Tuesday, 16 December 2014

It's Called Management For a Reason

Hindsight really is eye-opening. If I knew then, what I know now...

Continuing on my journey of becoming a healthier me, I had my aha moment one evening. Having chronic pain is a bitch. The pain alone isn’t the problem; it’s the emotional and physical fatigue from planning my life around my illness. I’m only 52 and my body is failing me.

I have Fibromyalgia, Myofascial pain and a tailbone issue. The icing on the proverbial cake, was a diagnosis of diabetes, another chronic condition.

Going to the grocery store was already a chore I detested. Now it meant having to manage (manage + meant = management!) time more efficiently, while reading labels on everything from fresh groceries to frozen and pre- packaged goods. I felt like Toula’s father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. “The word management comes from the Greek word…”.

I am slowly settling into a new way of eating, thinking and being. Coping with my illnesses is a process. And it’s not one I choose to be defined by.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Okay Then: My Latest Diagnosis

A few weeks ago I was given the diagnosis of Type II Diabetes.

My reaction: "Okay then". I'm not sure if it was the shock, or a "what else can be wrong with me" attitude. The doctor looked at me with surprise written on her face.

"Pardon," she replied. "Are you okay?".

"Am I okay? A ludicrous question. No, I'm not okay. What I am, however, is used to not having any symptoms and suddenly going from zero to a hundred". She went through the numbers that had led to the diagnosis. My mind was racing. I had had an appointment a week and a half prior for blood work, as I had been feeling blah. Was it my fibromyalgia? My chronic tail bone pain? My anxiety and depression?

You know how they say 'hindsight is 20-20'? I had noticed I was experiencing blurred vision, more frequent visits to the bathroom, and exhaustion. I'd assumed this was connected to my fibro. But it turns out, it wasn't.

I've since processed the news and am making changes in my lifestyle. Baby steps:

-I detest drinking water, but I am drinking a little more than I did.
-I'm also cutting sugar out a little at a time.
-I read product labels and am more mindful of my food choices. (But I don't keep a food diary, because as a recovered anorexic, I find that very triggering). I also took a nutrition class at the local hospital's diabetes education centre.
-I am trying to come to terms with adding yet another medication to my already full pill container.
-Testing my blood? Ew. A necessary evil that I have to master.

Still trying to put one foot in front of the other.

Photo source: CoHoBags on Etsy

Friday, 7 November 2014

My Disability Is Invisible, But I Am Not

We live in a world where a disability is not taken seriously if you cannot see it. I parented a child with Selective Mutism (social anxiety so severe she could not speak in certain situations) and depression. I also understand this from personal experience.

Around the time that Becca was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, I found out that I had both anxiety and depression. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, the overwhelming sadness I felt after my mother died, and felt throughout my adult life, it came as no surprise.

The anxiety reared its ugly head when I was very small. I can recall feeling very scared in situations too numerous to mention. It, like the sadness, enveloped me. I felt as if I was in a deep pit, my hands clinging to the edge trying not to let go. I looked up, my knuckles white with tension, and was sure that something touched my left hand, making me unwittingly loosen my grip. Staring in disbelief, I struggled to retain the hold I had on the ledge with my right hand.

Suddenly a peaceful feeling came over me, and with my eyes focused on the ledge, I let go, one finger at a time. The black dog of depression had made me surrender.

So began my downward spiral. It did not help that society, and many people around me, felt it was something to be ashamed of. Stigma is a bitch.

Bring On the Medication

Reluctantly, I began to accept that medication for a debilitating mental illness is no more shaming that needing it for diabetes or cholesterol. At least it shouldn’t be.

Sadly, the stigma of mental illness is still running rampant in the 21st century. If only we could bring about change as quickly as technology is advanced. Until then we need to hold up our heads with pride and not be afraid to say, I speak for those who stand with me in silence. I have a mental illness.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

4 Reasons To Stand With Jetta

A 10 year-old Ohio girl named Jetta cut and donated 14 inches of her hair to Wigs for Kids, an organization that supports children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. A selfless act that should be applauded by adults and peers alike has instead made Jetta the target of bullies at her school.

According to an interview with Dayton, Ohio's WHIO News, classmates have been mocking Jetta for "wanting to be a boy" and having an "ugly" haircut. School administrators are doing nothing to stop it.

Having read articles about Jetta's generosity and bravery, thousands of people around the world are rallying to support her. Here are four reasons you should, too:

1. Bullying is never okay. Especially when it's perpetuated by adults who should know better. Jetta's principal said that Jetta and her mother should "toughen up", however the bullying had gotten so bad, by this point, that Jetta had to be pulled out of school. The family has since received some communication from the school, which was "a small step in the right direction", but it's not enough to undo the damage.

2. Girls have enough body image issues without people in positions of authority allowing bullies to gang up on their classmates. Thank goodness for parents like Jetta's mother, who are loving and supportive enough to counteract the effects of parenting.

3. Selflessness should be celebrated. Jetta came up with the idea to donate her hair, all by herself. Most adults aren't that altruistic.

4. Short hair is in. Rock it, baby! Half the girls in Jetta's class are probably jealous of her fab haircut, but don't have the guts to admit it!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

10 Awesome Things

Click here to see the Awesome lists others bloggers have linked up!
Inspired by Love the Here & Now's recent "10 Awesome Things" post, here's our own list of things that made us smile this week (from the exciting to the mundane!).

Lin's Awesome Things

1. Snuggling a migraine away!

2. Fuzzy socks on a cold day.

3. Colbie Callait's new album.

4. Opening up about quitting a job I loved.

5. Getting new magazines in the mail.

Becca's Awesome Things

1. Autumn- inspired DIYs, like these Autumn leaf mason jar candle holders

2. Waking up to my tiny black cat staring at me. SO. Cute.

3. Listening to the Jersey Boys soundtrack on repeat while I work.

4. Tuna with pickles and cheese.

5. Wearing my pun-tastic shirt that says "oh deer" and has a picture of a deer on it :)

What awesome things made your week?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Saying Goodbye

Today at Lin's Classroom, I wrote about why I quit my job as an ECE, to battle Fibromyalgia and to reinvent myself and my career.

Saying goodbye to being an ECE was something I had been mulling over, as fibromyalgia invaded my world more and more. I had a great run as a teacher, but now it was time to reinvent myself.

Have you ever quit a job you loved?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

We're Still Mad For Plaid!

Last November, we wrote about plaid fashions for your closet and home. This Autumn, we're at it again! Check out the latest, cutest and most affordable items in the season's hottest print. Bonus: You can wear your plaid into winter!

Mad For Plaid: Classy

Channel glam pin-up model Bernie Dexter (pictured) and choose one plaid piece and glam it up with feminine shoes, a structured handbag or a vintage hairdo. Effortlessly classy!
Mad For Plaid: Casual

Kick back and relax in casual, comfy pieces in a fun print. We're especially fond of those plaid pj pants, which go up to a size 4X and will run you just $18. (We've found even cheaper, fleece and cotton versions at Walmart, too!)
Mad For Plaid: Grunge

Whether you're missing the 90s and Nirvana or just want to rock an affordable trend, try grunge. Go all out with an oversized flannel top (à la Kurt Cobain), sneakers or combat boots and thrifted torn jeans. Or pick one piece, like a frayed plaid scarf or big boots covered in Buffalo plaid print.

Which look do you like best? And what print are you most excited about wearing this fall?

Friday, 19 September 2014

Toronto: Free Book Festival This Sunday!

The Word On The Street is an annual literacy festival in Toronto featuring pop-up bookstores, free entertainment for kids, author talks and more. Admission is free!

The festival appeals to a wide variety of people, including:

Bibliophiles. Just being surrounded by books induces bibliophile bliss, but being able to purchase books from local authors with heavy discounts? Bonus!

Families. Is there anything better than entertaining your kid for an entire day, without spending a cent? Visit the Toronto Public Library's tent, where your child can sign up for her very own library card (just bring proof that your family resides in the GTA). Next, learn about great new books for kids at the TD Children's Literature tent, explore the Children's Activity Tent and watch a live show at the TVOKids stage.

English language learners/ English as a second language learners (ELL/ESL): Find books in your native language (especially children's picture books), resources for practicing your English and information for newcomers to Canada.

Educators: If you're a teacher of any kind and are passionate about literacy being accessible for all, you'll enjoy this festival. Literacy Lane will be right up your alley! And be sure to keep an eye out for freebies and discounts exclusively for teachers.
Our favourite part of the festival is the marketplace, dubbed "Canada's biggest outdoor bookstore", where you can buy books, magazines, bookmarks, t-shirts and more. The emphasis on Canadian publications is refreshing. You might even run into a local author or two!

A few extra tips for making the best of WOTS:

-Wear comfy shoes! Although there are some places to sit, you'll want to see everything, so there's a lot of walking!
-Pack a healthy snack. You'll need your sustenance! There are usually a few food trucks around, but nothing beats a cheap and cheerful, made-with-love picnic lunch on a nice day!
-If you plan on shopping, bring cash. There are some great deals that make visiting an ATM totally worthwhile.

The Word On The Street is this Sunday, 21 September 2014 from 11 am to 6 pm, at Queen's Park Circle.

For more information, see the official Word On The Street website.

Full disclosure: We are in no way affiliated with The Word On The Street. We're simply fans of the event and believe supporting literacy and Canadian authors is important!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Easy Autumn Recipe: Bruschetta and Spaghetti with Homemade Crockpot Meat Sauce

It's starting to get chilly here in Ohio! Warm up with this delicious, hearty and easy to prepare meal the whole family will love. Bonus: It's full of vegetables and protein; perfect sustenance for kids who have to do homework and moms who have freelancing to do after dinner.



Roma tomatoes
Garlic cloves (I like it garlicky!)
Olive oil
Basil (fresh or dried)
Parmesan cheese
Your choice of bread

How to:
Chop up tomatoes into bite sized pieces.
Crush your garlic. As a shortcut, skip this step and use chopped garlic in a jar.
Combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil (to taste) and basil in a large bowl. Stir gently. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
Turn on broiler.
Slice bread, place on cookie tray and place in oven until slightly browned.
Put bruschetta mixture on bread and broil until the bread looks crispy.
Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Spaghetti with Homemade Crockpot Meat Sauce

Olive oil
Ground hamburger, turkey or chicken (I used ground sirloin from Meijer)
2 jars of spaghetti sauce (any brand, as long as it is thick in consistency)
Bay leaf and spices, if desired
Parmesan cheese, if desired

How to:

Chop up vegetables.
Saute vegetables and garlic in olive oil.
Place cooked vegetables in crockpot.
Add ground meat to unwashed frying pan. The meat will take on the flavour of the vegetables. Cook until browned.
Drain any grease from meat. Then add meat to crockpot and mix.
Add spaghetti sauce and mix again.
Add bay leaf and spices if desired.
Cover crock pot. Cook on low for several hours. This makes the flavours "marry" and the consistency thicken. Yum!
Cook spaghetti according to directions on box.
Drain spaghetti and serve with a generous helping of sauce, and parmesan, if desired.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Delicious and Affordable Food at Cheddar's

Our family appreciates a good meal. That's why we love Cheddar's. Not only can we sip yummy drinks and eat amazing food, but the comfy seats and pleasant service make the restaurant the perfect place for a Friday night family dinner, a quick midweek lunch, or leisurely drinks, dessert and conversation.

Cheddar's Casual Cafe started as a single location in Arlington, Texas in 1979. Now, with over 130 Cheddar's restaurants across America, the company proudly maintains its original values ("quality food", "fair price" and "comfortable atmosphere") at every location.

Not convinced? Don't just take our word for it! In 2012, Zagat ranked Cheddar's the nation's No.1 full-service restaurant chain as well as Top Overall American Cuisine, the Top Rated Food and Top Rated Decor and Facilities. Additionally, Consumer Reports named Cheddar's #1 in the Pub Style or Grill Category in 2009 and 2012.

Check out some of our family's favourite menu items below:

Cheddar's Iced Teas (sweetened or unsweetened) and lemonades are thirst-quenching and divine! /  The honey butter croissants are always made fresh. Warm and light, we dare you to eat just one! / These burgers are delicious, and the price is right. You can't go wrong with a side of fries or cole slaw, either.
Cheddar's vegetable plate offers practically endless combinations of satisfying, mostly vegetarian options. Here's what we ordered last time:

Have you ever been to Cheddar's? What's your go-to order?

Full disclosure: We were not in any way compensated for this post. We simply love to share our favourite places and events with readers!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back To School Must-Haves: 3 Styles

School is back in session for our American friends, and about to start for Canadians. Here's a round up of must have items for high school and college students' bags and entrepreneurs' home offices.

Best In Class: Tried and true, best bang for your buck school supplies that are easy to find at your favourite big box store, drugstore or on Amazon.
Best In Class: School Supplies

Put The Fun In Functional: Fun stuff that actually makes you want to study.
Put The Fun In Functional: School Supplies

This Desk Has Class: Elegant office supplies for the design-oriented.
This Desk Has Class: School Supplies

What are your back to school must-haves?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Perfect Pastels You Can Wear Into Spring

It certainly doesn't feel like spring here in Toronto-- in fact, it snowed again last week!-- but that doesn't mean you can't start prepping your wardrobe for the warm weather ahead.

Start mixing some pretty pastel pieces into your go-to cold weather look, and you'll be set for spring! Here's how:

Layer a pastel-hued cardigan over your outfit for a cozy new look. Come spring, you can swap your heavy winter coat for the sweater.

Pastels: Cute Cardis

Cute accessories can spice up even the most basic of outfits.

Pastels: Accessorize

Go all out with a sky blue dress, coral pants or sunshine yellow skirt.

Pastels: Go All Out

What's your favourite way to wear pastels?


Monday, 10 February 2014

Last Minute Valentine's Day Ideas For Single Gals

Valentine's is in just a few days, and although you don't have romantic plans anyway (who needs boys?!), there's no reason you can't celebrate-- even if you're short on time and cash.

Wear some cute lingerie. Make your own heart go pitter-patter!

Pretty up your apartment with a DIY paper Valentine's Day wreath.

For more ideas, check out my Pinterest board, Be Your Own Valentine.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Feeling Burned Out? Why Don't You...

When you're busy all the time, caring for a family, having a social life, working on a business and doing the 9 to 5, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. But when you're this busy is exactly when you need it most.

So why don't you...

Take a day off. We know how hard it can be to cancel plans, call in sick and delegate cooking and cleaning to someone else, but just for today, try it. Spend all morning in bed, go to a movie, give your credit card a bit of a workout at that great new sale. Whatever it is, take some time just for you.

Make some tea. It's like a vacation in a cup!

Curl up with a good book. Get away from it all without leaving your couch! We recommend these books.

Go on an adventure. A change of pace can make all the difference! Do something you've never done before (whether it's tame or a little bit crazy). Taste sashimi. Wear thigh high boots. Go skydiving. A little something different can jolt you out of the slump you're in. And who knows? You might discover your new favourite thing!

Subscribe to a new magazine. Lin loves Law of Attraction and Live Happy. Becca's fave magazines are Bust and Shameless. Try reading something different for a little inspiration.

Pay it forward. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee, volunteer at an organization you care about or send fun snail mail or an e-card to a friend who lives far away.

Your turn: How do you cope with emotional exhaustion?

Image source.