I haven't written in so long it feels unfamiliar to me.  I typically journal even if I'm not blogging or updating facebook, but for the past several weeks I've felt really detached from what I sometimes consider an "impersonal" way of communicating.  Ask my friends.  I'm terrible with texts.  Too often the messages are misconstrued and the "tone" is misinterpreted.  I don't know, I guess I'm old school like that and would rather have a conversation, hear the warmth in the other person's voice, feel the honesty in their words.  So the writing for me just didn't flow for a while.  Today I thought I'd give it a shot.  Having just come back from a trip to Philly for the Diamonds & Denim Event, which was a huge success, and then to Orlando to visit my entire family (my sister, niece, brother, Mom & Dad, and of course, little mister Finnegan) I'm feeling rejuvenated and calm.  It feels nice.
I've been spending alot of time reading lately.  Words inspire me and I find it fascinating to read from another persons perspective.  Most inspirational books aim at delivering the same message- be who you are, honor yourself, honor your passions, and love with your whole heart in the present moment- but certain writers resonate differently depending on the individual.  It's the way we are willing to receive the message.  And lately for me, I've noticed that I'm drawn to books that validate everyone at every stage in their lives- books that acknowledge the highs & lows, the shared feelings of worthlessness and inauthenticity, the ebbs & flows of life that we all go through but rarely talk about.  I came off of a rollercoaster in mid turn when I left QVC and now I actually have the gift of time to explore and create something new, yet for a while I wasn't able to appreciate that.  I thought that if I wasn't working, I wasn't "doing" anything.  My Mom was so comforting to me during a phone call a few weeks ago.  She said, "Why don't you just relax and enjoy life? Take a moment and breath. No one is keeping score but you." Hmm.  Now that was something to think about.  We all have our "to-do lists" don't we?  But where on that list do we find things like: take a nap, read a good book, treat yourself to a long walk, or spend 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing at all.   
I highly recommend "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown (I read it in just a few days after I finished reading "The Help", another great book- can't wait to see the movie!!!).  One of the messages in the book that rang loud & clear for me was that "what we bring to the world is completely individual and cannot be compared."  Or as simply as Laura Williams put it, "Comparison is the thief of happiness."  Brene also reminds us to "Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are."  I'm not interested in keeping score just to be relevant.  I want to live and love and travel and experience as much as I can.  The work will come.  I can wait.
I took Finn with me to Orlando last week to see my family.  Once again he got to fly on an airplane with Auntie Patti which is the most exciting thing in the world- next to meeting Spiderman.  I'll explain that later.  My heart melts when I see this child- blond hair, hazel eyes, and that precious smile.  He lights up a room with his excitement and wonder.  We literally re-wrapped his birthday presents just to watch him open them again.  I'm not kidding!  He loved the experience of tearing off the paper, squeals of delight at the new toy while shouting "thank you Gappa, thank you! I'm threeeeee!!!!" (he calls my Dad "Gappa").  His excitement, his full-throttled enthusiasm and joy at opening gifts and having his family around him left us all teary-eyed with happiness. By re-wrapping the presents we gave Finn and ourselves that "gift" again.  We relived the moment and it was such fun!  We took him & my niece to Universal Studios on Monday so they could have fun and we all secretly hoped that Finn would get to meet Spiderman, his favorite Superhero.  The day was long.  Hot & humid don't even begin to describe how it felt being in the overcrowded park, but the kids were having a ball and that's what it was about.  We walked everywhere, drank tons of raspberry slushies, waited in line and hopped on a few rides.  We were there for several hours and poor little Finn was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open as we were strolling him out of the park.  Just near the exit to the parking garage in front of a novelty shop we saw a woman holding a sign high above her head.  It had an arrow pointing to the store and read: "Meet Spiderman!".  Omg, are you kidding me???  I poked my Mom, gestured to the sign and veered the stroller right inside the store- we all had permanent grins on our faces knowing what was about to happen.  Finn's sleepy eyes got so huge when he caught a glimpse of the man in red, he leapt out of the stroller and ran over to him cutting at least a half dozen people waiting in line.  (The beauty of being a child!)  It was such a great thing to watch.  The look of awe on his face, his tiny hands reaching out to touch Spiderman, to solidify this moment: that his Superhero was real.  Remember moments like that?  With your kids or when you were a child?  You lived to play and laugh and have fun.  You were mesmerized by birthday candles, ballons and airplanes.  Splashing around in the pool kept you occupied and happy for hours.  A box of crayons was a treasure beyond comprehension and blowing bubbles had you giggling, dancing and popping them with your finger all at once.  Life is just as beautiful today wherever it is you find yourself.  Superheroes still exist and bubbles still cost around a dollar at a local store.  Crayons are just as bold & bright and birthday candles, well, we may have more of them on our cakes these days, but aren't they still just as mesmerizing & beautiful?

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want."
-Margaret You

 
 
I had a friend who was the sweetest, kindest, funniest and most thoughtful friend in the world.  She lifted me up whenever I felt sad and always reminded me to sparkle & shine my way through life.  She told me that it was my right to do that.  That it's still my right, and that it's your's too for the taking. My friend, Jeanne Bice, was a remarkable woman.  Isn't it amazing how this larger than life woman told the world who she was by decorating herself with rhinestones & jewels instead of shrinking in a body that society continually insisted wasn't okay?  Wow!  She demanded attention for who she was and she got it.  She deserved it.  Jeanne had a way of making everyone around her feel happy, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.  She made you peel the layers back a little bit and reveal the essence of who you really were.  She spoke the truth whether it was difficult to take or not:  "That's life, kiddo.  You gotta turn lemons into lemonade!".  She made you feel important and that is so rare these days.  Someone who listens and laughs, allows you to cry, then instantly brushes away the tears and makes you laugh again.  You never got away with playing the victim with Jeanne.  Own who you are.  If you don't like it, change.  If you change and you still don't like it, change again.  And again, and again...  I'm so thankful that I knew her and that she was a part of my life.  She taught me so much.  Let the little things go.  Be who you really want to be.  Reach for the stars!!!  Oh my gosh, if you only knew all of the conversations and heartfelt email messages we've shared.  I valued her opinion so much because she really invested herself in our friendship and I could feel it.  Leaving QVC behind meant that the truest friendships would be revealed- Jeanne & I were friends for life, that I knew for sure.
The news of her sudden death has left me stunned and heartbroken.  I've been reaching for memories all day- trying to grasp on to every last word spoken.  I was unpacking boxes just yesterday, before I even knew, and I opened one with plaques that said simple things like "Laugh", "Believe in your dreams", "Love isn't love until you give it away", and "Where hope grows miracles blossom'.  They're prints I've collected over the years that always remind me of Jeanne, just like they did yesterday when I opened the box and smiled, thinking of my friend Jeanne in Boca Raton- not knowing she was already bedazzling angel wings in heaven.  I miss her so much, but I know in my heart that I experienced one of the most extraordinary things ever: an angel on earth.  And as the saying goes, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.".  I'm smiling through the tears and treasuring one of the purest friendships I have ever known.
Jeanne, I love you so much.  You were such a gift to me.  You believed in me when I didn't even have the courage to believe in myself.  I still hear your infectious laugh ringing in my ears.  I can see you smiling, your blue eyes sparkling with mischief and fun.  
I hope you are happy & healthy and free.

  After A While
After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand & chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn...
-Ver

     
 
 
It's hard to believe that in a few days from now my life will never be the same.  Things that have become so familiar to me will be missed, like the tree-lined streets in my neighborhood and even rooms in a house that tomorrow will no longer be mine, will be remembered for cocooning me when I felt small and for sheltering family & friends when they needed a place to feel safe and loved.  I'll miss standing out in the backyard staring up at the powerful and mysterious moon.  The same moon I stared at over 11 years ago when I dreamt about a new life in Pennsylvania and leaving my little yellow house and comfortable life in Rhode Island behind.  It was like the pull of the moon... I trusted the feeling I had then and I'm trusting it now.  The waxing & waning of the omnipresent symbol of the night reminds me of a song I used to sing to Teagan when she was a baby: "I see the moon & the moon sees me.  The moon sees the one that I want to see.  So God bless the moon & God bless me, and God bless the one that I want to see."  I told her that we all look up at the same moon, that it follows us wherever we go and wherever life takes us- near or apart.  
The past few weeks although busy, have also been a time for catching up with friends and family.  I've had more dinners, champagne toasts, cupcake celebrations and pedicures in the past 2 months I should be set for life!  But it wasn't about what we did, it was about taking the time to get together and taking time to just enjoy the moment.  I've made some good friends here, that's for sure.  And their support and encouraging words push me forward and help to quell the burn of fear in my heart that sometimes flares up.  It's been amazing- the people that have reached out to wish me well and cheerlead me on this journey.  They remind me that a one-way ticket goes both ways.  That living a life of "what if's" isn't acceptable and that sometimes choices are made for you and you can't change them no matter how badly you wish you could.  They remind me that by honoring yourself you also honor others.  That's huge.  I hope they all know that there's a place for them to stay when they visit the west coast:)  Thank you guys, thank you so much!
So I'm lying in bed in my cousin's apartment counting down the days and checking off things on the
to-do list while there's a moving truck with a driver named Harvey, probably cruising along I-44 West somewhere in Oklahoma with all of my things: clothes, furniture, books, and tons of other things I can live without.  One thing I didn't put on that truck is a box of old photos and cards.  I'm taking those with me in my carry-on.  Some things you just don't leave to chance.

For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.
Richard H. Baker 
 
 
 
Wow.  I guess I didn't realize how cathartic this packing business could be.  Not only am I purging alot of the unecessary, material things that have cluttered my life (& my basement!) for so many years, but I have come across so many sweet momentos from friends & family that have triggered memories I thought I'd lost.  You know, the tear-jerker kind of stuff.  I was emptying my desk and found a folder with cards and crayola drawings that had Teagan's name scribbled at the bottom from 2006!  The cards are real treasures though.  I saved many from when I first got the job at QVC, over 11 years ago.  My Mom wrote: "Patti, Dad & I are so proud of you!  We have no idea what this QVC journey has in store for you, but we're excited and anxious to see you on t.v.!!!  You did it! Love, Mom & Dad."  I found pictures from my first house in R.I.  It was an adorable 2 bedroom, butter yellow ranch that sat on just under a half acre, 4 miles from the beach.  Omgosh, I loved that house!!!  My cousin Dyanna and I literally referred to it as my "little stick of butter", lol.  It was only about 900 square feet, if that, but I liked that it was cute & cozy and all mine!  I had actually bought the house at an auction- I was scared to death!!!  Standing outside of the house along with seasoned "house-flippers", clutching three thousand dollars in an envelope and trying to figure out how high I could bid without having to take a fourth job!  At the time I was cleaning houses, working at my grandparent's saw mill and working full-time at Foxwoods Casino.  I remember my Aunt hugging me and saying "Congratulations, Patti.  You're a home owner!!!"  And eventhough I was happy, I was stunned and definitely a little scared.  The house was a mess- it had been neglected for years.  It actually took a 30 yard and a 15 yard dumpster just to clean it out- can you imagine?  My brother and I gutted the bathroom, I tore down paneling and refinished the hardwood floor that was hidden underneath dirty, stained carpet.  (I'll post a picture on facebook so you can see.)  The pictures I came across were from my Dad's 50th birthday party on the fourth of July.  I had a backyard barbeque and we had friends & relatives celebrate with us.  I'm so glad I have those pictures- they rejuvenate the memories and make me smile:)  I also came across a huge plastic bin with my journals in it.  I flipped through a few and saw my flowy, whimsical handwriting with little hearts & smiley faces filling in the columns and I had to laugh.  Such visions of grandeur!!!  I was then, and still am today, very much a believer in the Law of Attraction.  I had jotted down alot of thoughts, affirmations, quotes and hopes for the future like:  "I want to be married with two children, in a beautiful house..." (you know the deal!) and I noticed that I had written similar statements year after year, after year, after year...  And yet here I am.  Because although I had dreams of domestic bliss, I also had a deep desire to be successful and independent.  And like the Law of Attraction says: if you focus on lack, you'll be in a place of lack.  If you focus on abundance, you will draw it to you.  I found it easier to envision success than I did the family/relationship stuff.  Posting affirmations on the mirror or in a notebook to remind myself that life is what I make it just seemed like the best way of thinking.  Even today I have to remind myself to shift my thoughts- especially now when I'm making all of these changes.  Each day I pack another box, or make another list, I have to battle fleeting thoughts of doubt.  But when I come across thoughtful notes and beautiful pictures and remember that this one life is just stretching itself out in front of me, I know that I'm doing the right thing.  There are no smooth mountains.  The transition from this life to my new life waiting for me across the country won't be all rainbows & sunshine, but it will be something that forever changes me.  A friend told me once: "Where we have been is who we are now."  Isn't that the truth!!!  
   
 
 
I just arrived home on the red eye from Los Angeles and am sitting in my living room surrounded by papers, bills, boxes, and an empty bedroom upstairs that my cousin, Dyanna, just moved out of today.  She's been living with me for a few months now (she moved here from St. Louis to pursue a new career) and it's so incredible how even after over a decade of being hundreds of miles away from each other, leading completely different lives, once she got here we bonded just like we did when we were kids.  We used to get in alot of trouble when we were growing up.  I'll never forget the time she drove her dad's company dump truck to my college campus to go to a frat party with me - in the snow!!!   I remember how funny it was trying to help her navigate parking- it literally had the backup "BEEP, BEEP" noise that makes you jump out of your skin, I was laughing so hard!  She and I have done so many fun things together: rock climbing, mountain biking, we took a trip to Costa Rica and drove four-wheeler's on the beach and zip-lined through the forest and one summer we went on a road trip to Virginia where we rented a cabin, went to an outdoor concert where guitar artist, Eric Bibb, performed (love his music: "99 1/2 Won't Do" and "The Cape" are a couple of my favorites) and we just happened to stumble across the Luray Caverns during an anniversary year so they had all the caves lit with candles, it was absolutely beautiful and something I will never forget.  I'll miss Dyanna so much and already do, but I'll always be grateful for this "bonus" time we had together, because really- who knew???  I never in a million years thought we'd have this chance to reconnect.  Just goes to show you how wonderfully unpredictable life can be.
So the house is quiet, it's 1:44am and I'm not even close to being tired.  I think I'm still wired from the quick trip and loooong flight that I may have to do pilates for a while to wear me out.  I'm relieved to say that I did end up finding a house to rent!!!  It's located in the San Fernando Valley area (colloquially known as "The Valley") which is roughly 20 minutes northeast of the city yet close enough that I won't have to worry myself sick about sitting on the 405 for hours... hopefully.  I'm just happy that I found a nice house with a yard in a quiet area- I can now check that off the list:)  
I took Sydney for a walk today and we saw Sophie and Bella playing outside in the trees.  Literally, in the trees.  Sophie, the oldest, was sitting on a branch in a huge tree in her front yard.  She had created a pully system with white rope and a blue crate so that she could smuggle toys and snacks to her station on the branch.  It didn't matter that she was the one that had to jump to the ground, load the crate, then quickly scale back up the tree to pull the crate up (looked like alot of work to me! I would have handed her a juice box, lol!!!) she was just so excited to show me how it worked.  Her sister, Bella, was swinging from a "foot swing" she had made on a tree next to Sophie's.  Basically she had tied a rope to a branch, knotted a loop at the end, stuck one foot it in and swang back & forth singing a sweet little song- it was too cute!  I will definitely miss these girls.  They make me smile everytime I see them and I can't believe how much they've grown.  I waved goodbye and continued my walk with Sydney preparing to turn left at the end of my street the way I always do and have done for nearly 5 years, in fact Sydney instinctively pulled the leash taut with the desire to go left.  I paused and looked around at my neighborhood: the beautiful houses and tall, lush pine trees, I basked in the silence & stillness of the moment, took a deep breath of the fresh Spring Pennsylvania air and went with my gut.  I took a right.  This confused Sydney intitially, but once we picked up our usual pace she was happy to oblige and pranced alongside me.  And I know it may sound weird and perhaps insignicant, but the perspective I got from shifting my direction was completely unexpected.  I saw things I'd never seen before- a sunroom on my neighbor's house I never knew existed, a beautifully maincured rose garden down the street, a children's play set in the yard of my neighbor the next street over - it didn't even feel like my neighborhood, isn't that crazy?  But at the same time I liked the way it felt to see all of these things. It felt new and refreshing.  It was a change.  And eventhough it felt uncomfortable at first, once I fully committed to the direction I enjoyed this particular walk with Sydney more than any we've taken in 5 years.
Change can be so amazing if you just allow it to happen instead of fighting against it.  If you can embrace the changes in your life with as much grace and ease as possible, you will be stronger than you ever imagined.  I love this neighborhood and I have loved this house.  Both have been a safe haven for me for years.  I really lucked out.  Heading west will mean a new home, new career, new neighbors new opportunities, new friends and new walking paths.  Alot of "new-ness" to adjust to but alot of excitement at the same time.  I hope to keep you posted if there are any interesting things that happen along the way.  Enjoy your summer and please keep the emails coming, I love hearing from you:)   

"Around the bend, in the unseen, arising from the very uncertainties that may now seem to taunt you, there are some amazing surprises, awesome twists, and spellbinding coincidences about to emerge that you can't even now imagine." -The Universe
   
            
 
 
Easter Sunday was priceless.  I spent it with my brother and his son, Finn.  He woke up at 6am to a room filled with colorful eggs and had no idea what to do with them.  He opened the first one and his face exploded with a HUGE smile, "Coca-late Pa-yee, it's coca-late!!! Mmmmm!!!"  as he gleefully shoved it in his mouth and ran to another egg, quickly catching on.  I'd forgotten about this kind of fun.  I watched Spongebob Squarepants all weekend long and sang him to sleep at night as we stared at the star-filled ceiling.  Like me, he has trouble sleeping with the slightest amount of light in the room, so when I notice him covering his eyes with his fluffy, orange puppy dogs ear I whisper, "Do you want me to shut off the stars?" and he nods his sleepy little head.  Thank you God for my little Finnegan:) 
On that note I have to say life is pretty good.  I've been very busy and am still not sure what awaits me in California, but I can't worry too much about it. What I've noticed over the past several weeks is that when duty no longer calls and the alarm clock bells aren't ringing, life looks and feels entirely different.  Instead of being in a "comfortably numb" state, my senses are heightened and I'm more aware of everything & everyone around me.  I'm not "clock watching" or tapping my foot, anxiously waiting to escape and immerse myself in a world of work- because that's what I thought defined me and also how I distracted myself from "real" life - instead I'm valuing each moment I have with people I love.  I figure this is some sort of life lesson to help guide me in my next venture.  In the eyes of people who love me I've come to realize that job titles mean nothing.  My neice, Teagan, would rather spend the day picking out patterned duct tape with me then listen to me fret and worry about what I'm going to do.  (she makes wallets out of duct tape! quite the entrepreneur:)  It's a good reminder to not take life or myself so seriously...      
Of course I have my mini panic attack moments about the move & all the other changes to come: are the dogs going to be okay on the plane?  dentist appointment Monday... I can't forget to cancel the phone & TV... call the title company... omgosh, I have to pay for health insurance!  am I doing the right thing?  These thoughts peck at me periodically throughout the day which is so annoying, but they motivate me to take action, move, and get myself going.  Any direction is better than no direction at all!!!  I believe that life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, that you get what you give, and that reality is a mirror image of your own thoughts about yourself.  My greatest immobilizer is fear of the unknown.  I'm sure that's true for alot of people.  It has leveled me a time or two, but it feels so good when you come out on the other side and can look back and wave.  Bye, bye!  And looking ahead you see a bright, shining California (insert favorite place here) horizon with "coca-late" smiles and duct tape memories and your life is forever changed. 

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.  And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.  And how else can it be?  The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." -Kahlil Bibran       
 
 
I remember over 3 & a half years ago being in a really dark space.  It had more to do with my thoughts about me than anything anyone else had said.  I wasn't happy.  I forced a smile and hibernated whenever I wasn't working.  There was a lot going through this crazy head of mine (hey, sometimes our minds can be our worst enemy!) and I was very unclear about what to do with my life.  I felt like everything was out of my control, that I had no options and my life wasn't my own.  I hated my body.  Harsh, but true.  I have always carried extra weight, but at one point it was clear I had really let myself go and seeing my image on tv daily was horrifying, I just couldn't believe what I had done.  All I knew was I had to get it under control, I had to lose weight.
I probably did what most people do at first, I tried different diet trends: juicing, heating up prepared, low-calorie meals, making a meal out of a protein bar, or just not eating much of anything at all (almost as a way of punishing myself).  None of that worked, and only resulted in making me feel worse. What was I doing wrong?  I had to do some hardcore self-evaluation about my eating habits and exercise routine.  I realized that even though I wasn't eating "junk food" I was eating the wrong combination of foods (not enough fruits & vegetables and lean protein) and I wasn't portion controlling the amount.  I started by trying to eat healthy, balanced meals: grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli & cottage cheese, for example.  This in itself was a challenge because I live alone and have never given value to cooking for myself (I realize now how important this is!) and would normally just have a bowl of cereal or a protein bar.  So I really worked on that and started making better meal choices.  One of my favorite things to do was steam a piece of salmon in a steamer bag, so easy & delicious!  I also had to work on snacks & portion control.  I loved (I say "loved" because I've given them up) oyster crackers!  Goes back to when I was a kid and my Mom made homemade soup- we always had a box of those Sunshine Oyster Crackers!  Instead of sitting down with a box of those in front of the tv, I would put them in a 1/4 measuring cup.  I eventually switched from crackers to almonds or cashews, rolled up lean turkey slices, or a piece of fruit.  I keep a bag of almonds in my purse or in the car to this day- a handful usually satisfies me within minutes and I don't feel guilty.  None of this was easy, and I had my tricks to fool my rumbling tummy!  I would heat up a cup of low sodium chicken broth & sip that or quickly drink a full glass of water- anything to calm the belly noises and make my body feel full.  After doing this for a while, my stomach was used to less food and the "boot camp" was over.  I had finally created a lifestyle.
Exercise has always been a part of my life.  I love being outdoors and I enjoy brisk walking.  I knew though that with the amount of weight I had put on that walking was simply not enough.  I was embarrassed to go to a gym because I felt so uncomfortable and self-conscious, but I had to do it.  I started off on the treadmill and luckily I joined a gym that was open 24/7, so even if I had to work out at 11 o'clock at night I would.  And even if I only had 20-30 minutes to devote, I did it.  I noticed gradual changes in my endurance and bumped up the intensity & speed on the treadmill and then moved to the elliptical machine- this is when I really began to notice a change in my shape and started dropping sizes.  I was buying new pants every couple of weeks- that is a HUGE motivator to keep going!!! I was following the eating plan I had created, and working out 5-6 days/week.  I signed up for a personal trainer and that was intense!  I'd never worked closely with anyone giving me clear direction on what types of exercises to do based on my particular body shape.  It has made all the difference in the world!  I felt the difference, saw the difference and now know that weight training and cardio-balanced exercise is the way to go.  I went regularly to see Edna, my trainer at the time, for over 2 years.  Last spring I discovered Zumba (the most fun workout for me!) and went to classes as much as I could and eventually stopped the one-on-one training thinking that Zumba was all I needed.  Well, I'm learning the hard way that my body needs the structure & discipline of weight training.  I've noticed that I've softened up and have lost definition in my arms and basically am not feeling my best.  Remembering what it felt like to really feel good about myself I'm back to working out with a personal trainer and keeping an eye on my diet, I had let that slack too.  I still do Zumba, aero pilates and yoga, and I love walking my dogs and sometimes getting in a quick run.
Since last August I've given up caffeine, dairy, wheat, gluten & have cut way back on sugars.  I worked with a compounding pharmacist closely and had blood work done to check my hormone levels & thyroid.  This was just something I wanted to do for my own knowledge and also because I was weaning myself off of an anti-anxiety medication that I used to help with sleep issues.  Both an inactive thyroid and a medication that was working against my weight-loss efforts aren't an excuse for where I had let myself go, but it is good information to have.  Working the hours I have for over 11 years takes a toll, and for me it has caused problems with my sleep and I noticed this affecting many other areas in my life.  I sleep better now, but newly being away from QVC (patterns don't change over night!) I still find myself staying up late- sometimes it's nearly 2am before I go to bed.   
I hope that this information helps.  Dieting is not easy and not all plans have the same results, but willpower & determination will help get you to your goal.  Picture the best you there could possibly be and focus on that image.  There's a reason it's called a workout, not an "easy out", your commitment to yourself is the key.
And for those of you who have experienced a struggle like mine or similar, I know you have it in you to do this for yourself, you deserve it!  Keep going, you will make it happen!!! 

Thank you for asking about my journey & sending such beautiful notes.  I definitely find support in your words of kindness and encouragement. 
 
 
I just spent the weekend with some of my family and it was wonderful.  The hard part came when each of us went our separate ways.  My brother and Teagan to North Carolina, my Mom back to Florida and Finn went to his Mom.  Leaving soon myself to LA will be tough at first, but I know in my heart it's the right thing for me to do.  I wish I could wave a wand and mend all of the broken parts of my family, build a huge house on tons of land with horses and guest cottages and have all of us living there "happily ever after".  But that's not going to happen because by virtue of living our own truths and realities we make choices that change our lives.  And when we make changes in our lives, those changes in some ways affect the relationships of the ones we love the most.  So what is the right thing to do?  That seems to be the question I hear from myself and my family most often these days.  None of us know for sure, however I still stand by my heart and the feeling of excited little butterflies in my stomach when I think of waking up nearly every single day to sunshine & blue skies, the sounds & sights of nature, and flip-flops 9 months out of the year.  That's what makes me smile and feel happy.  My family is in the process of discovering their own happiness and I can tell you that their picture will most likely be very different than mine.  And that's okay.  All I want for any of us, ALL of us (you included!) is to be as happy as you can be, to surround yourself with people and things that make you smile so hard that you feel your heart flutter with excitement.  I'm in the process of packing and making all the necessary moving arrangements to move three thousand miles across the country.  It's not the fun part of this journey, and I wonder if I'm forgetting anything or obsess myelf with how my dogs will get there safely & quickly, and if I can find a nice, comfortable place to rent for a while.  So all of these thoughts are pouring through my mind and I lose myself in all of the details and it isn't until I sit down for a moment and read your thoughtful comments here or on facebook that I realize I have an entire support team out there right along with my family cheering me on!  I really don't think you have any idea how much it means to me, because yes, there are days I want to ask God for a raincheck.  I want to stay in bed with my eyes shut and just wait for someone to swoop in and handle all the minute details of packing and cleaning and closing dates and paperwork.... and just fly me & my puppies there with the greatest care & love.  That's where you come in.  When I have a moment to give myself (without feeling guilty that I don't have a tape gun in one hand & a sharpie in the other!) I read your encouraging words and recall the fabulous weekend I just had with my family and get that burst of faith & courage back streaming through me, fueling me with energy and ambition to simply "get the job done" and do what I need to do to make this happen.  This is what I wanted.  This is what I chose.  And I really do have alot to look forward to and hope I can share with you very soon what some of those things are:)
Remember the little girls I talked about in my last blog, Sophie & Bella?  Well the other day when I took my dogs for a walk there they were camped out at the end of their driveway with a "sale" sign in colorful letters tacked to a tree.  They had a small clothing rack with size 3T clothes, a table filled with stuffed animals and all sorts of toys scattered around.  Little Bella was pirouetting around with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon in her hand.  She ran over to her sister and said "Want some?" and tauntingly waved the spoon in front of her face.  Sophie wasn't interested.  She had spotted me: a potential customer.  "Wanna buy somethin'?" she screamed, I was only 5 feet away.  I smiled and said, "No thank you.  I may have to sell things soon too, in my yard.  Maybe you could come over and help?  We could make some extra money?".  Her smile was priceless.  I walked along with the dogs and thought, there's a future show host in training.  A little girl with big dreams and a brave heart.  I'll miss those two stinkerbelles (stolen from Miss Lisa Mason!), but I doubt it's the last I'll hear of Sophie & Bella.  When someone leaves a mark, they leave a mark.  You walk away with whatever you choose to take with you.  I have some of the best memories from the past 10 years.  I'm going to take them with me to L.A. for sure, but I definitely won't need a box and tape to get them there safely.   
 
 
The truth is, I've been holding out on this move for a while.  I've sat in the same salon chair, 2 hours prior to my shift, staring at myself in the mirror and asking myself the same questions: "What am I really supposed to be doing?  Do I want to be here 5 years from now?  Who in the heck am I???"  All the while having my makeup expertly applied, reviewing my product notes and gearing up to work with amazing people.  A dream job, for sure!!! And I soaked up every ounce of it.  Even on days when things have gone so horribly wrong you can't even fathom expressing yourself, you go on-air and smile when the light turns red.  That's when I started to feel the burn of doing something that just didn't feel right anymore.  We all have our stories and we all have painful realities, but it's when you can finally decide to not play the victim and do something about it, that you really begin to notice the shift.  I pray and meditate every night.  I read so many books on self-help, healing, manifesting change, the law of attraction, and the list goes on and on and on it's almost ridiculous.  I have searched for answers in this type of literature as well as from family, friends, and colleagues for years.  I have paralyzed myself with fear and self-doubt for so, so long that I finally hit a breaking point.  I thought about my family.  My niece & nephews in particular.  I thought about any and all conversations I will have with them over the years and never, ever in any phone call, email, text or facebook post would I ever deny them the deliciousness of their dreams.  The beauty of the "pie in the sky" dreams that they have and sometimes talk to you about with just a hint of embarrassment and a slight shrug of their shoulder.  What kind of Aunt would I be if I said, "That's great honey, but in all seriousness, what are you going to do with your life?"  Then I thought about me as their role model.  "There's my Auntie Patti, she's on TV!"  And yes, they think it's cool, and I love when my brother tells me that Finn saw a commercial with a blonde lady and he screamed "Pa-yeeee!!!!" while he pointed his chubby finger at the screen.  (My friends have kept tabs on me through the years via this medium.  They've definitely seen me more than I've seen them!)  So I think about my situation and how lucky I've been and trace back to over 11 years ago when becoming a host on QVC was just a dream.  That's when it dawns on me that it's been there all along.  In the writings of all those self-help and motivational books, in the person that I was and that I still am:  a believer that the world is an abundant place, that words and people have more power than they know, that every single one of us has the ability to change someone else's life for the better, and yes, that it's perfectly okay to have more than one dream, and (get this!) have more than one dream come true!   
I took Sydney for a walk today.  We saw our neighbor, Bella, a sweet 5 or 6 year old girl pedaling her pink & silver bike with the training wheels.  She had a smile as wide as the sky.  Her bike had a white wicker basket on the front and pink & white streamers shooting out of the handles.  My heart skipped a beat.  I had a bike just like that!!!  She waved at me and I said hello.  In the back of my mind I was wondering what she dreams of:)  Bella was just a baby when I moved into this house... where does the time go?  Seeing her brought up a memory from last summer.  I remember it so vividly.  There I was sitting peacefully in my sunroom on a beautiful June day enjoying the quiet when suddenly I was disrupted from my reverie by a scream.  Or wait, maybe a screaming chant???  It didn't make any sense, I needed to investigate, it almost sounded like someone was calling for help.  I put on my flip-flops and followed the sound to the end of my driveway and that's when I heard her, loud & clear:  "Water for sale!  Waaaa-ter for SALE!!!!"  It was Bella's older sister Sophie, perched at the end of her driveway two doors down with a makeshift water stand/sales booth.  A smile exploded across my face and I think I even laughed a little- it was just soooo precious!  I ran inside the house and grabbed a dollar (seriously hoping it was enough, lol!).  I walked towards Sophie, she hadn't noticed me yet, who was still screaming at the top of her lungs that she had WATER FOR SALE people!!!  Once she caught my eye she clamped her mouth shut and instantly became shy.  I saw her little mini dixie cups and asked her for a cup of water.  I mean afterall, it was a really hot day and I was thirsty!  She poured it carefully and when I asked her how much, she said boldly: "Twenty-five cents".  I told her I only had a dollar and to please keep the change.  She smiled and whipped her head around and screamed "Mom!  She gave me a DOLLAR!!!"  I saved that little cup & I share that memory because no matter where this digital age takes us, and no matter how far removed you feel from friends, family, or all of humanity, we are still supposed to honor the child within us and the children around us.  So moving forward, no more second-guessing, I will chase another dream, cheerlead my niece & nephews to be whatever they want to be and take time to buy a dixie cup of lukewarm water from an adorable child who was perhaps dreaming really big that day. 
 
 
Time spent with family.  Focusing on fun and remembering to look at the world through a child's eyes because it's amazing what you'll see.  I spent the weekend with Finn and I watched his expressions and excitement over the simplest things: flying on an airplane, toy dinosaurs, sliding sown the slide with his Daddy at the "pay-ground", hearing the music from the ice cream truck, eating an m&m cookie: "candies on it Pa-yeee, yook!", or taking a bath with ducks that squirt and tons of bubbles you can make silly faces with.  My niece and I had our bonding time too.  I took her shopping to get a birthday present for her friend and she decided that she wanted to get her long, beautiful blonde hair cut.  We went to the salon and the woman told her it was long enough to donate to Locks of Love.  And eventhough Teagan hadn't planned on cutting it so short, she did it anyway.  She's beautiful with long hair, short hair or no hair!  I have to say, that in that crucial moment where she had to decide, I thought: Here's an 11 year old that's braver than me, how cool is that?  North Carolina is a gorgeous state and the people are so friendly.  I'm looking forward to taking more time for myself and my family, to check out the world and see what other things are out there.  I hope that things work out the way they're meant to, but who's to say?  I've been loving the comments you all have written, thank you.  They are so encouraging & supportive.  My friend Crisitina sent me this the other day: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. Sail away from your safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." by Mark Twain.  I read it a few times and kept thinking to myself, if I were to whisper words in my nephew's ear or talk to Teagan about life and what she's capable of, would I ever deny them the ability to do anything in the world???  Never.  I would tell them to go after their dreams, that they can do and have anything they want because the world is a place of abundance.  That it's never too late to be who you really are, so always reach for the authenticity inside you and don't ever be afraid to let people see it.  Isn't that what we all want for our children?  They have the world at their fingertips, right?  And had we been told and shown things differently we would have done them differently. So when things in life don't always go as planned, which is often the case, all I can do is remind myself and them that "You did the best that you could do at the time.  If you could have done better you would have.  Don't beat yourself up about it."  Accepting our own perceived "failures" is one thing, and it's tough.  But I've learned to not let other people's ideas of failure or success define me.  And I hope that by making changes in my life, that my niece and nephews will look closely and learn that it's okay to "sail away from your safe harbor". 
There will always be another boat to catch.