Finding Self Acceptance

In general a person’s feeling of belonging starts with self acceptance! In fact a person’s level of belonging, can never be greater than your level of acceptance. This helps you to believe that you’re enough and also gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable, and imperfect!

Finding a feeling of belonging is hard and sometimes almost impossible until you can find a way to accept yourself. But how does one go about finding self-acceptance!?!? Since this is an issues I also struggle with, I wanted to do some research and find some tips that might help one find self-acceptance. The list below is what I found helpful and hope that this might be helpful in finding your self-acceptance.

1. Celebrate your strengths by writing them down.

2. Consider the people around you and if they are beneficial to you.

3. Find a support system.

4. Forgive yourself.

5. Find a way to quiet your inner critic.

6. Realize that acceptance is not resignation.

7. Speak to your highest self.

8. Be kind to yourself.

9. When all else fails, fake it till you make it!

I know that personally over the last several years I have really struggled with where I fit and where I belong. It’s hard to find a friend group where you fit in because most people who aren’t sick either don’t care to figure out what’s going on in your life. Or don’t care to figure out where you are In their life. And you can’t help but to assume that they are walking away or turning their back because of something you did. When in all honesty it has nothing to do with you. I also have struggled to find my place in the career realm of my life. When I was in nursing school and if someone had told me I would work for ten years as an RN, and then become too Ill to work, I would have laughed at them. But that’s where I am, I am no longer working in the medical field. Instead I’m selling makeup to pay my bills, which I could never have imagined.

I have been using the tools I listed above over the last year. During that time I have found a way to accept myself for what I am and where I am in this show called life. And by doing those things I am slowly starting to figure out where I belong in this world. I have found a great group of ladies who support me in the least likely of places, in online support groups. I have also found way to bring in money and pay my bills without asking for any help from anyone. This hasn’t been a quick process. It’s taken a long time to figure out for myself. Another big tip I have for anyone who is struggling with finding self acceptance or finding where you belong is to use that time to try out new things you think would be a good hobby. If you always wanted to crochet learn to crochet. And once you are confident in your skills you could start making hats for newborns and donate them to the hospital. Or if you like to read you join a book club. In doing things like that you will not only be finding a place to belong but also self-acceptance!

I hope and pray that you can use some of the tactic I’ve discussed and find the areas where you belong and can find self-acceptance.

With Love,

Amber

Mini Clothes Haul

A few weeks ago the owner of a relatively new online Boutique reached out to me. She found me in one of the local Facebook groups. She had recently started the shop called Five Plus Ten Fashion and she was trying to get her name out there. So we struck up and deal and I got two great pieces.

The first piece I got was this long sleeved Tee!! It is so soft and cozy. I practically lived in this shirt for awhile after I got it. And she has several colors to choose from. I got this shirt in Navy. Sometimes cheaper items I’ve got in the past haven’t held up well in the washer but this one did just fine!! I felt like it was a steal for only $15!!

The next product I got was this awesome zip up hooded sweatshirt! It’s perfect for

this time of year when sometime you need to layer a hoodie under a coat. Or on the days you just need a hoodie. It can serve both purposes. It’s super warm and cozy. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as soft as I thought it might be. But that quickly fades away when I realized how much I loved the hoodie itself. I also got this for $15. If you have bought anything similar recently you know that they can cost upwards of $50 for name brand stuff. This hoodie is just as good if not better!!

Comfortable clothing is a must when you are dealing with chronic pain. Sometimes it’s hard to find clothes that feel good. But Meagan has hit the nail on the head with her product line!! Currently Meagan (the owner) is only selling clothes for the more curvy girls! So you can find 1X- 3X. She also sells some super cute accessories.

Don’t take my word. Go check her shop out by visiting her Facebook group Five Plus Ten Fashion

With Love,

Amber

How Having a Routine Can Be Beneficial

Are you one of those people who need a routine in your life?!? Do you plan out your day, every day? Do you obsess about making sure you accomplish everything on your list?!? I used to be one of those people. Especially when I was working, I would plan out my day at work and then plan my week around the things I needed to get done. But since I’ve gotten sick my routines have gone out the window!! I know I can’t be the only one who has experienced this! Even though it is hard, it is important to find a way to keep some routine even when you are chronically ill.

When you are living with a chronic illness, nothing about your life is certain. Symptoms come and go daily, weekly or even hourly on bad days. Changes in your schedule are common due to having to cancel things or rearrange your day because of your symptoms. Due to the fact that nothing in the life of a person who has a chronic illness is promised or set in stone. However, it is essential to find a way to keep a routine.

Is having a routines the same as having a schedule? No!! A schedule is defined by dictionary.com as a series of things that need to be done or events to occur at or during time or period; a time table. While a routine is defined as common tasks, chores, or duties that need to be done regularly or at specific intervals; typical or everyday activities. The big difference between having a schedule that you stick to, versus having a routine is the time factor! A schedule requires you to do specific activities at specific times. Where a routine is a set of activities that are generally done regularly, but not at a specific time. You can think of it this way. A schedule tasks that need to be done at a specific times. Like going to a drs appointment! While a routine are things that you do habitually, things you do pretty much every day. An example of a routine would be brushing your teeth every night before you go to bed!

A schedule is important for kids bc they need the structure. But do adults benefit from having a schedule like kiddos? Yes, the average adults does. But, adults with chronic illness DO NOT get the same benefits from living by a schedule. Living with a chronic illness means that we have to learn to deal with the unexpected changes in plans. These changes are common for the chronically ill, not because we don’t want to do things, but because our bodies won’t allow us to do those things. You may be hit with anxiety or depression, or even a flare which may occur without any warning. These are the things that make living by a Schedule almost impossible at times.

Routines are very beneficial to those living with a chronic illness. A routine is like having a schedule but without time constraints. Having a routine can help you get more quality sleep which is an essential for those with chronic illness. It is also beneficial because it will help you remember to take your medications and supplements when they are due.

What are other benefits of living by a routine? A routine provides you with the ability to come more EFFICIENT. By keeping a routine it creates a structure of our day to day tasks. A routine also reduces the need to make certain decisions. Thus you can save time planning and you have extra room for things that might come up Unexpectedly. A routine can also BUILD CONFIDENCE. Sticking to a routine gives a person a huge sense of satisfaction, and helps to build ones self-Confidence. Having a routine can also REDUCE STRESS. Which is important for those with chronic illness as stress can cause a flare of any condition. By having the routine is gives you more flexibility to be able to deal with issues that may pop up. Thus knowing you have tings under control will significantly lower a person’s stress and enabling them to focus on other things that need to be done.

We all have a routine that we keep. Mine for instance in the morning is to get up, stop off in the bathroom and then get some breakfast and take my morning meds. After that I spend time catching up on social media and looking at emails. This is just an example of my morning routine. This routine ensures that I take my medications that I need. If I falter from that routine I will forget something.

If you are able to establish a routine and try to stick to it everyday no matter how you feel then in the long run you may actually feel better. If your body knows that you are going to get up and eat and then stretch and take a walk, your body won’t revolt as much when you try and do those things. Your routine also helps you conserve energy because you can adjust your activities so you may be able to get out and do the things you have scheduled and not have to cancel them so often. Having a routine may make you seem more credible to your friends and family. Which may ease any conflict you may have with those people over your canceling plans. So living by a routine is the best way for the chronically ill to live their lives.

If you feel like you need some extra help figuring out your routine and getting it set up there are a ton of apps that can help you. You can simply download them in your smart phone or tablet. They can help you scheduling, prioritizing and even relaxing. Below is a picture from the Apple store that I found doing a search of “Routine.” The ones I chose to show you had the best reviews of al the ones I found. I hope this is helpful.

With Love,

Amber

Taking Life For Granted

A person never thinks about all the things we do in a day or a lifetime that we take for granted, that is until something happens and our life changes.  We are just so used to running out and jumping in the car and running wherever. To the store, to the gas station. Or to being able to leave the house without having to find someone to go with you. Working outside the home is something that you do because you have to pay your bills. Getting married and having babies is just the next step in life and a common occurrence for people today.  For most of us the things I mentioned above we don’t think anything about and just do them. Until something happens and you can’t!!

After I wrecked my car last summer I was told that I couldn’t drive. Mostly for medical reasons until they can be sure what caused me to black out and wreck my car. Even if I wanted to run out and jump in the car and go somewhere I couldn’t, because my car was totaled in the accident. I don’t know how many times in the last several months  that I’ve thought I’m just gonna go and get __________.  Whatever it was in that moment. Only to remember that I have no car and am not allowed to drive. Not being able to drive meant that I was no longer able to work outside the home. Because I had no way to get to and from work everyday.  After the accident I really started thinking about all the things we do in a day or a lifetime that we take for granted. The accident really opened my eyes to just how lucky I am.

Things as simple as walking, or running, getting out of bed on your own. Feeding yourself, bathing yourself or even toileting. Having access to cell phones, computers, internet, and cable TV. Even things like living on my own, and working outside the home are things we just do because its part of life.  But how many times a day do we all do those things or use our devices without ever thinking twice. We are privileged to be able to have these things and to be able to do things on our own. There are many people out there who don’t have the luxuries we have. Sadly, it often takes a life changing event for most of us to reflect and realize just how lucky we are. It shouldn’t be that way, as a whole our society is so focused on getting the newest car or cell phone or whatever it is that we want.  And we don’t think about what could happen if circumstances were to change.

I am just as guilty as the next person for taking my lifestyle for granted. I never really thought about how lucky I was to live the lifestyle I did until it changed and I no longer could live that life. And the events that led to the change in my lifestyle has really opened my eyes and made me think.  Five years ago I was working full time, going to school for my Masters degree, supporting myself, paying my bills and treating myself to pretty much whatever I wanted when I wanted it. Now I am no longer able to work outside the home and have filed for disability. I am no longer able to live on my own due to my lack of income and have had to move in with my parents. I am still paying my own bills by working for a MLM company selling cosmetics. But if someone would have told me five years ago that this is where I would be at this point in my life I would have laughed at them.  Not only am I no longer able to live on my own, I can’t drive. This has been a big BLOW to my psyche.

I often feel embarrassed because of the circumstance that have changed my life.  I feel like I am a disappointment to my family and that I am an embarrassment to my teenage sister. They assure me that is not the case, but when the things that you have always hoped and dreamed for are no longer happening its easy to feel this way. Since I was a child the only thing I ever wanted was to be happily married and to be a mom. Now because of my health I know that I will not be able to have my own babies. I will never get to experience carrying a baby or giving birth. Sure I can adopt and I hope to someday. But it hurts me to the core that I will never be able to carry my own.  I always said I would be married and have babies by the time I am 25. Now I am almost 33 and wonder if I will even ever get married.  I feel like no one would ever want to marry someone like me because I have so many issues. Who would want to take all this on? Its a LOT!!

I know I am not the only one who has feelings like this and has had to change their life due to an illness. I am by no means alone. But when you are living in the moment it is easy to feel that way. It is easy to feel like you are the only person going through these trials and hard times. I am so grateful that I have an awesome family that supports me no matter what happens. And that I have some really awesome friends who are always by my side. That is not to say that I haven’t lost friends in the last five years because of my illness because I have. It breaks my heart that some people who I thought were lifelong friends chose to walk away when I got sick. But I have learned that it is not my fault. I didn’t do anything to make them make that choice. They chose to do that because they couldn’t deal with my new normal. And change is inevitable and something we all have to accept.

I guess what I am getting at is that we all need to take some time and really look at our life. Look at all the luxuries we have and how lucky we are to live the life we do. Be thankful for the relationships we have and make sure that we tell those people that we love just how grateful we are to have them in our lives. Take time to really look at our life and all the things we do on a daily basis that others may not be able to do. We are blessed with every day that we have here on earth and we really need to take time and make sure that those in our lives know what is going on and how we feel. We all need to remember that nothing in life is guaranteed and life as we know it can change in the blink of an eye.

With Love,

Amber

Is It The Cold or The Flu?!?!

Let’s talk about the topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind. Colds and the flu. Not the stomach bug you might pick up, but the big bad bug. INFLUENZA!! This is a dangerous bug for those of us who are immune-suppressed/immunocompromised. Where a normal person might only be down for a few days, those of us who have Auto-Immune diseases could be down for weeks. Or even end up hospitalized and critically ill. So it’s nothing to mess around with. Let’s look at the differences between a cold and the flu, the treatment!!

So it is cold and flu season so sometimes it is hard to know if you just have a cold or the flu. The flu is worse then any cold virus. And the symptoms are different. Let’s look at the symptoms.

1. Fever/Chills- The majority of influenza cases start with a fever that can last between 4-5 days!! Cold viruses may cause a low grade temp, while influenza causes high temps of 102 and higher. The higher the fever the more likely you are to have the chills. And they are more likely to be seen in cases of the flu, rather than a cold.

2. Muscle Aches- One if the biggest reasons you feel so awful when you have the flu is the muscle aches!! Any slight movement can make you hurt everywhere!!! You would most likely notice the aches in the chest, back and legs. Muscle aches are seen with the flu and are not common with the common cold.

3. Fatigue– The fatigue from the flu is not like the everyday fatigue from everyday life. It is an intense feeling of exhaustion and weakness! This fatigue may last several weeks before you return back to your normal health! The weakness and exhaustion can last up to 3 weeks or longer in the elderly or those with chronic illnesses or weak immune systems. With a common cold the fatigue and exhaustion takes much less time to resolve, usually only 2-3 days.

4. Cough- The cold and flu are a respiratory disease which means they attack the lungs! Therefore, with patients with the flu and cold a cough is common. However, with the flu the cough usually begins with a sore throat which then develops into a persistent dry cough that usually happens in two to three days. Pneumonia is a common complication of the flu especially with those who have weakened immune symptoms. If you continue to cough and start coughing up yellow or green mucous along with chest pain make sure to call your doctor!!

5. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing- This is one of the most common symptoms of the flu because of the congestion and persistent cough! The flu can also cause chest pain because of the shortness of breath. The chest tightness is caused by restricted nasal passages. If you have any kind of lung disease this may be worse for you!! Shortness of breath is not a common symptom of the common cold.

6. Sneezing – The cold and flu is easily spread by sneezing or coughing. In order to prevent the spread of either, please make sure you are covering you cough and you are sneezing into a tissue. However, keep in mind that those droplets from your sneeze will remain on your fingers. So be use your wash you hands good or using a good alcohol based sanitizer.

7. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea- These are common symptoms with the flu! If you have persistent vomiting or diarrhea make sure that you are drinking as much as you can to keep yourself hydrated or call your doctor for IV fluids!! This is not typically seen in a simple cold!

8. Headache – While a headache is not a reliable indicator that you actually have the flu, it is a common symptom. A headache caused by a cold is much less severe than those caused by the flu. The flu typically causes inflammation of the mucous membranes and the sinus cavities, which in turn causes pressure around your eyes and face, causing a severe headache.

9. Stuffy Nose – If you have a stuffy nose with no body aches or fever, and some minor fatigue, most likely it is just a cold. Both the flu and cold can lead to a sinus infection that can be felt as a deep and constant pain in the face, the head and your nose. If you feel like you have developed a sinus infection contact your doctor.

10. Ear Ache – An earache causes by the flu can range from a dull ache to extreme burning. And the severity can range in severity from mild to moderate. Both the flu and colds can irritate the Eustachian tube, that connects the throat to the middle ear, and can cause full pain in the ears. The pain should go away on its own as the flu or cold gets better!

So how do you treat a cold or the flu?!? For a cold it’s all about symptom management. So over the counter meds for fever, sinus congestion etc. For the flu you should see your dr. If they test you and you have the flu they may prescribe an anti-viral medication. The anti-viral meds can only be given with the first two to three days after symptoms develop. You can also treat the flu like the cold, with symptom management. Decongestants, fever reducing meds, etc. And if you feel like you are developing pneumonia or other complications from the flu you will need to call your dr for an exam to determine further treatment.

The big thing to remember is to STAY HOME if you think you have the flu!! And if you have to go out wear a mask! The flu is very easily spread through droplets and contact with those droplets. You don’t want to be spreading the flu everywhere you go!!

With Love,

Amber

Depression….5 Tips for Overcoming

Depression is real! Not just for those who are chronically ill but also for those who aren’t! This time of year is especially bad for depression because it’s cold and you don’t want to go out. And if you are chronically ill you don’t get to go out as often because of all the cold and flu going around. Especially this year with the flu shot being approximated to be only 10% effective. So what can we do to handle depression in the winter months that doesn’t involve medication. Let’s look at a few options.

1. Find and stick to a daily routine– This is so important especially for those of us who are not working. The days run together and you don’t know what day it is or even what time of day it is! So finding a routine that you can stick to everyday will help keep your days less blah.

2. Set Goals– When you are depressed you feel like you can’t get anything done. So set small goals for yourself EVERYDAY!! Some that you know you can accomplish and mark off this list. I don’t know about you but for me I love being able to cross things off a list. There is such a feeling of accomplishment. (For information on how to set goals see my previous post on goal setting)

3. Exercise – To many spoonies this is the most annoying topic to discuss at a drs appts. When you feel like crap the last thing you want to do is exercise. But it’s proven that exercise releases endorphins (the feel good chemical), and it will make you feel better. Even if you can just get in 10 min two or three times a week. And it doesn’t have to be some great big workout with weights and sprints. Just walking around the block or doing yoga is plenty. Just something to get that heart pumping.

4. Take on some kind of responsibility– I know from experience that the last thing you want to do when you are depressed is commit to anything. But especially for those who aren’t working or going to school this one is important. Try and take on something like cooking meals for your family one or two nights a week. Or find some place to volunteer a couple days a month. Much like setting goals if you you can accomplish something it will make you feel better overall and help to counter the depression.

5. Try to have fun– When you are depressed usually the last thing you want to do is stop sulking and have fun. But try anyway. If you enjoy reading pick up a new book, if you’re a movie person go see the movie that you’ve been wanting to see. If your favorite things still don’t seem fun just keep trying. Eventually you will get out of that rut!

Depression is hard and frustrating. And something that everyone deals with at some point. But there are ways to fight depression other than medications. If those non-pharmacological methods don’t work it might be time to talk to your doctor. There is nothing wrong with taking medication if you need it and don’t let anyone make you feel that way if you need to go that direction. These are just a few ways to help fight depression, there are tons of options and books you can read on the matter. Because one option isn’t going to work for everyone. If you feel like you are slipping to far it’s okay to reach out for help from a friend or family member. Remember, depression sucks but it is only temporary!

Setting Goals For The New Year!!

Happy NEW YEAR Friends!!! I can’t help but sit here and reflect on all the things that happened in 2017. There were ups and there were downs, sadly this year was full of downs and not so many ups. But that’s just life. The world throws all sorts of things at us all the time and it’s how we deal it that really matters!!! I also can’t help but think about what I want out of 2018. I won’t be setting resolutions because I seem to never follow through. So this year I will be setting goals. Both short term and long term goals so I have something to always be working on. And I want to share with you how I set my goals.

When I set goals I use the acronym SMART to set them.

S- Specific – what exactly you want to accomplish. What is you want to do. For me a specific goal would be that I want to do some sort of exercise for 10min 1-3 Times a week.

M- Measurable – This means how you are going to measure your accomplishments and how you will know when this goal has been achieved. For example, if your goal is to make $10,000, make sure you have a time frame. I want to make $10,000 by December 31 so it is measurable.

A- Achievable – Make sure you set goal that are achievable and not so far in left field that it will never happen. (For example, don’t set the goal to run a full marathon in three months when you can’t run 100ft currently. A more achievable goal would be to say you will walk/run a 5K by the end of summer.)

R- Realistic – Make sure your goal is something you can actually do. For example, setting a goal to become president of the United States for most people would not be realistic. A goal of become a local representative or sitting on city council. That would be more realistic.

T-Timely- This one is the easiest. Simply when do you want to accomplish your goal? One month? Three months? A year?

I’ll give you an example of a smart goal. I want to start exercising 1-3 times a week for at least ten minutes, by doing yoga or walking in the house (too cold right now to be outside). I want to be doing this in full by March 1st!

That is just an example. But I have several long term and short term goals that I will be working on. Another bit of advice I have for you is to write your goals in a place you will see them. For me, my goals often are out of sight out of mind. So I will write them on a dry erase board that I see every day. You could even write them on a mirror you use everyday. Just put them somewhere so you can be reminded of them daily.

I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2017 go. It was one of the harder years I’ve had with all the health issues I have had. And losing the ability to drive due to my health has really been hard. I feel like I’m 15 again and have to ask someone to take me everywhere. I know many of you have had a rough year as well so we are going to take 2018 and make it ours. I am going to do everything in my power to make this a positive year both with my business, and in my personal life. And I encourage you to do the same!!! Set goals, and use them as a point to work toward. I feel like if we don’t have something to work toward we become stagnant. For us spoonies it is so easy to focus on the negative. We have so many bad days and get bad news often. But if we can focus on something positive, Life might be a little more positive. I know you are thinking that it is easier said than done, but it will really make a difference. I will be honest I get stuck one the bad things all the time. But this year I am going to work on being positive!!! And I am here to help you with your goals if you need me to and help encourage you along the way!!

Feel free to share some of your goals in the comments. If you share your goals with others I feel that you are more likely to work to accomplish them! So share with us!! I hope and pray that all of you can make 2018 a positive year!

With Love,

Amber