My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: shame

Love Wide — The Eulogy of Sandy Bristoll

Here is the eulogy I wrote and delivered at Sandy’s Celebration of Life service (please read my post about hyperhidrosis and public speaking if you haven’t already). The themes you’ll read about below also can be applied to life with hyperhidrosis. The universe works in mysterious ways. You’ll see I’ve quoted a few people here. I first discovered Brene Brown in January when I attended a workshop for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). Kelly Rae Roberts has been my favorite artist for several years now, and her work is helping me to heal this year. Shortly after Sandy passed away, Kelly released her newest piece called Your Heart, which reminds me of myself and Sandy. I ordered it the very same day I saw it, and it’s a signed print. I also placed copies of the eulogy inside a basket with the beautifully, messy, complicated story art by Kelly. Fast forward to this month, and Brene and Kelly have teamed up with Oprah to offer an online class. Love it!


The artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts that was printed on the hard copies of Sandy's eulogy.

The artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts that was printed on the hard copies of Sandy’s eulogy.


I’d like to begin by sharing a few stories about Sandy. For those of you who don’t know me, my family lived next door to Sandy back in the 90s. Sandy was pregnant with Danny when my mom was pregnant with my little sister CJ. I grew up babysitting Danny and took delight in the fact that she always introduced me as her surrogate daughter and the sister Danny never had.

I first knew I liked Sandy after my mom freaked out when I told her who I was with. You see, Sandy and I both had our vices – hers were cigarettes, mine were Skor candy bars. So at the young age of 9 when I was home alone after school, I left my mom a ransom note of sorts, explaining that I was walking down to the gas station with Sandy “Schuss.”

“Sandy who?” said my mom when I got home.

“Sandy Schuss, mom. That’s what her license plate SAYS.”

“Oh! You mean Sandy Bristoll? Schuss means she’s a skier, honey.”

My mom totally thought I had gone somewhere with a stranger.

“Oh, Chaaaaalotte.” I can hear Sandy saying in that special way she had. “Would you like some toe-mah-toes on your salad?”

You mean tomatoes? How “appropo,” ‘twas the way she spoke.

When I got engaged to be married, I’d already had plenty of time to think about whom I’d like to have in my wedding party. So when I called Sandy to ask her to be a bridesmaid, there was library level quiet on the other end of the phone. And then she finally said, “Oh, Ria. It’s a good thing you’re not here because you’d have to pick me up off the floor. Are you serious? You want ME in your wedding?”

Um, duh, Sandy. And Danny, too. She couldn’t understand why I would want a 57-year-old bridesmaid. I wanted Sandy because she was a hero to others and a champion of me. She spoke truth into me and loved me first so that I could begin to learn how to love myself. Sometimes I wonder whether she realized her own worth, or knew just who God created her to be as He added another flourish of color to the world with His paintbrush.

What I learned from Sandy was a lot. So when I tried to figure out what the most important lessons she imparted to me were, it was daunting. But then I started to see a theme in all I’ve learned from her; that theme is love wide.

Wake up to your life. Be present for it. Everything in life is here to teach you a lesson. It’s up to you whether you get the lesson. Don’t ignore the lessons that come as pebbles, then as stones, and then as bricks, because pretty soon you’ll end up with a brick wall. From Sandy, I learned how to demolish my brick wall.

1) Forgive

To begin to tear down your brick wall, you have to start with yourself. Forgiveness must happen, and in most cases it starts with you. Whatever choices you’ve made, whatever life has thrown at you, every day is a chance to begin anew, to love wide. So I encourage you to forgive yourself for whatever it might be that is holding you in shame and dimming your inner light. When you release your secrets, you release your shame.

2) Love Wide

Forgiveness is the stepping stone to love. Forgive others for what they may have done to you. It’s not about them anyway. It’s about you stepping into your best life. Strength, courage, and wisdom are prerequisites to love. This, too, I learned from Sandy. So be a seeker of all these things. Pay attention when people are having a conversation with you. Put your cell phone away. Covet the good in all things, and “when people show you who they are, believe them—the first time.” (Maya Angelou)

3) Nurture Your Relationships

Relationships require reciprocity. Be willing to put others above yourself, and more often than not you’ll find they do the same for you. Radiate passion for the lives of those around you. If you’re the one who always has to call or initiate contact, I’m telling you today, Get soooo over it. Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are. Realize that you are enough exactly as you are so that others can learn to do the same.

4) Stand in Your Truth

Sandy always made me feel like myself in my own skin, which speaks volumes for someone who has a sweating condition and is usually literally uncomfortable in her own skin. When you are comfortable and accepted for who you are, you can love wide. Sandy always made sure it wasn’t too hot when we spent time together, and always checked with me first whether I wanted to eat inside or outside when we went to eat, usually mussels or some kind of seafood if we could find anything decent in Greeley. Sandy was never afraid or ashamed to grip my sweaty hands in hers and utter things like, “How did I get so lucky to have you in my life?!” Believe me, the honor was all mine.

To stand in your truth means to tell your story. I always knew I had permission to be real when I was with Sandy. Your beautifully messy complicated story matters (tell it). (Kelly Rae Roberts) Don’t let shame prevent you from saying what you need to say. “To tell your story is to bring light to shame and destroy it. Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” (Brenè Brown)

5) Embrace Vulnerability

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” (Eckhart Tolle) Take chances. Fling open wide the gates of your heart. If you are struggling with something in your life, I implore you to be vulnerable and ask for help. For it is only in vulnerability where true connection takes place. Look around you for the helpers in your life. They are there, waiting to be of service.

This reminds me of another Sandy story. She tried very hard to keep up with technology, but it took her awhile to figure out Facebook and her fancy new iPhone. She would post all these status messages, like “testing, Caroline Taylor”, post comments as notes instead, and then ask how to fix things, which would prompt paragraph-long tutorials from me.

She was so cute with her iPhone, tilting it up just so in order to see the keys and concentrate on trying to text us back as fast as we could text her. There were many times I just took her phone from her and said “Here, let me do it.” But she never gave up trying to master social media, and she didn’t care if she might have looked silly trying to do it. She allowed herself to be vulnerable.

It’s okay to not always have everything together. That’s what friends and family are for. To hold you up when you can’t do it yourself. Allow yourself to love and be loved. Choose to see others and to be seen.

To every one of you here today, please know that I see you. Asian, white, gay, straight, Christian, Buddhist—I see you. You matter. Decide right now, today, that you are enough exactly as you are. Don’t dim your light. We all need a light from within in order to shine outward. Stay in the light. Have the courage to wake up every day and decide to love yourself more than you ever have before. What you think about expands, so love wide.

Sandy’s roots have been upturned and replanted in Heaven. We have our own personal angel in the sky now, whose roots are being nourished with the cleanest, purest air.

Sandy can breathe now without fear. And for that, I am grateful.

Sandy Bristoll and Maria/My Life as a Puddle

In loving memory of Sandra A. Bristoll 10-30-47 to 4-29-13


Copyright 2013 My Life as a Puddle

Writing From Your Soul: A Workshop for Writers

Today was day 1 of 2 of the Writing From Your Soul workshop I’m attending. Dr. Wayne Dyer is the keynote speaker, accompanied by Reid Tracy, CEO  and Nancy Levin, Event Director, of Hay House Publishing. A few nuggets of wisdom I picked up today:


If you change your thoughts, you can heal your life.

What are the words you are speaking over yourself and embedding in your subconscious mind? Are you telling yourself negative or positive thoughts? The words “I Am” are powerful, and so is what follows them. Are you speaking “I am unworthy because I have hyperhidrosis”? or maybe you’re saying “There’s something wrong with me. I’m suffering and my life sucks.” But what if the very thing that’s “wrong” with you is exactly what’s right with you?


I’m not saying that we should always be happy about our excessive sweating. Let’s be realistic. But you can choose how you react to your condition. I no longer say, Hi, I’m Maria. I suffer from hyperhidrosis. I can now say Hi, I’m Maria. I have hyperhidrosis, and I’m creating hope and awareness one drop at a time. I believe that God gave me hyperhidrosis for a reason. I want to make my sweaty mess my message.


Everything in life is here to teach you a lesson. It’s up to you whether you get the lesson. Awaken to your life and live consciously so that nothing in your life is a mistake.


Always be a seeker.

Declare yourself an expert on your hyperhidrosis. You are your own best health advocate. Always seek treatment options and therapies that can improve your quality of life. Never give up hope that one day there will be a cure for hyperhidrosis (note: I do not believe ETS surgery is a cure) and that we can enter a dry world like everyone else.


If you’ve tried nearly every type of treatment to stop your excessive sweating like I have with no success, perhaps the best treatment is the extreme self care you give your mind and your heart. Re-frame your hyperhidrosis in a different light. If you’re still in the darkness, tell your story and open wide those curtains you’ve been hiding behind so the spotlight can highlight your extra shimmer. Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”


Detach yourself from outcomes.

Life is cracked. Life is crooked. So is hyperhidrosis. It makes us vulnerable. It makes us scared to talk about our condition. But you can choose to come out into the world and show everyone exactly who you are. And who you are is enough. Plain and simple. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. We are all unique expressions of the source that created us. Let your true self shine. Literally. It is our superpower!


Detach yourself from the expectations that a treatment might work. If something does work for you, that’s fabulous. But if it doesn’t, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and further feelings that you are inferior and your body is against you. By releasing expectations of a certain outcome, you can be pleasantly surprised if a treatment works. But either way, you can rest in the knowledge that you are pursuing everything you can to live a better life. It’s all in how you see yourself and your hyperhidrosis.


“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer


 Puddle and Dr. Wayne Dyer

I told myself I’d get a picture with Dr. Dyer. Lo and behold, I did!

I’m Right (Write) Where I’m Supposed To Be Thanks to Where I’ve Been

I heard this quote the other day on TV. Jennifer Lopez says it in one of her commercials for her new clothing line at Kohl’s, and after I heard it I immediately wrote it down. I do this all the time, so I’ve learned to carry a small notebook with me wherever I go so I can document wisdom that creeps ups unexpectedly in my life. I also write down the names of songs I hear on the radio that I simply can’t live without, although I don’t recommend this while you’re driving. Since my morning commute is typically stop and go, I can do it when I’m stopped. I’ve discovered a lot of new songs thanks to the free 3-month subscription I have to Sirius satellite radio in my new car (more on the car buying experience later). A friend and I also went to Kohl’s to check out J Lo’s new line, but I wasn’t that impressed. I was hoping to try on some of the jeans in the line. I figured since J Lo has a ghetto booty and I do, too, they might actually look decent on me. My size wasn’t on the rack, so I wasn’t able to confirm my suspicion.


Anyway, I was organizing some photos and found some from fall of 2008 when I met New York Times bestselling author Jeannette Walls. She wrote The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses, both of which are memoirs. I’ve always been drawn to the memoir genre, and I think it’s subconsciously in preparation to write my own memoir. I’ve already come up with some draft titles, too, so I will claim them right now: Hyperhidrosis—Adventures of a Sweater (I was thinking maybe the cover could be of a girl wearing a sweater with sweat pouring down the sleeves onto a puddle on the floor) and Hyperhidrosis—My Life as a Puddle, which I’m already using as my blog title.


When I met Jeannette Walls, she said she truly believes in the power of storytelling and that we all have a story to tell. No matter what it is, it is our story, and ours to tell. Our stories shape who and how we are, and we should never be ashamed or embarrassed of them. She also said she underestimated the response of the public to her release of The Glass Castle, and I found myself doing the same thing with the launch of my blog.


Never did I think I would be involved with the International Hyperhidrosis Society, nor did I think they’d ask me to write articles for their newsletters. Most importantly, though, I never thought I’d get such wonderful emails from my readers encouraging me to keep going and thanking me for finally being the person brave enough to speak about a condition that can be shameful and isolating. My readers have helped me realize I’m in the right place, doing the right thing, thanks to where I’ve been.


The seed containing my desire to write has been planted for a long time, and back in 2008 when I attended this author signing I was validated publicly for the first time. I left the event feeling incredibly happy and excited to have met her, and as soon as I came home I furiously wrote down everything in my journal before I forgot it. I had a hard time sleeping that night because it was such a wonderful experience and it was hard to come down from. This originates from my HSP persona, as I felt this author event on a very intense level. I’m so glad my husband came with me that night to play photographer. The preservation of these memories in the form of an image is something I will forever hold dear to my heart.


I have released the shame and the secret I’ve held inside for so long  due to my hyperhidrosis. I’m finally starting to believe that I deserve happiness, peace, and a sense of normalcy in the world.


I can make my own normalcy, too. We all have the power to actively create our destiny. So start believing that you deserve the good things in life and are worthy of them. You become what you believe. So quit the negative self-talk and get on with the business of finding your purpose and then living it out. It is never too late to be what you might have been. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and have always written, and now the avenue in which I’m writing has been widened. This stretching of my purpose has come about because I dared to believe that something inside me was superior to circumstance. I dared to believe that what I had to say about my life as a sweater was important. Now the blessings are pouring down.


Hosting this blog is allowing me to create hyperhidrosis awareness, live my truth, and make others feel like they are not alone. Remember this deeply: as superficial as the Internet can be, my blog is a safe haven for you. Let all your sweating angst out. Talk about it, write about it, feel it, and then let it go. The truth will set you free. Stop hiding from it. You don’t become who you are because of what you tell the universe you DON’T want. You become who you were meant to be by telling the universe what you DO want and by living authentically in the direction of your dreams and goals. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.


There is hope for people who have hyperhidrosis. There are so many treatments that are available, and some things might work better than others in certain people’s bodies. But we have options. We can experiment until we find what works best for us as individuals.


This is me telling author Jeannette Walls my story about suffering from hyperhidrosis. Right after this, SHE TOUCHED MY HANDS AND DIDN’T SHRINK BACK IN DISGUST. I love this woman.

Jeannette Walls 10-20-09 2

This is Jeannette telling me not to be embarrassed or ashamed of my story as I’m trying to hold back the tears that I totally didn’t expect.

Jeanette Walls 10-20-09 3

Here she is signing my 2 books plus the blurb about her in that month’s issue of the Oprah magazine. Oh, and then? She suggests I write my story for a magazine, and then WRITES DOWN THE NAME OF AN AGENT AND TELLS ME TO USE HER NAME AS A REFERRAL WHEN I CONTACT HER. I love this woman.

Jeannette Walls 10-20-09 4

Here is me ridiculously excited and in awe over the wonderful spirit this woman is. She took the time to listen to my story, offered solace and advice, and completely ignored the other 30 people standing behind me as she did it. And you know what? Those 30 people can suck it. This is MY time. 😉


I tried to embed a video of Jeannette Walls talking about her shame, but I’m having technical difficulties. Please click this link and watch it. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

Have a dry and lovely day!


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

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