Friday, June 8, 2018

You're Not Alone

This week we were rocked by two celebrity suicides. Kate Spade and today Anthony Bourdain. Now I'm not a big celebrity chaser and I'm not here to jump on the band wagon. But they news on Anthony's death hit me. I'm a foodie and I've watched his shows. I appreciated his view and I enjoyed watching him travel and try foods most of us Americans had never heard of. His death really got me to thinking about the mental health crisis we have going on in this country and the stigma it brings.

I have so many friends who suffer from anxiety and depression. Sometimes both. I see them try to cover it, hide it, pretend it doesn't exist. Some wear the masks of normalcy better than others. I can't write this blog and say I know what it's like. I don't. I can, however, sit here and write this blog and know what it's like to be in pain, daily. As you well know dear reader, I live with fibromyalgia and CREST Syndrome. Some days the pain is manageable. Other days the pain makes you wish you weren't alive. And this is where I can understand my friends with mental illness.

I can think back to the dark days as I call them, to a time before I had a diagnosis. When no one had an answer and all I had was pain. It felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Doctor visit after doctor visit, begging for help but no answers. It took me a year and a half to get to a doctor who could give me a diagnosis and therefore a way to treat my symptoms. That seemed like forever. I can not imagine what it must be like to cry for help, but either not get it, or get a stigma attached to it.

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend about their anxiety. And they asked why I wasn't judging them for it. I asked, do you judge me when I have a high pain day? Do you see me as less because of my fibromyalgia? The answer was no. My next question is, why should it be any different for you? They were stunned. But you see dear reader, this is how I see mental illness, an illness of the mind. It deserves no less attention or compassion than an illness of the body. This is how I see it. This is the message I will continue to spread until I see my friends treated by society the same as any other illness.

Dear reader, if you are reading this and the pain is more than you can bear, please please hang on just a little longer. I know calling it quits may seem like a solution that will end your pain. And it probably will. But I have to be selfish here and ask you not to go. What you can't see beyond in your pain is how much you mean to your friends and family. How much you are loved. And what a giant void you will leave. You can't possibly see what a wonderful human being you are. But trust me dear reader. We see you. We love you. Please give us a chance to show you before you make a decision you can't take back. Even if you feel you have no one else to turn to, please pick up the phone and call  1-800-273-8255. That is the national suicide prevention hotline.

Please dear reader, no more Anthony's or Kate's, or Chester's, or Chris Cornell's. Please no more death from people we will never ever know because they weren't famous enough to make the headlines.

Until Next Time

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Time To Let Go

I sit in my house, alone, knowing what tomorrow is. I'm writing a blog that has been a year in the making. This blog is more for me to close a chapter than for you dear reader. Please bear with me.

On May 6, 2017 a dear friend had a party to celebrate a big accomplishment. I had spent the night so I could help clean up when the party was done. Aaron had been invited tospend the night as well but made the excuse the dogs would need to be taken care of. As I had pointed out we could probably get a neighbor to let them out for us a couple of times I found this strange but went with it. As I drove home late on the morning of May the 7th I couldn't get a hold of Aaron. Also strange.

I got home to find no one home. Not a living creature. Not Tegan, not Tanwen, not Seren, not Munro. No Mr. Holstein, or Gus, or Anna, or Nina. Items Aaron held in high value were gone. I knew as I took in the scene in what had happened. He had left me and in an act of cruelty he took all my babies with him. I've had people be shocked as I have told them this at how cruel it was. I wasn't. The man I was married to for 18 years is extremely cruel and will strike the lowest blow if he feels you have wronged him. I would later find out he had opened a new bank account the day after he had told me he didn't want to lose me. Lie after lie began to come to light.

A few months before he left he physically attacked me. I was too scared to call the police. I ended up calling a friend. We started marriage counseling. I thought maybe things would get better. I know now it was just lip service.

It's amazing what solitude and reflection will help clarify. I can now look back at my "marriage" and see it was all about him. What else should I expect from a narcissist. I can see the manipulation. The gas lighting. I can see why he never maintained friendships. To hard to keep the facade up over a long period of time.

I'm not going to use this to rehash everything that has happened this past year. Just know that he continued to try to manipulate me even after he left. This past year has been one of the best of my life while at the same time being the most hellish. I get reminded every day on Facebook the babies I have lost. I was told in July Seren died. Interesting how that text came after we filed for temporary orders. I still believe she is alive and it was an attempt for me to contact him (I went no contact a couple of weeks after he left when it became clear we were not going to be able to work this out like adults).

Our divorce was final on April 13th. The house will sell on May 14th. This chapter of my life is about to close. I only have to deal with him one more time, next weekend when we divide the community property. I do not look forward to being in the same room as him. I have begun to rebuild my life. I graduate from an intense IT training program on May 25th. I look forward to going to a job every day and solving problems once again. Only this time, I will be working for me.

A year has gone by. I look at who I was a year ago and I look at who I am now. What a year of change. I am using this blog to publicly close this chapter, to let go. I hope a year from now when May 7th rolls around I smile and think wow girl, Look at you go!

Until Next Time

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beware the Ides of March

For the past 7 years, I have felt like Julius Caesar and I have something in common. Its the day we were both betrayed. Caesar by fellow Romans. Me by my own body. If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know I suffer from Fibromyalgia and an autoimmune known as CREST Syndrome. In the days leading up to this anniversary, I have thought about the past 7 years a lot. Especially in the context of the past year.

I've been doing better. Over the past 15 months I've lost 51 pounds. This has allowed me to move more with less pain. I'm glad I had already started to lose weight when my husband decided to walk out on me. I could not have handled working the jobs I have worked with the pain I had been in. I worked weekends last fall at a Rein Faire. They were long hard days, but I was blessed by working for my friend and fellow Spoonie Ruby. We watched out for each other and made sure not to use up to many spoons each day at take lots of rest breaks. I spent three months working for Target stocking shelves. There were so many days I came home from Target rung out. In January I started to work for my towns Parks and Rec department, where I am also on my feet most of the time. All the while I continued to look for an office job.

I stated to a close friend in January I knew my technical skills were a little out dated, which I felt was keeping me from finding full time work in an office setting. I just didn't know how to go about getting them updated without paying to go back to school. In my current financial situation, that was just not an option. A few weeks after making that statement the opportunity I had been looking for presented itself. A 12 week training program in Application Support Management with job placement help for every successful graduate. Just what I needed!! I went through the multi-interview multi test process and ended up being one of 22 selected (over 90 applied).

Upon finding out I was accepted I felt two things at once. Overjoyed to finally get a professional break and terrified. The training program would be in downtown Dallas Monday - Friday 9-5. So not only would I need my employers to work with my new schedule (Target declined to) but I would need to the spoons to take on this additional task. There were so many days after working at Target and the Rec Center I barely had the spoons to feed myself. How the heck was I going to pull this off for 12 weeks?

My parents have been incredibly supportive through the divorce. In talking to my mom about my new undertaking she expressed concern for me and my health about doing the training program and working my jobs. Thanks to Target not working with me (after telling me we'd talk about it for a week and a half) I only had one job to worry about. Of course this spawned another concern, paying the bills, as I had barely been getting by. Once again my parents are being amazing and are helping me bridge the gap.

So dear reader why am I telling you this? As you know I do tend to make points. Mine is this. For years after getting sick I never thought I'd ever get close to leading a normal life. That I'd never work physical jobs again. Or work full time. I have been in my training program for almost two weeks now. I'm doing it and I'm not just getting by. I'm doing well and keeping up with the homework. I'm doing things again I never thought I would do.

So on this historic day of betrayal I want to send out a message of encouragement. I don't know what is going on in your life, but have hope it will get better. It might not be soon. I had to wait 6 years for mine. Don't give up. You never know what amazing thing might be around the corner. And if your a fellow spoonie - I'd love to connect with you.

Until Next Time

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

2017 - Year in Review

Dearest Reader,

I must apologize about my silence as of late. Well, It would appear almost all of 2017. There are many times I would have loved to have written to you. I felt it was best not to. My silence has been quite intentional.

2017 was going to be better than 2016. Or at least that was the plan. I had plans to really build my brand. Start a Youtube channel geared towards my fellow spoonies. Blog more. Instagram more. Jump start my jewelry business.

Things in 2017 started off rocky in my personal life. So clearly my attention was elsewhere. Aaron left me in May and I decided to stay fairly silent on the matter. I'm sure he expected me to lash out every which way on social media. Sometimes I don't behave as expected.

I've learned number of things since my marriage broke up. A few I'm going to touch on in this blog. The first thing I learned was you find out who your real friends are real quick in a divorce. For the record, if I ask you have you heard from Aaron and you tell me no, you may want to make sure you are either telling me the truth or I have no way of verifying it. In this instance your insistent no was quickly proven out to be a lie. I was checking cell records daily. Your number was on the text logs a lot. Don't feel bad. A few people got caught that way.

As I said you learn who your real friends are. These are the friends that step up, circle the wagons with you. The friends who call more, check on you more, make sure you're eating once in awhile. I am very blessed to have a number of these amazing friends, both locally and via the internet.

I've learned you are given what you need when you need it. Almost a month after Aaron left, my friend Annie and I were out in my jewelry studio when Annie thought she heard a cat. She did some digging and found some very weak, dehydrated, flea covered kittens that we estimate were about a week old.

Annie and I quickly ran to petsmart and bought a bottle and formula and then went to Target for some Dawn dish washing soap (for the fleas). Did you know kittens need to be fed every three hours? I didn't. Guess what I ended up doing. That's right, feeding kittens every three hours for three or so weeks. I was never so happy when I was able to wean them and they could eat kitten food. So many people told me how amazing I was to do this for the kittens. Maybe yes, probably no. They gave me something to focus on, someone to help. In one small way I could effect positive change in the middle of my life being thrown out of wack. Also, you should know all the kittens found furever homes. I did end up adopting one of the black ones.

I've learned it's okay to be alone. Until a few months ago, I had never lived on my own. I got married in college. I went from having a roommate to having a husband. At first I didn't know what to do with myself. Change is scary, but it's not always bad. I've learned to embrace the solitude and the quiet. I boxed up things that weren't mine. I rearranged rooms. I made this space mine and mine alone. I turned my house into a place of peace and rest.

While I was learning how to live alone, I also learned I really don't know who I am. I recently ran across this and it made me think:

It was like somebody took a bucket of cold water and threw it on me. Talk about a light bulb moment. I'm still thinking about it and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Traditionally I try to learn something new each year to improve myself. It's typically a skill of some kind. Find something I'm interested in and take a class or read up about it. So here is what I've decided. 2018 is going to be the year I learn about me. Old baggage is going to be left at the curb for garbage collection. Toxic people no longer have a place in my life. It's time to get to know me, a balanced and healthy me.

And here is some food for thought. Despite society telling me I should be upset over the break up of my marriage, I've found I'm a much happier person. And healthier (to date I'm down 39 pounds). They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go!

Until next time

Friday, January 20, 2017

Battle Beauty Box December 2016

Welcome back Beauty Subscription Box lovers! Last month I covered the November boxes between Ipsy, Sephora Play, and Lip Monthly. In case you missed it you can catch up here. This month I will once again be reviewing those three with one more contender. This month the quarterly Wal-Mart Beauty Box came, so it will be reviewed as well. Let's get to it!

To review, Ipsy is $10/mo and comes with five products. This month I received a Beau Gachis concealer brush, a NYX eye shadow in Bedroom Eyes, an Aurora Intensively Precise Eyeliner in Blackberry, Hanalei Lip Treatment, and a Tarte Tartiest Glossy Lip Paint in WCW.

Ipsy December bag

Sephora is also $10 and you get 5 products plus a perfume sample. December's box included Urban Decay's All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray, Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, Makeup Forever Step 1 Smoothing Base, Bobby Brown Smokey Eye Mascara in black, Sephora Cream Lipstain in Always Red, and a perfume sample of Elizabeth and James Vanilla Bourbon.

December Sephora Play

Lip Monthly is $13.50/mo for me (as I buy 4 month blocks for $54). This month had 4 products (you get 4-5) which included a ChapStick Total Hydration Lips Scrub, City Color Lip Gloss in Wild Child, Crazy Rumors Hibiskiss Hibiscus Flavored Lip Color, and Cougar Mineral Lipstick in Sangria. I was actually very disappointed in this month's products in that it appeared to be very cheap (ChapStick, really?). Typically the card included tells you what the value is. November had a retail value of $98. December didn't tell us. Hmmm, wonder why...

December Lip Monthly
Why aren't you telling us the value this month, Lip Monthly??

Last up is our quarterly box from Wal-Mart Beauty. This box is only $5/quarter and comes with full size products, samples, and coupons. Products include samples of Dove shampoo, conditioner, mask and body wash, a full size Cover Girl Last Blast Volume in Very Black, Ponds Rejuveness Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Yogurt, and Curel Hydratherapy Wet Skin Moisturizer.

Winter Wal-Mart Beauty Box

Now that I've told you what was in every box I'm sure you're wondering my thoughts on these (that's why you're here, right? I mean I don't give out cookies or anything). Ipsy and Sephora Play always crush it. Ipsy has clearly built great relationships with beauty brands over the years. I love that you get a mix of prestige brands (like Tarte) and new indy brands. Clearly Sephora also has access to amazing brands. I love that I got Urban Decay, Bobby Brown, and Makeup Forever in one box. Woo!

Wal-Mart also has the marketplace muscle to get good sample sizes of product. I couldn't go to Wal-Mart and buy the Cover Girl Mascara for $5.00, let alone the rest of the travel size samples. I do fly from time to time and having bottles on hand that are TSA approved (under 3.4 oz for carry on) is always a plus.

Now Lip Monthly...we need to have a chat. Did you run out of end-of-year budget or did your buyer just go on vacation? The Chapstick scrub at Target is $4.99. From the City Color website the lip gloss is $5.99. The Crazy Rumors Hibiskiss lip color from their website is $4.99. The Cougar Mineral Lipstick is sold in a 5 pack for $47.80 (It's a UK brand so the conversion isn't a nice number we're used to). Still that makes each lipstick $9.56/ea. Which means this month's has a retail value of $25.53 or 1/4 the value of last month's bag. I was extremely disappointed in this month's December bag. When Wal-Mart's budget-conscious box does a better job you know you've done something wrong.

So dear reader, I will keep subscribing and keep testing beauty boxes for you. Be sure to stay tuned as I will also shortly be launching a YouTube companion page. 2017 holds some exciting things for sure!

Until Next Time, XOXO

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Battle Duochrome Highlighter: Kat Von D vs Makeup Geek

Dear Reader,

You may be looking at all the makeup highlighters that are popping up and launching, especially the duochrome ones (they have a color shift) and think to yourself "Those are so pretty - I must have them all!" Then your bank account pipes up and says, "No, you must only choose one." You put on your sad panda face and see the wisdom of your bank account. But how do you choose? I am here to help.

Today I am going to pit the much anticipated Kat Von D Alchemist Holographic Palette against similar Makeup Geek Duochrome highlighters. For today's test I am going to put the KVD {blue} Sapphire against the MUG Moon Phase (The blue shift ones) and the KVD {pink} Opal against the MUG Lit (the pink shift ones).

 Lets look at the blue ones first. I used both a brush and my finger to swatch and I took photos with my LG V20 in both outdoor and indoor light.
KVD {blue} Sapphire vs MUG Moon Phase Outdoor Light
KVD {blue} Sapphire vs MUG Moon Phase Indoor Light with Flash

Personal opinion here, but I think the MUG has a slightly better color pay off in the blue version. What do you think? Let's take a look at the pink:
KVD {Pink} Opal vs MUG Lit Outdoor Light

KVD {pink} Opal vs MUG Lit Indoor Light with Flash

With the pink I feel like the Kat Von D product has the better color payoff.

So lets break down cost. The Kat Von D Alchemist Holographic Palette is $32 at Sephora.Com right now if you're a VIB or a VIB Rouge Member. It will hit Sephora.Com and KatVonD for everyone on 12/24 and will be in stores the 26th. You get four shades in the palette and each shade is 0.05 oz. This is $8/shade or $8/0.05oz. The Makeup Geek Highlighters are sold individually for $20 on the Makeupgeek website. You get 0.25 oz for the price.

If I were to wave my magic makeup wand and was able to make the pan sizes equal (0.25 oz) and have the ability to buy colors individually, you would end up paying $40 for the Kat Von D pan and still $20 for the Makeup Geek. From that stand point it is easy to see which one is the better value. Since I feel the color pay off in each is very similar, I don't know that the price of the Kat Von D one justifies purchasing it unless you're a diehard Kat Von D fan.

L-R MUG Lit, KVD Alchemist Holographic Palette, MUG Moon Phase

Sorry Kat, but it looks like Marlena (founder and head of Makeup Geek) won this one. I still love your products, though, so no hard feelings. :)

Until Next Time,

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Self Care and Why You Need To Do It

Dear Reader,

It's time we talked about self care. This is important for normal people and for us spoonies. I know a lot of you don't invest in self care which is why we are going to have ourselves a little chat. Now you may be asking yourself, what makes this random blogger an expert? Well dear reader, I have lived with fibromyalgia and an autoimmune disease called CREST for over 5 years now. If I do not take care of myself daily and set up boundaries I get myself in a whole mess of trouble. Trouble equals a flare and me being in bed for days if not weeks. It is my goal in this blog to impart to you some of my hard-gained knowledge in the world of self care.

Go grab yourself a drink. Coffee or tea if that's what you need. Something stronger if that will help. I'll wait... Are you ready? Then let's do this.

Step One - Figure out the energy you have. In the spoonie community we call this our number of spoons. For my readers who might not be familiar with Spoon Theory you may find it here. Now your energy level should be what you can accomplish on a normal day. Not a full on emergency situation day. This is the energy level you have without being totally wiped out. The kind of day where you go to bed tired, not the kind of day where you literally fall into bed.

Step Two - Now that you have figured out what you can get done in a day, you need to prioritize your day. What must get done versus what you'd like to get done. These priorities might change from day to day. For example, must the laundry get done today? If you still have clean clothes to wear and you have more pressing matters, I'd put that on the "like to get done" list. It is very important you learn the difference between "like to get done" and "must get done." You are not Superman or Superwoman. There is no reward for getting it all done right this minute.

Step Three -  Learn to forgive yourself. I know you have been taught you must get everything done in one day and what you don't get done you must lay in bed and flagellate yourself over. I know, I know, we have been conditioned by society that we must put on this facade of a perfect life. Guess what, there are no awards for having the perfectly cleaned house or always helping out people when they ask for it. Which leads me to step four...

Step Four - The magic word. This is going to be a tough one. Deep breath and repeat after me. NO. Let's try it again. NO. Use this magic word (NO) to create boundaries for yourself. Your time on this planet is finite. Don't waste it all doing everything for everyone. You can't be all things. If you are running around trying to do everything asked of you, you will have no energy for yourself.

Step four is a very hard step. I get it. You want to be a good friend, a good sister, a good child. However, if you are constantly using your energy for everyone else and leaving nothing for you, your batteries will eventually just run down to zero. Then what? You can't do anything on a dead battery. Learn to set boundaries and take care of yourself first. This step is critical for self care.

Are you still with me? You've evaluated your energy, figured out the difference between have to's and like to's, learned to forgive yourself for not being superhuman, and learned to say no and set firm boundaries. Are we ready to move on?

Step Five - Recharge. What can you do just for you? This might be taking a bubble bath, or reading a good book with a glass of wine. Maybe going for a walk. Figure out what you can do just for you. I know you're used to putting yourself last, but this must change, dear reader. You need to put your own needs first. Now now, I'm not telling you to be selfish and never do anything for anyone else. All I'm saying is put yourself first, take care of what you need to do, including recharging your batteries. If you have energy left over after you've done what YOU NEED to do, then you can help others.

As to not overload you dear reader, I am going to leave it there. You can start practicing these five steps and see how it goes. Please report in on how you feel after practicing. You know I love to hear from you!

Do you have a recommendation on self care? Did I miss a step? Please comment below. I too am learning how to do this "self care" thing.

Until Next Time <3