Saturday, September 30, 2017

Life Update

Well I feel like it's been quite a while since I sat down and typed. I feel like this month has been absolutely insane. Between work, back-to-back activities over the weekends and ( of course ) anxiety lingering in the back of everything, I'm just EXHAUSTED. But I thought I'd update you a little bit on what I did this September.
 
My calendar literally gave me heart palpitations.
 
Of course, Lola had her surgery.  In my last post I told you that her biopsy came back clean and she does not have cancer! Thank GOD! A week after we received the results, we took her for staple removal and she no longer has to wear the Surgi-Snuggly, which is nice ( Nate was super excited about that part ) Her incision looks great and is about 99% healed. I may give her a bath this weekend since she's cleared at this point; clean up the area and just make her a smell-good-pug. But I'm so thankful that she's okay. Haley has been panting non-stop lately but I assume it has to do with just being old since she's had no changes in activity, personality or diet. But jeez it's annoying...

On the 16th we went to the neighbors to celebrate Mason and Marlee's birthdays. I went down a little early to help with setting up and unsuccessfully help make a balloon arch. It was a good time though. Lots of food and fun, beers and chit-chat. We watched the kids open their gifts and then helped clean up a bit as people started to leave. 

Then on the 17th, my friends Katy and Kyle were married. They had their wedding at the Capital Rotunda, which I didn't even know was a thing! The building is absolutely gorgeous! Although it was a little hard to hear since the area is so large, Katy looked absolutely beautiful and her gown was gorgeous! The reception was held right over the Harvey Taylor Bridge in Camp Hill, and it was a nice set up. Buffet style with all types of drinks. We stayed to watch their first dance and the dad/daughter dance, but left right after the bouquet toss since it was coming close to 8:00 PM. I'm super thankful that I was invited to share this day with them.
 
Mr and Mrs Rhoads!
 
The following Saturday was Andrea and George's wedding at their home in Carlisle. It turned out amazing! They put in a new gazebo and a shed and they were married in the gazebo. The food was finger foods but delicious, and there was a wine and beer bar. Although it was SUPER hot for late-September, we all had a great time. But by 8:30 I was ready to head home. Andrea looked stunning and also had a gorgeous dress for her big day. It was wonderful to see two of my best friends get married, for sure!
 
Mr and Mrs Shickler!
 
That Sunday, then, was Woofstock at Riverfront Park. I usually volunteer for about a 2 hour window so that I can still take a walk around the event and check out the vendors/booths/activities. It ended up being a beautiful day...but very hot. I knew Lola was ready to leave because she was becoming slower and panting a good bit. I didn't leave without first getting an artisan grilled cheese from Mad Dash and a chair massage from the HACC students. I didn't really end up doing too much else since I forgot to/didn't have time to get cash before the event. Oh well.
 
Pug really wanted some of my grilled cheese...
 
So now THIS weekend, I was HOPING to just relax...of course that's not the case. Haley's panting has been an issue for a few days now and it's making me wonder if she didn't have CHF all along on TOP of the LP. She woke up his AM and started it up immediately, so I gave her a Trazadone to calm her and we gave her the lasix/hbp rx that she was prescribed before just to see if it would help. Along with that, she threw up a few times...and so did Sadie. So I have two vomiting dogs, I have no clue what the hell is the cause for either, I have PTSD from Haley almost dying in front of me months ago so now every out-of-character thing that happens with any of these damn dogs throws me into a tizzy. I'm 3/4 of the way to a panic attack between that and other things. After spending $8500 ( cash and credit ) on these 2 dogs, I don't know how much more financially I can take, either.

...now I can only pray that tomorrow is relaxing and without dramatics ( yeah right! )
 
 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lola Update!

Well, guys, guess what?

LOLA IS CANCER-FREE!!!!!


I don't even have the words to describe how RELIEVED I am about this news. Not only because I couldn't possibly afford cancer treatment for my dear furry love, but because the stress of finding a way to would have put me in a mental asylum ( if they even really have those anymore ) I would have, though. I would have done whatever I had to. 

We took Lola into Rye yesterday for a one-week post op check and I hoped they'd have the pathology report ( which they did ) It came back that the lumps were just mammary cysts that were benign...at least at this point in time. They, of course, could have become cancerous but since we removed them, they never got the chance to be. 

She has an incision on her belly about 8-9" long...with staples...which broke this mama's heart. But Dr. Whalen said that they incision looks fantastic. Very little redness, little-to-no swelling; she's lost a few staples, but she said that's normal. Instead of an Elizabethan collar they gave us this nifty doohicky called a Surgi-Snuggly, which is like a doggy onesie. It's been working great! It prevents Lola from licking or chewing her surgical site and also, it prevents staples from snagging on clothing or blankets. I definitely recommend the use of one if your vet usually gives an E-collar.

She has the staples removed next Wednesday. I cannot wait

I'm so happy that she's in the clear. And I'm thankful for everyone's good thoughts and prayers during this time. Lola is my little everything, and I couldn't imagine losing her. Everyone knows that she's my baby...literally. I would've drained my savings account and gone into debt to save her. But now I can ease my mind for a while, knowing that surgery NOW hopefully preventing major issues down the road. 

So, yeah...that's 2 dogs down...with one more to go...*sigh* We already know that Sadie is going to need a cyst removed at the base of her tail, so that's gonna be another surgery. But hopefully it'll be a simple, quick and less-stressful procedure for her!

Time to start saving up! 😂😢



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Social (me)dia & (me)ntal Health

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. These are all platforms to show our lives and our opinions. But when does it stop getting fun and start becoming harmful?

Social media is a way to express ourselves. We get to share a little bit of our lives with friends and strangers alike. With the use of hashtags, we can connect with people all over the world that have similar interests and tastes. I've become friends with a girl out of state whom I have a lot in common with such as our love for pugs, crafting and sarcasm. Cara is a pretty cool chick and someone I would have never met outside the realm of Instagram. 

But then there are the negatives to such apps. The trolls; the obsession with posting or searching-out posts. 

I follow a gal from Tennessee ( I think? ) who has been working on a healthier lifestyle for years.  Last year, she leaned out and competed in her first fitness competition. Afterwards, she learned that it's not about having the "perfect body" but about being a better you each and every day, and living a healthy life. Yes, she's gained some of the weight back. But she's okay with that. Since she decided to share her life with people on Instagram, though, she now has to deal with comments like these:





Tesia is a strong woman who is just trying to be comfortable in her own skin. She's realized that the "fit" life isn't always the "healthy" life, and while trying to be inspiring to those who still struggle, she's harassed and judged but complete strangers.

This is just one major downfall with the "social media age".

 
Another major downfall of such sites is the fact that we compare ourselves to others. 

Why can't I be as skinny and beautiful as her?
Look at her expensive shoes and handbag!...I wish I had money like that.
She looks so put together--her life must be perfect!

We get down on ourselves when we see how "great" others have it. But what we must understand is, just like a photograph, they always show the good times and rarely the bad. You don't take pictures or write statuses about the hard times ( well, usually... ) Things like that cause pity. We want to mask the bad by over-accentuating the good. Lavish trips. Expensive objects. In social media, WE have "the power" to show the world whatever we would like to. And while some are crudely honest to a fault, others show only the good side of things...leading one to believe they have the perfect life.

The younger generation knows nothing but this technological age, and I feel bad for them. Self-esteem is at an all-time low and kids feel like they will only gain acceptance in the amount of friends and followers they have. They post pictures for 'likes' because they don't know how to like themselves. 

And just like how these apps make us feel like crap about ourselves, they are also a way to make people feel bad for US. Get on your Facebook once...I bet you have at least one friend who only posts negative shit. Whether it be statuses about "how much their life sucks" or vague quotes about life, insinuating that theirs sucks. They strive for attention, because they feel whether it's bad or good, at least it's attention. I have an old friend who has been constantly posting about her "failing life", trying to make excuses like karma isn't to blame. No excuses!...if you're a bad person to others, people will be bad to you. The first step in becoming a better person is being REAL with yourself and your downfalls. Don't play the boo-hoo-pity-party card and make everyone feel bad for you when YOU are the cause of the chaos. 

...which leads me to the last issue with social media: it prevents us from letting go of the past. 

We reopen wounds when we go searching for our ex-boyfriends or ex-friends. We go in search of things we were never meant to see, thus causing undue pain that could be easily avoidable. Why do we torture ourselves? Because it's so easy to.

Why do you care about what your ex-girlfriend is doing? You want to compare lives. You want to make sure that you're doing better than her. What check out your ex-BFFs page? Because you want to see if karma came back around. But what does that solve? It only angers you more. It brings about bad feelings. 

WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?!

It is not a healthy way to live. And even though social media has a lot of benefits when it comes to current events, bringing people together for a cause, education, etc...there's always bad with the good. There's always people who will abuse the system and use it for evil. 

I, myself, have learned that I really need to disconnect. I need to block people I don't have reason to care about; I need not follow people with whom I compare my looks/attitude/skills with; I need to focus on ME and not strangers 5000 miles away.

We all only get one time to live our lives...

...why be sad the whole time that we aren't living someone elses?  


 
 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Time To Talk-Therapy

About a month ago, I took the initiative to change therapists. I'm still unsure of this transition, as sometimes I do miss my old therapist and feel like she already knew so much about me. It becomes quite unbearable at times to know that I have to go over all that shit AGAIN with someone else. But I said I would give this a fair shot, and that if it didn't work out that I'd go back to where I started. So far, I think I've had 3-4 sessions...

But while in treatment with this new lady, she spoke slightly about a technique she uses call EMDR.

EMDR is short for "eye movement desensitization and reprocessing". The basic premise ( from what I grasp, so far ) is that when you're deep in thought about things, your eyes move in a certain "pattern". Through this pattern, you can retrain your brain to process things different. It was harder for her to explain in words, but I looked up more information and uncovered this:

"No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way."


There is also documentation on how the process works and the steps to achieve the desensitization, which you can read here. The concept is intriguing and I told her that I'm on board to try this method out.

She told me at our last appointment that we will not discuss the traumatic experiences aloud but simply have me think about them. She feels like reopening past issues can cause retraumatization, so she refrains from doing so. I must give consent for her to physically touch me due to the fact that with EMDR you must use sensation on each side of the body to trigger both sides of the brain. My therapist tends to use the tops of a patient's knees to achieve this. 

I'm eager to see how this technique works. It's used a lot for patients that suffer from PTSD, and although I wouldn't consider having PTSD, I sort-of have something like it. There are a few events in my life that I still harbor pain from and that caused me to the be the person I am today ( good or bad?...I don't know ) 

I hope that EMDR will allow me to view hard times in a less devastating manner and, in a way, help to desensitize me as a whole. I am a very emotional person by nature; to the point that I feel everything SO strongly it's disruptive to my life. Whether it be a hurtful name I was called, someone's attitude towards me, a suffering animal on the side of the road, or that my coffee spilled on the way to work...things like this can ruin my whole day and cause me to ruminate the situation all day. It's not healthy. 

...and I really want to be better at coping with life as a whole.

So here's to hoping EMDR is as successful as I'm hoping it will be!!!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

I! LOVE! BREAD!

Actually, I don't. Unless they are breadsticks from the Olive Garden...then this is valid.

 

But reading that title probably makes you think of Oprah Winfrey in the newest Weight Watchers commercials. That was the point.

Years ago, I decided to start WW to try to lose weight. In about a year, I lost 35 lbs. This was back in 2011/12, and I kept the weight off for less than a year. This was due to going back to bad habits and making it less of a point to make it to the gym regularly. 

In either case, it did work for me. That's why I decided to try it again.

I have 2 weddings approaching that I'm to attend toward the end of the month. A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to lose 10 lbs before these weddings. So I made it a point to facilitate my WW app and get back on the cardio bandwagon. Tomorrow I weigh myself--but the first week I lost 1.4 lbs. 

Now, there have been advancements to the Weight Watchers "algorithm", but since the Points Plus system worked for me last time, that's the one I use. With PP, it is based on your intake of fats, carbs, fiber and protein. I'm not sure the equation they use to figure out your food points using these 4 nutrition facts but that's why they have apps! 😁

What I love about WW is that you can eat what you want ( but within reason ) With this plan, you don't have to restrict yourself or get angry for eating "bad food". It teaches you moderation; you can eat that brownie for 6 points OR you can have a sugar-free Fudgecicle for 1 point. That would leave me with 5 additional points to eat MORE food with. If you eat shit, you will go over your points and not get results. It helps you make better choices so you don't have to starve yourself.

Also, you're given weekly points or "cheat points". If you want to eat a little more one day, you can do so without beating yourself up. And actually, I've noticed I lose more weight when I use these points rather than not. 

Here's an example:

I'm given 29 points a day to consume.
Let's say a bowl of oatmeal is 3 pts and a banana is 0 ( on PP, fruit/veggies are 0 pts )
So breakfast-3 pts.

Then for lunch, I eat a SmartOnes that's 7 pts.
And I want a Light Cheeseheads string cheese for 1 pt.
Lunch-8 pts.

So there's 2 meals and I've only used 11 of my 29 points, leaving me 18 points for dinner/snacks. 

But I like a snack around 10 AM, so if I eat celery and Bolthouse Ranch dressing ( 1 pt per TBSP )--that snack is only 1 pt. 

( you should get my drift at this point ) 

And when you work out, you earn points back--thus meaning you can eat more that day if you would like. Not saying you have to, but you can.

If you don't want to do Weight Watchers through WW ( meaning you have to pay their monthly dues ), there are 2 apps that I've really liked.

WWDiary by canofsleep is the app I used back when I had an Android, and when I lost the weight the first time. It's a free app and it's super easy to use. And if I recall, they have various restaurant entrees listed in their database for when you want to grab something outside the home.

Now that I have an iPhone this time around, I actually had to pay for an app. Blah! But the one I use is ProTracker Plus Weight, Calorie & Exercise Tracker. It was a one-time fee of $2.99 and you have the choice of either using the old or new calculator. 

I definitely recommend WW to anyone trying to lose some weight because it not only keeps you in check, it also prevents you from denying yourself certain foods in your diet. Moderation is key!

So far, the progress is slow ( like it always is ), but as time goes by there may be an update on progress!...maybe.

 Stay tuned!

 

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Birchbox

Well, I didn't make it--it's September now and I failed to write a blog about my latest box. This is partially due to having such a busy few weeks at work, and partially due to laziness. 

Shame. On. Me.

I feel like I got a lot of skin products in this box, which bored me. But I've tried pretty much everything...so here we go:


Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint
This is more-or-less a sunscreen, but it can also work as a nice primer before you apply makeup. With SPF 30 it's great for protecting your face from the harms of the sun. The tint is very mild--barely noticeable. When I used this product, it just felt like a primer. No greasiness. Not sunscreen odor. It's light and has natural ingredients to ( hopefully ) avoid reactions on sensitive skin.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
I rarely use dry shampoos, although I probably should try. I avoid washing my hair daily due to the dryness I've been seeing as I age. With the grays starting to come in, I feel my hair gets a lot more frizzy so I try to avoid it by washing my hair only every 2-3 days. But come day 3, I do feel my roots get a bit oily. This could help.

Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel
This cleanser is unscented and great with a facial brush. I put about a dime-sized amount on my brush in the shower and scrub away. It works great for my sensitive skin and, actually, a dime-sized is usually too much ( but it comes out real easily ) You could probably get away with a pea-sized amount to make it last longer. When you rinse it off, your face doesn't feel dry but it does feel clean.

Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Perla
This was my Birchbox pick for the month, as the curated box choice had a DEEP red in it that I did not want to receive. So, my thoughts were that to avoid getting another dark color I probably would never wear, I'd choose this to avoid that chance. The color is very pretty and goes well with my skin tone. It is a matte color and it actually does stay a good while. And unlike my favorite matte color by Tarte, I don't seem to lose my lip color around the opening of my mouth as much. 

In real life, my upper lip is NOT that full!
  
Balance Me Congested Skin Serum
I've used this once or twice right before bed to help with red spots and break outs. The scent isn't strong like some products and, although I didn't see much progress with the product, it's probably because I didn't use it often enough. I actually kind of forgot I had this product and just continued using my Zap Zit ( which also never seems to work ) But maybe I'll just have to start using this ritually...

I already chose one product for my September box, so the other 4 will be "tailored to my profile". 

Here's to hoping for just a little more variety in this month's box...