300

300 is a lot. Like a lot of anything. 300 bananas, 300 cars, 300 people…it’s a big number. Can you imagine 300 43 minute tv episodes? Well the cast of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t have to, they’re airing their 300th next week. They’ve come so far from a mid season pilot that aired after Desperate Housewives with the pitching phrase “Sex in the surgery”. They’ve become an anthem that launched Shonda Rhimes into becoming a household name.

Shonda has accomplished so much over the years including a fight for stronger diversity platforms in film and television both on and off screen, and these wouldn’t be possible without the stepping stones Grey’s Anatomy gave her to reach such a large amount of people. She’s claimed Thursdays on ABC as TGIT, Thank God It’s Thursday. She owns the night with three shows that rotate in and out depending on the season along with smaller short lived series from her production company, Shondaland.

I myself am personally grateful to the cast and crew, as I’ve written here previously. (To read any of those works just go to my TV tab or Grey’s Anatomy). I owe them so much, and they’ve taught me over the years which what I wanted to cover when writing this. I’m a Television Student and a lot of times we’re told to say our favorite TV show as a ice breaker every semester. Every semester I say Grey’s Anatomy and get a few quiet stares, a sigh, a “Is that still on?”- yes it’s still on and celebrating 300 episodes Tiffany what have you accomplished in your day besides making me feel bad?

Recently as GA has resurfaced as a cult classic phenomenon as teens binge the show on netflix there is an overall consensus that GA isn’t “that good” or is just something “teen girls watch” and I want to break that down a little bit. 300 episodes worth of monologue inspiration for every bad day is already number one reason why it’s so amazing. But what makes GA so unique is that yes it has lasted forever, and the reason is because it is so overwhelmingly personal and that it has reached the point where it isn’t trying to fit any formulas to make the ratings rise, or fill a quota the network wants for award shows. In fact they haven’t been nominated for any outstanding acting awards besides guest arcs for years, and they don’t care. They don’t need to because the loyalty to the show is so strong that even when you’re pissed off at a storyline you’ll record it and watch it anyway. Or you’ll watch parts of it. You’re addicted to Grey’s Anatomy, and you know what

It’s OKAY.

As a society we need to stop looking down on what brings young women joy especially a program like GA that combines diverse storylines and lifestyles including the longest running LGBTQ Character on TV which was Callie Torres before Sara Ramirez left. Young women have found strength and a place in GA. A lot of TV that is marketed for a young teen audience focuses on school, drama, relationships, and not many young women are seeing them looking at careers. Something that GA has started is a wave of young nurses or surgeons who went into the medical field because of the show. GA next to ER is one of the most technically correct medical shows ever to be shown on screen. They have doctors on set that are watching them film and teaching actors how to hold instruments. Young girls are watching these highly complex procedures sandwiched between drama and romance and it’s fueling their search in what they want to do with their lives. “If she can see it, she can be it” is a slogan often used by guest star Geena Davis who runs The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that GA takes to its heart. Women are surgeons, nurses,  paramedics, they’re patients, they’re mothers, they’re sisters, they’re rounded human beings who don’t rely on love interests to keep them going. These women have watched 300 episodes of surgery and they’ve become invested in it. Shonda created a movement.

They don’t just want their Mcdreamy’s, they want their Harper Avery’s.

 What GA has also inspired is a love for TV and creation, through their dedication to showing the fans how their favorite episodes are filmed such as the musical event or any of the stand alone episodes including “Sound of Silence”. GA also works hard to allow their cast to learn and grow in the business, leading to cast members like Chandra Wilson, Kevin Mckidd, Ellen Pompeo, and Debbie Allen to direct a number of episodes. Not to mention that half of them are women, two are of color. That diversity extends to the writing room where more than half the staff are women, and just recently in season 14 two episodes in a row were written and directed by women. Having women cultivate a show that is so influential on young girls is one of the most important issues this industry needs to tackle, and they’re doing it.

November 9th we don’t just celebrate 300 episodes, we celebrate 300 storylines, 300 surgeries, 300 elevator kisses, 300 monologues that give you clarity to life (thanks Ellen Pompeo, please do a motivational audio book),  300 catch phrases; SERIOUSLY, 300 lives saved…we celebrate a lifestyle and an impact that’s still blossoming. It doesn’t need awards or fancy things. It’s always going to be there. Like an old friend.

and we owe it to the cast and crew to celebrate this monumental moment because of all that they’ve unlocked and achieved for the industry. While GA is still working and learning as we all are to be as fully progressive as we can be when being creators, they’ve made tremendous strides and are committed to them. From Shonda’s blind casting to the recent episode Ellen Pompeo directed she specifically made sure that there were nurses wearing hijabs, and they even had minor speaking roles. Obviously we all want more, perhaps a hibaji intern but it’s a continuing stride for them that they want to make. So I know I will be celebrating the 300th to my fullest because I want to celebrate not only the content but the team behind it because 14 years of content is so beautiful. The inclusion and atmosphere they have created with Shondaland is something I could only dream of being a part of.

Let’s dance it out to 300!

Christina Yang Dance GIF - ChristinaYang Dance GreysAnatomy GIFs

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TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger 

Earth Day is Every Day

I could never imagine a world where we didn’t care about Earth Day. It’s not something that has even occurred to me, and it’s slightly terrifying right now to know and understand that there are children being taught in schools across the world that we don’t have to care.

For as long as I have a memory, I can recall memories of celebrating Earth Day in elementary school. The painting, the collages, the reading, the reports on Jane Goodall, the science projects, and the days where we just ran around and had field day. Because we appreciated our Earth and what it gave to us. There have been animals going extinct since I was born. In my childhood bedroom I had a lot of books. I had this one book, and now it’s out of date. But it was a book of endangered animals. I read through it a lot. I remember it had really good artwork. But the book is out of date because so many animals need to be added to it.

Earth Day itself isn’t just about conservation efforts, or more so we can’t focus on that simply alone. I spent a lot of time as a child doing events for Earth Day through girl scouts as well, where we provided conservation teaching. I guess that’s also something I have to mention, I grew up in California. The drought has like always been there. I always knew to recycle, to conserve water, and I had these ideas ingrained in me as a child. We always separated out cans and bottles, and cardboard at my house. It was just the thing to do. It’s strange to me that people don’t know that still even today.  But anyway, Earth Day is also about the science behind conservation. The science that allowed us to understand and realize we need to conserve is why we all really do it.

I did science fair projects in elementary school. I counted the probability of getting different colors of M&M’s (1st place; 1st grade), Understanding if hamsters can be trained (2nd grade, third place), Do plants grow better while listening to a certain type of music? (Blast the country folks, 1st place, third grade)…I forget what I did in fifth grade but I know in sixth I…

mummified fish.

Yes, I grew maggots in one of them. I used different house hold products to see if I could mummify fish with them and obviously my control had to be a rotting fish that sat in our garage for about two weeks. Science happens.

All of those projects were fun and tested my abilities, and really taught me things about our world. Earth Day and science go way back because without science we wouldn’t band together to celebrate and protect our earth that we happened to start to destroy. It’s the duty of every global citizen to speak up for earth and those working hard to understand it.

I’m a poor student when it comes to combining math and science together but I do know one thing and it is that life without science would be pretty boring. Especially without women scientists.

This idea that men run science is so outdated

Let’s talk about what Earth Day means in the year of the girl, as I like to call it- ever since the woman’s march we really have seen women stand up for themselves and others in a sort of revolution unmatched in history. Living through a period of time right now where women are being challenged in the scientific community is so strange to me. I love science and medicine and it’s so bizarre that we are still proving ourselves worthy of things like grants for new breakthroughs. We only have one Earth, and we have to allow everyone who wants to better it, do so. That also applies to smaller things like when someone you don’t like does something really good for earth. But more on that another time maybe? I may be someone who’s future is in media but media helps expose how our Earth is treated and needs help. Media helps gain funding for projects to help Earth. Everything is connected. Earth is round, thus everything is a circle. When more women help Earth, more of Earth can help others. Earth is something that always gives back when you give and nurture it. So yes of course we need more women defending Earth.

I think it’s kind of a cruel joke for us to have called Earth, Mother Earth, as a female but yet allowed men to have the final say in terms of protecting it or researching to save it. We need women’s input and minds because as much as I love hearing about Darwin- I also would love to deeply research women when talking about historical scientific discoveries. And for young girls like me, doing science fair projects- they need to see and understand that women can create. They can discover. It is not a man’s world at all. It is a world for everyone to protect.

I think that as well it’s important for someone like me, within the media mindset of everything to understand that I also have to represent women in science. I grew up with several women in discovery,  but most of all I think Jane Goodall or Mae Jemison had the most impact. I remember learning about them in third grade and being really impacted by them. And sort of spurring off of that and recognizing women in science don’t only have to be taught about to students but be seen in media.

And to everyone saying that representation through movies or tv shows doesn’t make an impact…

at any given day, any hour, I dare you to spend time researching any tweet tagged with Grey’s Anatomy or a cast member’s @ on twitter.

The next generation of female surgeons, doctors, and nurses. Taking over the health care system because their love for it was so thoroughly shown on screen. And medicine is science. It’s STEM. These women are out there researching and going for what they want and conquering the stereotypes.

So not only do I owe it to Earth to have more women in science, but I owe it to my work to showcase that. Science isn’t just about nature and saving that but understanding that we humans are mammals, part of the animal kingdom within nature. We are part of Earth and it’s time we stop separating from that. And also for women to start raising their voices within science. It’s about science instead of silence, and for women to claim their part in creating a better world.

I did a lot of research through out the past few months because I knew about again women that I loved in science and how they’re impacting the world so I reached out and found the Jane Goodall Institute. Jane Goodall really represents women in science because she simply never took no for an answer and kept fighting for her research and is now the number one person skilled in chimpanzee communication- which if you know anything about humans and primates is a big deal. Jane Goodall has developed her institute into this mega idea where they don’t only work on her primate research but they also have expanded. These expansions include inspiring other young girls in STEM fields, but also globally providing women with access to education, healthcare, and clean water. Without these things women can not achieve, and it’s important for us to help struggling countries bring their women forward into a society of education and work, and less disease and death.

So to combine those two together and as a tribute to standing up for women in STEM, using your voice for global good, to fill that silence- through my side project which is Pompeo’s Posse, I wanted to donate to Jane Goodall Institute, while thanking Grey’s Anatomy and Ellen Pompeo, for showcasing strong women in the sciences through representation in the arts. (So buy a shirt, raise your voice, help fund the institute)

Because I believe that every day is earth day if we just cared a little bit more about treating our Earth kindly, researching to protect her and her inhabitants, and to raise our voices for the voiceless. Nature can scream at us through the weather but if we do not stop to listen, what will be done?

Listen to Earth. And defend her.

Drink of choice:

Organic Fair Trade Tea from English Tea Shop!

Flavor: Lemongrass/ginger/citrus

Everyone has a Story

Chronic.

Chronically.

Chronically ill.

I’ve been diagnosed with EoE for roughly a year now, and it’s only now that I’m coming to terms with understanding my place within the medically ill community. There’s so many things about my diagnosis that people don’t understand, and that I myself am still finding out as well. So much that I never really thought about myself as chronically ill.

I honestly spent so much time researching trying to figure out what the hell I had before I was diagnosed, and all I could find was dysphagia (or Cystic Fibrosis as mentioned in my other post) which is a blanket term for swallowing issues that I really couldn’t think of myself as having EoE or even what the community who had it was like. Mine is very mild now that it’s controlled on a heart burn medication but I never really researched outside of my own bubble. Which knowing me is slightly strange because I like to know everything. I like to know all of my disease what it entails and how it affects me and what I should be on the look out for. So why on earth am I just discovering now that children who have EoE often end up on feeding tubes? It’s just strange to me and I can’t wrap my head around why I didn’t do so much research. The only thing that comes to my mind is that I didn’t want to be chronically ill.

That’s a very frankly insulting idea to have but an issue I suppose is that I didn’t even realize those were my thoughts. I wasn’t scared about being a label, I was just trying to survive the next 24 hours with food in my stomach. Because my symptoms were so certain to me, it made me neglect I guess looking at other people with it.

EoE is as I’ve mentioned before a rare disease, the first journals about it appeared as recently as 2006 and frankly there’s just way too much we don’t know. There’s also so many other diseases that factor into it, like I just discovered that there’s Chronic Eosinophilic Pneumonia or Carryington’s Disease. Pneumonia! Which is one of the things that I am a chronic sufferer of. Maybe my doctor didn’t know about that specific type or maybe she wanted to wait and see about that if the medication didn’t work. But there’s that word again, chronic.

Now will I ever make a post not referencing Ellen Pompeo? Honestly hopefully not, I love her far too much. But here’s where chronic illness plays into that. Don’t lie and say you haven’t scrolled through who a celebrity follows on Instagram, we all stalk. Fans discovered that Ellen followed a chronic illness lifestyle page, where a woman posts quotes and photos and the captions are always related to empowering those with chronic illness, or anyone who can use support of any kind, she’s very welcoming to helping others and even does posts where she lets you just rant and let your anger out. You all can discover Brown Eyes Thick Thighs for yourself and see what she’s all about. But for the longest time I somehow didn’t realize that I could relate to her posts about her illness and even though I have different diseases, that I could be chronically ill too.

I’ve come in contact with several people who are Spoonies, which refers to spoon theory which has to do with invisible illness and chronic illness. A spoon is a measurement for how much they can handle within a day. I struggle to find myself exactly fitting in as a spoonie because on the surface my chronic illnesses are not to the same extreme level that others are. I’m rather high functioning person, although my say need for exercise is probably the biggest change. I always walked very fast when I was younger and I would also be out of breath a lot. People sort of assumed one was due to the other but it was most likely my asthma. I can no longer go on runs or hikes without preparing myself before hand. I always have to make sure to have my inhaler on me. Food is a bit of a trickier issue because I made the choice in light of all of my issues to become vegetarian.

I had a friend who was vegetarian before and the lifestyle seemed very pressured to me and I felt myself rebelling. I never liked meat to begin with, and one of the reasons is the texture made me struggle to swallow it. I remember days of just sitting at the dinner table, struggling to swallow porkchops and it just got mushy and stuck to the back of my throat and I hated it. I stopped eating just about everything but burgers and lean meats before going completely vegetarian.

but back to spoon theory, I kind of made this post to say that I do have chronic fatigue. I started writing this post at 12am when I couldn’t sleep. I don’t fall asleep until 1-2 am most nights and I can’t sleep in past 8am. On school days that means I’m getting up at 7 to be ready in time for my 9am classes. It’s not normal. I find myself out of breath because I walk fast and I have to teach myself that I can’t do that anymore when my lungs are irritable. I can’t eat food late at night anymore because of my medication. That’s about 8 or 9pm when as a college student I’ll be frantically doing assignments until 9pm and forget to make dinner.

I’m constantly tired all the time and I know when I dissociate or tune out of situations because I’m too tired to function. I can’t make it through two back to back classes from 9am to 3:20pm. I mean I do it but I come home and I can’t do any homework we were assigned because I’m too busy trying, unsuccessfully, to nap or making myself food.

So let’s get on the topic of food.

Throughout my life I grew up very slim, and never hit higher than 102lbs. For most of highschool I was from 96-98lb range and I hated it. I hate it so much. I don’t feel comfortable wearing crop tops where you see my ribcage, or bikinis were you can see it either. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with all of that. The comments, the questions “are you sure you’re full” as if no one understands that a tiny human has a tiny stomach. The accusing looks that ask if you’re anorexic, and the repeated frustrated replies of no and forcing myself to eat more than I want to. All to prove a point.

So when I had to go on a liquid diet and I couldn’t swallow so much as a ramen noodle, I lost weight. I dropped from 96 to 88 fairly quickly and then over the months I ended up as low as 86. I’m currently in that range and while it is ‘normal’ for me, it’s not ‘underweight’ in terms of worrying doctors because I drink nutritional drinks etc. But it means that I’m constantly hungry. I will eat a full meal, or what makes me full and be hungry within an hour. My metabolism won’t stop. It’s why I’m tired all the time because I’m constantly trying to eat. and I am tired of it. I’m tired of having to eat so much all the time, or trying to bulk myself up. Nothing will ever do the trick. Just a few days ago I had hummus on white bread toast. I had 3 ‘toast’ sandwiches with hummus. 3 in a row. Hungry. All the time. That still didn’t do much so I ended up having shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe’s that I made in my frying pan.  That made me last until dinner time maybe.

And all of this is circumstantial on if my EOE or my seasonal allergies aren’t so bad, and if they’re acting up I’ll stick to applesauce, soups, pasta with pesto instead of tomato sauce-

I can have some acidic foods as long as I take the meds but sometimes I like to lean away from them if I’m having a bad day. This is all just depending on the day though. My other post I mentioned that there was a situation at my school that triggered a lot of stress and anxiety in terms of my living situation. Because of that I was having stomach pain and loosing weight as well. That pain and struggle has left me but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about it especially in terms of getting up early or rushing myself through getting ready.

And all of this worrying about eating and food obviously takes a toll on my mind. I’ve found it harder than ever to concentrate, even on things I love like Tv shows. I can’t focus. I’m finishing this post after having the worst sleep I’ve had maybe ever. I don’t know why this is happening. I’ve had the feeling before, where I try to sleep and I get startled because I feel like I’m falling. This time I woke up after sleeping for maybe 5-6 hours and I felt startled but not from falling. I fell asleep for about an hour and I didn’t wake up feeling refreshed at all. I haven’t had a decent sleep in what seems like forever at this point. and I want it.

Throughout all of this it’s just all so frustrating. Like I mentioned I’m a high functioning person and what that means to me is that I’m very put forward in what I do. Being lazy never used to be a part of me, and I don’t consider myself lazy when I have to consider my illnesses and ‘relax’. Relaxing for me is very important because I can’t just have a lazy day in bed exactly. I have to make so many snacks and do all of these things to prepare. Most times I don’t even get around to watching the Tv I want to because I just space out or I try to sleep. I spent my days in highschool doing everything and above what I needed to do, I was an overachiever and it is hard to not see myself as that anymore. My work is still to the best of my ability but I find myself wanting to be sloppy because I can’t handle it. But that’s in terms of things like writing assignments compared to things like media related projects. I used to be this force of nature but now I find myself struggling.

Another example of me being fatigued is social outings. We went to a museum as a class the other day, we walked there. Which is fine its like ten minutes from our building, but it was rainy with 30mph winds. 30 mph winds plus an asthmatic? Not good. I made it there, and I never felt like I couldn’t breathe its more like my body has to do extra to make up for the stress of breathing in the wind. I had a lovely time, and I walked home and I immediately took a three hour nap. That’s not normal. I grew up never being able to nap. Naps were not a thing until I got to college. Even when I pushed myself the hardest I could in highschool I very rarely came home and napped. There’s this culture online where everyone claims they go home and nap but honestly, really? It’s just not a thing I was used to. I get exhausted so frequently from minor things. Going on a small day trip down the street shouldn’t make me feel like I just ran a marathon.

My EOE comes with seasonal allergies as well so I constantly have stuffy sinuses, post nasal drip and other allergy symptoms that only have relief every few days. I take medication for them but it is only helpful to such a certain extent. As spring comes so do these headcolds, feelings of being foggy and forgetful, and waking up to suddenly not being able to breathe until taking nasal sprays.

And now it’s been a year since this all started and I just want to raise my voice about my story because I feel like I taught myself that what I felt wasn’t a part of it, or that I wasn’t valid enough to be considered something that just lets people know I’m a sensitive person in all terms of existence. I want my rare disease to be heard, I want my feelings to be seen. I think that a lot of EOE isn’t diagnosed until it’s too severe, or it’s not understood as well. It needs awareness and real support for research. I may never be able have a full cure for every one of my ailments but I like to know I’m not alone. And right now for EOE, I feel incredibly alone. Especially because I’m not like the severe cases on feeding tubes and elimination diets. Being vegetarian isn’t that hard compared to what some of these ten year olds must do to eat.

So maybe I am chronically ill, and that’s ok.

“Your story is not more difficult than mine, my story is not more difficult than yours and I think if we all keep can open mind and compassion for each other-life is hard, no matter the circumstances, whether they be blue or red or green or yellow. We all have a story.”- Ellen Pompeo

Here are some sites for more information on EOE

http://apfed.org/about-ead/egids/eoe/

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/eosinophilic-esophagitis/

http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis-ee

http://curedfoundation.4mobilesites.com/

http://www.ausee.org/

Coincidence

Life is kind of a series of coincidences. I’ve lived through many of coincidences, and I’ve reflected on them a lot but there’s one that just blew me away.I mean it’s something significant when just days before you officially change your concentration to something, one of your role models breaks the news they’re pursuing it too.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I’ve always kind of separated my interests from career to the point where I don’t actively search out people to idolize with my same exact goals in my career because I don’t want my story to be me trying to be a carbon copy of them. I am my own person under a realm of influence by the people I look up to and interact with. My want to go to ‘film school’ was that I already knew I wanted to create media within the cinematic elements, not because I idolized anyone.

So like let’s fast forward here to my first year of college, and I’m in this TV program because around sophomore year of highschool I realized I don’t want to make movies, I want to make TV. My sort of goal for TV has always been a way to bring stories to screen that made my classmates feel represented. I will always have a young white woman to represent me, I’ve found several. But I had started to realize my friends didn’t watch TV as much as me because they felt disconnected as POC, or lgbtq+ members and so on. Anyway so that’s why I’m in TV. I also, not to brag, have a real skill in it and have had background training starting from a highschool level ( I was broadcast director & won a few film festivals). I made sure to get into a TV program versus a film program because I knew that the specifics would benefit me, but I originally was in a editing concentration. I love editing but my school combined it with a lot of graphic and visual design, which I have played with and learned I don’t enjoy. So time came around and I changed my concentration this year. I had been planning for months. Then the news broke.

 “It took 13 years, but Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo will boldly follow in several of her co-stars’ footsteps when she directs an episode of the ABC medical drama this spring, TVLine has learned.”
Hold up…you’re telling me I changed my concentration just before I learned Ellen Pompeo, someone whom I’ve looked up to for a few years now, and have always dreamed of seeing what her production company does…actually became a director which is what I changed my concentration to?
I changed from an editing concentration to directing/producing concentration.
My mind was made up before I my appointment time with my counselor, so the actual timing is officially after Ellen’s announcement. I was stunned. As a creative person who over analyzes, seeing someone you look up to or idolize and seeing how their creative mind works is honestly a fever dream. There is nothing better than the rush that comes when trying to analyze someone’s work, that you feel so connected to. I’ve never met Ellen, probably never will; but the life that comes from interviews, and from social media influences how I view her work obviously. Fast forward to now and I got to screen the episode at Paley Fest (side note here, many people met the cast at Paley, my seats were in the balcony and security did not allow anyone from those seats down to orchestra where the cast was signing and taking selfies).  I already talked about the episode and it’s meaningful impact to me last post, how I watched with my mother, so I’m going to talk more about directing here.
First off its a beautiful episode and I don’t only want Ellen to continue to direct Grey’s Anatomy, but this only made me more excited for her production company. Not many people know but Ellen has her own production company, Calamity Jane and she’s bought the rights to multiple movies and mini series. As a media person myself I’m so excited to see her career develop, and I think that’s what made me so excited about all of this. I’m very young and going to college for my dreams, but I see that my dreams can come true at any age. I could discuss more but I’ll just mention here about Ellen’s career, that it didn’t start until she was in her 30’s as an actress that when she moved beyond the Law&Order guest star phase into her first movie role, Moonlight Mile. Quickly after that she was cast in Grey’s Anatomy after Shonda Rhimes suggested to Betsy Beers, “Can we get someone like the girl from Moonlight Mile?” to which Betsy replied they could actually get that girl.
For an actress 30 is considered by majority of Hollywood to be too old, and Ellen felt the backlash of that by being cast as a mother, girlfriend, and love interest in several of her other films. She saw that Meredith Grey was more than the idea of someone’s lover, and a very complex character which is why she’s played her for over 13 years now. So Ellen broke that boundary on TV in 2004 when Grey’s first aired but she didn’t stop there. We can’t mention her directing without talking about the numbers. The number of women directors.
I don’t have numbers for television, and I think they are slightly more than the numbers I have for film alone but the statistic that I go to the most is that there’s only 13% of directors that are women.
13%
Shondaland has made progress with this number for years, for example co-star Chandra Wilson, has directed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy herself, as has Debbie Allen who helped coach Ellen Pompeo on her journey to directing. But the reason for me that Ellen’s episode is such a big deal is because she’s much more visible by viewers, known for this role she plays,  and the influence of this one episode is so great. Because it tells her fans, it tells these young girls, that you can do more. Besides acting Ellen’s always been an activist as well, and really put forward the notion that celebrities are real people. It is so easy to knock away all of her big fancy things because she’s very down to earth in the outlets she uses to interact with people. So that combined with directing is basically a show stopper.
There will probably never be a clear way for me to express the joy I feel knowing someone I adore so much, I can sympathize with in terms of struggles job wise but this is me trying.
This is an open letter to Ellen saying you did amazing, you have such a talent you probably had no idea you had, thank you for listening to Debbie when she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thank you for documenting it over social media, thank you for being so open at Paley Fest about your process, the vulnerability of your story being told, the personal touch that needed to be shared. Thank you for giving a young aspiring director like me hope, and thank you for breaking barriers.
Love Danielle, a TV student with a directing producing concentration.

Sunshine

I want to open this with a foreword, I had the privilege of being a member of the 2017 Paley Fest event featuring the Grey’s Anatomy cast yesterday afternoon. During this event they streamed 13×18, due to air in two weeks, and Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut. I will try my hardest not to spoil the episode in this post but the overall theme of what was discussed and viewed hit very close to home for me and as such I will be mentioning that. This is your warning now.

My mother had a life change as we transitioned from the 90’s to the 2000s. She had been working at a hospital in the bay area, on night shifts forever. That didn’t change when I was born either. Due to this she missed a lot of pop culture television, for example she didn’t get to watch Friends. She only watched whatever was on in the hospital offices at the time. In 2001, when I was 3 or 4, we moved and then she decided to become a stay at home mom while being a paid “nanny” close personal friends. My mother was taking care of up to 5 kids at once, when only 3 were her own. Throughout this time tv was obviously an educational tool as we grew up.

Let’s talk about how my passion for TV developed from this, since I am a TV major after all. We had a Tivo I remember, and what I would do before elementary school is as I got ready and ate breakfast- this was before I had developed my craving to watch broadcast news-I would watch as much as I could of something we had taped. I also did this with DVDs. I would watch until I finished my breakfast and then got ready, and watched a little bit more because my mom needed to wait for the 2 other kids to be dropped off at our house for carpool. It was a routine of mine, and my mom never found it to be an issue. I mean I was watching children’s programs after all.

My mom was always constantly encouraging me, and watching with me, and taking me to movies too. I have the luck of having a birthday in May, right before summer. Which is when a lot of children’s movies come out, so of course those were my birthday celebrations. Movies! And what’s really special about this is I kind of view it as her making up for the time she didn’t have to enjoy these things before. I’m also very blessed because I’m the only daughter she has. I’m also the youngest. We ‘baby sat’ a little girl as well, but that ended by the time I was about ten. Strangely, although I had become almost a sort of older sister to the little girl we watched over, I still never viewed myself as one.

Now bring this into middle school and suddenly my mom and I could enjoy the same TV shows. I’d say as early as 6th grade I was watching “real” TV with her because, not to be arrogant but I’m always told I’m far more mature for my age than I should be. I’m an old soul, I would watch I Love Lucy with my mom on weekends when I was younger. I didn’t mind that it was in black and white. I had a love for crime dramas as well, simply because I could figure out killer pretty quickly. I started to use TV to boost my curiosity about the world. But thing was I never watched it without my mom. It wasn’t some sort of parental guidance at all, but we clearly enjoyed the same programs, and discussing them.

Summer before freshman year of highschool I remember doing my first real binge watch with my mom. And of course it was the most perfect series to choose from…

We watched Gilmore Girls.

I remember we had gone to the library one day, and I was looking around the CD selection because I had realized I could rip the CDs and put them onto my IPod Shuffle which meant I didn’t have to buy so many songs. I also really liked early 2000s soft rock music, from the likes of Snow Patrol, Five For Fighting, The Fray and so on. My mom was looking at the DVD rack. It had so many options on it. Dawsons Creek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-files, ER, I’m sure Grey’s Anatomy was there, and Gilmore Girls! We started renting season after season from the library. It was great because my mom came home from work around 3-4 pm, she would make dinner, and then afterwards we would curl up in her bed and just BINGE.

The impact of watching a show with such a strong mother and daughter plot with your own mother is something I truly can’t explain. I felt such a strong connection to Rory Gilmore, because I was not in highschool yet but I had this feeling I would be like her when I was. (That turned out to be true and not true at the same time).Both active readers, dreamers, passion for journalism…so on. The wit and humor of the show was something my own mother and I also shared. That made my year once we completed all 7 seasons. I also felt very accomplished.

I mentioned this in a previous blog post but another notable series my mother and I binged together was Grey’s Anatomy. Which she had always watched. She started with the pilot and stopped after the season 8 finale, which was when she returned to working at a hospital. When I said I wanted to start it she decided it would be fun to rewatch. And it was fun having her beside me watching how I reacted to what she had seen years ago. I remember as we reached season 2, she kept teasing me because she knew the scene with the bulletin board and the panties would happen. Just the guessing game of who, what, why, and when was fun. And again Grey’s in a separate sense is about motherhood as well.

Gilmore Girls is known for it’s portrayal of Rory and Lorelai’s relationship, but also has Lorelai’s strained relationship with her own mother. There is a contrast there. Grey’s has a multitude of contrasts with the motherhood relationships. Watching with my own mother, who adamantly tells me to not put her in a home, and to let her go because she doesn’t want to suffer. While we watch Meredith deal with Ellis in a care home. It’s all this circle. Ironically enough my mom had just started a job where she works with Alzheimer patients as we started the show, which is why she tells me she doesn’t want a care home. She deals with these patients every day.

I connected very personally to Meredith Grey emotionally throughout the course of the series even if I did not have the same circumstances in my life. Of course my mom and I have fought, there’s a lot of things I still don’t tell her but I do have the option to and I suppose this weekend really taught me that I should take advantage of that.

My mom and I loved binging Grey’s so much, and even if we’ve not enjoyed the current seasons so much, we decided to go to Paley Fest together this past weekend. I’m only back from college for a week, because I’m that kid that didn’t go to a local californian college for TV. I attached to the Grey’s cast very closely, and have followed through being a pretty big fan of them because of my attraction to TV. I love to research, I’m a highly curious person. I spent middle school researching everything I could about the Harry Potter Film series, because I wanted to know how they did everything. Same with Grey’s, I researched everything. Then I like to analyze, and I find things that parallel between actors and stories, or what techniques used for scenes and so on.

At Paley Fest my mother and I sat side by side and watched 13×18. Which if you don’t know, is based on Maggie Pierce’s adoptive mother. It’s about their relationship as the nature of her breast cancer changes. It’s a beautiful episode, and was directed by leading lady, Ellen Pompeo. I could spend an entire page talking about the importance to the industry that Ellen directed her own episode, she joins the 13% of Women Directors in Hollywood, and is pushing to break boundaries. People still have the notion that actresses are simply pretty faces, but Ellen Pompeo is a pretty face with a compassionate soul, wisdom beyond her years, insightful mind, and amazing heart. But we need to cut to the chase here. Some background information that Ellen has mentioned in previous interviews is that her own mother died of a prescription drug overdose when she was about 4, almost 5.

As a viewer who thoroughly analyzes everything insanely, I had read this and I was immediately struck because I was like, the Meredith and Ellis storyline in GA is so strong, and you’d think that for an actress to portray that sense of anger and frustration, they had to know what fighting with your mom feels like. But in fact its the opposite. 13×18 has a voiceover about a note Ellis left for Meredith that was incomplete. The sense of being lost in what your mother wants for you, or wants to let you know is seen through the episode, and I can only assume that brings back to Ellen’s loss of a mother. I really don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone but I am so glad I watched this episode with my mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything to know she’s right beside me.

Another moment that stood out for me and personally touched me was when the q&a started for the episode. It was emotional, almost everyone had wet eyes. Kelly McCreary was crying during her section of the panel. And again Ellen directly addresses the loss of her mother while discussing her direction of the episode. One particular scene, which I as a TV major adored so much because of the use of color theory and emotion conveyed through the simple set design, Ellen explained that she used yellows and oranges to represent sunshine. She associates sunshine with every mother and that warmth you get from the sun, is a mothers warmth.Obviously this painted a picture to me of Ellen seeing her own mother reflected in the warmth of the sun rays. It was very moving to watch, listen to, and feel with my own mother beside me.

The whole idea is that you have only so many moments and to live life the best you can, without worrying too far ahead and loose what’s in front of you. Living my life to the fullest is a little drab, but its warm and cozy curled up binge watching television with my mother. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Photo Mar 19, 12 22 50 PM

An Elephant never forgets

I’ll never forget the first cough. The way my body rattled as I coughed. It was too much for a nine year old’s body to handle.

I grew up with fairly average allergies. I’m from the City of Trees. So pollen season is nobodies friend. We’re all sharing the Kleenex from January to May. My skin is a little more sensitive than most and I’m allergic to grass which just meant I got a rash when we played out in it. Allergies never seemed like a big deal and when they bothered me I just took over the counter medication. But then I was nine.

I was in third grade and that’s when I got it. The coughing that made me physically hurt. My back was in agony, and I was coughing up mucus roughly the size of my thumb. It was terrible. I went on all these different medications until I finally had to go to the doctors. I got an x-ray of my chest. I had an x-ray before then when I was either seven or eight, I was in second grade when I broke my arm for the first time. So I have pneumonia.  But what I didn’t know at the time was I also had asthma. I wasn’t diagnosed with asthma until I was older but when I got all my medication for the pneumonia I was given an inhaler alongside everything. I got medication. Augmentin to be precise.

Right augmentin ruined everything. I was taking time off of school and once I was on medication I could finally return right? I broke out in hives at school and immediately went back to the doctors for another prescription. While I was coughing so hard I was afraid I would pull a muscle mind you. I eventually took amoxicillin and the infection cleared up after weeks. Just because it clears up once doesn’t mean that’s the end.

I go through the rest of elementary school fairly healthy. I sometimes had trouble breathing when I ran during PE but it was such a short section of the school day I didn’t really think about it too much. I was still able to run so that was enough for me. It wasn’t enough by the time I was 12 and starting 7th grade. PE became hell. Throughout my middle school career my fastest mile time was 9:34, which was fairly decent but I would have to stop and start and walk and I would feel like complete garbage after I ran. I would be coughing and my throat would feel like it was on fire, it was like the wind was knocked out of me every day for 12 minutes of class. I was fed up. I was diagnosed with allergy and exercise induced asthma by the end of 7th grade. My inhaler made things a lot better but I will always have breathing problems when I run, no question about it.

And in 8th grade I got pneumonia again.

The aching the wheezing and the mucus returned. I don’t remember too much about that time but what I do know is week after I got over it…I broke my wrist and thumb again. Needless to say I was frustrated. My body was falling apart and I was only 13. It’s no fun constantly filling yourself full of steroids and caffeine thinking you’re having an asthma attack when you actually have a pneumonia. You get jittery after using your inhaler, especially when I had just recently got my inhaler and was very sensitive to it at first. I remember one instance where I used it the night of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the London summer games. I was up all night after the ceremony because I was so jittery I couldn’t relax. After a few years I got used to it finally.

So I go through highschool and something happens the winter break of my senior year. I had sort of weaned myself off allergy medications. It still seemed too early to be taking them I mean who’s allergic to things in winter?

I am of course.

It’s winter break and I’m trying to eat and suddenly things aren’t right. There’s this feeling in the back of my throat. It’s almost like food kept catching there and I wasn’t swallowing right. I gave it a week or so and I started to try and see if it was one food doing this to me. I knew meat was a big irritant and I made the switch to just broths and soft foods and soups for two or three weeks. By the time I returned to school I had lost a lot of weight, and I was already slim to begin with and I was having trouble concentrating. We finally got in to see a GI doctor and that’s when I went through test after test to figure out what was going on. I had over six vials of blood drawn I remember, and I got x-rays done of my trachea to make sure my anatomy was right. It didn’t show me anything except I had a small trachea which I already knew because I had trouble swallowing pills up to then. That explained it. And the choking feeling which I believe I have always had but that year it finally got irritated enough for me to really be bothered by it. Then my doctor decided on an endoscopy.

Endoscopy is just a camera down your throat to look at your throat and upper stomach. I was 17 at the time so I was admitted to the peds wing for surgery. Which I actually loved. I remember that my surgery was delayed. I didn’t have a separate room, I was there for out patient surgery, or same day surgery. Which means that I was in the same room as all the ER patients who needed surgery, for peds. Something peds does to make the kids feel more at home for the short, scary, amount of time they’re waiting is give them a custom pillowcase. I sort of knew this one endoscopy wouldn’t be the end of my hospital visits, ever, and I took the pillowcase I got directly to my heart.

Who doesn’t love elephants?

I always liked them for sure. I liked a lot of animals when I was younger, giraffes for sure, and flamingos. I remember I had stuffed animals of each. So elephants wasn’t out of the blue for me to enjoy and I had always cared about conservation as well. This pillowcase however was given to me. I didn’t have a choice. It was there and they said at the end of your procedure you got to keep it. That gives you hope I think. Obviously I wasn’t there for a life threatening procedure. I had already binge watched 11 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy by then and sure I had horror stories running through my mind. My hospital is a teaching hospital which is one of the things I love about it. I want to help others education even if it means some of my care is well… messy. They’re learning still. But still I held onto hope. If I survive this, I can survive whatever the hell my body was throwing at me.

My procedure went fine. I like being under anesthesia. It’s the best sleep i’ve ever had. I was carted into the OR, I could hear some resident talking about a position they turned down and then I was out. Waking up was fine. I wasn’t over the top or saying weird things. I was just groggy and I couldn’t walk. I was also starving. That’s all.

The endoscopy showed that I had EOE.

EOE is Eosinophilic esophagitis. You can read more about it here, but the basics is that it’s white blood cells that collect in the throat due to respiratory allergies. It presents as heart burn but it was undetectable for me. I have to take heart burn medication for it. But that wasn’t a cure all for me. I started taking it and three weeks after my endoscopy I started coughing. It was a nasty cough and so much time had passed that we were in denial. It is common to get pneumonia after an endoscopy but it would have presented sooner is what we believed. It was all the warning signs of pneumonia. I go back to the doctors and my resident is busy so as a teaching hospital they assigned another doctor for a consult. We were waiting for five hours for the doctors and then they misdiagnosed me. Okay maybe misdiagnosed is a strong word but they were wrong. I was told to take over the counter medication and get a humidifier. Within the week I was coughing up blood and I went to the ER because I had trouble breathing.

I got an X-ray and our fears were right.By the way the peds ER is amazing. The nurses are so nice and they had music playing from their stations, and there was one point where one nurse came around and he blew bubbles at everyone. It was fun. I of course was just hooked up to a nebulizer until my lungs opened. That’s when it got scary. The doctors came over to me and we began talking about how many cases of pneumonia were on my chart. It was a lot for someone who’s generally healthy. There was a brief period where we did testing for cystic fibrosis. I would hold my elephant pillow tight and I would worry. I knew that the next step if I was diagnosed would generally be a lung transplant. I am thankful every day that I do not have cystic fibrosis and I look up to those who do have it. I know half of your struggle. I know parts of your chronic pain. We are not too different. I am a lucky one. I don’t loose hope for others to be lucky though.

I eventually did allergy testing and went through appointments until I was prescribed other medication to keep the allergies in check alongside the medication for the EOE. Things settled out. My pneumonia went away. I’m always paranoid it will return and I don’t think the fear will ever leave. I don’t know why my body does this. I get a pain in my back and I start coughing and the fear starts. It’s frustrating. But nothing is more frustrating than my recent illnesses.

So in June of last year I had a check up endoscopy to see if the medication was working. Only a few allergies cells showed up on the biopsy. I’m not cured but I have hope again. I went to college for the first time this year and I had several events that caused anxiety. Through out my first semester I started having stomach pain. I believe now that it may be anxiety induced but it was so bad I would stay home from classes. I also finally made the decision to go vegetarian because of it. I knew meat irritated me because of the EOE, and I could even be allergic to certain antibiotics in the meat and all these possibilities. I just gave it up because even if maybe I just had a bad sandwich once, it wasn’t worth it for me to keep supporting the industry as whole. It was a conscious choice I will never regret. The illness eventually kind of went away but I had to have another procedure for that. I got my second pillowcase from that trip. That pillow case has wonderwoman on it and I love it. I love it a lot.

The main influence on me throughout all of this was being patient with myself and with time. Test results are some of the scariest moments of your life and when I taught myself to have faith and to trust my doctors and to stop myself from worrying endlessly over them the more I was able to hold onto hope. I didn’t have life threatening diseases or surgeries here but they a take a toll on my life. When I got my elephant pillow I felt like I was being told to hang on. Since then I’ve researched elephants, I’ve donated various ways to multiple charities and signed petitions to end elephant poaching because that pillow made me value myself so why shouldn’t I value them. It was this weird twist of fate that I received that pillow case and I will never know who made it. But it was during that time of the year when Ellen Pompeo started to get involved herself with a lot of conservation of elephants and really opened my eyes to what needed to be done. I felt like fighting for elephants gave me this voice that was so personal because in some way through that pillow case they fought for me.

Elephants are strong but they’re also patient and some of the most intelligent animals. The phrase an elephant never forgets is rooted in the elephant’s expansive mind and ability to recall events and things. I will never forget the path that led me here and I will never forget the herd I found alongside me and that pushed me through. I suffer and I struggle but I also have patience.

I will never forget.