Never In a Million Years…

It’s taken me 3 months to write a post about this.  If ya’ll know me, you know I don’t sit on things I want to write about, but I didn’t know if I wanted to write about this.  It was throwing me off.  I barely even wanted to talk about it with friends and didn’t and still (to this day) don’t know how to process it.  Here it is.

On March 13th this year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Just writing that makes me want to punch the keyboard and throw my computer against a damn wall.  My mom.  My mom, whom, is one of my best friends, that watches our boys, that goes on vacations with us, that lives 5 minutes from us, that is around us everyday, and that is always there when we need her.  Yep, that mom.

Now that I’ve gotten the worst part out of the way (actually typing the word and seeing it written in front of me), I’ll tell you some more about what happened.

In February, my parents went to Destin for 4 days for a mini vacay over President’s Day weekend.  She told me she was getting a mammogram when they got back, because it had been a couple years and the year 2019 was going to be the year she caught back up with everything, medically.  She went in for her procedure and we went about her business.  They’d always been normal before.  Also, I should note, not that it really matters these days, but we have NO FAMILY HISTORY of breast cancer, or any type of cancer on my mom’s side of the family that we know of.  Even on my dad’s side of the family, there’s been no breast cancer.  The next day, they called to say they saw something very small, but couldn’t tell what it was, and wanted her to come back and have a diagnostic mammogram.  I had urged her to get the diagnostic before she went in for the initial appointment because they are the type I always have to have, and there’s less chance of them seeing thickened tissue or fibrous tissue and thinking it’s something else.  She went in for the diagnostic and they saw the same small spot, but couldn’t tell if it was a tumor or not because of the size (less than 1MM), so they did a biopsy and told her it would be 2-10 days before she would hear anything, but probably sooner rather than later.

On March 13th, Mason had a teddy bear parade for Pre-K.  It’s a big deal to the kiddos; they make a float and put their favorite stuffed animals in it, and walk around the gymnasium (a la parade) for the guests.  Then, after the parade, a special guest gets to stay for a picnic.  Mason had chosen me to stay after with him, but my mom was with me for the parade.  When we were going to gather his float after the parade before the picnic, one of his teachers invited my mom to stay for the picnic as well.  I could tell my mom was anxious because it had been 2 days and she was expecting to hear from the doctor.  I was completely thinking everything was going to be fine.  I mean, my mom is the picture of health, minus her addiction to baked goods.  She had left her phone in her car accidentally while we were watching the parade and having our picnic with Mase and I’m so glad she did.  😦

After the picnic, I went home to grab a PB sandwich to go back to work and on the way back to work, I got “the call”.  Invasive lobular carcinoma, very small-less than 1MM, stage 1.  What the actual hell do you say?  What do you think?  I can tell you what happens:  You don’t think.  You don’t say much.  You have a dark cloud in your brain that won’t go away.  It’s not real, after all.  It’s not real.  It’s not real.  It will all be OK, because it’s certainly not real.  I told my mom the doctors had found it very early and everything would be OK.  I went to work and called Brock and started to feel the knot in my throat.  At work, one of my favorite co-workers came in to hand me something and I told her.  When I said the word, I just started crying.  About that time my boss called me for something.  I can’t even remember the conversation I had with her, but it was between sobs.  I told my therapist.  I figured she was going to have to deal with me at my worst and wanted to prepare her.

My mom had already gotten an appointment the next day with the doctor in the women’s center and 3 people had asked if I was going to the appointment.  It honestly hadn’t crossed my mind.  Newbie over here at this kind of thing.  I figured she and my dad would want to handle it themselves.  Also, it was early March and as all of my readers know, I have contamination OCD, and the flu was still going around, and the appointment was at the hospital….I’ll let you put the pieces together.  I finally texted my mom to ask if she cared if I went to the appointment, because I had a lot of questions to ask and I needed to hear the answers from the doctor herself.  I figured every single person in the room would interpret what the doctor was saying differently, and I needed to take notes and really understand what was going on.  If you don’t already know this about me, you should know I go down medical rabbit holes I never come out of.  Mostly because of my OCD, but also I’m a nutrition NERD, so I’m pretty good with medical jargon.  I had reached out to one of my oldest friends in the midst of all of this.  She was always so close with my family and offered to watch Mason while I went to the hospital with my parents.  It was all happening so fast and still felt like I was outside my body, just going through the motions.

In the appointment I tried to do what I do best in awkward situations, I tried to make them all smile by making dumb jokes.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s to ALWAYS look for the silver linings.  Always.  I tried to make sense what was being told to us, and to the doctor’s credit, she was literally drawing everything out for us, which helped a ton.  I heard about hormones, and sizes and treatments and through it all, I kept my calm.  The nurse for the nutritionist came in next and you guys, I’m not kidding when I tell you that the nutritionist’s name was Dr. Macaroni.  No lie.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  The nurse was explaining some basic things to my mom and I was chiming in with what I knew.  Finally, she suggested that I make my mom an eating plan since she said I was telling my mom the things she would suggest anyways.  To end our visit, a nursing assistant came in, sweet as ever, and gave my mom a binder with references and information on just about anything and everything.  Then, she said, she had forgotten my mom’s bag, and came back with a bag that had a crocheted hat in it, a stuffed animal and blanket.  THAT put me over the edge.  No, my mom wasn’t having chemo, she wouldn’t lose her hair, why did she need a stuffed animal?  I get it….volunteers do these projects for the hospitals and it’s very sweet.  Very thoughtful, but nope….it suddenly made it seem more real.  I couldn’t have that. Because, you know, it still wasn’t real.  Since my mom’s doctor was able to get her in so soon, we were still waiting on the hormone test to come back.  If it was HER2 (I think that’s what it’s called) negative, like the doctor anticipated, then no chemo would be required.  She would take a hormone pill for the next 5 years and have mild radiation after surgery that that would be the end of it.

I left the doctor that day feeling numb.  I kept asking myself what was happening.  We had asked the doctor what her thoughts were that caused it and she said likely environmental and nutrition factors.  But, they weren’t for sure, of course.  Like I mentioned above, my mom is the picture of health, tall, decently skinny and hasn’t had prior medical issues.  But, she likes her sugar.  I know sugar feeds cancer cells similar to throwing a steak at a dog.  All I kept thinking about was how I was going to fix it, how I could help and what I could do.  We had a plan after that appointment, dependent on the hormone test that was due to come back in the next few days, and that made me feel a little better.  I felt like we were organized and had dates and kind of sort of knew what was headed our way.

You know, grief is weird.  Denial is weird.  I remember that Friday I went to Chipolte to get dinner and just cried in the parking lot.  I started opening up to a few more friends and to my surprise, a lot of their mothers/mother in laws/grandmothers/aunts etc. had a bout with breast cancer as well.  When I went to see my therapist the next week I told her it was so unreal to me that it felt like nothing was even happening.  She explained to me that when we love someone so incredibly hard, and something bad happens, our brain puts up an incredible force shield in the form of the strongest denial you can experience.  She said both my mom and I were feeling this.  I’ll be really honest here, to this day (post surgery, and radiation) I still don’t feel like it’s real.

My mom was only concerned about one thing.  Getting the tumor out.  ASAP.  She was advocate for herself, calling the doctor daily until surgery was scheduled (2 weeks sooner than planned) and I’ve honestly never seen someone so excited and in a rush to have a surgery.  She decided on a lumpectomy.  The hormone test came back, just as the doctor anticipated, HER2 negative (Praise Jesus!), so no chemo was on the horizon.  Also, they were relieved to find that it had not spread and nothing was in her lymph nodes.  The man upstairs was taking care of my mom, for sure, and still very much is.  The surgery went extremely well.  She was so happy it was out of her body.  She was groggy the day after surgery when I came over with the boys to see her.  All she kept talking about was how relieved she was that the poison was out of her body.  Honestly, I would have handled it the same way as she did.  “Ok, this blows, but let’s get this sucker out … right this minute!!”  With a mastectomy, the chance of it ever coming back was 1% or less.  With a lumpectomy, the chance was less than 2%.  I personally would have hacked both of my boobs off and went through the painful surgeries to get new ones, but I respected my mom’s decision to get a lumpectomy.

About 2 weeks after the surgery, she started the process of preparing for radiation.  So many new things were coming up that I was learning about.  For example, they mold a “bed” for you at the radiologist, so you can basically slide right in and be hooked up and out as soon as possible.  After meeting with her radiologist and getting a CT scan (that came back great) and a few other tests, he suggested that she just come for a month, for only 15 minutes a day.  Basically, she had one of the lowest forms of treatment, which again, was such a blessing.  We prepared our schedules (my boss is AMAZING by the way) and worked radiation in every single day of the week (Saturday and Sunday were off days) for a month.  She was proudly able to “ring the bell” on May 29th.  Looking back, I wish we could have been there when she rang that bell (I had the boys and Brayden had conditioning camp), because it was just another hurdle she hopped through with grace and courage.

The next step was starting the hormone pills.  She hated the idea of going to the oncologist, because it kinda just reiterated that she had ONCE had “the c word”, as she says.  She had blood work and a bone density test done before starting her pills.  All of that came back great, so she started the pill last Wednesday.  The pills scare her, just because of their menopause-like reputation.  And, I get that.  It took her around 8 years to go through menopause, so the idea of reliving all the hot flashes and night sweats and mood changes is, I’m sure, no walk in the park to think about.  However, we know we are all very blessed in that she only has to take a pill and doesn’t have to go through chemotherapy.  She will be on this pill for 5-10 years depending on how her follow ups go.

So, here we are.  July 1.  I feel like yesterday was March 13th.  Call it denial, call it, I don’t know, whatever you want, but it still doesn’t feel real to any of us.  My mom has handled everything like a rock star.  Whizzed through surgery, healed up awesomely, went through the entire month of radiation with no side effects and has had amazing test results.  There is still, and will be, so much emotion wrapped up in this.  I think the reassurance the doctors are giving all of us is letting us just run right through everything.  My mom told me that one day the radiologist looked right at her at one of her follow up appointments and said “Patty, you do NOT have cancer, remember that.  It’s gone now.”  When she told me that, I wanted to drive to Avon and give him a high five and a hug and I’ve never even met him.  Little reassurances like that.  They are so important.  In my mind, this battle has been won.  I cannot even tell you how strongly my mind is SET on that.  I keep telling my mom this was just a bump in the long, exciting road of life.  Oh and I told her we should take vacations more..haha.

So, that’s what has been going on with our family since February.  We are so incredibly thankful for those who reached out, who asked questions, who checked on her, who checked on my family, and those who called and texted.  My friend Danielle that willingly gave up most of her day to watch Mason so I could go to my mom’s initial doctor’s appointment, Mason’s pre-K teachers who prayed for my mom and always checked in, my amazing co-workers and friends who were literally checking on her everyday and my friends and mother in law who reached out to my mom and sent her cards and flowers.   Everyone has been so amazing.  I wasn’t sure about…literally, anything, when all of this happened, except for that my mom would be OK.  That’s all I could think about.  It’s surreal.  It’s one day at a time and one foot in front of the other.

See, my mom is such a big part of our lives, that there’s no other way to look at things.  It’s all a marathon she’s going to continue to win.  The “c word” as she calls it, is GONE.  Now we move forward in a healthy way.  She’s touched so many people and so many people have been inspired by her.  I was proud of her when she put her story on Facebook.  I was glad she wanted to talk about it and share the good news.  I can’t even describe to you all how wrapped up in the clouds of Heaven that I feel.  Is that a thing?  I mean, can you be wrapped up in clouds?  I don’t know, but I envision them to be perfectly fluffy and something that just engulfs a person in the best possible way.  I know how extremely blessed my family is.  I know not every family gets this and I’m not naive enough to think we all have all the time in the world.  I know life is about one day at a time.  But, I can tell you that every day is a wonderful day, a cherished one, a fortunate one and one filled with a lot of love.

My ask is this.  Please continue to pray for my mom and our family.  Always keep her in your thoughts and in the back of your mind.  She’s on the tail end of this journey and has come out of this with flying colors, but we pray for continued great health.

A final thought and PSA.  Get a mammogram.  Even if you are under 40, even if you are under 30, even under 25.  Don’t be scared to get a mammogram.  It literally saved my mom’s life in every way (with a healing hand from Jesus).  I’ve had to get them since I was 23 because of fibrocystic tissue and the year they came out with the diagnostic mammogram, or “3D” mammogram, I switched to that.  It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you feel ANYTHING out of the ordinary, go, run, to your nearest women’s center and get one.  And if you are at the age that they are required, please, please go every year and get yours.  They are a blessing and a gift.  Truly.

xoxoxo

Mary

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March 13, the day of “the call”

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Throwing it back to 2002

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Brock and I’s wedding

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Beachin

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Throwing it way back!

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A little Holiday World fun!

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Gradual Changes for a Healthier Life

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2019 has thrown our family some curve balls.  I’m not going to get into WHAT those are at this moment, but it has prompted my entire family (parents and brother included) to make some changes.  As a whole, we are pretty healthy peeps.  We are all pretty active and decently aware of what is good and what is bad.  For me personally, the past year I have really cleaned up my diet.  And I would say, in the past 3 years, I’ve just made minor changes that have become permanent.  BUT, hey……I know, You know, We all know….there is ALWAYS ROOM to improve.

I’ve always been this weird nutrition researcher nut; any opportunity I can get to put my blue light blocking glasses on and hit up my friend google into a deeper dive, I’m up for the challenge.  Only now days, I have more resources, like podcasts, blogs, audio books and documentaries to supplement my nerdy-ness with.  I’m not a doctor, but I did take nutrition courses my junior and senior year at IUPUI.  I mean, for a hot minute, I thought about being an RD.  But then, you know, I didn’t.  haha.  Regardless, over the past 20 years or so, I’ve always been a sucker for nutrition information and ways to lead a cleaner, healthier and “greener” holistic life.  No, I am not and do not want to be the lady wearing hemp clothes I made myself, while harvesting my own crops and beheading my own chickens, making my own soap and cleaning everything with said said soap.  Sorry, literally, I’m laughing at loud at that last sentence because I think I just described someone I can guarantee you I will never be, unless the zombie apocalypse happens.  In which case, I’m going to MI to live with my friend Andria who knows how to DIY everything out of virtually nothing.  I’m sure we could totally set up a bunker and survive with our families in tow! haha.

I do believe, however, that there are really crappy things in our every day lives that we could clean up a bit to be healthier.  I also believe that gradual changes are everlasting in the long run and that you will feel and look better when you adopt some healthier lifestyle changes.  I completely 100% believe that beyond genetic factors, our environment, and the foods we choose can play a big role in making us sick.  On the flip side, knowing that, we can do things to prevent those diseases sometimes by taking extra time to care for ourselves and our families.

Here are some simple swaps for a healthier life:

Household:

Laundry Detergent:  Swap out the Tide for Seventh Generation or Honest Co laundry detergent.  The “fragrance” in traditional laundry detergents are horrible to put on our bodies.  Anything that breaks my kiddos’ skin out immediately when they come in contact with it, is something I don’t want in our home.

seventh generation products

Dishwasher Detergent: Swap whatever powder or liquid you use for the lemon Seventh Generation liquid dishwasher detergent.  It smells great and doesn’t have all the chemicals!

Dryer Sheets:  Instead of chemical filled Bounce or Downy sheets, I use Method organic sheets (I buy them at Target).  You can also buy wool balls and put lavender essential oils on them and toss them in the dryer.

Home Fragrance:  DO NOT USE PLUG INS!!!  Swap them out (yes, even the Bath and Body Works plug ins) for organic candles and/or a diffuser and some high quality essential oils.  It’s hard, I get it.  I love the B&BW plug ins….especially in the summer time.  But really, they are just emitting chemicals we don’t need in our body.  My favorite thing to do in the summer now is to diffuse tangerine and lemon in my diffuser.  You can grab a diffuser on Amazon for 20.00 and they last forever!  There are several Etsy shops that carry natural candles as well, and the bonus is that you are supporting a local business!

Cleaning Products:  I mean, most of these are horrific and I think most of us know the chemicals in them are horrible for us to breathe in.  I’m not an expert, but I was brought up with my parents using white vinegar to clean most things; which made me want to use natural cleaning products for the most part.  In fact, before my OCD diagnosis in 2014, I never even used Lysol or bleach products, because I was scared of Brayden breathing them in.  Since then, I’ll admit, I’ve used Lysol more than I should and bleach bathroom cleaning products more than I care to own up to.  But, little by little, I’m going back to my old ways of using natural products when I can.  I mean, life happens and people get sick, so I don’t think it’s bad to have a can of Lysol or strong cleaning products on hand for that situation.  But, for the regular routine, I’m switching to more naturally derived products.  My favorites are Honest Co surface cleaner and Seventh Generation bathroom cleaner, along with good ol vinegar.

Outside:  Please don’t use Round Up or like products to kill weeds and “treat” your lawn.  The end.

 

Foods:

Meats:  Limit red meat.  No, I did NOT say exclude it.  Just limit it.

Also, beef should be organic, pasture raised, not just grass fed.  Grass fed can actually mean a plethora of things.  Google it.

Turkey and chicken should be organic and free range, cage free.  Local is even better if you have access to it, but just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s not pumped full of antibiotics, so make sure it’s all the things listed above as well.

PS–just as a side note for ya…organic bison is actually really really good.  Keep it in mind when shopping next time for your red meat fix.

Dairy:  Keep it organic.  Local organic if possible.  Yes, milk delivery still exists in some places.  It’s really important to keep meats and dairy organic because of all the growth hormones, grains and antibiotics that are fed and injected into animals.  I know so many farmers and have picked their brains (would you expect anything less?) and they swear up and down the reasons for doing what they do (as far as raising beef and chickens), but I know there’s a cleaner way.  I mean, most of us have seen it and know it IS possible.  Is it traditional?  No.  Is it possible?  YES!  All I can suggest is to keep asking around.  I think if you are local, you can order from Tyner Pond in the Fortville/McCordsville area and they deliver for free!

Tyner Pond info

Fruits and Veggies:  My thought on these are to make sure to buy organic if it’s grown in the ground.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, root veggies etc.  I personally do not buy potatoes of any kind at our house…which is totally a personal choice.  Starchy carbs…not a fan.  But, that’s for another day and another post.  Also, I like to buy organic for all of our berries, lettuces, and apples.  Oranges, bananas, peaches, lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and avocados I usually buy non organic.  I mean, I probably should be buying organic peaches, but I don’t buy them often and when I do, it’s usually at a local orchard, so I just wash them with a natural fruit and veggie cleaner really good before I peel them and eat them.  As far as canned fruits and veggies go, I buy organic because of the coating on the insides of the cans.  I just always have, and always will.  As far as frozen fruits and veggies…I usually just buy organic green beans, corn, spinach, and berries.  I dont really buy a ton of frozen fruit and veggies only occasionally since I really prefer fresh.

 

Beauty/Hygiene Products: 

If you use nothing else organic on your body, USE ORGANIC DEODORANT!!!!!  Especially if you are a woman.  Think about it.  It’s literally right next to your boob.  With breast cancer as popular as it is in this world today, why would you not use something as natural and organic next to that area of your body, knowing it soaks into your skin/bloodstream.  My favorite brand (and I’ve tried about 5 kinds) is called Native.  I can work out, I can be outside all day….I can do all the things with it on.  I love it.

We also have always and will always use organic body wash/shampoo/conditioner.  I use Honest Company body wash/shampoo for the kids.  Yes, even my almost 11 year old uses lavender or orange vanilla body wash/shampoo, because, well, those are basically the only scents they have right now haha.  If Honest is not available, I will pick up Burt Bees.  I just have never, ever even thought about buying the boys something that’s not naturally derived.  I also use the Honest Co lavender body wash myself.  When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, I will use paraben and sulfate free brands.  Not organic, but much better than “the usual”.  Some of my favorites have been Living Proof and certain types of Biolage.  I also use some Alterna Caviar products as well.  I’ve been eyeing a new brand called Navy that I may try out soon, since their finishing spray looks like a life changer!

honest co products

When it comes to sunscreen, I will use 2 brands.  I use Rodan & Fields on myself because it does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, which is very harmful because it’s a hormone interrupter, or vitamin A (while good for skincare, very bad for sunscreen).  While not a “natural” product, R&F sunscreen proves year after year to provide excellent coverage and protection.  The kids use Kiss My Face natural sunscreen.  It may seem strange, but there are some REALLY bad chemicals in sunscreen.  Not just bad for us, but actually bad for the ocean and little critters in the ocean.  I say no thanks to putting anything on my body that could not only harm me, but also the fish swimming around me in the ocean.  How crazy is that?  Just remember, oxybenzone.  Stay away from it.

Skincare.  I know what you’re thinking…how can you publish a post on using natural and organic items and sell a non-natural skincare line as a side hustle.  Welp kids, because it’s really super simple, Rodan & Fields Unblemish is THE ONLY PRODUCT that has worked for my acne and cleared my skin up and I’m forever grateful to those 2 superior Dermatologists that created the entire Rodan & Fields product line (there’s actually 4 main types of regimens and several other types of amazing products, I just use the acne regimen called Unblemish, for those who aren’t familiar).  Here’s the thing, I’ve looked at the ingredients in Unblemish and several other R&F products I use.  The Unblemish does not contain parabens or some of the other harmful products out there that are commonly found in most brands on store shelves.  R&F also does NOT test on animals and is considered safe by dermatologists in the USA, Canada and Australia where we have expanded our line thus far.  (PS…we are expanding to another country very soon…lips are sealed right now though).  Also, as a side note, this will probably come as no surprise, but other countries are a lot more strict on the products they use than the US…unfortunately.

The bottom line is this….while I do not owe anyone an explanation for this, I choose to explain, because I want people to know it’s very important to do your own research.  I look at it like I had spent so much time and money on natural and organic lines that didn’t work on my acne or skin tone at all.  So if I use a brand of skincare that works, and yet doesn’t contain a lot of the harmful chemicals listed out there, I’m winning; whether it says natural or organic on the label or not.  And also, have you read all of the above that I am doing, and am using organic for?  As for the kids, they don’t use a separate skincare line yet.  The Honest Co body wash/shampoo works great for their little faces right now.

Makeup: I’m a big Tarte Cosmetics user.  I love their eye shadow so much, their eyeliner and Shape Tape are also a few faves.  I think Tarte may be a cleaner option, though not 100% natural by any means.  I actually want to try some eye shadow palettes from Beauty Counter though, as I think they seem pretty clean.  I think cosmetics are kind of hit and miss.  Some of the products in a line can be “safer” than others.  Again, I think it’s important to do your own research.  Don’t be fooled by words like “bare” and “clay” and “naturals” or “minerals”.  While these are all words we may associate with nature and association with nature may be “clean” and “natural”, it’s just simply not true.  Watch out for ingredients like talc.  Talc used to be very popular back in the day, but it’s very dangerous to our body.  PS, don’t use baby powder that lists talc as an ingredient either.  I think it comes down to what you feel comfortable with using because there will be probably more bad than good when it comes to cosmetics.

 

Misc Items: 

Sheets contain high levels of formaldehyde….did ya know that?  So I try to shop for organic bedding as much as possible.  Also, think about next time you have to spray for bugs outside.  I mean, I feel ya sis, I don’t want a spider infestation or bees swarming me when I walk outside either, but just do some research and see if there’s a “cleaner” way to get rid of them.

 

There ya go, friends.  Those are the main items I choose to swap for (hopefully) a cleaner, healthier lifestyle for our family.

I’m no chemist.  I can’t tell you why harmful ingredients are harmful and so common with certainty.  But, I can tell you what I’ve researched and what I’ve learned along the way; and I can also say with some certainty that no one is going to be perfect and sometimes you just have to do the best you can.  You notice that I used the word gradual in the title of this post, and there’s a reason.  If this all seems overwhelming to you, just try to change 2 things a month.  These are pretty easy changes, but they do take time to incorporate and probably a little more money.  Cheaper than doctor’s visits though! 🙂

I hope you found this helpful!  If you make different swaps, comment and let me know!  I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day, all!

xoxox

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Books

I’m starting this post with an asterisk.  It’s never good when a post starts with an asterisk, right?  But, I’m starting it that way because although I love to read and learn new things from books, I don’t have a lot of “extra” time and I don’t really dig listening to books on Audible.  I like to have an actual book in my hand to read.

*When I say I don’t have a lot of time, I mean that.  I work over 40 hours a week away from home, have 2 kids, work a side hustle with Rodan & Fields, try to schedule blog posts (I promise I really do), spend time on starting my own personal growth/development journey, have a 10 year old in travel sports, have a very needy (although also very cute) 5 year old in tee ball and try to keep up with a house, a 7 month old puppy and occasionally laundry.  On a good week, I can get a walk or two in on the treadmill.

So, without further ado….my FAVORITE books that I continuously come back to, year after year.

Reshaping It All, by Candace Cameron Bure.  This book is G-O-L-D!  She wrote this book back in 2010 or 2011 I believe, when she was starting to come back into the spotlight, and I’m telling you; it’s relatable, down to earth, HONEST and something every woman and mother needs to read.  It’s no secret that Candace is, and always has been one of my favorite people in the celebrity world.  I love many of her books, but there was something about this one that clicked with me instantly.  I refer to it all the time, 8 years later!  It contains ways to mindfully eat, a handful of very simple recipes, scriptures related to each chapter’s subject and even touches on getting back into a workout routine and getting your mind back to what’s important.  Go get it or download it!

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  I was reading Self Magazine one day in 2011 while eating breakfast (side note: this only happened because we only had 1 kiddo at the time, obviously haha) and saw the suggestion for this book.  At the time, I wanted to read something new and different, and what’s better than a book called with this title?  Right?  I walked myself into Barnes and Noble and bought it a few days later.  We were living with my parents at the time while our home was being built and the only piece of workout equipment they had was a stationary bike.  So I took the book with me every night while I was on the bike.  I was hooked.  What an amazing book!  And, at the same time, my workout went from 30 minutes to 60 minutes because I literally couldn’t put the book down.  The idea that every month Gretchen implemented something that sparked happiness in herself and in others made me happy as well.  The notion that if you just change things up, start some new habits that are good for your soul and change your perspective on every day occurrences was a little mind blowing to me.  It made me think about what my habits were at the time and how I could change them ever so slightly to become a happier person, and/or make someone else happy.  It’s a book I’ll never forget or get rid of.  Every time I even see it in my book collection I think of happy times.

The Frugalista Files, by Natalie McNeal.  I can’t even remember how this book fell into my lap.  Maybe another magazine suggestion?  Maybe my friend suggested it?  Regardless, it was funny, insightful and enlightening!  Ironically, I remember reading this book while watching the Royal Wedding (William and Kate)…so I mean, basically this concept sums up my life, haha.  As I’m reading a book on how to save money and how this amazing woman paid off over 30,000 in debt, I’m watching a million dollar wedding and getting googly eyes over Princess Diana’s massive diamond ring on Kate’s finger.  All joking aside, this book was awesome!  Natalie, the author, is so funny and honest and gives realistic goals and tips for cutting back on expenses, while being a woman in the workplace that still has a great social life.  It was a fun read and would be good for anyone looking to change up some of their financial habits. Check Natalie and her hilariousness out!

Do you guys notice the word habit keeps coming up?  It amazes me, that even in 2011, changing habits was something I was not knowingly gravitating to.  Habits are obviously the HARDEST thing in our lives to change.  You don’t even realize how hard it is to change them until you try to be consistent to make a change.  Now that I’m slowly stepping into the personal growth/development world, I’m realizing how naive I was before, when I THOUGHT I had good habits.  Friends, let me just tell you, I have a looooooong way to go.  Sorry for the side step from the book reviews, but it’s amazing to me that even 8 years ago…personal development was there, under the surface, screaming to be heard.

Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t heard of this book, you are living under a rock.  If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out.  So listen, sometimes we search for something to grasp when we go through hard times.  I was doing this last spring/summer when panic disorder was ruling my life at the time and my anxiety was spiraling out of control.  I was desperately looking for something and someone to relate to.  I would google anxiety help and all kinds of crazy stuff would come up, I would search and search for books on anxiety and OCD and panic disorder and only clinical type books would come up, no matter how I tried to search.  Then, deep, dark in the rabbit hole I had gone down in, I came across someone recommending this book.  Here’s the thing, this book is NOT a book on how to help anxiety.  I think it was more like a red blinking light sent to me from God that I needed to do a deeper dive into the world of all things Rachel Hollis.  When I did this, I found her podcast called Rise.  I had never listened to a podcast and didn’t even know how to work the podcasts on my iPhone.  I came across her podcast from April of 2018 about how she dealt with her debilitating anxiety.  I felt like the world sat still for just a minute….I had FINALLY found someone I could relate to, someone my age, that was a mom, that had been an event planner, that wanted to work, but had bigger plans no matter the struggle with anxiety and that was honest about her successes and failures.  Are our reasons for anxiety the same?  Somewhat.  But, I took the TOOLS in that podcast and in the book that I found and applied them in my day to day life.  Game-changer.  As I mentioned above, the book is not about how to deal with anxiety, but if you are struggling with anxiety and know the red flags associated, then you will find the tools in the book.

This book is about lies we tell ourselves as women, moms, sisters, daughters, co-workers etc. that we have started to believe.  This book is about ENCOURAGING you to live the life God created you for.  Will it happen overnight?  Heck no….God wants us to work for what we want, ya know.  It’s about using our gifts God blessed us with, to their greatest potential.  It talks about getting out of your own way and not caring so much about what people may think of your goals!  It opened up a lot of doors for me; for example, I felt led to talk about my anxiety struggle and knew so many others around me dealt with similar issues, but I just didn’t know how to display it.  Now I use my blog, yep…this little sucker here, to be completely 100% honest about my anxiety battles.  Do you know what that did?  It, in turn, helped other people, which in turn, helped me feel better, helping others.  Then I thought, as silly as it sounds, I’ve always wanted my own platform, and it’s giving me one…albeit a very small one right now, but it’s something.  It encouraged me to keep going, through the panic, through the OCD, through the anxiety and get my story out there.  I have no idea where all of this will lead, but I know where I would ultimately LIKE for it to lead….anxiety and all.  So, stay tuned and please please please, go get this book and subscribe to the Rise podcast!!!

The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins.  I’ll be honest, this was another find on my quest for all things anxiety help last summer.  I didn’t find out about this book until last fall when I had come across something of Mel’s on You Tube.  I, again, like many times, fell down the rabbit hole of listening to her Ted Talk on the 5 Second Rule, then going on to listen to her give interviews with several personal growth gurus and before I knew it, I was following her on social, subscribed to her You Tube channel, ordering her book and listening to her morning coffee talks.  The book is not all about how to get past anxiety.  It’s about learning how to change your brain’s thoughts.  We can retrain our brain, ya know?  It’s about developing habits and staying consistent and doing them anyway even when you don’t.  You hate working out, welp, 5-4-3-2-1- DO IT ANYWAY.  You can apply this teaching to basically any situation in life.  It takes work.  Don’t let the simple concept fool you…because trust me, I’m still working on it.  I have a long way to go before my brain adjusts to accept different thought.  Here’s something to take away though, Mel is one smart woman.  She is a lawyer and is one of the most sought after speakers in North America.  All of her research is backed by science, generally from Harvard or Yale studies and she is hilarious!  Also, she’s a busy mom with an even busier life that still manages to be present and open to new thoughts and ideas.  And yes, she’s an anxiety sufferer as well, but has self taught her way around it.  It’s a great read guys, you should definitely check it out!

Well, there ya have it!  My top reads!  I really hope you will hit up your local library or Target, or hop on Amazon to give these books some love.  I have several others that I have read that are definitely some awesome reads, so I may include them next time.  As you can see, I’m not a big fiction reader.  I really don’t have an answer for why that is.  Maybe because what little time I can devote to reading, I want to read about ways to make my life the best it can be?  That sounds right.

(Side note: I’m 100% positive that Rachel Hollis’ new book Girl, Stop Apologizing will be on the next list, but I just haven’t finished it yet.)

I hope you all have a great day and if you have read any of these books, drop me a note and let me know what you thought of them!!

xoxox

Mary

Loves Lately

Hello lovelies!

I’m coming to you today from my semi-completed office.  I say semi complete because I probably should put up some kind of curtain or blind so the creepy peeps don’t slooooowly drive by the window anymore when I’m on the treadmill at night.  I literally hate curtains so much (I recently took down the ones in my living room and have been on a search for something that’s decently tolerable…and by that, I mean a valance of some kind that’s coastal without being floral)

hello sprigRE

Anyways, happy spring everyone!  It doesn’t really FEEL like spring in Indiana, but whatevs…at least I know we are over the hump that is stupid winter.  I wanted to share some of my everyday faves with you all!  I’m going to blow right past the fact that I haven’t posted since last June and just try to immediately do better.  I think the reason I suck at keeping up with this is because I want to keep this blog really pretty and let’s face it…to keep it really pretty you need to hire someone that knows what they are doing, to make your blog designs and pages.  Oh and I don’t have a DSLR camera, so that’s also an issue.  But, for now, I’ll work with what I have….

FAVES:

So lately I’ve been using and loving these AWESOME products!!!  These are products I use 3-5 times a week, and some I use every single day.  I wouldn’t steer you wrong…these products give RESULTS you can actually SEE!

Product 1:  Thieves oil by Young Living

thieves-with-lemons-min

I use Thieves every night with some coconut oil on both our boys’ feet.  Supposedly it helps boost immunity and fights off the germs.  With my OCD, Thieves just kind of brings a calm feeling to me, knowing I’m helping to boost my kids’ immunity and ward off any of the bad germs they probably pick up at the petri dish we call school.  Young Living actually carries an entire line of Thieves products now, because of the popularity of this magical oil.  I also use the Thieves spray as well at my office.  Bonus: it smells like cinnamon and everyone compliments the smell of my office.  Where to get it: if you are interested, please email me HERE and I can get you a discount!

Product 2: Urban Decay’s Shadow Box

UD Eyeshadows

I’m so weird about eye shadow!  I love certain brands, and Urban Decay is certainly one of them.  I love this box because it’s not huge and the colors are so fun!  My favorite colors to wear are Baked Cowboy and Smog and I love highlighting with Bordello.  Where to get: Sephora or Ulta.

Product 3: Rodan and Fields Lash Boost

lashboost peach2RE

You know how there are all these products that “claim” to do certain things and never do?  Or, my personal least favorite saying ever “could promote” or “studies show this product COULD”….you get the idea.  So anytime I try something that makes claims to move mountains, I’m a skeptic.  Enter Lash Boost by Rodan and Fields.  Game changer.

I’m not kidding when I say I saw actual results in 5 days.  Typically, they say you will see a big result after the first 4 weeks, then a bigger result at 8 weeks and the max result at 16 weeks.  This magic clear serum that you put on your lash line at bedtime must be laced with Miracle Grow.  I cannot stress it enough…if you ever want to use a product that actually produces REAL RESULTS, go get you some Lash Boost.  Don’t spend the money on lash extensions or continue buying the false lashes to glue in….get Lash Boost.  Where to get it: Product Link or send me an email HERE and I’ll give you my discount!!

Bonus: each tube is a 60 day supply, but my tubes last about 90 days because after the first 4 weeks, I use it every other day. 🙂

marylashboost2

Product 4&5: Rodan and Fields Sunless Tanner + Microdermabraison Paste

sunscreen and micro paste2RE

You guys….I’ve tried a loooooooooooot of self tanners.  I’ve tried the cheapest and the most expensive, the organic and the not so organic and just about everything in between.  I fell in love with Rodan and Fields Sunless Tanner ….and as if I didn’t think anything could make it work even better, I started using it with the Rodan and Fields Microdermabraison paste.  They are like the best dynamic duo ever.  The micro paste makes skin so freaking soft, I can’t even explain it!  It seems like in the winter time, everyone is so covered up and I never think to use sunless tanner.  But, now that spring is here, I have been using it 3 times a week and I love it so much!  No streaks, no patches, no “orange” look.  Silky smooth color that melts right into your skin seamlessly.  1 bottle will last you several months and there is even a 60 day empty bottle money back guarantee on all the products sold by Rodan and Fields.  (Applause, ladies!)  Where to buy: Email me HERE and I’ll give you my discount!

Product 6: Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation

makeup forever

I haven’t ever been a huge foundation wearing kind of girl….and looking back on pictures now, maybe I should have worn it more, but to me, it always felt heavy and gross and most of them that I had used would break me out.  Granted, that was in high school and I went to the Clinique counter and the lady swore she was giving me the oil free foundation.  I’m sure it was a fantastic product for some, but I hated it.  About 2 years ago I started hunting for a foundation that would feel so lightweight that I didn’t even realize I had anything on, plus even out my skin tone.  I found it with Make Up Forever’s HD foundation.  I love it.  It’s sheer, but covers evenly and I only use a dime size portion.  If you go to Sephora, they have a tool now that will help match your skin to the perfect shade of foundation (that’s winning people).  Oh, and this is kind of pricey for makeup, it will run you about $48 for a bottle, BUT know that it will last a long time since you have to use so little product.  Where to buy: Sephora

 

Alright, so there you have it!  Those are my current tried and true favorites!  Please feel free to comment on this post with some of your favorites!!

Happy Spring!!!

 

 

 

Putting a Spring in Your Step!

 

Every year since middle school, when I see all the spring trends in the February issue of any fashion magazine (in middle school it was YM–obviously) it puts my brain into a spin cycle.  The inner Cher Horowitz in me starts thinking about all the things I have to have, and as soon as possible.  At 32 I’m not picking up a YM mag anymore but I always make sure to pick up InStyle, Allure and People Style Watch.  Also exciting at age 32- home finds!  I never thought I would see the day when I would get more excited about an upholstered arm chair than a new purse, but that day has come my friends.

Here is my Spring must have list:

 

Rebecca Minkoff M.A.B Tote:

Rebecca Minkoff

Tory Burch Robinson Double Zip:

Tory Burch

Steve Madden Aviator Sunnies in Pink:

sunglasses sm

Jessica Simpson Skinny Jeans in White:

white jeans

Steve Madden Val Wedge:

sm shoes

Lavish Tan Organic Spray Tan:

lavish tan

Hair Do Hair Extensions–I have always wanted extensions, but don’t want the $2500 price tag that comes along with them, so my hair stylist recommended that I try these:

extensions

Anastasia Contour Kit:  Completely fascinated with learning how to face contour right now!

Contour Kit

And for the Home:

This media hutch from Restoration Hardware:

hutch2

Collette Chairs from Pier 1:

chair2

What items are on your must have list?  I would love to know!

And oh ya….don’t forget to follow my blog (or subscribe to my blog) and automatically be entered in a drawing for a $20 Thirty-One gift card.  Info here.

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