Thursday, July 26, 2012



When: We (Shannon and I) were 16 the first time we met the Gypsy Kings as I discussed in the first portion of this story DANCE ON STAGE AT A CONCERT . I think the second time we met them we were 17.

Where: DTE and I can't remember the other venue. [Michigan]

Why I wanted to do this: Both times it actually just fell into our laps! On both accounts the manager of the group approached us and gave us back stage passes.

Cost: Free!

What would I do differently? I remember thinking that we should quickly run to the store and get a camera but both times we were worried we'd lose our spot. It would have been neat to have pictures to share with you.

Was it life changing? I guess not really. It was fun and interesting...but I did learn a little lesson about naivety. And it's always so cool when I see the Gypsy Kings doing an interview on Regis and Kelly or Good Morning America, I think about our wild night with those nuts.

     1st meeting.... The first time we went backstage I remember we had to wait forever! Then the manager came out and said that none of the group members spoke English-only French and Spanish-which was perfect for Shannon and I as we both spoke both languages and we both so eager to practice. Then when they finally came out one of them signed my shirt (his name was Pitacci and I totally still have the shirt!) and they told us they were flying to Paris in the morning and invited us to come along. Shannon was dying to go, I said 'Shannon, we cannot go to Paris tomorrow with the Gypsy Kings, we have school in the morning [high school] and our parents would be so pissed.' I think she was a little mad at me. Now had we gone....I'm sure it would have been very life changing.

    2nd meeting.... The next time we saw them, the following year, the groups manager came up to us and gave us a kiss on the cheek acting like we were old pals, I thought he had mistaken us for someone else. And I believe it was he who invited us to dinner afterwards, like just assuming we were coming along. This was the time that we DANCED ON STAGE AT A CONCERT . After the concert was over we were told to just wait by the tour bus and then we could follow in our car to the restaurant. So that's what we did, again I remember waiting and waiting and waiting. Then we followed them to the restaurant. I don't remember talking to them very much at that point, what I do remember was having a cigarette at the bar and a couple next to us saying "I think that's the Gypsy Kings over there." Then I just got up and walked back over to the table, I remember thinking what a cool moment that was. Dinner was over and 'good idea Shannon' says 'hey they're going to play the guitar in their suite, they want us to come up'. In my 17 year old head I thought that meant that all eight members of the group and some of the other dinner guests would all be going up to the room as well and they were going to put on a little private concierto. That was not so much the case, it was just the two of us and two of the singers...and yup, they were putting the moves on us-heavily- you know how intense those Spaniards can be. I felt ENORMOUSLY uncomfortable, grabbed Shannon and said that I didn't think anyone else was planning on coming up here tonight. We told the singers we had to feed the meter for my car or it would get it towed. They insisted they would pay for any tickets accrued. I told them that wasn't necessary, we'd just run down real quick. And run down to the car real quick we did...and we got the hell out of there! We didn't even know where we were, we were very far from home and just had to wing it getting back.

 Had they been younger and better looking...who knows what would have happened!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


So jealous of my sister's naturally beautiful smile!

"Regardless of who you are or what you have been,
                       you can be what you want to be.”


The top are they're not too bad.

When: July 12, 2012

Why I wanted to do this: I have been seriously considering, researching and strongly desiring getting braces since I was about 17 years old (12 years ago). My teeth are not terrible, in fact it's really just 2 teeth on the top that make me crazy. It's something I'm self conscience about, it is something that bothers me every single day, every time I look of a photo of myself I think 'if only me teeth weren't all jacked up that'd be a nice picture', and on top of that the feeling of teeth in the wrong spot drives me nuts-like the feeling of having something stuck in your teeth...for 12 years.

I hardly notice them in this pic.

Cost: $5,500

What would I do differently? When I was about 12 years old my parents did 'ask' me if I wanted to get braces. And I distinctly remember this conversation with my father who said "I wish I would have had them but look now I'm in my 40's and I'm sure as heck not going to get them now." The thing is-they shouldn't have asked me-they should have just told me I was getting them. But I wish I would have done it sooner. Every year that goes by I am mad at myself for not following through with my many appointments I have made and cancelled and think 'had I gotten them last year-I'd be done by now!' So I finally decided just to rip off that band aid, make the appointments and GO TO THEM! Now the hard part is over for me! The decision was the most difficult and then the first day was a total nightmare, I was so upset that I had gone through with this that I nearly passed out in the dr office, but now two weeks later I am getting more used to them every day! I literally can see some changes already. The cool thing is the braces are working every minute of every day, while I sleep, while I drive, constantly! I think it's so much more difficult for an adult to wear braces than an adolescent because it is such a big decision and when you're a kid the decision is made for you.

Will I do it again? I pray that in 12 to 18 months from now my teeth look the way I want them to but if they don't I will do what ever I need to.

The braces push out my looks like I've had injections!

Make a good gift? Yes, I think this would be a gift that could really change a persons life and give them confidence-confidence changes everything in your life!

Can't really even tell with my mouth shut.
Something I would recommend? Without question!!! So many people kept saying to me "your teeth seem fine, I don't even notice they're crooked" - well not only do I not believe that but you'd have to have some serious vision problems to not notice. If they were telling me the truth- I don't want that either- I don't want people to NOT notice my CROOKED teeth - I WANT people to NOTICE a beautiful set of straight, white teeth!

They are CROOKED!
Was it life changing? It is a dramatic life change and a HUGE adjustment! First of all I look ridiculous! There is this heinous thing on the top that I refer to as the "coil" that will be on there for a few months.

 I'm embarrassed for people to see my braces and it's incredibly embarrassing to be with my teenage neighbors who all have braces (although I have to say people have been treating me like I'm much younger-getting carded.
            Having braces has also changed my routine, I have to brush my teeth 4 times per day! Always have to after I eat and it takes like 20 minutes every night to floss and brush. It has changed all my eating habits, I drink everything with a straw including coffee, I cannot eat anything hard or chew on ice. I'm pretty much limited to soft foods which is totally unsatisfying but I'm losing a ton of weight! I look at most things now and only see the work that would be involved and usually conclude that it's not worth it to dig out all the orts afterwards. The technique involved with eating solids is this-I put the food on my tongue, smash it to the roof of my mouth and suck on it for a while then swallow it quickly-food loses its flavor when it's eaten like this.

The good news is that I get to practice my 'Albanianess' by taking very serious photos.
  I also think it's kind of changed my personality- I don't feel like doing a lot of talking because the braces tear up my cheeks and I have a lisp now. I hate smiling because it's a chore to put my lips back together over my braces. So I feel like I'm not being very friendly.

Perfect. This is how I'm taking all my photos for the next year.

 This has also given me one more thing to worry about-like I constantly worry that they'll look worse when it's all over-I'm SO necrotic. And of course, it's a large expense which obviously cuts into other things. Every day I get a little more used to them and I'm so happy I FINALLY did it, I'm really excited to see the final product next year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


When: I think I was 16 or 17 so maybe it was the summer of 2000 or 2001 with my long time friend Shannon.

Where: At a Gypsy Kings concert.

Why I wanted to do this: It was NOT Planned and I have no idea how I even got up there on the stage-meaning there were no steps, the security guards were right next to me pulling people down and the stage was  higher than my head! I guess it's true what they about an adrenaline rush!

Cost: Free!

How I paid for it: I'm sure my step dad actually paid for the concert tickets-we've been to many a Gypsy Kings concert and he usually gets us the tickets.

What would I do differently? Nothing- it was awesome! I know not everyone is even familiar with this group but I love them and they're super famous in Europe. It was so cool to be right next to famous people on stage in front of thousands of people watching. But I do wish I had a video of it! I'm sure there is one somewhere!

Will I do it again? I totally would! If I could hoist my butt up there, I'll dance on anything!

Make a good gift/surprise? A surprise it surely was! Shannon got up there first and was encouraging me to get up there too, I wanted to but like I said my only thoughts were 'how and the hell am I going to get up?!'

Something I would recommend? Yes! Any type of wild, spontaneous activity I strongly encourage!

Was it life changing? Yes, this led to us having dinner with the Gypsy Kings which led to quite another story I will tell you soon...(provided my constituent doesn't disapprove.)

Also I always reflect on moments like these when I'm faced with some sort of challenge. For instance, just last night I was thinking 'why have I been such a baby about all these problems with my new house? You've jumped out of a plane, you've had your ass beat and kicked some ass at Krav Maga, you've had several major surgeries, you've had interviews with some very instrumental companies, you target shoot-you've done some real bad ass things- quite crying about the mice, bugs and snakes- you're a tough girl!' This was my little pep talk to I always say, it's all about you're perspective. I've been so crabby lately and 'complainy' and I think about when I danced on stage and think 'where's that fun girl-bring her back!!!'

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weigh in Wednesdays

I am very excited to say....

1. I have reached 90 pounds lost!
2. I am now on my way to 100
3. I am 1 pound away from being in the 160's!!!!

Start weight October 2010        261 lbs
Today July 11th, 2012              170 lbs

After (now)

Monday, July 9, 2012

In the works...

Well I haven't had hardly a second to write lately because there are SO MANY things I am working on right now, I have certainly bit off more than I can chew but I am trying to balance it all and the key to that is being organized which I certainly am!

What have I been up to?

-MOST IMPORTANT UPDATE- MY DAUGHTER STARTED SAYING "I LOVE YOU" !!! it is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life!

- GET BRACES- I'm getting my braces on Thursday...I'm so nervous,I haven't really even told anyone in my family partially because about every hour I think about cancelling the appointment, also I wanted this to just be my decision along with the support from my know how family can be with their 'opinions'.

- HULA CLASSES- Well as you know we (me and my daughter) completed the 9 week course and danced on stage in a recital. I desperately wanted to immediately continue with the classes but with the recent move and all the recent issues with the house we just have not had the time so we'll have to wait for the next class to begin in September.

- MAKE MY HOUSE MY SANCTUARY- We bought a house in the beginning of June. It's been a very difficult start and I am disappointed that I have not yet been able to just enjoy the house. We have been working diligently on the issues and I think we have solved them but it's been holding us back from taking the time, money and effort to do all the fun stuff towards making this house our sanctuary.

- FLAMENCO- I've been so busy with the move I haven't had a flamenco lesson BUT (my ultimate goal is to perform with my step dad's flamenco group) and he called me this week to tell me that one of the dancers will be leaving the group temporarily beginning in January so they would need more dancers and they would like me to begin going to practice regularly so I can be ready to start doing shows with them in 8 months!!!

- MY BOOK- I'm still waiting to hear something from the literary agent who requested my book proposal, I suspect it will be months before I hear anything it took 5 months just for her to read my letter!

- MY OWN BUSINESS- I have now had 2 consultations with Brides and 'officially' booked one wedding for this September! I'm so excited to do these flowers. It is a lot of work, I literally have nothing so it's going to be a bit of work to gather everything I need and get organized for this wedding but after this one it will be easier to go from there. I love the 2 brides I'm working with which makes it VERY enjoyable! I just need to order some business cards!

-WEIGHT- I can't wait to post WEIGH IN WEDNESDAYS this week, I am feeling great, my clothes are getting bigger, I'm starting to look at pictures of myself and go 'oh my gosh is that me??!!' I have lost now 91 pounds.

- LEARN PORTUGUESE- Well, I had not intended to learn Portuguese, in fact years ago I had specifically decided Portuguese would not be on my list of languages- there are several I have ruled out. I learned a little years ago and I decided it wasn't for me. However, a week before we moved I met this family at our apartment complex who had just that day moved here from Brazil. There is the mom, dad and 2 kids. When I first met them they hardly spoke a word of English but we connected and our kids fell in love with each other so over the past 6 weeks I have been spending a considerable amount of time with them. It's fun to learn so much about their country we pull up google translate and images and that's how we have a conversation but it is forcing me to learn Portuguese and it's taking up quite a bit of time so I think I'm just going to go with it! I can't decide if it's easy to learn or difficult to learn because it seems to be a mixture of Spanish, German and French.

-VACATION- I am dying to take a trip, I have to go to the airport frequently to pick up and drop off my husband and I feel like those airplanes are taunting me I am just itching to go somewhere so I posted in my last blog that we are planning a very big i.e. long, expensive and PACKED with life list items to Disney World paired with a cruise to the Bahamas!

I'm trying to catch up with everyone's blogs and I'm enjoying reading about all the fun everyone is having and all the great adventures being had! I always feel so proud of all my fellow life listers for squeezing the most out of our lives!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

stressful times calls for life list items

In the past two years I have been hammered with extreme heartache, beginning with the loss of someone incredibly dear to me that flipped my life upside down, an unsuccessful, disappointing and expensive stint in graduate school, and several of my closest relationships were ripped apart. Luckily I have a beautiful, smart, healthy daughter which will forever make every challenge seem but a small puddle to jump over. But whenever I feel blue I always turn to my life list and the issue at the moment is that I am having a very difficult time adjusting to our new house. There are many things I love about it but unfortunately in the past month that we've lived here every day there seems to be a worse issue than there was the day before. I keep telling myself that in a year from now all of these problems will be long behind us and then we can focus on making some renovations and doing the things that we WANT to do to the house and less of things that we HAVE to do to the house.

My advise to anyone who is having a hard time with anything in life whether big or small-do or buy something you've always wanted. Of course it won't make your problem go away but it might help you find a smile though it be temporary and aid in changing your perspective. I think that's the key to any issues-your perspective.

Currently I am emotionally exhausted, stressed and drained so I convinced my husband to start planning a BIG trip- it won't be for another year and a half but it's exciting to start planning and saving. I am not a frugal traveler so I need to start saving now. It works out well because our daughter is too little right now for a big trip and also the trip will also be a celebratory vaca right after I get my braces off and *hopefully* and finally reach my life goal weight.

Where are we going? It will be a 15 day trip to Disney World Orlando paired with a cruise to the Bahamas. I will be able to complete 20 life list items, give my daughter the trip every 3 year old could only dream of and my husband will be able to have some experiences he's always wanted to try also.


1. go on a cruise
2. stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
3. see Cirque Du Soleil
4. take my daughter to Disney World
5. indoor skydive
6. swim with manatees
7. hold an alligator
8. pick oranges
9. go on an airboat tour
10. go to SeaWorld
11. visit a butterfly farm
12. eat alligator
13. swim with dolphins
14. swim with sting rays
15. swim with sea lions
16. para sail
17. have a penguin encounter
18. eat at Cinderellas Castle
19. take a sea plane tour
20. go fishing

*some of these I have done before but I was so young I don't really remember and don't have pictures, they are things I not only want to 're' experience but things I want to share with my daughter as well.

*there are two other things I'm looking into but are very expensive so I'm not sure if they will fit into this trip.

So this gives me something to look forward to, be excited about and every time things get rough I will stop and think about the luxury vacation on the horizon!! And for the time being I got a kitten to cheer me up and I was feeling like my daughter needed a companion, I'm sure she gets bored with mommy and her same old antics. On July 3rd, I asked my husband if we could get another kitty, he reluctantly said yes so I prayed for one that night...the next morning when we walked up to the parade the first thing I saw was a box of free kittens. I think that was God saying "ok, this is something easy I can give you right now".

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