SERENDIPITY (THE PINK DRAGON): One Year Changes Everything

Confession: I didn’t really know what “serendipity” meant until I saw that John Cusack movie. To this day, when I hear the word I remember a video I loved when I was a kid. My mom and I would walk to the local tape rental store – remember those? – and I’d usually pick out a Faerie Tale Theatre movie or Serendipity the Pink Dragon.

Yesterday I had a day that can I can only describe as serendipitous. “Making fortunate discoveries by accident.” I’m having a hard time finding a way to write about this without sounding like I’m bragging, and I hope if you continue to read you’ll see this post for it’s intention – which is to highlight the incredible things that can happen in a short period of time, the way life can absolutely transform when you work hard to fix the parts that you’re able to fix.

And I hope you’ll stick through this til the end when I explain why all of this happening on the same day is such a beautiful coincidence.

My morning began by meeting Jon and the excellent crew of GreenLeaf Productions in Easton, where I was interviewed and taped for Steelstacks Live (airing locally/going online in February)! Everyone was so friendly and it made me miss all the fancy video production equipment when I was getting my Communications degree.

This venue will open in May 2011. It's going to be amazing!

I was invited to stay to watch a band performance that was taped after me. The music was so good, like Will Oldham and the Great Lake Swimmers and Neil Young all rolled into one. It sounded the way September feels at 7pm.  The studio is in an old church that was breathtaking, and the morning overcast sun came through the stained glass windows making an incredible backdrop.

Have you ever been in a place that is just buzzing with positive, creative energy and you can actually feel it course through your veins?

I went into my favorite Easton Cafe to do some writing, wondering if I’d run into my friend Laini who’s office is right across the street. After 2 hours, as I was about to pack up and leave, she came walking past the window with her gorgeous dog Boomer. I told her what I’d done that morning, why I was in town, and then she got excited and made me an incredible offer. “Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before! I need someone to write a feature article for the next Bethlehem book about ArtsQuest and Steelstacks. Would you want to do it?”

Laini, the sweetest pea in the pod! The new Easton book was just released, be sure to pick up a copy!

As if she needed to ask! Let me explain why this is so big: Laini is the woman behind the Little Pocket Guides, books that come out annually that are directories of all local businesses and services. It’s an up to date list of independent shops, galleries and restaurants, and Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown all have their own books. They are printed by the tens of thousands and sold in locations all over the LV, as well as getting directly mailed to residents. So I get to write this feature for a book/project that values this Valley and the spirit of community (and get paid, too!). I was (am) humbled and excited and immediately called my mother.

While my head was still in the cumulous clouds of the beauty  of the day, in the evening I checked my email only to receive another incredible, truly sensational opportunity.

The editor in chief of Lehigh Valley Style magazine (a gorgeous glossy page monthly magazine, and best selling local publication) wrote to ask me if I’d be interested in being featured in an upcoming issue. I will be interviewed, a photographer will come to my home to shoot photos of me cooking and of my food, and I will get three recipes printed in the issue.

(pause for taking all of this in)

(still trying to wrap my head around this day)

When I called Ryan to tell him about all of this, he asked “Geez, what did you DO today?” and that’s when it hit me. That day. January 6th. The realization gave me goosebumps. Here’s why:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Exactly one year ago on January 6th, 2010 I began a journey of treatment for anxiety and depression that had become so crippling it nearly cost me my job as I had become a “vegetable” (no pun intended) of a person. I took a medical leave from work for quite a while and went into an intensive program that changed my life, and began really putting in the hard work to help myself get better.

(Why does it feel so strange to talk about and admit mental illness? If someone has a disease like MS or cancer or diabetes, we  can respond with concern, care and help. Why is mental illness treated like something we need to “just get over”, why is it so common to look at someone with this illness and roll your eyes and think “What do you have to be sad about?” without knowing any contributing factors or personal triggers, by assuming that just because someone has elements of their life they are happy with, they “shouldn’t” feel the way they feel, as if it’s all controlled?)

I’ve mentioned it before, but when I began Save the Kales! (a year old next month!) it stemmed from having been at a point in which everything I loved and had interest in suddenly had negative connotations and lead to severe panic attacks. I had to hide away all my design books, abandon my home and stay elsewhere leaving behind all of my things because even driving down the street I lived on made me ill, completely stop listening to music, among other things. Everything I loved became poison.

Except cooking and writing. Those were still inherently mine.

In the past year I have put in a tremendous amount of work to get myself healthy, change the things I didn’t like, fall in love with my community, and begin projects like this that gave me a new reason to get up in the morning. Days like yesterday have proved how much the hard work has paid off, how many improvements I’ve made and that when you begin to value yourself and your life others can do the same.

I’m so excited to continue to improve myself and work toward making a living doing what I love. Thank you so much for being a part of the journey of healing the past, maintaining wellness now, and looking forward on what is surely proving to be an unbelievably wonderful future.

A year can change so much, and I believe you can begin the process of making your life everything you want, too.

39 thoughts on “SERENDIPITY (THE PINK DRAGON): One Year Changes Everything

  1. Jaime!!! Congratulations on such wonderful news, your year of healing, working hard and being an inspiration to all of us!!! It has been a pleasure getting to know you through reading your blogs which I look forward to!! Yay, I am so excited for you!!! And that’s alot of exclamation points, HA!

  2. Well said, well done and Congratulations.

    As far as odd occurrences go, I wrote a piece on my blog today about the very same subject matter and I have to thank you again for being out there with me and helping me by doing what you are doing.

    Also, September at 7PM is a fantastic image.

    • Thank you, friend. I remember you were one of the first serious bloggers I met and you told me great tales about how it changed and improved your life so much. I know what you mean, sir, I know what you mean. Keep inspiring people, keep doing what you do because it is important to YOU above all else. 🙂

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  5. What a remarkable young woman you are, Jaime! At your tender age – I would have NEVER attempted to do and realize what you have done and become! As soon as I finish this comment, I am mailing this blog widely to those I know who are my age (59) and who still bravely struggle with similar issues – and esPecially to all the young people I know to remind them not to give up! Unending gratitude to you for your gift and for sharing it. 🙂 xoxokt

    • Karen, wow what a comment. Thanks for sharing this with others, and for being so awesome and supportive and positive! Everyone has issues of some sort, but I’ve learned you can’t “become” your diagnosis. We can spend time feeling like things are unfair, or we can do the best we can in spite of things that may in fact be unfair. Thank you for your kindness and great spirit 🙂

    • I have met so many incredible people by volunteering, getting involved and being proactive. Anyone can do it, you just have to make the time and follow through. Thanks for the congratulations!

  6. This is great! I’m so happy for you and all you were(are) able to accomplish!
    I know it’s hard when you are at your lowest to push through. I have been there & back so many times.
    But I never give up & you never did…and look how life has rewarded you! Congrats on all your hard work paying off 🙂

    • If you ever want to talk, Sara, please let me know. It can feel strange to discuss these things when it’s easy to be paranoid someone else won’t understand or think you’re just being silly. I would love to hear your story (only if you ever wanted to share, of course) – keep being awesome! Thank you for saying hello and joining the crusade! 🙂

      • That would be nice…but I’m not sure of the right time or place. Maybe joining for a cup of coffee one day. If that sounds alright? I appreciate your kind words. 🙂 And congrats again!

  7. I think everyone already covered what I wanted to say. Kudos to you hunny! You are such an inspiration, thank you for sharing all of this and doing what you do. It gives me so much hope after the past two crazy years I’ve had (with the exception of Rivers coming along of course!) I truly feel 2011 has a lot in store, but I also agree it is the individual who makes it happen. You can’t just sit back and think things are going to go your way, you need to take life with both of your bare hands and grab hold of it! Life is what you make it, and I’m so proud of you for showing us how in one year EVERYTHING can turn a full 180 degrees… all because you said it would. Cheers my friend!! 🙂 and hugs and congrats for these wonderful happenings! Serendipity is so real, as is karma both good and bad, I think anyway! (and for the record- you were totally NOT bragging, you are just excited!! hehe)

    • I think you nailed it, Jen. This was one of the first years of my life I actually DID STUFF instead of complain and whine and feel entitled to things and then wonder why opportunities and friends and good fortune weren’t just landing in my lap. Taking action for improving your life is incredible. Not only do you have the obvious good of, well, improving things, but doing it on your own, because you know you need to – not FOR or BECAUSE OF anyone but yourself.

      When I stood back and looked at the person I thought I was and the person I ACTUALLY was, there was a massive disconnect. I had no choice but to do whatever I had to in order to actually live out my ethics and values and dreams instead of just being disillusioned that they already existed or would magically come to me. Checking in with yourself and doing an evaluation every now and again is a really hard, but really refreshing thing. It’s a new chance.

      You have been such a friend to me since I’ve had the pleasure to meet you (and that cutie pie of yours), thank you so much for always being a fair and supportive person.

    • How about it, right!? I get so excited when I think of things to come I actually have trouble sleeping. Thank you so much, you’ve been someone who has helped me navigate the sometimes wacky world of blogging, and have always offered positive thoughts. I am so appreciative of that 🙂

  8. You have a wonderful blog. You are a gifted writer. You get the whole local food thing. Although I have never met you, I always loved reading your blog. It gave me a sense of comfort and home to hear about what you were cooking and see your amazing photos. I had no idea how you were struggling. I was struggling too.
    I also really commend you for your honesty in talking about your mental illness. I think the big difference between you and Andrew Kleiner on one hand and the other bloggers in the region on the other hand, is that you two are open about your mental illness.

    • Thank you so incredibly much for what kind, caring words you have said. A long time ago I realized that this would no longer be a blog simply about food, but about growth as a a person, about building community (online and in real life), and above ALL else, compassion. For animals, for the earth, and certainly for people. It’s strange to write about something like that in such a public way – but I agree that this is something that affects more people than we know, and perhaps by being honest about it (and also about the aid of treatment, a great counselor, and going through the process of healing yourself, which means dealing with all the gross stuff you may try to deny or are ashamed of) someone else can relate at the least, and feel supported to begin to find help at best.

      I truly appreciate your kindness, thank you for being a part of this 🙂

  9. Hey!! I read the Serendipity books! Didn’t know about a video…

    I’m making it to the LeHigh Valley this weekend, finally (hopefully)! Any awesome suggestions besides Vegan Treats?

    • YES!!! Let’s see: If you are looking for really fancy dinner, you can try Bolete. It’s farm to table and they will make you vegan stuff if you just ask! Entrees are a bit pricey (between $20-25 for a vegan dish), but it’s atmospheric and truly and EXPERIENCE. But if you’re thinking more budget friendly stuff… Sheesh there’s a lot of them, whats your email? I’ll try to make a list as concise as possible 🙂 YAY, WELCOME!

      • I forgot to check ‘notify’! We’re headed out today – and might even stop my that new hope resto for lunch on the way (from your latest post) my email is pamela dot selle at gmail tho 🙂

      • Oh that’s awesome, well I hope you had a good time and if you ended up going to eat in New Hope please let me/us know what you thought. I LOVED it and will use that as an excuse to take many more daytrips there (as if I needed another reason, but you know).

  10. Annnd, I got to excited by the dragon I didn’t finish. Obviously I should grab a pocket guide that you will future-ly write for (but I’d still love your suggestions)! Congrats on everything!

  11. First of all, it’s fantastic to hear that your hard work is paying off. Such exciting opportunities! I look forward to hearing how you and others are revitalizing the Lehigh Valley.

    Also, thank you for sharing your struggle with and your recovery from mental illness. I understand the difficulty of disclosing that information… I was diagnosed with major depression 10 years ago and then with bipolar disorder 2 years ago. It’s been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. In the past, I was scared to talk about it. People tend to fear what they don’t understand… and MANY people don’t understand this. However, people who have a family member or friend with mental illness are much more accepting. So the more we “come out” to others, the less people believe the myths and the less we’re discriminated against. Again, thank you for sharing this. You’re proof that seeking help and engaging in your treatment DOES work. We can recover and still accomplish our goals and make our dreams come true. 🙂

    • I have learned so many incredible things through counseling/books/ and amazing programs while I was in intensive treatment, and some of the things (among a million) that stuck with me are:

      1) You are NOT your diagnosis. You should never say “Oh, that’s because I’m bipolar…” or whatever because it’s easy to succumb to just being a victim and saying Well, there’s nothing I can do! That doesn’t mean you click your heels together and it’s better (and I still have days where I just don’t do what I want to because it’s particularly bad), but it’s about not falling into a trap of using it as an excuse. Being bipolar, or depressed, or whatever isn’t WHO YOU ARE, it’s simply a part of you. Yes, maybe things will be more difficult, but you can’t just sit around feeling like everything is helpless because of it.

      Which leads into the next thing….

      2) DO IT first and then you’ll feel motivated, instead of waiting to feel motivated to do something. It can be really hard (I know this so well… it can be reeeeaaalllllyyyyyyyy hard sometimes) to get out of bed, put on clothes, and leave the house to be productive/meet friends/go to a job/whatever if you’re not feeling fell. You may think “I’m just going to wait here until I feel better.” But it works SO much better the other way. If you can find enough within you to get up and get started, most times the feeling good comes flooding in!

      Mental illness can be tricky, but nothin’ we can’t handle!

  12. I rarely write responses, but i did some searching and wound up here SERENDIPITY (THE PINK DRAGON): One Year Changes
    Everything | Save the Kales!. And I actually do have a few questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it look as if like a few of these comments come across like coming from brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of your community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    • HELLO, forgive this delayed reply. I was taking a bit of a blogging/internet break (it was lovely, though I missed wonderful comments like this.)

      Those comments are from so long ago, and 1) I can track where most come from, how embarrassing for those people, eh? and 2) jealousy/insecurity with oneself can make someone do wacky things. If only those were the worst comments since this blog began! 😉

      Thank you so, so much. I’m very excited to get back into writing on this blog after a few weeks off, and your comment made me all the more excited. That means an awful lot. ❤ I do sporadic freelance work, but I'm also on all social media-app things (except for a private instagram), but twitter, pinterest, vine, etc. are all there at Save the Kales.

      Please have a beautiful day, I hope someone surprises you and makes you feel as happy as this made me 🙂

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