Category Archives: dating

How I Ended Up On a Reality TV Show

The Big Choice Makes A Comeback In My Life A Decade Later.

So, I’ve always been a truth seeker. Sometimes even too much. I might even call myself an over-sharer. In an effort to connect with other people I tend to dig deep while sharing and talking. Usually, it’s a good experience and an interesting conversation. However, my stint on the reality tv show was not something positive or something I wanted to share with anyone.

Joe MillionaireBrandy Sullivan-Joe Millionair

Posing in front of the castle outside of Paris. It was 2002 and I was 27 years old.

Back story: I was on a furlough from being a flight attendant post 9/11. I was living in LA, teaching spin classes and waiting tables at Big World Restaurant on Main Street in Santa Monica.  I lived in a cute, little bungalow in Santa Monica right by the promenade with girlfriends. Life was oh so simple. One night I waited on the producers of a dating reality tv show. We instantly connected and got along really well. They convinced to come to an interview for an upcoming reality tv show.  At that time, reality tv was The Real World on MTV and the Bachelor had just started to take off. I hadn’t watched the bachelor so had no idea what I was getting into. I also had zero interest in watching other people date on tv. It seemed boring and the little bit I did hear about the girls seemed caddy and pretentious. Two of my least favorite characteristics.

Back to how I got roped into auditioning for a dating reality tv show when I was 27.

The producers asked me 3 basic questions:

1. Do you like to travel? Yeah! I love it! After being a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines for 3 years prior, I was no stranger to the joy of travel.

2. Are you single? Yeah, super single and on a 6 month no date dry spell to be specific.

3. Would you like to go on an all expense paid trip for a month or longer? Twist my arm-yes please!

I immediately pictured myself on a beach in Taihiti working on my even tan and snorkeling everyday. Or maybe sipping americanos in a cute cafe in Europe reading my Eckhart Tolle Book, A New Earth.  My mind was exploding with awesome travel fantasies.

Needless to say, none of them happened. Yes, I stayed for a week in the castle with 12 other actresses. There was a lot of sitting around waiting and more waiting at all hours of the night. Yes, we left our microphones on in the bathroom, while running outside and any other time. Yes, we woke up to large tv cameras in our face. Startling to say the least.

The producers would set us up to not get along everyday. It was being a kids and playing duck, duck goose and the snowball all at the same time. One day they brought in evening gowns all different sizes and styles. Then they let us loose in the room with the dresses to find a dress to wear. You had to choose a dress but there was one of each kind and no repeat sizes. AWKWARD. Yes, this is how it felt the whole time.

What I remember the most from being on that show is feeling trapped in a divey Best Western hotel in Paris. With no access to the outside world and a bodyguard outside the hotel so you couldn’t step outside for 3 weeks. There were 8 of us girls that got the boot after the second cut. After being driven away in the middle of the night and dumped at the ghetto Best Western, we had to go everywhere in a group to make sure no one “talked” about the show. Secrecy is a big clause for reality tv. No workouts, limited fresh air, McDonalds everyday and no contact with friends and family or the news. It gives me goose bumps to even write about it. It was SO UNCOMFORTABLE! I remember running the stairs in the 6 story hotel and doing a ton of push ups and sit ups in my room to stay sane. There were a couple of “handlers,” an onsite psychologist and a bodyguard who made sure we NEVER went outside. The bodyguard was like a rent a cop but bigger and super creepy.

Back Story cont. While waiting on the tv producers, I told them that dating one guy with lots of other girls wasn’t my style. I was more traditional than that, one guy and one girl is more my style. Perfect, they said we need someone traditional. I said I’m from Oregon. Even better, they said! They continued to talk about the travel and how perfect I’d be. At the very least come to the first interview and then see how it goes. I talked myself into the interview because I figured I could decide later if I even made it. Well, the interviews went well over a couple of days. Then we had 3 days to get ready and show up at the airport with our passport. Turns out, there would be 20 girls and one guy in Paris. 15 were aspiring actresses and models, only 5 of us including me were “real people.”

Spoiler Alert: Being on the show was very uncomfortable and so invasive. It wasn’t anything how I pictured and a lot worse. After the month abroad in the Best Western, I returned home and felt really bad. The trip wasn’t anything like the producers that I met explained to me. They had really cool people do the auditions and casting so you think it will be okay. But, the cool, casting people don’t go on the trip, they just rope you into the deal. By the way, the show was supposed to be called “THE BIG CHOICE” not Joe Millionaire.

When I got home I felt shame and so much embarrassment from being on the show. The pilot commercial aired during the superbowl which is where everyone heard the “new name” and the theme of the show. Oh my god, that was not what I signed up for…

The way that reality tv show worked back then was the opposite of reality and a high drama story that the producers created. Turned out that Evan Marriott (the average Joe) was as dumb as nails, with icky long, greasy hair and had a girlfriend waiting for him back in Santa Monica…

Funny how life works. It’s rarely what you expected, sometimes it’s better and often times it’s NOT AT ALL WHAT IT SEEMED.

That my friends is how I ended up on the Joe Millionaire reality tv show. It’s taken fifteen years to talk about it without the shame face. Like Brene Brown says, shame can’t exist with truth, light and vulnerability.

The funny part is most people thought it was really cool and were surprised I didn’t want to talk about it. Back then, I usually said it was really weird and not what I signed for. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes on tv and in life. So f*ck the secrecy, silence and judgement. At least I did it and won’t ever wonder what it would’ve been like. No wondering here. Not at all. Haha!

 

Hey Girl

This is the song we sing to each other!

Hey Girl by Lady Gaga. It’s a family favorite. We use pens as microphones and we get into it! We sing it loud and proud. IMG_3969Yes, they like to swing while holding my hand… There’s a timer and then I switch sides to hold hands with Blaize. This.Is.Love

Hey Girl, hey girl if you lose your way, just know that I got you! Blaize, Pepper and I sing this to each other as Kai silently watches with big eyes. Haha

Hey Girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other. We don’t need to give up on one other. Singing with my girls is so awesome!

It’s beautiful and so sweet.

I Love Boats

IMG_2787Steering the catamaran in Honolulu

Yep, I love boats. That’s all.

Identical Twins Are So Special

Being a mom to Blaize and Pepper (identical twins) is so special AND keeps me on my toes every. single. day.

When you are 25 or 45 years old and tell me, ohhhh I always wanted twinssss. I don’t know what to say to you and ususally say nothing. I would like to send you to this blog post so you can get a taste of the real situation with identical twins.

No, they are very different in personality.

Yes, they are extremely competitive with one another.

No, they STILL don’t like to share me or my attention with each other.

Yes, I can tell them apart every time. From their normal voices to their whiney voices.

No, I didn’t know raising identical twins and a 7 year old would be so awesome! 🙂

Yes, I wanted to be a mom my whole life with 4 kids in tow.  But I always thought one baby at a time would be how it would happen.

No, I’m not supermom. I’m just a mom who loves my three little people as much as you love your singleton.

Yes, my momo pregnancy rocked me with weekly Dr. appts to listen for heartbeats starting at 12 weeks pregnant. Complete with an emergency trip to San Francisco for fetal heart surgery and a long ass, scary hospital stay followed by 32 days in the Nicu.

No, I don’t have stretch marks even though I gained 52 pounds.

Yes, I’m lucky. 🙂

No, I didn’t like tandem breastfeeding and neither did they.

Yes, breastfeeding 3 and 4 pound premature twins with nipple shields at the hospital in the Nicu is the opposite of fun.

No, I didn’t sleep long enough to enter REM-too busy pumping 12 times a day for way too long.

Yes, I was “sleep deprived

No, I didn’t want to give them formula.

Yes, I gave them breastmilk AND formula.

No, I didn’t like giving formula but was breastfeeding around the clock because tandem breastfeeding wasn’t cool for any of us.

Yes, my sweetest girlfriend snapped me out of the “exclusively breastfeeding obsession” (that many women sign up for) by saying “Bran, you’re not getting a medal for exclusively breastfeeding twins.” Let. it. go. I supplemented with formula proudly after that talk with her in her L.A. closet. Haha!

Yes, I would do it again in a second. Yes, having all three of my kids are the best thing I’ve ever done. Yes my mandatory c-sections weren’t that bad after all, even though I wanted a natural birth with no drugs. C-sections are pretty okay of you ask me. Shrug. Giggle IMG_9574Do you see the ear grab?! There was an eye gouge photo after this one. Sharing mom is soooo hard. Especially for identical twins. #justsayin

 

It’s Official, I Love To Eat

This is so true. Always has been. Except, I prefer having someone cook for me. Maybe, it’s cooking for one that makes me want to eat out or maybe it’s being a mom? Dunno? Either way, I’ve never enjoyed someone cooking for me more than I do right now. I mean, if we’re talking about the crazy hot matrix, then someone who can cook would raise their number by at least 1.5 points in my book. Just sayin.

IMG_0676_2Soaking up Portland sunshine with my girls. On our way to PIZZA. 

 

If you haven’t seen the crazy, hot matrix-you must watch it! I love it! If you laugh and love it, then we can be friends. If it makes you angry or defensive then I don’t want to know you.

Maybe, I appreciate food more than ever because I am constantly in the kitchen at home “feeding, cleaning up and then feeding again.” Taking care of my little people is a full time job that I love but boy it’s a lot of “wet hands” in the kitchen.

I started getting lean cuisines because sometimes a hot meal with zero clean up is really nice. Actually, it’s frickin awesome! And it’s even cooler on the airplane. When I pack my lean cuisines and cook them in the galley it’s pretty rad. It smells so good. And it’s all about perspective. My spaghetti lean cuisine was the envy of all the flight attendants and a couple of first class passengers. Something vulnerable and real about being hungry on an airplane. Basically, you have nothing to eat, there’s nothing to buy AND we’re 38,000 feet in the sky.

Maybe I’ll bring back my love for oranges on an airplane. Before I had kids, I used to eat an orange on the airplane and loved it. Then I had kids and was busy pumping breastmilk for years on the plane.

Well my airplane pumping days are long gone (thank God!) so bring out the oranges!

Parenting Class for Communication

Recently, I took a parenting class in the evening in an effort to improve communication skills within our complicated family. It was strongly suggested and I’m glad I took it. It was tough to enroll because it was only offered  in the evening, deep in NE Portland and only on my parenting night. But, I did it! I hired a sitter and schlep my 3 little kids to her house in jammies at 5pm before I drove the 45 min in heavy traffic. There were about 15 people in my class and we were from all walks of life. Some were remarried and brought their new partner to the class. Most of us were single and trying to navigate a complicated family life. All of us were involved with high conflict divorce with shared little kids. It was strangely comforting to hear personal experiences that mirrored my situation. It didn’t explain or justify behavior but did feel good to know I’m not alone.IMG_7185This picture says it all-LOVE! (Even Kai smiled) haha! Summer 2017 at Jameson Square Park

These 3 cuties are why I continue to do my best and make the most of every situation.

Back to the class-it took no less than 25 email exchanges to get enrolled in the class. I’ll spare the details. But it was a feat just to register for the class for all sorts of reasons.

Beyond Conflict Parenting Class was upstairs in an old Portland house in a small room with uncomfortable church folding chairs. The instructor isn’t married and doesn’t have children. She’s been teaching this class for maybe 20 years? I can’t remember the actual number but long enough to see a lot of different situations and people.

Funny thing is that I always felt better leaving that class than I did when I arrived. That is a good sign. I was surprised to feel this way because my expectations were low. Kinda like online dating. You do it, you put your best effort out there but you’re okay if nothing pans out. Yes, it spoke to the general public and wasn’t specific in handling high conflict divorce. However, the messages were good reminders to “do the right thing” no matter what. Some parents shared horror stories (not me of course for privacy reasons) and Judith never deviated from advising the “higher road” no matter what! I mean the stories were so bad that I can’t even repeat them here. But, Judith reiterated again and again focus on the kids and respond by respecting the kids.

And, the best thing I learned in this class is that I’m only 1 parent. In essence, I’m potentially 50% of the solution and 50% of the problem. For example, if I do my very best and communicate clearly with kindness, it can only be 50% effective for communication.  Depending on how the other parent chooses to respond is out of my hands.  Wow, this was eye opening for me. I already know this as I love self help books and seminars but it’s a different beast when someone f*cks with your little kids. Anyway, simple advice to stay the course but a good reminder for me. Healthy, positive co-parenting takes 2 willing people. It is what it is.

Facts I learned from this class is that less than 10% of families get divorced through family court. That means most families 90% or more are able to mediate and/or reach an agreement outside the courtroom. Hey, even Brad and Jolina chose to settle out of court. There were lots of books and handouts shared to help navigate this tricky family situation.

And the most important take away from Judith Sweeney’s class is-When in doubt, focus on the kids! When uncertain on how to handle an unusual situation, focus on the kids!

 

 

 

 

BurnCycle, I Love You

So, I came back to spin classes after a tumultuous 10 months off. The turmoil is still going but I’m tired of waiting for a “good time” to get back on the bike. So, I hopped on that spin bike 3 weeks ago and had an awesome workout with an amazing instructor.

Then I did it again. My second spin class in 10 months was 2 weeks ago. She was also an amazing instructor. Not sure if I get more physically or mentally from these classes. The jury is still out. As the NOISE rises, so does my self care. I will always take care of myself and my people-it’s in my blood.

If you are like me and in the thick of it and don’t have time, energy or desire to workout-get yourself to a group fitness class. It will change everything. Because, life is happening and waves are coming whether we like it or not. Better to have the sparkle in our heart from a great workout when the waves come crashing in.

May fitness and health be a priority this year and always, my friends.

Aloha Friday

Seeking more adventures, life balance and lots of laughs next year! Only 16 days left in 2017 and I couldn’t be more excited. 2017 rocked my world in so many ways. I’m ready to say farewell, goodbye and hello to the new year. IMG_4528Doing a 360 degree spin jump this summer

As I reflect on the past year, I shake my head. It’s like the saying goes, 2 steps forward and one step back. Or 2 steps forward and 4 steps back in my world. One big change for me is that I’m focusing on what I want, instead of what I don’t want. I used to reiterate what I don’t want because I thought that list was easier to swallow. When the noise rises, so does my self care. A friend was surprised that I did anything other than yoga. Wait, what, you go to the gym too?! Haha! Yeah, you could say that. Running, spinning and gym time is way easier for me than the yoga. However, the yoga is my best effort toward self love and self care. It’s what I need but not usually what I want. #justsayin

I’m ramping up the self care and gettin’ after the good stuff. Focusing on the fun, the travel and the mom life (the best life) this next trip around the sun.

So, I dragged my tired, puffy self to burncycle this morning. I haven’t been for over 10months and it left a mark. I will be walking funny for days… But, I’m looking for a new outcome 2018 so gotta put my money where my mouth is. There is no butt kicking quite like a cycle class. And, I LOVED it!IMG_2206Here’s to an awesome last couple of weeks of 2017 and a bigger and better 2018!

Let the good times roll, my friends.

Tinder Tales From A Single Mom-Part 2

So, my second experience with tinder was with someone that I had known for a long time. Back in the day when I was known as crazyspingirl and was single, he would come to my spin classes. He was married so it was always a very platonic, easy going friendship without any funny business. I was 30 years old, taught a ton of spin classes all over Portland and squeezed in match.com dates like a super hero. I figured online dating was a numbers game, only 30 yrs old and had a lot of stamina for the dating game. I used to say that I didn’t expect to meet my boyfriend on match.com but maybe make a friend. Then end up having a connection with one of his friends at a barbecue. Seemed to make perfect sense back then but sounds kinda naive now that I write it down?! #realtalkIMG_0955Me dating in my 30’s-focused and dedicated to the process of landing on that teeny, tiny little floatie.IMG_0954.JPGGood visual of me online dating in my 30’s. SO MANY DATES so I’d squeeze em in.

My divorce became final after a very long process. I won’t get into the details because it’s private. But, I didn’t have my kiddos for Christmas that first year in 2014 and was scared to be without them. I was elated when I reconnected with my “old spin friend.” He was also divorced and didn’t have his kids for Christmas that year either. At the time, I didn’t realize this but now I understand this is HUGE. Opposite parenting schedules can kill the dating deal right out of the gate. So similar parenting schedules can be a huge bonus.IMG_0907My current attitude about dating. My face says it all, if you get my drift. Haha! 

Anyway, we decided to see a movie and catch up. We went to the movie alright, but I don’t remember seeing it. Yep, it was one of those movie situations. Where you’re in the movie theatre and it seems like you’re alone and you give zero f*cks like you were 16 years old.

Which reminds me of how judgemental I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I remember seeing “moms” getting after it on layovers and thinking how sad they were. Wow, they’re MOMS and they’re getting wild and crazy! What’s wrong with them?! I also thought (and still do) those mini van driving moms are scary drivers. And then I had kids…Even though I don’t get wild on my layovers OR drive a mini van I can relate to those moms on so many levels. Being a mom is like nothing else. You’re scrutinized by your little kids 24/7 and judged in public all the time especially by people who don’t have kids. Now, I understand  there’s a lot going on inside a mom’s car. Little kids are needy people-yo! Sometimes, they’re happy and sometimes they’re wildly upset. Those mini van driving mom are trying to drive while simultaneously handing out snacks and keeping the peace. Being a mom is so amazing but not without it’s daily challenges. So, those moms that “let go” a little on their layovers- I get you girl! And I don’t judge you one bit! 🙂

 

Back to that tinder number 2 story. The make out movie date was my wild mom moment. And boy did I pay for it for days later… First, I have sensitive skin and hadn’t kissed anyone in awhile. So, my face was pretty red and raw after the movie. I figured it was just a random thing that would fade. Oh no, my face lost about 7 layers of skin the next day. It was so sore and looked like I had been in a skateboarding accident and landed on my face. It looked horrible and felt even worse. It was so far gone that make up didn’t even help.

We dated for about 2 months and had fun but his 5’oclock shadow was even rough and never went away. My face sort of got used to it but not really. And I was always afraid of kissing too long for fear that another “skateboarding accident face” would develop.

It reminds me of the prize down below, you never know what you’re going to get. I mean it is a TOTAL MYSTERY until it’s not. Haha! It doesn’t matter how tall you are or how big your hands and feet are, none of it matters. #justsayin

My point it, sometimes the facial hair is rough or strangely soft but you never know until you test drive it during a movie.

Happy dating my friends, may the people be honest, and the laughs be frequent.

 

Tinder Tales From A Single Mom

dSo….Where do I start? Whenever I read a magazine I start from the back. That must say something about me kind of like astrology. The people that read magazines from the back? Anyway, I first learned about Tinder from my sister at Edgefield. It was the summer of 2014 and I was seeing one of my girl crushes-Sarah McLachlan (thanks mom!). We were sitting outside on a beautiful summer night and my sister started “swiping” on her tinder I was horrified and interested at the same time. Haha! Most everyone has seen it by now but a big red NOPE pops across the page if you swipe left on someone’s picture. They don’t know you “noped” them though. If you swipe right, then a green LIKE pops up across the page. If that person you liked already liked you, then it’s a match! And you can text away via the tinder app. It’s long and arduous at best. At worst it’s crickets while you both wait for the other person to text first. If you like that person and it’s not immediately a match either they haven’t seen you yet or they didn’t like you. You just don’t’ know and really don’t care. The choices are overwhelming. Seems like everyone is on there. But not gunna lie, there’s SO MUCH WEIRD on there! I used to compare online dating to shopping at Ross. You have to go through so much sh*t to find one decent top. And usually I walk out of there exhausted and empty handed. IMG_3499This is how it feels for a girl when you start online dating. So MANY choices coming at you hard!  (just trying not to lose my hat) Haha! Most of the choices aren’t great but you take a second look and do the “weeelllllll, maybe?!” #truth

The best part about tinder for me is that no one can message you unless you both like each other! Back in the day when I did match. com and ok cupid, I would get inundated with messages from people that didn’t fit my criteria at all. I would get long, personal emails from people living in Florida. Long, life stories if you will and I’d get sucked into their random story before I noticed that they lived in Florida or worse they were still married. Wait, what?! Sometimes, I think boobs are the only prerequisite for a lot of guys. Sad, but true. Sure, the attention might feel flattering for a hot minute and then it gets creepy and overwhelming very fast. So, that’s why I prefer “the tinder” as I like to call it.

The second best thing about tinder for me is that you don’t have to be out at the bars to meet other single people. Or at least sort of single people. There are so many “open relationships” these days in Portland. It almost seems like tattoo sleeves, cool and really common. I’m old school and think that one guy and one girl is plenty for me. Of course, I would love to meet someone at yoga or Trader Joes but I’m not holding my breath.

So, like the rest of the single people I suck it up, swallow my pride and make my tinder profile. At least I use my “real name.” #justsayin

The last thing I like about tinder is that its not a huge time suck. You can look a little or a lot and feel like you’re “dating” or at least putting yourself out there.

Sooooo. Back to the tinder tales. My first tinder date a couple years ago was a high school chemistry teacher. We had a lot of mutual friends on facebook so it seemed pretty safe. It’s always tough to be the first one and especially after a divorce. I know that I run from anyone newly divorced as I don’t want to be their “first date.”

We saw each other probably 8 times over 2 months.  We always met up at restaurants so don’t think I ever rode in his car? Looking back, I definitely kept him at arm’s length. Again, being the first one sucks. Haha! He was pretty uptight now that I think back about him. He was in his 40’s, never married and no kids. One time I wanted to sit outside at a restaurant and it was nice but the patio chairs were wet. I offered for him to sit on my jacket and he accepted it. Haha! Oh dear! I made a quick joke about being a mom and can deal with a wet seat. Not sure why those uptight ones like me but they usually do. And I’m NOT talking about the kids’ dad-no one is talking about him just to be clear.

When I first met the chemistry teacher, he met his last girlfriend on tinder and she was from Medford.  Long distance was the demise of their relationship-she had kids so wasn’t moving and he loved his job in Portland. One Sunday afternoon, I was out for a trail run. He had told me that he was going on a hike with his friend “John.” Anyway, the last time I saw him he was on that hike with his friend “John” but “John” had boobs and “Medford hair.” His eyes were as big as saucers as I ran by him and his Medford girlfriend holding hands. I’m not sure who was more surprised me or him?