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.