Friday Five!

Happy Friday, loves!!

Today I’m sharing my five favorite apps I can’t be without!

1. Instagram

I mean…did it happen if you didn’t document it on the ‘gram? I’ve always been more of an IG girl than FB. Sorry FB, but all the forwarded jokes and messages are just clutter to me. I use FB to connect and stay in touch with friends and family, of course, but I prefer the look and ease of Instagram. Plus, pictures. Lots of pictures.

2. Target Cartwheel

Do you guys have this downloaded? I’m assuming all of my readers are Target shoppers, since we are friends, right? I’ve had this app since it first became available. Now they also have Target Circle, which is connected to your Target account just like Cartwheel! All I know is when I check out via store or online checkout, I ALWAYS have a credit to apply to my total, along with my Cartwheel offers. Target just keeps getting better!

3. MyFitnessPal

I’m a tad obsessed with numbers. I mean, just a tad. By a tad, I mean a lot! I wear a FitBit 24-7. (Santa, please bring me an Apple Watch for Christmas so I can jump into the 21st century with the rest of the world, mmmmk). My FitBit is connected to MyFitnessPal, so all my workouts and steps transfer over from FitBit to MFP so I can see how many calories I can consume without turning into a double wide. I log all my calories. I know some people feel negatively about logging calories but it helps me see what I’m working with. MFP keeps me enlightened on what my macros are all day long so I know when to add more protein or cut back on fats. It’s very helpful!

4. Calm

How many of you struggle with just finding 5 minutes in the day to take a freaking breath? Last summer I downloaded this app to help with my anxiety. Little did I know that I would be unlocking this GINORMOUS portable resource of so much goodness! I actually love it so much that I pay the 60.00 per year for the full version. Don’t worry though, the free version has access to a ton of meditations, breathing exercises, music and even sleep stories. My anxiety was so major that I wanted the in depth meditation series’s. Now that my anxiety is semi under control, I use this app on road trips when get anxious or if I ever feel a feeling of panic start to come on. It’s pretty amazing!

5. Chick Fil-A One App/Starbucks

Like how I combined these two? I cheated since I technically have 6 apps here, but these are the two restaurant apps that I feel offer the best rewards and give back the most to their customers! Also, these are really the only places I go if I’m eating out haha. My favorite days are when I can get a free coffee and free medium fruit salad at Starbucks and Chick Fil-A, respectively. 😊. These apps are definitely worth the download!! You may actually be losing money if you don’t have them.

Alright guys! That’s all I have for today!!! What are your favorite apps and should I download them??

Have a great weekend!!!!

Xoxox

Mary

Gradual Changes for a Healthier Life

wellness image

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

Life With OCD in the Winter

Yes, this is similar to this post.  The difference is that this post deals with how winter effects my OCD.  How is that different?  Well, simply put, because more people are sick in the winter.  Since I have contamination OCD, the months of December, January, February and even half of March are brutal for me.

I’m dishing up some honesty today.  I have to say, OCD is harder for me to talk about, because it may seem like I’m not working hard enough or fast enough to work through it.  The problem is that I’ve had it for 6 years and it hit hard and fast, like most anxiety disorders.  I didn’t try therapy until 2015 and it was not the best experience.  Maybe it’s because it was my first experience with therapy, ever?  Maybe it was because my therapist and I just didn’t “mesh well”?  I dont know, but it wasn’t a great experience.  During the 9 months I was seeing her, she told me on several occasions I was too fragile to really work on the OCD.  I mean?  What had I been paying her for, for 9 months, once a week?  Then I didn’t try therapy again until this past summer (and PS, my therapist now ROCKS).  So basically, I’ve had to start from scratch, 6 years in.  So, it’s going to be harder to get over and take more time.

Every week my therapist gives me a teeny tiny task to conquer and take on.  I’m pretty competitive, so this works for me.  But when I say teeny tiny task, I legit mean tiny.

Background:  I work full time away from home, our kids are in 4th grade and Pre-K, and both in sports.  I’m an extrovert.  I’m built to be out socializing….THIS has put a damper on all of that, as you can imagine.

Typically the hardest thing for me is not being able to control my environment.  Obviously anxiety stems from not feeling safe or out of control.  Basically, it’s me in a nutshell, just worse in the winter.

This is how contamination OCD feels in the winter:

If someone is sick at work and I find out, I’ll ask a friend what it is, or how long they have been out etc.  Why?  Because that tells me to stay away from the bathroom, depending on what they have.  Asking anything about anyone’s business makes me feel ridiculous, I won’t lie.  But until I know something, my brain won’t shut off, my heart rate just keeps climbing and I start to go into early phases of panic.  We USED to have an amazing cleaning service at our office.  Now, they have cut our cleaning service down to 3 days a week and the service we have now really really, well, it’s not great at all.  This is not so much an issue I look at in the spring and summer, but is more of an issue in the winter.  Our building is of decent size and typically if someone is sick, there’s enough “room” that I still feel like I can have a little control.  We have 2 bathrooms.  For about 20 people.  Also, we have training in our building that is held several times a month, which brings in another 10-25 people that I feel like I have to worry about, since people tend to come to training sick because they feel like they can’t miss it.

What’s been happening the past couple weeks is that when someone gets sick…I tell myself “it’s OK, it’s probably nothing, just Lysol the bathroom and the printers, copiers etc.”  But once I start hearing the rumors about any type of stomach stuff happening, (stomach issues are my BIGGEST trigger) I just stay in my office, working, not drinking hardly anything until I can go home for lunch to avoid using bathrooms at work.  Extreme?  You bet.  I get it and I know what you’re thinking.  I could be at the mall and use a restroom and not think twice about it and who knows who has used that restroom 50 times before me.  Also, I’m sure I’m probably getting dehydrated, as I’m supposed to be drinking half my weight in water because of the anxiety medicine I take.  So what do I do?  I chug water at lunch and I chug water when I get home.  It’s horrible, I know.  But my brain LITERALLY has a giant red flag with flashing red lights that goes up telling me to steer clear of the work bathroom at all costs.  If we are talking bad colds or sinus infections, I’ll go in there with my wipes and not worry.  Stomach issues….nope.  I’ll do whatever it takes to try to avoid (aka control) the situation.

And let me be clear…it’s NOT work (even though regular cleaning would be a little burden lifter), it’s the OCD rearing it’s ugly head, making me think things are all epic catastrophes when the truth of the matter is that it probably would be OK to use the darn restroom.

Another thing that’s hard for me in the winter?  School for the kids.  I love their schools, teachers and friends dearly, but to me it’s one giant petri dish that I don’t generally worry about until the end of November, when I start seeing and hearing moms talking about the stomach bug invading their households.  Then again usually around Christmas it makes another big comeback….then typically there’s a few weeks after Christmas (probably because kids aren’t at school) when everything is calm again, then mid January it rears it’s ugly head until early March.  I learned early on that school is definitely something I cannot control.  The kids HAVE to go.  But, I do get all kinds of panicked when the kiddos come home saying their best friends went home sick or are sick with stomach issues or the actual flu.  My brain:  wash their coats, make them take showers, Lysol their book bag, ask them if they used the same school supplies or ate after each other… Speaking of questions; I also don’t want to ask them too many questions to get their minds worried.  It’s a fine line because I know some people are more prone to anxiety than others and I do NOT want to see our kids get OCD.

It-is-exhausting.  My brain is so physically and mentally exhausted when something like this happens.  Normal logic is that all kids get sick.  It happens.  Mine have been sick this winter, with some random cold-digestive virus that felt like it lasted an eternity for Brayden. I mean, I get that everyone can get, and is allowed to be sick.  What people have to understand is that my brain sends out panic signals to my body when it is someone close to us, because typically when I find out about it, you might as well list it under “categories you can no longer control since they’ve already been exposed.”  :-/.  Most would say “why worry about it now?  If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”  Well, it would be really nice if I could think of things that way, trust me.  Instead I sit and overthink, and text my therapist for validation and text my friends just to get the thoughts out of my brain.  I mean, I’m amazingly fortunate that my friends will listen to me and try to talk me down.  That’s such a blessing.  I’m so thankful for them!!!

In general this time of year I’m just astoundingly aware more than anyone, of what my surroundings consist of.  At the grocery store, I look to see what people in front of me have on the belt….if it’s Gatorade, Sprite, Pedialyte, ginger ale or saltines—I find another lane.  Let’s break this thought process down:  all kids love Gatorade and most of them love Sprite, so why does it bother me?  Brayden drinks Gatorade all the time and it’s OK when I buy it.  But, when someone else does, along with other items like the crackers…I immediately think, stomach virus!  At the gas station, I try to use my hands as little as possible, and use antibacterial wipes afterwords.  At restaurants, I will never drink directly out of a glass.  I have to have a straw.  I also use antibacterial wipes after looking at the menu and I’m aware of everyone sitting close to me (no, not the people I’m dining with, but the table next to us or behind us) .  Are they hacking?  Are they talking about being sick?  Even when I go to my therapist’s office, I always ask her if anyone prior to me had been sick.

Family gatherings and birthday parties in the winter are also really hard for me.  I love my family and our kids’ friends dearly and I always love to see them.  We have some amazing people in our lives.  But my brain doesn’t trust that people will stay home if they are sick, and 99% of the time, it’s never our family or friends having the party, it’s other people that come to the gathering, which obviously I can’t control in any way.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been at a family function or party of some kind in the winter and good ol’ Debbie (not a real person), a mom of a kiddo who is at the party casually just throws out there that little Jenny (again, just another example) was throwing up all night, but she’s sure glad she woke up “better” this morning so she could come to the party.  Newsflash Debbie.  If your kid was throwing up 10 hours ago, they are still contagious, so thank you for bringing her here to spread it to 15 other kids who can go home and keep the gift that keeps giving alive, because we all know that 4 year olds always wash their hands and never put their fingers up their noses or in their mouths.  Or, another favorite is after your kids have been playing with a group for 2 hours, all on the same equipment by the way, one of the parents slides into the conversation and says “ya, Bobby (again, not a real person) was put on TamiFlu 2 days ago…and it made him so much better!  I’m so glad we could come today, we both needed to get out of the house.”  Are you freaking kidding me?  Your kid just tested positive for the actual flu.  Yea, TamiFlu is going to help with symptoms, but for the love of everything good and pure….why is Bobby here at Sky Zone–and also, thanks for being selfish and thinking only of yourself and how you needed to get out.  None of us had anything else going on the next 2 weeks and our schedules are wide open to be home with sick kids.  (Eye roll)  But the one that wins the most awards and literally makes me fall into an immediate panic attack is being at someone’s home for a gathering and after being there for a while, the host says “I really didn’t think we were going to be able to pull Cindy’s (another example) birthday party off, we’ve all had the stomach flu this week.  It went through the entire house and got every one of us and little Cindy just got over it last night.”  What the actual hell.  You invited 40 people to your house and you’ve all been sick for over a week and thought that was OK?  Listen, I completely get that people are really way too busy these days.  When baseball season starts, we will be living out of our cars as much as we are home, so I get it.  It’s gets worse with multiple kids in sports and activities….I get that too.  But don’t contaminate 40 people because you didn’t want to reschedule to the following weekend because your other kid had a tournament of some kind.  It should be common sense, right?  I mean, you make the best out of the situation.  You do something special at home and give your birthday kiddo his/her presents and whatever else you can do to make their night enjoyable, and you promise them a make up date.  If a make up date cant happen for some reason, then take them out for some one on one time and have a bigger party next year.

Does this sound judge-y?  Maybe.  To me, it’s common sense and being considerate to other people.  If our boys dont feel well, I make it a point to text who ever is hosting the event and tell them what’s going on.  Also, if our kids have a fever or have had any stomach issues….they don’t go anywhere.  At all.  Brock and I both work outside the home, so is it a pain when they have to be home….yes.  But ya know what, we took on the responsibility of having kids……soooooooooo….you do what needs to be done.  My parents are close and watch Mason when he’s not in Pre-K, BUT, if the kids are sick, it’s me that has to take off work 90% of the time, because I really don’t want my parents to get whatever it is that they have.

Anyways, I’m going to hop off that soap box…..but now your eyes are opened up (maybe) to how I feel when I’m at these events/places if they fall during flu season.  As bad as I want to be there celebrating…..as bad as I want to be around my friends at the party, this is what runs through my mind.

You guys have NO idea how badly I want to be the mom who just doesn’t care about what might be around the corner and let the kids go do their thing.  Don’t take it wrong though, our kids get to do what they want for the most part, I’m just leery of these types of things during flu season.

So what’s the “cure”?  How do I “get over” this?  Well for starters, with as much as I’ve put up with over the past 6 years, if you say something to me along the lines of “you’ll be fine”, or “just get over it”, I legit may slap you.  Don’t you think if it was that simple, I would have done it by now?  The real answer here is a combination of things.  Like other types of anxiety, the first line of defense (at least for me) is therapy and anxiety medication.  In my experience, having the tools from a therapist has helped the most, along with getting the right types of medicines for my body.  Not all anxiety medicine is created equal, trust me.  I feel like I’ve tried just about everything to get some relief, and the simple and true fact is that it will take a while to control.  Control is the key word here.  As I’ve mentioned before, anxiety happens when you feel like you can’t control your situation, so, if you can learn how to control your thoughts, body functions and feelings in the particular situation, you can control your anxiety and not let it control you.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Nope!  Our brains are the smartest, yet dumbest organ in our bodies.  I’m not a doctor, so that may be an exaggeration haha.  But, as powerful as the brain is, and as much as it controls in our body everyday and as much as we cannot live without it…..you can retrain your thought processes.

It takes A LOT of time and effort to change a thought pattern, but it can be done.  This is why it’s so important to see a therapist.  They basically can give you a toolbox full of tools to help in certain situations.  Whether that tool is mindfulness (a practice of being present that is a lot harder to grasp than most think), counting backwards, rephrasing the thought, meditation, distracting yourself or a plethora of other tools, it’s good to have a plan of when to use what tool and how to practice getting good at the tool of your choice.  This stuff (for lack of a better word) doesn’t just magically come to someone after trying once.  Meditation takes time to learn.  Mindfulness was one of the key tools in helping me through panic disorder this past summer.  I thought “I’ve got this, it’s a piece of cake, I listen to these videos and learn how to do it and once I know what to do, I’ll whip it out when I feel panicked somewhere.”  I can tell you that did NOT happen that way.  It took me TWO MONTHS to learn how to literally put everything in my brain aside and focus on the speaker and what they were trying to teach.  Like anything else, you have to get good at it and yes, it takes time.  I’ve said it 50 bazillion times….how everything takes time.

That being said, that’s where I’m at.  Better than last year, but definitely not out of the woods.  Actively working on retraining my brain.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I would guess I probably have another year of hard work to get through to learn how to really control the OCD thoughts.  I’m good with that.  Really.  As long as my friends and family closest to me know I may ask weird health questions during flu season, without taking offense, we can all get through this together.  And I mean, there may be a time when these panicked thoughts are completely gone and then all of a sudden 2 years from now come back.  In fact, I’ve heard it happens more often than not.  The difference between now and then is that I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned to completely transform/reshape the situation and think about it differently.

It’s important to me to be brutally honest on this blog.  I want people to empathize with the struggle.  I want people to know that even outgoing, social people like myself can be affected, as badly as they do not want to be affected.  As much as they want to be at events with their friends in January having a blast, they are instead thinking that there may be sick people there and be home upset with themselves, for thinking these things and not going.  I want people to know if you are in the same boat, you aren’t alone.  Lastly, I want people to know it’s something you can get a hold of in due time with hard work.  You will always have an ear ready to listen with me.

Friends, be kind to everyone.  I say it all the time.  You never know what they are walking through.

xoxo

Mary

 

Everyone Has a “Thing”

If the title of this blog post didn’t get your attention, then, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, haha! (Life with boys will make you laugh at things like this!)

But, in all seriousness, I wanted to write a post on the idea that I know it’s easy sometimes to think that there are all these ‘normal’ people walking around out there, and these people have no issues just because they don’t have the issue that you have.

Sometimes anxiety can make you feel so isolated, and it’s easy for your brain to make you feel like you are all alone and that you are the only one experiencing what you are experiencing.  We all think these thoughts from time to time, and trust me, it’s an easy rabbit hole to go down. I personally feel like there’s a lot of ‘what if’s’. For example, ‘what if my friends don’t understand my anxiety, or worse, what if I lose my friends?’

Here’s the hand-to-the-Bible-honest-truth:  EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING that they feel they are single-handedly figuring out or working through on their own.  Everyone.  Please, please believe this!  I’m not saying everyone has anxiety. I’m just saying that EVERY SINGLE PERSON walking this green Earth has something they are dealing with.

I feel like a majority of this whole ‘everyone else is perfect but me’ thought process comes mainly from social media.  We all get on social media of some type, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter….and see these beautiful feeds, and beautiful websites and success stories.  What we don’t stop to think about is what’s going on behind the beautiful red velvet curtain, that is, social media.  For example, one of the bloggers I follow looks like she has the most beautiful perfect life, the most perfectly dressed kids, the most perfectly decorated house, always sitting right up front at concerts (hello $$$), has really really nice cars etc.  But you know what?  Her husband is overseas, in the military.  He’s never home.  She has to do everything herself.  He was in Afghanistan 8 years ago fighting for our country with no guarantee of coming home.  Can you imagine?

Another blogger/influencer I follow has tried for 8 years to have a baby, and had 3 miscarriages and multiple failed IVF attempts. Can you imagine how many times she probably felt alone and like she was the only one dealing with that situation? PS, she has since had a baby, but it has been an extremely traumatic road to get to where they are now.

There are people in my personal life that I’m around all the time that are dealing with an incurable illness or horrific family issues or have immediate family members going through a stage of life that’s extremely difficult. On the outside, you would never know. If you walked by them in Target you would think their lives seemed perfect.

When we have an issue, however small or big it may be, we have this tendency to feel like we are the only ones dealing with the issue. I don’t like to think of it as being self centered, rather, I think it’s just human nature to have some ‘not so optimistic’ days. If we could only walk in others’ shoes, right?

What I think is important is that we open our minds and consider the thoughts of our neighbors, family members, friends, co-workers and even the stranger standing next to you in the Starbucks line. Be kind. Be forgiving. We are all human and not meant to be perfect. We are flawed and need to realize our actual real life isn’t something we should compare to someone else’s highlight reel.

That’s all it is friends, a highlight reel. Makeup, good lighting, the right photo op, professional photography, a really beautiful house (let’s be honest, it’s only clean for photos and all the clutter is stashed in another room) or a career that seems fun. Also these people have full time assistants, house cleaners and nannies most of the time to run their business online so that you continue to see the pretty highlight reel.

Think about this? What if a stranger stumbled upon your social media and looked at the last 10 photos and posts? What if the same barista at your local coffee shop saw you come in day after day and thought they had you pegged? What would that look like? I can almost say with certainty that there are people out there that would think YOU had the most perfect life, and watched YOUR highlight reel.

I was tired of the comparison game, personally. We live it enough in real life that the last thing I wanted to do was live it on social media too. So, I did a social media ‘dump’. I went through Instagram and looked at each and every person I followed and if they made me feel like I could never compare or if I felt if we met in real life, we would never have anything in common (or if their faces were full of filler and they used a filter all the time), peace out ✌🏻!

It honestly felt so good to get rid of almost 100 people that didn’t contribute to my life in a positive way. I challenge you to do the same!

I’m going to wrap this up by giving you a few things to think about this week, especially since we’re so close to Christmas; places can be more overwhelming and people can be more emotional than usual.

**I CHOOSE to speak out about my struggles with anxiety (panic disorder and OCD) because I know, for me, being open and talking about it helps! I also love that my voice is helping others!!! However, keep in mind that not everyone is like me, and there are a lot more people out there going through something that don’t want to talk about it.

SO

**Be empathic

**Be sincere

**Be understanding

**Be an ear for someone

**Be a support for someone

**Reach out to friends and family that may need a support system

**Keep your patience

**Be aware of what your surroundings entail. Maybe there’s someone out there that may need a helping hand more than you realize.

**Be thankful. A thankful heart can never be anxious.

Xoxoxo (& Merry Christmas, friends!!!)

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