All That I’m Not Makes Me All That I Am

It’s easy to get caught up in envy of others who we feel are more beautiful, successful, funnier, and the list goes on and on.  We’re all guilty of wanting what we don’t have.

During my morning commute the other day, I admired a young woman’s hair.  It was long, strong and looked like she hadn’t fussed with it at all.  It wasn’t thin like my hair or extra coarse.

I could never pull off long hair, with the baby-fine strands I’ve been blessed-or cursed-with.  While admiring the woman’s hair, I came up with the title for this post.  I thanked God I can pull off all of the fake ponytails and hair extensions I wear frequently.  I can go from long hair to short to blonde to reddish to dark in seconds and people sometimes never catch onto my secret!

See, I was born with hair that changes like eye color.  If I put a darker color extension in, my hair looks darker, and the same with a lighter one.  So many people have told me they could never pull it off, but I make it work.

While that’s great for my hair problems, this post isn’t really about that.  It’s about accepting who we are and what we have as well as who we’re not and what we don’t have.

I was always a plus-size girl – growing up and into adulthood.  The past few years I’ve been able to teeter along the lines of “regular” size and those additional X’s.  Sometimes I make a big deal about having to buy those bigger sizes.  Sometimes it is because I’ve gained weight and sometimes it’s about the style and the design of the clothing.

That’s when I remind myself that these numbers don’t matter.  All that matters is that I like the way the clothes make me feel.  I may never be a size small or a medium or even a large, but I am trying to remind myself that size is just a stupid number or letter manufacturer’s make up.  It is not a science and no one fits a perfect mold – no matter what size we tend to wear.

Admiring someone else is a great thing, but beating yourself up for not being that person is futile and damaging.  What you’re telling yourself is, “I’m not good enough”.

This is not only true with appearances, but in careers and parenting as well.  I am guilty of it – at times feeling jealous of other writers for making more money or getting more exposure than I do.  Everyone has their own journey and timing.  All we can do is keep working hard and stay filled with a hunger to achieve our goals, without letting self-doubt creep in.

Although, I am not a mother – I know all of my Mom friends out there feel the pressure to be the perfect parent.  With social media comes tons of input on what items to buy, how to raise your child, and what to do/not to do in your pregnancy.  Wow, as if becoming a parent wasn’t scary and tough enough – now you have to live up to the “perfect Mom society”?  Again, you do what’s right for you and your child.  There is more than one way to do things and everyone has their bad days.  Don’t be fooled by the smiling family photos and the bragging Moms with clean houses, home cooked meals, and who have were never on the verge of losing their minds.

Believe me, all of the advice I’m dishing right now is definitely advice I need to keep taking myself.  I have my bad days, but I am trying to make them less frequent.  I am trying to not beat myself up when I slack off of work, my routine, exercise or ate too much vegan pizza.  Telling myself that it’s okay when I’m not perfect and that I’m still beautiful and a go-getter is the most important thing to do.

When I feel good about myself, I’m rewarded in so many ways.  Not only do I feel happy for no particular reason, but others seem to be drawn to me.  I receive compliments about my smile or strangers randomly start a conversation with me.

When we love ourselves, it truly does shine outwardly to others.

There’s my Tony Robbins speech of the week 🙂 Have a good one!  Love you guys.

Meet Singer/Songwriter Taylor Grey: An Old Soul with Youthful Energy

Indie-folk singer/songwriter Taylor Grey maybe your average teenager talking about love, but she somehow brings the conversation to life so eloquently and maturely, yet remains relevant to her age.

Her two EPs, Mind of Mine and Mind of Mine II (available here) were released earlier this year and teases at one incredible album from a new artist that’s bound to make waves in the industry.

Oh, and did I mention she is charismatic and  adorable to boot?  Check Taylor Grey out in the music video for “Love Sweet Love”

Listen on Spotify!

Follow Taylor Grey
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Mama Kate’s Potato Salad

Like many people, I learned how to cook from my mother.  I began cooking and baking when I was 8-years-old and adored that time spent with Mom.

Whenever I make one of her recipes, I get nostalgic and sometimes, it feels like Mom is right there with me in the kitchen.  Yesterday marked 9 years since she has passed away and the moments I miss most were those times we slaved away well into the wee hours of the morning cooking for holidays.  We’d laugh so hard and listen to music and talk about anything and everything.

The thing about Mom’s recipes, though, besides being delicious, they were never vegan or measured out.  Hell, I still don’t measure anything, unless I’m creating a recipe to post on the blog.

Mom’s potato salad is one recipe that can easily be made vegan.  I had my siblings be the judge on comparing the taste and they gave it a family stamp of approval.

This potato salad wins over any crowd, even those who don’t generally like potato salad.  It even won a contest at a barbecue with my friends a few years back.  The ingredients are simple and the hardest part of this recipe is boiling, cutting and peeling the potatoes!  But if you hate peeling like I do, and love tater skins, use red potatoes, keep those skins on and you’ll love it just the same!

MAMA KATE’S POTATO SALAD [VEGANIZED]

SERVINGS: 10+

INGREDIENTS:
5lbs Red Potatoes
1.5 Cups Vegan Mayonnaise (I use Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise)
1 Onion, chopped
1 TBSP White or Apple Cider Vinegar
A few splashes Nondairy Milk
2 tsp Salt or to taste
1 tsp Pepper or to taste
1 TBSP dried or fresh Parsley, plus more for garnish

Step 1: Wash potatoes and peel if desired. Place in pot with water and boil until a fork can easily go through potato.

Step 2: Run cold water over potatoes for a few minutes and set aside to cool off.

Step 3: Once potatoes are cooled down, slice into chunks.

Step 4: Stir together chopped onion and potatoes.

Step 5: Season potatoes and onions with salt, pepper and parsley. Mix together.

Step 6: Add vinegar and nondairy milk and mix before adding in mayo. If potatoes look dry, add more mayo.

Step 7: Store in refrigerator overnight preferably or for a few hours. The flavor will set in and it will taste much better the next day. If salad looks dry, add a little more nondairy milk and/or mayo.

Step 8: Garnish with parsley.

*Non-vegans: Mom used Hellman’s mayonnaise only (swore by the stuff) and also used about 3 crumbled hard-boiled eggs in this recipe.

Trying out this recipe?
Post your photos and tag @SandyLoMedia on Instagram! 🙂

Spotlight – Prologue

Available on Kindle March 1, 2017.
Available on Kindle March 1, 2017.

Spotlight” is the 6th book in the “Dream Catchers” Series and is from the perspective of photographer Haley Foster and rock star Jordan Walsh’s daughter, Aylin.  “Spotlight” will be released March 1, 2017. PRE-ORDER SPOTLIGHT

SYNOPSIS

Aylin Ashton always had a voracious heart and is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. At twenty, she wants more than the celebrity lifestyle her family is known for—she wants an identity of her own with friends who care about who she is and not her last name.

Most of all, Aylin wants the love story her parents have. In a world full of divorce, and a society that has made it hard for her to be “normal”, she is not sure if true love can be her reality.

She finds herself struggling to grow romantically and keeps hitting a dead-end with men. From the egotistical pop-rocker Rad Trick to hipster music critic Mike, Aylin is not particularly gaga for either of them, and can’t help to pine for too-old-for-her Irishmen, Colin Houlihan, who happens to be her father’s tour manager!

The impetuous Aylin can’t help but make passes at the flirty, always doting on her Colin, and when he actually admits an attraction to her, the two are on dangerous ground.

The experience leaves Aylin wounded, but ultimately sends her on a journey to find out who she is and what she really wants, and maybe to the special someone she had hoped for.

Read the “Dream Catchers” Series on Amazon!

PROLOGUE

Prologue

True love was something I knew existed, but I also believed it to be rare. Relationships crumbled too often for me to think it common.

My parents said the words “I love you” often—to me, to one another, to their friends. But I hadn’t given any thought to what those words meant. I loved lots of things, like animals, other children, ice cream, and my family. Outside of that, I never had a dire need for any particular person or object growing up, until recently.

I know how much I love my parents, but the kind of love Mom and Dad have for one another is what really baffled me. They embody true love. In today’s world, you don’t see it often, but it was always right in front of my face.

Throughout my school years, I couldn’t remember a single friend whose parents weren’t divorced. While traveling with my dad’s rock band, Tortured, I would meet so many celebrities who were on their second or third marriage. Some never settled down with anyone at all.

Even my dad’s best friend, Danny and the band’s manager, Cami, who were married almost as long as my parents had been, got a divorce a few years ago! I came to find out Danny was cheating on Cami, and they never had what she would describe as true love to begin with. The demise of their marriage opened my eyes to the fact that love is sometimes (most of the time) a novelty that wears off.

I used to be content surrounded by two loving, amazing parents who had the coolest careers. Mom is a notable photographer whose work had been featured in just about every magazine across the world. Dad, AKA Jordan Walsh, famous lead singer of Tortured, is renowned for his voice, songwriting, good-looks and humble personality. I’m proud of who my parents are and all they have accomplished.

While people think they’re cool for their professional accomplishments, I find their love for one another to be the most significant thing about them. They’re incredibly in sync with each other. They’ve been together for over twenty years and they still act like teenagers with a crush. I want that.

I don’t know when I will have it—if I will ever have it. While I am grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with, relating to my peers, making friends and having boyfriends is difficult.

I am around the band more than anyone else and they’re all at least twice my age. When I am not on tour with Tortured, I am accompanying Mom on photo shoots with teen heartthrobs, or cheering on Uncle Drew, shortstop for the New York Yankees, at home games. That is normal for me, but it isn’t for the average person.

Now that I’m no longer a teenager, I have grown tired of tagging along with my parents. I used to be a boisterous free spirit who went with the flow and didn’t stop to think about anything but the moment I was in. Senior year of high school was a serious wake-up call. I grew frustrated with my so-called friends when they continuously wanted to use me to get to Tortured or the Yankees or set them up with a celebrity.

Kayla was the closest I had to a best friend. We met when we were fourteen, and kept in touch through social media and text messages while I traveled with my parents. She’d always beg me to Face Time from backstage at whatever event I was at and made lots of ridiculous requests—like celebrity phone numbers.

I used to be happy and excited about life. When I turned eighteen, I suddenly felt alone. I couldn’t trust any of the friends I made in high school and meeting new people was not easy.

I keep waiting for something and I don’t know what that something is. I thought college would be better. I could discover some kind of career calling and find real friends, but ultimately, I want to find true love—to have a partner in life to express all of these emotions to. I don’t want to feel used for my last name, the celebrity company I keep, or my money.
I’d settle for a simple crush on someone my own age who wasn’t super out-of-reach. The hugest crush I ever had was on my dad’s hot tour manager, Colin Houlihan. As soon as he said hello to me with that adorable Irish accent, I was planning our life together at eight-years-old.

Not long after I became infatuated with Colin, I asked Mom how she knew Dad was her soul mate. I hoped her explanation would help me identify the feeling within myself one day.

“Did you know right away?”
She laughed, “No, I hated your father at first sight.”
My eyes widened, “Hated him?”
She nodded, “I thought he was gorgeous, of course, in that unpolished way he has about him, but we were totally different people. I feared boys, especially ones that smoked and had tattoos…”
“Dad smoked?” I gasped, disgusted.
“Yes, repulsive, right?” She rolled her eyes and then laughed, as if she was lost in the memory of when they first met.
“So, did Dad fall for you right away?” I wondered. “Did he annoy you so much until you just went out with him?”

Fame or no fame, Dad had a way about him. He was good at getting people to do what he wanted, especially girls. He was what most people called charming, and I’ve been told many times that I have inherited his charm. I don’t know about all of that since most people were too entranced with my father than to ever notice me.

Mom laughed at me thinking Dad forced himself on her.
“Your father thought I was a stuck-up brat. But we both felt like we had to prove something to the other one. I think we came off so different that we were both a little intrigued, and secretly liked challenging each other,” Mom shrugged. “We got to know each other and realized you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” she concluded.
She looked at me the way she did when she wanted me to come away from something with a lesson. Never judge a book by its cover, got it, Mom. She didn’t realize the response I was searching for, though.

I never did get a clear answer of the moment Mom knew Dad was her true love, or how she knew. Does the feeling just hit you? Was it gradual?

Now at twenty-one, I feel I should know something about relationships and love, but I am still clueless and desperately wanting to mature in that department. As for the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover”… well, I never did, and sometimes I think I should have. Sometimes a book turns out exactly like its cover, and its one you never should have read to begin with.

Read Chapter One

Read the “Dream Catchers” Series on Amazon!

Funny Video: MTV Stars James Manzello + Matt Pavich are Itchy with a B!

If you watch MTV’s Joking Off, you’re familiar with the hilarious comedy duo James Manzello and Matt Pavich. These two best friends have been working together for years on funny and addictive YouTube videos. One of my favorites is “Capitale’s Hit Single!”

With a great beat, silly, but clever lyrics, along with terrific visuals (“this is how I turn on the television” while James is actually standing on top of a TV and spinning around) — you will find yourself singing these catchy lyrics aloud, and wanting to “side walk on the sidewalk”!

For more on James Manzello: YouTube | Twitter | Instagram
For more on Matt Pavich:  Twitter | Instagram

Check out their YouTube Projects:
Handsome Dancer
The Neighborhood Series

Catch these guys on MTV’s #JokingOff Thursday nights!

 

 

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