Caretaking Of A Loved One and Finding Work Balance

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Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 2.26.41 PMOne of the reasons I opted for a home office type set-up was because I knew as some point, I would be the most flexible person in our family to help with my Mom aka #instagramma. At 85-years young, she is as sassy and feisty as ever, but in the last few months, her health had taken a big turn. She experienced a terrible reaction to an old medicine that doctors typically give to patients who develop gout. This was the first time she ever had gout so we were surprised. Turned out that her immune system is quite sensitive (much like mine) and the poor thing broke out in a hive like rash over her entire body. Now, at 45 years of age, it is much more manageable, but at her age, it is ultra frustrating to deal with.

I’ve spent about three days a week over the last two months taking Mom back and forth to various doctors because her health is quite complicated- diabetes, kidney issues, and sciatic nerve issues. Balancing all of the meds out so that one doesn’t hurt the other is a challenge in itself. At first, I started taking doctor notes in my Note app in my iPhone. It has now morphed into detailed emails from time to time to the entire family so that everyone understands what she is really going through. I do quicker updates to family via a group message on FB when I’m sitting at my computer. For Mom, I’ve created a journal so that she can track what she eats all day, when she takes her meds, when she tests her blood sugar, and also to detail when she is having any weird symptoms such as “Today my feet are really swollen” or “I had no energy today to do anything” (these are Mom’s words).

Recently, Mom received her diagnosis: Plaque Psoriasis. An autoimmune disorder of the skin, which totally explained why just putting topical creams and ointments didn’t work as the body’s inflammation comes from the inside. The funny thing is that I have been managing my Lupus for almost 20 years now and also learning to manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) during this past year. I am the expert and able to help educate my Mom as to what this new journey will be like for her. I remember being in the doctor office with her when the (third dermatologist) looked at me and said, “Does anyone else in your family have any autoimmune issues?” and I said, “Yes, ME.” I thought to myself, “Wow… this is why having what I have will now come in handy… I can help HER!” Now, educating someone on this new lifestyle of managing meds and diet is not easy. I just took her grocery shopping yesterday and we had to negotiate on why she can only have a kosher hot dog once in a while (meat = inflammation) and why she will have to eat certain ancient grains vs. white rice  (hello quinoa cooked with veggie broth).

Taking care of a loved one may be a frustrating thing for many, and to be honest, it is for me at times. But I find it to be more of a privilege everyday, especially since I was living in LA when my Dad passed away. I wanted to be “around” for my Mom. Luckily, having a home office helps so that I can get my work done in an efficient manner and at the same time, keep an eye out on Mom, who is sort of in this unbalanced “let’s fall down” phase (sigh). Carving out time for yourself to rest and relax is important too, so try to fit that in by setting an appointment in your calendar, even if it is just to go for a walk on the beach or sit in a quiet cafe to just BE. Still, I am grateful everyday to have our Mom/Gramma/GG in our lives. In the coming months, I will be working on writing a book with tips and tricks to help others who may be finding themselves in the same position as me. But for now, enjoy your parent while you can and know that you’re not alone. Help is on the way;)

 

Its 2015. What’s Your Story?

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One of the things I love the most is teaching and helping others to tell their story. The first class I’ll be teaching in 2015 will be in Long Beach at the uber cool retail store, Conversation Pieces, owned by the charming, sister-from-another-mister, Audrey. She is one of those very special human beings that also loves to help others, but does it with such detail via her online store (where we first became fans of one another) to her new retail store (where I can now shop in person), that I am always left in such awe.

The “What’s Your Story” pr class is exactly that- helping folks find their story, their angle, their news. It will be a two-hour interactive session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. that will give everyone a starting point of how to go about crafting the ideal message when it comes to spreading the word about their product, business, or brand. Please note: bring a notebook, pen, or color markers to jot notes down. Electronic devices are not allowed in class. Why? Learning also comes from the old-fashioned, tried-and-true “head, to heart, to hand” method. You’ll see;)

See you at Conversation Pieces on January 22nd. Arrivals at 6:00 p.m., class begins at 6:30 p.m. I look forward to creating with you soon!

So long 2013… it’s been a wild ride.

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I have to say that 2013 was a very busy year.  It also was a year that came and went much too quickly.  While the Poi Planet plate was quite full to say the least, I think the nicest thing about the year was being able to meet and work with a lot of new folks.  When you work in the industry I’m in, projects (and people) seem to come and go, so it is pretty cool when you bump into like-minded others, get to work on fun projects together, and really do some good in the community.  Some of those projects included the annual Keiki Day with the staff of Parents And Children Together (PACT), the launch of Doraku Sushi in the revitalized Kaka’ako area, being able to work with the beautiful ladies of Hello Makana and their unique care packages, and also the talented artists involved in Mele Mei and the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Sometimes I pinch myself and think, “is this really happening?”  I don’t want to sound too geeky, but even I get excited by the mere fact that I have the chance to tell other people’s stories and get them out into the world.  So to all of you that I’ve met, or have gotten re-aquainted with, or got to play in the same sand box with…  I wish to say a very hearty “mahalo nui loa” and hereby give you a big, fat, virtual hug.  Thank you for making my wishes come true and allowing me to be a part of your year.

Here’s to a happy, prosperous, abundant, positive, and super creative 2014!

In The Beginning

Tracy2With more than 28+ years of experience in public relations, marketing and advertising, and a passion for the arts, Tracy Larrua has been described as a communication jade-of-all-trades.  A local girl from Hawaii, she spent 17 years honing her career in Los Angeles where she is regarded as a publicist and marcom specialist with a focus on integrated public relations.

Since relocating back home to O’ahu in late 2009, Larrua now splits time between Hawai’i and L.A. where she also conducts pr workshops for large companies, small business owners, and non-profit organizations, as well as specializes in one-on-one client training and pr coaching.

Larrua consults for a variety of clients including LA INC (The Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau), Parents and Children Together, Peace Bridge, FX-Group, Tom Moffatt Productions, Hula Nation Filmworks, KoAloha Ukulele, Aloha Pet Care, Doraku Sushi, Blue Tree Café, Hello Makana, Mele Mei/Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Loading Zone Arts, and Hawaii Duck Tours. Most known as a MarCom specialist for luxury hotel companies, Larrua has also worked for The Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts (Regional PR Director), Starwood Hotels (Director of MarCom), and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (PR Director).

Prior to her move to LA, Larrua created and supervised public relations, promotions, and special event campaigns for a variety of advertising, retail, entertainment and travel industry clients including Peck Sims Mueller Advertising and the Kula Bay Tropical Clothing Company.  In addition, she played a key roll in the development and promotion of special projects including the Hawaii Jazz Festival, Okinawan Music Festival and the Kalihi-Palama Summer Festival.

With a background in entertainment and the arts, and alumnae of the popular James B. Castle High School and Ronald E. Bright Theatre, Larrua was the recipient of the very first dance scholarship.  After a long career as a dancer and choreographer (and a kid at heart) in Hawaii, she has been able to take her experiences in performing arts and continued to work with children in various promotional projects that included The Hawaii State Literacy Campaign “Read To Me,” Recycle Hawaii Project, The Oceanic Keiki Club, The University of Hawaii Rainbow Dancers and Catholic Charities’ Youth-At-Risk Program.

In both Hawai’i and Los Angeles, Larrua is very active in the culinary, visual and musical arts scene.  She created numerous ground breaking gallery shows including Art & Soul at The Bel Age Hotel and Arts 4375 at The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey, showcasing established and emerging artists from the local community, as well as produced the annual May Day in L.A. event for 13 years, which perpetuated Hawaiian culture and music.  When not working or volunteering, she can be found at her favorite beach in her O’ahu neighborhood, enjoying the art galleries in LA, or relaxing with her family in Pt. Dume, Malibu.