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What It’s Like To Be A Fat, Sick, Woman In The US – Part 2 I Am A Pre-Existing Condition

In my previous post ‘What It’s Like To Be A Fat, Sick, Woman In The US – Part 1 Why I Am Speaking Out About My Disabilities‘, I think the title speaks for itself on content. Today I wanted to actually talk about my personal diagnoses and what they may mean for me, as well as other people with the same illnesses, in daily life.

I have only ever sat down and made a list of everything I have been diagnosed with once, and that was quite a few years and diagnoses ago. I found it quite overwhelming at the time due to how many there were at the time. I think that has a lot to do with why I was so hesitant to write this post as well as why it took me so long to write it. If I find it overwhelming and hard to understand it all, how are you suppose to understand it?

Rather than try to go into the complete definition and all of the symptoms of each ailment, I will link everything I can to places you can get more information. I will just talk about what I feel bothers me the most and do my best to talk about the challenges caused by each illness. I have put everything in order of most disruptive of my life to least, or most difficult to deal with to least. Please keep in mind that is completely subjective to my personal experience and my experience does not represent everyone’s experience with an illness.

My Diagnoses

Fibromyalgia (a.k.a. in the past as fibromyalgia syndrome,fibromyositis, and fibrositis) – This is both the most difficult illness that I deal with and the one of the most difficult to explain to other people. It’s so complicated, and there is so little known about it even by doctors. However, I will do my best to describe what I go through to you.

I have lots of pain. There isn’t a moment of any day that I am not in some sort of pain. And it’s not just one type of pain or even located in one place. One moment I might have a random pain in my foot and the next my shoulders are hurting. Sometimes it might be a stabbing pain and other times it feels like someone has taken super hot rubber band and put it around an arm or leg and tightened till the circulation has been cut off. Sometimes even the lightest touch becomes painful. This one is a unique pain though. The best I have ever been able to describe it is like this; think of that feeling you get when someone runs their nails down a chalkboard, now times that feeling by ten and instead of it being triggered by sound its triggered by touch.

The next biggest thing I have to deal with when it comes to fibromyalgia is what is often referred to as brain fog. This means I often have memory loss, but it’s not like the kind of memory loss you think of with amnesia or Alzheimer patients. With brain fog you don’t actually lose the memory so much as you can’t access it for a brief period of time. For instance you might be in the middle of saying something and then just can’t get a word out. Or maybe you constantly can’t remember people’s names, even the ones you have known for years. But then ten minutes later you will remember what you were about to say. You continually have that feeling of having what you were about to say on the tip of your tongue. I personally find this symptom distressing, especially when dealing with people who haven’t known me for long or don’t know how my illness works. This is because it in a way strip me partially from my identity. I feel like the intelligent and creative mind I have is hidden behind constant pauses with me saying uh I can’t think of the word I was trying to use.

In addition to the pain and brain fog I deal with fatigue, temperature sensitivity, sleep disturbance from the pain, and numerous other issue. There are also many other illnesses that go hand in hand with fibromyalgia as well as some have similar symptoms. It can get really complicated to tell what is causing what. But I will talk more about that as we go.

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – I think that the name of this makes this sort of deceptive to people. People hear fatigue and focus on that. You can’t imagine how many times I, as well as other people, with chronic fatigue have people ask something like “so your just tired all the time right?”. But it’s more than being tired. I have periods of time that I am so fatigued I literally can’t move to get out of the bed. Or I try to get out of the bed and my whole body will just shake and I can’t function. If I try to push myself past this point it actually triggers my fibromyalgia to get worse and I can get sick and stuck in bed from a flare up. This may last a few hours or a few weeks.

This is one of the illnesses with tricky to distinguish symptoms because I have so many other things wrong with me that may cause fatigue. For example one of the symptoms you can have with fibromyalgia is fatigue, but for me I have found the level of fatigue is very different. And it is very different from the feeling of just being tired from not sleeping. It took me a while to really figure out the differences and what to do to handle my illness.

 

Chronic Insomnia – I suffer from both Primary and Secondary Insomnia. The difference between Primary and Secondary is that Primary Insomnia does not have any underlying medical reason like pain or sleep apnea that is causing the insomnia, and secondary does. You might wonder how I have both Primary and Secondary, and how I distinguish between them. Well, I have dealt with Primary insomnia since I was a very young child. It wasn’t till I was older and started dealing with pain conditions that I had Secondary Insomnia, and you can very easily tell whether you are awake for no reason or if you are awake because of pain.

If I had made this list ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, insomnia would have been much farther down the list on things that bother me. As I said, I have dealt with this since I was a young child. It was never unusual for me to run on three or four hours of sleep. Sure I felt a little tired at times, but for the most part I usually just dealt with it and no one could ever tell. But in the last five years or so, it’s become increasingly harder and harder to deal with. I just can’t recover from it anymore.

 

Ruptured Disc (a.k.a. slipped or herniated disc) – When I was 24 years old I woke up one day and I was in immense pain. I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk without assistance, and I was barely able to move my legs. I was told I had a ruptured disc at L5/S1 and that it was one of the biggest ruptures the doctor had ever seen without the disc completely breaking. (I later found out I had another much smaller ruptured disc in my upper back, but this one is the one that causes the majority of my problems).

I was in college and working two-part time jobs, so I had no health insurance and had little money. I was fortunate that I had a chiropractor that was willing to work with me till I figured out how to pay. And I knew the right programs through the hospital to help pay for the expensive tests I needed. I ended up being in this severe of a condition for about six months, though I still have problems with it till this day. And as you will read further in, it caused other problems as well.

During that time I essentially went from someone who was very active to almost a completely sedentary life. Beyond the pain it had numerous ramifications on my health , my mental well-being, and my body. Typically people who have issues with a ruptured disc that are as severe and that last as long as mine have would have surgery. Even if I wanted surgery, it is not an option for me, and you will understand why as you read further.

Sciatica – Sciatica causes pain to radiate from your lower back or buttocks down your leg and to your feet and toes. Where the pain ends has depends on what the cause of the sciatica is and how severe the problem is. It typically is only on one side of the body, however for me due to a hip issue making my ruptured disk move back and forth, the pain can be on either side. But most of the time the pain is on my left side. My sciatica was long lasting. This was one of the many problems caused by the ruptured disc I have.

 

Endometriosis turned out to be Adenomyosis – You may be far more familiar with Endometriosis, or at least heard of it, than you are with Adenomyosis. There are many similarities and differences between these two conditions. The biggest distinguisher between the two is that with Endometriosis the Endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and can grow anywhere in the body, and with Adenomyosis the Endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. Also, since Endometriosis can spread throughout the body, it can never be definitely cured, however Adenomyosis can.

Both conditions can be extremely painful, and because they have so many of the same symptoms and treatments they often are both diagnosed as Endometriosis. And from my understanding, Adenomyosis can only truly be diagnosed when a hysterectomy is performed, which is what happened to me. So for years I was treated as though I had Endometriosis.

From the time my period started at the age of 12 they were heavy(in a way that is not explainable unless you have experienced it), painful, and embarrassing. I tried to find out what was wrong for years and had gotten many other misdiagnosis like PCOS, but I will talk about that more in another post. When I was in my mid 20’s I finally got a diagnosis of Endometriosis, and that finally made sense. After using various treatments on and off for about ten years my symptoms finally got to a place that it was necessary to have a hysterectomy.

As a woman, the word hysterectomy can be quite frightening in and of itself. So I think its needless to say there was a bit of stress I went through over the decision to have a hysterectomy. But I found the support of other women and much-needed information through the website Hyster Sisters, and it really got me through the hardest points. I can now say it is one of the best decisions I have made for my health, and I actually wish I had done it earlier.

 

Nerve Damage – One of the long-term repercussion of the ruptured discs I have is nerve damage. I have nerve damage of varying degrees in my lower back, down both of my legs, and down my left arm. This means I have varying degrees of numbness in some areas, decreased reflexes, and occasional issues with motor functions.

 

Migraines – I have had migraines since I was thirteen years old. In the beginning I would have them occasionally. I really just assumed it was going to be like my grandmother who also gets them but she gets them maybe once every other month or so. When she gets them she ends up in the bed for a day or two and then she is better. And in the beginning that is how mine were as well, or because I had a lot to do I would typically push through the pain.

As I got older the migraines got more frequent. By the time I was in my late teens I was having at least two migraines a week and I had started to figure out some of the things that triggered them, but also realized because of the world we live in it is hard to avoid. Again, because of a lack of health care and living in extreme poverty I didn’t actually get the official diagnosis until about the age of 25.

After I was diagnosed I was put on a preventative medicine called Topamax. There are various preventative medicines on the market, not all of them work for everybody. I was fortunate enough to hit a home run with the first one. Topamax does have some pretty heavy side effect, so if you don’t have a well-informed doctor helping you it can be dangerous. It is definitely not the medicine you want to go on and off of on a whim, but side effects are something I will talk about in another post. Lets just say that this was like a miracle drug in many ways for me, but it does have some drawbacks. And once I really got to a point where my headaches were under control that’s when I realized how bad they really were and how much they were really interfering with my life.

 

Interstitial cystitis (a.k.a. IC, irritable bladder, or painful bladder syndrome) This is one of those odd illnesses that you probably never heard of unless you either have it or have thought you had it at some point. IC is one of those illnesses that are not uncommon to have if you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. I think people are far more familiar with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, however it works very similarly just with your bladder instead. However, IC can be more dangerous than IBS. Left unchecked IC can actually cause your bladder to explode. The good news is there are things you can do to help with you bladder. So if you suspect that you have IC, I urge you to see your doctor to have testing done.

 

Cluster Headaches – I thankfully don’t get these often, I don’t think I would survive if I did. And they would be much further up the list if I did get them often. When I do get them, the pain is intense. I often feel like I have a hot poker pushing through my eyeball. Not much more to say than that.

 

TMJ Disorder (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) – This is another disorder that is often associated with fibromyalgia. Don’t get me wrong, you do not have to have fibromyalgia to get TMJ, but if you have fibromyalgia it’s not unusual to have it. TMJ can be caused by a few things, mine caused by the alignment of my jaw not being correct at times.

When that happens some of the things I can start having issues with is opening and shutting my mouth, my jaw clicks when I open and shut my mouth or even chew, pain in the jaw joint, pain in the ear area, and facial pain. Thankfully my TMJ has been reasonably easy to treat as of yet.

Allergies to:

  • Balsam Of Peru – This is one area of my health I have talked a lot about here on the blog. Since I cover a lot of beauty issues and part of this allergy verges into that arena, it’s kind of relevant. So rather than linking you to an outside source for this one, I have linked to a previous article that I wrote about my allergy. It links to plenty of reference articles. All I will say here is it is one of the most complicated allergies you can have. It causes you to have reactions to hundreds of items in beauty items, food, and medicine. I may have reactions in the form of Contact Dermatitis, blisters in my mouth, or a migraine.
  • Dust and Dust Mites – The only time I seem to react to the dust and dust mite allergy is when I am cleaning. I am guessing this is because this is when they are stirred up into the air. I range from having a brief sneezing fit to a full on sinus infection after.
  • Mold – This is my most recent diagnosis. I haven’t had any treatments yet or leaned a significant amount about it. I had suspected for a while that I was allergic to mold, but went to get tested because I had read there was a possibility that some people have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia who actually have an allergy to mold. However you can also be both allergic to mold and have fibromyalgia. But the symptoms are very similar. This is of course something I am still looking into, so don’t put too much stock into it.

Raynaud’s Disease – This is another one of those odd diseases that you probably haven’t heard of unless you or a loved one has it. It only bothers me about half of the year, but if you live somewhere with a colder climate then you might have issues year round. What happens to people with Raynaud’s Disease can be a little different in each individual, but here is what happens to me. Anytime I am exposed to temperatures below forty degrees my fingers (sometimes my toes and nose as well) start to go numb and they ache. They even start to turn blue, sometimes they turn white. Then as they start to warm back up I get painful tingly sensations, like the sensation you get when a limb falls asleep and you are trying to get the circulation back, but its twice as painful. And the area turns red and swells.

This has honestly happened to me for a long time. I just never knew it was anything but normal until I read an article someone posted on Facebook about this condition a few years ago. I then asked my doctor about it, and then I was diagnosed.

Degenerative Disc Disease – Even though this is called a disease, it’s not a disease in the sense you typically think of a disease. Degenerative Disc Disease is really just the normal breakdown of the disc in our spines that happens as we age. However when it happens at a normal rate it usually doesn’t get referred to as Degenerative Disc Disease, it is only described this way when things happen to cause it prematurely. I was told at the age of 25 that my spine looked like that of a 80 year old woman’s.

There are many things that can cause it or at least contribute to it. This is one of the few cases in my health where being overweight really can be harmful. It does put extra pressure on your spine, so it can contribute to how fast the discs deteriorate. In addition injuries caused from falls or car accidents may cause the start of Degenerative Disc Disease as well as bone spurs.

Arthritis – When I was in third grade my school gym class often had days where we had indoor activities due to weather. One of those many days our gym teacher decided we were going to have relay races. When I was running into what was our home base for the race, I fell and slid in. Had this been outside it would not have been that big of a deal. However, it was a big deal because it happened on a concrete floor. I ended up cracking my knee caps, of course we didn’t know that is what happened at the time. Since we didn’t have insurance my parents held off on taking me to the doctor. To be fair I didn’t complain a lot. I told them it hurt but I wasn’t crying in pain. I don’t think they understood the severity at the time. It ended up being two weeks later when I made it to a doctor. The bone had already started to heal wrong by then. All they could do at that point was give me exercises that would hopefully help. But of course being a kid I didn’t do most of them.

Depression – I think most people suffer from some form of depression at one point or another in their life. But not all depressions are created equal, there are different types and degrees of depression. For some it is a short-term issue and for other people their depression is a lifetime issue. During my teen years I often felt down, but not fully depressed. I think the best reference would be I felt melancholy.

When I got older and my initial major health issues hit, that left me feeling majorly depresses. More than that I had feelings of rage and of morning. The type of depression I was going through, I now know is not unusual for someone who has become newly disabled, but it really scared me. After experiencing years of dealing with a parent who had bipolar disorder and refused to get treated, I didn’t want to be that person. So I went as soon as possible to go get myself a therapist. I got checked and thankfully I do not have bipolar disorder. But I did get a lot of help for what I was feeling at the time.

I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to seek out a mental health professional in a time of crisis or if you just feel like you need someone to talk to. It doesn’t mean you are crazy. It doesn’t mean there is something horribly wrong with you. Your just human, and we all need some help sometimes.

 

Sialolithiasis (a.k.a. Salivary Duct Stones) – This is once again one of the odd illnesses that I have that you just don’t hear about unless you have it yourself or someone you are very close to. You may even already be thinking what the heck is Salivary Duct Stones(I am pretty sure most of us can’t even say the other name for it, or at least I know I can’t)? Just like you can develop stones in your kidneys or gallbladder, you can also develop stones in saliva ducts. Some people are just more prone to it that others.

Imagine going to sleep one night and everything is fine, the next morning you wake up and notice you have a small knot on your neck. It was so tiny at first it gets dismissed as a large pimple. But throughout the day it increases in size and starts to become tenser to the touch. By the next morning it’s the size of golf ball. Obviously you go to the ER at this point. Now know what this is, and as funny as it sound, it is still not something you would want to play around with as far getting checked out by a doctor. I was lucky and the simplest treatment available worked for me, and has continued to work the other two times it has happened. But this can become serious, especially if it becomes infected.

 

Chronic Dry Eye – I think everyone understands what Chronic Dry Eye is. What most people don’t know is there are a ton of things that can cause it from other illnesses to medication side effects, or even the way you eye is shaped. My chronic dry eye is a combination of having a very severe keratoconus astigmatism  causing the tears to evaporate quickly and my contact dermatitis clogging my tear ducts. The type of treatment used for your Chronic Dry Eye depends upon the what the cause is.

 

Sleep Walking – Apparently its unusual for adults to sleep walk. So yeah, I know, Its amazing I have something unusual. It actually runs in my family. My father is worse than I am when it comes to sleepwalking. There are various things that can cause sleepwalking in an adult. I actually attempted to find out what is the cause of mine and if there is any way to stop it. However the place I went was not very helpful, and I never found out what was actually causing it. My sleepwalking seems to happen in spurts, so if it ever gets to a place where it is problematic again I may go to another sleep clinic to try to find the cause.

 

Keloid Scars – Keloids only develop on people who are genetically predisposed to them. They are overgrown scar tissue that cause very massive growths after a cut or scratch. If you remember back to me saying I was not a candidate for surgery on my ruptured disc, this is why. Keloid scars in general just cause cosmetic issues and maybe some itching, however there are exceptions like me not being a candidate for surgery. While most of the scar is topical, there is a small bit under the skin. Because they are so large and dense, and because of where my ruptured disc was located, the thought is that if a keloid were to form after the surgery it could cause worse problems than I already have.

 

Sebaceous Cyst – Sebaceous cysts are caused by blocked sweat glands or hair follicles. The oil and dirt build up and cause a bump to grow under the skin. Usually they are larger than acne, and they can be anywhere on your body. Typically I would say that these are just bothersome and a cosmetic worry. However, while I don’t get them often, I do get them close to my spine. This seems to cause some discomfort because of the pressure it puts on my spine.
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I am not going further with the list and explanations. I didn’t include things that were one time incidents like the kidney stone I dealt with. I also didn’t include things that have long since healed like my torn elbow tendon. Nor did I include things that were chronic, but I have long since figured out what was the cause and put them to rest like my COPD from hAsthma and Chronic Bronchitis. I didn’t even include my many misdiagnosises, unless it was relevant to something I was already talking about, including the ear infections I was constantly diagnosed with as a child. And I am pretty sure there are even a few things that I wanted to talk about that I didn’t.

This post is already way longer than I wanted it to be, but I wanted to talk about as much of my diagnosises as possible. So if you have made it this far and read all about what is wrong with me, your probably for one wondering what any of this has to with being fat, and I promise I am getting to that soon. I actually wanted the next piece in this series to be about how being fat affects you when you go to the doctor and how being disabled affects you. And where the similarities are in those two things. But that may get pushed to the next one. It may all depend on how much information I can get on the upcoming vote on the Trumpcare Bill that Mitch McConnell is trying to force through a vote next month.

And Speaking of the Trumpcare Bill or the amended ACA, I said I would let you know where I stood as far as pre-existing conditions. I mean my title is I Am A Pre-Existing Condition. So here goes, based on the initial list released here are the things I have or have previously had that make me a pre-existing condition.

  1.   Acid Reflux
  2.   Acne
  3.   Anemia
  4.   Anxiety
  5.   Arthritis
  6.   Asthma
  7.   Depression
  8.   Heart Burn
  9.   Hysterectomy
  10. Kidney Stones
  11. Menstrual irregularities
  12. Mental Disorders (they say this includes Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia)
  13. Migraines
  14. Obesity
  15. Sleep Apnea

That is fifteen pre-existing conditions. And they aren’t even for the weird obscure things I have, its the everyday things that so many people have. Things you would expect your insurance company to cover. For the full list of pre-existing conditions you can find them here. (Note: as I awoke this morning, right before my final edit of this post, I read the Trump Care Bill as it currently stands has been scrapped. However, they will be back with another bill soon, they are going to be pushing for the ACA to be done away with completely and starting something new. I will try and have more details on that later)

Tell me in the comments below, what makes you a pre-existing condition? Also let me know if there is something you want me to talk about further regarding health or if there is something specific I haven’t talked about yet about being fat and sick.

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What It’s Like To Be A Fat, Sick, Woman In The US – Part 1 Why I Am Speaking Out About My Disabilities

I have wavered back and forth about doing this post for the last month or so. If you have followed me here on the blog for any amount of time you know I have health issues, but you probably don’t know to what degree they truly affect me. And to be honest even most people who know me in person don’t know how affected I am by my health, and how much of a struggle it is at times just to live.

You may also have noticed that since around Christmas time I have significantly slowed down, both here on the blog and on social media. Unfortunately that has been not of choice, but out of necessity. I have had moments where I have done more, either because I had a break and started feeling better, or out of obligation I pushed myself past the point I should have and worked anyways.

Online Fitness, Yoga and Cooking Videos

Please understand, the things I just said and all the things I am about to share with you are not for pity. I am absolutely not sharing this for pity, nor do I want anyone’s sorrow or pity. But under the current governments administration it is very clear that I as a fat, disabled, woman am being treated as a person that has no value and in many ways am under attack.

Because of the nature of my blog I think that most of the people who visit here will already identify with being a woman, especially a fat women. And even if you are, for the most part healthy, you can probably still appreciate the extra frustration that comes with dealing with healthcare. All the extra time spent talking about your weight, even when it has nothing to do with what you are there for. Or the down talking you get for just being a woman. But there is a special sort of hell that you go through when you add having disabilities into the picture. Part of that is because when you have the types of disabilities I have, essentially your job becomes going to the doctor. And its ridiculous how long it can take to find a doctor who will simply take you serious enough to actually look at you like a person and try to find out what’s wrong rather than just going with “it’s because you are fat”.

Ultimately I suppose I have a few goals in writing this post. I hope maybe for those of you who are completely healthy to perhaps gain some understanding of the people in your life who are disabled. I would love for people to understand how the healthcare changes massively affect people with disabilities and how congress trying to get rid of the ADA(American’s With Disabilities Act) at the same time makes it feel like a war against the disabled. And more than anything else, I want other people who are going through similar things to know they aren’t alone.

So in the beginning I mentioned that I struggled with whether or not I wanted to write this post. Obviously I did decide to write the post, but I decided I wanted to make it as thorough as possible. Since I foresee this becoming very long and possibly overwhelming, I decided it was best to break this into multiple posts. In this first post I really just wanted to share why I wanted to talk about this topic and what I hoped to accomplish from it. In the next post I want to talk about my own diagnoses, what difficulties they actually cause for me, and under Trump’s healthcare bill how many would be preexisting conditions.

I do plan on having several parts to this, but I am not sure how many exactly. I think this will be done when I feel like its done. If you have any questions or topics you want me to address in the next part, please feel free to post them in the comments or go to my contact page and send me a message.

 

 


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My Thoughts On The ModCloth Buy Out

Modcloth taken over by Jet

Modcloth taken over by Jet

 

If you are a ModCloth lover or follow any number of plus size blogger, you probably already heard ModCloth has been bought out. The news was leaked just the day after their Groupons went up for sale. They were bought by Jet who is owned by Wal-Mart. This has in fact made many ModCloth lovers, including me quite upset.

The problem is the two companies sort of stand for completely different things, both from a business and ethical stand point. Plus given their total different approach to plus size clothing, this may leave the plus size consumer out in the cold. And based on just a couple of changes that has already taken place, one can only speculate that this takeover will see the decline of the things most have loved about ModCloth.

You might have seen that I posted about the Groupon that ModCloth had posted the day before the news leak of the buy out. I myself had bought one. After reading the news I went back and forth in mind about what I wanted to do. So I personally have made a decision. After I use my Groupon, I personally will not be shopping with ModCloth any more, and I will explain why.

I currently do not shop with Wal-Marts or Jet. I do not like their business practices or their treatment of their employees, and I do not want to support any business they own. Where I live there are many options to shop at places that treat their employees well and that are more ethical. I do on rare occasion have to buy from Wal-Mart if they are the only place that carries something and its an emergencies, but I try everywhere else first. I want to also say, when I was on a tight budget and living by myself, I did shop at Wal-Mart because I had no choice. I totally get not everyone has that choice because of finances or location, and I hold no judgment of anyone who does shop there. This is simply a personal decision.

For me, I feel like that even if everything stayed the same at ModCloth after this I would not want to shop there. Because even if they did continue paying those employees fair wages and keep ethical standards, shopping there is still ultimately supporting the parent company.

ModCloth for a long time has filled a niche in the plus size market. But don’t worry, there are other places to get those vintage and retro inspired clothes you desire if you feel like I do. I will be working on a list for you of alternative places to shop, and I hope to have it up soon.

In the mean time I would love to hear your thoughts on the take over. Tell me in comments below how do you feel about it? Will you continue shopping ModCloth? And please share any and all the vintage and retro clothing brands you know.

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Women’s History Month and Other Upcoming Events

Women's History Month

Women's History Month

 

As you all probably already know, March is Women’s History Month. At this moment, as we struggle to hold on to many of our freedoms and rights we have fought for through the years, I think it is more important than ever to talk about Women’s rights and the women who have fought for them thought history. We need to remember where we came from, and why we must fight to maintain the rights we have both earned and deserve.

So all through the month I will be sharing, both here on the blog and on social media, information, thought, and feelings about women I admire through history. I have already started on social media, and you can find those post easily by searching the hash tag #womenshistorymonth

I will be talking about women both living and deceased, so know one is exempt. I know a lot of other people are also sharing women they admire, so don’t be afraid to explore everyone’s post. And I fully encourage all of you to share as well, whether that be here on the blog in the comments section or on your social media accounts.

 

Just another reminder of some other things coming up soon.

Next month I will be participating again in #AllDressApril. If you don’t know what that is you can check out last years post. This year I am working on something really special for you all in conjunction with it. Look for the announcement on that near the end of the month. Since April will be filled with fashion, you probably won’t be seeing a lot of it this month.

Also next month I will be going to The International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio. It will be on April 28 – 30 this year. Let me know if you are going too. And don’t be afraid to say hi.

 

Tell me in the comments below if you have a personal female hero from history.

 

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Out With The Old, In With The New – What’s Coming In 2017

goodby-2016-welcome-2017-to-all-friends

goodby-2016-welcome-2017-to-all-friends

If you have been missing post from me the last couple of weeks, sorry for the sudden MIA. I decided to take some much needed time with friends and family as well as time to work on things around my home. I also found this a great time for some self reflection and healing.

It’s been a really crazy year in many ways, with many highs, and unfortunately many more lows. We can all sit around and wallow in the misery of 2016 or we can do something about it. The world needs healing, and that can only happen if we work together and make plans with positive intent.

I am not really much for New Years resolutions, I think they are statements of grandeur that no one is ever able to live up to and leave you feeling like a failure, so I won’t be making any of those. What I do like are attainable goals, and I thought I would spend some time in this post sharing some of my personal goals for the year as well as goals for the blog. I will also be sharing some various itinerary going on for the blog and my various social media outlets.

setting goals

First let me talk about my own personal goals because I think that may be what some of you can relate to more.

  1. I want to work harder to find a sleep schedule that works for me. (I have suffered from Chronic Insomnia since I was very young and as I have aged it really makes a difference in how my other health issues do)
  2. I want to work on creating a household budget.
  3. I would like to get at least two bills completely paid off this year. (bills the bane of everyone’s existence, they ruin all the fun.)
  4. I want to finish getting my house rearranged and organized by the end of the year. (I would prefer mid year, but I would be happy with end of year)

 

As far as the blog and my various social media, I am happy with the direction I have been going. And everyone’s comments and continued support seems to say that you all think so to. I can happily say I met all my goals except one this past year, so I am also happy with that. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have bigger and better goals for the year ahead, and if you are here reading this now I am so glad you are here wanting to grow with me.

Since I have done my best to stay transparent with all of you about what is going on with the blog the past few years I wanted to continue that. Here are the goals for the blog and my social media for this year.

  1. I would like to get at least two paid post this year. (I had my very first one last year, and managed to keep it within the scope of things I like and use. I am confident I can continue with that)
  2. I would like to see at least 100 visitors a day to the blog by the end of the year. (I currently have about 50 on average)
  3. I would like to see more comments and participation from you my readers. (I currently only get consistent commenting on giveaways, but I really love talking to you.)
  4. I would like to have 1200 Instagram followers at least. (Currently I have just a little over 500. I could easily have more now if I wanted to trade out like for like, but I want followers who actually want to follow me and like what I produce. Its quality over quantity that is important to me.)
  5. I would like to double my Twitter following by the end of the year. (I currently have around 180 followers. I’m just not as active on there as I am on other social media.)
  6. I would like to fit 1,000 followers on Facebook. (I think I am at like 830 at the moment)
  7. I would like to see my shares on Facebook increase. I don’t have a tangible number in place here.

I think that sums up my major goals for the blog and social media. If I do more than this, I will be ecstatic, but if I just hit these goals I will be happy.

 

Upcoming events of interest

Here are some things coming up soon that you don’t want to miss.

  1.  For the month of January I have challenged myself and a few others to staying on top of skin care. It’s a sheet mask challenge on Instagram. Every day of January I will be using a different sheet mask, no repeats. And I will be posting pictures along with info on what I used and where you can get it on Instagram. You can find mine in my feed or look for anyone that chose to do it by searching the hashtag #newyearnewskin All are welcome to participate that want to. Just remember to tag your pictures with the hashtag.
  2. As I have the last couple of years I will be attending the International Steampunk Symposium. The dates for this years event is April 28 -30. If you go please don’t be afraid to say hello, just don’t come over and put your hands on me without introducing yourself. Yes I have had that happen.
  3. All Dress April – I do plan on participating in that again, both on Instagram and here on the blog. If you don’t know what All Dress April is, you can search my previous blog posts and it will show you post from last year.

Those are the things I know for sure that are coming up outside of just the average blog post this year. I will try and update you of any new events as they arise.

 

Tell me in the comments below either something good that happened to you this year or a goal you have for making next year better.

Also please let me know if there are any specific challenges you would like me to participate in, products you want me to review, or topics you want me to cover in a blog post. While I can’t promise till I hear your ideas, I will consider all requests.
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2016 Gift Guide For The Girls and Guys On Your List

Christmas gift guide

Christmas gift guide

 

I know I have been doing a lot of reviews of products I thought would make good gifts, and those posts will probably continue on into December. But I wanted to actually put together a gift guide. This will include some things I have reviewed and a lot of things I have not. I will be including some things that make great stocking stuffers as well as gifts. And almost everything on this list will be budget friendly. I thought this was important because I see so many people make these fantastic gift guides, and even though my husband and I certainly aren’t poor I am left thinking who has the money to give these items as gifts. Nothing in my list should be over $50, and most of them are significantly less than that.

I really wanted to do this post because I love to give gifts. It is my primary love language, if you are familiar with The Five Love Languages. I think people sometimes misunderstand this love language and think its about materialism, but its really about symbolism. Its not about the money spent, its showing that you took the time to get to know someone enough to know what they like. Its showing someone you really know who they are, and you care enough to pay attention. And since gift giving, and receiving is so important to me, I wanted to take the time to share some items that might make good gifts. Some items are even items I have already bought for people on my list. If it is a child or someone I know for sure doesn’t check my blog I will share those items. So lets get started.

For The People Who Always Need To Be Plugged In

 Five Port USB Smart Charger By FREEWISE


Polanfo 12000mAh Power Bank for Smartphones and Tablets

For The Selfie Queens


Leadpo Selfie Light Ring, 3-Level Brightness LED Clip On for All Smart Phones


OCYCLONE Anti-Gravity Phone case [Self Sticky case] Nano-suction Technology Hands-Free Selfie Shockproof Cover

 

For The Jewelry Feinds


PearlPlus Vintage Skull Dinosaur Necklace Choker Jewelry


eManco Statement Tassel Pendant Necklaces Handmade Wood Bead Bohemian Jewelry

For The Kids


DreamWorks Trolls Poppy Talkin’ Troll Plush Doll


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – 76060 Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum

 

For The Kids At Heart


Emio Mix-Monsters Headphones Black Kitten


Rocksmith 2014 [Online Game Code]

For All My Fellow Mermaids And Unicorns


BOOBEI 18inch Double Colors Reversible Sequins Mermaid Pillow Cases 18″by18″


Alkemie & Artistry Mermaid Sparkles Cameo on .925 Silver Necklace


Unicorn Poop Soap : a magical, sparkly, sweet-smelling treat for the unicorn-lover in your life


Celtic Goblet with White Unicorn Head

For The Readers In Your Life


Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB

And don’t forget the Kindle Unlimited.

 

So in the comments below let me know who is on your list, and would you buy one of my suggestions for them? Just remember when you are out buying your gift, its not about how much you spend its how much thought goes into the gift that really matters. So don’t put pressure on yourselves to spend so much. Keep things simple and from the heart.

 

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Where Do You Get Your Self Confidence? – Six Tips To Become More Positive And Self Confident

Self confidence looks good on you.

self-confidence

Where do you get your self confidence? ……… That is hands down the number one question I get from blog readers, friends, aquaintences, etc…. The answer, well its neither simple, nor is there really one correct answer. And truth of the matter, I am still a work in progress. I may have more confidence than some, but I still have my days where I doubt myself or let those bad thoughts in.

I think there is some element of how my parents raised me that has helped with my confidence. That may sound odd to any of you who read my post about my journey to self acceptance. My father did say and do a lot of things in my pre-teen and teen years that left me with body image issues to say the least. But my mom did everything she could to counteract that. And outside of my dad’s fat phobia, both of my parents constantly told me that I was smart and capable, and that I could do anything I wanted. Really a contrast there for my father I know, but that is sometimes how it is living with someone who is mentally ill.

Just because you didn’t have the same sort of family life I did, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to place of confidence. I am happy to share with you some of the things that I think have helped me at various stages of my journey. Some of these may sound cliché, some of them may sound silly, and some may be difficult for you. But, they are what worked for me, and I think they can help you too.

This is not a step by step guide, so these are in no particular order.

1. Fake It Till You Make It

I am a great believer that you can fake it till you make it. Research has shown that making yourself perform simple physical task can bring forth emotions. The most commonly cited is the case talked about in Psychology Today, showing just the act of smiling itself can make you happier. So even if you aren’t feeling confident in the moment, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, push out your chest, head up, and say here I am world bring it on.

And every time you do that it gets a little bit easier. You realize each time you were up for the challenge before. You have got this. Whether it be going into a challenging meeting or simply stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new with your wardrobe, you can do it.

2. Stop Caring About What Other People Think

Someone recently asked me what I would tell myself as a teenager if I could go back in time. The number one piece of advice I would give myself, and anyone else for that matter is don’t worry so much about what other people think.

The truth is people don’t really think about you that much, unless they are trolls on the internet and they don’t matter. I know that may sound harsh to some, but people are busy they have their own problems and worries. So short of you making a decision that directly affects maybe a family member, people don’t really get that worked up about the fact that a fat girl went sleeveless or her mid section is showing. I know the trolls on the internet might have you think so, but there have been post after post of plus size bloggers showing how nothing happened when they wore a bikini or when they wore a crop top. Oh they got some stares, but probably not more than you do on the average day as a fat person.

3. Learn To Take The Compliment

How many times have you had this happen? Your performing a task or out running an errand and someone says “You look so nice today”, “You are so talented”, “You have the most beautiful smile”, etc….And instead of saying “Thank You” and stopping there, you say “Oh, this isn’t my usual clothes” or “My sister’s smile is so much nicer than mine, you should see hers”. Do you do that? I can say I have been guilty of it in the past, and I struggle with it at times now still.

For me there is definitely two things going on that causes that internal struggle. First I  that think just being a woman, especially a plus size woman, we are taught early on we shouldn’t seek those compliments. I have to continually remind myself that just because someone offered me a compliment, that isn’t the same thing as attention seeking. And the second bit is a little more personally targeted. I am a bit of an introvert, I do have my moment where I can step out of that, but I also have a fear of not just public speaking, but really anything that puts major attention on me. I know that there are definitely others that have that same issue. For me, blogging and posting pictures of me can even be difficult at times, but I can step out of my discomfort when my desire to help others is greater than my fear.

So how do you learn to take those compliments when you have spent a lifetime avoiding them? All I can do is tell you what worked for me. I started trying to look at the compliments as gifts. For me gift giving is my major love language, and I find a lot of joy in giving them. I know a lot of people who feel the same. When someone refuses your gift, or even if they don’t refuse it but just try to because they feel bad about receiving it, they are in a way stealing some of your joy about giving it. And when someone loses joy in giving to you they are less likely to give to you again. In the long run you hurt both yourself and them. And so its the same with a compliment. Like I said, I still have moment where I struggle wanting to turn the compliment down. So I might pause for a moment, but then I say thank you and smile.

4. Don’t Base Your Self Worth Around Your Looks

I get it, we are constantly bombarded with images of what the ideal woman or man looks like and acts like. Hell, at this point in our society we are even constantly told what the perfect thing is to buy if you want to be cool or accepted. But that is clever marketing from companies that want to make sales. And most of the images we are sold on are not real. You have to fight to keep that out of your head.

So when you evaluate your self worth try to focus less on the physical appearance and more on your strengths, talents, and achievements in life. Maybe even make a list of some of your best qualities. When you’re feeling really down about yourself this may be a hard task to accomplish. If you feel stuck try asking a friend to help you out.

5. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

I think many of us living in plus size bodies, especially us ladies, often get trapped into thinking we are the only ones who have body image issues. But the truth is I have yet to meet a person, man or woman, of any size who doesn’t have some sort of insecurity about their body. There is no such thing as a perfect body, or the perfect face.

And we do a lot of comparing ourselves to the people we think are those perfect ideals. But the only perfect person you can be is you. Instead of spending your time trying to achieve something impossible, put your efforts into to becoming the best you that you can be. I promise, when you stop comparing yourself to other people your confidence will soar.

6. Remove The Negativity From Your Life

Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Do I think this is accurate? I don’t know if the number is correct, but I think the concept he is trying to convey is sound. The people we spend time with really affect who we are and how we look at life. If we surround ourselves with people who have positive attitudes and are confident, then we start to immolate that. But the same is true for being surrounded by people who are negative points in our life.

I think this is probably the thing that is the hardest for people to change. Sometimes you have to illuminate those negative influences, or at least limit your time around them, if you really want to make a real change in your life. Each person has to make the judgment of what is appropriate and what is not. For me there are some clear lines of what is appropriate to be negative about and what not to be negative about. For example any major health issue, major accident, life altering events, etc… you get what I am going for, these are all reasonable things to express negative thoughts on. But if you make constant negative comments about other people, their appearance, every day events, etc.. this is where I have to start evaluating whether spending time with you is going to effect my state of mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you just dump people for good out of you life, unless that is what you want. I am a proponent of honesty is the best policy. If its someone you really care about, talk to the person and tell them you feel they are too negative. Maybe you can help make both of your lives better. Or if its someone less important in your life and you still don’t want to let them go, perhaps just schedule less time with them. Use that time to spend with someone who has a positive attitude.

 

I really hope these tips have helped some of you. I could probably give a few more, but I think some of the points would become a little over lapping and repetitive. If you have a tip to share please leave it in the comments below.

 

 

 

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Part 3 – Where I Am Going, Let’s Grow Together

Where I am going in the future

Over the last few weeks I have written about my my past and my present. Today I want to talk to you about where I see myself and the blog going in the future.

Where I am going in the future

It took me a little longer to think about what I wanted to write for this one, and I realize a lot of that is because I have never been one for planning. I have always had general ideas and goals, but never a solid plan.  And perhaps its a good thing for me to be writing this just so I can start developing a more solid plan for the future.

My goal for this blog is, and always has been, to help as many people as possible while doing something I love. But I want it to be something bigger than that. I really want to develop a sense of community here. I want you to become engaged and share your stories. Let’s help build each other up.

I thin k in the past I hadn’t been putting the focus on the blog the way I really should, and that is really because I had my attention spread too much into too many things. So as I move into this next year, I want to make sure I focus most of my attention on this blog. I want to make more of an effort to find ways to step outside my own comfort zone. It may be cliché but I do believe that saying, be the change you want to see. So if I am asking you my readers to step out of your comfort zones to make a difference in your world, I should do the same.

We create our on futures, or destinies, however you want to fraise it. So I want to create something where we all come together and create a positive world to live in. I ask for help from all of you by participating in conversations and by you also keeping a positive mind space.

This will be a continual work in progress. I will start working on a more structured plan. I also welcome input in the form of suggestions of what you would like to see on the blog and constructive criticism from each of you. However if you do not understand the difference between constructive criticism and criticism, it is best to save it.

I also would love to hear what your own goals are? Are you a planner or are you like me and go with more of a general idea?

 

 

 

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Plus Size Shopping Guide For Labor Day Weekend Sales 2016

labor-day-treadmill-sales-deals-1024x640

labor-day-treadmill-sales-deals-1024x640

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday weekend with their friends and family. And for those of you who have to continue to work today, know you are appreciated even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

I am off spending time with a member of my friends family who just had surgery, but I wanted to leave you guys with shopping guide for the holiday weekend. I love a sale! Who doesn’t, am I right? Any how below is the list of stores I know are having sales for the weekend. Some sales may not be announced ahead of time and some may not be exclusive to just Labor Day.

I will try and update with any new information I have if and when I get time this weekend, so check back if you can. Make sure you leave me a comment below and let me know if you got anything special. And let me and everyone else know if there is a killer sale we should all be running for.

 

Aidrianna Papelle

Summer Dress Sale! Up to 62% Off Dresses at Adrianna Papell! A line, fit and flare & more styles are now only $59.99. Limited time only. Shop now! – note dresses actually start at $39.99 in this sale.

 

Amazon

Labor Day Savings Up To 70 Percent Off on Women’s Plus Size Amazon
 

Ashley Stewart

Labor Day Weekend Sale: 30% off your full-price purchase

 

City Chic

Shop City Chic’s labour day sale for 30% off Formal Dresses! Valid August 30- September 12

Get an additional 30% off sale at City Chic! Valid August 30- September 29

Get 2 Basics for $20 at City Chic! Valid July 12th – September 26th

Get 25% off your first purchase at City Chic with code: 25OFF1ST!

 

Dressbarn

BOGO 50% Off On Tops at dressbarn Labor Day Sale

Take $20 off $100 and Free Shipping with code 20SEP100 at dressbarn

 

Lane Bryant

Labor Day Sale: 40% OFF Apparel, Sleepwear & Accessories with code: LABORDAY at Lane Bryant (9/1-9/6)

ONLINE ONLY: 40% OFF $250+ w/ FS use code: JU40AFFLB (ends 9/1) – excludes clearance, Cacique + all third-party brands

ONLINE ONLY: $25 OFF $75+ w/ FS use code: JU25AFFLB (ends 9/1) – excludes clearance, Cacique + all third-party brands

Cacique Everyday Deal: 5 for $35 Panties + BOGO 50% Off Bras!

Up to 75% End of Summer Clearance Sale at Lane Bryant

 

Lovesick

End of Summer Clearance Event online at Lovesick.com. Prices starting at $3.99! See site for details.

BOGO 50% Off Reg Price & BOGO Free Clearance at Lovesick.com. Cannot be combined. Some exclusions may apply.

Maurices

StoreWide BOGO 50% Off with code LOVE2BOGO, valid 8/31- 9/5

50% Off 1 Reg. Price Item + Free Shipping with code 1222, valid 8/30-9/10

 

ModCloth

Labor Day Sale – Up to 50% Off

 

Society Plus

Summer Closet Clearout – New clearance items starting at 40% off

 

Swimsuits For All

Get Up to 65% Off Sitewide and Free Shipping this Labor Day at swimsuitsforall.com. No Code Needed

 

 

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Part 2 – Where I Am At, The Challenge Of Staying Positive And Empowered

Hello World

Hello World

Last week in Part 1 – Where I Came From, The Journey to Self Acceptance I told you a lot about my past and how it led me to writing the blog. Today I wanted to talk about where I’m at now in life and how I stay motivated.

With many goals in life, you achieve the goal, you set your next goal, and you move on. But with things like positivity, self-confidence, and empowerment it doesn’t work that way. Just like anything that makes up who we are as a person, things fluctuate and change on a moment by moment basis. So to keep ourselves mentally healthy and strong, it is really a daily task.

I definitely have my days where I feel less than my best. I have my self doubts, old fears start creeping in, and negative messages get to me. Thankfully as the years have went by those moments have gotten fewer and fewer. I have found now that I am in my late thirties I am happier with who I am. I not only feel more confident in myself, but I just care less about what others think of me and my choices. And quite honestly, the prospects of my forties have me excited. I know a lot of people fear aging, but why? Your age will never hold you back from doing anything, only your mind will.

One of the main things that helps keep me motivated to do the blog is helping others. At this stage in my life there is no greater compliment that you could give me than telling me that I have inspired you or made your life better in some way. Don’t get me wrong, everyone likes to hear that someone finds them attractive from time to time, especially their spouse. But those kinds of compliments meant a lot more to me when I was younger.

Empowered women are beautiful beyond measure

I have had people tell me recently that they wish they could be brave like me. I honestly was kind of confused by this at first. Then as we chatted more I realized they were simply talking about the fact that I usually don’t wear sleeves in the summer. I will be honest here. It’s not bravery, its hot as balls in Kentucky in the summer and it’s certainly too hot to have to give a fuck what anyone else thinks about how my arms look. And if my arms or any other part of my fat self helps inspire anyone else to not give a flying fuck then I am elated. And I will be happy no matter what you think of me. If you think wow she looks fantastic, I really want to try out some of those same looks she wears, then that’s great. But I will be equally okay with you think wow what a fat cow, well if she can wear that then so can I. Either way the goal has been achieved to inspire someone to try something new.

While we are on the subject of blog content, I have been trying really hard despite personal issues and illnesses to get the blog on a schedule. I feel I am really happy with the direction I have it going in, and I hope that you as the readers are too. I certainly have felt like there has been a momentum growing from it since I implemented some of the changes at the beginning of the year. I want more than anything to build a safe community in which other women feel supported and where they feel like their opinions matters. I will always welcome any and all feedback from you. And I will do my best to always keep the trolls out. I have been lucky to not have been hit yet, but I know my day is coming.

I feel blessed that I have been able to work with such a great company on a continual basis like Beauteque. It’s really important to me that if I work with and promote any company here on the blog, outside of a general review, that it be a company that I thoroughly believe in.

Outside of the blog coming up next months will be mine and my husband’s third anniversary. It’s odd how it feels like it was both yesterday and forever ago at the same time. Like any couple we have some small bumps in the road, but we work on it daily. I love him as much now as I did the day I said I do. One good thing about our marriage is that we both truly believe that it’s not important whether you have conflict (because you will), but how you resolve those conflicts determine whether you can last. We are also really fortunate to have a fantastic supportive friends group that we consider family. You have seen a few of them here on the blog, and I am sure you will see them in the future too.

I think that pretty much covers where I am in life and what keeps me motivated. Do you blog? Let me know what you blog about and what helps keep you motivated.

 

 

 

 

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