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!

We Do Weddings (Sorta)

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What do weddings and special events have in common?  Everything.  A wedding is an event that needs the same type of care, detail, and special event management just like concerts, fundraisers, and benefits do.  The biggest difference though is that with a wedding, there is a couple involved and lots of emotion.  I rarely do these types of gigs because they are extremely hectic, but mostly, weddings can get a little… crazy.  I’ve made exceptions throughout the years and have come on board as “wedding coordinator” and executed beautiful gatherings from the backyard of a multi-million dollar home in Santa Monica, all the way to a private residence on top of a mountain in Honolulu.  The most recent one was held a few weeks ago on the island of Kauai–  overlooking the crashing Pacific Ocean and nothing but blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

I gave a very dear friend my pr services as a wedding gift.  I was so happy to do this because she is a very close pal that I’ve known since she was practically a teenager, and I’ve had a front row seat to watching her journey to bumping into Mr. Right.  Besides, I wanted to make sure she got married!  LOL!  The bride, based in L.A., had already gotten many things done way ahead of time which was wonderful, but if you work in my business, you know that the real deal goes down about 30 days out as it gets closer to the event date.  That’s when things can go awry, communication gets lost in translation, you learn you have a careless catering manager to work with, and horror of all horrors–  deliveries can get lost while being shipped from the mainland to the venue (this actually happened and at this writing, the boxes are still somewhere out at sea on a Matson ship.)

My job is to turn on the events management mode button and make sure that everything behind the scenes is being addressed and taken care of, so that on the surface, all is well.  So while the bride is waiting in the taxi limo with her bridesmaids, she doesn’t see me talking to the catering manager about the missing leis.  And just as she’s about to walk down the aisle, she doesn’t see us redistributing flowers from the spiral walkway into the basket so that the flower girl has something to toss.  And she certainly doesn’t learn (until later) that the so-called wedding musician dared to fight me on sound system placement at the reception tent.  Seriously, I could write a book.  But in the end, it is a beautifully heartfelt executed ceremony that leaves everyone in tears.  Exactly what I had planned.

 

 

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.