what up?! i'm michelle one of the curators at the coco gallery {gives hug}. i work out of orange county. i'm also "grin" of frexNgrin. "frex", the other half, would be curtis. he used to be my favorite subject but now we have our lil coffee bean, kaya and our lil blonde roast, dia.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Sunday, April 19, 2015

slow down with that "c" word

when doctors throw out that word "cancer" all the red lights go off...

it started with one spot on my jaw. the spot started growing and puffing up in the heat. i thought it was a rash of some kind. i didn't have time to pay attention to it. actually, maybe i just didn't make the time. then there was more than one spot. in fact there was starting to be a whole bunch of them. i finally remembered to ask the doctor about it and he dismissed me saying it was just age spots. interesting.

the following year, at my annual, i ask about the spots again, there's a few more now and they aren't going away and i'm not sold on them being age spots. he looks at my chart, tells me that i asked about them last year and he really thinks that's all they are (i'm making this guy sound kinder than he was. i really didn't like him but was too lazy to change).

last year, new insurance, new doctor, new opinions. this doctor doesn't want to be too dismissive so we start up on some creams to see what it does. nothing. a dermalogical referral, more creams and a biopsy later....

actinic keratosis aka precancerous lesions on the skin. primarily found on fair skinned people. there's that "c" word! totally buried in the middle of all that. but the truth is, it's NOT cancer. it COULD be, if i left it and didn't take care of it. bummed that i'm susceptible. i guess i'm more fair than i am brown. boo. so, yeah, not panicking. just taking care of it. so if you see me looking like i had a measles or chickenpox explosion on my face... it's just the cryotherapy treatment. it's not pretty but it's not permanent. more importantly it's taking care of the problem.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

vulnerability and the strong woman

i heard this rumor recently that to have friends, one needs to be vulnerable. ok maybe that was too broad of a generalization but it got me thinking.

at all these weddings i've attended i listen intently to the speeches that the best man or maid of honor gives for these brides and grooms and i consider my inventory of friends. i wonder for myself, who of these people in my life would ever speak about me with such depth? who would shed tears of joy that isn't family? who could say that they knew me thru the good times and the bad?

i don't have a lot of really close friends. if i were honest, i would say that i've only had less than a handful that i can truly call my best friends (outside of my spouse) and their existence in my timeline of life is fairly spread out. and actually, i'm not even sure that those people realized that i considered them my best friends. in fact, i'd say that recently, i've been so far removed from my friends that i probably wouldn't have someone i could run to if i needed running. then that brought me to the thought of "running". when have i ever ran to somebody because i just couldn't handle what life was throwing my way? ONCE. it's only happened once. and then i paused.

i am very rarely openly vulnerable. i'm a fixer. i analyze everything to death. i dissect to the point of ridiculousness and then i solve. i make a decision and it's done. discussing the process or the decision is so unheard of for me that the last time i was told to see a therapist, the therapist pretty much kicked me out. she said that i didn't really need her. i keep things simple in my life so coming across complexities are such rare occasions. i'm pretty content and possibly... boring.

my "friends" who have complexities who decide to share their issues with me seem to come looking for a solution or a listening ear. i've learned that earlier in my life i applied my cold logic to their situation and my solutions weren't always well received. i figured out later that people just need you to listen. so i've evolved. i want to say that these friends look to me as their friend but i'm still not the one they latch on to. is it the lack of reciprocation? i'm starting to think that people think i don't need friends. hmmm..  ponderous.

i recognize that friendship takes work, effort, time, interaction, frequency and maybe even proximity. oh .. and patience. something i don't have enough of. but vulnerability, open vulnerability, is this quality truly a necessity in finding lasting friendships? nobody realizes just how sensitive and vulnerable i actually am. i've worked so hard to be the "strong woman". i've spent a lifetime building the persona, the armor that protects the inner workings of me. the only person that has met that truth is my husband. there's no hiding it from the person that spends everyday with you. but everyone needs friends. friendships are cherished. and hugs should be given to even the strongest of people. if men can have good friends, even great friends, and men are the standard for "strength" then why not strong women? women who aren't openly vulnerable?


Thursday, December 4, 2014

still remembering mom

when my mom finally passed it wasn't a surprise, it was a welcome relief, one that took eight years to arrive. still, at the funeral, the grief took over and my sister and i were choking in our tears. neither of us could read the story we prepared to share with friends and family that day. curtis had to step in and read it for us. to remember mom on her birthday, i dug that farewell tribute up to share today.

everyone has a set of best loved stories and we wanted to share one of our favorites about mom with you. we’re sure that some of you are familiar with this one. 

often times our mom, who was ever the disciplinarian, would use her life stories as tools to teach us valuable lessons. this story is about mom, who was a willful child raised by her grandmother (aka lola inay). 

let me begin by saying that lola inay was a strict disciplinarian and woman to contend with. lola inay had long established a set of rules, and one of them was that the children in the house were not allowed to visit the neighbors without her express permission. permission was not always granted, especially when one’s chores were not done. mom, the youngest of the many children in the house, decided all on her own that she was special and did not need permission - and besides that, she was sure that she could sneak away for a couple of hours and no one would ever even notice. that day, she snuck over to the next door neighbor’s house where there was a little girl of the same age to play with. it wasn’t until a few hours later that she heard lola inay yelling for her from the other side of the shared wall. in a panic, she hurried towards the wall and peeked over. lo and behold, there was lola inay! she was too close for her to sneak back home and not get caught, but she could hear the insisting tone in lola inay’s voice that meant she was upset.  and when lola inay was upset, you had better believe that it was the end of the world. she HAD to try anyway. she started around and attempted to enter the house from behind, but then lola inay turned around and they made eye contact. oh god! it was a deer in the headlights moment… mom took one look at lola inay, quickly spun on her heels and started running the other way. lola inay was right behind her. mom ran towards town, through the market and eventually ended up circling the entire neighborhood in an attempt to lose lola inay.  Please remember that this is her grandmother – but the woman was known in town as a woman of steel and quite the legend. mom realized that she was losing ground and decided to head home. needless to say she was punished for her naughtiness. it was a terrible punishment, but one that mom shared with us. she only wanted us to know that we would not have to suffer similar consequences – provided that we choose not to disobey her house rules, which she had modified to fit her own style of parenting. {we smile}

that willful child grew up to be a headstrong woman of great character. she had an atrocious temper and a dynamite sense of humor. she was your best friend and your favorite shopping buddy. even in the last eight years when the pinnacle of life was not at its best, you could still see that spark that was mila, in her eyes.  we love her and we’ll greatly miss her. this is only one of many favorite mila stories and we shall always remember her since we never tire of swapping mila stories with friends and family.

mom was born on dec 4, 1945 and passed away on july 4, 2006. my sister's daughter yuki was born six years later on dec 4, 2012 and the celebration of life continues with the new generation of willful females in our family


Friday, November 28, 2014

going back into my shell

honestly, i'm not quite sure how i survived through my photography career. i think that my no-nonsense, slave driving ways were my salvation. that and ordering people around with a smile. i'm actually pretty shy and awkward in social situations. my coco gallery buddies are the only reason why i had to exercise the social side of me. they MADE me talk to people because we needed to market the business... and so i did. jason had to give me a scripted outline for client interactions and tommy would push me to meet strangers at business mixers and art events. it was sooooo painful. but i did it. i got better at it. each time was another push outside of the comfort zone and each time i would heave a sigh of relief when it was over.

now that i'm back in corporate IT i can feel my self slowly walking backwards into my comfortable space in the shadows. slowly. sneaking my way into a place where i don't have to interact with people in social situations anymore. slowly, the doors are creaking closed and i'm considering art for art's sake. business be damned and marketing along with it. i'm not that good anyway.

documenting my family is stress free, cherished and doesn't require marketing.