halfway through the reps I had to split the moves into 2 parts instead of doing them together. But I did them. The second block was goblet lunges, lunges using the bench for one leg, and side plank pendulum. And while I normally can’t do the lunges using the bench for one leg, since I was going extra slow I was able to get my balance and do them. And the last block was a core blast with alternating toe reaches, crunches, sit-ups, and leg lifts.

Wednesday’s workout was a strength based day with a benchmark row. But unfortunately, my nausea got much worse and I was feeling pretty miserable. Because I’m so competitive with myself, I hate when a benchmark event happens when I know I can’t do my best. But I figured I would do what I could and see what happens.

For cardio, I was on the bike. Fortunately even though I was feeling awful I was able to do some decent work using the resistance on the bike. We had a couple of different 30 second hills (or high resistance for the bike) and I was able to go higher than my normal push or all out resistance on the bike. I rarely go higher than level 10, but this time I was doing a lot of those 30 second hills at level 12. So at least I got to feel a bit accomplished.

The benchmark row was a 500 meter row. I know that my record for it is very fast and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get close to it. I really wanted to be able to do my row in under 2 minutes, but I also knew that was going to be pushing it. I tried to ignore the 500 meter split time on the monitor because it was driving me crazy. Instead I focused on trying to keep my speed steady. I have the Dri-Tri coming up soon and I know working on being at a consistent pace is something that will help me. My rowing was pretty steady for the first 400 meters and then I went crazy for the last 100 meters. I know I overdid it at the end, but I really just wanted to feel like I tried my hardest. I did the row in 2:07 which isn’t my worst and close to my goal for the day. But I really would have loved to have been under 2 minutes.

For the rest of the floor work, we had a lot of work with weights. We had deadlifts, front raises, lunges with weights, and pull overs. I was able to use my heavier weights for all of those. We also had sit-ups and half get ups for ab work. For the half get ups I did one round with my normal weights but at the end I had to go with a set lighter for the second round. But considering ab work is tough on bad nausea days, I was happy I could use any weights for those.

Friday was a 3 group workout so I knew it would be another class with a lot of rowing. But I was hoping it would be all short rows. But that wasn’t what the class had.

For the cardio, I was on the bike and I did manage to use my resistance levels like I normally would. It was a strength based workout so the treadmills had inclines and I had extra resistance to work with. I did have to take some breaks on the bike to let the nausea pass, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be considering how I felt that morning when I woke up.

On the rower, we had all long rows. The first row was 1,000 meters. Since the Dri-Tri is only a week away I should have been excited for a good practice row. But it was just tough to try to keep going the entire time. Somehow I managed to not need to take any breaks during the row, but it was a pretty slow row too. After the row, we were supposed to have jumping jacks but I knew I couldn’t do those with my nausea so I did side lunges and some squats instead. Then it was a 500 meter row, more jumping jacks (or lunges and squats for me), and pulsing squats. I didn’t make it further down the row block because my rowing was slow.

On the floor, we had one long block. We had Y raises on the straps, lunges with weights, ab work, reverse flys, single arm snatches, and skaters. Fortunately, all the floor work was stuff that was ok for me to do with how I felt. The skaters were a bit tough because they can be a lot of up and down movement, but I modified them to be much smoother. I know I didn’t work as hard as I could have when I feel fine, but I was proud of myself for figuring out how to do things as work arounds.

Saturday’s workout was an interesting one, but it ended up being a pretty great class. I was still nauseous so I was still on the bike, but that actually worked to my benefit. It was a partner workout that had 2 blocks of partner work and 1 regular block in the middle.

For the partner work, I was partnered with a girl who was also using a bike for cardio but it turned out that it wouldn’t have mattered. I did feel a bit bad for having a partner who was going to be depending on me to make sure we switch quickly enough, but I found out that this was her first class back from a surgery so it worked out well that we were both not at our best.

The 2 partner blocks were the same, but for the first block I did bike and floor work (my partner did floor and rower) and for the second I did floor and rower (and my partner did bike and floor). The person using the cardio was the pacer and they were all pretty quick. I don’t think either of us was on the cardio for more than 2 1/2 minutes. For both the bike and the rower each time we were back the distance we had to go went down a bit. The rower started at 500 meters and went down 100 meters every time. And the bike started with 1.2 trips and went down .2 each time. I surprised myself with how well I did on both the bike and rower and I think my partner and I were very equally matched.

For the partner blocks the floor work was the same both times. We had burpees, half squat swings, overhead tricep extensions, sit-ups, and neutral full thrusters with weights. I tried using my normal weights for these and it was a bit of a struggle for the swings and triceps so I went down on the weight for those. And for the burpees I didn’t have the bench down so I couldn’t jump back and forth. The burpees were hard because they were making me feel more nauseous, but I was glad that the floor work wasn’t the pacer so I could take my time.

In the middle of the 2 partner blocks, we had a regular cardio and a regular floor block. For the cardio it was 3 rounds of push to all out paces with the push pace getting shorter each time. And on the floor we had squats, reverse mountain climbers, and plank arm reaches. It was a pretty short block for both that cardio and floor block so I didn’t feel too bad on them. I was glad to have them in the middle of the partner work to break things up, but it was better to be able to end the workout with the partner work because that seemed to end things on a higher note.

Hopefully my nausea will only affect the beginning of this workout week. Not only do I want it to end because I hate feeling nauseous, but I have the Dri-Tri on Saturday! I really want to do well on it and hopefully PR in at least one section of the challenge. But I also know that my endurance and strength isn’t quite what it was before so I have to work extra hard this week to get ready for it!

More Union Working (or Influencers And Contracts)

This week was another meeting of the Union Working group. Ever since I joined the group, we have been focused on the next contract negotiation for the commercial contract of SAG-AFTRA. Contract negotiations only happen every few years so they are extremely important. We want to make sure that we ask for the things we need and don’t waste time or hold out for things that aren’t as important. And it’s tough to know sometimes what matters and what doesn’t, which is why it is so important for as many actors to participate as possible.

To prepare for our negotiations, we have meetings called W&Ws (or Wages and Working Conditions). Those meetings are when any member of SAG-AFTRA in good standing can come and present something that they would like to see in the next contract. As long as it is something that is allowed, it is considered. Not everything will get into the contracts or be presented at negations, but if you don’t share it during the W&Ws and you are the only person with that concern you know that it will be extremely unlikely that it will be in the next contract.

The past few Union Working meetings have been about preparing for the W&Ws. They can sound very intimidating and members who haven’t been involved in the union might be scared to attend. And Union Working has been working on educating other members on these meetings, what they can expect, and what they need to have prepared if they are going to present an idea. I think that more actors are understanding they power they have as union members and I hope that many people will take advantage of this and go to at least 1 of the W&Ws.

This meeting was another one to prepare for contract negotiations and the meetings that lead up to it. Since we were sharing basic information on what the meetings are like (and not ideas of what we want in the next contract), I was able to live stream a lot of the meeting for our Facebook group.

It’s a pretty easy job for me to run the live stream, but I know that it is appreciated by the core members of Union Working that I do it. And at this meeting, we had several presentations and I was able to ask a question that was asked on the live stream from a member who was watching in Portland. That was actually very exciting because it proved that the live stream is important and the message of Union Working is being shared in our locals and not just in Los Angeles.

And having more actors from the other locals was another big thing that was discussed at the meeting. Union Working is mainly in Los Angeles right now and we don’t want that to be the case. We want members of SAG-AFTRA all over the country to be involved even if they can’t be at the meetings. They can watch most of our meetings on the live stream and I can always work on finding out better ways to keep things interactive with those watching while at the meeting. I would  love it if I had to keep track of questions from members all over the country while at the meeting so I could ask them on behalf of those members. I want to make sure everyone can be involved if they want to no matter where they live.

And since we are trying to spread to other locations, we are asking SAG-AFTRA members all over to please follow us on social media. If you are an actor (even if you aren’t in the union yet), please follow our social media to stay informed about things happening with Union Working. A lot of great information is shared and we just want people to know what is going on.

Another big thing that was discussed at the meeting was the idea of influencers and how so many of those projects could be union so those influencers would have the same rights and protections as all actors. Many of those influencers create their own content while partnering with a brand (basically making their own commercials). There have been some steps made toward helping influencers understand what being in the union would do for them, but there is a lot of work to still do there. And the issue of influencers is one that is important to me.

While I don’t have millions of followers on social media, I do get companies approaching me to do sponsored content. I rarely do sponsored things on here or social media, but sometimes I will. But when those companies ask me to do a video as well as a post, I can’t do them unless they are going to make those union. I cannot and will not do a commercial for a brand that is not a union project. That is against Global Rule One and I do not want to work against my union. And I know that the more that influencers know what’s going on and what their options are, the more likely that brands that approach me will understand I will only do video for them if they do it through the union.

While I have been a union member for a few different contract negotiations, this is the most prepared I feel for one. I am trying to work my schedule out so I can attend at least one of the W&W meetings. I don’t have anything to contribute, but I do want to watch it happen and learn what other members are concerned about. And something someone says may spark something in my mind that I will want to bring up. But the most important thing to me is that I show up and make an effort to participate. And I hope that many other members will do the same this year and we have a high attendance rate at these meetings coming up.

I Feel Like My Body Is Playing Tricks On Me (or Trying To Beat My Nausea)

I’ve been dealing with hormonal nausea for almost 2 years now. It’s not fun and I’m still trying to find a plan that works for me. I’ve got a couple of different things I can do when I’m feeling awful, but none of them make it go away completely and not everything works for me every month. So each month when my nausea comes back, I have to start testing things to see what is going to work and what will be useless that time.

Right when I had to start dealing with this nausea again, it’s been pretty regular. I know when to expect it to start and I know when to expect it to end. Of course, things do fluctuate and sometimes it starts later or doesn’t last as long, but it always happens. And sometimes I get overly optimistic if my nausea doesn’t happen as early as I’m used to and I’ll think that maybe this month won’t be as bad. But sadly it does happen and sometimes those months are the worst ones. It’s like I have a set amount of nausea I always have to have and it can be spread over 2 weeks at one level or be only for 1 week but it’s twice as strong.

And this month was a month where it tricked me. I was feeling pretty decent even on my more nauseous days at the end of last week. I was thinking this could be the month that things turn around and that they will be good. I do not know why I believed this when it never turns out to be true, but I guess I’m just trying to be hopeful that maybe I will outgrow the nausea. I’ve had people tell me that it’s possible, but I don’t know if I will. I had this problem as a teenager (although it wasn’t this severe) and now I have it again as an adult. By the time I think I might outgrow it, I don’t think it will be an issue for me anymore.

So this week I’m back to testing out all my different things to see what is going to work for me and what things I won’t bother with. It seems like by the time I figure out the best combination for that particular month, the nausea is almost over and I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve been trying to take some notes on the different combinations because maybe I can try those combinations each time instead of trying to figure out what to add it or not use. But I really don’t know if that will make things easier or faster.

There is one thing I haven’t tried yet for my nausea. When I was at my doctor recently, she prescribed me a new anti-nausea medication. It may help when my regular anti-nausea medication isn’t working but there’s no guarantee it will help since there are so many factors that determine if a medication will or won’t work. But I haven’t been able to try it even though I’ve had it for 2 months.

This new medication usually makes people very drowsy. While most medications that typically make you drowsy don’t do that for me, I still have to be careful before I take any new medications. So I really can’t take this new one before I have to drive and I don’t want to risk it before I work because I don’t want to accidentally fall asleep working. So I really need to take it when I’ll be home doing nothing important to see what it does to me.

And because my body is being mean to me, all of the times that I’ve had the extreme nausea have been before I’m driving or while I’m working. And by the time I don’t have to worry about driving or working, the horrible nausea has ended and it’s manageable with other things. I know I can just try taking it when I don’t need it, but my prescription isn’t for that many pills and I don’t want to waste one. Plus, to see if it helps my nausea I really need to try it when I am feeling nauseous. So the timing for me to try it just hasn’t been in my favor.

It’s weird to hope to feel nauseous, but I really want it to happen when I can test out the new medication so I have an answer if it will work or not. And it would be amazing if it did work and continued to work the next month as well. I know that there are so many worse things to deal with, but I just want the nausea to not affect my life as much as it does right now. And it is frustrating that I know exactly how to make it stop, but I can’t take hormonal birth control because it will make my tumors grow.

Even with all my complaining, I do try to find moments of positivity and being optimistic. I am grateful that even though my nausea tricked me this month, I didn’t have to deal with it for several days that I was expecting to have to. And while it’s not fun right now, I know it will be done soon and I will have 2-3 weeks of not being nauseous that I can enjoy. But I do juts want to beat this and figure out how to make it a much smaller issue for me every month.

Cooking At Hipcooks (or Remembering Cooking Doesn’t Have To Be Hard)

I’ve written about my struggles with cooking on here several times before. I will probably never understand why cooking is something tough for me to prioritize and do more often, but realizing it may be a struggle for forever has helped me feel a bit better about it. I don’t think I’m a bad cook and I do like cooking, I just don’t do it.

Even though this has been something I’ve struggled to do more often, I’ve never really taken a cooking class to help to motivate me or make cooking more fun. So when my friend Dani asked me if I wanted to join her at Hipcooks for a class, I said yes to see what cooking classes are like there. Dani is a volunteer at Hipcooks, which means that she helps clean up during classes. But she can still participate and she earns free classes by volunteering. And for the summer cocktails and infusions class she was also told that she could have a friend come with her. So I got to check it out for free!

The location is actually very close to my house. I could have walked over if I wanted to, but I decided to drive so I didn’t have to walk home in the dark. And as soon as I got there, I noticed that everything was set up to have everyone work together. I imagined it would be individual stations where people learn to do things, but it was a much more collaborative class. Where we did most of the cooking was around a semi-circle station where the teacher was in the middle and we were all around.

And the table where we would be eating and making cocktails was a big square table. It has the feeling of being a party more than a class.

There was also a menu with all the food and drinks we would be making in class.

While I’m not a big drinker (and I hadn’t really had a drink since my birthday party last year), I was excited to learn how to make different cocktails. I knew that even if I didn’t drink for a long time, a bunch of the drinks could probably be made without alcohol. And they would be new skills that I was going to be learning.

The class had 8 people not counting the instructors and Dani so it felt small but we could also have little groups to work on different things. The cooking at Hipcooks is a collaborative effort and everyone gets to work on different things. For example, I was working on the bruschetta with another student in class while other people worked on a salad and a tart.

The bruschetta was an easy process. The instructor toasted the bread and I took a clove of garlic and rubbed it on the bread. Then we covered that in mascarpone cheese and layered sliced figs and prosciutto on it. It was so easy to do but looked impressive which is the best!

What I loved the best about this class was that there were no recipes and no measuring tools. The idea is that cooking is fun and doesn’t have to be perfect and I love that idea! When we were making wontons we were filling them with goat cheese and avocado. We were just told to fill them and as long as we could seal them closed it was fine. We didn’t have to worry about making sure everything was measured out and precise. It made everything easy and relaxing.

Since the class was a mix of cooking and cocktails we went back and forth between the cooking area and the table where we mixed drinks. The square table had different stations for us to work in for making cocktails and we all worked with a partner. I was partnered up with someone who was in class alone as well and we worked together making the different drinks.

We learned how to do a proper pour of alcohol, how to muddle herbs and fruit, and how to shake a drink using a shaker. I took sips of everything we made and some of them are drinks I know that I would totally make another time.

While we were having our drinks, we also got to eat some of the food we made. The instructor did some of the finishing work or baking things that needed to be baked, but most of the work was done by the students in class.

We went back and forth between cooking and making drinks a few times, but I liked that because it split things up nicely. I never felt like we were making drinks for too long or cooking for so long that I forgot what we made. The class was 3 hours long, but it really felt like it flew by. And although I wasn’t in the most social mood while in class, I did chat with everyone who was there and had a great time. I had a lot weighing on my mind while I was there, and it helped me to put that out of my mind for a bit and have some fun.

I also loved how the group came together over the course of the class. While 4 people in the group were friends and there was another group of 2 friends, but we didn’t all know each other when we started. But at the end of class, it really felt like we were one big group and that we weren’t a collection of strangers in a class together. It was really nice and exactly what I needed when I was not in the best head space.

I seriously loved this class! Not only were the things we made awesome, it really proved to me how flexible cooking can be and helped to take away some of the feelings of needing to be perfect that I know I’ve had when cooking in the past. I’m looking at taking some other classes there since they have so many different types. And I’m also looking into maybe volunteering there so I can do some free classes!

I’m So Glad My Friend Called Me (or Forcing Someone To Get Help)

As I shared yesterday in my workout recap, something happened in the middle of the week. I have previously written about how I have had some personal experience with depression and some friends who have considered or attempted suicide. These are not easy things to talk about, but it is important to talk about them. There is no reason to be embarrassed if you are struggling and reaching out to get help. But I also know that reaching out to someone to ask for help is not easy. And on Wednesday night, I had a friend reach out to me for something else that turned into me forcing them to get help.

The story of what happened to my friend is not mine to share so I will not be very detailed in what happened. But they called me saying how frustrated they were with work and they actually walked out of work that evening. It was very impulsive and not the behavior I was used to from my friend. A few minutes later in that call, they said they kind of wanted it all to end and to cut their arms.

While this friend has had suicidal thoughts before, I have never heard them share a specific plan they had in mind. They also recently got a new therapist and I didn’t think they would be able to reach them (plus it was late at night). I honestly went into a bit of a panic. Was this someone just being frustrated and venting or was this a cry for help that I needed to take seriously. I realized that I had to do something and I got very forceful with my friend.

I told them that they had 2 options. Either they would drive to a hospital right now and go to an ER or I would call the police on them to have them taken to a hospital. I got very mean to my friend and said I didn’t care which they picked but they were going to have one or the other. And I told them if they picked the hospital that they had to keep me on the phone so I could have proof they went to an ER. I realized after saying that if they decided to hang up on me and go somewhere other than their home, I couldn’t do anything. My friend didn’t talk for a few moments and then told me they were driving to the hospital.

While they were driving, we didn’t talk much. I was trying to stay strong on the phone, but I was crying hysterically. I kept thinking that things could turn so wrong in a moment if my friend decided to do so. I just had to have some faith and trust that they were really driving to the hospital and that I would soon hear the voice of someone in the ER confirming they were there.

After my friend parked, they found a security guard to help them find the ER. I was on the phone, but there was no talking happening. And what felt like forever later I finally heard the voice of a woman in the ER confirming my friend was there and safe. My friend had to hang up the phone to check in, and when the phone call ended I completely lost it.

I knew that this was a risky time for my friend and I’m so lucky that not only they called me and admitted what they were thinking but I am lucky I didn’t miss their phone call. I have been thinking of the alternative scenarios in my head and I know they are all bad. I tried reaching out to friends to talk to but it was very late at night and most people were asleep. My friend called me from the ER asking if I could drive to where they were to move their car because they parked in the wrong area. Fortunately, before I had to make that drive, another friend got back to me and was able to do it. I didn’t feel like I could drive 30 minutes each way with how upset I was. I am so grateful for the friend who lived closer to the hospital to do it.

Even though I knew I did the right thing, I still questioned it. What if my friend wasn’t really going to harm themselves and I was overreacting? What if I just forced them to do something they didn’t need and they will have a huge hospital bill to deal with now? I was able to talk to a friend that night to talk this out with and they just tried to keep telling me that I will never regret helping someone if they didn’t need it but I would regret not helping if they did need it.

I didn’t sleep much that night because I just couldn’t stop thinking. But I had to come to the conclusion that my friend might be very upset with me for various reasons but I would be ok having a friend alive and angry with me and not ok with a friend who was dead. I knew intellectually that I made the right decision, but emotionally I struggled with it.

I heard from my friend later that day. They were being released from the ER and being sent to a mental health facility for a few days to get treatment. They didn’t go into the specifics of what was happening and I don’t know if they knew them at the time. They just sounded scared and confused but called me to update me. They also told me of some other things they might need help with and gave me permission to talk about it with a few of our mutual friends to see who could help.

Being able to tell other people what was happening helped me a lot. The weight of everything was no longer on my shoulders and I could talk things through with others. I know that what my friend was going through was much more intense than what I experienced, but I was surprised how drained I felt. You think that making a friend get help when they are in trouble would make you feel good. But for me, I felt good and awful at the same time. But being able to talk to others really helped me feel more reassured that I did the right thing.

I felt even better about it when my friend reached out to me to update me on when they were thinking they would be coming home and in their text message to me they thanked me. I also got a message from my friend’s mom who said I saved my friend’s life and they were grateful for me. I know I shouldn’t have to hear it from outside sources, but hearing my friend’s mom say that really solidified in my mind that I did the right thing and that there was no other option that would have had as positive of an outcome.

As I’m writing this, my friend isn’t home yet but should be soon. Another friend of ours has talked to them on the phone and said they sounded good. And I am hopeful that my friend will be ok and not angry or upset with me. But I have also accepted the possibility that they might be distant or not as friendly to me for a while. I will have to wait and see what happens, but as long as they are alive I am ok with whatever happens.

Even though I have had to talk friends down before when they were not in a good mindset, this was so different. But even though this was a tough thing for me to do and I was very upset about what I had to make my friend do, I don’t regret it for a second. I could not imagine my life without this friend and I would be devastated if they weren’t here. And if they harmed themselves after talking to me on the phone and I didn’t make them get help, I would never forgive myself.

But this isn’t about me. This only had this result because my friend was brave enough to share what was happening with me. They could have lied and said they were fine even though they weren’t. They felt like they needed help and knew they needed to say something. And I was just the person who happened to be listening and telling them what to do.  I cannot say how unbelievably proud I am of my friend for getting the help they needed. It is not easy, but hopefully in the long run they will be grateful for it.

While my friend felt comfortable enough to tell me what was happening, I know that isn’t always the case for everyone. I know some people don’t want their friends to know what is going on. And if that is the case for you and you are struggling or having thoughts of harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There are people there 24/7 who can help you find help. And if you hear someone you care about expressing thoughts of harming yourself, you can also call the Lifeline to get advice on what to do.

I know that when someone is in the depths of depression it can feel like you aren’t worth getting help. Please know this isn’t true. Everyone is worthy of getting help and being able to be happy in their life. Please reach out to someone if you feel helpless. There is always hope.

An Emotional Workout Week (or Just Making It Through)

This past week of workouts felt like it was almost split in 2. I hate feeling like I’m teasing a future post, but something happened in the middle of the week that really affected my workouts. I was dealing with a lot of emotions and I know that it changed how I worked out. I had 2 workouts before that and 2 after so it really was a split week.

Monday’s workout was a 3 group workout because they had fewer classes for a holiday schedule. And it also ended up being a partner workout so it was a 3 partner workout. The workout was supposed to be endurance based, but it didn’t really feel that way because of how often the partners were switching around.

We had 2 blocks and in each block the person on the floor controlled the switching. In the first block the person on the treadmill ran for distance and we didn’t reset the treadmills as we switched. The person on the rower had a 150 meter row and then 10 squats and repeated that until they were tagged by their partner. And the person on the floor had lunges, bicycle crunches, and toe touches.

For the second block the treadmill person ran for distance without resetting the treadmill and the rower did 150 meter rows with bicep curls using the row handles between each row. And on the floor we had overhead tricep extensions, weighted hip bridges, and weighted torso twists.

I was feeling fortunate that I was in a group with 2 people who I know and didn’t care too much about the distance challenges on the treadmill. We all worked hard, but we didn’t stress out over things either. On average we were switching every 2-3 minutes which was nice for the treadmill. I was dealing with a bit of nausea (not sure if it was still from my biopsy or I was starting to deal with hormonal nausea early) and I wasn’t going fast on the treadmill. And I was struggling with the rower a bit too. I didn’t struggle as much on the floor but I think that was because I used lighter weights because I didn’t want to let my group down and take too long to switch. But even with the struggles it was a good workout and I liked not having to worry about being at any part of the room for too long.

Wednesday’s workout was a power day and it ended up being a great day for me to work on my running. I wasn’t totally feeling like running, but once I saw what the workout would be I knew I had to make it a run day.

The treadmill work started with a 1 minute push pace followed by a 30 second base pace. I ran the push and walked the base as a power walker. And then we had 11 rounds of 1 minute all outs. I knew I had to run all of them and that was my goal for the class. After each of the all outs we had a walking recovery. We started with them being 30 seconds long and they increased by 15 seconds every other round. I thought with the longer walking recoveries that I would be able to do all of the 1 minute all outs as a run with no issues, and for the first 6 of them I was doing fine.

But starting with the 7th round, my legs were feeling very tired and heavy. I could feel my running form getting sloppy and I didn’t want to risk hurting myself. So while I started each of the all outs as a run, I sometimes had to short myself a bit. I usually was able to do at least 45 seconds as a run before bringing it back down to a walk. And that also gave me a bit more recovery time as well. I think because I did the extra recovery time, it helped me so that for the final 2 all outs I was able to run for the full minute. It was a lot of running and it wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did it.

The floor was 1 long block but it was broken down a bit into slightly different blocks. All of the blocks within the block had the same 4 main exercises: chest presses, bicep curls, shoulder presses, and reverse chest flys. But between each of the exercises we had different things. The first time we went through the exercises we had bench hop overs in between, the second time we had squats, and the third time we had pop jacks. Also after completing each round we had a 250 meter row. I was using heavy weights and did my best for all the exercises. My rowing was a bit slow, but I think that was because of all the running I did. I didn’t quite make it through all 3 rounds we were supposed to try to do, but I was almost to the end of the third round when class ended.

Wednesday night was a very tough night for me (again, more on that tomorrow) and I really thought I was feeling much better by Friday morning. But my body was feeling exhausted due to those events so I decided to go on the bike for my cardio. But since it was a 3 group class I wasn’t on the bike that long.

The class was an endurance one and the cardio portion was increasing push paces. We started with a 2 minute push pace, then had a 3 minute push pace, and finished with a 4 minute progressive push pace. Even though I was feeling exhausted I tried to do all of my bike resistance levels like I normally would. I even increased it every minute for the progressive push pace. We ended with a 1 minute all out pace before heading over to the rowers.

On the rower, we had some work that was timed on our own and some work that was timed as a group. We started with a 2 minute row and then we had some medicine ball work. After that we had a 1 minute row with more medicine ball work and we did that until it was time to do a 4 minute progressive push row as a group with the treadmills. I wasn’t able to get my rowing wattage up as much as I would have like to, but I was very proud to see that I did increase the wattage a little bit each minute that we were supposed to. We ended with another round of a 1 minute push row and more medicine ball work.

The floor work was 1 long block, but all of the exercises had 12 reps so I didn’t do many rounds of them. We had Y raises on the straps, tricep extensions on the straps, hip bridges using weights, hip bridge tricep extensions using weights, and lateral raises using weights. I was able to use heavy weights for my hip bridges, but I had to go a bit lighter for the arm work.

I thought I had done pretty decently in class considering how I was feeling, but as soon as class was done I burst into a real ugly cry. It was a release of all the emotions I had been dealing with and while I was a bit embarrassed to cry at my workout I really didn’t care either. I knew that I needed it and I needed that workout and I was glad I got both in.

Saturday I was doing better, but still physically a bit exhausted so I had another day on the bike. And I’m glad I picked the bike because it ended up being a strength based workout and I think I do better on strength days on the bike than I do on the treadmill. I can do more resistance work on the bike than I can do incline work on the treadmill.

We had 3 blocks for cardio and each block had a longer incline/resistance section. The first block had 1 minute, the second block had 2 minutes, and the last block had 3 minutes. I was using my normal resistance levels for the regular base, push, and all out paces but I was using higher resistance levels for those incline/resistance sections. Some of the resistance levels were probably higher than I should have used, but I wanted to push myself.

On the floor we had 3 blocks that all had 2 exercises and if we finished those we rowed until the block was done. And for almost all the exercises, we did 2 rounds of 10 reps and 2 rounds of 6 reps. The first block was side lunges with bicep curls and plank low rows. The second block was deadlifts and squats and in that block I had about a minute on the rower at the end. And the last block was lunges and bicycle crunches, but for the bicycle crunches we had 16 reps of those every time. I could have made it to the rower for maybe 30 seconds at the end, but I just did more ab work to not waste time.

At the beginning of this past week of workouts, I thought it was going to be a normal week. At the end, I really found out how much I needed these workouts for my mental wellbeing. I’ll share tomorrow what I was going through, but I am so grateful that I had my workouts to help make me feel better.

Actors With Day Jobs (or An Empowering Hashtag)

If you were on twitter over the weekend, you may have noticed #actorswithdayjobs as one of the trending hashtags. I usually don’t pay too much attention to trending hashtags or topics on twitter because so often they are things I don’t have a clue about or know what’s happening. But this time I knew all about it and what was going on. And as an added bonus, it was a friend of mine who started the hashtag going!

If you aren’t familiar with what happened, this is a quick version of the story. Geoffrey Owens is an actor and he is known for big shows like “The Cosby Show”. Someone was at a Trader Joe’s and noticed that he was working there. They took a picture of him and sent it to some news/tabloid outlets saying how he was working there. For some reason, those outlets decided to shame an actor for working a day job between other jobs. Fortunately, most people were disgusted by this and were shaming the outlets for the story and sharing their support for Geoffrey Owens. And one way they were showing support was to share their day jobs with the hashtag.

I couldn’t believe that people were trying to shame him for working an honest job but I was inspired by seeing how much support he got from people who understand the journey of an actor. There is absolutely no shame in having a day job. I have several of them and have written about them on here and on other blogs. Even if you work on a couple of shows in a year, that money isn’t necessarily enough to support you for all the time you aren’t working. Most actors work jobs in-between their acting jobs. It’s not something that is weird or unheard of. It’s something that almost everyone I know does and is a normal part of life.

And this isn’t just an actor thing. I have some friends who are teachers who work a second job after school, on the weekends, or during school breaks to make enough money to support themselves. I have friends who work in an office job and drive for Uber or Lyft during their time off to make ends meet. I wish that most jobs would pay a living wage, especially in expensive cities like LA, but that’s just not the case. Many people I know cannot support themselves on a single job. And those who can consider themselves very lucky.

There was a lot of discussion around the hashtag with a political slant as well. Some people were saying that certain news outlets say that they are for the working class, but then those news outlets were also the ones that shamed Geoffrey Owens for working. There was also discussion about respecting freelancers and union members as actors are both of those. But even taking out the political things, I think most people understand why the articles shaming him were ridiculous and why we should all support each other and we should appreciate those who work hard.

I’m so glad the hashtag was created because it did allow for me to spend time on social media over the weekend reading the various stories of actors and their day jobs. I did enjoy seeing what jobs my friends were listing and seeing what jobs actors that I dream of working with used to do. It was a way to create solidarity among actors no matter what level we are at in our careers.

It was a bit ironic and fitting that this all happened over Labor Day weekend when we are celebrating unions and the worker’s rights that they got us. But I think the timing also helped to make the hashtag go viral and get more people wanting to share their stories. And I think because it went viral, people who may have been embarrassed they have day jobs realized how normal it is and that it isn’t something that needs to be hidden. I saw more conversation online about day jobs over the weekend than I ever have seen before and the conversation hasn’t stopped. Hopefully any stigma people thought existed about having day jobs have started to fade and that fear can be changed into a more positive energy.

I know that there are so many stories about social media being bad or giving a platform to bullies. I’m just glad that I get to see the positives from social media as well. And while this story started as a negative that turned into a positive conversation, I think that almost makes it more empowering.

Baby Shower Fun (or I Love Celebrating My Friends)

Even though I’m the age where a lot of people are having kids, not that many of my friends have kids yet. But more and more of my married friends are starting families and I am so excited for all of them! Some of them haven’t been having baby showers or other parties to celebrate a baby until the baby is here, but last weekend I got to go to a baby shower for my friends Erin and Ace.

Erin hasn’t had the easiest pregnancy so I was so glad she was doing better and they were able to have this celebration before their son is born. He should be born next month so she’s almost to the end of being pregnant (and I think both she and Ace are ready for their son to be here).

Even though I haven’t been to a lot of baby showers, I’m familiar with a lot of baby shower games. But Erin and Ace aren’t really game people, so I figured there wouldn’t be any games and it would be more like a regular party. And that’s exactly what it was like! The shower was held at a Mediterranean restaurant right on the beach in Venice. Since the shower was on a Saturday and on the beach (and it was a gorgeous day), it was a little tough to get there. But I was able to find a parking lot a few blocks away that had some spots open. So I parked and walked over to the party.

And I was right, this baby shower was more like a fun party with awesome people it was so much fun! I didn’t know many people at the party so I tried to be social and get to know who else was there. And before the food came out, I went over to the onesie decorating table to decorate one for the baby. With many of the people at the party being creative people, so many of the onesies were really amazing. I was drawing a blank on what to do, but then I remembered a onesie that I had seen online once and I copied it the best I could.

I know that both Ace and Erin will be amazing at taking care of their baby, but I figured decorating a onesie was the time to be silly. And they both seemed to love it and think it was funny. But some of the other ones (which sadly I didn’t take photos of) were extremely creative. Some of them had to do with “Game Of Thrones”, some of them had cute puns, and one of them was decorated to look like the baby had made a huge mess all over everything. It was fun watching other people decorate them and I was happy with what I created.

After that, the food came out. It was some delicious Mediterranean food like salad, chicken, pitas, and hummus. There was also a dessert table with cupcakes, fruit, and sweet treats. I got a plate of food and found a table to sit at with some new people. So we all went around saying how we knew Erin and Ace and sharing random stories about being in the entertainment industry (most people at the party were actors).

When we were done eating, Erin and Ace went up to give a little speech about how grateful they are for everyone who was there and how we are their LA family. Neither of their families live super close to LA so they have created their own family out of their friends. And I’m so honored to be one of those people. Both Erin and Ace have been amazing friends to me and I really have gotten to know each of them really well in the past few years. And they are both people I know I could count on if I needed something. So I would be willing to help them out in any way I could and I know that everyone else at the party feels the same way.

After everyone had eaten and decorated onesies, the party started to wind down a bit. I went over to Erin and Ace to say goodbye and to let them know how much fun I had and how honored I was to be invited to the baby shower. And they looked so adorable that I had to get a photo of them.

They are seriously such a great couple and I know their baby is going to be awesome! And I have seen all the incredible people they have in their LA family that will help them out and make sure that their son is loved so much. And I’m excited for them to have the baby so I can celebrate them even more!

More Medical Stuff (or My First Biopsy)

Heads up to everyone: Just like with my IUD post, this post is a frank and honest discussion about a biopsy I had done. If the idea of reading about medical procedures or female health makes you uncomfortable or squeamish, you might want to skip this post.

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of random medical conditions and medical tests. I joke to my parents that this has happened to me because I was raised in a family that worked in the medical field so somehow everything seems to happen to me. More often than not, I’m not that concerned about what I find out because I can talk to my parents and get a lot of answers. The only thing that really scared me recently was my tumor, but everything else has been something I just viewed as something new to experience and not something to be fearful of what I will find out.

Last year at my annual appointment with my OB/GYN, I had all the regular tests run as I try to stay on top of all health things including my reproductive health. Everything came back fine, but my OB/GYN let me know that I tested positive for high-risk HPV. For those of you who don’t know that is, here’s some quick information about it (for more information, check out this page). High risk HPV is not the type that can give you warts (that’s low risk HPV). High risk HPV is something that approximately 90% of women will get at one point (currently there is no test for men to see if they have it, but I’d bet numbers are similar). It is contracted by skin to skin contact and a majority of people will fight it off on their own in 1-3 years. If you can’t fight it off, it can lead to cancer but HPV only causes about 3% of cancer in women.

I have no idea who exposed me to this, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s normally not something to worry about. I did have the HPV vaccine when I was 24, but that doesn’t protect you against all strains of high risk or low risk HPV. That’s why it’s so important to get checked every year to make sure you are fine. When I was told about this last year, I also knew my Pap smear came back normal so it wasn’t something we had to take action on immediately. My OB/GYN let me know that if my body didn’t fight it off in a year then we would have some more steps to take.

And as much as I would have loved for my body to fight it off within a year, I knew that with my history and the odds I seem to have that it wouldn’t be the case. And I was right. I tested positive for it again with another normal Pap smear. But because my OB/GYN wants to make sure that everything is fine with me and I want to do what I need to do to make sure I’m healthy, I had my first biopsy last week.

I was very fortunate that not only do I have an amazing OB/GYN who is super open and honest with me and could tell me everything I needed to, I was able to talk to my parents about this as well as some friends who have had it done. I knew that this was not being done because my doctor was worried about me but as a precaution to make sure there is nothing we need to watch (kind of the same reason I get mammograms). I still was nervous that this would hurt, but I had been told by friends that getting an IUD was worse so I knew I would be fine with just some painkillers and I could drive myself.

While I wasn’t scared for the results, I was nervous about the procedure and the room I was in for it seemed a bit scarier that the normal exam room to me.

But there wasn’t really anything too scary. I think it was more of being in a room that I hadn’t been in before and the unknown factor. I joked to my doctor that of course she put me in the scary room but she calmed me down quickly and we got started with the biopsy.

The procedure only took a few minutes and it wasn’t that bad. After getting the speculum in, my cervix was washed with a vinegar solution that helps make the cells easier to see. This didn’t hurt and wasn’t uncomfortable, it was just a bit cold. Then my doctor used a colposcope to see my cervix better. The colposcope is a machine that helps to illuminate and magnify things for your doctor. That was also when my doctor decided which biopsies I would need. She determined that I would not need the biopsy where they take a sample from the bottom of my cervix to check the cells as everything looked normal. Then we moved on to the biopsy I did have done.

The biopsy I had took cells from the inside of my cervix where you really can’t see the cells during the exam. There was a small tool used to scrape some of the cells off, similar to what is done during a Pap smear. But this was a little bit longer so I was prepared for it to be more than a tiny pinch. I knew it probably wouldn’t hurt, but of course I was worried that it would. But my friends were right and it didn’t hurt. I did feel it and it was a bit uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t say it was painful. I described it to my doctor as almost like a headache or scratch happening inside my body. It was about 10 seconds long and then that was done. I did feel a bit of a cramp when I sat up after the biopsy and I had some cramps for the next few days, but it wasn’t bad and I didn’t really need painkillers for that long.

Because my Pap smears have been normal and everything looked normal with the visual exam, my doctor is expecting my biopsy to come back normal as well. And if that happens, I go back in a year for my normal exam and hopefully my tests will show that my body has fought off the high risk HPV. And even if the biopsy shows that there are mild abnormality in the cells, I don’t have to go back for a year. It’s only if they appear severely abnormal that I would go back soon for another test. But again, that is not something my doctor is expecting because of all the normal test results I have had.

I should be getting my biopsy results back in the next few days (things were delayed because of the weekend and holiday). And hopefully next year all my tests will come back normal so I don’t have to do another biopsy. But if I do, at least I know what it’s like now and I don’t need to be scared. And I know that for most people hearing a test result isn’t normal or negative can be scary. I wanted to share my experience so others can know it doesn’t need to be. While I don’t love having random medical things happen to me, I’m glad that I can share on here so hopefully someone else going through it can see what I went through and can stop feeling as scared.