My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: #OMagInsiders

Share the Adventure Alaskan Cruise: Day 1 Embarkation

(This is the first in a series of posts about my Share the Adventure cruise with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine. Disclosures:  1) I was not asked to write about the cruise, but so many amazing things happened on this trip I must tell you about them. 2) I paid for this cruise myself. However, the cocktail dress and jewelry you’ll see me wearing in the photos below is sponsored by Chico’s.)

Year of Adventure

Sometimes we have to travel a bit first on the inside to explore the thoughts, secrets and beliefs we’ve been holding. Once we have a map to them, we’re better prepared to chart new territories and open ourselves up to new experiences. I’m not typically one who says Sure, I’ll book a cruise – by myself – room with someone I’ve never met before and hang out with nine other strangers for a week.

But when Oprah declared 2017 her year of adventure, I wanted in on that, too. I applied to become an O, The Oprah Magazine Insider in February and got the news in March I was one of just 50 people selected nationwide! So when I heard about the cruise to Alaska in July, I said yes. I will continue to say yes to anything the O team asks me to do, although I might draw the line at tattoos and body piercings. 🙂 Other than that, bring it on.

Meeting My Roommate

Prior to even discussing the cruise, I had placed the O-shaped cabin window image from O magazine on my vision board.  As a handful of the Insiders were deciding whether we could go on the cruise,  Chris and I kept talking about manifesting it and making it happen.  I put my feelers out for some freelance writing and editing gigs to help fund my cruise, and it worked. I also got two refund checks in the mail from my health insurance company (an insurance company refunding?!), which also helped fund the cruise.

Chris and I got to know each other via social media before we met at the dock in Seattle. Once I found her at the pier, I knew I didn’t have to worry about rooming with her. She is pure, unadulterated joy.

Chris Lowe PowerHoopz

Chris, my beautiful, joyful roommate for the Alaskan cruise with Holland America and O, The Oprah Magazine

As someone with hyperhidrosis, a slew of random thoughts had been running through my head about being her roommate:

  • What if the room didn’t have carpet? Would I leave a trail of sweaty footprints?
  • What if Chris liked the room temperature hotter than I did? Would I be a sweaty mess?
  • How am I supposed to get ready in front of her when I constantly have to stop to wipe off my sweaty hands amidst blow drying my hair and doing my makeup?

Thankfully, Chris asked me some questions ahead of time because she took the time to understand my condition. I am grateful for this. Chris is from Florida, so we solved the problem of room temperature a couple of ways: I turned the thermostat down just when we were getting ready so I wouldn’t sweat as much, and I wore summer pajamas to bed. Meanwhile, she wore a sweatshirt and pants to bed. Wuss. 😉

OMagInsiders Cruise to Alaska with Holland America Line

OMagInsiders meeting for the first time on our Alaskan cruise with O, The Oprah Magazine and Holland America. (L to R: Me (Maria), Shelley, Chris, Amy, Allison, Tonya, Sarah, Lisa; Megan and Christine in front row)

Chico’s Cocktail Party

Since it was our first night on board, Chico’s hosted a cocktail party so that we could meet and mingle with some of our fellow cruisers. As Chris and I were walking down the hall on the way to the party, her shoe broke! There was no way she could keep walking on it, so we returned to our room where she MacGyvered a solution – hula hoop tape!

I said to Chris, “Hurry up! You’re going to make me late for the most important night of my life!” I started to freak out because being late makes me sweat, and I didn’t want to arrive with sweaty hands as my first impression when meeting all these new people. But before I could go into full freak out mode, Chris had me laughing so hard it didn’t matter anymore. She taught me that you always have a choice in the energy you bring to a space, and this first night on board is one of just many examples where she helped me be a better version of myself and place my hyperhidrosis on the back seat.

Chris Lowe PowerHoopz

Broken shoe? Just fix it with hula hoop tape!

I got a chance to meet the O Magazine team, including Editor at Large and Oprah’s BFF Gayle King. Gayle was very busy talking to everyone, and she carried a notepad during the entire cruise to interview people . She got some really great stories that she later shared on stage.

I came prepared with two handwritten cards – one for her and one for Oprah, as I didn’t think I’d be able to meet Oprah since her schedule was completely booked for the days she was on board. When I got my turn to meet Gayle, she said she couldn’t accept anything but to give the cards to her assistant, Joseph. I found Joseph, and he graciously placed my cards in his backpack. I’m hoping Gayle and Oprah received the cards and were able to read them. They contained my Denver Woman’s Press Club winning essay, a way for them to get to know me as a writer and one of their OMagInsiders, plus a thank you message for all of the work they’ve done to help me shape myself as a woman.

Maria Thomas and Gayle King

Waiting patiently for my turn with Gayle King,
handwritten cards in hand.

Put Down What You Carry

Poet Mark Nepo says,

We must put down what we carry in order to let more of ourselves enter.

I’m so glad I left my baggage on the curb that day to board that ship. Stay tuned for more stories about the O-mazing experiences I had on this cruise. I’m still astounded by what happened. This cruise allowed me to chart new territories and explore just how far I can go despite my hyperhidrosis.

Oprah journal My Life as a Puddle

My new Oprah journal that was waiting for me on my bed at the end of the first night on board.

Pre-Cruise Inspiration

Before I tell you all of the amazing stories that happened while on board the Share the Adventure cruise to Alaska with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine, I’d like to share this first. It came in the mail just days before I flew to Seattle to board the Ms. Eurodam. I never would’ve taken this cruise had it not been for my connection with O Magazine as an OMagInsider. The cruise truly was a dream come true.

Hallmark dream card

Back in 2000, I found my biological father Bill thanks to the wonders of Facebook. I never thought I’d be one of those people who had a Facebook reunion story to tell, but I’m so grateful it’s now a chapter in my life. While we’ve only seen each other a handful of times, he (and my extended family) have been there for me in good times and in bad. So when something bad happened to him, the last thing I expected was a handwritten card from him to arrive.

A couple of months ago, Bill was involved in an accident and lost the fingers on his right hand. As a woodworker and jack of all trades, he works with his hands. They are his livelihood and the best way he knows how to express his love to those around him. (Maybe I’ll share one of my favorite handmade items from him in a future post.)

This accident was devastating, but through it all he has managed to maintain a pretty positive outlook on life. He’s had frustrating days for sure, but he keeps on keeping on and refuses to let it slow him down. He got back out on his boat and caught a fish using his non-dominant hand. He got a new tablet to make texting and stuff easier. He’s got several surgeries in the near future, one of which is Thursday. Please send him good vibes!

But the thing that really touches me is that he took the time to pick out this Hallmark card – in fact, the card was almost late getting to me in time for the cruise because he said he had a hard time finding just the right one. “When you care enough to send the very best” is Hallmark’s slogan for a reason, so when Bill found this one he knew it was a keeper. Using his opposite hand, he diligently wrote, letter by letter, this message. (I can hear him most likely slinging a few cuss words while he was at it.)

Inside the card was some spending money for my trip to Alaska. Isn’t that sweet?

I’ve saved this card in my memory box as a constant reminder of strength and resilience. Perhaps I get my don’t-let-hyperhidrosis-get-you-down attitude from Bill. He and I are a lot alike. I hope one day all of us can go on a family cruise together. I’ll leave you with this quote, which I mentioned in my first-ever Facebook Live video last weekend. Please view it if you haven’t already.

I can be changed by my circumstances, but I refuse to be reduced by them.
~ Maya Angelou

 

On-Air! Travel Bags With Annita

My Life as a Puddle and Travel bags with Annita

I’m a featured guest on this radio show! Please tune in.

Join me on the radio show Travel Bags with Annita. I’ll be interviewed by creator Annita Thomas about my Alaskan cruise with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine and how my hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) may or may not get in the way of having an amazing time. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek about the stories I’ll be telling soon on my blog. They include celebrity encounters! Can you even?!

You’ll also hear from fellow #OMagInsiders Makes Me Wander and Single Mom Chic.

Just click the blue “Listen Live” button on Annita’s website (links above and in image) to tune in from 3-4 PM EST.  I’ll be on the second segment.

Thank you, Annita, for featuring me as a guest and letting me spread my message of hyperhidrosis hope and awareness. This was the most relaxed I’ve ever been when speaking about my condition. That’s what happens when you’ve got a good interviewer. 🙂

Missed Me on the Radio?

My Life as a Puddle on Unlimited Realities with Lisa Zimmer

Missed the live radio show? You can still listen! (Image credit: Juja Han)

Grab a cup of coffee, put your earbuds in, and sit back and take 15 minutes for yourself today. If you missed my live radio debut last week on Unlimited Realities with Lisa Zimmer, you can listen to the archived version. My portion starts around the 18-minute mark.

I was a bit nervous doing the show, but I think that’s normal the first time we do something new, isn’t it? I strategically prepared myself and had a few paper towels next to me to absorb any drippage. Once I started talking, though, it got easier for two reasons.

First, I am passionate about hyperhidrosis education and awareness; I will do just about anything in the name of it. Because I live with excessive sweating, I know it like the back of my hand (see what I did there?) so it’s become easier to talk about it over the years.

Second, although I haven’t met Lisa the show host in person yet, her warmth and compassion shines through in her voice and her vibe. I immediately felt comfortable talking with her. She intuitively knew what to say to make me feel right at home like we’re old friends, like when she said this:

I love pioneers. Pioneers are my gig, and you’re a pioneer. – Lisa Zimmer

After the show was over, I had a moment. I cried. Cried because this stupid condition that I have and am trying to coexist with actually got me to where I am today – an advocate, a pioneer, a writer who is using my voice to let the world know that we are more alike than unalike, but that it is our differences that make us unique and give us a light to shine on the world. My light just happens to shimmer and drip.

I cried because if it weren’t for Lisa J. Pieretti and the International Hyperhidrosis Society, I would still be suffering in silence and feeling like a freak.

My life changed in April 2011 when I attended the IHHS symposium in Denver as a patient volunteer. Lisa, her staff, and the dermatologist who treated me that day understood what I was going through. They didn’t shrink back in disgust when they touched my hands and feet. I walked out of there that day – hands swollen and sore from the Botox injections – feeling like I needed to do something. Why? Because of validation.

This is how the IHHS made me feel that day:

So please, be a good sweaty friend and hop on over to Blog Talk Radio to listen to my voice and learn more about hyperhidrosis. And remember, you’re not alone in your sweating angst.

(A special thank you to the team at O, The Oprah Magazine for recognizing my passion and selecting me as one of just 50 #OMagInsiders nationwide. Through this year of adventure, I’m meeting and connecting with some wonderful people, one of whom is Lisa Zimmer. I am forever humble and grateful for this opportunity.)

Hyperhidrosis + Unlimited
Realities with Lisa Zimmer

Unlimited Realities with Lisa Zimmer

(Update: Listen to the archived version here.)

Hi friends! I’m getting ready to make my debut on the radio this week – Thursday, May 25 at 11:30 ET! That’s right, I will be live on-air discussing hyperhidrosis on the amazing show Unlimited Realities with Lisa Zimmer.  The show is a three-part approach: to inspire, to inform, and to empower. I will be joined by fellow #OMagInsiders Amy Boyle of Amy Boyle Photography (inspire); life coach, author and speaker Joshua Perez (empower); and the host of the show Lisa Zimmer, an emotional/intuitive educator and motivational speaker.

I will be second in the lineup, so if you don’t hear me right away, please stay tuned. I love the title of the show, don’t you? If you would’ve told me a year ago that I’d be on the radio educating the world about a condition that affects 5% of the world population, I never would’ve believed you. So please share this blog post with anyone you think might like to listen. If you’re a reader of mine who has been afraid to talk about your excessive sweating publicly, here’s a way for you to do so through me. I’ll be your voice.

Details for listening are in the image above – click the Blog Talk Radio link on Lisa’s home page. Please join me in spreading my message of hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time. A special thank you to the team at O, The Oprah Magazine for selecting me as one of their 50 inaugural OMagInsiders. This opportunity has led me to Lisa Zimmer and the radio gig. #yearofadventure

P.S. Can’t listen live on May 25 at 11:30 ET? No sweat! The show will be archived and available for download.

Pinch Me! My First O, The Oprah Magazine Package

My #OMagInsiders welcome box from O, The Oprah Magazine has arrived! Let’s all take a moment and bow our heads.

#oprah #yearofadventure #ups #whatcanbrowndoforyou (sponsored)

My Life as a Puddle #OMagInsiders

Because Oprah has deemed this her Year of Adventure, I am doing the same. Part of adventure is taking risks, which I’ve been doing with my blog since its inception in 2011. I started My Life as a Puddle after my first experience with the International Hyperhidrosis Society. Validation was the catalyst for me to start being more open about my sweating condition. And isn’t that what we all want? To be seen and feel connected with others?

With that idea in mind, I put on my brave girl outfit (okay, I was dressed up for a work event that day and just left my dress on), put on a fresh coat of lip gloss, and embraced my dorkdom so that the team at O – and you, the lovely person reading this – could meet me virtually and hopefully be inspired by 1) my enthusiasm for a woman and her brand that I deeply love and 2) my willingness to put my excessive sweating front and center to create hope and awareness one drop at a time. Happy viewing, friends.

When we find the courage to share our experiences and the compassion to hear others tell their stories, we force shame out of hiding, and end the silence.

~ Brene Brown

 

See that towel over on the left? I totally forgot to use it to wipe off my sweaty hands mid-video. LOL

Hyperhidrosis and O, The Oprah Magazine #OMagInsiders

Sweaty friends, last week I got an email that nearly gave me a coronary. Let me tell you all about it, as it really made my hands sweat!

Several months ago, I submitted an application to O, The Oprah Magazine to become part of O’s Inner Circle. I’ve been an Oprah fan since I was about 10 years old. I’d come home after school and watch The Oprah Winfrey Show religiously. I own the 20th anniversary DVD collection. I cried while watching the last episode of her show. I’ve seen her in person twice – once in Denver and once in Houston. And when the first issue of O Magazine came out in 2000, I was the first person to purchase a copy from my local downtown newsstand, Woody’s Newsstand.

#OMagInsiders MyLifeAsAPuddle

I’ve saved every one of Oprah’s What I Know for Sure columns, the last page in each O Magazine. The top left is the first page from her 2000 inaugural issue.

I’ve been an O Magazine subscriber since day 1. My subscription is paid up through 2020! When it comes to Oprah, I don’t mess around. She has been a tremendous source of inspiration to me, and her magazine has some really inspiring content that helps me to live my best life.

So, last Thursday I received an email with the subject line “Welcome to O’s Inner Circle!” It read,

After reviewing over a thousand submissions, we’ve selected 50 of the most influential,  engaged, and enthusiastic fans of O, The Oprah Magazine to join O Mag Insiders: The Inner Circle of O for the next year – and you’re one of them!

OMG, you guys! I immediately started texting my best friend, my hands dripping all over my phone the entire time, to tell her my exciting news. While I’m not sure what this opportunity fully entails just yet, I am incredibly honored to be selected as one of the magazine’s #OMagInsiders. I do know that I’ll be posting on social media and here on my blog on a regular basis, so you’ll be seeing lots more about this very soon. While I will try to blend these posts together with my normal hyperhidrosis content, I may not always be able to do that.

I’m hoping this journey will manifest into meeting Oprah this year. Can you imagine?! If this happens, my hyperhidrosis will be on center stage. But I’m okay with that, because it’s a great opportunity to educate Oprah and others about a medical condition that affects 5% of the world population. As Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by my circumstances, but I refuse to be reduced by them.”

I am incredibly humbled and thankful to begin my adventure with O Magazine. Life is about the journey, not the destination, and when you pursue joy and dare to believe that something inside you is superior to circumstance, the universe will conspire in your favor.

#OMagInsiders MyLifeAsAPuddle

A quote in Oprah’s handwriting excerpted from the program I received at The Life You Want tour in Houston.

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