So Long, Celebrity Gossip

Update: Tonight is the Teen Mom 2 season premiere. I decided to switch gears with my writing a few weeks ago and, as a result, will not be covering anything from the new season or Teen Mom related. My focus is now creative writing.

Writing is my passion and has been since I was a child. Hollywood has always been my second passion. The celebrity culture has intrigued me from a young age and I always yearned to be as close to it as possible.

One thing I never saw myself doing, though, was writing celebrity gossip. Being a gossip writer isn’t exactly respected nor does it require a lot of talent. However, I fell into a job writing celebrity gossip quite some time ago and I was never able to pull myself out of the abyss.

With so much negativity, I made it a point to keep anything that I wrote positive… do you know how exhausting that can become? My main focus was the reality television show franchise Teen Mom. My positive articles helped me to get to know some of the cast members. While wonderful, this made writing about them even harder. When you see a headline and you know that it is embellished, it makes it hard to write about it at all. In fact, the negativity had become so much that I found myself forcing myself to write. My passion had become an obligation and something I no longer enjoyed. I never wanted writing to become that to me so I quit the celebrity gossip scene.

It has been hard, but at the same time, it has been fantastic. I have more time to spend with my sons and a more positive outlook. I also have many more opportunities for my talents and although I haven’t made a clear decision on what I want to do or where I want to go with my writing, I know I made the right choice.

 

Live Like You Are Dying

When the song Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw came out on the radio years ago, I remember thinking it was kind of morbid. Why on earth would someone need to be told they are dying in order to start living? Well, like most things, I suppose it is one of those things that you need to experience in order to fully understand.

At 20 weeks of pregnancy, I was told I had preeclampsia. This diagnosis was made off of protein in my urine and nothing else. My blood pressure was fine and I felt fine. I had gone to the emergency room after a day of binge eating Burger King. My blood pressure was slightly elevated, but not past the 140/90 threshold needed to diagnose the illness. That, along with a headache I was having (likely due to the immense amount of fast food I had consumed) and the leaky protein earned me a stay in the hospital. While they were getting everything ready, I vomited everywhere and immediately felt amazing and ready to go home. However, they weren’t willing to send me home.

Over the next few weeks and months, we were on a roller coaster. Some doctors were certain I had the disorder while others were on the fence. At the end of the day, they knew something was wrong, but what?  Frantic, we cancelled our highly anticipated Christmas trip to Texas in fear that my “preeclampsia” would worsen and I would take a turn for the worse.

That is the thing about preeclampsia. You can have it and feel fine, but wake up one day on the verge of HELLP Syndrome, both you and your unborn baby barely hanging on. This is how serious pre-e can be and it is scary when you are told you have it. Am I going to wake up in the middle of the night with my blood pressure near stroke levels and need to be rushed to the ER? Will I still be alive tomorrow when my husband gets home from work or will I be passed out on the floor due to this?

These were the questions that ran through my mind and it didn’t help that every doctor I visited told me something different. Why didn’t I see the same doctor each time? Well, my hospital just doesn’t work like that and it is a shame. They do the best they can, but with so many patients, it makes it difficult to be able to see the same doctor each visit. I was classified as high risk so that did help my case in that, near the end of the pregnancy, I was able to see the same doctor almost regularly, and if not her, someone on her team , so that was comforting.

With pre-e, they like to induce you at 37-weeks. I had not had one high blood pressure reading the entire pregnancy and pushed to go naturally. Luckily, my doctors agreed and saw no reason I could not go to 39 weeks on my own, barring nothing major came up in that time (remember when I said pre-e can take a turn for the worse instantly? Yes, we were still watching carefully so that wouldn’t happen.) They scheduled my induction for April 15 and I prayed that my son would come before then, but as the date approached, it seemed that wouldn’t happen.

On the morning of April 14, I woke up with my husband who had to leave for work at 4 am. I felt strange, but thought maybe I just hadn’t slept well the night before and went back upstairs. A few minutes later, my water broke and my husband had to turn around to come back home and take me to the hospital. The delivery went smooth and my son was born in the early afternoon , healthy.

I had made it through the pregnancy without developing worsening symptoms of preeclampsia, but the rollercoaster ride wasn’t over. The hospital insisted I stay for several days so that I didn’t get postpartum preeclampsia. This is rare, but does happen, and requires a blood pressure of 160/110 in order for them to worry. My blood pressure was normal the entire stay, so yes, I did fight them on keeping me longer than I needed to be there. I went home after staying an additional 24-hours and, guess what… I didn’t develop postpartum preeclampsia.

Did I ever  have the disorder? I will likely never know, but this experience has opened up my eyes. Perhaps that is why it happened, because doesn’t everything happen for a reason?

When I was going through the uncertainty and being given worst case scenarios, I sat down and took a look at my life and realized that if I were to die then, I was not happy with the person people would remember me as. I was not a terribly mean person, but I was selfish and not always as kind and loving as I should have been. It literally took me being told I could potentially die for me to realize I needed to turn my life around. I became a better person, not only for those around me, but for myself. I made a will, I wrote letters to my loved ones, and I cried myself to sleep thinking of the things I may never get the chance to do and the things I wish I would have done differently.

My husband was shocked to the change in my personality and he wondered if it was going to be long-lasting and, I can’t blame him for feeling that way. He was upset that it took something so serious for me to open my eyes and for a while was angry that I couldn’t be this person sooner in our relationship or in our life.

Yes, it is a shame that people often don’t make a change until they live like they are dying, but it is simply human nature for us to feel that we are invincible and nothing will happen to us. When we are faced with mortality and realize it is a real possibility and could happen at any moment, suddenly we see things differently.

Is it fair? Not exactly, but now the lyrics “and I hope someday you get the chance to live like you were dying” make perfect sense to me.

Staying Positive In the World of Celebrity Gossip

When people ask what I do for a living I answer, “I’m a freelance writer.” Nine times out of ten, the follow-up question is, “What do you write?” This is where it gets interesting. When I answer “mostly celebrity gossip,” they either look at me and say “that’s interesting” or they inquire more in-depth. I will then go into an almost rehearsed speech at this point where I explain that the bulk of my writing focuses on reality television, mainly Teen Mom and that I fell into by accident.

I truly did.

My first freelance job was in 2009 and I was (well, still am for that site) a pop culture writer. The bulk of my material centered around Miley Cyrus as that was around the time she was quitting Hannah Montana and doing outrageous things that the public loves to read about.

And that is the point. The public doesn’t want to read about a celebrity having a great day or doing something good. Rather, the public wants the negativity, the drama. They want to hear about drug problems, rehab, scandals. I suppose it is their way to look at celebrities and say, “See, they aren’t so perfect.”

Not every story I have ever written has been completely positive; I would be lying if I said it was. There was a time I fed into the drama because, well, more drama equals more views. However, there came a point when I realized that celebrities may be rich and famous, but they are also human beings. I think it hit me most when I started covering Teen Mom 2 extensively.

Like these girls, I was a young single mom. While I was older than any of them, I could still relate to their struggles. Then, I would log onto social networking and see the immense hate that these girls were receiving for living their lives. Were they perfect? No, but was the public seeing everything exactly how it was? Again, no. There is so much editing that goes into reality television that people don’t take into consideration. Rather, they see that the show is a “reality show” and assume that everything is “real.”

It’s not. And that is why I chose to take a positive approach to celebrity gossip writing. Has it always gone over well? Definitely not. However, it has helped me to appreciate people more and has even helped me to have the opportunity to chat with some of the girls. It always makes me smile when one of the Teen Mom girls will “favorite” or “retweet” an article of mine. It makes me proud to know that they appreciate what I wrote about them; They didn’t have to take the time to even look at what I wrote, but for a second they did and they liked it. That always makes me feel like I am doing a great job at staying positive.

Pregnancy and Preeclampsia

Gender Reveal

Gender Reveal

When I found out I was pregnant, I thought that my availability to write would be cut down immensely. I was wrong. For the first 20-weeks, I was able to write as well as do the things that I normally do including helping out at my church. At 21-weeks, I was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a condition which can be serious, but luckily mine has remained stable since week 25. Unfortunately, they don’t know if my symptoms are related to preeclampsia as I don’t have high blood pressure or any other symptoms, but rather only proteinuria. The latter can possibly be attributed to an autoimmune disorder which I am not technically diagnosed with, but am suspected to have.

Needless to say, things have been different. As a result of the diagnosis, we were forced to cancel our Christmas trip to Texas to visit my husband’s family. I have never had the opportunity to meet them and was excited to finally have that chance. Of course, they were understanding about the entire thing, but I can’t help but feel guilty.

After the diagnosis, I was diligent in changing my diet. I cut out fast food completely, cut down on processed food, and kept my sodium in check. It took a few weeks, but the diet change seemed to help. I have more energy and just feel great. Not only that, but I have incorporated some foods back into my diet that I normally wouldn’t want to eat, but since it is in moderation, I feel okay about it.

Luckily, I have had relatively good medical attention and, even though the preeclampsia diagnosis may have been premature, I am happy that I was given that eye opening experience. Not only has it helped me to take better care of myself, but it has also taught me to listen to my body more. Rather than trying to do everything all the time, I realize that I can’t do it all.

Perhaps the hardest thing was being told I couldn’t coach cheerleading this season. I attempted to coach one practice, but realized early on that, on to of everything else including growing a human inside me, I just couldn’t do it this year.

However, it has given me more time to write. By changing my diet, I have been able to feel better and that includes waking up very early. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person, so me waking up at 6:30am each morning is highly unheard of, but I do it. This allows me to allot time to work as well as rest throughout the day and do everything else that needs to be done.

I still have a few more weeks to go in this pregnancy before we meet our little guy (yes, it is another boy!) and I know that, once he is here, my time crunch will really come into play!

[Photo Credit: T.Y. Photography]

Memories.

Sometimes, I get these random urges to visit somewhere that I have been before. They say smell is the sense that is most closely related to memory and that makes sense. Late September and the smell of fall takes me back to South Dakota.

The end of tourist season was upon the sleepy little town of Keystone and few shops on the strip were open, but the smell of the air was mesmerizing. It was crisp and you could smell a hint of winter in the air, even though it was only the beginning of Fall (and not even officially yet.) Sometimes, though, I get an urge to go somewhere and there are no smells involved in the nostalgic urge. Tonight, it is Coronado, California.

I wish I could visit the island again. The Coronado bridge which connected the island to downtown San Diego was visible from the road and the bike path that I often found myself on back in those days. The site of the Coronado hotel, so prestigious, standing there with all of the other landmarks.

Balboa Park… across the water and over the bridge, but close enough to drive to on a day for some fun and whimsy.

I remember driving up the Silver Strand Highway some mornings belting out California Girls while watching the Pacific Island waves crash on the beach.

Pure magic.

These are all memories, locked away in my head. Life goes on, time changes things, but memories remain.

My Book <3

If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have noticed a few posts regarding my upcoming first book. I have been writing since I was a child. I remember when I was five, I wrote a story (I don’t recall the content, but I was five so it couldn’t have been that in depth) and used a cereal box turned inside out to create a cover and binding.  20  years later, my first real book is nearing completion and I won’t need to use a cereal box for the cover!

So, what is it about?

Well, it is a childrens book. This surprises me, too, as I have never been a children’s writer. However, the content is in regards to a military deployment and seeing it through the eyes of a child. While there are some books out there on the subject, I was shocked at how few I could find. So, I decided to write one myself.

I toyed with it for a few weeks and had a vague idea of what I wanted to produce. Then, one day in church I was struck with the motivation to finish my work. The pastor asked us what we were doing with the talents God gave us and how we could use them to change the world. That night, I sat at my desk and the words flowed from my mind in a way I could never have imagined. It was magical and, when it was finished, I was elated.

I sent the rough copy off to a few friends, many writers, to gain some perspective. Perhaps the most noteworthy feedback I received was from a very good writer friend of mine who, not only has a Masters Degree, but also several self published books of her own. Having never dealt with a deployment, she explained to me that the work invoked deep emotion in her.

What more could I ask? That is certainly the aspect I was going for with this work. I wanted to bring deployment to life through the eyes of a child and show it how they see it. They don’t see it the way an adult does and they make imagine their own ways of why their loved ones are away.

It is currently in the illustration process; I am thankful to have a fried who is gifted in drawing and can bring this book to life. To make it better, she has experience with military life so this book is special to both of us.

I thank everyone for their support in my work. See, I am more than just celebrity gossip ;)

On that note, though, I am working on two novels. One of these works is extra close to my heart; I have been penning thoughts in my journal as they come to me and this will serve as the foundation for what I hope to be my first adult novel. My other work will be more of a look inside the mind of a gossip writer and show the world that sitting online all day following celebrities isn’t exactly a “sweet” lifestyle.

I will most certainly keep everyone updated with my work.

 

The Positive Approach

Don’t you love when you go to church and what the Pastor is preaching is exactly what you need to hear? That happened to me this past Sunday. We ready from 1 Kings and talked about how God will isolate you, take you away from the things that you so regularly depend on so that you can only depend on him. While that part spoke to me, there was another part that hit home for me more and that is doing the right thing, morally.

In today’s world, it is so easy to give in to society’s demands in nearly every business sector. Plain and simple, I write celebrity gossip. I love my job and have been doing it since 2008, but my style of writing has changed over the years.

The pastor talked about how it is easy to “make a quick buck,” in our jobs and when he said that, I couldn’t help but think about the tabloids that spew celebrity hate or the bloggers who will take a tweet and make it more dramatic. Morally, most people WANT to do the right thing, but financially they can’t afford to.

For several years, I took the gossipy route of writing. I was just starting out and, to a new writer, watching the number of views rise is pivotal in choosing the style of voice they will use. In my earliest of days, I focused my work on Miley Cyrus. Back then, she was 17-years-old, on the verge of adulthood and breaking out of her shell. Miley was caught clubbing? The Disney darling caught smoking? Was that Miley Cyrus drinking ALCOHOL? No matter what she did, writing about it earned views, but what earned more views was the gossipy things that I just mentioned.

[Off topic.. but remember when that whole “Miley Save Fuzzy” thing went down? There was a Twitter user who threatened to cook and eat their cat if Miley did not reinstate her Twitter account? I actually interviewed that individual via email and, for some reason, I still wonder if that was an elaborate prank or a deranged fan. I still don’t know.]

Overtime, however, I didn’t feel good about myself with the things I was writing. I took a new approach and, at first, it wasn’t very popular, just as my Pastor revealed on Sunday. My views went down, a lot. Few people want to read about positive things; No, most people thrive on the negativity so that they can feel better about themselves. It is a shame that news is more valuable than the positive.

Eventually, I was able to gain a bigger audience with my positive posts. I feel a lot better with myself and I am doing better now than I was when I was on the other end of the spectrum.

At the end of the day, doing the right thing may not be the most popular thing to do. But, in life, it isn’t about popularity (well, it is for some people.) For me, it  is about doing what I love (writing) and doing it well.