Inspiring Me Now

  • "The Purpose of Life is to Be Happy" Dalai Lama

December 30, 2011


This year the Universe scooped up two huge handfuls of mud and buried me in it. 

I was stunned! I didn’t have any warning.  First I’m shocked and scared. How do I get out of this? I can’t breathe with this gunk on top of me. Then I panic, I need to get out of here, I need to dig my way out of this as fast as I can and take a shower and pretend this never happened. And all this time Universe is sitting back watching me, giggling at my futile attempts to free myself of this mess. 

Now I’m getting pissed, “What the hell, Universe?! I haven’t done anything to deserve this! I’m a good person, I make good decisions! This isn’t fair!”  Then Universe says, in his most serious of voices, “but Jacqueline, haven’t you figured it out by now? I’m not fair?”

That’s when I had one of those “ah-ha” moments that all the celebrities talk about. My “ah-ha” didn’t come while I was feeding starving children in Africa, it didn’t come while I was on a mission trip to Haiti. It came to me on an ordinary night in November, 7 months after my dad’s untimely death. I was lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, conversing with Universe. I kept asking him ‘why’.  

***Note: this part of my writing details a tiny pity party, but it doesn’t last long, so keep reading.**  

Why have I had to struggle my entire life? I’ve put up with terrible asthma and eczema since birth. I’ve had virtually no relief from discomfort since then. I’ve been diagnosed with MS, my husband divorced me because of it. I live paycheck to paycheck in order to pay an exorbitant amount of money on prescriptions every month. I’m continuously paying off medical bills, and now, on top of all this you have taken my dad away from me?! Can’t I catch a break? I thought maybe if I pleaded my case, Universe would take heart and reveal to me an answer. Instead Universe said “because this is the way it is meant to be”.  And that was that. 

I closed my eyes. I took that answer and rolled it around in my brain. I made its hard edges soft with pondering. It became malleable and I held it in my hands.  What I saw there was peace. This was the first time I had truly felt serene about where I was in my life and the circumstances surrounding it. I clung that moment like a warm embrace. I could see my concerns and sadness whirling around me.  I also saw happiness and contentment. These feelings and experiences make me whole. I pictured myself as earth, this little ball of mass, which without lightness and darkness, without water and air, would cease to prosper. 

And so is my being. Without trials and tribulation without success and prosperity, one’s life cannot be complete. The Universe showed me in order to appreciate the goodness in my life I had to see bad times as well. And in order to experience those bad times, I had to see goodness.  I started to understand the necessity of life balance. I must work as hard as I play. I must appreciate the love in my life as well as the dislike. I have to embrace chaos and balance it with serenity. 

To some this might seem like a hippy dippy sort of approach to life, but this isn’t about being one with earth and nature. It isn’t about meditating or chanting or even praying. This is about appreciating life in its entirety. 

 I’m welcoming 2012. I’m looking forward to what it holds for me, both good and bad. I’m excited to watch myself become the person I am meant to be.  

Happy New Year!

November 3, 2011

So there's this guy....

 So, this guy walks into a bar - no seriously, he did and he was way cute! If you're waiting for a punchline, it's not gonna happen, I just wanted a clever way to hook you all into reading this. Pretty good, huh? Initially I wasn't going to do this because I feel like every time I write about something extra awesome that is happening in my life, I somehow end up jinxing it, and I REALLY don't want to jinx this. I also feel, however that everything happens for a certain reason therefore there must be a reason I'm writing this. Luck be damned! So back to that guy in the bar...

I had met Him while doing my second round of online dating. Online dating, man! Can we talk about that for a second? It's intense - not intense in the oh-my-god-I-hope-I-find-THE-one kinda way. More like, oh-my-god-I-hope-no-weirdo-freak-psycho-killers-are-creeping-on-my-profile kinda way. I could go on and on about the "lovely" men I've had the pleasure of meeting online, but I'll digress. Maybe in a different blog.

So He emails me. Good start. All His spelling and grammar are correct. It was a cute short little email. Good. Checked out the profile picture of Him...with a GIRL? No explanation of said girl in picture, clearly no attempt was made to cut her out of the picture. I'd like to assume sister, but I go with  ex-girlfriend. Check stats. No kids. Good. Older. Good. Doesn't smoke, college degree, job. Good, good, good. Hmm, things are lookin' like a go. I email back, and so starts a friendly little week long conversation which ends with an invitation to get together. Duh, I said "yes".

So this is the part where He walks into the bar. I'll set the tone for you. I was so nervous to meet Him, I was using yoga breathing techniques on the drive over, hoping to quell my urge to puke. It was POURING out. I did have cute hair at one point, but I'm pretty sure by the time I ran from the parking lot to the bar, I looked like a wet rat. Eh, maybe he won't notice, I am showing a little cleav after all.

He hasn't arrived yet. I fear our date might already be going downhill when I discover the bar is full. Like, U-Haul full of linebackers, kind of full. He texts me "just walking in". Suddenly, there is a subconscious mantra going through my head: "PLEASEBECUTE, PLEASEBECUTE, PLEASEBECUTE". He walks in, CUTE!!! Yes! Score one for the night! Oh! And He's tall! Score two!! Alright, things are looking up! We do the awkward handshake and then stare at each other for a second while we are trying to answer the hostess's question whether we'd like to put our names down for a table or not. I'm thinking "No! I didn't sign up for dinner! Too much pressure, what if you're super weird. What if you like Star Trek marathons and still do keg stands?? Just drinks". Apparently He has different ideas, our names are down. We try to shimmy our way through the bar to wait. Oh! What's that?! Two ladies leaving happy hour a little late, open spots! Score three for the night.

So we're seated. Side by side we stare at the drink menu. I'm wondering what to order that is strong enough to chill me out, but not strong enough to make me look like an alcoholic. Jameson it is. He orders wine. Hmmm, wine? I decide I'm ok with that. Drinks are ordered, time to start the small talk. Wait, this isn't small talk. What is happening? Is He actually having a normal conversation with me? Oh, that girl in your picture was just a friend? What, you like to cook? You've traveled around the world? Ahh! I don't know what to do! I had memorized the weekend forecast just in case we needed a topic! I'm jumping up and down inside! Yes!! He's smart! He looks at me when He talks. Something is happening here...

Another Jameson, now He has me laughing. Man, He's got a great smile. I wonder if he's going to kiss me tonight? Another glass of wine (for him). Bathroom break. I check my watch. Holy hell! It's 11pm. We've been talking and drinking for 5 hours! There is definitely something happening here. Back at the bar, we are people watching. Possibly one of my favorite pastimes.  Turns out, he does too! We make up stories for the feisty old trollop across the bar, hitting on the Jersey Shore cast member wanna be. And one for the two gentleman across from us wearing  wolf shirts probably purchased at a goodwill. Yes. I am liking this tall cute boy.

Now it's nearly midnight, on a Tuesday. We both have to work in the morning. So, we tab out. He pays - this is new! He walks me to my car. Hug. Mmmm, good hug. The kind that makes you smile while you're still embracing. Ahh! He's so tall, I love it! Done with the hug. Kiss? Nope, but I'm ok with it. I'm liking this guy. I get into my jeep and start towards home. Yep, there is definitely, most certainly something happening.

October 28, 2011


I've always said I have a circle face
When you carve a pumpkin you open up the top, scrape out all the gunky seeds and pulp. You put it in a bag and toss it out (well, except for the seeds. I toast those and eat ‘em!) Anyway, while you’re scraping and pulling out goo, you’re thinking about what awesome design you’re going to carve on this pumpkin. It’s going to be something you’re proud of, maybe something that makes you laugh. In any case, it’s something you want other people to look at and admire.

So you cut and shave and poke and pull until, VOILA! Your jack-o-lantern is complete! It’s not perfect, maybe you accidentally scraped out a little too much, maybe you made one of his features just a little too small, but others will never notice. You take out your matches and light a little candle to place inside. You put the cover on to protect the flame, then you stand back and gaze. Your jack-o-lantern looks perfect and it’s all because of that hard work you put in, and the little flame burning inside. 

This got me to thinking about how a great jack-o-lantern is the perfect metaphor for one’s self. 

I’ve worked hard to carve out the features I’d like people to see. I had to dig inside myself and get rid of my emotional gunk and goo. I put it in a bag and threw it away. And then I worked and worked, carving out and working on myself until I was finally satisfied. Now people can look at me and see my little light. 

Everyone has issues, emotional and otherwise, but a lot of people have a hard time letting go. When we let go and get over our issues, we are cleaning out our emotional gunk. While we’re doing that we are working on becoming a better person, the person we want to be, and the person we want others to really see. When we’ve made enough room inside and we’ve carved and sculpted ourselves just enough, people start to see our light. People get to see who we really are. And the part I think that is the most fantastic of all is the fact that you get to create whatever picture you’d like people to see. 

So what do you want to be this Halloween? Maybe it’s time to start carving out your own self and getting rid of that emotional crap inside. Just a little something to think about while you’re munching on your pumpkin seeds this Halloween season.

September 23, 2011

Hooked Up

Most of you who read my blog know about Operation Hookworm. If you don’t, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: After 27 some years of asthma attacks, allergies and eczema, I was turned on to a new “treatment” for these sorts of autoimmune deficiencies. The premise: infect yourself with hookworm larva. Once the hookworms mature in your body, they secrete a substance that sort of tones down your immune response to allergens. Infected patients were seeing dramatic results. No more allergies, no more asthma attacks! The cost? A mere $3000 (not covered by insurance of course). See my December blog “Hope for My Holidays” for a better back story and how I raised the funds.

Now let’s fast forward. I "adopted" 35 hookworms on March 14th. By “adopted” I mean had them shipped from England to Canada, went to Canada, put them on my skin and let them burrow their way into my belly. It was really not as bad as it sounds. 

The baby hookworms come in a tiny vial. They are so small they aren’t visible to the human eye.
35 Hookworms in their Vials
They are suctioned out of their vial and placed on a large Band-Aid. Once they are all there, the Band-Aid is transferred to my skin.
Putting them on a band-aid
I put mine on the inside of my bicep where the skin is soft and relatively hairless. Within about 10 minutes I started to feel an itch at the site. This was a good thing; it meant the wormies were on the move. What happens is the larva irritates the skin and causes it to become inflamed and almost liquefied, allowing the larva to penetrate between the skin cells. They sure are smart little dudes.

Ready to move in!
After they entered the skin, they moved into the bloodstream. I liked to picture them on a lazy river ride through my body, they just sort of drifted about, checking out the new territory. They moved through the lungs where they kicked up a little dust, causing me to cough and swallow. Then they found a comfy little spot to call home. And you know what they say about a new home, "location, location, location!" They found the best spot, located right below my belly, where they have access to all my favorite foods like ice cream and coffee and pineapple! I'm also pretty sure they have a great view of some pretty healthy internal organs. Once they found a place to call home, they threw themselves a little housewarming soirée. I was hoping maybe they'd have a low key dinner party, instead they had a kegger. They partied for weeks. Clearly, we had not discussed the terms of the lease.

In the outside world, where I live, I was experiencing the worst stomach ache I had ever had. Everything normal I ate, the worms hated. They only wanted cheerios and iced tea. Try to give them a pizza and they threw a FIT! This didn’t start right away. It took about 3 weeks, but then it was on! It was so bad; I would lie in my bed on my knees in a ball, waiting for the pain to stop. It was about 3 weeks before the pain subsided. Bonus side effect though, lost 5 lbs.

Back inside, the wormies were growing up. Thank goodness! They traded in their keg cups for briefcases and went to work. They attached themselves inside my intestines and began to secrete their secret sauce that makes this process work.

In the mean time would check in with Jasper, my hookworm guy in England on a regular basis. While I was seeing some results, I wasn’t seeing as many as he wanted to see. He suggested I get a few more babies, 50 more to be exact. He assured me that since I was already hosting 35, I wouldn't have such an extreme reaction as I did with the previous. At that point he could have told me I would have a stomach ache 10x as bad, I still would have done it. I felt like I’d come too far to stop. So at the end of July, I was hooked up again.
2nd dose in and ready to work

It’s now been a bit more than 6 months since my initial inoculation, and I'm now the proud mom to 85 hookworms and the results I have seen have been amazing! My eczema is fantastic! All summer I was able to wear short sleeves without worrying about how bad the eczema on my arms was. I stopped taking one of my asthma medicines completely, and I only have had to use my rescue inhaler about once every 2 weeks or so. BW (before worms) I was taking my rescue inhaler at least once a day. I would have to refill it every month. I have the same one now that I refilled in June. 

My allergies have been a bit stubborn. It’s been a horrible summer for them here in the cities; however my reactions have stayed pretty mild. I have had some friends miss work because their allergies have been so bad, so the fact that mine are pretty status quo for this time of year is great! 

The worms are also supposed to help with my MS. Granted, my MS has pretty much been benign since my initial diagnosis almost 5 years ago; I have still had what I call “ghost symptoms” from time to time. These are not real relapses. They happen when I get overheated or have a fever. The body mimics MS symptoms like tingling in the feet or hands and extreme fatigue. Since my wormies moved in, I’ve experienced none of these. I have been able to be out in the heat of the summer without problems. In a lot of ways, the last 6 months have been absolutely fantastic! 

The ultimate goal is to be able to completely stop my asthma and allergy meds, and to be rid of my eczema all together. I’m very early in the stages of this process. It can take up to a whole year to see the full results. So far so good!

I want to thank every for all the support and good vibes you’ve sent my way through this process. It’s been a weird one, to say the least, but it’s really changing my life. I’m so grateful to everyone who had a part in making this happen. I’ll keep updating from time to time on here. 

If you’d like to learn more, or if you know someone who might benefit from this treatment, please check out Jasper Lawrence’s site. It’s full of information and testimonies. This treatment can truly change lives, and I’m lucky enough to be proof!!

My hookworm hookup.  Jasper Lawrence's Site 

Information on  How This Works

August 10, 2011

Grown Up

Dear Little Jacqueline,

There are so many things that I should tell you now. They will make your future so much easier. First of all, stop putting mom’s lipstick on and kissing your “Dirty Dancing” posters of Patrick Swayze. This is something your mom will tell to family members and you will be mocked for it in later years. 

Keep your “My Little Ponies” and your “Strawberry Shortcake” dolls. In the future they starve the ponies and make them too skinny and they turn Strawberry Shortcake into a sort of pastry-loving hooker with a skirt that’s too short and a creepy “come-hither” smile…  Also hold onto your Mr. Bear. He’s going to get old and ragged looking, he’s not ever going to be blue again, but in your late twenties, when no one is around and you’re too sad for words, you can take comfort in that soft blue teddy bear that greeted you in the hospital nursery so many years ago.

Know that when your parent’s divorce it will be a good thing. Your mom will find out just how strong of a woman she is, and you’ll live a happier life with one parent who didn’t settle vs. two that did. Your parents will re-marry and  you’ll love your stepmom with all your heart. She is an amazing woman! And you will love your stepdad too, he will turn out to be a solid rock in your corner whenever you need him.

Treasure the days you run around outside at grandma and grandpa’s - building secret forts and playing Army. Try not to fight with your cousins too much. Know that grandma’s chili won’t get any better as you grow up, but her sugar cookies will always be amazing! Savor those trips to the general store for 5 cent candy. In a few years, that store won’t even exist. Bonus tip: when you go sledding down the hill behind the store, make sure to pee first because you can’t drop snowpant trou just anywhere, and the walk home in pee pants is a long one. 

Ignore the mean girls in 4th grade. You may think they are the bee’s knees now, but turns out they never leave Two Harbors and end up working at Pamida to support their 3 kids. Try to keep your bossiness to a minimum. While the experience will help you in your leadership roles in the future, your little brother will resent you for it when you’re a teenager. Your eczema will get better as you get older, so don’t let the nasty comments hurt too much. In the future, you’re not too bad to look at (you will however, never lose your Cabbage Patch Kid cheeks – bummer, I know).

Don’t worry about not having your first kiss in middle school. I’d say the wait makes it better, but you’ll be wiping spit off your face for days after that first one. Try not to make fun of your 5th grade science teacher, Mr. Mostrom. Your mom is going to marry his brother one day, so you’ll be seeing him around. Don’t get too annoyed with your brother. Yeah he doesn’t bathe a lot and he is extremely irresponsible, but when you get older, you will realize that he’s one of your biggest fans and when you feel like you’re all alone, you’ll always have his shoulder to cry on. 

Fall hard for your high school boyfriend. That’s puppy love that you’ll never experience again. And when you breakup, don’t let yourself be sad for too long. There will be other amazing men in your life! Hold onto your belief in how you should be treated, and settle for nothing less. Bonus tip: if you’re sad just long enough, you’ll lose 15lbs and be sporting a size 6 pair of jeans! Sometime’s breakup diets are the BEST!

Sneak out of the house once for sure. Don’t worry about getting caught, just go. Cruise the loop in Canal Park, whistle at cute boys and sneak in before your mom gets up. Ask your brother for tips on this. He’ll get away with it all through high school. 

Go away for college. Don’t stay for that boy, you’ll be broken up your freshman year anyway. Choose your major in psyche, it’s what you will always want to do. Even though you think he knows it all, do not pick a major solely based on what your grandpa thinks is “reliable”. Got to a college frat party, check out a kegger, try to be a little more open-minded and not such a goodie two-shoes. Invent a game called “beer pong” and patent that. It’s going to be a college party staple in years to come. 

Marry that guy, it’s not going to work out, but it will be necessary to shape you into the strong woman you will become. It will also be the only chance you will get to have your dad walk you down the aisle. Remember that feeling. Make sure to take your dog in the divorce. Though you will feel like it’s forced upon you, she’ll be your best friend sometimes. Love her unconditionally.
Be picky with who you date. Don’t go on pity dates. Eventually you’ll find the guts to turn someone down, without feeling like a bitch. And ALWAYS listen to your little voice. It does keep you safe. 

Don’t get overwhelmed by your illnesses. There are some little tiny friends headed your way that will change your life! 

Recycle and eat meat that’s grass fed and eat cage-free chicken. STOP eating at McDonalds. Your mom will make fun of you for this. Give up the Dr. Pepper and switch over to ice tea. You will NEVER get over your coffee addiction though, take peace in that.  That delicious cup of tasty goodness is sometimes the only thing that will get you through your day. 

See your dad as much as possible. Love him with his flaws and all. Forgive him for his misgivings – there is a reason for it all. Insist he visit you more; take lots of pictures when he does. Celebrate a Christmas, his birthday and your birthday with him. You will treasure those memories forever! Stand up to your family for their judgments against him. Remember that no one is perfect and everyone has a story. His death will be unexpected and you will grieve for your loss, for the most part alone. Try not to hold a grudge against your family for this, for they know not what you are going through. Take solace in the fact that his friends and your step-family love you immensely and will NEVER let you forget what good man he turned out to be.

Try not to put too much energy into finding “THE ONE”. Though, I’m not quite there to share that outcome with you, I know it will happen. Be happy being alone before you start your relationship. Look at the relationships around you to remind yourself what you want and what you don’t want.  Spend more time with your friends and be comfortable being alone. Read a lot – you will love your Kindle despite your initial aversion to the idea. Go to more concerts, they are once in a lifetime moments. Try to spend more time with your brother. Turns out, he will not always be annoying.

And last but not least, stay optimistic. Don’t let the pitfalls of life bring you all the way down. They may seem like too much as you go through them (and you will deal with A LOT before you turn 30) but you will always make it to the other side. Know that everything happens for a reason. Know your mom will always love you, no matter what. Know you are important to others and love yourself. You are a good person and you will get back what you give out to this amazing universe.

Good Luck Lucy Goosie (that’s a nickname your parents will always use)


A More Grown Up Jacqueline