The Feel Good Project

After having my first baby 6 and a half weeks ago, I found myself not being able to feel good about the way I looked. It’s the same old story for most new mommas, but after being told numerous times by my husband that I performed a miracle, I realized I was the only one that felt that I wasn’t confident. So, I made up a project…with the help of my on again off again therapist– It’s called the Feel Good Project, and since most of you guys aren’t moms quite yet, it’s still a great way to feel good when you are having an off week.

The Rules:

  1. Make up outfits– Since I work in retail, this is super easy for me, because I have to wear the clothes…but before I went on leave, my outfits were anything but cute. I have to have at least 3 items on, cute/clean shoes, a necklace, and earrings. This was the hardest, because I’ve been fairly preoccupied with you know…taking care of a newborn. But, I must be doing it right because I’ve been feeling fantastic!
  2. Wear makeup and wash your hair– yes. Go through the process of putting on a little something so you (and only you…because everyone around you thinks you’re awesome) feel good. Make sure to take a shower everyday, and WASH your hair…if you have time, style it.

…and that’s it. You are allowed to have a couple bum days, but you have to GET DRESSED no matter what.

Anywho- It’s Black Friday, and I’m obvs at work…PSA to the shoppers out there…be nice to us today 🙂

 

Love you, mean it.

 

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TBT: Money Edition

After a few close calls with not having enough money to get home from Manhattan, I quickly tried to change my ways.

I am not sure as to when I started shopping like I had money, but it must have been way back in high school after I started my first job. I looked for deals, and not so good deals: whatever way I could get the look and brand that I wanted. Although I have worked through the better part of my life, I always found a way to not save money, whether it was a new bag, or a movie that I had to see: it was always the same story…maybe next time.

After I met my boyfriend, we finally realized how materialistic our lives had become, and set off on a journey of trying to save up for a future (key word: trying). It started off slowly, as we were in different countries, and I was living with my parents. I couldn’t seem to shake the urge to buy a new outfit every Friday, or a new makeup palette each paycheck. In hindsight, I was making up the excuse that since I didn’t have to pay for anything other than my coffee in the morning—everything else that I earned was fair game to be spent. Let’s just call this my immature stage. I started hiding my online buys from my parents, and racing the clock to get home before them so I could quickly dispose of the evidence. As for my boyfriend, he was buying items from 100 packs of batteries to a signed Oliver Khan jersey that went for a cool 100 euro. Clearly, we needed some sort of therapy.

Although I spent most of my time in school or working, I still find time to blow through my $500 paycheck every two weeks. A Sephora, Forever 21, J Crew, and Target trip were necessities every two-week period. Not to mention the amount of online purchases from ShoeDazzle, Etsy, and Birchbox that found their ways into my mail slot each week, too. By the time the Thursday before my paycheck came, I was counting up quarters in my car to buy myself a cup of coffee. Did I mention I wasn’t paying for my own gas, school loans, phone bill, or necessities? If I could, I would go back in time to give myself a good shake. What the heck was wrong with me? How did I manage to waste away thousands of dollars on items that I can’t even remember?

After a few close calls with not having enough money to get home from Manhattan, I quickly tried to change my ways. I asked my mom if she needed help around her office, and she offered to have me do her filing. Oh, how the mighty had fallen. I stored away the extra cash in an unused wallet, and tried to forget about it. Every now and again, the urge would creep up, and all my progress would crash down around me.

Fast forward to a year ago: my boyfriend and I were planning on getting engaged, I was living in Philadelphia, and I was still on my dad’s bankroll. I was miles ahead of my past self, but I was nowhere close to where I needed to be. I was living in my future parent-in-law’s house, and I was still depending on my dad’s gas card and EZpass to get me to work. I chose a career in retail, and as many know…that doesn’t exactly shout, “money.” I was always looking for a quick fix, when all I needed were 3 things. Three things that changed the way I thought about money, and has now allowed me to continue my career in retail, while purchasing a house, handling my own student loans, and never being late on a house payment.

  • I never thought of money in the correct way. I always thought money was a gateway to a shopping spree, or expendable. I seemed to always be waiting for the next paycheck: I would mess up my “saving plan” by spending it all in Nordstrom, and I would say to myself, “I’ll just wait for the next time I get paid to start saving.” All successful savings starts with a little bit of self-control, and just a bit more of planning. Living paycheck to paycheck? Me too. With a little planning, your miniscule paycheck will seem doable. Sit down and calculate how much money you need each day. For me, I like a coffee in the morning, and that won’t change. Calculate about $2.95 for a Venti iced, and a little extra for a treat at work (if you can). Depending on how often you get paid, take the number of days in between paychecks and multiply your $5.00 per day by that number. That is how much you need for spending money. Afterwards, plug in your monthly costs: electric, water, or mortgage. As for grocery shopping, make sure to keep your receipts to see how much you are spending, and what your average is. Always add that into your monthly costs. Check to see if there are ways to cut the fat, and what is non-negotiable. I use the app Minted in order to get my finances in order. Although I tend to like writing down things on paper, I do like the ease of an app in order to take my finances with me! Minted allows you to see how much you spend, where money is being spent the most, and it even lets you set your own budgets!
  • Utilizing credit cards and bank accounts responsibly. We all are in the same situation; taking out money can be a hassle. In this day? Who needs it? Everyone takes a credit or debit card, so why bother with cash? By taking out your paycheck spending money the day you get paid, it lets you envision your money being taken away from you instead of swiping a card. On bigger and necessary purchases, it is okay to whip out a Mastercard every so often, but make sure that you are not living beyond your means. For my husband and I, we pay off each purchase in the same billing cycle that is was made in. If your bank or credit card does not have an easy app to maneuver, I highly suggest moving your business elsewhere. I judge service of a company on how easy their app is to move around in. If I have to jump through hoops to find my balance, pay it off, or check out my statements, I won’t be staying too long. For my own bank account, I chose PNC bank. I have the virtual wallet account, and I cannot say one bad thing about it. The app is super easy, and customer service is out of this world. My favorite part? No minimum. The bank likes to give you a threshold to let you know when you are low, but I have gone under, and I was not charged a ridiculous amount of money. (Looking at you, TDbank.)
  • No one hates free money, right? Every other website on the planet is banking that you will give them your email address and not hate the amount of spam that they send to you every day. Something that has worked for me is being a product tester. I got the hookup from a friend who was a science major at a local college. The testing center had gone to her school looking for product testers and she signed up. When she told me about it, she sent me the email. I filled out the survey, and I was called in to do the product testing! The studies vary from products to take home, while others take about a half an hour to do at the actual center. Many times the money is around $50, but other times, it can be around $100. That can be a quick fix for money if you are in dyer need!

Many times, people who look at money as a necessary evil, make money the enemy. Money, when handled correctly, is able to take a backseat to what is important in your life, and just be there when needed. After my husband and I got a handle on our finances, we were finally able to sit back, live within our means, and learn to make sacrifices. We can’t all have a Prada bag for each day of the week.

Medication

I finally found myself without medicine, and I could not be prouder.

Originally posted at Real Talk Magazine

First it was Imitrex; only use as needed. The diagnosis was chronic migraines. They didn’t go away. Then, it was Migranal Nasal, with an “as-needed” dosage of Naproxen. I was 17. Every doctor I saw suggested to my parents that we try a new and very trusted drug. It was guaranteed to take all my pain away. I obliged, and my parents encouraged my treatment. I could never blame them for what they did; I was in pain and I was their baby.

My migraines started to get worse and my mother made an appointment with a pediatric neurologist. We talked about my migraines: how they felt, where they started, and when I got them. I answered to the best of my knowledge, but to be honest, I was puzzled too. After several doctor visits, I was ordered to get a CAT scan and an MRI of my head. My imagination was running wild. Did I have a tumor? Why am I getting these migraines?

The tests came out clean, and my doctor had become more concerned by my unknown condition. After going to the emergency room over 15 times in my senior year of high school, my family was at a loss. No one could figure out what was wrong with me. Doctors, family, and friends were puzzled as to why I would sleep for days at a time, and still not feel better. I felt discouraged, I felt like I would always feel this way.

My mother had spoken to several friends, and one made a suggestion that my migraines may be psychosomatic. Later that day, she made an appointment with a psychiatrist. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with mild anxiety issues and I was prescribed Topamax. Apparently, in small doses, it was used to treat migraines. It was also used, in higher doses, to treat high anxiety and seizure disorders.

After taking Topamax for a couple of months, it was time for me to go off to college. I was excited to start my classes for journalism, write for the newspaper, and make new friends.  Although I had the drive to go to my classes, and be involved in extracurricular activities, my high dosage of Topamax caused me to have symptoms of severe ADD.  I could not read my assigned homework or sit still to study. I felt stupid. I felt like I was in a perfect place for knowledge, but could not obtain any of it because of my lack of concentration.

On top of ADD symptoms, I was never hungry. I would eat small portions once a day. Family and friends thought that I was homesick, and during Thanksgiving break, I wasn’t recognized. I had lost over 50 pounds due to the medication. Sounds perfect for a college girl, right? Wrong. I was shaking constantly, and had a dazed look on my face. Some professors even went so far as to ask if I had smoked weed before class.

After many phone calls home, I decided that my medicine was doing more harm than good. My anxiety-induced migraines had become so bad, that I was in the emergency room almost once every three weeks. I would be treated with anything from Naproxen to morphine injections. I made the executive decision to go back to my psychiatrist and talk about my options. There were plenty. What are you feeling? Are you very anxious?  I was asked upwards of 100 questions, and was prescribed Effexor. This time, I would have to wean off of Topamax, while stepping up the new drug. For about two weeks, I was miserable. I felt like I couldn’t shake the feeling of instability. Finally, I could feel my new medicine working. This new drug was stronger, and made me feel more dependent on medication. I was convinced this was how I would live; I wouldn’t be able to have a normal life. I was ashamed.

As I grew older, I found myself less and less willing to take my medicine. I started asking Why? and What will happen if I don’t take it? After several skipped dosages, a couple of temper tantrums, and some big anxiety attacks, I was ready to start taking my medicine regularly again. My spirit was broken, and I knew I was going to live on medication forever. I feel like my surroundings, assumptions, friends, and family were to blame for this. If I know something now, it is that medications as strong as the ones I took have a long half-life. Long enough that I would not be affected if I took a dosage later on in the day. Although it is not recommended, it would not be a big problem. I was convinced, through wrong assumptions, if I was feeling anxious on a specific day that it was solely because I had not taken my medication. I was led to believe that my medication was the alpha and the omega of feeling better. There was no other option. I had successfully convinced myself that taking a pill every day was going to make me better.

After several years of changing dosages and medication brands, I was fed up. I was fed up with depending on a pill for “happiness.” Honestly, it wasn’t happiness. It was a facsimile of happy. My anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicine had made me lose 50 pounds, have shaky hands, dilated pupils, gain 60 pounds, feel more miserable, have no feelings, and be super happy. Why couldn’t I just be. . .me?

About a year ago, I asked my therapist about a drug-free option. He was ecstatic.  Although he had recommended me to a psychiatrist, my therapist was a non-prescribing social worker with a private practice. To be honest, it was the best way for me to go.  There is no pressure to take medicine, and they have fantastic ways to beat mental illness without drugs.

Without drugs, I learned so much about myself. I learned how strong I can be, and how to pick myself up by my bootstraps. Mental illness can never be “cured;” it isn’t a viral disease. However, depression and anxiety can be kept at bay. I learned to celebrate the little victories; even if I rolled my eyes at myself for celebrating stupid things, I still did it. I made a big deal out of small achievements, and soon, I remembered what it was to have light in my eyes. I learned not to depend on a small pill to tell me how to feel, and how to act. I depended on myself, and only me. I finally found myself without medicine, and I could not be prouder.

Pinterest, Etsy, and David’s Bridal…Oh my!

…and I suddenly was on the verge of my first #bridebreakdown.

Hi. You may know me as this bitch who lost her shit when she tried to plan the perfect pinterest inspired wedding…and forget about writing until after the blessed event. Sorry, charlie..it had to happen.

But, I’m back, and I have way too much to say about everything and anything that went on for the past couple of weeks (erm, months…sorry about it)

Anyway, let’s just call Pinterest a land of perfect dreams in an imperfect world, or where dreams of your wonderful, fantasy life go to die. Let’s start from the beginning:

I got engaged, and immediately started planning: Visions of mint and purple bridesmaid dresses flew around my head, while I decided on mason jars and an outside wedding with a sky of twinkling mason jar lights. I would have a princess ballgown, and my beloved would wear a tuxedo.

After many nights of planning, and planning some more…I realized that my fall inspired wedding would only be complimented by lace rust colored dresses and orange and purple flowers. Hours of searching, and I came up with nothing but frustration. Pictures of models in their wedding pictures, posed to perfection gave me nightmares…and I suddenly was on the verge of my first #bridebreakdown.

*cue dramatic music*

Soon, I was spinning out of control, worried about what everyone would think, and how everyone would judge my color scheme, my dress, my hair, and my crafty way of proposing to my bridesmaids. (Hint, I forgot to propose to half of them, and still have their “will you be my bridesmaid?” cards upstairs in one of my many packed up boxes. Oops.)

I started planning my Etsy purchases, deciding on tie clips and necklaces for the bridal party. Shot glasses, and headbands, and cigar boxes for everyone! The one thing that everyone seems to forget is that everything costs money– that sure, you gain back later, but seriously? $2,000 on invites, stamps, shoes, and my FIRST wedding dress was necessary? To me, yes…and I would do it the same if I could hop in a time machine, because the end is my favorite part.

The end? Yea, the end was in sight when I looked at the 10 cartons of mason jars that I decided to HAND CRAFT with lace and burlap ribbon…and think, “jeez, these suck…I’m not using them” on the 18th of September…a day before my wedding…and you know what? It didn’t matter, and no one cared, and no one missed them…and I was happy.

The Five Types Of Friends You Don’t Want At Your Wedding

There are a couple that should be left out…for your sanity.

Weddings are always a big talking point in a young woman’s life. Not always, but the girls and guys that decide that marriage is for them. What kind of dress, how many people, and who is invited are always big dinner conversations while preparing for the wedding. So, who do you invite? How about the people that make you happy, and the ones that love you and your fiancé. There are a couple that should be left out…for your sanity.

The Negative Nancy

Girl, you know this one is your catty BFF who you kind of love, but obviously love to hate. This friendship should have died when double popped collars went out of style, but you held on like some people hang on to the acid wash jean trend. She may or may not have a significant other, but she is worse when she has her own relationship. Especially if she hasn’t gotten the ring yet. Nancy just can’t seem to let go of the fact that you are getting married and never going to hang out with her again. She’ll whine and complain about your fiancé taking all of your time. Although she may have her own love she still makes you feel like crap when it comes to your wedding. She’ll make passive aggressive comments and try to work herself into the wedding by saying things like, “I’m going to get so drunk at your wedding!” My advice about this one? Tell her your busy…forever.

The Non-Believer

Much like the Negative Nancy, the non-believer is just as terrible. I’m talking about a girl or guy who has lost their mind completely. They think that their way of life, the single life, is the only way and you are making a huge mistake. Excuse me, but I don’t judge when you sleep with three men in a weekend…in fact I applaud you. This friend says things like, “I don’t believe in the institution of marriage, and you’re dumb to get married.” To this, I say…do you, but you can’t sit with us.

Your Overprotective Guy/Girl Friend

Maybe you had a fling, you dreamed of one…either way, stay away from that train wreck. Why? Do I have to even…okay? If this person is invited, they’re going to get super drunk and try to punch your new husband/wife. Even if they are well-behaved, it will bring up all sorts issues with your judgemental friends as well as your husband or wife. In the nicest way possible, you’re an idiot if you invite them. Purely for the fact that past feelings aren’t appropriate on your wedding day.

The Girl Who Used To Talk Sh*t On You

You know the one, the girl in your sorority who thought that you were faking when you had to drop out of school due to being sick. She also told everybody that you had an STD and that you cheated on your boyfriend. No, she didn’t want him for herself, she just didn’t like you then. Now, it’s a different story. Apparently she’s changed. You saw her at your friend’s sister’s birthday party at a bar and she totally hugged you. You talked for like, 5 seconds and she apologized for sleeping with #3…the overprotective guy friend. Send that girl to charm school, because she isn’t any sort of lady.

You’re Ex-BFF/Kind Of Reacquainted

The girl that you got into a fight with about the stupidest crap and text when you look at old pictures of you two together. Figure your life out, because honestly…that girl only texted you because she heard you were engaged. Get real. Sit down, and realize the reasons why you cut her off in the first place. She doesn’t know you anymore, and she couldn’t tell your fiancé from some guy in the street. Do yourself a favor and reconnect completely (if you dare) after the blessed event.

My Break-Up Letter to Designer Purchases

We have to see other people, and by other people…I mean I have to see Target, and you have to see my closet.

Dear (kate spade, Longchamp, Tory Burch, etc),

I am writing to you today to let you know about how much money I have spent on you in our long-term relationship of 8 years. In this relationship, I seem to be giving you cold-hard earned cash…and you give me a temporary happiness that is just as quick and fleeting as a Venti Iced Coffee from Starbucks.

We have to see other people, and by other people…I mean I have to see Target, and you have to see my closet. Sigh. We both knew that this was going to come sooner rather than later, and it’s not meant to hurt your feelings…but in all honesty, this isn’t a healthy relationship. You take my money, tempt me with high expectations and pretty colors, and then hit me to the floor with your prices. In essence, you use me for my money.

This is why, for at least 6 months, we have to take a break from each other. Don’t make it awkward and e-mail me…I won’t respond.

All my love and friendship,

Kate