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Delicious DIRT’s TribeFest Quickie

Inside: TribeFest Intro, Miri Ben Ari, Rabbi Yonah, Ami Dar, Hebrew Mamita, Brendan Sodikoff, Rob Katz, Heeb Magazine, Shemspeed, and more

Where to begin?  What a ride its been.  You’ve been holding your breath, craving some good ole Delicious DIRT while some of us were in Vegas at TribeFest.  I mean, you’re just simply at the edge of your computers,  iPhones, iPads, iPods, Facebooks, Twitter accounts literally counting the hours, even minutes until we post right?  Good news…

Elevate Your Presence is here to satiate your every whim. So, don’t fret, the lack of posts last week means we’ve been busy… and it’s been juicy…not only for us, but also for you because you’re gonna get the inside flavor.  Fasten your seat belts ladies and gents…we’re taking off…

Delicious DIRT Editor-In-Chief‘s Elevated TribeFest experience is coming soon; for now some basics below

Elevate Your Presence trekked to Vegas this past week/ weekend for the first ever TribeFest. We decided to be open to anything. Man, not knowing what to expect, (a trip with tons of Jews could have gone a lot of ways), but this conference – 1290 young Jews from around the globe, wonderful leaders, speakers, musicians, comedians and about one hundred different organizations/ companies- truly blew us away.

MBK literally got up close and personal with so many magical people.  And that is what it’s all about.  Connecting. Real. Raw. True.  Nothing better.  Full report soon.

Grateful to have connected with:

This is only the beginning of these relationships… Building, growing, inspiring, changing, believing, learning, connecting, working together and uniting.  Hands on.  For each one of us, this experience means something different.  And for me, that’s the true beauty of it all.

TribeFest could have been complete with champagne snowballs and all… In fact, I’m sure some made romantic connections within the Tribe and that’s fab!  For me, this conference was all about connecting with truly monumental people, insanely wonderful organizations/ companies and learning about + connecting w/ Judaism in deeper ways.  And that it was!   This is just the tip… of the iceberg people.  Heads out of gutter…

  • For now, you can get a quick glimpse & watch Shemspeed’s video on TribeFest here.  You Tube the fest for more if you just can’t wait for our videos.. soon to post.  You’ll get chills watching Miri.  AMAZING.
  • So many creative and informative blog posts, check out hashtag #TribeFest and here’s two posts we heart – Let My People Grow and The UnLoad: Jews in the Desert… Is This A Joke?
  • Stay tuned for MBK’s full Tribal account.

For all you FOOD NERDS out there, an abundance of FOOD PORN is headed your way on Delicious DIRT.

  • Elevate Your Presence kicked it Food Mafia style last week at The Art of the Restaurant Deal with big shot restaurateurs Rob Katz and Brendan Sodikoff. By now you know both of them have announced newbie restos… We were given inside info a while back, but didn’t post… Next time you’ll be privy first.
  • Our night with sexy smarty Brendan Sodikoff aka owner of Gilt Bar/ Maude’s Liquor Bar / Doughnut Vault/ Ox Diner / Curio.
  • Plus, we’ve been telling you to stay tuned for so much and it’s ahead: Behind the scenes at Hubbard Inn + Public House, Frontier Newbie Niceness, Purple Pig PIG-OUT, Exclusive with Michael Kornick himself just as FISH BAR opens, Food Mafia action at N9NE, Gilt Bar, & Mike + Chao, y mucho mas Delicious DIRT.

It’s 230am people… Day 3 of TribeFest… let there be rest…

Hello again!  It’s been WAY too long and I’m sorry for that.  I thank you, my loyal Sunshine Sealed readers, for sticking with me and showing the love even with a ten month blogging hiatus.  I can promise you that from this moment onward, you will be reading a lot of DELICIOUS DIRT from me.

Since starting my own company, I have been extremely busy, but that is no excuse as to why I have not blogged it all.  For that, I am sorry.  As my wonderful friend and client Stephen Brooks says, “Siempre adelante, nunca por atras” aka always forward, never back.  The road is long and the journey continues.   I can simply say, I am proud of myself and loving every minute of working with my unique and varied clients.

I don’t even know where to begin… Since I last posted, so much has happened.  I officially launched Elevate Your Presence, LLC and am about to launch version 2.0 in November (if my developer finishes our revamp by deadline).  Stay tuned for an even sexier, more delightful, more sun-kissed website and branding/ identity system by estudiotres .  I can not wait for EYP 2.0!

My company, Elevate Your Presence (EYP), is a full service publicity, media, management and event planning and execution firm.  I have been so super selective to only take clients I really and truly believe in like Food Mafia – the newest concept in the online Foodie world (more about the Mafia soon).   I have to say that philosophy and decision was and still is one of my best!  Some of my clients include investment conferences such as next month’s Invest For Kids, non-profits such as The Sustainable Living Roadshow & The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,  festivals such as the annual NYC/ Chicago Food Film Festivals, restaurants such as The Motel Bar, the soon to be launched FOOD MAFIA and many more.

*****Join the EYP Facebook page here ,follow EYP on Twitter and join the official EYP mailing list for the latest news, events and hottest deals out there and show some love!

The power of social media is immense and has spread like wildfire!!    It is not just a fad.  IT IS A REVOLUTION!!

Erik Qualman is a well known social media advocate and leader in the field. He wrote a recently published book, Socialnomics and maintains his blog dedicated to social media.  I love that someone called him out on why he published a hardcopy book when he knows hardcopies will one day be a thing of the past.  His reply was simply that people still have landlines, use cd’s, and dial up… So many people still love a good hard copy, but yet more and more want it on their Kindle or their iPhone Kindle… Smart man.   Qualman made one of the best – if not the best- videos showing us the impact and importance of social media on the world.  


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my passions and social media has officially become one of the front runners in my life.  I find myself reading about it, working with it, engaging in it, discussing it, promoting it, loving it and not being able to live without it.   I still get the people who say, for example, “I’m against Facebook” or “I don’t get Twitter”.  These people, well, I usually try to explain a bit of what they are missing.  I find it almost impossible not to because I can not fathom why someone would not want to utilize the greatest tools ever.   Eventually though, they all will join the revolution.  One by one, almost everyone is now on facebook.  I mean, that’s old news.  Now it’s all about so many other sites.  The power of social media is what grabs me consistently.

I mean, if you are a business and you are not utilizing social media sites, it’s almost like you are living in the dark ages!   Think about how many more people you reach being in the online world versus good ol’ fashioned marketing and or pr.  If you ask me, social media is not only the wave of the future, but is right now and is here to stay.   And, if you don’t trust me alone, there is so much proof. 

I mean, didn’t that socialnomics clip have enough stats?  Here are few to entice you!!   But you should really watch the clip!!

1 out of every 8 couples married in the U.S. met through social media.

Years to reach 50 million people– TV– 13 years, Radio- 38 years, Internet – 4 years.  But get this—  Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months!   

Education- US Dept of Education revealed online students outperformed those receiving face to face instruction.

1.5 million pieces of content- links, blogs, posts, photos, are shared on Facebook- DAILY!!!

Fastest growing population on Facebook is women ages 55-65.

There are over 200,000,000 blogs and 54% blog or tweet daily.

80% of Twitter updates are done via mobile device- as Qualman says, imagine what that does for bad customer experiences (and or good).

Hulu went from 63 million total streams in April ’08 to 373 million in April ’09.

Here’s one that really gets me- 70% of 18-34 year olds have watched TV on the web while only 34% of them had ever watched a show on DVR/Tivo.  But, 25% of Americans in the past MONTH have watched a short video— ON THEIR PHONES!!!

Truth is- we don’t search for the news anymore.  As Erik says, it finds us!!   He predicts that we will not search in the future for products and services, but they will find us- through social media!!  This is already happening to me!!!   It’s probably in your world too, you just have not thought about it this way — yet….

Any if you don’t believe these stats or want the sources (you know who you are), go to the site and you will be able to see the sources firsthand.   Even traditional PR firms are now hiring full time social media experts.  

Why social media–  START BY WATCHING THIS CLIP if you did not already. 

I recently got in touch with Mr. Qualman and I am hoping to meet him one day and or work with him.   I can not wait to read his book and I am invigorated even promoting it here.  Again, I seem to do endless pr without getting paid… ahh passion!

In recent social media news, check this out-

Just today, a CBS newscaster started a social media driven challenge– to drive across country in 7 days with only his ID, $50.00 and his many gadgets that will enable him to use social media to win this challenge.   CBS put him to the test and he will use only his Twitter, his Qik, Skype, and his blog to get across country.  Awesome.   Click here to read more.  

Even the Anne Frank House has decided to utilize social media through YouTube to post the only existing video footage of Anne Frank!  Awesome move!  No video footage of Anne Frank has ever been seen by the public until recently.   This move will expose an entirely new audience and or generation to the incredibly important story of the Anne Frank.  Already, and as of this instant, the clip has had 401,802 hits on YouTube.  Ah social media— Amazing.

  In the clip from July 22, 1941, Anne is seen in the 9 second mark watching her neighbors on their wedding day.   It is an extremely touching and bittersweet clip taken just a year before the Franks went into hiding from the Nazis.   I got the chills.   To watch it click here.    Simply amazing.     To read more about the above click here.

According to the NYT Education section, even colleges and universities are using social media, blogging, to attract students.  MIT began posting student blogs on admissions homepage over five years and received tons of responses and feedback.  The interactivity and feedback on their homepage shows how much social media here has made an impact!   

According to the New York Times, “Dozens of colleges — including Amherst, Bates, Carleton, Colby, Vassar, Wellesley and Yale — are embracing student blogs on their Web sites, seeing them as a powerful marketing tool for high school students, who these days are less interested in official messages and statistics than in first-hand narratives and direct interaction with current students”.    The full article is actually pretty amazing.  Click here to read it. 

Living in the moment has always been my motto.  Carpe diem has never been as important to me as it has been this year.   And if you follow my blog or know me, you know why.

So, when I get on a roll, I just can’t stop!  That’s one reason why with me on your team, you won’t ever be disappointed.

Much much more to come.

What an awesome day!!   Today I reconnected with an old friend from Madison who was in town shooting a pilot for ABC – Live Green. He was my go to in college for everything- a shoulder, the best nuggets, fun, positivity, sunshine, wisdom, you name it.  More than anything Stephen is a person who embodies living in the moment.  His middle name should be carpe diem and everyone can learn from him.    

Anyhow, he is one of those people everyone wants to be around, everyone adores. He is a truly genuine soul- a passionate smart entrepreneurial man who is literally making a huge difference in the world.  His 15 years of living in Costa Rica immediately post college are unbelievable to learn about.  From his work with children, his Veggie Bus (runs on veggie oil from Cali to Costa Rica), to his multiple companies- Kopali, Costa Rican Adventures,and more, to his cooperatives, he is inspiring and spectacular.  Click here to see some media coverage.   He spreads knowledge and love and is consistently making the world a better place.   His company literally is changing the world and his presence in my life could not have come at a better time.

Thank you Stephen Brooks. To steal your word- you are epic.  Much more to come. Check out Kopali foods.

When I began this blog I really thought I’d be writing about social media and technology- at least in some posts.  I mean, it’s a huge part of my daily life.  It’s what I do all day, it’s what I think about and read about.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge technocrat, an avid Facebook and Twitter (and other social media sites) supporter, and real Mac person.  

Much of this probably comes from my family’s love of technology as well.   My mom introduced us to the world of Apple in the 1980′s as she was and still is ahead of the curve on all things tech.   In fact, it was my Grandpa Ray, her father, who always had the latest and greatest tech gadget throughout my entire life.  I mean, even in the 1960′s he had the best video camera out there.  It was enormous and heavy, but it was what was out there.  

Grandpa Ray always had cutting edge gadgetry before anyone else.  For my 30th birthday, my mom made me a CD of all the audio recordings my grandpa Ray had made of me talking as a toddler and up.   So, even back then- 1978/9, 1980 and on, Grandpa Ray had the most advanced audio cassette recorder and microphone and used to record me every time he saw me.   It’s amazingly spectacular.   Check the gadgetry (recorder and mic) in the pic below–


Grandpa Ray and me circa 1977 or 8

Grandpa Ray and me circa 1977 or 1978

What’s also awesome is that my mom transcribed it all to CD and that I have it now- in 2009!   Even all our videos she transcribes to DVD.  I think we had beta longer than any living human.   Hearing about this now, you probably think it’s normal to document everything (as that’s what people do- blogging, tweeting, facebook status updating, friend feeding, Ustreaming, etc), but back then, it was not common.   I’m so lucky to have such footage.  I began video taping in middle school and even have those videos now.   So funny, me and my friends sitting in my bedroom on Astor filming ourselves and our phone calls with boys.   We also did audio tapes too.   Hysterical.  

Another example of how ahead of the game my grandpa was is this story.   I will never forget Grandpa Ray coming up to me very excited in 2001and saying, “So, do you have a nomad yet?”.   I didn’t even know what a nomad was at that point!!!   Back then a nomad was an MP3 player- pre iPod.  He had it with him and showed it to me loaded with his songs!  AMAZING.   I used to think the iPod was the best invention.  I mean, it completely changed my life.   Music has always been a huge part of who I am.  My tape drawer was overflowing, then the CD drawer, argh.  So when I travelled, I brought an entire carry-on of CD’s with my portable CD player.   What a heavy load!!!  So, the invention of the iPod completely changed my life in such an enormous way at that time… as did the cell phone, the computer, TIVO!!!  I could go on and on!!!!

Grandpa Ray was so generous with all his devices too.  He always got the best ones and when a newer one came out (phone, cell phone, walkie talkies, computer, iPod, video games, DVD players, iPod speakers and more), he would give them to those he loved- usually his grandchildren.   He always had multiple sets of each gadget too.   Amazing.   What was more spectacular was the fact that he actually knew how to use each and every one of these gadgets until the day he died at 89.   In fact, my grandpa switched from T-Mobile (he was one of the first to switch and deal with breaking contracts in 2002 or so) to another carrier.  When he switched, he gave me his old Palm Treo and HIS CELL NUMBER— which is still the best number out there and my current number!!!  GOTTA LOVE IT!!!

Anyhow, I got off point.  Please forgive me.   I do have to credit my grandpa with our family’s intense interest in technology.   I mean, I think at one point during a family poker game there were 5 or 6 Treo’s on the table at once- this was before everyone even had cell phones.  

Treo Family

Our Family Poker Game

But it is my mom who knows it all.   She is a genius.   She should be behind the counters at the Apple store.  In fact, she is a “Certified Apple Specialist”.   I remember in the 90′s coming home and seeing for the first time in our kitchen, The Macintosh Bible, and laughing my ass off.   I had NO clue how amazing that was.   To elaborate, in our apt on Astor, the kitchen was always the hangout spot.  So of course my mom was ahead of the times, and turned an area of our kitchen into an office area with the computer.   This was wayyyy before laptops- wayyy.   I’d say this was circa 1992.   Anyhow, I had no clue how pivotal that bible would be!

Right now I can’t live without my iPhone or my MacBook Pro.  I’ve had a PDA of some sort since the 1990′s.  I know my first semblance was a Palm Pilot of some sort… Way before the Prism I had a Palm, but blanking on which right now (it is only 144am).   Whatever it was was one before the phone feature was integrated.  Of course then the Treo came out and newer and newer versions were selling like hotcakes!  I think the 650 was the last one I had before I went iPhone.    It killed me to get rid of the old gadgetry (never should have) before I moved and tried to de-clutter.   They are real antiques!!   I always laugh when I see a Treo these days.   For me, that represents such a time in my life.   I used to talk to friends, boyfriends, everyone about their phones.  I guess I still do…   I remember being more attracted to a guy who had a Treo than any other phone.   Something about that Treo (now iPhone of course), Mac, Obama guy…       

Right now, I have such desire to blog about the on-goings in the social media world /technology arena, but what I’ve discovered is, someone else has already written it.

It’s become (and not even lately), a who’s who of getting the news out the fastest.   Whatever the “news” is.   In all reality, someone is posting it before I am.  In fact, I’m probably the last possible person the planet to post it.   Well, I won’t go that far. Truth be told, people reading my blog have probably not already seen the news first- ie, Twitter, Facebook, Mashable, etc.  

A lot happened in the social media world today when Facebook acquired FriendFeed- click here to read Mashable’s article.    I mean, even the awards shows are now giving awards for “Choice Twit”.  At this week’s Teen Choice Awards, Ellen won and then proceeded to give one of her almost 3 million followers $1000. Click here to read Mashable’s coverage.      This Sunday’s NYT had a few great pieces on social media and new “rules” at certain fiestas and gatherings in NYC.  Check it out at your leisure.  

Well, there you have it- a little background on me the technocrat (one of my biggest passions) as well as a few social media news briefings.   

What was your first cell phone?  Your first PDA?  Your biggest tech guilty pleasure?  Post comments and sign up on the left as google friend connect!!  

Carpe Diem!

So I have to say I am sorry for leaving you with the most boring two posts and not updating this week.  I have had an insanely busy 2 weeks and little time to blog… sadly.

These last two weeks were a lot of fun.  I will give you a brief run down of some of the events.    Last week 6/17-  Thursday night I went to a Vogue shopping event where 10% of proceeds went to Breast Cancer Research.  I capitalize here for emphasis.   It was actually a great event.   A perfect way to start the night for sure.   My friend Leslie went with me and some of my family members were selling some goodies.   A great crowd showed up for this event actually too and it was inside a furniture store – The Golden Triangle.  From there we went to dinner at Hub 51 and decided to go home after as we knew we were in for a long weekend.   I am thrilled at that choice because by then (1130), I was dying to see Daree!!  

I can’t quite remember last Friday night, but I had a fabulous time at the great benefit for the Piven Theater Company last Sat 6/19 at Rockit, then to my friend Dave’s birthday at Vertigo (they finally got some lights and seats- I had vowed to never go back because it was literally so dark you could walk right into someone in front of you and not know he or she were standing there.  Plus there was nowhere to sit and the crowd was super annoying.  This go around was fun and just perfect lighting and seating).  From Vertigo we went to Underground (another of which I vowed to not return to) for the after-party for the Piven event.   I have to be honest here and say I had an awesome time. I danced and played and laughed and smiled. Loved it.  Even met a super cutie (not Piven, although I did speak with him and he is adorable.  The bad thing about Piven is that the girls swarm him and he thrives off of it.  I mean, he is so likable, so cute, so witty and so relatable that I was surprised by how much he seemed to love the vibes of the midwestern girls fawning).  

Sunday was Father’s day and I spent the afternoon and evening with my dad in Barrington- both the old and new (explanation to come later).   Monday was my Father’s 63rd birthday so my brother and I took him to what we call “The Red Door” (aka Rosebud on Walton), for a delicious and lovely lunch.   Perfect.   For dinner we (and some others) ate at the The Gage on Michigan Ave.  An odd choice by my step mother because it was loud and not easy to park, but a nice dinner nonetheless.   My uncle flew in from DC which was a great wonderful surprise to all of us.  Tuesday I finally had a night to myself (me and my babies of course) and vegged at home.  

Wednesday June 24th was a night my friend Howie and I had been planning for a few months.  I had a job meeting that morning (details later), and a hectic day, but an awesome one.   We planned a benefit for Alexi Giannoulias (IL State Treasurer running for Obama’s senate seat).  The event went really well and we raised over $30,000 for Alexi.   Thanks to all those who came and supported.  

Thursday was an event for Justin Oberman (running for LT Governor), at District.  The event was nice and after a bunch of us went to Adobo for more margaritas (my favorite in Chicago).  See pics here…Adobo



Living & Laughing

Living & Laughing

Then to Four Farthings for Thurs night Karaoke!!  I sang TWO SONGS!!!  I have the WORLD’S WORST VOICE!!  I loved every minute of it.   I sang Pour Some Sugar On Me- I know so typical and cheesy, but also you have to admit, the perfect karaoke song.  I also requested to sing O’ Lamour by Erasure- one of my all time favorite songs!   Instead I was called up to the stage and A Little Respect came on and I belted out every word!!   All good- I mean, Erasure rules!!!    Anyhow, from there the crew broke apart and some went home.  I went to a friend’s house for a brief visit.  This part of the story is amazing.   I am skipping most of the details, but suffice to say that I went home and realized I either lost something or left it there.  The next day I searched everywhere- my house, my car, stalked my friend to make sure he looked for it.   I decided to just simply go over to his house and retrace my steps (even though I knew he was at work and I would not be able to go inside, I thought it would be worth it to check as my lost item might be on the street!   This item is vital to me!).   So, I did just that.  I walked the exact same route to and from my car as I did the night before and low and behold, I found it!!!!    I could not believe it.  There it was, sitting in the side of the street- not even dirty!!!  YAY!!!   If you had seen me in that moment, the smile on my face would have looked like I belonged on another planet!    What a terrific feeling.  

Anyhow, friday 6/26 my girl friend Rebecca came over and we had dinner at Riverview  in Roscoe Village (best salads ever) and hung out.  Needless to say, the action of the night came from Daree.  He decided to pick up a dead bird and try to eat it.  I had to fight him tooth and nail.   There was no chance I was able to pry his mouth open… I tried my hardest!!!  My only option was to push on his neck as hard as humanly possible until he dropped it.   I did it and he would not drop it!!!  My girl friend and I were both screaming and Daree was not letting up!  I finally managed to think fast and had a zip lock in my bag.   My friend handed it to me and with all the love I have for Daree, I managed to push on his neck just hard enough to make him open his mouth, I held it open and reached in and grabbed the dead bird and threw it out!!   This entire process was unreal.   I am not a girlie girl at all… but I am definitely not a dead animal lover.   I am in fact, a total baby when it comes to bugs and dead creatures.   So this, for me, was hugely scary.  The fact was though, there was no other option.    No one was there to help.  I did not expect Rebecca to do it.  This is my dog and I had to suck it up and take care of business.   That is exactly what I did.   Oddly, we were both shaken up after that (not odd), but I felt such a huge sense of independence and strength after that.  Being able to handle that, even though we all freaked out, was really oddly comforting.   I mean, we all know when push comes to shove, we will do whatever it takes for those we love.  I knew Daree would get very sick if he ate the bird and for me, there was no hesitation.     In any case, it is moments like those that I feel like I could tackle anything.   

Lastly, Saturday night I had dinner with my good friend Marni who I had not seen in WAY TOOOOO LONG!!  So we went to Bob San and gabbed away.   So much fun to be with Marni- from start to finish- and what a finish!   We had a mellow and delicious meal of cucumber salad, sashimi, edamame and white wine.  I had reisling- Bob San has my favorite Hirschbach (spelled incorrectly I am sure) Reisling and she had Sauvignon Blanc I think.   At dinner, we sat outside initially and then a little rain brought us inside for the remainder.  Once inside, the man (cute single guy from Cali) at the table next to us started talking with us and ended up inviting us sailing with him.  Now Marni is married, but we both felt flattered.  The Cali guy left and actually came back to our table after he said goodbye to us and already had paid his check) and asked us to come sailing with him the the next day.   Was really sweet.  Sadly we both had plans… From there we went to an Imerman Angels Event at LaSalle Power Co.    The event was a success and I will always support my boy Jonny Imerman!!!   Love you Jonny!!   Marni and I ran into a bunch of people and ended up out and about a bit more only to end up late night with Cheetos and Combos (Marni had none).   I was disappointed in myself for eating the junk food!!  Little food and lots of wine leads to Cheetos (my favs) for me for some reason… No mas!!

Today I spent lunch with Carly and dinner with Jodi and stayed local.  Ate at Victory Banner and Riverview.  I am quite content and geared up for a great week ahead.  A lot of events and good weather ahead.   Truly, I do not want the fireworks to freak my dog out too much.   One of my hugest stressors is when Daree ( or one of my animals) gets freaked out.   Fireworks are AWFUL for animals and I think people need to be educated on that.   I hope that if they understand the effect on animals, people will not set them off.   They are illegal, but in Roscoe Village, it is almost as if every single household ignores that and sets off hours of em… I am planning ahead to get the hell away from Roscoe!!    Not sure where to, but hopefully a family member will help out with Daree bear.  

Daree my love

Daree my love

All in all, summer has begun and it’s heating up.    I’m excited and ready.   My goal is to learn to live in the grey a bit more.  I am such an all or nothing girl- ie, either I am all about a diet or totally eat whatever I want, either I work out 7 days a week or none at all…. I know you get it…. So, my goal is to be able to find a gentle balance in all areas- work, dating, health, friendships, family and more.  I feel more sure now more than ever that life is short and I want to live it up while I can (that’s why those Cheetos come to mind when drinking).

Carpe diem,


Delicious DIRT. By MBK on June 7 2009

My animals are my true loves.    In the spirit of blogging with a purpose or to help others,  I have decided to blog about some of my MANY experiences at vets, Daree’s health and overall animal behavior- well my animals’ behavior.   I know a lot of people who struggle going through their animals’ health issues.  I also know a lot of other people who have yet to experience sick animals- so lucky.  No one ever mentioned to me when I got these animals 13 yrs ago (cats 13 yrs ago. Daree 12.5) how hard it gets when they get older.   Truthfully, I never thought about it until this year, this hard year.      img_0867

The journey I am about to write about, although super intense, has been only a small fraction of my life with Daree.   I have spent literally 12 years and 4 months with Daree.  We have grown together, loved together, played together, eaten together, danced together, slept together, made friends, lovers, families together.   Daree is the love of my life.  The apple of my eye, the mac to my cheese, the peanut butter to my jelly.  Daree is my angel.

Currently, I am trying so very hard to live in the moment with my Daree bear! He is puppy-esque, playful, more loving and cuddly as ever!!  Background, my baby, who is now 12.5 yrs old officially was diagnosed with terminal cancer  5 months ago.  Daree has had several surgeries over the years, many of which have saved his life.   He is a massive trouper – the most resilient creature.  img_0306

This whole thing started in 2006 with NO CLINICAL SIGNS.   Daree was and still is puppy-like.  He had NOT ONE SIGN that anything was even remotely wrong… But, we discovered his tumor after we went for a few routine check ups where one thing led to another and we found out after blood work and ultra sounds, that Daree had a liver tumor the size of a grapefruit.   Immediately I scheduled surgery for the next day and his liver tumor was removed in Nov of 2006.  It was encased and was malignant and we were told Daree would be fine.  He recovered easily and was back to himself within the week.  He later got pancreatitis and was re-hospitalized, but fully recovered.  I could finally breath again.     img_0115

As a precaution, I repeated ultrasounds every 2-3 months from then on.   The worst news came last yr (2008) when a new tumor grew in his liver.  We immediately scheduled surgery and Dr. Robbins called me from the operating table only to tell me it was inoperable… I was devastated.  The surgeon, Dr. Mitch Robbins (the best there is), said if he tried to take it out, it would kill Daree.

Dr. Robbins called me a few days later and gave me the option of trying a chemo embolization surgery on Daree.   The idea behind this procedure (used in humans often), was to go inside his vein to the tumor and inject him directly with strong chemo to kill the tumor.  Then they were going to embolize the vein (basically cut off the blood source of the tumor), so the tumor would not be getting fed and eventually die.

This procedure was a miracle.  They went inside Daree’s leg, inside his vein, into his liver (through a vein), and blasted it with chemo and then embolized it.  The surgery took 6 hours.  Daree was under for 7.  It was very scary, but it worked and although the recovery was AWFUL, it was worth it.  Daree was back to his old self within a month and a half and was playful as ever.   He did develop pancreatitis again, but stayed in the ER until he was all clear.


After this procedure, we did ultrasounds every two months to assess if the tumor had shrunk from the direct injection of chemo and the embolizing of his blood source to the tumor.   The tumor did shrink and seemed to have died out.

It was not until 10 months later that of one Daree’s routine blood tests was elevated.  So we did another ultrasound and discovered the tumor had grown.  It shrunk for months and then within 2 months, grew to almost double its size.

I had not felt that type of utter hopelessness in my life.   I was never so shocked either (as were the doctors).  Since we knew we had exhausted all our options (and could not re-embolize), it felt hopeless.   I begged the surgeon to find some other option.   I spent days crying.  Feeling terrified and sad.

Somehow, I pulled myself together, with the support of my family and friends.  I decided to enjoy every minute of Daree’s life to the max.   He is my baby, my love, my partner, my best friend, my cuddly teddy bear.   There’s nothing more special to me than the smile on his face when he turns back to see if I’m there or when I look in the back seat and see him smiling away.

I guess it is cathartic to write this all out.  But, I do hope my sharing my story shows you that being a diligent pet parent is important.  I hope it also shows you (and me), that a diagnosis should not stop you from living and living well.   Everyday with Daree is a true joy for me.  I would not trade one minute.   I would not trade reaching into his mouth and pulling out a dead bird (I did that tonight), I would not trade the 330am wake up calls Daree (very rarely) gives me for a walk.

My life with Daree – rich, happy, smiley, lovely, beautiful, full, content.  Daree’s brothers are an enormous part of it (saving for future posts).   Bottom line, the peanut gallery is truly peaceful. It is tough to describe with words, but just hearing Daree breathing next to me and feeling his sweet super soft fur, well, that’s all.


Let me know if you have any questions and or health issues with your pets.  I would be thrilled to refer you to the spectacular cast of doctors who have been so wonderful to my babies.

Delicious DIRT.  5/09

Well, this week was quite a productive one.

I had been working on a PSA Wendy Diamond got me involved in promoting animal rescue when an idea I had for the Oprah website hit me.   I sought to put my friend Wendy Diamond, creator of Animal Fair magazine in touch with people at Oprah.  Wendy is a wonderful lover of animals and a passionate animal rescue leader.  Wendy also wrote several books- one of which she made into a movie.   I believe the title of which was “What a Lucky Dog!: How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs”.    Anyhow, unless you live in a cave, you know Oprah is a huge dog lover.  So, because Oprah’s website does not have a specific animal section (although they do have a lot of pet related articles in the relationships section), I presented my idea of them having a specific section solely dedicated to animals.  Everything and anything animal related would be suitable including a section by Wendy.

So, I spoke to a few contacts Oprah, I spoke with Wendy’s team, and they both seemed to love the ideas.   Last I heard they were connecting… so look for Wendy’s contributions to the soon!

safe_imagephpBy the way, Oprah is also a huge animal rescue supporter and she did just that a few months back when she adopted Sadie.   Go Oprah!!!    Check out how our very own PAWS CHICAGO made it on the cover of O Magazine this June!!

I am extremely passionate about animals – adopting many of my own- and a huge supporter of Paws.  In fact, this week, I was able to get several of my friends involved in Paws’ Beach Party this summer!   If you have not already, check it out and please participate.

Another project I have been working on as of late is an event for Alexi Giannoulias’ run for Obama’s senate seat.  We’re planning two events- one more intimate for financial big shots and the other, a large casual event involving some of Chicago’s own Second City actors. Details on the second event to come.

So, the month begins with a lot of goodness.

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