health

Fibro Fridays: My Five Favorite Spoonie Essentials

Happy Friday! I hope you all had an amazing week and an amazing weekend ahead! It’s Fibro Friday, so I’m sharing some more tidbits from my fibromyalgia journey. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there are a few items that I keep nearby (especially during flares) to make my life a little easier and more pleasant. Here are five of my favorite “spoonie” essentials (if you want to know more about “spoonies” and Spoon Theory, you can read my post here). If you have some essentials that you think should be on my list, please share in the comments!

If I had to toss my spoonie essentials into a backpack, these are the ones I would include.

Knee pillow – Sometimes, my trigger points can be especially sensitive, to the point where it hurts for the insides of my knees to touch one another. When this happens, I love using a knee pillow for relief. There are knee pillow designed for side, back, and stomach sleepers. I have two knee pillows, but this one is my favorite.

Magnesium cream – I’ve written about this before, so if you want more information, you can check out this previous Fibro Friday post.

Ginger candy – This is one that I suspect a lot of spoonies keep nearby, because they are so handy and effective. Sometimes, even if you don’t have a digestive condition (such as IBS or chronic nausea symptoms), you will still find yourself feeling a bit nauseous. Fibro is a condition of nerve dysfunction and improper nervous perception, so there’s an element of unpredictability with the symptoms. In any case, nausea can flare up unexpectedly, and ginger candy can be great for soothing upset stomachs. I’m including the link to my current preferred ginger candy (you can probably find it for a much better price in stores, but if you can’t find it, this Amazon link may help). I prefer a stronger ginger flavor, so ginger mints are my favorite. However, I’m also including the link to a milder version that I used years ago, which are also effective.

Kindle E-reader – When I’m spending a lot more time in bed, I like having my Kindle e-reader nearby. My Kindle is OLD (LOL!) but it still works well. The most economical Kindle available right now is less than $100 USD but it is a great item to have, especially if you’re a bibliophile like me. I love that Kindle e-readers retain their charge much longer than my cellphone, and it’s far more portable than my laptop. Here is the basic black Kindle e-reader.

Easy-to-prepare foods – Some days are more exhausting than others. When I simply don’t have the energy to prepare an elaborate meal, I enjoy having a few easy-to-prepare foods around the house. I love instant soups, noodles, and even protein shakes that take less than five minutes to prepare. The local international grocers have a lot of healthier quick meals than typical grocers, so I generally prefer to shop there. However, one of my favorite meals is by Tsubi Soups (I’ve written about it here) and I can only order it online.

That’s all for this week! I hope your weekend is spectacular, and I’ll be back on Monday. Take care and be safe!

*This post contains affiliate links.

fitness · health

Fibro Fridays: My Fibromyalgia Library

Happy Friday! This week has been pretty good overall, even though the weather here in central Virginia has been gloomy and rainy. I suppose I should be thankful for the rain that keep my flowers growing, but can we get a little sunshine, too? I know the sunnier days will return soon: I just have to be patient.

This week’s Fibro Friday will be all about the books in my “fibro library”. While the Internet has been a fantastic resource for learning more about this complex condition, I still enjoy reading books that can give me some insight into fibro. I have several books that I’ve used in learning about fibro as well as ways to give myself some relief from the symptoms. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with this condition, perhaps these books will be helpful to you.

My first recommendation is Career or Fibromyalgia, Do I Have to Choose? by Karen R. Brinklow. This book was one of the firsts that I read on my fibro journey. It’s actually what inspired me to hire a fibro coach last year, to help me manage this transition into a new lifestyle. My coach, Julie, was fantastic and instrumental in helping me to see that fibro can be managed and my life can still be full of fun and meaning.

This next book, 12 Healing Herbal Recipes: Herbal Medicine The Delicious Way by Mary Thibodeau, is a light read that I enjoyed tremendously. The book has little facts sprinkled through it, and has information about foods and spices that can help heal the body. I love the emphasis on the fact that we can use food as medicine, and, by giving our bodies the nutrients that they need, we can alleviate some of the symptoms that we experience.

Next, Beyond Powerful: Your Chronic Illness is Not Your Kryptonite by Lala Jackson is an inspiring read about the many “superpowers” that come to the fore when you’re faced with a chronic illness. Jackson doesn’t have fibromyalgia, but her examples and advice easily apply to any chronic condition.

Finally, Taking Back My Health and Happiness: Hope and Healing from Chronic Pain, Fatigue, and Invisible Illness by Marie Anne June L. Tagorda is an inspirational book that also outlines a step-by-step wellness plan that can be used to improve your health. This book does a good job of addressing the physical and metaphysical aspects of illness. I’ll admit: I’ve read the book but haven’t committed to completing the steps yet. But when I do, I’ll be sure to share my results on this blog!

That’s all for my fibro library! I hope this information helps you to forge a path to wellness, or, if you don’t have fibro, I hope that these books will give you additional insight into this condition so that you can better understand the symptoms.

Have a great weekend, and take care!

These are affiliate links featured in the post, but rest assured, I purchased each of these books with my own money and I’m only sharing what has worked for me 🙂

style

Fall Fashion Post Run-Down

Hi guys! Now that the cool weather seems to be here to stay, I want to share some fun fall fashion posts that I’ve seen over the past few weeks. This will be a brief post, since I’m currently working on a few other things and have to keep it brief so that I have time to work on the pressing stuff. In any case, enjoy, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

fall1

The best part about fall: leaves changing color

If you’re curious about your fall color palette, check out this post over on Best Life Facts. These colors are sure to work perfectly as you transition from summer’s warmth to autumn’s coolness.

fall2

Geek Refined is serving up five different fall looks for your enjoyment. The cool thing about this post is that these are all great transition looks: not quite warm enough for the coldest days, but perfect for the weather right now.

If you’re looking for individual fall pieces to add to your wardrobe, check out Haley’s Beauty Room. This list has a bunch of ideas for filling the gaps with your ensembles. I especially love the trench coat recommendation.

Have fun checking out the links!

 

life curation

My Not-So-Secret Tool for Getting Things Done

Happy Wednesday, friends! I wanted to quickly share one of my favorite tools for getting stuff done. I recently started back to using this tool regularly after I discovered that time was “getting away from me” and I wasn’t quite as productive as I’d like.

We’re all so busy that I know you all can relate to the feeling of too much to do and not enough time to do it. I honestly feel that the reason why we feel that we don’t have enough time is that we try to “make stuff happen” even when the best thing to do is to take a hands-off approach and let the chips falls where they may. The harder we push, the more difficult we make things for ourselves.

checklist

So, to help me with this, I reach for the placemat process. The placemat process is a tool described by Abraham Hicks (if you aren’t familiar with Abraham-Hicks, then you probably haven’t gone deep enough down the law of attraction rabbit hole LOL!) that allocates the day’s tasks based on things to do and emotions you want to feel. The day’s tasks are divided into things that you intend to do yourself, things that you intend for the Universe to handle on your behalf, and the way that you want to feel throughout the day. If I do a placemat, I do it as soon as I get to my desk, so that it sets the tone for the day.

For the record, I don’t follow Abraham’s teaching as much as many of my favorite LOA teachers. However, I recognize when there’s a beneficial teaching or tool being described, and the placemat process is one of my favorites. It has been extremely effective in creating more productive days and for helping me stay focused on what I need to do. There’s something gratifying about checking off completed tasks, and being clear on what I’m leaving up to God/Spirit/the Universe/Source really helps me to focus my energy where it is best served.

I use a template provided to me a couple of years ago, but I found a very similar one on this Abraham Hicks downloadable template page. The format that I enjoy most is Eva’s template.

Give this a whirl for a few days and see if you notice that you’re able to get more done. I think you’ll enjoy using it!

reading list

Reading List: August’s Book

Happy Friday, darlings! I hope you’ve got an exciting weekend planned or, if relaxation is what you need, I hope that you’ve planned some time to chill out and restore yourself.

book1

It’s time for August’s book!

I tossed around a few options for this month, because I was unsure whether I wanted (yet another) book focused on self improvement or something completely different. However, while looking through a few of my stacks of books, I came across one that I hadn’t read yet and was eager to finally dig into.

August’s book is Elizabeth Takes Off by Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t think I’ve read a celebrity’s autobiography in years, so this will be very different from my norm. I love Elizabeth Taylor (remember I did a post about her nearly a year ago?) so when I purchased this book, it was because I wanted the secret to her crazy-tiny waistline. Yeah, it’s superficial, but if she’s giving out the secrets, I want to be the first in line, with my pen in hand.

When I glanced through the book, I recalled that this is, indeed, a book about her diet, but it’s also a discussion about her personal life and career, so it should be a well-balanced, fascinating read. I’m looking forward to reading this one!

life curation

Living Your Best Life: Law of Attraction Keys for a Smoother Divorce

As part of living my best life, I want to continue exploring the things that I’ve used successfully to get certain “wins” in my life. While divorce was painful and life-changing, I had some tools that helped me significantly as I transitioned into divorcee life. I’m convinced that using these tools consistently has made the difference between feeling full of despair and being excited about what lies ahead.

peace

I heavily utilized law of attraction (LOA) techniques to assist me with transitioning to this phase of my life. Here are my top three techniques that I used, as well as some details on how I used them.

Affirmations: I woke up every day and affirmed what I wanted. Some days, my affirmation was as simple as “Every day is a great day”. On other days, when I had a little more pep, I might say something like, “I’m lucky, gorgeous and always attracting awesomeness!” The beauty of affirmations is that I got to repeat whatever felt good, or comforting, at the moment, and that did wonders for setting the tone for my day.

Scripting: When I had the energy, time and focus to put into thinking about what I wanted my ideal post-marriage life to look like, I would do a bit of scripting. Scripting is the process of writing your ideal life as if you are living it NOW. It takes the dream life from fantasy land and immerses you in the experience now (even if that experience is virtual). When I review “Lifestyle Design for a Champagne Life” by Cassie Parks, I’ll have a bit more detail about the process of scripting. Cassie also lists the details of how to script in this podcast episode..

Rituals: I found tremendous comfort from engaging rituals throughout my separation and divorce. When I say “ritual”, I’m not speaking of a religious practice: I’m talking about the routines and habits that gave me stability and relief. One thing that I did consistently is go to the gym and walk on the treadmill to clear my mind. I also used to frequently visit the nearby museums when I needed a mental break, and I enjoyed many afternoons soaking up nature in picturesque Haupt Garden. I consistently used these diversions to give me some peace when I had a lot of inner turmoil.

All of the LOA practices I engaged helped me to get relief from the stress of separation and divorce. For me, this was never about engaging in fantasy or throwing on a bunch of “positive thought” in an attempt to avoid the pain. I moved through the pain and, when it became overwhelming, I reached for what would help me to make it through. I hope that you are able to use some of these tools during some of life’s less-than-ideal challenges.

life curation

Living Your Best Life: 5 Tax Tips for Divorced and Separated People

As a (sort of) recent divorcee, I have been navigating my finances and getting a sense of how to responsibly handle my money in this new phase of my life.

Once upon a time, I worked for IRS as an international tax auditor. I reviewed the tax returns of people living abroad as well as foreign-born individuals that lived and worked in the US. So, suffice it to say, I’m pretty comfortable with tax law.

That being said, I still wasn’t quite prepared for what life would look like as a person preparing her taxes for the first time post-divorce. It’s been about 6 years since I left IRS, so I wanted to make sure that I had the most current knowledge of the tax code, and I wanted to ensure that I was making good decisions now and in the future as I go forward.

tax1

So here’s my little guide for getting a good handle on your tax situation as a separated or divorced person. Some of the tips are also good for anyone (I’ll put my “applies to anyone” advise in parentheses after each applicable tip). Keep this guide of 5 tips (I even threw in a bonus for everyone, so it’s technically 6 tips!) to help you approach your taxes in a clear, orderly, empowered fashion.

time to pay your taxes (1)

  1. Relax about the process. Seriously, nothing good comes from worrying. So take a deep breath and know that YOU CAN DO THIS! Pace yourself and give yourself time to really absorb what you’re learning. Don’t worry about committing it all to memory: no one does that! Just get familiar enough with how to search the IRS.gov website and you will be fine – really, you will! (This applies to everyone. Taxes have a “logic” that begins to make sense to you when you take your time. Don’t worry about learning it all).
  2. Order return, account, and wage/income transcripts for the entire period of the marriage. These documents are free and can arrive to you within two weeks, or you may also request to view the transcripts online. The main transcripts you’ll need are 1) return transcripts, showing what was reported on the tax return for a given year; 2) account transcripts, showing the summary of account activity during a given year (especially helpful if you paid tax as opposed to getting a refund, or if the refund was “offset” [reduced to pay for a federal or state obligation, like delinquent child support, student loans, unpaid income taxes, etc.,); and 3) wage/income transcripts, that show all of the income received during a tax year, as well as mortgage interest paid, student loan interest paid, debt cancellations, etc.,. You want to review these documents to make sure that all of the information is correct before you file your taxes. These are good documents to include in your financial binder, too (This is a good practice for everyone. Order the documents, review them, and make sure that everything is accurate).
  3. Get Publication 504 and READ it! This publication is voluminous but it covers everything that divorced and separated people need to know when preparing their taxes. This is especially helpful for parents, as custody agreements and divorce decrees may have special rules for handling how the parents will file and claim credits and deductions related to children.
  4. Take advantage of free tax preparation software that is available through Credit Karma. I’ve used it for the past two years and I’m very pleased with how well it works. If you’re nervous about preparing and submitting your taxes, then play around with the Credit Karma software (but don’t submit the document: just print it out) then get a trusted tax professional to review it. Have that professional tell you if you missed anything, or have them explain how certain rules, credits and deductions work. (Credit Karma is free to everyone, so check out the software and see if it’s something that will work for you).
  5. Know that you can always amend a return. If you mess up, you can always correct it! The form for amending taxes is Form 1040X. Correcting the taxes can be time consuming, but if the change is significant enough, it’s worth it to initiate the correction on your end as opposed to having IRS open an audit. Audits, by the way, aren’t the super-scary event that most people paint it to be. However, it can take a long time to resolve (depending on the auditor) so it’s always best if you are proactive and amend an incorrect return. (Again, this applies to everyone).
  • Bonus tip: make sure your address is current! Sometimes IRS will send you correspondence to the last address of record, which may have changed since your last filing. Depending on how much your ex controlled the flow of information, you’d do well to update your address with IRS by filing Form 8822.

I’ve hyperlinked all of the referenced forms, websites and publications for your convenience.

 

reading list

Reading List: April’s Book

 

creativity is Intelligence having fun (1)

As part of creating the best year of my life, I’m committed to doing the internal and external work that will help me realize my intentions and create the lifestyle that I desire. In support of this journey, I am focused on reading books that will enhance my life, either through providing inspiration, knowledge, or entertainment, all for the sake of crafting a wonderful year.

For April’s book of the month, I’ve selected Lifestyle Design for a Champagne Life by Cassie Parks. I’ve read this one before, but I didn’t execute all of the exercises mentioned in the book. I have, however, read another of Cassie’s books, Manifest $10,000, and I got phenomenal results, so I am confident that Lifestyle Design for a Champagne Life will be truly life-changing for me.

However, as you all know, I’m doing the Joy Challenge for April, so I am going to read Lifestyle Design but I may have to save the exercises for May, when I have a bit more time and can give it my full attention. That being said, if I find that I do have a bit of time, and inspiration leads me to completing some of the exercises in April, then I’ll do so. I believe in not “overworking” my conscious creation muscle by doing too many things at once. But I also believe in following inspiration, so we’ll see how it goes.

Have any of you read Cassie Parks’s books before? Let me know in the comments below!

beauty

Review: Life of a Bombshell Mini-Haul

I bought some Life of a Bombshell products several months ago but never got around to doing this review. Between work, travel and the bazillion other reviews I did, I missed reviewing these items.

But now I’m back, and I’m ready to talk about them!

I’ve reviewed Life of a Bombshell before in this post. The gorgeous rose gold brushes are still holding up well (though I broke the handle on one of them – clearly *my* issue, and not anything wrong with the brand itself). I’m a fan of the brand because it’s a small, woman-owned company.

I purchased three of the liquid matte lipsticks, in Passion, Purpose and Master Plan, as well as the High Maintenance eyeshadow palette. I also order the creme sheen lipstick in Barbz, but I haven’t worn that one yet, so I won’t be reviewing it in this post (I’ll probably review it on Instagram in the next couple of days).

IMG_2484 - Edited

So, let’s talk about the liquid lipsticks first. These did have a matte finish but they were non-drying and applied smoothly. The colors were GORGEOUS, vibrant and long-lasting. Passion is an intense fuschia, Purpose is a lovely purple shade – not as dark as plum but not as light as orchid – and Master Plan is a rich, gingerbread hue. I often combined Passion and Purpose for a bright and eye-catching lip shade. At work, I reach for Master Plan when I want an easy neutral shade to wear.

Swatches (top to bottom: Master Plan, Passion, Purpose) without and with flash

Wearing a combination of Passion and Purpose

Now about the palette. I. LOVE. IT! The colors are beautiful and applied easily. The pigments are smooth and can be easily intensified for dramatic looks. I like that the palette combines shimmers and mattes, and, instead of having a strictly “rose hued” palette, the company wisely included a green shade for variety. Genius!

IMG_2487

The only two things I wish is that the company named the shades and included a mirror in the lid. It would be a lot easier to describe the combination I used for my eyes if the shades were labeled (for easy reference). However, absent of shade names, I’ll do my best to describe what I’ve been rocking recently. I love using the matte tawny (top row, 2nd shade) as a transition color, oat (bottom row, 1st shade) on my brow bone, shimmery cerise (top row, 3rd shade) on my lid and the deepest shade – the soft raisin one (bottom row, 3rd shade)- in my crease for depth. It’s a soft, easy look that’s both polished and pretty.

IMG_2495 - Edited

Swatches of the eyeshadow shades: the first 4 are the top row; the remaining shades are from the bottom row

The products are reasonably priced and perform well. I’ve been complimented on several of the looks I’ve created with the lip and eye shades. I highly recommend that you try them for yourself!

art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Culture Clash

As explained in previous posts, Art Collectors Conundrum explores the current issues surrounding art collecting. There are a lot of different issues that impact new collectors as they journey into the art world, and one of those big issues is the dissonance that exists between aesthetic indulgences and minimalist ideals.

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 9.22.19 PM - Edited

Betye Saar, Blow Top Blues, The Fire Next Time (1998)

The thing is, the culture of today’s wealthy – especially wealthy millenials – leans more toward minimalism and less toward acquisition of material goods. Any time spent on social media will confirm the “shift” from a culture of excess to one of spartan decorating practices. Many millenials favor the bare walls and monochrome decor that makes for clear, appealing Instagram photos. And, if they select art, the art often lacks the color, texture and excitement that used to be favored by collectors.

4049-132_WSS

Betye Saar, Indigo Mercy (1975)

In short, this cultural clash results in fewer “new” big spenders. Bloomberg wrote about the “new elite” and their artistic tastes. The article points out that location has much to do with the cultural difference, too: East Coast “new money” tends to buy art in the more traditional fashion, while West Coast “new money” isn’t as interested in purchasing pricey art “for arts’ sake”.

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 9.22.12 PM - Edited

Betye Saar, Twilight Awakening (1978)

The key to luring in these potential art investors isn’t as simple as one would think. The most important thing to remember about the new wealthy is that they are earning their fortunes much earlier than the wealthy of previous generations. They just aren’t as likely to be focused on art collecting if they are buying their first homes and starting families.

An interesting way to get the new wealthy interested in collecting could be an art loan program, which allows them to enjoy works for a fixed period of time and then they can purchase the work if they want, or turn it back over to the gallery to “try out” something different. It isn’t a perfect solution but it would provide them with some exposure to fine art and would help them hone in on their personal tastes and preferences.

Those are some of my thoughts on overcoming the dissonance between minimalist goals and owning art. What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your comments below!

(all art by Betye Saar and in the National Gallery of Arts collections)