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!

 

Nobody Likes The Wet Spot

This is a REPOST from my old babymama blog. It was created in 2009 when I was pregnant with Kai but no longer available. However, here is one of the few stories I managed to snag.

I remember giggling when my mom first joked about how nobody likes the “wet spot” in the bed. I can’t remember the context of what was said but there’s usually a hint of many things in her jokes. Over the years, I’ve used that saying here and there. If someone spills water on the bed, I’d announce “let’s trade sides” because nobody likes the “wet spot.” Giggle, giggle. Turns out the jokes on me these days.

Me and baby Kai

Baby Kai all snuggled into the ergo where we cruised around together-2010

After being in the stroller for awhile Baby Kai clearly expressed wanting out of his car seat/stroller situation. He’d been in there singing for an hour so who could blame him for wanting a different view. I figured it was time to feed him anyway and popped into a local coffee shop to do the deed. He was ecstatic to get out of the stroller and get a better view of the world. He nose dived for the boob, took some good sucks and then pulled away smiling. My milk started spraying while my nipple saluted everyone. I pulled my tank up and down while he nose dived for the boob again. Eating, smiling and grabbing my face are some of the highlights these days. This little game went on a couple of times on each side before I took my wet boobs back outside. Put the little guy in the Ergo and we continued our walking errands. The show must go on, wet spots and all.

Thus, giving new meaning to the “wet spot” with a baby.

Kai’s 7th Birthday Trip To Honolulu

Holy crap, how did I get a 7 year old?! Our annual birthday trip with just the two of us went off without a hitch.

After Blaize and Pepper were born, I decided that Kai needed some one on one face time with his mama. When he turned 4, we went to LegoLand then Maui for 5 and 6 years old. This last year, we did the Waikiki thing! Experiences over things is the real deal at my house.

I’m a little late as Kai is turning 8 at the end of this month. Posting birthday pics now, better late than never.

IMG_0004IMG_0243IMG_0249IMG_0475IMG_0229IMG_0151IMG_0104IMG_0046Another birthday trip with just mama in the books!

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We slept like rocks every night. 🙂

Improvise Is A Staple Attitude At Our House

We celebrate life LOUD and PROUD at our house. The good times roll and roll quickly every.single.day. We have so much fun and get after the good times! No, I’m not supermom-I just like to have fun. And lucky for me I have 3 small kids who LOVE the fun with me. So we get out in the city a lot. We talk a lot, laugh a lot, eat a lot, adventure a lot and improvise a lot.

Yesterday, in the elevator we told one of our best little friends who’s 8 years old about improvising. She was confused because the game plan changed from the park to a hike. I asked Pepper what we do when we don’t get our first choice in life? Pepper said with a straight face and a 5 year old voice (that only a mom and speech therapist can love and understand) “we IMPOOOvise when we don’t get our furst choice. We say, it’s ok because maybeee next time we wheel get our furst choice. And if we don’t, it’s ok we let it go.  We still have fun, she said with a barbie doll smile!”

YES! That’s my girl! That’s my 5 year old miracle baby that I prayed for since I was 12 weeks pregnant.

So, now that I’m a single mom with three little kids in tow I subscribe hard to the “improvise dance.” Sometimes, it happens on a layover at work where I have 8 pairs of underwear for a 2 day trip and NO SOCKS. Oy! Or it happens a lot at the gym when the four of us hustle down the street to LA Fitness. It’s only a few blocks away so we walk. And it’s a chance for me to get my workout and shower in for the day. I pack my shower bag in a frenzy and always forget something. Today, I forgot my shower towel which has happened before. It’s not the first time people, but it’s the first time I’m talking about it. At least I have my razor and shower flip flops I tell myself. I’ve even dried off with paper towels before. #truth

It’s definitely not my choice to dry off with a hand towel at the gym but by golly I’m going to workout and shower any chance I get. Screw the shower towel, the show must go on! I just avoid eye contact hard! Haha!D3C6DC80-7E23-4997-A691-62EEE5BF80F1.pngIt’s so amazing when I hear one of my little peanuts rattle off some good grown up advice about “improvising” in the real world.

It’s a magical mom moment where I breathe in all the goodness that this little person is sharing with the world.

Soft And Hard

Soft and hard seems like the best of both worlds doesn’t it? It kinda does to me-strong but sweet. Smart but funny. Nice but adventurous. Passionate but reasonable. It’s a blend of opposites. IMG_4552Throwing my buddy a cold drink last summer. It was a magic THROW if I do say so myself. 🙂 And yes he caught it. 

I think the challenge is in the transition between the soft and hard. It’s the moments between the soft and hard. It’s the grey area, the new stuff or the things that don’t have a “title” yet. That’s where the magic happens. It’s the space in between, the transition part. Holding that space and breathing through it is the key. Not avoiding it. Not getting on amazon to ignore it. Not even hitting the gym to distract it. But literally, watching it like a wave come and go. One of my favorite authors, Eckart Tolle calls it living in the present moment.

I tell my three little kids that one of the secrets to life is learning how calm yourself down naturally and fairly quickly. With a 7 year old little boy and 5 year old identical girl twins, we get to practice this a lot. 🙂

**Life is tossing me a lot of the magic these days and I’m grabbing it by the face. 

Sending love and resilience to you and your people.

Big Family, Small Herd

Days are long. Years are short. Days are long. Years are short. IMG_3974.jpgKai, getting it at the playground!IMG_0494Pre bedtime snuggle with my girl band! 

Our days are bat shit crazy busy with kids stuff so I keep our afternoons/evenings very low key with a hard emphasis on the bedtime routine. Yes, Blaize and Pepper are 5 years old but they need their sleep. And so do I!

They are not the kind of kids that can stay up til 10pm and be “cool” the next day. I still plan my life around playing and chasing the fun with my kids during the day while honoring our “family sleep schedule.”

More music, more singing, more adventures and sleep, lots of beautiful sleep.

Happy sleeping my friends!