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.

SURPRISE PARTY! Pt. 1

SECRETS REVEALED! I am so happy to share with you one of my big secrets! I think I’ve built suspense long enough, so let’s get right to it:

I’m honored to have become a contributing writer for Laini’s Little Pocket Guide website! If you live in the Lehigh Valley, you’re likely familiar with the printed books. If you’re not familair, let me explain: Laini and her team have assembled handy pocket-size guidebooks for the three big Lehigh Valley cities – Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

These books are full of town history, quirky facts (like the proper way to drive around the Easton Circle) and list many of the businesses, shops, galleries and restaurants in the area. Everything mentioned is an independent or family-owned business. The books can be picked up at said businesses all over the Lehigh Valley, and sell for $4.99.

I met with Laini last week and within seconds of knowing her, her vibrant personality and passion about this part of Pennsylvania came through. Her wild red hair suits her perfectly, and her excitement for all the incredible things happening in the Valley stirs up a contagious thrill.

The print guides now have a corresponding website that just launched about a month ago, and I have jumped eagerly on board to write for it!  This project is so exciting because it’s about promoting and supporting the community. It’s about getting people excited to live here, and revealing all the little places tucked away that even us natives aren’t familiar with. (Thanks to the Easton guide, last night I tried a new thai vegetarian restaurant I’ve never been to! It’s only been about eight miles away all this time!)

Please keep an eye out for the pocket guides at independent business everywhere (and Wegmans, too). They make great references for people that seek to fall in love with the Valley all over again.

My first article was posted today. You can find that and more information on the pocket guides here (and become Facebook fans for latest updates and events!):

http://www.littlepocketguide.com/

(STAY TUNED later today for the unveiling of a brand new project!!!)