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.
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.

11
Dec
2013

A Unique Holiday Gift

 


Everyone thinks I love the holidays. And I do. I love the decorating, the anticipation, the Christmas list, the shopping, the wrapping, the baking, Christmas dinner cooking, and the opening of presents. I just love Christmas, actually I love all the holidays. My main reason? My childhood holidays up to the age of 9 were not special. So my goal has always been to make my adult holidays special. My family often teases me that I even celebrate Ground Hog’s Day. But my goal is to try to celebrate every day.

And yet, I also understand the pain that comes with holidays. Sad memories, lost family and friends, family issues, distances keeping people apart, financial problems, illness and the list goes on and on. I remember one Christmas in particular when I was alone. Everywhere I went it seemed like everyone was a family, a couple. Was I the only person alone? Not really, but because of the emphasis on being happy during the holidays with family and friends it seemed as if I was. Every song seemed to talk about the joy of the season and on this particular year I saw no joy.

But time has passed and I am back into the mode of celebrating everything, well maybe not Ground Hog’s Day. And then along came social media where I read and see the posts and photos of people alone or unhappy and it all comes back to me. The best and the worst of the holidays.

There is so much pressure on family members to attend and be jolly regardless of what is going on in their lives or how they feel. There is so much pressure on giving the perfect gift and wrapping it beautifully. So much pressure on gathering with family and getting together with friends. There is just so much pressure on everyone to love the holidays.

This year social media reminded me of the reality of the holidays. Pictures and posts show that not everyone is happy or has a family or friend to celebrate with. Some of my Christine’s Kids are sick, fighting off their pain of JA or the medicines they are taking trying to halt this horrible disease. A close writer friend just lost a parent, right in the middle of the holiday season and will be attending a funeral rather than a Christmas party. I talked with a prominent doctor at a holiday event that I had enjoyed talking to at other celebrations, only to find him suffering the onset of Alzheimer’s. Memories of my own sad holidays filled my head. Things that can’t be fixed touched my heart.

And then I came across a Facebook holiday post that offered a new approach, a new way of celebrating.

An adult son was aware of his mother’s sad holiday mood. Every since the loss of her husband, his dad, she dreaded the holidays. He wanted to give her the perfect gift. “How about a puppy, Mom? You always loved our dog Spy,” he said only to her quick “No more dogs,” response. “ Why don’t I take you to Vegas to see Shania Twain? She’s your favorite country singer,” he asked. “Travel this time of the year is terrible! You know I don’t like to travel during the holidays,” she responded. Every idea he came up with she negated, until he came up with something totally different.

“Let’s not buy gifts for each other this year, Mom. Let’s make it about other people instead of ourselves. Instead of buying gifts for each other I make up a list of people you can help who are less fortunate and I write down ideas on how you can help them. The goal is to keep doing good deeds and giving to others until you spend the same amount of money and time that you would normally spend on my gift,” he said watching a smile appear on her face. “Son, this is the best idea you’ve ever had,” she said. “Great, Mom, and I want you to make a list for me and I will do the same. This Christmas we will not concentrate on ourselves. We will make it about others. Our Christmas of giving back.”

And it worked, each less fortunate person they both gave to led them to another. Their time, instead of being focused on what they didn’t have was now focused on helping others and watching their smiles of appreciation. They decided to take pictures of each step of their newly found Christmas present idea and share them with each other. Not only did they get a gift when they gave to others, but another one when they shared them together.

For the first time in years his mom found some to put up a tiny tree and hang a few lights outside on her apartment balcony. The next time he visited he walked into the aroma of cookies baking. “Look what I made,” she proudly said, pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven with Santa Hats and Christmas tree shapes. He reached for one. “One, only one for you, because these are going to the Smith family kids this afternoon,” she said.

This story reminded me of my mother-in-law who never wanted to open her presents at Christmas, she only wanted to watch us open our gifts. She spent all year buying the things we mentioned throughout the year. Each one was wrapped like a treasure. She had the idea long ago. She got it. Christmas is not only about giving, it’s about giving back.

Merry Christmas to you.
May your heart be filled with good thoughts and may all your dreams be about helping others.
Make this your year of giving back.