One Lady, Ready To Rock.

I was going to write an entry about my time in the hospital but then I thought about the most important lesson that I learned there, and that’s that the past is done. So fuck it.

5150 finished, my time has been paid, but the bills haven’t rolled in yet. I’m not sure how we’ll deal with that yet, but we’ll figure it out. I have faith in us, in G-d, in my friends, and in the Universe to provide.

I think the most important thing is that I’ve made new friends, most importantly with myself. I’ve finally stopped blaming myself for things that were never my fault to begin with. I have at least a modicum of self respect, and for that I am thankful. I have definitely made the best of my situation.

I’m starting to regain certain memories, and certain parts of my personality, I’m feeling more comfortable with. I’d almost entirely forgotten the time I’d spent living on my own as an adult. I make more sense to myself now overall, and even if there are things I dislike about me, I finally get why it used to take me almost 2 hours to go grocery shopping. If I didn’t remember what Mom bought, I had to make the most educated choice about which product was better, and figuring out which product is better objectively is very time consuming when you’re savvy about how marketing works and you take it down to nutritional labels.

I’m also really glad that Adam and Tim both helped me paint my apartment when I lived by myself. I really liked having walls that were colors that I liked. I remember painting “I love Adam” in the purple in my bedroom wall.

Anyway, I’m ready to get back to being myself. And the Rachael I know likes kick ass rock and roll, but the one whose life I’ve been living hasn’t gotten to rock out in any sort of meaningful way since ’02. That’s damn near 10 years. It’s pitiful. Music isn’t supposed to be a lonely thing, done in quiet isolation – a shame kept to one’s self until it is perfected. Just like dance, it has to have its jiggle.

That being said: I have a damn near empty calendar, a sparkly guitar that I’m mediocre at, a really old midi keyboard, and a voice that absolutely begs to be used for rock and roll and enough songs with good lyrics (but no under music written) to choke a goat (No, I don’t know what that means either.). I’d really like to jam with someone.

I wrote something I think might be decent this morning but it’s just a start to something. I’m thinking I’ll play around with Garageband.

A Drop of Wisdom Sent Through The Ages

I had the chance to talk to my Poppy today.

It’s very rare that we actually spend a good 30 minutes on the phone together, but it happened today. During the discussion he said something to me that was so simple and profound that I thought it merited repeating here, because I wanted to keep it so that I don’t ever forget it.

He told me, sadly, and in a voice much more shaky than I have ever heard from him, that most people die unhappy, mourning the changes they could not make to the world. And that the harder you fight to change everything around you, the more the world will fight back against you, and suck the life and the happiness right out of you.

He reminded me that one person, alone, only has so much energy to give, and can only effect so much change. He told me that he’s seen too many truly wonderful people get the wind taken right out of them fighting against things that simply cannot be affected by their anger and rage, no matter how righteous their indignation may be, and instead, he watched them become consumed by it – ultimately becoming the victim of their own upset.

And then came the moment that was ultimately important to me in teaching me the lesson that I share with you now. He let me know that to tell me all of this hurt him greatly because it forced him to mourn the things about the world and in life that he could not change, much as he wishes that he could — and he assured me, by the age of 93, it was quite a bit more than I would imagine.

I realized at that moment, what he was trying to tell me – the best, and only way to live a good life.

To live happily, you must focus most of your efforts on doing the things that make you cheerful and happy and on encouraging others to do the same.

You must focus on making a positive difference by affecting things you know you can change, and forget about things you personally cannot change (or do your best to make fun of them or cope with them as best you can).

Everything else is noise. Ambiance. Window dressing.

I am very lucky to have my Poppy. He’s lived through a lot. Seen a lot of different times and a lot of different attitudes in this country. Getting his perspective, which is a world and a half away from mine at times, grounds me in a way that I wish my whole generation could have.

To realize that our grandparents grew up during an alcohol prohibition, and when women “knew their place” and kids were to be seen and not heard, and when black people were “coloreds,” and none of what I just said was offensive — it’s hard for me to wrap my head around. To say “It was a different time, and this was a different country,” is to understate so grossly, it’s laughable.

Right now, I’m fighting the good fight within myself to find out what happiness means to me. It’s something different for everybody. I know it means getting to know my family and really being present as a good friend for the people who I love. (I was in law school and then so sick w/ seizures that I’ve been a non-present friend for a long time.)

That’s step one.

I honestly believe that by taking the time to be a happier, healthier me that I give others permission to do the same, and even that one positive change, passed along, can help improve the world.

If every day, you do one thing to add happiness or whimsy to your world or to someone else’s, the world will be a kinder place.

Science is so supercool!

Have you checked out 23 and me?

Right now, for $99 (and $9 a month to continue to get the Personal Genome Service updates), you can find out your carrier status for 24 diseases, your disease risk for 98 others (MS included!), your responsiveness to 19 drugs, and 49 genetically inherited traits: including whether or not you’re carrying the gene for male pattern baldness!

Heck, they’ll even hook you up with your extended family that you didn’t know you had, so long as they’re also 23 and me members. (You know you’re related when the genes say so!)

It also gives you an opportunity to give more info to your doctors, and to help research along the way.

So, for a complete cost of just under $220, you get an awful lot of potentially useful information about yourself. I think it’s something I’d like to do and have Adam do before we start trying for a baby. Why not see what our 2 DNA samples have going for them before we smack em together?

And yeah. You read the b word. Don’t get too excited. It’s a ways off. πŸ™‚ I’d have to come off my seizure meds, my antidepressants, and Copaxone… But motherhood is definitely visible in the distance.

Dr. Oz’s Show on Medical Marijuana

Hey everybody!

My momma let me know that Dr. Oz did a show the other day on medical marijuana, and she was all excited because with me having MS & seizure disorder (and currently dealing with PTSD, though it’s starting to get much better!), it’s been a 180 in my family’s ethics going from a hardcore straight-edge no-drugs stance to being happy with the effects of medicinal cannabis, which has greatly improved the quality of my life. (One of the benefits of livin in CA!)

I believe that the decriminalization of medical marijuana is not only important but necessary to help thousands of people who share similar pains to me. Some of you might be interested in seeing the clips from the show too, so I tried to put them in the order of the show for you.

Medical Marijuana: The Hot Debate, Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana: The Hot Debate, Pt 2.
Montel makes the best points ever about how medical MJ helps and the current hypocrisy in federal law.)

Medical Marijuana and MS: One Woman’s Story,Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana and MS: One Woman’s Story,Pt 2.
My theory is that the bald guy with the glasses is totally unaware that he is the epitome of what a TV pinhead is supposed to be. Real asshole or paid asshole? You tell me. πŸ™‚

Marijuana: Why It’s Prescribed, Pt 1.

Marijuana: Why It’s Prescribed, Pt 2.
This video actually has an epilepsy patient in it!

My seizure disorder is very similar to epilepsy and reacts very much like it. The only major difference between my seizure disorder and epilepsy is that it is not considered epilepsy because the electric activity of my seizures lines up directly with the footprint of the lesions in my brain that were caused by my MS. This is why the Ketogenic Diet (which was developed by my neurologist) won’t work for me, and why many of the usual medications that help folks with epilepsy tend to not work for me. Fortunately medical marijuana does! πŸ™‚

Medical Marijuana: Is It Safe? Pt 1.

Medical Marijuana: Is It Safe? Pt 2.

Medical Marijuana: What This Means to Your State

Also, I thought folks might be interested in what states currently allow medical marijuana and what the laws are, so here is the NORML page that keeps current on all of that.

I hope y’all enjoy! Happy Saturday!

Time for Free Dental Care & Happiness!

Apparently, Walgreens and CVS have decided that this is the week to get new toothbrushes and toothpaste, for cheap as almost free!

Time to get our dental care on!!!

First, head over to CVS. Go to the register with $2.
Buy 1 GUM Eez-Thru Flossers (75-150 ct) at $2, Get $2 Extra Care Bucks on your card. (Limit 2)
(Your money is basically going straight on your card.)
Free flossers, though it feels like you just paid for them, because your $2 is now on your CVS Extra Care card.

Then go back to the register for your next transaction.
Buy 1 Oral-B Manual Toothbrush (1 ct) at $2.99, and CVS will give you $0.99 in Extra Care Bucks (Limit 2)
Use $2 coupon from the 4/3 P&G insert (Or go to Procter & Gamble Everyday Solutions and put your CVS card in there and add the Proctor & Gamble coupon there!)
Free toothbrush after coupon and ECBs!
With this one, if you don’t have the coupon, the ECBs from the flossers will pay for the toothbrush. It’s just not free then, it’s $2 – but P&G has the $2 coupon on the website and it was in papers last week.

If my CVS math is correct, you’ll be leaving CVS having spent $1, and you’ll leave with $2 on your Extra Care card. In your shopping bag, you’ll have a bag of GUM Eez-Thru Flossers and a new Oral-B Manual Toothbrush! πŸ™‚

Next stop: Walgreens!

Go to the register with $2 and change for tax.
Buy 1 Colgate Maxfresh, MaxWhite or MaxClean Toothpaste at $2.99, Get $3 Register Rewards
Use $1.00 off Colgate toothpaste coupon from the 4/3 insert
It’s like getting it free plus overage after coupon and Register Rewards.

The best part about this deal is that, like the GUM flossers at CVS, if you do not have a coupon, it’s an even exchange of money-to-Register Rewards, and if you *do* have a coupon, you’re making money off of Walgreens. If you happen to have several of these coupons, you can actually get a lot of toothpaste this way and rack up a bunch of Register Rewards.

Walgreens’s customer appreciation program is different from CVS’s in that register rewards puts the appreciation money in your hand in the form of a redeemable coupon for your next purchase, rather than putting it on a card, so it makes the responsibility of keeping up with the Register Rewards your responsibility, and it makes the “need” to spend those rewards seem much more immediate. This can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing. It’s good, in that it helps to remember to do discrete transactions, which is how you can really make the most of playing the pharmacy shopping game. It’s bad in that it can lead to making impulse purchases of things you don’t really need or want. Be careful of that! πŸ™‚

Go back to the register and buy 2 Colgate Toothbrushes at $2.50 each ($5), to receive another $3 in Register Rewards.
Use 2 $1/1 coupon from the 3/27 SmartSource insert
Free after coupons and the $3 in Register Rewards from your first purchase. And you’ll walk away with a voucher for $3 off your next Walgreens purchase (Which can go a surprisingly long way…)

So it looks like, at least this week, for less than $5, you can get flossers, toothpaste, and at least two new toothbrushes. Not bad, really. πŸ™‚

So that’s one thing that’s making me happy.

I’ve been taking time every day to think about what’s making me happy. It’s a practice that I have been doing with my friends on the Epilepsy forum of Patients Like Me. I find that by focusing on what things are making me genuinely smile, I’ve been able to help other people find the things that make them smile too. I figured, why not share it here too? More smiles = More happy, and as is widely accepted as truth, More happy = Good for everybody.

So, what’s making me happy today?

I had tea yesterday with my friend Emi. (Don’t we sound so classy and almost British? Really, it was just 2 ladies chillin out on the couch with yummy food and good tea!)

Spending time with a good friend always makes me very happy, but Emi is excellent at raising my spirits. She’s a very creative, sensitive, artistic and caring person. While she was here, she told me her newest affirmation. “I am Equal to the Challenge.” I loved it and decided to adopt it immediately.

I wrote it on my bathroom mirror (that’s where I usually put my affirmations so that I remember to think about them), and this morning, it made me smile great big because it reminded me that I have a good friend who lives close enough that I can call her to visit, and that when it comes down to it, I really am equal to the challenges that are set before me, even if I don’t always feel like it. If you ask me, that is a fantastic thing to keep me happy not only today but for several days to come.

I hope that whoever reads this chooses to take the affirmation for themselves if they have any doubts within their hearts as to whether or not they are capable of handling the weight or intensity of the pressures that life has given them. Just repeating that phrase in my mind: “I am equal to the challenge at hand” makes me feel strong and capable.

So, what’s making your Friday happy?


The Los Angeles Area 2011 WalkMS Event was this past Sunday, and while I was really hoping for a bigger in-person team turn out, I was thrilled to have a good friend come and walk with me and my husband.

Adam and I met up with my good buddy Jarrod at the Registration area.

We walked over to the tents where there were vendors and areas for the larger teams.

Vita Coco was handing out samples of all of their flavors. I really enjoyed the plain flavor, surprisingly enough.

You can also see in this picture that I was totally in costume for the event as team leader for Team Spinal Tap!

Aside from stealing Adam’s Proud to Be Awesome t-shirt, I had on my hillbilly-rock cowgirl hat, my pvc skirt, and some opaque tights with heavier makeup on the eyes and lips. It’s the kind of thing I’d wear on stage to rock out!

Adam and Jarrod also got into the spirit by wearing clothes that they’d wear on stage if they were in a rock band with me. Adam, though not pictured, was rockin a Schwarzenator t-shirt (so much love for my Berklee boys!!!) to boot.

There were so many families there with strollers. Check out the sweet little baby on the right in this picture! Couldn’t have been more than a couple of months old. It was really fantastic to see how many people were there to support research and development for a cure. It made me really hopeful about my future and how kids will fit into it.

I know what you’re thinking. “THIS IS THE LINE FOR LUNCH!?!?” Thankfully, no. Everyone sort of meandered to the end on their own time, so getting lunch at the end was really easy. πŸ™‚ They served bowls of penne and sauce and Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think those really go together, so I opted for the salad. Adam opted for the penne.

We also got to try some of the new Zevia soda. I had always wondered why there weren’t any diet sodas out there sweetened with stevia. Now I know why! πŸ˜‰ Some things just aren’t made to go together. Stevia as a sweetener and “cola” flavoring are those two things, I think. I heard more positive rumblings about the citrusy flavors though. I just couldn’t hang with the cola though, as much as I do genuinely like stevia as a sweetener. I also don’t drink much in the fizzy-drink arena.

All in all, it was a great day! πŸ™‚ It was fun to see the other teams, some of whom were in fun costumes too. I got lots of high-fives from strangers for the note I had pinned on my back; I got a medal at the end; and I raised money for MS research. All in all, not too shabby. πŸ™‚

Togas, and cookies, and games! Oh My!

Yesterday was a great day. Today is going to be good too. I can just feel it.

I got to play Sims 3 with Adam, where we finally got Rayven MacGruth pregnant with baby #5! Clan MacGruth is FULL UP on human-vampire hybrid babies who, prior to graduating high school, are pinging level 10 in freakin’ everything. It’s crazy and hilarious, both because of the fashions I have made in the game and the level of intense nit-pickiness I have with each character’s action.

I’ve never had such an appropriate outlet for my ridiculous bossy streak — this game totally quells the desire to micromanage in my life. (Though I must admit, I can get sucked in for hours at a time) The real-life children I have not yet borne should be so thankful for this over-achieving vampire/human family rockband! I am asserting total insano control over them, so if all is good and well by the time my real-life family comes around, I will have worked out all of this freakish "playing benevolent God" business with the 21st century equivalent of paper dolls.

I also have finally written out my cookie recipe and put it in the family recipe box I started on Google Docs. Adam and I made them last night, and I have already lost count of how many I’ve eaten and I remember why I started absolutely loving exercising: because it means I get to eat whatever I want!!! (These cookies are awesome but not calorie, fat, or guilt-free!)

So, I have decided that since I’m going to be achy/hurty and at least partially cranky on the inside all the time anyway, I’m getting back to spending at least an hour at the gym at least 3 days a week, even if I’m tired, because if I’m gonna be tired and achy anyway, I may as well be doing it AND working out, so that I can eat whatever I want without guilt. If I have to take extra B12 or caffeinated beverages to get into the gym, I’ll do it. Once I’m there, it helps me feel better and do more. I’ve been feeling worse about myself and life since I let feeling bad stop me from moving. And that’s crap!!! Feeling bad AND feeling bad about yourself is no way to live your life when you can choose the contrary.

I also got invited to a toga party! YAY FOR TOGAS! I love making togas! They’re so easy to make, comfortable to wear, and so much fun. Costume parties always mean people are more silly and are letting their hair down, and the underlying code of a Toga party is always "Roman debauchery" which means that if at any time I feel like simply plotzing on a couch, like a lazy pile of poop, I am totally acting appropriately! It also means that it’s time for more energy drink, but that’s neither here nor there. πŸ™‚ Things like this make me smile.

Fun toga facts from :

Did you know that the colors of toga’s worn in ancient times discriminated between classes and professions?

There was only one sombre color allowed for peasants.
Officers were permitted to have 2 colors.
Clan commanders generally wore 3 colors.
The Imperial household could wear up to 7 colors.
Plain white was the color of choice of soothsayers.
Black was worn by theologians.
Philosphers kept to blue.
Green was the color of choice of medical practitioners.

Here’s how you do it.

For the Ladies:

For the Gentlemen:

And for folks who hate video (you poor things!):

How to Make a Toga Costume for Women
How to Tie a Woman’s Toga
How to Make a Toga Out of a Sheet for a Woman
How to Wear A Roman Toga

Tomorrow is WalkMS 2011 Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl!!!
It’s not too late to donate or to join my team.
Right now, I’m walking with my husband and my buddy Jarrod, and the hundreds of folks who show up to support the fight against MS. I don’t particularly care if you’re adding money to the NMSS till, but I’d love to have friends come and walk with me.