Back in May, I got an email through an “insiders” list that I belong to. It stated that “10 Years Younger” on the TLC network was looking for new makeover candidates for its’ third season.
The email had an email contact with instructions to send certain information along with a collection of untouched, un”makeup’d” photos.
Being that I had always wanted some changes to my appearance that I absolutely hated, I decided to give it a shot. Mind you, over the past three years I had two on-camera interviews with “Extreme Makeover” and another with “The Swan.” I don’t know why I was never selected for Extreme Makeover-maybe I didn’t need such extreme help? And The Swan, well, I was up for consideration but they wouldn’t push me through to be on the show because I didn’t have my own “private” insurance. Don’t you have to be at least well off to even OWN private insurance? Was this show just for people that could probably pay for these procedures out of pocket!? Perposterous…really was. Anyway, their loss now….they lost a good story in the process.
My story is complex and sad, as you will witness on the show, but I want you to know a little more about me before you proceed reading all about my journey:
I was married twice. Both times I was left with infants while my husbands both left me for other women. My first marriage only lasted a few months, with my husband running out on me, only 20 years old and pregnant with no guidance or help. You see, all my life my mother has been psychologically ill so I’ve basically been fending for myself since my brother’s birth at the age of eight. Since that time, I took over as my own mother and his. So, there I was with a baby on the way and scared to death. He didn’t even come to see the child until he was two months old. Ever since then, he’s totally ignored his responsibility and love for his own son. The last time the boy saw his father was eight years ago now.
The first husband’s name (YES, I AM CALLING THEM OUT!) is John E. Rockett, 40 years old, Memphis, TN. He is African American, 5’6″, approx. 140 lbs. and works for his father, Samuel Rockett. If you know this man, stay away…he’s violent, a drunk, a drug abuser and uses women like rag dolls. I have a recent police report on him and domestic violence was his last charge, only a year ago…he’s still at it!
I married again (stupidly now that I look back) at the age of 25. When I was 27, I was giving birth to my second son. This husband also turned out to be physically and verbally abusive and that has transcended into today’s mental abuse that he still tries to “feed” me, but I don’t take it sitting down. Upon the delivery date, while we had time for a dinner break, my husband (as I later discovered) went over to his “girlfriend’s” house to have dinner and then planned to return to me for the birth. The day after my arrival home from the hospital, the phone rang in the morning and it was a woman’s voice. She asked for Rob and I remained calm and gave him the phone because I already knew. I heard, “I thought you said you were sleeping on the couch.” That is all I needed to hear. Immediately I parted ways.
My second husband’s name is Robert Riddick, Sr. He resides in Waterbury, CT. He is 42 years old and is re-married to wife, Stacy. He is also African American, 5’9″, approximately 165 lbs. Last I knew, he worked for Head Start. If you know THIS man, he’s a manipulator and a liar and has never owned up to his mistakes. He has NEVER respected me. Stay away from him too…he hides behind the Bible as his protection…it’s all bullcrap!
It was from that point on that I worked and went to school, most of the time two jobs at a time, never able to spend the kind of quality time I wanted with my kids. I had to FIGHT just to keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our back. I did my best to secure a college education for myself and good paying jobs so my children would never want.
Still, to this day, my older son does not have any communication with his father and he owes over $30,000 in back child support. The younger son’s father just wants his way with everything and has never apologized to my face. He makes demands about seeing the child, yet, get this — the last plane flight I was about to book for him to go and see his father, it was an “inconvenience” for his father to retrieve him at 1 am, even though he hadn’t seen him for a year and a half!?…aaaand I was paying for the ticket out of my own pocket. I think that any woman in her right mind would make HIM pay for the ticket…(especially if she gets just over $100/month in child support) or maybe she wouldn’t even grant him visitation? I think I’m a HELL of a nice lady given the situation. Mind you, for three years I also drove my son to see his father in CT (a six-hour drive at my own expense) because Robert Sr. refused to drive to Watertown to pick him up because of “all the bad memories there” and he refused to “cross the state line into NY” because of them….what crap — grow up, right!?
These men just walked away from their kids and put it all on me. I still to this day absolutely and positively HATE these men for what they did. They show NO remorse and absolutely have never reached out to help in any major way or to heal this pain. Even Dr. Phil couldn’t change these cold-hearted men, trust me.
Ha…they both went and had more kids too, when they can’t even afford to take GOOD care of the first ones…FREAKING INCREDIBLE!!
So…the story goes…two bad marriages, both mentally and physically abusive. I still have flashbacks of the chocking, the slams against the wall, the prodding of my forehead, being pushed into furniture, the hits to the arms, legs, and face.
One of the many reasons to seek a makeover was to have a new “look” to erase the memories of “this” face, if that makes sense to anyone?
It is my goal to reach out to other women that I might save them before it’s too late. I wish to travel around the country speaking my story about my experience on 10 Years Younger and my life experiences. I wish to reach out to women that think there is no way out and make them listen…be strong…be proud…be a survivor!
Now that the sad part is over, onto the good stuff…the story of how I was transformed!
May 21st was the date, I sent in pictures which reflect all the things that I don’t like about my appearance. At this point, I was also up to 160 lbs. and feeling terrible about myself. Here are those pictures:
Later that same day, I got this email:
Great chatting with you on the phone. This email is to confirm that your interview for 10 Years Younger is scheduled for:
Friday, May 25, 2007 11:30AM
So….on May 25th, I went up to Evolution Productions office to have a face-to-face camera interview with the casting director. I remember breaking down in tears because of a couple reasons: 1. I wanted this very badly and 2. I was overwhelmed with pain talking about my situation and how I had gotten to this point where I felt so terrible.
Then….a long waiting period ensued. It was exactly four weeks and then on June 28th, I got another call from Evolution. “You have been moved up in the casting process!” Ironically, I was coming out of a good day’s news, I had just landed two roles in two straight to DVD movies. One is called, “Shadowman” and the other is “Vampires of LA.” I was on an actress “high” then I got that call and yes, I lost it again! The tears were just streaming down and I felt confident that I could do this. With the way Evolution and TLC work, this doesn’t mean, however, that I made it on the show (according to their paperwork).
A couple days after that, I received the casting packet in the mail with a 38-page contract.
Then, my email started to blow up with appointment after appointment.
On July 2nd, I made my first trip to Dr. Zweig’s office for my dental consult. Here is a picture of us:
Dr. Zweig is an incredible dentist and I feel very secure in what he will do with my mouth overhaul.
Here’s his website, for those interested:
On July 8th, I started with my personal trainer, Carlos Vazquez, owner of Newport Coast Fitness.
I work out at least three times a week now, getting prepared to be at my absolute best by the end of August. Carlos is very helpful and encouraging. I reached 160 lbs until last month when I did a two week Master Cleanse before meeting up with Carlos. The master cleanse gave me a 20-lb. weight loss start and I now own a “clean machine,” as I am also eating every three hours to boost my metabolism and healthier to boot!
On July 13th, I had my first dermatology appointment with Dr. Griffin. Here is a picture of us:
Dr. Griffin is famous for his work on Extreme Makeover and I was just estatic when I learned he’d be working on me.
Here’s his website:
On July 27th, I had a complete physical including an EKG at Cedar’s Sinai Medical Group on Wilshire. I was given a clean bill of health by Dr. Kenneth Redcross, who was really great! Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of us together 😦
On August 4th, I was informed that Dr. Griffin would now NOT be doing my dermatology portion and that I had be reassigned to Dr. Cynthia Boxrud. I made my first visit to her on August 6th. I have to say that Dr. Boxrud is incredible. She was asking about my eye and I told her that no arrangements had been made for a cosmetic lens for me (which I asked for but did not receive any appts. for). She said, “No, you have to have this, I want you to have this.” Immediately, she left the room and made a phone call to a good friend of hers, Dr. Richard Silver. Dr. Silver is a specialist in cosmetic lenses. Without hesitation, he said he’d love to do it. From there, she called Carl at Production and it was set up, just like that. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude I lost it yet again. I was so thankful to this woman that made something happen for me that I didn’t think was going to happen.
I am amazed with what Dr. Boxrud is going to do for me.
Here’s her website:
On August 7th, we filmed at my house for the first time. I was also joined by San Diego resident and makeover candidate, Jennifer Brott. They filmed us both at my house to save travel and time. The crew arrived at 2 pm to film. About 2:30 they did Jennifer’s interview, setting up in one living room of my house to make it seem as if it was two different locations. They also had her bring clothes and we make-shifted one of my son’s closets to be hers and they filmed her looking at her clothes and showing how she dresses. She was also filmed in my downstairs bathroom reviewing her face and the things she doesn’t like about her appearance.
After Jennifer was done, then it was my turn. Through the whole interview I was very emotional and could not stop crying. The pain of having to talk about these things on camera really hit me and I was overwhelmed. Once that was done, it was off to my closet to sift through my ugly and old wardrobe. Then, it was onto the bathroom. I looked at myself with the camera on me and pointing out all the things that I don’t like: my eyes, my upper lip dark spot, my chin and mustache hair, my chinline, my sagging skin. After that, we went downstairs where I was filmed doing some dishes, sweeping and talking with my son. He also did a small interview about what his views and wishes for his mom were. Brooks was not home that day, he had to work, unfortunately.
The crew I met today for the first time included: Cyra (Field Director), Steve (Camera) and John (Sound) and James (PA).
Here’s some pictures from the day:
On August 10th, I was scheduled for the box. At 5:30 am I picked up my hairdresser and friend, Hilary Landis who volunteered to spend the morning with me for support. Later, we were also joined by Max and My, my friends that own Outlaw Beef Jerky. They came to support and we had a lot of fun in our “holding room” at the Renassaince, Room 2013. Also there, was Zina and her daughter (I can’t remember her name). Zina was scheduled to go into the box after me.
When we arrived, I met some new people that worked in production, including Susan who is another field director. She was so wonderful to me, I can’t express the connection I felt with her.
So…..here’s how the schedule played out for my first box appearance:
1st: videos on the podium of the befores.
2nd: going over the questions that Jorge will ask me.
3rd: go into the box for one minute for some 360 shots, which was so fun! Steve was all stealth with the camera, it was incredible to watch him work. I was laughing on the inside until I could get out of there. I told him his new slogan should be, “I give good camera.”
4th: rigged with sound and ipod, great easy listening music!
5th: in the box for the duration of 20 minutes or so. I could read people’s lips and hear some of the stuff being said in between songs. I heard some kid say, “she looks like she is about to be a grandma.” I heard another lady say, “52” Ouch!! I won’t tell you my average age yet, I’ll let you hear that on TV.
6th: out of the box and upstairs to holding.
7th: an hour later, back downstairs to go over questions again with Cyra and have the playback of comments and interview with Jorge. It was emotional and I did cry a bit, but not like the first time. There were paparrazzi out there taking photos, so who knows where I will end up on the net.
8th: back upstairs to get everyone and go for some lunch. Hilary and I said goodbye to Max and My and went for food.
9th: back downstairs to say goodbye to the crew and get my “before” picture with Jorge:
August 13th was my visit to Dr. Boxrud where we filmed all my procedures:
Cosmetic Lens fitting (sent over by Dr. Richard Silver)
Laser Hair Removal
Chin Area (fat removal)
Fat Injections (nose to mouth corners crease)
Botox to lines between brows.
Here’s some pictures from the day and healing as it goes along each day. (sorry if any of these bother you) By the way, the cosmetic lenses are amazing! Those pictures come later, after I am properly fitted.
Here’s a pic I took at 4:30 am the next morning. I was restless, my eyes hurt, I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how hard I tried. The frozen pea pack on my eyes made me irritable, I was just a mess. In this picture, I was thinking I just want to heal by tomorrow…this discomfort is killing me. At the same time, I was thinking…wow, my eyes are going to be beautiful when this long healing process is over with.
My friend and roommate John stayed close by my side in case I needed anything. The first few days, his assistance was wonderful and I couldn’t have done it without him.
August 14th was my visit to Dr. Zweig where we filmed all my procedures:
Bottom Teeth Whitening
Ouch, ok, here’s the two minute injection of novicaine through this special thingy that Dr. Zweig uses. It actually puts the novacaine exactly where it needs to go to those eight specific top teeth. Amazing!! The downfall? The damn needle goes up into the roof of your mouth in back of your front teeth. NOT the most comfortable thing on the planet, but, I kept thinking…just a couple hours to a beautiful smile, hang in there!
Then, the procedure begins….Here’s a few pictures of Dr. Zweig at work:
And before I left, I had to have another picture of Dr. Zweig and I. Ha…I don’t understand how I was smiling there, I couldn’t feel anything from my nose down. I guess happiness and elation took over the novacaine.
The first two days of recovery (from both of these procedures) were not so bad. I can honestly say the first nights were the worst, but I was never thinking “what the heck am I doing?” I was shooting for something that was bigger than I could have ever done for myself. For that, each second I am so thankful to Evolution, TLC and the crew that gives of their time and talents to make people beautiful.
So, here’s what I looked like on the morning of August 15th (Wednesday morning, two days after surgery) around 9 am.
I seem to have the start of more black and blue under my eyes, hopefully this will go away quickly so it’s not apparent on my reveal day.
So, after I get up and have a good breafast the events of August 16th begin.
I visited Bob Hale for my fitting. We had no film crew there today, simply a fitting and a look at the things that would be considered for my reveal outfit. It was great fun!
Here’s some pictures of the day:
After leaving there (also on August 16th) later in the afternoon, I returned to Dr. Boxrud for suture removal and follow-up general lookover.
Here I am right after she removed the stitches..no more blue string. I cried big tears when she took those out. It was NOT fun! She also informed me today she also put fat at the bridge of my nose to elongate the effect…I had no idea she did that, but now that I take another look, I am amazed!
And of course, another photo of Dr. Boxrud and I. I return to her office on August 27th.
After leaving her office, I made my first trip to Dr. Richard Silver for him to have a good look at my eyes and do an exam. We made plans for me to return on the 27th as well for a proper fitting and to start wearing my new contacts. I am truly blessed to have these contacts and he will also be supplying me with not just one pair, but a few that will last me. I am SO thankful!
Here is a picture of Dr. Silver and I:
So, a break until next week, here’s a photo progression of my healing for the next few days….
August 17th, 7:30 am
I was so out of it here, but I wanted a “raw” picture. I was also extremely tired because I’m on sleep medication to help me rest. I have to wear this head bandage at night to keep my chin tight where the fat was removed. I will have to remain wearing it to bed until the end of the month…as you can see, not too happy about that either.
August 18th, 8:30 am
A little happier this morning, I took this after I went on my first walk for an hour…felt really good to get out and move my body. I actually talked to a friend on the route…who knew someone else would be out at 7:30 am on a Saturday? Not very usual for my sleepy neighborhood.
August 19th, 8:30 am
My left eye is still considerably swollen compared to my right. The inside stitches have not come out yet. My eyes still feel “gritty” when I close them but on today’s morning walk, I could feel that there is not as much “heaviness” in them as yesterday. I felt good this morning.
I did take another picture of my face to show you the progression, but I took this one at 8:15 pm, after the swelling and numbness wore off:
August 22nd, I visited Planet Salon in Beverly Hills where I had my hair done by the new TYY hair stylist, the AMAZING Gina Derry. Go to the profiles section of the website to see her bio and headshot:
I took my good ole’ friend Hilary with me again so Hilary could check out that salon and perhaps dream about her own salon in Beverly Hills one day…
Gaaaawd…we started on the road at 5:30 am just to beat traffic and perhaps enjoy a nice breakfast together, which we did well! Hilary and I did justice to our breakfasts, let’s just say that. We went to Jan’s Restaurant Coffee Shop on Beverly Drive and ate with what appeared to be half of Beverly Hill’s Police force. The food was REALLY good….an ole’ greasy spoon…we gotta go there again!
It was so good in fact, I want to share their site with you:
Without further adieu, here’s all the fun pics of the day at the Salon with Gina Derry and I think the pictures will speak for themselves…enjoy!
That’s Cyra on the left, giving direction. I have no idea what Gina is telling her, but she’s positioning me like a top she’s ready to spin or something…”What’s That About!?” (people that know me personally will get the joke.) At this point, I was told to NOT peek in any mirrors, so I did have my eyes closed on purpose.
Here’s me and Gina, I am sooo happy here, I feel like I a new woman. Something about getting your hair done always makes a woman feel like you are ready to take on the world and here, I most certainly am! Wooo hoo!!
More progression pics of my healing eyes and face:
August 24th, 9:30 pm
Wanted to show how my lids are healing. You can still see a considerable amount of swelling. I hope it goes down by Thursday…eeek! I’m going to have to do more ice packs than I have been doing. And yes, I still have to wear this bandage every night, just to maintain the contour of the chin where the fat was removed. Maybe when I go to Dr. Boxrud on Monday, she’ll give me the “go ahead” to stop wearing it. Doesn’t really bother me, but it will be nice to sleep free of it again.
August 25th, 5:30 am
I had just woken up, getting ready to go on my morning walk…I’m sleepy here. And did you see these eyebrows? Now that they are grown out completely, I can definitely see why Damone says thicker eyebrows make you look younger. He’s sooo right! Don’t pluck your eyebrows too thin, ladies! Wow, I haven’t seen my eyebrows like this since I was maybe 20? Interesting…
August 26th, am
August 27th was a VERY busy day for me. I started out from my house at 10 am and made the following rounds:
12 noon: Dr. Silver’s office for my official contact fitting. I found two colors that I really liked and have decided on the lighter pair for my reveal day. They look great! Here’s some pics from my contact fitting with Dr. Silver’s “contact specialist,” Nina:
1:45: Dr. Boxrud’s office for my final follow-up. My left eye is still extremely puffy, so Dr. Boxrud prescribed Prednisone which takes down the swelling quickly. I have to take one pill a day for the next three days. Gosh, now I am remembering all the pills I was taking during recovery….lots!
3:00: Dr. Zweig’s office for pictures of my teeth and a final look over.
Here’s the pictures Dr. Zweig took in his office: the before and afters of my entire face:
Funny, my eyes don’t look much different here, do they? I can only assume it is because the flash on Dr. Zweig’s camera is really bright and I had a hard time keeping my eyes open at all.
4:15: Hale Bob for the on-camera wardrobe shoot.
Visit Hale Bob here: http://www.halebob.com
So…after all was said and done, we nailed down what I will wear for my reveal outfit (which I get to keep). I am estatic and SO READY for the reveal day..I can’t believe it’s already just three more days out…I am tired of being inside!! UGH! I can’t WAIT till I meet Damone (I’m such a HUGE fan of his work). Wow…made up by Damone Roberts, what a DREAM!!!…get my new “face” and off the reveal the new ME! I AM SO EXCITED!!!
And, yes, my outfit is fantastic! When I make it famous, I’m going to hire Jorge as my stylist..he’s super!
Now…here’s some pics from Wardrobe Day!
I must note: Today was an extremely busy day for me. I did a lot of errands and one major one in particular. First, I went through both my closets and managed to get rid of 75% of my old wardrobe. Surpisingly, I was glad to be done with it. Then, I went over to Dee-Lux (Buy, Sell, Trade) but they could not take any of my clothes…they were too “old” apparently. Ain’t that a gas!! So I proceeded to take eight bags of clothes and two bags of shoes and I donated them to the Salvation Army…JUST LIKE THAT. Now, I am down to a few cute shirts, a few skirts, about three sweaters and about four pairs of jeans. I also am down to about 20 pairs of shoes vs. the 40 that I had. At least, it felt like it was 40 pairs? This was a glorious day for me for sure. Then, later as I was cleaning up my room, I discovered a Target Gift Card worth $50 from the holidays that I never spent! haha! I went to Target online and bought myself a pair of cool jeans, a pair of black gouchos and a cute top with an empire waist. Surprisingly, I still have $12 left! I did good and followed the advice that Jorge gave me about how to dress. Now, my shopping life will become simple. Yeah, wardrobe!
August 29th, 12:37 (after midnight)
I am feeling sexy…
I can’t sleep, took this picture because I forgot to earlier, thought I’d show a little shoulder action. I’m thinking about tomorrow, feelin’ a little frisky…meow!
Earlier today in the midst of doing errands, I found THESE at my door. They were from my best friend Lynda, who lives in NYC. I was so overjoyed and touched, I couldn’t even read the card through all the tears. Thank you, Lynda, you made my day EXTRA special!
August 30th, My reveal day. First, I have to say I was up until almost 2 am because I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I had to be on set at 5:45 am, so I left the house at 4:45 am for Hollywood. I wasn’t even sleepy if you can believe that! I parked the car and checked in at my designated room at the Rennaisance.
At check in with the Field Director, Cyra, I was ready to go…
First, a fix of my already fabulous hair again by Gina Derry.
I was overjoyed (understatement) to have Damone Roberts doing my makeup. Here’s a picture of him at work:
And here’s the result that I could not see until later…funny taking pictures that you are not allowed to see. I’m happy to say that all the pictures that Cyra took for me turned out great. I really like this picture of Damone and I:
After that, there was quite a waiting period, getting my hair the final primp, getting wardrobe on (LOVE THIS OUTFIT) and then passing the time while Christine was in the box.
Here’s a picture of her and I, she looked GREAT!
Then, it was time for my reveal…I was so nervous. My friend Pam actually got a sneak peek, the little devil. I was nervous in that it was so strange for me to show everyone these changes – they were going to see a whole new person. I was excited, elated, shaking, happy, scared…everything you can imagine. But, in the end, when that curtained opened, I showed it off proud…just LOOK at this Drama Queen go!
These are the GORGEOUS BOYS that I have been single parenting for 19 years. I am so proud to be their mother. It is a pleasure to introduce the public viewing audience to the loves of my life….
Brooks (19) and Robert (13)
So ends my wonderful journey on “10 Years Younger.” It was both a sad day and a happy one. Sad, because I made so many wonderful friends and some will be friends for life. Happy, of course because I have found a renewed girl within me and for THAT this show is directly responsible.
How do you EVER thank people for helping you SO much that it changes your whole existence and outlook on the world and yourself?
Many thanks to Dr. Boxrud, Dr. Zweig, Dr. Silver, Gina Derry, Jorge Ramone and Damone Roberts. Also extreme thanks to the wonderful crew who treated me like a Queen from Day #1: Rachel, Cyra, Carl, Susan, Angelica, Steve, John, Derrick, James…I’m sure I am forgetting more that I can’t remember. All of you work so very hard on this show to change the lives of many. To say “Thank You,” is not enough. I can only show you through the exceleration of the person I have become as a result of this show.
Special thanks to my dear friend in St. Louis:
Piper Cason, who designed the jewelry for my reveal day (especially for me).
I DO hope to travel the country and visit high school and colleges, domestic shelters, homeless shelters, etc. with words of encouragement and hope for current, past and potential domestic violence victims. It is my goal to touch at least one woman (or one man) everywhere I speak in hopes to influence them away from this type of behavior which is ignored TOO much in this country.
Love to all who have read this….I appreciate your time to share in my extraordinary experience.