Christine Schwab is known as one of the most successful television personalities and authors in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. She has been a recurring guest on the most popular network television shows including: Oprah!, NBC Nightly News, CBS-The Early Show, The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Rachel Ray, Inside Edition, CNBC News, Fox Network News, E! Entertainment and Weekend Today.

Three-time author, Schwab wrote Quickstyle (Random House), The Grown-up Girl’s Guide To Style (Harper Collins) and Take Me Home From The Oscars (Skyhorse). Other writing credits include contributing style editor to Redbook magazine, style columnist for Arthritis Today and featured stories in O, the Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Ladies Home Journal, Women’s World, The Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post Book Magazine, The Orange County Register, The Daily Breeze and The OC Magazine.

Christine is an Ambassador for the National Arthritis Foundation.
26
Jul
2014

Laughter

 

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OK, my last blog was about frustration. I get it, I really do, the roller coaster ride of life. The hide under the covers day vs. the day you can smile, and then laugh and if you’re lucky, belly laugh until it hurts.

So this past weekend was a belly laugh weekend and I have to tell you, it felt so good, so needed, so incredibly liberating. Yes, liberating, because tears and frustration take hold of you and take away the smiles and the laughs. But I got them back.

And it all started with good friends. We have these amazing two couples that live two hours away. They come spend a few days with us and we spend a few days with them every other month. One of the friends calls it “medicine” and it is. The reason? We just love to laugh and I mean really laugh. We laugh about silly things, about things from the past, the present and the future. We work at keeping our conversations positive. We don’t let health issues take over. We tell stories we have told before, we relive other times we have had together, we plan for the future, and most important we all become twelve years old.

The chemistry started on our first meeting and it has continued for sixteen years because it feels so good to be twelve every once in a while. It feels fabulous to laugh until your stomach hurts.

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So how do you get there? You think of all your friends, the ones who like to smile and laugh and the ones who like to complain and then complain some more. And everyone has things in their lives to complain about, but should you make it a focus? This is where writing comes in. Instead of complaining to friends and family, write it out. Do your own blog and rant, rave, complain until you run out of complaints and then file it in a folder named appropriately “COMPLAINTS” and whenever you want to add to it, do so, with the privacy of your computer or your pad of paper and a pen. Just get your frustrations out so you have room for some laughs.

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t reply to the question, “How are you?” with the truth, you can, but keep it short and simple.

“How are you?”

“Having a tough week, but this will pass.” And then instead of letting them ask the follow up question. “Why tough?” You keep talking with questions about them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. And if your friend answers with complaints and negativity, you change the subject, you control the conversation by introducing something fun, maybe even funny.

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We can certainly gather funny things from the news these days to balance out all the tragedies. How? Watch the opening of Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon or David Letterman. I have to record it because I can’t stay awake that late. But laugh, you will get material to make your friends laugh right along with you.  Or read a funny book instead of a dark thriller.  Watch a tad of the gossip shows like ET, The Talk or TMZ. The craziness will give you silly, laughable material.

The trick is to forget about your issues for an hour, a day or a weekend and become twelve. Twelve year olds don’t stress, they play, they giggle, and they laugh. Even the incredible JA Kids I work with have terrible days and then  Voila!, they are laughing and smiling once again on their JA roller coaster ride.

It’s magical.

It’s medicine.

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“You’re not going to ruin my life. I can fight back with laughter!” Macintosh HD:Users:christine:Desktop:laughter.jpgMacintosh HD:Users:christine:Desktop:KidsLaughingWS523x260.jpg

“SOMETIMES I LOVE AND NEED TO BE TWELVE YEARS OLD ONCE AGAIN, AND SO SHOULD YOU.”   CHRISTINE SCHWAB 2014

19
Mar
2014

The Start of Something New…

 

I have started something new several times in my life, as most of us have. Always with some fear and trepidation. What if it doesn’t work? What if I am making a mistake? What if I fail?

Enough worry to keep me awake at night thinking should I have gone forward. And the answer was yes to each of these questions at some point in the process.

And yet, about three years ago I was trying to write my third fashion book and going nowhere. I realized it’s time to do something different.   When the words didn’t flow out of my computer and onto the screen as in my first two books, I knew another fashion book was not the answer.

And so I put it away and pulled up a new word doc.  A fresh, clean, empty piece of paper looking back at me from the computer screen. I started writing about my childhood. It was difficult. I spent many of my years under the age of 10 in foster homes.  But I had overcome my childhood and made a career for myself. As the words flowed from my fingertips I knew I must be onto something. But then the words stopped. So I tried a few more things; my mom and her twin sister, the identical twins that were very different in personality. Interesting. I filled one page. So where do I go from here? For me writing had been an experience of typing as fast as I could just to keep up with the words in my head. This was not the case this time. I was struggling, not the writer’s block that stalls you, but the missing passion that drives you as a writer. It just wasn’t there.

Try something different my writer friends told me, try something you haven’t talked about before.  That took some deep thinking and then all of a sudden it came to me, a memoir. I had the most dysfunctional childhood, a challenging time from my 20’s to my 30’s but then it all seemed to fall into place. My career skyrocketed, my personal life blossomed and then I became humbled at 40 with the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis and I dealt with it like I did my childhood, I kept it hidden. And two hundred and nine pages later I had my third book.

Take Me Home From The Oscars was published in 2011. My story from childhood to Hollywood. From Foster homes to attending the Oscars. From shy, quiet little girl to stand in front of the national TV cameras woman. And I thought I had written my story. It was in print. No more hiding. But that was only half of the story.

What do I do next? How many more times would I report on TV about a new trend in lipstick, a new style in shoes, a “must-have” color of the season? Especially when I just found out that there are 300,000 kids in the US dealing with the same disease I am living with. Kids who teachers don’t understand why they can’t run and play like everyone else. Kids that some doctors think are just lazy or slow to develop. Kids who are made fun of at school. Kids just like me that want to disappear when the teacher asks why they miss so much school.

I remember when they passed out PTA cards in my school. My mom had just remarried, I was no longer in foster homes, and I was adjusting to sharing my mom with my new step-dad. When they called my mother’s name for me to go up and get her PTA membership card I sat still in my seat. I looked around like everyone else to see who this Gerry Everett woman was. I was too embarrassed to raise my hand and claim the card because I was the only kid in the class whose mom had a different last name. And so my mom’s card was returned to the office and my secret was intact.

This is why I relate to JA Kids. Because Juvenile Arthritis is misunderstood. Because the word arthritis denotes someone old. Because instead of understanding them, these kids are being bullied.  And so the JA community is far quieter than the diabetes or autistic community. Celebrities don’t come forward to support JA. Even if they want to their agents or managers warn them against talking. I understand this. I relate to this. But I am determined to change this. I hid my mom having a different last name. I hid my foster home childhood. I hid my RA for a long time. I no longer hide.

And suddenly I knew, it was time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.

And the magic came.

The magic for me is called Christine’s Kids on Facebook. Come visit us, watch our new video, and hopefully you will want to start something new.

It is pure magic.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christines-Kids/218905234862177

19
Mar
2014

OC Register

 

Christine featured in OC Register as an “Everyday Hero”.

OC Register Article

22
Jan
2014

My Love/Hate Affair
with Steroids

 

I have taken many steroids in my twenty-seven year RA journey. Many. In pill form or IV, they have saved many a day for me. When I had a TV segment to do and I was in constant pain, steroids. When I had to attend the Oscars, The Grammys, or a studio event…steroids. For a 4:30 AM call time at a television studio when the cold of the dark early morning made my joints scream…steroids. When I had an extremely busy workday ahead of me and I couldn’t walk…steroids. My doctor understood the pressure of my work and how it wasn’t a job where I could call in sick. He understood the reason I had to keep my RA secret in order to keep my Television career as a Fashion Reporter. He got the disease, the career and me. I was lucky to find a doctor who made it possible for me to keep going. And in every case, except one, I was able to perform or attend. Steroids became my best friend. I loved them.

The only time they failed me was at the Oscars when I was attending as a guest instead of a reporter. Great 8th row seats. The elite of Hollywood were filling the auditorium, the room abuzz with anticipation. All perfect except that my RA decided it was going to take over and take over it did. I could hardly sit still. The RA flare was in full swing and the Oscars hadn’t even started. RA was winning out over the steroids for the first time. I walked out of the theater as everyone else walked in. I had no choice. I went home and watched the show on TV in my sweats, feet up, relief in sight. The only good thing that came from that evening was the title of my third book, Take Me Home From The Oscars. I opened the book with the story of having to walk away from my favorite Hollywood event.

So it’s easy to see why I thought of steroids as the trump card. RA acts out, steroids take over. Steroids win over RA. I read the side effects on the packaging, but for me, at the time, there was no other choice. Steroids would give me relief when nothing else could. When my other medications couldn’t fight the RA fight, steroids were the back up medication that would take over. And the good news was that the steroids were short term, just a band-aid to stop the bleeding.

At one point my RA was just being overly unreasonable. Short term steroids weren’t enough. Only long-term steroids could fight my battle. The good news was they worked. The bad news? They made me an emotional wreck, eat everything in sight, gain 20 lbs. and have a puffy moon-shaped face. That’s when my fashion expertise went into overdrive. I could dress anyone 20 lbs. slimmer, now I was doing it for myself. I could get a different, angular haircut that would take away some of the roundness of my face. And when it came time to taper the steroids, my adrenaline gland wouldn’t cooperate, so week after week I had to be retested, waiting until I could taper off the steroids. In the meantime I cleaned every cupboard, answered every e-mail and watched late, late, late shows on TV. I was very productive because I was up and going full speed at all times. Now I understand why athletes like steroids. Who doesn’t want to feel like Hercules? However, Steroid Hercules for me was an overly emotional, laughing and crying for no apparent reason slightly mad woman. Had I been a dramatic actress it might have worked. Being a fashion reporter drama was not required.

What’s that saying?….it’s too good to be true? That is my definition of steroids.. For me steroids were too good to be true. Immediate gratification led to delayed side effects. Things I had not anticipated like decreased bone density, an immune system that stopped protecting me and a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

So while I loved the immediate results from steroids, I now get nervous when a doctor says, “We’ll just put you on a little steroids.” I no longer look forward to the instant gratification. I know the real personality of this medication. It’s the good and the bad all rolled into one.

My love affair with steroids is over. Like the lover often scorned, I know the downside. I would rather try almost anything else and use steroids only as a last resort. I now spend hours and dollars in the gym and physical therapy fighting against osteoporosis. I spend time at my therapist’s dealing with over emotional responses to what should be easy issues. I stifle sobbing tears at sad movies. Emotional? Yes, steroids. Delicate? Yes, steroids. Sleepless? Yes, steroids.

And kids on steroids for arthritis? For emergencies, OK. For an on-going treatment, questionable. If steroids are your doctors go to treatment I recommend you find out why or find another doctor. There are many new and better medications on the market. Steroids are the band-aide, but band-aids are not the answer. Children need to grow and strengthen their bones. They need JA controlled, stopped if possible. Regardless of a band-aids size or décor, it is still a band-aid.

Use with caution. They might be your best friend one time and your worst enemy another. Will I ever fall in love with steroids again? Maybe when I am at my wit’s end and nothing else will work. Only this time I will go into this love affair with caution. This relationship could be detrimental to your long-term future.

8
Jan
2014

Live your life with arms
wide open… Even if they ache
My top ten tips for coping with RA

 


I have always been a fan of the top ten lists. They are concise, informative and helpful. I have done thousands of top ten lists for fashion, beauty and gift ideas for television but never one for arthritis. So here goes, my first top ten ideas for coping with arthritis.

1. Be kind to yourself. You have a serious disease. Don’t get mad, it’s a road life has taken you on. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, concentrate on what you can do.

2. Try not to give in or up. This is an ongoing disease, you have to figure out how to live with it. Figure out what works in your life and what doesn’t and listen to your body. Giving up is giving in. We must always fight. Always.

3. Don’t talk about arthritis all the time. I have a five-minute rule with my friends. We can talk about our aches and pains for five minutes and then we move on. Talking about it all the time doesn’t help you nor your family and friends.

4. Put the focus on others. Be interested in their lives. Arthritis is a boring, monotonous disease. We have to deal with it, but our friends and family don’t need every detail. Focus on what is going on in their lives. It’s amazing how much it will take your focus off of yourself.

5. Do things for others. Your family, your friends, other people with this disease. The more you do the less time you will have to worry and fret over your life. Helping others is one of the best medicines of all.

6. Don’t stop until you find a doctor who relates to you and your life. Treat them with respect. They are the key to your health maintenance.

7. Don’t be afraid of new medicines. Instead of concentrating on the side effects, concentrate on the hope. With each one you try you are one step closer to one that will work.

8. When the disease takes over, plan something fun for when you feel better. Lunch with a friend. A movie. A new novel. Something to look forward to after a setback.

9. Keep up your grooming routine. By letting yourself go you are giving in. We are fighters, not quitters. It is easier to fight with a little blush on your cheeks, a colored gloss on your lips.

10. Give back to arthritis. Raise money. Raise awareness. Make a difference. Concentrate on the hope for the future and then volunteer. There is much to be done, do what you can.