Team Addison

There’s a magical little lady here in Lodi that I am proud to call my niece. Addison is a powerhouse and a damn inspiration. When she had surgery for Brain Cancer at only a month old, the doctors told us she wouldn’t survive the year. Today, she turns SIX YEARS OLD. There are many diagnoses to describe her but the best words are the ones that describe her character traits. Addison is a wild, emotionally intelligent, strong little girl. When Epilepsy got her down last year, the non-functioning half of her brain was removed. It is incredible to me that medicine has progressed this far and that Addison’s crippling, all-day seizures stopped. She began making memories again and really blossoming into the grown-up girl she is today.

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While our initial fears regarding Addison’s life have been relieved, our worries about her physical and emotional safety still command daily life. When strangers ask, “What happened to your hand?” or “Why do you wear a brace on your leg?” Addison has been coached to kindly explain that the braces help her walk and play (though she would rather run full speed away from you than actually give an explanation). In honor of my little girl, here are a lucky six things you can do to make folks like Addison with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities like Autism feel welcome in your space:

1. Stop Saying The Word “Retarded”. It’s not funny and it doesn’t make you seem very bright. When persons with disabilities are referred to as “retarded”, it bundles them up in the old-time idea that disabled people are a worthless burden on society. Calling your friend a “retard” is unoriginal and insulting to vulnerable members of our society. It is hard to change language that is so deeply ingrained but you have to try.

2. Judge People Less. Is there a child screaming on the ground of your local grocery store or a little girl that stands too close and is introducing herself over and over? Might be an Autism Moment. A creative mother made these cards to  dole out to folks who may have witnessed her child’s behavior:

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3. Go With The Flow. Living with Addison has taught me that anything can happen at any time and probably will. You really never know what kind of situation you might find yourself in. Be fluid. Be steady. Be ready to rock ‘n roll.

4. Cherish The Moment. Every moment is precious. It is not always easy to remember that but there is too much to lose if we forget it. Don’t spend your time worrying. Take a deep breath and move on to something real.

5. Be Happy. This is a general rule but more on topic, many people with Autism either have trouble reading social cues or pick up too much emotion from others. Keep it positive. Negative reinforcement don’t do nobody no good. Smile, it’s good exercise for your mood and your face!

6. Never Give Up. If there’s one thing Addison has taught me (and chanted over and over and over) is to “Never give up!!”. She takes it all in stride. She is a little bundle of energy that never stops moving and barely sleeps. I don’t know how she does it. It’s a hell of an act to follow.

If you would like to know more about a few of Addison’s diagnoses, these links are quite helpful!

The Brain Recovery Project

Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association

Pediatric Hydrocephalus, Columbia University

Communicating and Interacting with Autism

 

 

 

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Make It Your Own

When I moved into my new office, I brought four plants and a tiny gold dog statue just so it would feel like home. Environments are influencing. My mother always said that your environment is a reflection of your mental state. She’s right this time but there’s more to that story. I believe that if an environment is set up correctly, it will breed strength and stability in those that dwell in it. Keeping life at home slow and steady and full of inspiration has done wonders for my frame of mind. Home is the centerpiece of daily life. If it’s not working right, neither are you. Here’s how my home is working on this gorgeous Sunday in Lodi!

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We are running out of space for books and records and animals at an alarming rate!

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I always need a spot to do some good thinking. I like to fill those spots (and every spot) with tidbits of motivation. Art, trinkets, whatever I can get my hands on to get that creative jolt. I have a bad habit of getting carried away.

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Build your life on the things that are important to you and make time to invest in those things.

Onward and upward!! Happy Sunday!

 

Self Care: Coping with Life by Living It

The struggle is real. Life is complicated and you’ve got to be kind to yourself. If given the chance I will burn the candle at both ends until I fizzle out. For me, burning out has mostly meant that I live in a van now. The transient life can be full of adventure while also acting as a mobile pit of despair. Lucky me, two-for-one! “If you wear lipstick and heels everyday no one will know you live in a van.” and “If my van with all of my possessions in it breaks down in another state, do I live there now?” are two of my favorite tweets from the time I spent “living” in Seattle. Sure, the joke was on me but I was laughing right along.

Thankfully, the values of home and having stability have finally found me. Lucky you! My family and friends will give all the credit to my boyfriend for settling me down but the credit is ALL MINE. When I shipped back to Lodi from “thinking time” in New Orleans, I was ready to be home. I knew I could make the most of life here and be able to support my growing family in a real way where Skype and phone calls with my nieces didn’t cut it. All that said, moving home and being accessible to the needs of the people in my life was draining. I’d never really developed self-care habits of my own and it was painfully obvious.

Lodi is a great town for slowing down to take a deep breath, especially during these early days of fall. Integrating my environment with a self-care routine was essential to getting used to living like a real person again. Here in Lodi, there are so many great things to appreciate even on a short walk around the block. Here are six activities in my toolbox that have helped me reach equilibrium when I am tipped off balance:

1. Pet Every Cat or Dog on the Street That Will Let You. For most of the summer I was terrified that the cats on my walk to work had been run over. As it turns out, summer in Lodi is too hot for kitties (and me) to be outside long enough for pets. These days the weather is ripe for being outside so get out there and make furry new friends today!

2. Take a Walk Downtown. Our town is over 100 years old. Many of the houses in the downtown area hark back to the early days of Lodi. Take a good look around you. Almost every home is a unique twist on a classic style, just like our wine. You may even get to pet a dog!

3. Greet Your Neighbors. Walking past someone on the sidewalk? SAY HELLO. It is the smallest of social interactions but makes rubbing elbows with strangers much less awkward. Be that bright and shining “Good Morning!” face of your neighborhood. Do it for the old people smiles and the young people who forgot how to live without devices. Make ’em squirm!

4. Keep a Clean House. This is one thing my mother told me that is actually true, not like the time she said my Grandpa got his leg ripped off by a hook in a dramatic bridge-building accident when in reality he had a bone disease and surgical amputation. Keeping your environment tranquil and mostly ignoring my mother is the key to a mind at ease.

5. Get Yourself Some Plants. Even if you’ve already graduated to a dog, cat, or fish, having plants around the house will enrich your life. The aesthetic benefit alone is worth the sad death of many “houseplants” I have “rescued” from cliffsides or the floor of a home improvement megastore. Having plants around can decrease your blood pressure, pain, and anxiety in addition to cleaning the air and helping to boost healing and productivity. It’s science!

6. Get Outta Town. We’re fortunate enough to live within a morning drive of many beautiful places. Do a bit of google mapping and GO. Take a train to San Francisco to visit the Sutro Baths and eat Indian food. An early morning drive to Santa Cruz is a breeze and a Watsonville Motel 6 (which is nice enough and close to Manresa State Beach) runs less than eighty-five dollars per night. Don’t let excuses keep you cooped up. Stretch your legs and your sense of adventure often.

Always Remember. When the tools to cope with life are not readily accessible, just live. Build your life wisely. Whatever you do, keep moving forward.

 

 

Stay In, Eat Local with O’Hara Farms!

Even though the summer killed my garden and we surrendered to the bugs, I’d like to think a slow-paced garden life is the one for me. I am the kind of person who should be brought warm tea in the afternoon and otherwise be left alone to stare at the sea from a rocking chair with a dog curled around my feet. But this is not the way things are. Here in real life, I try to nourish the simplicity I can find here at home. Now that we’re bundled up for fall, having good food around the house is a top priority.

It’s getting dark by 6pm, the rain is newly upon us, and I get to wear my new jacket almost every day. In my opinion, this is the best time of year to live in Lodi. It is not, however, the best time to find good produce at the grocery store unless you’re looking for decorative gourds.

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Luckily, our household discovered O’Hara Farms. This family farm has been operating in Lodi since 1955. When I was a 16 year old photo adventurer, I took so many polaroids of those swan planters on De Vries and Hwy 12 adorned with necklaces and American flags. Little did I know, this was the spot where O’Hara Farms would establish their summertime farmstand.

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Though the farmstand has closed for the season, you can still have a box of local produce delivered to you weekly for as little as $25.00! In the time I have been ordering from O’Hara Farms, they have added eggs, milk, coffee, honey, cheese, and pork products to the menu. We live busy lives and don’t have much time during the week to ourselves. Having such easy access to all these wonderful local products has made the elevated cost worth it for us. We are throwing away less produce and eating better, not to mention supporting local business in a real way. This is one of many excellent benefits of living in a small farming community. Count me in!

Stay dry out there, Lodians! Until next time.

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Introduction

Hi, I’m Bailey. I am a small town American adventurer based in my hometown of Lodi, CA.

Let’s face it, “Livable, Lovable Lodi” is a perfect slogan for our little town. Growing up here with nothing to do, you’d never guess Lodi would turn into the perfect place to live an adult life. At 17, I could not wait to get out of here! The year in my twenties I spent living in my family’s barn between cities felt like a slow death. Though I formed many of the most important and long-standing friendships of my life during that time, Lodi was suffocating. I broke free to Sacramento and bounced to Santa Cruz where I learned the hard way how to be myself. After that I ran off to Denver and dove into the coffee industry, to Seattle to try my hand at show business, to New Orleans to think, and right back home to sweet sweet Lodi. When I returned, life opened up for me. I lived with family I’d missed for a long time, sold cherries while the season was on, and fell madly in love with an old friend. Hello, hometown!

Our Lodi life is a simple life. We walk our dogs, water our gardens, drink our wine, and know more about cheese than is good for us. I hope that in learning to live the simple life here in my hometown, I can share the love with you and you and you.

It’s good to be back.