Saturday, December 1, 2018

Well, so it's been a couple of months. They have been quite difficult for me, and it rarely had anything to do with Paula, so I just kind of disappeared. With all of the personal issues going on and that continues to happen, I wanted to take a second to, first of all, thank you for your patience and sticking with me. Secondly, I wanted to take a minute to stop and look back at how far I have come.

When I first started this blog, life was so drastically different. I was living in Hawaii, had just received an official diagnosis for my TS, though I had been living with it significantly longer than that. I had spent the semester studying Tourette Syndrome and how it affects communication, and I realized what a benefit it has been in my life and how much more I could do with it.

I don't think I would be facing everything in my life quite as well if I hadn't first figured out how to utilize awkward things. Awkward moments can be hard to deal with, but I feel like I've cracked the code. The same principles have crossed over into dealing with tragedy and fear. I am a better person and more capable of handling whatever comes my way thanks to my Tourette Syndrome. Even better, I can help others to do the same. I have been given a huge gift, not only personally, but professionally as well.

I have come a long way from that very first squeak in the public library my senior year of high school. I have come even farther since my diagnosis and study of Tourette's. I have come so far since publishing my first book. Even more in the last year that I have really given it more focus and attention. The things I have faced in the past two months may be difficult, but by the end of the year, I will have gone even farther and face an amazing 2019.

Many of you know how much I absolutely adore the New Year holiday. Yes, I have already started my celebration of it, even though we haven't really gotten through Christmas yet. All of the progress that I continue to make has been increasing in intensity and momentum. Which means 2019 is going to be out of control with its level of amazingness.

Because of my excitement, as well as because of the season, I want to share something with you. Part of the reason my year has been so amazing, despite everything that has happened, is because I have been studying with a mentor named Benjamin Hardy. He has created an online course called AMP. It stands for Accelerated Momentum Program.

Last year, I invested $1,000 to get in this course and it has been worth the money. The cost is the same this year, but here's the thing, I want to help other people succeed, too. This is a season for giving, reflection, excitement and new things. SO, I want to offer this course to you for half the price. If you are interested in joining me on my journey, rather than simply following along, if you are interested in changing the life you have, simply upgrading your abilities or just want to try something new, comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or send me an email at and I will get you the information. This is only valid while Ben is still taking applicants. It will likely end around the start of the new year.

Guys, I can't even tell you how much of a steal this is to get in for just $500. Totally promise it's worth it. In fact, I'm working on a project to toss in a few things of my own for you as well, so be sure to let me know if you are interested and I'll toss in a few extras to REALLY make it worth your while.

You are amazing. Sounds like a change of topic, but just know it's legit.

Touch Base

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Wow, so I'm not sure how over an entire month has gotten away from me. It might be due to the fact that Paula has been fairly mild mannered for a bit. Tics do come and go and I guess she is just biding her time until she can make some really good stories or something. Which is a strong possibility. It has been the pattern before. After all, I've had Paula for about 15 years now, and while she normally doesn't have very many patterns, the only constant is that she always comes back.

However, I've noticed over the years as I have watched Paula evolve that her mood tends to change and bears a creepy resemblance to a human of about the same age. I've watched her "grow" and evolve over the years. The pre-teen, early teen age was particularly rough and where most of this blog has taken place. Now that she is 15, she is starting to mature I guess?

Anyways, I just wanted to touch base and say that Paula and I are both alive and well. I've just been working on so many exciting projects. I should really cut back and focus on one at a time, but I just get so excited! Book 3 is coming together, I am working on an online course and getting an entire new idea to somehow incorporate and tie into the foundation I have already built. That's on top of the regular day job, too. Wish me luck, but be excited for new things!

Examples in Friendship

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sometimes I am touched by what a good example that Paula is to me. She really is quite thoughtful and considerate. She reminds me often of why I love people so much, and I am inspired by how much she loves people. This trip to Banff was needed for me on many levels, but most of all, I appreciated coming away with deeper relationships with the others in the group.

Now we already know that Paula liked flirting with all the boys, but what was especially great was being one of just two girls that went on the trip, and Paula just loves Rachael. It was kind of adorable to watch. Especially because I just love Rachael, too. When I first met her, we bonded very quickly.

Rachael and I at a Garden Party

On occasion when we were sitting next to each other in the car, she would rest her head on my shoulder. At which point, Paula would then express her feelings with a tender, "Awwww!" Which ironically would then make Rachael's head snap up with such an immense look of pure joy. Friendship is a beautiful thing and it is good to love and be loved by these special friends in my life.

Even beyond those sweet and tender moments, Paula and Rachael just had so much fun together. They were quite often playing a game of Marco Polo, calling out to each other much of the trip. Rachael almost seemed to have a bit more control over Paula than I did, as each time she heard, "Marco!" Paula would respond, not with the word exactly, but the tone of one who would echo, "Polo!"

Paula likes playing games, especially with those she loves. What good friend doesn't do that?

Tourette Syndrome and Eating Habits

Saturday, August 18, 2018

There are some who claim that Tourette Syndrome can be cured with correct diet and exercise. When put on a strict diet, they claim that it has completely disappeared.

While that must have been important to them to stick to such a strong diet, that is obviously not the route I want to take for many reasons. First being that I like having Paula around and second that I just love food. All kinds. Often not the healthiest for me. It just tastes so good! I like the healthy stuff, too, believe it or not. When I say all kinds, I mean it.

So it's nice to know that Paula shares my standard with food. Probably because of the possibility that it affects her very existence. Probably just because food is awesome.

While in Canada, we ate out at one particular place that I can't recall. Which is a shame, because it was delicious. Looking at the menu and discussing different options, someone mentioned a plant-based burger. Paula immediately sounded impressed, letting out an, "Oooooo!"

However, shortly thereafter, someone mentioned that they might want the steak. This time, she sounded like a trumpet, blasting out, "Wah wah waaaaaah!"

I think she might be a carnivore. She sounded much more impressed by the steak.

Photo by Alex Munsell on Unsplash

Talents and Lack Thereof

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Considering that Paula isn't technically their own person, she is pretty talented. She can do a lot of things. But just like other human beings, she can't do everything. There are some things she just should not be doing. Bless her heart, she tries anyway.

I am a huge fan of Broadway musicals, and Paula and I both love to try to sing along. While Paula is a fairly talented singer, there are some days she struggles. And just like any other singer, there are just some genres she is better at. I often refer to Paula as my little opera diva. She has great support and vibrato when she belts out those high notes. She can be quite melodic when belting out a tune.

One thing she cannot do though is rap. When the soundtrack to Hamilton comes on, I can sing along and do fairly well. While in Canada, Paula decided to give it a go. I would never laugh at an actual person like this, but this is my TS rather than a human, so in a way, it is like laughing at myself. And did it ever give us cause to laugh!

In her attempts to sing along with Hamilton, she was mumbling the same way she would when she "talks" to a person. She then quickly fell behind. She couldn't quite keep up with the speed of the song. Realizing her inability to keep up, she gradually got quieter and faded out. She has some pride, you know. However, it gave several of us a good laugh.

Traveling with Paula

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Different people have different travel habits. I have not been one to travel much, but when I do, there is a group that I like to stick pretty close to. However, I have friends that travel so often, they usually go alone. This group that went to Banff had both personality types. There was one in particular that like to wander off on his own because he isn't used to groups actually sticking together. We often had to ask where McKay was so he didn't get left behind.

It has been established that Paula quite loves people. She likes to flirt and show off and she certainly brings out the extrovert in me. So when she only has a small, select few to show off for, she has to make sure everyone stays close. She has to keep an eye on them or something. Paula might be a bit motherly, but that is yet to be seen.

When Sam wandered off on his own, there was no one watching him like we were with McKay, and with international travel, we tried to use our devices as little as possible. Instead, we opted to use other resources to find Sam. Once we were ready to go and noticing Sam was not with the group, Rachael turned to me and said, "Paula! Call Sam!"

Now Paula usually has a mind of her own. She does not come on demand like that. In fact, she has been known to chew out the person trying to give her directions and tell her what to do. However, we were surprised at that instant when Paula willingly agreed and let out a loud, "WAHHHHHHHH!"

While that did not bring Sam back to the group, Rachael and I about died laughing. This was a new experience to have Paula willingly comply with directions, but of course the command she would obey would be calling a boy.

Flirting in Canada

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Paula has always been a bit of a flirt. She not only has a winking tic, but her affinity for showing off comes off a little strong sometimes, especially around guys. This is great for me since I am not typically one to flirt much, if at all. Just like flirting in real life, it can cause some trouble when others take things too far or those tics are misinterpreted. And as typically follows in book genres, sometimes it gives a good yarn like this April Fools Day prank I played in 2017. It is certainly one of my best posts, even if it wasn't true.

Maybe this is the reason for her being so active in Banff during my vacation. I went with a group of six guys and one other girl; all of them are wonderful and amazing people. Upon arriving in Calgary, we stopped by a grocery store to pick up a few days worth of food. On the way out, Sam started talking to a guy who was driving a motorcycle about what a great bike it was.

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

As they wrapped up the conversation, the guy on the motorcycle started his bike and drove away. As the distance began to increase, Paula decided to pop out. This was fortunate that the poor stranger didn't have to hear it and get confused. Or take it the wrong way. She cat-called him. Screaming out the common whistle or shout of, "Ow-ow!" as he drove away made me turn a little bit red.

At least it gave us a good chuckle. But seriously, Paula needs to get a little bit of control of this flirting with strangers thing... Sometimes it doesn't end quite as well and results in a rant from me.

At least she knows that I will always be there for her. Usually to clean up her messes, but at least she is willing to give me some credit sometimes, too. I can only shake my head at her, although usually, that's her, too.

Acceptance of Neurodiversity

Saturday, August 4, 2018

I love it when Paula shows up around new people. Especially if they are people that I've already met and they haven't gotten to meet Paula right away. It always ends up being a great story. Take for example the meeting of Bryce. We have a few mutual friends and are occasionally seen in the same social circle. So we had been at a few social gatherings, but yesterday was the first time we had really talked to each other. After a good 20 or 30 minutes of chatting, Paula decided to show up. Our mutual friend, Rachel, acknowledged Paula and there was a bit of back and forth for a bit.

Bryce had looked confused when Paula first showed up, so I backtracked and asked him if he knew what was going on. He might have heard about Paula, my reputation does have a tendency to precede me, Paula does like social gatherings, so she might have gone off in another setting and been talked about, even if I wasn't present for that.

Once it was acknowledged that he had no idea what was going on, I explained, "So I have Tourette Syndrome..." I didn't get much farther than that, because his face lit up with a large smile and said, "YES!" At this point, I just started laughing, that is not a typical reaction when admitting to having a neurological disorder. And while I may have the same joyful exclamation (as does Paula), it's not often that it is shared by someone on the first meeting of Paula.

It turns out that he has another friend with Tourette Syndrome. I don't know much about this friend, but I am grateful that he is the kind who would make it something to be excited about. Times are a-changing. Little by little and story by story, Tourette Syndrome is coming to be more known and more accepted. While there is still a long way to go in the direction of neurodiversity and acceptance, this one small moment warmed my heart and gave me encouragement. It's good to know I'm not alone in this cause.

Want to feel just as comfortable in your own skin? Check out my free guide Control Your Story and sign up for my newsletter for empowering tips to help spread the love.

Caught Red-Handed

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Even before I left for vacation, Paula was excited at the idea. She let out all sorts of happy chirps all day long. My attention span may or may not have been a little shorter than it should have been at work, I confess. So maybe it was guilt for not having my usual laser-focus but Paula seemed to be caught red-handed not  paying attention. But come on, I was headed to Canada in a few short hours! Me, who got a passport for the first time a year ago and has never had a chance to use it, and to a place as beautiful as Banff National Park! So worth it, FYI.

During one of my extremely "focused" moments, Someone called out asking for Barry, who sits right next to me. Before Barry could respond, Paula chirped in with, "Yeah?" Of course, she thinks everything is about her. No one asked you, Paula. Get back to work.

How to Handle Dry Spells and the Importance of Vacations

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fun fact about Tourette Syndrome. It comes and goes as it pleases. It's like the phases of the moon, sometimes you have a full moon, which is like having a lot of tics. No, I'm not a werewolf and no, my tics are not more frequent during the full moon. It's a comparison. Just for the record. 🙂 Sometimes, I won't have many tics, just like how once in a while you have no moon. At least that's visible. Just as the moon is always there, so is my TS.

This makes it a little hard to be consistently writing stories my tics do, when the tics themselves aren't consistent, much less when they aren't new and different during the dry spells. I think I might have been in too much of a good routine because I went on vacation last week (Banff National Park in Canada- it's amazing and you should go!) and oh boy did Paula love it! She was quite active and I suddenly have LOTS of great stuff to write about! Keep your eyes peeled, I'll release them slowly, just in case I hit another dry spell for stories.

In the meantime, here is a great picture to get you excited about the stories to come!

Mirror Lake in Banff. Also, as beautiful as it is, I sure love these people and they are the best part of the picture!

Little Paulas

Monday, July 16, 2018

So this new congregation I'm attending for church... remember how I was so excited about the little kids' reactions because they are always so great? Maybe I shouldn't have been so excited about it. I was asked to help teach the 6-8-year-olds. While I love kids, I haven't spent much time with them, especially extended time like this, so I'm a little nervous, even though I'm sure I'll just love them.

It's just hard because kids are active. They don't sit still, they are rarely quiet and can be very touchy. I was always more of a quiet kid myself and was always an old soul, so it's already different for me. The other thing that makes me nervous is that the older I get, the hard it is to process all of the senses simultaneously like I could before. It's not a bad thing at all, I'm seeing, hearing and experiencing things in more detail. But too many details too fast gets overwhelming. I'm going to have to start taking a fidget spinner to church just to have something to focus on and calm me down.

The final thing that makes me nervous is that maybe I don't want to have Paula show up at church after all. The thing about having an adult yell is the kids suddenly feel like they have permission to yell, too. And they are already plenty loud. This week, even without the help of Paula, they were making lots of noises that made me wonder if they had heard her before. If they actually heard Paula, chances are it will get chaotic. One Paula is enough, I don't need ten miniature versions of her running around.

At least Paula doesn't really run around...

Not What I Was Hoping For

Monday, July 2, 2018

Well, she finally did it! Kind of. Paula finally showed up at church. It wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but it's a step in the right direction. It didn't happen during the first-hour meeting with all the kids like I was hoping for. She showed up in the next class where there were all of nine adults who witnessed that this is a thing.

I'm thinking she must still be a little gun shy, because she even reverted back to one of my earlier tics- the simple little squeak that sounds a little like a hiccup or maybe even a sneeze.

In fact, that was pretty much the reaction that I got. I didn't even realize it had finally happened until there was a small moment of silence, followed by one man bravely acknowledging the sound with a timid, "Bless you?"

After a quick explanation, the class then continued. It wasn't until afterward that the teacher came up asking if he had handled that ok that there were any questions. He had simply said, "Oh. Cool." Which was entirely fine by me. He was so worried that it may have been insensitive and wanted to make sure there isn't something he should do differently in future classes.

People sure are great.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sometimes I feel a little bit backward. Not that I plan on changing anything about myself, but it can be quite ironic to me that I am so disappointed in Paula lately when most people with TS would be so very grateful.

Paula has been MIA the past few weeks. Sure, she pops up every once in a while, but I'm disappointed because I started to attend a congregation of families instead of just my peers who are all single professionals. The thing about families is that it means children. Children are the best when it comes to Paula. They have fewer filters than adults and they speak their mind in such an innocent way that it just is fun.

I have been attending this congregation for four weeks now. And church meetings are three hours long. that is twelve hours without a peep from Paula! Not a single sound! I have told a few people that I have Tourette Syndrome, and I'm fairly certain they think that I am lying at this point. My physical tics have been present, but mild enough that no one notices. Even the big painful shoulder tic has gone into hiding!

I have been asked to speak and address the congregation tomorrow, so maybe she will pop up just for nervousness' sake. I kind of hope so. That way I will be facing everyone and get to see all the reactions. Maybe I'll get a good story or two out of it so I will keep you posted.

My Little Teacher

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I want to share a cool lesson I learned this week from Paula. I always grew up a very shy person and struggled to speak my mind. Paula obviously does not have this problem and has taught me well over the years to speak up for myself. Every once in a while though, I don't speak up still. Don't you worry, though, Paula takes good care of me. She also reminds me that people tend to be a lot more kind and understanding than I think they will be.

I have this group of friends and we love watching old movies. When I say old, this includes silent films as well. Our most recent film was a Jimmy Stewart film called The Stratton Story. It is a true story about a baseball player. Well at one point in the movie, there was a surgery going on. Back in the day surgeries were a little different than they are now, so my intelligent friends got into a discussion about penicillin. It got rather involved and it got to a point where I couldn't hear the movie. Those who had seen it before probably didn't mind, but I hadn't seen it and wanted to keep up.

So I leaned closer and was focused on trying to understand before Paula finally gave up and chewed them out. Her incoherent babble got all of their attention before she finally yelled, "SHHHH!" This, of course, gave everyone a good laugh. Also, for the record, that was a new one. She has never shushed anyone before this, but it was amazing how quickly she was able to get results!

The one I normally call a diva sure taught everyone a lesson that night. My friends learned not to talk during movies or Paula will rip them a new one, and I learned that people are willing to listen when chastised in love. No one got their feelings hurt, yet no one kept talking. Sometimes, I need this reminder.

One Way to Restore Balance

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Paula is very helpful and has proven so time and time again. We share this in common. Sometimes, however, there are areas where we differ and it's so nice to have that aspect to balance me out. For example, I have this tendency to work a lot. Crazy how that happens when you love what you do! I spend a lot of time writing, reading, researching, stretching and pushing myself as I hit my goals. Then Paula jumps out and helps loosen the situation and reminds me to chill out once in a while. She is obviously still a very playful child.

And as helpful as Paula is, she likes to help others with this balance as well. I was attempting to visit a few friends and randomly stopped by Rachel, Carly and Rachael's apartment. However, Rachael was the only one home when I stopped by. Upon asking where her roommates were, she responded they were still at work. Carly has this tendency to work late, then sometimes stay there to get some homework done. Playful Paula had to voice her opinion and after ranting for a bit (I'm assuming she was upset about the loss of playtime with Carly), she yelled an emphatic, "UGH!"

Apparently, we don't let silly things like responsibilities get in the way of her playtime. So very inconsiderate of us...

Want to figure out how you can find ways to use awkward moments? Get my Free Guide Control Your Story (←Click Here and I’ll send it to you) to turn those awkward moments into shining opportunities. 

Not just for those with TS, but ANY trait!

Paula's Secret Code

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sometimes I wish I was a little bit faster with catching on to hints. I think Paula has been trying to send one to me for the past week, but it just now clicked. She is incredibly smart and maybe I just don't give her enough credit. For the past week, the tic I have had most often has been this gasping sound. Sometimes repeatedly, taking away my breath and I have to take a minute or two to get back to normal after she does it. It's not a new tic by any means. I have stories from 2015 where I was doing this particular tic.

Do you ever have two completely different areas of your life suddenly connect? So for the completely separate area of my life, I'm training for this 5k, right? I've been hitting this plateau and today sent a message to a friend for advice to help me move forward. So here is my problem: I cannot breathe when I run. I don't know if I'm just being impatient wanting to be able to do it without having put in the time or if there is some kind of trick to it.

So apparently Paula knows my body and is better at listenting to what I need than I am, which isn't surprising. I'm going to be paying more attention to her and this is just another reason to love having Tourette Syndrome all the more. It's a great gauge for what is going on with my body when I get distracted.

Guess I better get this breathing thing figured out.

Bringing Out the Best in People

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Tics are often changing, with new ones popping up every once in a while, some disappearing, only to resurface months or even years later? Apparently, Paula is into change right about now. Not only do I have a new tic, but I also brought back my original tic. When I first started making noises, I had these adorable little squeaks. They sounded like I stepped on a squeaky toy or an adorable version of a hiccup. This is great because the people I spend a lot of time with haven't really heard this. It is adorable to watch them get excited about a "new" tic when I don't have any reaction, because, well, it's not new.

It does, however, take me down memory lane when things first started. I knew so little about Tourette Syndrome and I wasn't even diagnosed until several years later. It's these little noises that shaped how I view my TS and how I can have such a good attitude about them, despite the constant changes, the occasional pain, and frustration that comes with it. I'm still a fan, despite all the things. Maybe that's why most of the new tics tend to be so awesome.

Take for example my tic of the week. It popped out of nowhere, so there is no context or echoing of any kind. Usually, that's what makes Paula so funny, but I think in this case, the absence of context made it all the better. In fact, the office was completely silent until Paula jumped up and started the first couple of seconds of the Mario Brothers theme song. At which point, the marketing and tech departments literally started a chorus continuing the song. With parts.

Paula sure brings out the best in people.

Tulips and Vulnerability

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Don't you just love when things start to all just come together at the same time? Spring is a time of growth and rebirth and I have been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Her research is all about vulnerability, which is a hard and scary topic. No one wants to be vulnerable. However, it seems the best results are always on the other side of it.

I have this habit of reading while I go for walks, I've been doing it since I learned to read in the first place. The past month on my walks while reading this book, I have also watched the tulips come out for the spring season. They are beautiful flowers. More than that, they were a perfect example of the things I had been reading about in Daring Greatly.

These flowers have zero protection. They are simply a stem and a few petals and are considered a very fragile flower. Yet they are among the first flowers to bloom after winter; when temperatures are still rising, when snow still occasionally threatens to fall, and before most flowers are willing to make an appearance the tulips still come. Not only that, but they survive and give us hope that growth and warmth are on the way.

These flowers with so little to protect them are incredibly vulnerable, but they still grow anyways. It's a big risk, given how little protection they have and the still shaky circumstances that may come with the season. For such a weak flower, they are actually incredibly strong and resilient. They are, in a way, a very trusting flower. They have no thorns, they have one or two leaves, and a few petals to protect the core of the flower. They are almost completely exposed.

Do I do that in my life? Am I trusting and open and vulnerable? Based on past experience, I shouldn't be. I've been hurt, just like everyone has. We all have reasons to put up walls and thorns and protection, especially in a world that is constantly rotating through good times and bad. We get high temperatures, then a snow storm.

I am no botanist by any means, but I wonder if the reason tulips can survive the volatile temperatures of spring is because it has less to protect. I'm seeing a parallel in my life at least. The simplicity of this flower is what I want in my life. I want to strip away the excess so I don't have to stress about it and can focus on the most important things in life. Becuase really, what more does a flower need? A leaf or two, a stem, a few petals.

There is beauty in its simplicity and vulnerability. While each type of flower has it's own unique beauty and symbolism, tulips have really touched me as of late. It's like the Universe is conspiring to get me to learn a lesson or something by putting so many of these in place at the same time I'm reading about vulnerability.

And since I can't really speak about anything without it somehow connecting back to my TS, I feel the need to mention how much Paula has helped me to become more vulnerable. For a kid that was ridiculously shy and quiet growing up and suddenly was center of attention a lot more than I wanted, I had to learn to open up. I had to talk to others. I learned to trust and love others.

Paula takes me out on a limb often. I have to talk to new people, I get put in situations most people try to avoid. Sometimes she pops up in the most awkward of places. but through all of those experiences, she has made what is hard and vulnerable for some into something I have become quite adept at. Vulnerability can lead to strength if we let it and if we use it right.

Aren't tulips just beautiful?

Photo by Ivan Gromov on Unsplash

When You Can't Tell Who's In Charge

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

We know Paula can be quite the diva, but sometimes she can just be downright pushy! Take yesterday at work for example. While at work, my friend Travis started feeling picked on, so he started singing, "All by myself..." Of course, my little diva would jump in to finish his line in her cute little squeaks, sounding just like the next line. "Don't wanna be..." Then she was joined by a few others, "All by myself!" This was of course then followed by a loud round of laughter. They must have put laughing gas in the vents at work or something because I was literally crying from laughing so hard.

But wait, it gets better!! Once the laughter died down, Keely and Shain started to mention how funny Paula is and how I can't just let her take over like that. Pretty soon I'll have to start asking permission to speak up. So the question was posed, "Paula, can Jessica come out?" And Paula screamed, "NO!!!" We were simply dying of laughter. So I guess Paula is going to stay and work for me, so I'm going to head home to work on my writing.


No? That's not how it works?


Dangit, Paula! Who's in charge here?

Obviously, not me.

Inside Out

Monday, April 23, 2018

We all know that I am a fan of children's movies. I love animated movies, especially Disney. Sometimes one movie will stand out more than others. Inside Out is one of those movies. It has incredibly powerful information in regards to healing, handling emotions and growing up in general. Though I'm obviously putting this off as long as possible.

While I don't remember how exactly this conversation started, but at one point, Keely started singing, "Who's your friend who loves to play?"

Jumping in with a great harmony, Paula sang along with Keely, "Bing-Bong, Bing-Bong!"

The best part was the look of absolute and child-like joy on Keely's face as they finished. Paula just makes things so much fun!

Try Something New, I'll Join You

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I wanted to try something different today. You see, I have this awesome friend who has taught me quite a bit as of late. I have known him a few years, but he recently started a blog and I am just loving his content and how much it has helped me personally, as well as with my TS. Who knew sports could do such a thing? Coming from someone who never really did any athletics before, I had no idea what I was missing.

Sometimes I feel like I have no control over... anything. Tourette Syndrome has that effect I think. I can't control what comes out of my mouth and I can't control my body's actions. But sometimes I forget that while I don't have that control all of the time, it doesn't mean I don't have any. Maybe I just didn't learn to push myself, or train myself to do the things that I want to do. I have been thinking I might have to run a 5k, just to test all this stuff out that Austin talks about. I'll keep you posted.

Anyways, I shot him a few questions and I'll share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. But first, some backstory. Because stories. 

Photo of Austin Patten by Wes Photography
Austin Patten is from a suburb of Chicago, IL. After serving a 2-year mission for his church in Brazil, he graduated from BYU-Idaho in business management. Despite being busy as a business analyst, Austin is dedicated to his health and athletics. He takes the time to practice every day and helps others along the way.

In addition to sports, Austin loves hanging out with friends, movies, camping, the stock market and puzzles.

Austin and I have attended the same congregation, or ward, for several years. Somewhere along the many activities our ward does together, we became friends and I am a better person because of it. He is always serving and giving.

I guess that's all the more reason I like the stuff he posts. It's all incredibly real. This is how he lives life every day. It's not just pretty words on a page with a few nice pictures. I asked him a few questions, see for yourself some of these great lessons he has:

1. Tell me a little about why you started this blog. Have you always been a writer?

I have not always been a writer. I think the last paper I wrote in college was for a freshman writing course that was a general ed class. Since then, I haven't written a whole lot. I love to think. Often times I think of my life philosophy. I have found that writing these thoughts down, helps me develop them better so I can have a more clear image of my philosophy as well as what I am doing good and what I can improve on. It helps me remember my thoughts better to so when I talk to people I can remember my talking points better.

 I wanted to show people that there are lessons for life buried in athletics. Often times people just race because they want to win and have bragging rights. But there are real lessons that occur in training and racing that we often do not recognize. 
I want to help people see these. I also want people to live the best life they can. Sports have given me so much, especially the endurance sports (running, biking, and swimming) so I want to share it with people and encourage them to try it. They changed my life, I know they can change others lives too. Most will not decide to run a marathon but they might decide to run a 5k or just start walking every night instead of watching an hour of TV. We live in a world where we are all plugged in all day every day. These activities give you a break from the negativity we see in the news on Facebook and TV. They help us get some fresh air which is good for our brains and bodies and relieve the stress from life. It helps clear the brain so we can approach our problems more clearly and come up with better ways to solve them. I want people to have these experiences.

2. Were you always a natural born athlete?

  I wouldn't say I was always a natural born athlete but I have always had a passion for sports. It started when I was a toddler and my parents bought me a baseball and a glove and signed me up for t-ball (now you see why I love baseball and softball so much). I have played a ton of sports in organized competition in my life including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, cross country, football, wrestling, marathons, and triathlons; and many others just for fun. I have never excelled at any of them but I love to play so I do. I work on improving every time I play. The sports I have excelled the most at are marathons and triathlons. I have also spent a few years coaching people for running 5ks, half marathons, and marathons. This includes kids as young as 9 all the way up to college students.

3. How did you get where you are now?

A. I started running after high school. It was really casual until I got back from my mission in Brazil. Then it picked up to marathon training. In high school, I hated running. I think what changed was I wanted to challenge myself so I decided to run a marathon and many of my friends told me I would not end up doing it. I had to prove them wrong. Little did I know it would change my life and lead me to love running. When I started training for a marathon, I could barely run a half mile. That was my starting point. I worked my way up until I could run a marathon in under 3.5 hours. Now I do triathlons. I still hate swimming but know that if I want to be good at them, I need to work on what we call a "race limiter". This is something that can prevent you from racing your best. Swimming is a limiter for me
so I make sure I get in the pool three times a week in addition to my running and cycling training. Most of the time, I do not want to be in the pool swimming but I have come so far. I never took swimming lessons as a kid and could really only swim to stay alive before. I know that sounds crazy for a 29 year old to say but its true. I started out struggling to swim 100 meters. now I can swim 1.5 miles without stopping. There is no point that is too low to start. I am so glad I decided to get in the pool and start swimming because it has allowed me to become a more well rounded and stronger athlete.

4. What was the hardest thing you have ever done as an athlete?

I ran a relay race from Rexburg, ID to Idaho Falls, ID. It was supposed to be on a team of 8 people and a distance of 37 miles. I did the entire thing alone. It took me more than 7 hours to complete. I was in tears several times during the race. It hurt so much physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I learned so much about me, relationships, and God. It gave me more than 7 hours to think both negatively and positively. I had the opportunity to see what others do to help. as well as the excitement others had for my achievement. There were so many lessons I learned here both in training and in racing it. There were times I sat on the curb during the race and just cried while I caught my breath. Then my best friend would tell me to keep going. I remember telling him over and over when I reached a certain point I was stopping. Then when I got there he would tell me to keep going. This situation would repeat over and over for the last 10k of the race. Almost every half mile. That is how hard it was. I would get somewhere and then keep going to only 3 minutes later wish I had stopped. I did not stop and ended up finishing. I was the last one to come through the line but I came through the line and learned so much over that 37 miles. I would not take that experience away for anything.

5. If you could do anything differently in your career as an athlete, what would it be?

 I would have kept playing baseball in middle school and high school. I would have started all the sports for triathlon much earlier in life so I could be stronger than I am now. And I would have taken my nutrition away from sports more serious. I love candy, ice cream, cookies, pie and all the sweets. Over the past year, I have worked on portion control, reducing sugar intake, and increasing my fruits and vegetables. It has made a huge difference in how I feel and what I can do! I still eat all those sweets but in much smaller quantities. You really are what you eat. If you want to perform well in races, you have to take care of your body when you aren't running, biking, or swimming. Training is 24 hours a day. It's what you eat, how much you sleep, what extracurricular activities you do, and how you take care of the muscles and brain.

6. Where would a person be able to find more information or contact you with questions?
I have a Facebook page called "The LDS Triathlete"
They can find me on Instagram @ldstriathlete
I write on Medium as well. Everything I write can be found at
If needed I can also be reached via email at

It's Not a Party Without Paula

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It's my birthday week. Which is an even bigger deal than birthday month. It has been such a great week, too. On the actual day of my birthday, a group of friends and I went to a restaurant in Salt Lake called Prohibition. You walk in the door to a small room with odds and ends similar to a pawn shop. After showing ID, you go through the bookcase to the bar/restaurant that had a live band and swing dancing and even showed silent movies. Paula blended in quite well with all the noise.

On Friday (because weekends are better and you get more people), we went to an Italian place called Buca di Beppos. One of my favorites for the eclectic decorations and great atmosphere, not to mention awesome food. It had been a fairly mild day with tics, so I didn't think much of it as we sat down to dinner. We had half of the party room while another group had the other half.

But it just wouldn't be a party without Paula. She made a lovely appearance about halfway through the party. Half of the room was very confused. Some of the poor faces I saw. Sometimes I think I should be a little bit more considerate and explain what is going on, but at the same time I was entertaining a group of people for a birthday party.

And what better way to entertain than to invite Paula...

How to Get What (Paula) Wants

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sometimes Poor Paula doesn't always get what she wants. Sometimes, just like a little kid, she manages to weasel her way back into getting her way. She manages to stay in good graces with people, and usually by making them laugh with just the right amount of guilt.

My new co-workers know that I repeat things, and they are trying very hard to get Paula to sing a particular song, one of Beethoven's symphonies. The other day, Paula was chattering (but not singing) and Keely said Paula isn't allowed to come unless she is going to sing for us. Poor Paula must have gotten her feelings hurt, because she let out a very miserable-sounding, "Awwww...."

At this point, Keely's face went into utter sympathy mode. She said, "I take it back! Paula can come! I'm so sorry!" Met with Paula's joyful chatter, we then had a nice laugh for a few minutes. This "child" of mine sure knows how to get what she wants!

Now if I could just figure out the same...

How to Make an Entrance

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Paula really likes attention. Maybe a bit much. Then again, this is part of why I call her my little diva. Combine the attention seeking with her musical abilities and there is bound to be shenanigans. At the time of this story, I had recently seen The Greatest Showman and had fallen in love with the music. it was pretty much all I listened to for a week solid afterward. I guess Paula wanted some of the attention back on her.

One morning as I was walking into my new job, Paula decided she was the greatest showman and had to make an entrance. So as I opened the door to step into the office- early in the morning, mind you, it was 7 AM- she lets out a very high pitched tone with vibrato and everything. Jealous much, Paula? She really knows how to make an entrance (and make sure everyone is awake for work).

Oh yeah... Paula Likes Sleep, Too.

Monday, March 5, 2018

I have missed writing. I haven't written much in the past month since I was starting a new job and all sorts of changes happening in my life. So I decided to finally take the advice of several mentors who have recommended getting up at 5 AM. Apparently, it's life-changing. I'm on day 1, and I can already see it in more ways than I ever thought.

First off, I was amazed at how much energy I actually had through the day. I wasn't as tired as I thought I was going to be during most of it. I definitely started to slow down at the end of the day though. I should have gone to bed earlier. I thought it would be ok. I thought I was fine. Paula reminded me it is not ok. I guess she is more of a sleepyhead than I am, as much as I love my sleep.

Getting up earlier means I have to go to bed earlier. Which is hard when you are trying to have a social life. I got about 6 hrs of sleep and around noon, Paula started to punish me for not going to bed on time. She was violent with my shoulder today. Had to get another doctor appointment to fix me up. Seriously, chiropractors are life savers!

So I may have thought I was ok, but then I wound up exhausted and in pain. Guess I am going to bed early tonight...

Here It Comes

I started a new job. Again. I seem to do that a lot...

I just really like how it connects me to new people and the great new stories that come from it. Good thing Paula thrives off of it, too. I'm already so behind with great stories! So stay tuned for more updates...

My very first day at this new job Paula, of course, had to make herself known. After the initial explanations, I explained that I have a form of TS called Echolalia, so I repeat the things I hear often. Suddenly, several of my new coworkers start trying to create a new tic. Every once in a while, they break out singing one of Beethoven's symphonies.

Little do they know how much Paula also likes to think for herself. She picks the tics, not me. She catches on to some noises faster than others, so sometimes it takes a bit of persistence to get her to make a new tic. Or a really good story. She likes those. I'll let you know if that eventually catches on.

New faces always make Paula want to show off, so be sure to check back as the stories unfold, she already has several. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with her!

Paula Isn't Perfect

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The other day I went to a mental health seminar hosted by my church. The keynote speaker was Matt Townsend and he was brilliant. He was hilarious and incredibly profound at the same time. At one point, he wanted to speak to those perfectionists in the crowd (SO not me... wait, nope, completely me).

He tried to tell us about the path to perfection taking time and that we aren't perfect. I am fairly certain this put Paula into a state of shock based on how loudly she gasped. Paula may be a little bit more of a perfectionist than I am apparently!

What Would You Do With A Built-In Parrot?

Monday, January 29, 2018

My Tourette Syndrome is a form called Echolalia. This type of TS is probably the most fun, but I may have a slight bias... There is also a profound piece of wisdom that I get to experience first hand every day.

Echolalia basically means that I am a parrot. The sounds and words that I hear on a daily basis come in and then find a way to escape from me once again. So the things that I surround myself with are mirrored to show others what I do with my time and the things I surround myself with. I can't hide anything.

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

This is why Paula gives me such great stories because she mimics and imitates the world around her. Though sometimes at the joking expense of others. But imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? So don't be offended when I repeat what you literally just said...

The other day we were having a lunch party for a friend who is leaving the company I work for. A few of the mothers brought their children along, which was great. These kids spend all day with us at the gym anyways and we love them.

One little guy, Tanner, is only about 2 years old. He is adorable and usually gets a lot of attention around the gym. So when the adults were suddenly not giving him attention because we were chatting, he does what most 2-year-olds do. "Mama, mama, mama, mama!" Came in a constant stream while his mother continued to tell the story she was sharing.

Remember, there is no logic or reasoning behind when my tics come out, but we were all crying, when I looked right at him as Paula started to also exclaim, "Mama, mama, mama, mama!"

The poor child was not exactly sure how to handle this situation and gave a look of mixed confusion and horror that I would mimic him in such a way.

The adults were all crying with laughter.

Here is the poignant part. I love when Paula mirrors what other people are doing and shows them what they look like. It doesn't happen often, but it is quite great. Tanner didn't try to interrupt his mom at all the rest of the lunch and she was quite grateful, I'm sure.

While it's great for others, I'm also a fan of several other aspects of Echolalia. I love seeing life principles that I can apply into my life to make it better, and this form of TS does such a great job. I can tell by what type of tics I'm having where a lot of my subconscious thinking is.

Remember how Paula likes to sing? I'm obviously spending a lot of time around music.

The sassiness that Paula does? Comes from the fun and sassy people I hang out with.

Photo by Alan Godfrey on Unsplash
What I spend my time on shapes my TS. Remember- this is not true for everyone with TS, this comes from a form called Echolalia. I'm just lucky with that one.

When I was a little girl (as in I might not even have been in school yet, or had just started), computers were a relatively new thing. Average people didn't have much access before but were now becoming more commonplace. She went away for a few days to a conference to learn more about computers.

When she came home, I remember her telling me one of the lessons she learned for searching (before Google) was the acronym GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. What you put in a search will determine the quality of what you get out of it.

I have such great stories because I surround myself with good people, good music, good... well, everything. I intentionally surround myself with things that make me happy, and when it gets parrotted back to me, I am able to find twice the joy in it.

What do you surround yourself with?

Stop and take a look around. Do the people you spend your time with make you smile? What about the movies you watch and the music you listen to?

Are you one person at work around the office and someone completely different at home?

If you had a parrot on your shoulder all day long repeating what you spent the most time around, would it irritate you or bring a smile?

What would you change? And why don't you change it?

Take Charge!

Let me be your parrot for a little bit. Download my free 8-question guide to see what to keep and what to change in your life. Get it HERE!

New Book Release

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Paula is pleased to announce the second book we have written. I am quite excited about it. It's very similar to the first I wrote called Awkwardly Strong back in 2016. It's taken me way too long to get the second book out, called Tragically Strong.

Just like in my first, Tragically Strong looks at the hard things we deal with in life. Problems happen often, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the world. This book looks at how to properly heal from these experiences to move forward, using them as benefits to you and to others.

Get your copy now for Kindle or Print.

And if you need further motivation, I'll give you a set of warm fuzzies. I have been working part-time so I could spend more time focusing on my writing. I've been on podcasts, featured in news publications and been posting articles on in addition to writing this book. A lot of time, energy, hard work and not to mention money go into each book.

Thank you for the support so that I can continue to do what I love and help others along the way. Be sure to leave a review once you finish reading!

How To Survive A Rough Day

Monday, January 15, 2018

I love Sundays. They are generally my rest day when it comes to working and a day to re-center myself and my values. I also tend to be surrounded by wonderful people and life is just good.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to downtown Salt Lake City and attend a worldwide devotional for young single adults in my church.

I mean, look at these angels with their halos...

I just love these people so much!
Paula must have been pretty excited, because oh boy was she noisy! Friends and strangers alike were jumping and there was some good distance making heads turn across the crowded room.

I was again surrounded by wonderful people that I loved and heard wise and hilarious words from people I admire, respect and love. Life just couldn't get any better!

Then, things took a little change. As per her respectful self, Paula stopped making noises and was respectful enough to be silent while still making herself known. My shoulder didn't stop moving for the full hour.

By the time the talks had ended, I was incredibly sore and quite frankly exhausted from all of the movement. My friend Esther was sitting behind me and said her neck hurt just watching me with all the movement.

But good people and LOTS of them! There were things to see and mingling to do!

Problem though. Once we got outside of the conference center where the devotional was held, there were So. Many. People.


I may or may not have had an anxiety attack. Sadly, anxiety is a co-morbid that I deal with as a side effect of my TS. Normally I have it fairly under control, but I think I was just too tired to really deal with it like I normally do.

Most of this adorable group got lost in the crowd, including my carpool group, which didn't help matters. I got to a point that I had two of the remaining group holding me on each side because I needed the touch to keep me grounded.

You would be hard-pressed to find a kinder, more generous group of souls.

Can I just say again how wonderful these people are?

At one point we found a small opening against a wall, and I instantly put my back to it and wound up squatting against the wall with my hood over my head blocking out as much noise and visual as I could.

As soon as I got home I had a rice pack on my tight shoulders, trying to loosen myself up, curled up under a big heavy blanket with a book and tried to calm down so I could get some sleep.

Sometimes you need a bit of self-care and some good friends just to survive even your favorite events.

But the main thing is you survive and you go on to tic another day.

Isn't life grand that way? No sarcasm intended, I really mean it. I love the life I live and I love having Paula around to keep me on my toes and keep life interesting.

I love having another day to do what I love- writing and helping others. Another day with great people that motivate and inspire me on a daily basis. Another day to show my gratitude to the people who support me when I can't take a step by myself.

As I heard last night, our lives are a "choose your own adventure" story. Despite the pain, exhaustion, anxiety and all the rough stuff, I choose joy and goodness.

I'm so glad I've found it, but it doesn't stop there. I choose it day after day, the good days and the bad. If I don't, I might lose it.

Anything worth having is going to take hard work and many little choices made in the moments that make up our lives. Our choices seem small, we may not think they matter, but over time they add up.

So every day, I choose joy. Every day I choose goodness. Every day, I choose love.

What do you choose?


Saturday, January 13, 2018

So I had a really cool experience with Paula this week. She was up to her usual antics. I was VERY noisy on Thursday. We sang "manamana" a few times (thanks to Carly), had a few very loud screams and a smattering of other noises. So I was just a little nervous going to the temple that night. A place of quiet and respectful reverence, we are encouraged to whisper if we talk at all and I was going to be there for several hours.

Another of my favorite things about the temple is how peaceful it is amongst the quiet, and the instant calm you feel when you walk inside the doors. The whole time I was in there, Paula was still quite active. However, she changed her tactic just a little bit. Rather than screaming and singing her way through, she chose the silent route and it was my shoulder that was ticcing the whole time.

Once I got into the cafeteria, that changed, but she only once got a little louder than an average speaking voice.

I am so very grateful for sacred things in my life, and even more grateful when my Tourette Syndrome respects those sacred moments as well. Paula is pretty awesome like that. Stubborn- I mean, she still had to be present and not let me forget she was there, but respectful none the less.


Friday, January 5, 2018

I don't often have any kind of trigger that will really set Paula off. In fact, I never have until after this past Christmas. After the holidays were over, my mom decided to change all of her ringtones. Her default is now this song. I've mentioned before this is one of Paula's tricks.

Well, apparently it is now a trigger. Guess what I was singing. All. Week. Long. The first couple of times it was funny. Ok, it's still kinda funny. Here's why. It's not just Mom's phone.

After I got back from the break, I was telling the story to Carly at work. Oh boy, did she miss Paula. Carly sang the do do do do part because it's a catchy tune, so Paula jumps in with the manamanah. Of course. Just like she had with the ringtone all week.

Yesterday Carly came up to me and first thing said, "Know that I love you and I'm sorry... Manamanah!"

I was relieved when Paula was silent. I was certain the trigger had worn off. Until about an hour later when it popped out again. Carly was ecstatic.

What a fun thought to realize that other people have more control of what is coming out of my mouth than I do...
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