Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dealing With Chronic Illness: How to Feel Better When You Aren't Better

Sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it. Here are some tips that really work to help you forget how  sick you are for a while and feel a little bit better.

A few weeks ago, when I walked into the bathroom at work, I was greeted by sticky notes all over the mirror. They bore messages like "Good Morning Gorgeous! Go Get 'Em!" and "You Are Good Enough. Accept Yourself." and "Smile!" and "Hello, Lovely!" and many more.

Even though I know that whoever put up those notes wasn't thinking of me, and probably doesn't even know me, I felt it was a personal message to me that I desperately needed to hear.

I haven't felt very good lately. A major surgery will definitely do that to a girl. I'm exhausted. I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning, and since getting ready one-armed is so difficult, I go to work feeling a little self-conscious and just not quite put together. Then there is the added fun of being newly diagnosed with Lyme disease and just beginning treatment, which makes me feel even worse. And I know I have a long road ahead of me with both my shoulder rehab and the Lyme treatment. I'm not going to feel good for a long time.

When I look at that picture I took of the sticky notes, I see a girl whose hair isn't just how she likes it because her husband has to do it for her right now. I see a girl wearing an ugly sling who can't use her arm. I see a girl who has to do her make-up left handed, so she isn't wearing as much as she usually does and is feeling a little self-conscious about her unibrow, because plucking is out of the question right now. I see a girl who is wearing glasses when she'd prefer to wear her contacts, but it's too hard to put them in one-handed. I see a girl who could stand to lose a few pounds--those hips! Ugh.

But if I back up and look just a little more objectively, I see a girl whose hair looks just fine. Her husband did a pretty great job on that pony tail! I see a girl who has nice skin, even if her eyeliner isn't perfect. I see a girl who is wearing some cool funky glasses that she really likes, and bonus! They hide the fact that she hasn't plucked that dang unibrow. I also see a girl who is wearing a color that looks fabulous on her and who chose clothing that fits her well. I see a girl who is wearing a houndstooth scarf because she LOVES houndstooth more than anything.

We are our own worst critics, aren't we?

So I've been thinking of ways I can shift my focus and feel more confident when I don't feel great. Or, you know, when I don't look great. It's all the same thing, right?

1. Wear Things You Love

Thursday, March 19, 2015

4 Ways Skype Can Improve Your Life

When I was a little girl I would watch shows like The Jetsons and marvel at the idea of being able to actually SEE the person you were talking to on the phone.

And, because I am who I am, I took it a step further and I worried about things like "What if you had a bad case of bedhead when someone called?" or worse, "What if you weren't even dressed??!?" I admit, I was completely scared of the Jetsons Picture Phone because these things worried me. (It turns out I was right to worry, because do you remember the morning mask Jane Jetson used for early morning phone calls?)

Now that the Jetsons isn't so futuristic as it once seemed, my worries have been laid to rest. Not every phone call I receive has to be a video call, I don't need to invest in a morning mask, and I (so far) have not had to wear space age collars that are twice as big as my head. Still, the little girl watching TV in 1980 is absolutely amazed that we have such a thing as Skype. And the very best part? Skype isn't scary at all! I use it all the time and it has enriched my life in several ways. Ways I never thought could be possible 35 years ago.

1. Quality time with far-away family

We live a couple thousand miles away from our parents and siblings. Sometimes it's really difficult to be so far away, but Skype makes it feel like we are not quite so removed.

For instance, the last couple of weeks we've been using Skype to talk to my parents who live in Utah and my brother and his kids who live in Washington state. Since we are a 30-hour drive away from them, it is a wonderful way to catch up and for the kids to maintain close relationships with their grandparents and cousins. And I love that we can do a conference video call so that we are all together, even in three different states!

My girls have been preparing for some music competitions, so we used Skype for them to play for extended family. My brother was so excited to see them play that he recorded the Skype session with his phone and then posted the video on social media boasting about his talented nieces. The next week, his kids played their musical instruments for us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

6 Book Club Picks Worth Discussing

Want to find a book that will spark great discussion at your next book club? Try one of these six books, or one like them, and you're sure to have a lively discussion!

Because I love to read, it naturally follows that I enjoy being part of a book club. I have been in different book clubs over the last ten years, and I always appreciate a book that really inspires a great discussion.

Unfortunately, amazing books do not always inspire amazing discussion at book club.

While I love being with my friends, I always leave book club a little disappointed when the book being discussed was barely talked about. Sometimes we all thought the story was wonderful, but when it comes down to it, there really isn't much to say about it. Sometimes it's because the book was just a fluffy beach read that was fun, but doesn't lend itself to much conversation. And sometimes, not enough people actually read it for there to be a good discussion, but that isn't the book's fault.

I've been in various book clubs for about ten years now, and I have found that the best book club discussions happen when a book falls into one or more of the following categories:

1. The topic is controversial
2. The ending is surprising or undesirable
3. The characters are highly flawed
4. It is a non-fiction book that is interesting and applicable to the members of the book club

Following are five books that have sparked the most memorable book club discussions in my own book clubs. Plus, a bonus sixth book that we will be reading next month and that I KNOW will bring on some passionate opinions.

Monday, March 16, 2015

10 Favorite Picture Books You May Not Have Heard Of

Ten delightful picture books you and your children will love to read together!

March is National Reading Month, so I'm going to share several books highlighting my favorite books for the whole family. Today I'm going to tell you about some of my very favorite picture books--the ones you may not have heard of before.

Even though my youngest daughter is 8 years old now and a fabulous reader, we still love to read fun picture books together occasionally. And I even still buy them when I find one I just can't pass up! Of course, when the girls were really young, I read them picture books all the time. They loved listening to the fun stories and looking at the beautifully illustrated pictures and I loved cuddling with them and teaching them how awesome books are.

Here are the ten picture books that are read most often at our house:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body

Difficulties make us stronger in a very real way.

The other night, Sophia was cleaning some stubborn jam off of the very old, very wooden kitchen door. She was using her fingernails to scrape the jelly when a piece of the wood from the door splintered off and lodged itself underneath her fingernail. It was so big that it pretty much covered most of her fingernail and I didn't readily notice it. I gave her a bandaid for the bit of bleeding and she went to bed without much complaint.

But in the morning, it was throbbing and really bothering her. I looked more closely and I saw the gigantic wood sliver there and cringed. I made a half-hearted attempt to get it out with the tweezers, but I could see that the situation was way beyond my paygrade, so we headed to the doctor's office to see what they could do.

The splinter was large enough that the doctor thought he could easily grab it with his special forceps tweezers (which, he informed me, happen to be the most oft stolen item from emergency rooms). After a few minutes of that exercise, coupled by screams and sobs from poor Sophia, it was clear that the tactic wasn't working.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Writing and Organizing Thank You Cards

How to write thank you notes that are sincere, personalized, and timely. Plus a couple tips for organizing the thank you cards you need to send.

I absolutely love to receive "real" mail. There's nothing better than going to my mailbox to find something more interesting than a bunch of bills, advertisements, and credit card sign up forms. I especially love to receive thank you notes. I have a couple friends in particular, who are really good at sending them, even for the smallest of reasons. I love reading their heartfelt notes of gratitude. Not only does it make opening the mail more fun, it makes my whole day a little better.

On writing thoughtful thank you cards.

February was a tough month here in the Overstuffed household. I am so thankful for all of the help a multitude of people gave us as The Maestro and I were pretty much non-functional. Dinners, cleaning help, gift baskets, snow shoveling, rides, and more were given to us in the last few weeks by amazing friends who were (are!) more than willing to help us.

Now that we're mostly back on our feet, it's time to start sending out lots and lots of thank you cards! The hardest part of sending thank you cards (for me) is remembering who I need to send them to, and why. Ideally, I would sit down and write the note the very day I received the service or gift, but we all know how difficult that is under normal circumstances. When you are barely functioning, it is basically impossible.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

March 2015 Visiting Teaching Printable

The visiting teaching message for March is The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Long-suffering and Patient.

Apropos of my current trials, it was a message that was timely for me. I really loved President Uchtdorf's entire quote on patience, but just the one snippet really made me stop and think.

"Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!"

Printable download for March 2015 Visiting Teaching Message. Long Suffering and Patience.
Scroll down for download instructions.

Today, I pretty much lost patience with all of it. We've had a crazy weekend, my poor husband is probably going insane being the only driver in the house (only 2 more weeks and I can drive again!), and the kids are busier than ever right now. Being one-armed means Mom isn't doing much housekeeping, and what little I manage to do is quickly undone by the other people who live here. And the dog, who can't seem to keep herself from getting into the garbage.