Holiday Shopping Madness

Yes, I said holiday shopping. I know the main holiday people are shopping for right now is Christmas, but I also recognize and respect that there are other holidays, too. Hanukkah starts on Tuesday, the 16th. Kwanzaa starts on Friday, the 26th. Then, or course, there’s New Year’s Eve. ;)

It doesn’t have to look like this, though…

Christmas Shopping Stress

Christmas shopping need not be so stressful.

If you’re heading out into the jungle of material items waiting to become gifts, take a moment to prepare yourself.

  • Know that parking will be tricky and be OK with parking at the back of the lot.
  • Know that there will be shoppers oblivious to the fact that there are others wanting to get by them. Take a deep breath, smile, and say “Pardon me.”
  • On the same token, be mindful that there are other shoppers wanting to get around you and don’t block the aisle.
  • Know that the lines to checkout will be long and remember that you are choosing to shop at that hour of the day and at this late date. Take another deep breath and smile. Smile at the person near you who may be sighing, scowling, shaking their head, or even flipping up their palm as if to say “COME ON ALREADY!”
  • Know that traffic (especially on the weekends) is going to be nuts. People lose their senses, get confused, or simply have no common courtesy. Be forgiving, gracious, and patient. It’s only temporary … for the most part.

Holiday shopping can look like this…

Happy Christmas Shopping

“I just like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite!”

Holiday shopping tips:

  • Fuel up before leaving the house, and take water and snacks with you. Hunger makes us cranky, and food courts or restaurants may be packed. This means more waiting in line.
  • Take deep breaths periodically.
  • Shop early or late in the day if at all possible. The middle of the day is the busiest – except, of course, for Black Friday. I avoid that completely!
  • Keep a cheery song in your head.
  • Skip the crowds completely and shop online as much as possible.
  • Smile!
  • Be attentive to cues for gift ideas throughout the year. Buy these things as you find them and stash them until Christmas. Just don’t forget where you’ve stashed them!
  • Don’t go into a store with the expectation of being out of there by a certain time.

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S   ! ! !

Six Years Ago Today

On November 17, 2008, some time after 8am CT, I walked into the house I had walked into many times in the past, but this time was different. I walked over to say hello to my dad, but he was already gone. Alive just before I arrived but gone before I could make it to his side. It’s OK. Wishing he had waited just moments longer so I could say hello (and goodbye) would have been wishing him to endure that many more moments of pain. But I’ll never stop feeling I should have listened to my gut and spent the night there, no matter how late it was when we made it to St. Louis from Denver straight with me as the sole driver.

It was the third or fourth trip out there that year – I can’t remember, and it’s probably the single most difficult thing about living away from family. I wanted to be there to help the entire time, but I couldn’t.

Six years later, and I can still hear his voice in my head; I can still see the silly faces he made; I can even see him at the stove cooking his spaghetti sauce that I loved. I remember playing games with him on my grandparents’ living room floor: Rummy, Chess, 2-Man Solitaire, Aggravation, Yatzee, Monopoly and more. I remember building houses with American Building Blocks with him. I wish I had those now; they’re so much better than Legos! I remember him teaching me to drive (the calm times and the not-so-calm times). I remember when we walked to 7-11 (over 2 miles round trip) after the blizzard of ’82.

There are times I wish I could talk to him, but I already know what he would say. He’s still with me and always will be.

Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung Cancer


Sad ClownI sat down to write something, but the words aren’t coming out. They’re stuffed in my head all shouting at once creating one big incoherent concert of noise begging for organization that I can’t give them.

You see, I’m sad. I’m sad about something I don’t understand. It’s something that has a huge ripple effect on everyone in this person’s life, probably more than the person realizes.

I don’t understand … why … how …

What does it take to make a person feel so completely and utterly without any hope to the point where they want to end their own life … again? Yes, again. This was a second attempt – just a little over seven months after the first attempt.

If you’re having thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone! You are not worthless. You can’t be replaced. You would be missed.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Weight Loss Diets in a Nutshell

ARE YOU READY FOR the simple truth (as I see it)? It’s all kind of crap really. Yay for the people getting rich off of their structured, packaged, subscription-based diets! If you have the money to spend on those and truly need that type of structure to succeed in your weight-loss goals. That’s just it in a nutshell, though. Structure. Anyone can do the math and come up with a plan to stick to that will result in weight loss. It’s not rocket science!

Yo-Yo DietingYou can figure out your resting metabolic rate and subtract 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week. You can also calculate your basal metabolic rate and use the Harris Benedict Formula to figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and take it from there. (MyFitnessPal is a convenient and easy way to track calories.)

The most important thing is to not deprive yourself of important nutrients. Equally important to me is not to deprive myself of money. :D

Out of all the diets on the list (and ranked #3), the Mediterranean Diet would be the easiest for me to follow. YUM! Possibly the Flexitarian Diet as well.

Equally important to remember is the importance of exercise in this whole equation. Those of us rapidly approaching or already on the downhill side of 50 especially need to realize that calorie restriction alone is not going to cut it. Older people have a harder time losing weight. Without changing our eating habits at all, we start gaining weight and have to work twice as hard to lose it and keep it off. There’s no magic solution to this predicament. We. Must. Exercise! Period.

On the flipside, Starting an exercise routine doesn’t give us a license to eat whatever the hell we want whenever we want to eat it. While you may end up maintaining your current weight using this logic, it’s also possible to end up gaining weight. So be careful.

No matter what method of weight loss you choose, discipline is required. Whether you pay some company to spell this out for you or you figure it out yourself is up to you. Bottom line: BE HEALTHY!

Update on Eaglecrest Students’ Peaceful Assembly

First, the good news: Neil will return tomorrow morning!

Several minutes into the Drama Club meeting this afternoon, Neil appeared. The crowd erupted in cheers, and many rushed to greet him. Yeah, this sounds like a man who is mean to students (referring to a comment on my initial post).

The principal then made a very long speech, which had points that could be considered valid. There is a lot of gray area, some of which was not cleared up by her speech and some of which she obviously did not want to expand on.

I recorded the entire thing and would love to share it with you, but after converting the 30-minute m4a file to an MP3 and then trying for literally hours to figure out how to share it, I gave up completely defeated. :(

In a nutshell, the principal glossed over details and brushed it all off to a difference in interpretation of the wording used on the inspector’s report. The report said that the use of the lift was approved but that no one could be on the “area”. So she called the district back in to look the set over again, there were misunderstandings, Neil was told to leave while they checked things out, he left the entire building. He actually had gone to the hospital for X-Rays after falling, where he found out he has a cracked rib.

Lines of communication grew increasingly fuzzy at this point, and assumptions were made erroneously. The principal alleges they could not reach Neil. Neil sent multiple texts, which they say they didn’t receive but were confirmed “seen” on Neil’s end (iPhone thing). Ultimately, because of the lack of communication, they told him not to come back and that he was on administrative leave because “they were slowing the process down” (principal’s words – I have no idea what that means). There was a lot of back-pedaling and double talk in her speech – much like someone trying to cover something up. She ended with saying she was very happy he’s back.

Then Neil took the mic and (after a couple more interruptions by the principal) apologized and explained that his silence was only to make sure his return would happen as quickly as possible. He didn’t want to give them any reason to prolong it. He did say that the overwhelming support from students and parents was the reason he was back.

Later, this detailed list of all of the events that led up to Neil being placed on administrative leave was found on Facebook. It includes several details that were not mentioned by the principal.

Details on the events surrounding EHS Theatre’s production of Alice In Wonderland, Oct. 9-11, 2014

A lot of rumors and misinformation have been going around about what’s been happening in the EHS Theatre Department, and as to be expected, people have been asking questions about Neil Truglio (the theatre director) and what exactly has been going on. I was present for a number of situations involving Cherry Creek School District members and administration for EHS before, during, and after the performances this past weekend, as well as the meeting held by parents of the theatre students after the closing performance. In order to get everyone on the same page, and to allow people from other areas and schools to understand, I have typed up a list of facts from the past weekend of what I know:

-Days before opening night for EHS Theatre’s production of Alice In Wonderland, a CCSD member and the building manager arrived with the intent to inspect the stage and set.

-The set was NOT checked by the CCSD rep, nor by the building manager (we’ll just short-form this to… BM). Instead, the two put their attention toward the hydraulic lift that had been installed in the pit.
-Notes on the hydraulic lift: the lift was able to be lowered and raised smoothly, and fit flush with the surface of the stage when fully risen. Once the lift was raised to its maximum, braces were put in place within the lift, transforming it into a stable and acceptable platform.
-After the CCSD rep and BM took a look at the lift, they informed Neil Truglio and Steve Sisk (Head of Technical Support) that students could NOT ride UP or DOWN on the hydraulic lift, but that props were ALLOWED to do so.
-At that point, the CCSD rep and BM approved the lift, and also approved the set (without thorough inspection). It is to be noted that the hillside set piece had railings built into it at this point.
-Later on in rehearsal for the show, the railings were removed so that the hillside could be painted. The railings were also not up to a standard that Neil approved of, so they were removed so as to be reinforced. EHS Theatre had every intent of putting the railings back on for the show.
-Thursday, October 9, 2014, the day show for the elementary school students as well as the night show for the public were executed without problems. The railings that district deemed necessary had yet to be replaced, but were still going to be.
-It is to be noted that productions transform between rehearsals, and also transform and change between show nights. At this point, various elements such as projections and prop placement were still being tweaked and adjusted. It was NOT unusual for the railings to be in the process of being adjusted as well. -Sometime Thursday, whether between shows or after the night performance, the BM sent photos of the set to the prinicipal of EHS, Gwen Hansen-Vigil (we’ll just call her Gwen).
-Gwen arrived and decided that district needed to be involved.

-Friday morning at 7AM, Neil was greeted in the theatre auditorium by a plethora of district staff, as well as Gwen and Kelly Snell (the EHS Activities Director). District members were inspecting the set and hydraulic lift.
-District members were upset that the lift had still been in use, claiming that they had told Neil and Steve that students could not ride up or down OR stand on or near the lift, even after it had been braced and was then considered a platform.
-Neil and Gwen had a conversation where Gwen told Neil that she was bringing in a district-approved engineer to inspect the lift. Neil then told Gwen not to bring in the engineer, and that the lift would instead just be cut from the show. Gwen insisted on the engineer, who upon arrival decided that the lift needed to be cut.
-During inspection, district members made it known that the railings would need to be added on, as well as new railings for the 3-4 ft. spindle set-piece. Those changes were made to the set that afternoon.

-At one point, a district member said that something would “have to be done” about a 4-inch “drop” where the ramp of the set met the floor. -Gwen also pulled Neil aside at one point, and suggested he resign from his position as EHS Theatre Director.
-District members informed Neil, Chantelle Frazier (volunteering costume designer), Steve, Parker Jenkins (Technical Director), and I that we needed to leave the auditorium, and that the district members would make changes to the set while we were away. Neil told Kelly Snell that he was going to go home and work on changing the show while the district worked on the set.
-The students were told to go to class for the day, even while unprepared, and that they would meet in the theatre auditorium at 3PM to go over the set changes.
-During the day, Neil reached out to EHS administration, but his calls were not answered or returned.
-At around 1230PM, Parker received a call from Kelly who asked that Parker meet with her at 2PM in the EHS library.
-Soon after this conversation, Neil received a call from district Human Relations Department, who informed Neil that he was on “Administrative Leave” and that he could not be on district property, nor contact students, parents, or staff of EHS until further notice. He was not given reason OR official paperwork considering the matter.
-Chantelle was informed of the situation through Neil, seeing as she is a volunteer at EHS, and is not considered staff, student, or parent. Chantelle then proceeded to contact Parker and inform him of the situation.
-Parker arrived in the school library and met with the Harlequin Players (the auditioned theatre performance class), as well as Gwen and Kelly.
-Gwen told the students that Neil was “missing,” and that “they had tried to contact him, but he was not responding to their calls.”
-It is to be noted that later in the evening, Gwen told parents that Neil “would not be able to attend the shows,” and then she began saying that Neil was “unavailable for the weekend,” and shortly after that, Gwen began telling students that she “had not heard from Neil,” and that she “didn’t know anything about his whereabouts or situation.”
-After receiving false information from Gwen, the Harlequin students began brainstorming and planning how they were going to move forward with the changes that the district had made to the show. The students were very somber and most looked as if they had been crying.
-Gwen and Kelly thanked Parker for coming, and then proceeded to leave.
-Parker proceeded to inform the students of Neil’s true reason for absence. The students were very upset, and many stated that they thought his leave was their fault, and they thought that they had done something wrong that caused him to want to abandon the show.
-The Harlequin Players changed the show as necessary, and met with the rest of the cast at 3PM in the theatre auditorium. Gwen and Kelly were also present at this meeting, and Taylor Cozort (Drama Club President and member of Harlequin) informed Gwen that it would be best if she did not speak at the meeting, and would leave the explanation to the Harlequin Players to pass along.
-Harlequin went over the changes to the show, and the cast and crew began rehearsing the new set changes.
-The cast and crew had 3 hours to alter, rehearse, and get in costume and makeup for the Friday night performance.
-It is to be noted that in the time between the Friday and Saturday performances, Gwen admitted to giving out false information, and said that she did so because she was “put on the spot” and “didn’t know what to say.”
-The show was performed with the new changes, and was done so for the Saturday matinee and Saturday closing night.
-The students, however capable due to Neil’s teaching and preparation, were distraught over the absence of their director and mentor. There was an obvious change in the demeanor of the cast and crew.
-At the end of curtain call for the closing performance, the cast and crew stood aside, leaving a center area empty on stage. They then brought out a director’s chair and placed it center stage, illuminated only by spotlight. A single rose was placed on the seat of the chair, in honor of the director that had worked so hard for a cast/crew/show that he was not permitted to physically support.
-On Saturday evening, parents of EHS students helped with strike (to whom we give 1,000 thanks for their endless help and support).

-Post-strike, parents of the theatre students, as well as Chantelle, Parker, and myself, attended a meeting held in the home of Tim & Alicia Horn to discuss details of the weekend’s events.
-It was apparent during the meeting that most– if not all– students and parents had been blindsided at one point or another by the purposeful misinformation from Gwen Hansen-Vigil.

-Neil Truglio has yet to receive reason as to why he is on Administrative Leave, and has no time estimate on when he would return– if the district would allow it.
The most we can do is spread the word. Tell anyone and everyone. What happened this past weekend was unjust, and many details of conversation between EHS Administration and District Reps suggest that their actions crossed the line of what was necessary, and became personal against Neil Truglio.
Spread the facts– spread the truth. No matter what lies are woven in the coming days, the truth will always come out; no one can hide from it, no matter their position of power.

UPDATE: a meeting between Neil and HR occurred this afternoon, and NEIL IS BACK. He will return to the EHS campus tomorrow morning as usual. Gwen Hansen-Vigil takes full credit for his return.

Director Chair“Never stop. Never settle. Never quit. Never be satisfied. Good enough is never good enough.”

Photo from Facebook. I don’t know who took it. Feel free to leave a comment if it’s your shot so I can give a proper shout out. :)

The Truglio Way

Students Exercise First Amendment Right at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora

Open letter to the media:

Though you may not consider it as ratings worthy as the student walk-outs in JeffCo, you may want to keep an eye on a situation happening at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora (Cherry Creek School District). Watch #TeamNeil on Twitter.

Students, parents, alumni, and peers are assembling in the school theater at 3:00 p.m. today to discuss the events that led up to their highly respected teacher/director’s (Neil Truglio) absence from the closing show Saturday night.

The school principal, Gwen Hansen-Vigil, told them that it was Neil’s choice not to be there. While there’s a chance that Truglio would make a statement in this way, no one who knows how much his students mean to him can believe he would miss closing night.

I emailed the principal this morning for facts and have not yet received a reply. I spoke with Danielle Daugherty, Dean of Students, on the phone this morning as well, and she told me she did not have any information on the situation.

Neil Truglio is known for pushing boundaries to produce great shows at Eaglecrest. Their production of Frankenstein was chosen to be performed at the state Thespian Conference last year. The school district always inspects the sets and had approved the use of hydraulics in their recent play, Alice in Wonderland, provided that no one was on the equipment or set piece while in motion. The day the play was to open, the district told Truglio that he could not use the hydraulics at all.

Students fear that Neil has been suspended and feel that would be unjust. In support of their teacher, they are exercising their right to peaceful assembly to discuss the issue, many wearing clothing expressing their support of their beloved teacher. They fear that the school administration wants Truglio gone because his innovative mind is too much for them to deal with (aka: he doesn’t subscribe to cookie cutter ways).

Neil Truglio, an actor himself, is a stellar acting and theater teacher. The safety and well-being of his students is paramount to him. He has been an inspiration to many and has pushed Eaglecrest’s theater department to a level of excellence. His departure, should it come to that, would be devastating to his students.

Giving this story media attention would highlight the compassionate hearts of the students exercising their First Amendment rights.

*** Update and full timeline of events here *** 

The Truglio Way

Asperger’s | Aspies Are Not Freaks

HELLO! MY NAME IS Sheila, and I strongly believe I’m an Aspie.

This is not a new thought, but recent digging on why I’m so overly sensitive to touch resulted in the discovery of a video of Michelle Vines describing Asperger’s (below) that really struck a chord. In fact, at around 24:00 into the video, I teared up a bit. I highly relate to almost everything Michelle described. I am not a freak! I’m not someone to be afraid of, and I’m not intentionally rude or uncaring.

If you watch the TV show, Parenthood, you’ve seen the character with Asperger’s – Max. That is not what every person with Asperger’s is like. If you can process what this character is displaying, though, you can get an idea of how his brain analyzes situations so quickly that he doesn’t feel the need to spend time expressing much emotion.

Moving on… This video is 46 minutes long but well worth the time.

There are some enlightening slides between 6:50 and 8:35 that are worth pausing and reading through.

At 19:10, Michelle talks about over-sensitivity. Touch, smell, and some sound are huge issues for me. I don’t like to wear jeans because they’re too stiff. Soft, stretchable materials are my friends! I love that leggings have made a comeback. :) I’m fidgety and can’t remain seated in one position for long. I’m acutely aware of seams, tags, and anything else “poky”. I like hugs but not lingering physical contact. I’m also extremely sensitive to smells.

At 20:50, she talks about focus and multitasking. I definitely hyper-focus. This is usually a very good thing for me, but it can be bad when other things also need tending to.

At 22:48 … exhaustion and burnout. Here we go! I enjoy social gatherings. I really do! The larger the gathering, though, the sooner I need to take my leave. Smaller gatherings are better, but I’m not good at the eye contact thing or with truly connecting with others. I can empathize with people on the surface, and I am compassionate. There are certain types of conversations that wear me down quickly, though. I’m going to choose not to expand on that here. ;)

When she mentioned talking on the phone around 24:00, I nearly cried! I do not like talking on the phone for the most part. Conversations that get to the point and are done quickly are great! Long, casual conversations are harder – partly because I never know when or how to end them for fear that the person on the other end might think I’m not interested in speaking with them any longer. What struck an emotional chord with this point, though, is the situation I found myself in at work before I switched departments. I was dealing with very stressful situations on the phone, and it was very draining and exhausting to the point where I dreaded work.

Is it worth it to me to spend a lot of money on testing to get an official diagnosis? Nope! It’s enough for me to know that the severity of the issues I have are extreme enough to indicate a very high probability. Whether or not I have an official “label”, these are qualities I possess. It’s who I am. I’m the slightly socially awkward person with sensory processing issues who has learned to cope by using humor, wit, and isolating myself a bit.

If you know me, you’ve probably noticed all of this about me already. Does putting a label on it make you feel any different towards me? It shouldn’t. Will it make you treat me any differently? It better not!

Facebook’s Effect on Mood

SOMETIMES I WONDER why I subject myself to Facebook. I think I should avoid it on days when I’m already a bit on edge because those are the days it pushes me off the ledge. It’s like watching a bipolar person rapid cycle!

“My life is over. Everyone sucks. Nobody loves me. I’m done!”

“Jesus is my savior. I’m blessed. I love life!”

::shared horrible news story::

::shared funny video::

::shared thug video with expletives::

“My child is the best!”

::shared political news, views, or opinions::

::shared funny cat video::

::shared beautiful photo with bible verse::

Shared photos:

  • Selfies with duck face
  • Selfies with puckered lips
  • Selfies from high angle with raised eyebrow, sucked in cheeks, and cleavage

After perusing my Facebook news feed, I walk away feeling like…

Mixed EmotionsToo much life coming from all angles in rapid-fire fashion. How is this a good thing? Facebook Groups are good where the focus is on a common topic or centered around common interests. The overall news feed, however, is a hot mess!

I’ve been catching up on Downtown Abbey and love seeing the dainty letters and telegrams they receive multiple times per day. Texting in the early 1900s! :D Teas and luncheons … Google Hangouts circa 1920! Though I’m not sure how much I’d have enjoyed those either being full of gossip.

On days like today, when I’m already in a grim mood for reasons that I choose not to share with the public (compounded by sinus trouble causing dizziness and overstaying its welcome), I should avoid opening Facebook entirely.


SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 … People are posting pictures memorializing this day of tragedy with the phrase “We will never forget!”. These tributes are touching, but I can’t help but wonder what message it’s sending to the terrorists. I wonder if those monsters are capable of feeling threatened by the strength of this nation. Are they, instead, feeding off of our mourning, our sadness, our fear, and even our pride? Yes, we are a proud nation – but pride can be a tricky thing if not kept in check.

Instead of “We will never forget!”, I say “How could we possibly forget?!”

When the nation observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Central Time this morning, I was sitting in my car and had just pulled into my garage after dropping my daughter off at school. I remembered waking to the news 13 years ago, taking the kids to school, and coming back home to watch it all on TV. Shock … disbelief … sadness.

A powerful video on YouTube:

The History Channel’s 9/11 Timeline.

 Across the Years, Obama’s 9/11 Message Varies

Of course we will never forget.

>>>>> silence <<<<<