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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Being Thankful for 2020

Many of you probably clicked on this post simply out of curiosity. After all, this year has been horrendous. I, out of all people, should know. And yet, I can't help but be thankful. No, not because Thanksgiving is here and I am required to be. Not even just because I'm a Christian, though that is a great enough reason. But rather, because for all the bad it has brought, I'm finding the silver linings. I think each of should look back and see those slivers of good. They are tiny rays of hope in the darkness. 

Feeling my way in the dark

More than once this year, I have felt alone. I had that feeling of being in a room filled with people, but having no voice. Being invisible. All the while, talking and sharing in whatever was going on with those around me. It wasn't always like that though. 

Before the pandemic forced us all into our own corners to cower, another event happened. Something that changed me. In a big way. I used to be comfortable speaking about any topic with any person. After this one event, however, that changed. Now, I'm cautious. Now I have moments of walking on eggshells. Sure, I slip up. But I have gotten back to being the one that tries to listen more and speak less. Unless I am around someone I really trust and who can handle me as I am, I try to keep my opinions, or voice, to myself. As the world has continued to changed, I have seen how so many people have an opinion, but are so against allowing others to have their opinions. When did we become people who thought our ways of thinking were the only way to think? When did we start laughing at others, just because they see things differently? I might not be able to speak my mind. I might not be able to share my life with most of the people I know, even family. But I can listen. And try to support those I cross paths with. I won't be another voice adding to the din. Instead, I'm working to be a voice of encouragement.

Beauty in the pain

I'm no stranger to pain. I've dealt with it for years. And I will deal with it until I die. 2020 has just been a year that took it to a whole new level. I've had 2 surgeries dealing with my faulty gallbladder (that was finally removed). Then there were the 3 wisdom teeth that led to dry socket - how can 1 tooth's' absence hurt SO much?! An ovarian cyst formed - I thought for sure my appendix was killing me. And of course there is the worsening of my spinal issues. 

But there is something beautiful about all this. No, I don't wear rose colored glasses and see the cup forever half full. I'm very much a realist. I just look for good in the bad things so that I don't slump into a mental abyss of darkness. Years of practice, people. The beauty I see, is that I'm learning to handle more of it. Little by little, I'm thankful for these moments of pain. They are helping me become more empathetic to others. Less of an intolerant grouch when it flares. 
This year, I have made a wonderful friend in pain. A young woman, like me, who shares in the daily grind of suffering. Different cause, but the similar trials of getting through the day. I can be completely honest. I can tell her when I'm struggling. I can open up and voice my frustrations. As she can too. And we completely understand each other. I'm thankful for this. Before this year, the only person I knew that understood me like that was my Nana. When I talk to her, I don't have to say, "I'm fine." Because we both know, I'm not. As a matter of fact, we laugh about people asking stupid questions. "How are you doing today?"  Here is a hint, folks. Stop asking, "How are you?" If what we have is chronic, skip the part that we have to fake a smile for. Or if you can't skip the small talk, and we answer with, "I'm good/fine/okay", PLEASE, do NOT respond with, "I'm so glad you are getting better!" News flash - I AM NEVER GETTING BETTER! What I have, is for life. And that is okay! I have good days. Where I can literally roll out of bed and get on with the day. For me, personally speaking, that means my pain is what I rate as a level 6 or under. If I show up to be around others, my levels have to be somewhere in that ballpark - often with the use of pills. A moderate day is a level 7, and I will struggle to stand while cooking dinner. Anything above a level 8, means I will be stationary for the majority of the day. I'd rather go thirsty than walk to the kitchen for water. This is what life is like for those like me. We find others like us who understand, truly understand, and we feel strengthened. It isn't pity. It isn't sympathy. It is genuine understanding. And it is beautiful. I'm not alone. 

Seeing truth amid the lies

This last one is harder for me. I grew up in a close, but large family. I was surrounded by people. And while I'm more of an introvert at heart, I have extrovert tendencies when I get comfortable around people. One characteristic of mine, is to be loyal. I call it a blessing and curse. A blessing in that I will remain loyal to, and be there for, anyone I form a close relationship with. A curse in that I have a knack for being hurt the hardest by those I am most loyal to. This year, I took a heavy hit. I still have a relationship with certain people, but I can never trust them to be completely open and honest. Nor can I feel comfortable in being myself around them. I know their personality, their habits and the damage they are capable of causing without even knowing they are doing it. They smile and chat and act like everything is just fine. That nothing has changed. Under the surface, however, they would have to be fools to believe that is the case. 

So this year has taught me another lesson I'm grateful for. Be loving and interactive, but keep enough distance to stay safe. I don't want to alienate myself and my family, but I will be cautious of what others say and do. Relationships always come with the risk of being burned. But choosing to abstain completely from them, causes a great deal of loneliness. It can be a difficult choice to make. I have chosen to toughen up as well as clam up. I can't shut the door completely, but that doesn't mean I have to give them fuel for their fires against me. And if they say something that hurts, I need to let it roll off my back. 

I have 2 pillars for strength

I think of the Bible story of Samson, standing between two pillars. Well, there are 2 that hold me up. Physically and emotionally speaking, my husband has been my stronghold. I couldn't get through all this without him. And I couldn't be more thankful for him. My second chance at a happy life came with him. And I will never be the same. 

More importantly, however, and spiritually speaking, I have God. And even if everything else was taken from me, He is all I need to get through every heartbreak, every trial, every disappointment and all the pain this life throws my way.  I wake up with prayers for strength to endure the day. I fall asleep praying for peace, safety, and grace for those in my life. And I thank God for the trials. That little by little, He is molding me and making me into something new. Something better. Something closer to Him.

These things are that I am thankful for. No matter how bad things might get, I'm going to look for the good it serves. There is always a silver lining. And a purpose to what is happening. What is one bad thing that happened to you that you found the good of?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Keeping Those Curls Frizz-Free With Curl Keeper!

Time to host another party with Tryazon!  It really is a great one. This time, I want to show you how to keep those curls gorgeous with Curl Keeper

*Disclaimer: I was sent these products free of charge in exchange for my honest review and hosting a party. I was not otherwise paid or endorsed. All opinions expressed are from myself and my guests.*

Once upon a time, I was a girl with long, straight hair. One year, I cut off my 16" pony tail , donated it to Locks of Love, and got a perm. I went from straight to poodle, overnight. Since then, my curls have naturally formed. But since I keep my hair longer, they are more like waves that bunch together. It can be pretty cute at times. But what about those days that the frizz cuts in? Well, that is when I consider butchering my hair and chopping it as short as I can. 

Now what if there was a way to prevent that frizz and keep the curls beautifully bunched together? That is where Curl Keeper comes in to play! 

What is Curl Keeper?

Some people see a need and seek to fulfill it. They strive to help others. That is what Jonathan Torch did. His passion for curls led him to open The Curly Hair Institute, back in 1985. But seeing the issues that curly hair ladies had, he knew he had to do something to rejuvenate their joy in their hair. By day, he beautified. By night, he practiced creating new formulas. Eventually, he perfected the water-based solution. The Curl Keeper was born. Designed to keep curls naturally stunning, without the negative side effects of buildup, frizz and hair loss.  

He came up with a line that was all water-based. This was to combat the problem of buildup. They are pH balanced, just for the curls. Created with the highest quality of ingredients and no silicones so as to keep the hair continually healthy. These products reactivate with water to allow for easier styling. They are humidity and frizz-proof though. Curl Keeper is formulated for all types of curls. And the icing on top? If you have colored hair that you don't want to risk fading, Curl Keeper has Silk Proteins that reduce fading.

Why this brand product looked good

First off, I hate frizzy hair. Secondly, I saw an opportunity to introduce something that could potentially bring joy to several women I know who struggle against crazy curls. Their advertisements also included that there are no silicones in the mix. I appreciate this as I've been trying to avoid products with chemicals that can be dangerous to my health. So to keep my coarse locks under control, I decided to take this one on for a trial.

What they sent me

For my guests, I received samples of their Original Liquid Styler. This is applied to wet hair to keep frizz from taking over as the hair dries. It lasts for days! I also handed out pamphlets to them to give a great overview of the company and what they have to offer. 

For the hostess, yours truly, I was given a Style of Refresh product pack. It includes 4 full sized products: Original Liquid Styler, Refresh Styling Spray, H2O Water Bottle, and the Flexy Brush. It truly is the ultimate styling kit for gorgeous curls.  
What my guests had to say
One guest said she used it twice and said she didn't notice any changes the first time, because she didn't use enough. The second time, however, she used more and her hair was a lot less frizzy than usual. This was a plus for her as she doesn't wash her hair every day. 
Another guest tried out the Flexy Brush that I gave as a door prize. She tried it without the product to see what kind of results it alone had. "I liked that it separates the curls. So excited to see how it works with the product." When she used the styling gel, she had to keep her hair clipped up at work, so it flattened out. But she liked a couple things about it. First, it was easy to clean off her hands. This is due to it being water-based. No oily residue. Secondly, her hair felt good. She then used the Refresher and, even though her hair dried flat, it was revived. She also like that it was unscented. 
One other guest said that when she used it, it worked really well. Kept her hair curly all day as well as  wet looking. 
My personal opinion was that it made my hair softer. I don't have much in the way of curls, but my hair wasn't wild with this. The frizz was definitely reduced. The day I first used it was pretty windy, but my hair managed to get tamed quicker than normal. So I say, it was a win for me!

Some other things I appreciated about them

Little things mean a lot to me. Take, for instance, the Next Day Styling Spray. This one is infused with aloe, chamomile and calendula to ward off smells in the hair. Ever notice how your hair and clothing take on scents from around you? Some are not very pleasant to hang on to. This helps with that! Even the smells you are impervious to, but others pick up on. It also defines and restyles your "next day" curls. You can use it multiple times in between washing, without any ill side effects. 

The H20 Bottle is a product that I can see being extremely useful. It provides a continual spray, that covers a larger portion of the hair with mist for quick and effortless styling. 

I think the Flexy Brush came across as the most fun! I hadn't seen such a unique design before. It can even be used in the shower and helps to clump those curls. And it is great for sensitive scalps like mine. The open cushion concept eliminates bacteria and product buildup in the shower. My brush that I currently have collects way more than hair.... And you can use this one on wigs and extensions. Almost wish I had kept this one for my cosplay wigs!

So what do you think? Would you try something like this? Curl Keeper is giving you 20% off with the following code: CKChallenge20.
Don't wait too long though! This code expires January 31, 2021.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Building My Self Esteem With Help From Pinterest

“Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.”
~ T. Harv Eker

Part of getting in shape and moving forward means feeling good with how I am looking, every step of the way. I have spent the past couple years in jeans and T-shirts. Most of which are in shades of black or grey. I'm pretty tired of this. I want to look and feel amazing again. Now, normally, I'm not much for style. In my early college years, I was more of a business goth. Hard for some people to see on me now, but that was my comfort zone. I wore corset tops, lots of black, and knee-high boots with skirts. I felt like I looked HOT. Whether that was in my head.... eh ~shoulder shrug~ who can tell? 

While I'm not wanting to go back to that style (at least not completely), I want that feeling I had back then. About how I looked, THAT is what I want to get back to. 

Self Esteem

Self esteem is fluid. At least for some of us. I believe that some people are born confident. They hold on to it throughout life, without wavering. But for a great deal of us, it comes and goes. Sometimes we are walking on cloud nine, thinking we can do anything. And other times, we are dragging around, hoping no one sees us the way we currently see ourselves. Maybe we just have fragile self esteem. Maybe it is easily knocked down a peg or two. Whatever the case, mine is like that. I felt amazing before I got pregnant with my last child. I was at a great weight. I was working out. I was working a paid job, not just being a Mom. I had clothes that fit and that I looked good in. 

Then pain and pregnancy happened...

And suddenly, I'm gaining weight. My back problems were flaring up. I was not working out anymore. I switched jobs and found out I was pregnant. Talk about life being thrown through a loop! I was riding the Crazy Train to Loopsy Town. While pregnant, I told myself it was all okay. After all, I had gained weight, sometimes lots of it, with all my pregnancies. Then after they were born, I dropped it within two years time, max. No way, did I think I wouldn't get back to those pre-pregnancy styles. I still have a box, that is slowly getting smaller, of the clothes I wore back then. And I still cling to the hope that one day I will fit them again. 

I jump back and forth in my feelings for how much I love or hate my body. Some days I just accept it for what it currently is. Other days I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and want to cry. I'm about 45 pounds over my ideal weight. I don't like looking in the closet. It reminds me that my style is bland. 

"Hmm, which T-shirt do I wear today?" 

Seriously?! I no longer have to pick between a corset or a blouse. A skirt or jeans. Boots or heels. Nope. My biggest decision is which shirt should I wear? Is it a cooler day? Kikkoman promo shirt will work. Looking for a softer and sleepable shirt, then pick the eBay 25th anniversary tee. I hear comedians talking about women taking forever to get ready and think, "Not me". Two minutes and I'm dressed to go. Make up is a rare treat. I dread putting it on. Unless it is date night or I know I'm taking special photos that will include my face, I don't wanna! After all, who do I have to impress? I only have 2 pairs of jeans and those are only for when I know I'm leaving the house or someone is coming over.

However, there are certain tops I don't mind having, even if they are T-shirts. I just need to get the feminine shaped ones. Like the one below... Then at least I can be reminded of the curves I still have.

Fighting to feel better

Truth is, I have decided that I am ready to branch out. I'm working out more steadily. Walking more, eating less, eating healthier. I'm giving it more effort. It will take me a while. I still have some serious pain days and my body still seems to be trying to kill me. But I have decided I can't live like this any more. I've asked my husband to keep me accountable. And through it all, I'm going to start trying to look better as well. 

Taking Steps Toward Looking My Best

  • I make a point to brush my hair. I can't stand messy hair. I get on to my daughter often about her hair. But some mornings I'm in a rush to get the kids up and ready for school, so I just throw my hair in a bun. Voila! Hair is done. I forget about it for the rest of the day. Not anymore. I try to slow down just enough to brush through it before moving on.  
  • I wear jewelry when we are leaving the house. Nothing too fancy. But by adding a bracelet or a necklace, at least, I feel like I have taken just a little more effort and I feel better about myself. 
  • And now for the best part - I have created a Pinterest board just for My New Style. I go through photos and try to decide how I want to look now. Now, and later, as I want to have a progressive style. As I lose those pounds, I will transition. I know it will be slow. I also know I don't have the funds to get the types of clothes I'm looking at, but it is a start in the right direction. When I'm able to, I will at least know what kinds of clothing I am looking for. As the saying goes, "Knowing is half the battle."

I also save screenshots or cut out styles I like. Screenshots like this one are put into a folder on the laptop for future use.

I have a notebook that I paste pictures I've cut out into. Yeah, yeah. Totally old school on that front. But don't knock the technique that works for me! It helps to reinforce the goals I have. The clothes I want to fit into or get to feel better about how I look. Each step will bring me closer to regaining that self esteem.

What about you? How do you decide your style preferences? Do you read magazines? Watch TV shows? Window shop? What inspires you?? Leave me a comment below and give me some ideas! Love to hear back from you all.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Promoting Healthier Living With Organic India Review

 My husband and I have had way too many health issues this year. We keep making the 2020 jokes. If it is going to go wrong, this is the year for it. Sadly, he has been noticing some pretty severe problems in the past few weeks. So we have started to buckle down and invest in healthier choices. One of those choices  concerns our sugar intakes. The holidays have arrived and we seem to have some kind of sweet on hand more often than we should. Which is why I was eager to try Organic India to begin with. 

*Disclaimer: I was sent these products free of charge in exchange for an honest review of the products and for hosting a party. All opinions are my own and that of my guests. I was not otherwise paid or endorsed.*

I love being a member of Tryazon. I have come across some really beneficial products that have been helping us to stay on track as far as getting back in shape and eating better. This next set of products has been amazing in this. 

Who is Organic India?

Before I show you what I tried, you should know a little about the company. As the name implies, the products come from India. They began with a desire to provide organic products that promote well-being for both people and for the planet. They want to go beyond just sustainable to bio-regenerative farming. They saw the devastation caused by chemical farming and decided to make changes. They also discovered health benefits to tulsi aka "holy basil".

What products did we try?

We received 3 flavors of the Psyllium Pre and Probiotic Fiber: Original, Orange and Cinnamon Spice. We also had 3 tea flavors to try: Tulsi Hibiscus, Tulsi Ashwagandha and Tulsi Turmeric Rooibos. I tried each and was impressed. They all had a sweet aroma and their taste was surprisingly pleasant. Turmeric is known to be good for joint relief. Lastly, we have the Ceylon Cinnamon capsules. These are to support sugar metabolism! My husband and I have been taking one each per day. According to the instructions, you should take 2, twice a day. My husband really loves the scent that escapes every time we open the bottle! He says it reminds him of cinnamon sugar. I think of that cinnamon Trident gum though.

What were our thoughts about them?

My husband, children and I all loved the Psyllium Pre and Probiotic Fiber. We used the Cinnamon Spice flavored one in a chocolate cake recipe as well as in a smoothie. The chocolate cake was amazing! My husband and sister-in-law likened it to a spice cake, but not so strong. The smoothie had an apple pie flavor to it. Most impressive. I liked that you don't have to use much to get that effect. The cake, for instance, only needed 1 tablespoon. 

I handed out goodie bags to my guests.
We both have been taking the Ceylon Cinnamon for about a week. Haven't noticed if there is a change in how we feel. The tea is relaxing though. I enjoy drinking them in the evening before bed.  Especially while working on puzzles.
Want to try them for yourself? 
You can find their products on their website. They have a large variety of tea flavors and supplements to help you with all your daily dietary and health needs.  What would you benefit from most? Leave me a comment below!