boss bitch · Chronically Cool · Moving Mountains · Personal

Are you living in fear?

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We hear a lot about fear these days; too much, really. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. No fear or terrorism, or fear of our U.S. neighbours’ election — but fear of shaking up my own life.

Just this week, I launched my Etsy shop. This is a huge leap for me — a leap of faith in myself. And I was absolutely terrified. I still am terrified.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m learning how to run a business as I go along. No matter how much reading or planning I did, I was never going to feel ready or prepared — but I was letting fear stop me from trying.

So I decided to just go for it.

My small business is something I’d been thinking about and working on for several months already. It came to a point where I needed to set actionable goals and just get ‘er done.

Notice I say actionable goals.

For example, I made an announcement on my business Instagram setting a launch date for my shop.

Making a list of what needed to be done was the next step. Then I just had to take action, tick off one item at a time, and make it happen. And I’m proud to say I did.

It’s great to have goals. Laudable, even. But what makes dreams come true is action, plain and simple.

You can’t make something of yourself if you don’t do. 

The past few days have been scary. My amazing boyfriend has had to calm me down more than once. But, with only a few orders under my belt, it’s already really rewarding; it’s already worth it.

Today, I challenge you to reap the rewards of doing something that scares you. Tell me about it, if you want. 🙂

Chronically Cool · Moving Mountains · Personal

The Closest I’ll Get To Skydiving

Sometimes your illness forces you to jump out of the plane. So to speak.

I’ve dreamed of opening a shop on Etsy for about 10 years — ever since I was a teenager, when  Etsy was a much gentler beast.

Over the past few years, it’s something that started floating around my brainspace more often. Like a sensible person with no bodily barriers (or so I thought), I figured I would save up and eventually quit my job to follow my dream.

Yeah.

The problem with that plan is that I was already sick. I didn’t realize how much of my day-to-day weirdness was symptomatic of pushing my body too hard — but it was.

In terms of my health, I’ve been at a pretty low point for a long time. It’s crazy to think I’d do anything to be able to walk 30 minutes even once a week , when I used to love racing against myself to push down my 5k time. (I still remember getting under 30 minutes after someone had doubted my ability to run 5k at all; it was an amazing feeling.)

The last several months have driven home a difficult realization —  I’m not making a recovery anytime soon. Now, taking the plunge has become an act of necessity.

So many systems in my country and province are broken or inadequate. I’m much too sick to leave my apartment to work, yet I’m not considered sick enough to receive any kind of support or assistance.

So I’m doing the only thing I can think of to support myself: I’m opening an Etsy shop.

It’s been a lot of hard work, there’s a lot more to be done. But if I can’t afford to simply rest, I want to put my (limited) energy into something I love. And anyone who knows me knows I loooooove yarn.

I’ll be announcing the launch of my Etsy shop soon, but in the meantime, check it out here: instagram.com/tablehaute  .

I’m hoping I’ll be able to blog more often as well going forward, but as any spoonie knows — no promises!

I hope you’ve all had a good week so far, and that you’re looking forward to the weekend. I know I am!

 

Chronically Cool · Personal

When Things That Look Bad Aren’t

When I first got my rollator (a four-wheeled walker like this guy, for the uninitiated), I was a little iffy. For one thing, I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure how it would help, if it even would at all. The biggest thing was embarrassment — plain and simple. If everything looked normal, I told myself, I could pretend everything was normal.

No matter the charades I tried to play, the only things that had been “normal” for over two years were all my medical test results. But, still undiagnosed, it was tempting to try and keep up appearances. Eventually I bit back my pride and used the darn walker, probably on a day where carrying a purse just felt like too much.

I’m proud to say I haven’t looked back since.

A few weeks ago, the owner of a café I frequent saw me with my rollator for the first time. There was sympathy and perhaps pity in her eyes — she hates to see young people so sick, she said. And that’s when it struck me. To the people who don’t need them, mobility aids like rollators can seem like a bad thing. Especially when being used by a younger person.

“I know this looks bad,” I told her. “But it’s actually a really good thing.” With my rollator, I don’t have to worry about how heavy my purse is. With my rollator, I don’t need to worry about having to stand in line, feeling my energy drain away with each passing minute. With my rollator, I can get milk from 7-11 without worrying about carrying it home.

The stares still bother me a little, but not enough to take away the feeling that comes with knowing I won’t fall and crush my knees if my legs give up mid-stride. No matter how abnormal it looks, the darn thing just helps me feel more normal.

The same goes for people who look thoroughly confused when I get out of my wheelchair in public. Some people take the opportunity to ask about it, and only some of them do it respectfully. No matter how peeved I am at someone (looking at you, department store lady who addressed me like a child), I’m generally happy to get up on my soapbox.

I mean…what’s a blog really for, am I right? 🙂

 

Chronically Cool · Personal · Tidbits

Resolution Revolution

A few weeks ago, I turned 25. No big deal, I know, but honestly? I freaked out a little.

Twenty five isn’t old. At all. (Hear that, rapidly multiplying grays? You can stop! I’m not old!) What I was freaking out about is the fact that I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be by now. Admittedly, a lot of that was teenage naïveté. Some of it also has to do with the east coast Acadian town where I grew up. By now, I fully expected to be married and on my way to a stable career and the white picket fence. (There was going to be a dog in the yard and that might be my biggest disappointment here, folks.)

As circumstances would have it, none of those things are currently under my belt. (Once again, the dog may be the biggest disappointment.) Don’t get me wrong — I wish I was on the way to a bright, shiny career in who-knows-what — but I’m not. And I’m learning to be OK with that.

So I turned 25, and it got me thinking, as birthdays usually do. For me, New Year’s resolutions feel diluted by the fact that we make them in drovesThe intention is good,  but the big joke about New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t stick.

Personally, I’m far more motivated to set resolutions for my own New Year — my new self, as it were. Anyone who’s been faced with a life-changing chronic illness knows what I’m talking about. After the grief and the anger pass, there needs to be acceptance. I suppose I lucked out in that this stage of things coincided nicely with my birthday and, just this Monday, the arrival of my WHEELCHAIR. Add beautiful Spring weather, and I’m raring to go make myself a better me — and live a life that brings me joy despite my limitations.

Grosso modo, if I have to have only one resolution, it’s basically just to adjust to a new way of living while learning to be myself within this new way of living. This doesn’t sound like much, but I’m a doer, people. And when a doer is unable to do most things for several months, they go nuts-nuts-nuts. Trust me.

Monday night, I went to the mall. Because I finally have a wheelchair for those outings, I was able to go for a short walk with my rollator on Tuesday. And then, on Tuesday night, I made chicken. I know none of this sounds like a big deal, but guys, raw chicken FREAKS. ME. OUT. Uncooked skinless boneless chicken breasts? Gross. But I found a recipe, and then I made the chicken, including handling it with my very own hands, and it was really friggin’ good.

It may not sound like a big deal, but I accomplished something and I’m choosing to be proud of myself so I can continue to make delicious chicken. (Would you believe I once didn’t eat meat for over seven years? Yup.)

Today I painted my nails and this morning, I took the plunge and purchased both Make Over Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings (both online courses by moneysavingmom.com). I’ve read so many rave reviews of Mornings, Evenings launched today at a special price, and with a fresh tax return in my bank account…I couldn’t help myself and got both! I’m hoping these 14-day courses will live up to all the hype and help me take back control of my life.

Yeah. Learning to be myself again. I think I like that as a resolution. How about you?

No-Poo · Tidbits

March Madness

If you know me at all, you know I’ve never really cared about basketball. If you don’t know me, let me tell you: when I say March madness, I do not mean college athletes. What I mean, really, is several things, including putting mayonnaise on my head (more on that in a minute…).

One, it’s March 31st. Isn’t that madness?! We are one quarter through the year, and it’s probably totally inappropriate to even call it the “new” year at this point. You know, the year so many of us said would be “our year,” 2016. And I won’t lie, my 2016 did not start great, so I’m quite happy to turn the page on this chapter thank you very much.

Two: yes, I put mayo in my hair. When my boyfriend got home and I told him, he looked at me like I was nutso. Apparently, not everyone has heard of mayonnaise in your hair to make it shiny. I use egg yolks to wash my hair sometimes, and mayo has egg yolks so…it’ll  be fine. Logic, right? Not quite. While my hair isn’t the mess you might expect it to be — and it is shiny, I’ll give it that — it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be. I don’t use conventional shampoo though, so someone who does might get different results. The beauty of (temporary) unemployment is I can do weird things to my hair and it doesn’t really matter, so I’m not done experimenting. (Or writing about it.)

Third crazy thing that happened in March? Our health insurance company FINALLY approved my claim for a wheelchair. It took several letters from my doctor, who I’m super grateful for, but they finally said yes. Now there’s only a few more weeks of waiting to get out of the way — peanuts compared to the last several months I’ve spent mostly housebound. If I’m being totally honest though, what I’m looking forward to the most, even more than going shopping, is going to the Calgary Zoo (and the West Edmonton Mall). Eeeek! So excited!

Finally, has anyone else noticed what a ginormous difference some real live sunshine can make? My sunlamp is a godsend, no question, but there’s just something about getting some real rays! After a dreary winter and a few really cold days the last couple weeks, I’m looking forward to some warm spring weather. Keep your fingers crossed the forecast for Saturday will hold — it’s my birthday!

 

Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites: March 11 edition

It wasn’t until I was most of the way through outlining this post that I realized there’s a real kitchen theme going on here this week. Strange…but not really, I’d probably live in my kitchen if it was a bit roomier.

The weather’s been nice and it would sure be great to enjoy that, so without further ado, this week’s Friday Favourites!

1. This IKEA French-press coffee maker. No, they still aren’t paying me. ($9.99 for 1l size; $6.99 for 0.4l size.)

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IKEA’s UPPHETTA French press coffee maker. In stores only.

 

Alright, time for some real-talk. Not everything found at IKEA is worth the “deal,” but this guy totally is. At ten dollars each for the larger size — yields two cups of coffee if the two people drinking are fiends like my partner and myself — you can make some pretty tasty brew without spending too much money on equipment. My previous French press was of a brand that shall remain unnamed, cost me about three times as much, yet still wasn’t as functional — and the reason is simple: the plunger on this press has a flat top.

While the flat top on the plunger doesn’t change anything about the coffee, it makes it a LOT easier to set the thing down without having it roll away and onto the floor. It also helps avoid messes because it’ll catch any drips — less mess = less cleaning = a happier Joe.

The only drawback with the press so far is that I have a penchant for flavoured teas, and heat makes the plastic on the plunger absorb smells. And let me tell you, strawberry flavouring just will not budge from this plastic (apparently). Unless you enjoy oddly flavoured coffees, you might want to get a second press if you’re planning on using it for tea.

2. Zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers. So tasty it had to get into this post.

Just chop some up and trow it all into a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook it together until it looks and smells like something you want to eat. (Trust me, this is something you want to eat.)

It’s seriously that easy. Last night we had it with chicken. So good.

On a related note, I really enjoy it when something really yummy comes together out of the sad crisping drawers. (Maybe it’s just ours, but the fridge light never seems to reach those bottom drawers?)

3. Frozen spinach pucks.

Yes. Spinach pucks. Mind you, they’re only pucks because they’re frozen. Yes, I promise frozen spinach pucks are on this list for a real reason and not just because I like saying frozen spinach pucks.

Several reasons, actually.

First, they’ve made my goal of getting greens into my smoothies a lot easier. Just throw a few pucks in there and you’re golden.

Second reason I love these? The spinach is cooked, which makes it much easier to digest — a huge plus for many people, but maybe especially people who are chronically ill. Why waste energy on digesting raw spinach if your bod doesn’t like doing it, know what I mean? I’m no saint, I’m not getting even a cup of spinach in each smoothie, but greens are greens dammit and I’m gonna pat myself on the shoulder anyway.

So while we’re on the subject…what veggies have you been into lately?

 

 

Chronically Cool · Tips & Tricks

Thinking Outside the (Chronic Illness) Box

Confession: I still really enjoy Blurred Lines. You don’t need to tell me the million reasons I shouldn’t — I know what they are and that’s apparently not going to stop me dancing along to it. (Let’s agree to call it an informed choice and move on.)

Ok, now we’ve got that out in the open, I have another confession. In the last few months, I went through a whole stack of paper plates — in my own aparment. I’m sure I’m not the first person to take “shortcuts” in everyday life when the going gets tough. (I’m looking at you, ridiculous weakness and fatigue.) As recently as six months ago, if you’d asked if I saw paper plates in my future because of the weight of actual plates, I would have scoffed. I might have sworn at you in my head.

On Valentine’s day, my partner emerged from the supermarket with artificial flowers (scent sensitivity is the best) and…some lighter plates. I may still need him to go back for melamine because, shocker, the “light” plates he picked up are still proving a bit challenging on bad days/evenings.

Out of necessity, the last several months have earned me a treasure trove of tricks to ah, lighten the load, so to speak. Paper plates, for a little while at least, were worth the environmental trade-off because they made things a lot easier for me. (They could also get tossed in the trash rather than the sink, saving my partner the washing up.) Plastic utensils, right now, mean I can use my energy making myself something to eat rather than cleaning knives and forks when we’ve run out. A handy laptop stand ($20, IKEA*) means I can do things from bed if something (usually a wayward scent) knocks me on my ass.

Most of my tricks, though, just have to do with modifying the way I do things: pouring water into the coffee maker one cup at a time (ditto for filling pots for pasta), filling a blender cup with frozen fruit before bed in case I can’t do it in the morning, and taking wayyyyy more baths are just a few of my favourite ways to cut down exertion.

Sometimes I still need to ask for help, even with my little tricks, because I can get the pasta water in there one cup at a time, but it sure isn’t coming out that way. Asking for help isn’t something that comes naturally to me, even after several months of doing a lot of it, but it’s getting easier. Eventually it might even be easy, full stop — but I’m not there yet.

If nothing else, being chronically ill has helped me be creative when the need arises. Last weekend, I rolled around my apartment in my office chair making dinner because I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes. It made me cry because this was a new “low” for me, but then it made me laugh because it was probably funny. And isn’t laughing the only thing to do, sometimes?

What are some ways you’ve found to keep doing things you love/need to do while being chronically ill? Leave your tips, tricks and stories in the comments section below 🙂

*IKEA did NOT pay me or give me stuff or anything of the  sort in exchange for mentioning them in my post. That laptop stand has just been the best and most chronically-useful $20 I’ve spent in a long time.