Month: March 2018

March Check-in, April Goals

Happy April, almost! I plan to do a check-in at the end of each month if I can to record my progress and growth (and hopefully find it encouraging!) as I continue to write here at ThriverGuide. If you don’t find this kind of thing interesting, cool. I know I enjoy reading other people’s reports and accounts of what is or isn’t working well for them, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If that’s you, feel free to go read one of these posts instead:

 

Still with me? Great! (Continue Reading…)

Maundy Thursday: When the Spirit and the Flesh Are Both Weak

Maundy Thursday: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly.
Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly

Last night was Maundy Thursday, where Christians remember the night Jesus gave a new commandment to love one another, the night he broke bread and passed a common cup to his disciples, the night he went to a garden to pray and asked his disciples to stay awake with him and watch—even for one hour—and they did not. The night he was betrayed and arrested and handed over to death.

Family Day at the Huntington Library and Gardens

I spent most of the day yesterday at the Huntington Library and Gardens with my mother and sister and a friend. We wandered through the gardens all afternoon, ate lunch at the cafe, showed ThriverBabe around the children’s garden, and generally just enjoyed the sunshine and cool breezes and green spaces.

We hit LA rush hour traffic on the way back, and I watched the minutes tick by, stealing away the one- to two-hour buffer I’d planned to have between getting back home and packing up to go to church at 7. I really didn’t want to go to church. I wasn’t in the mood for Maundy Thursday.

I felt a sudden connection to the disciples in the garden.

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5 Super Easy, Nourishing Dinners for Low-Spoon Days

Have you ever literally broken down in tears just thinking about the task of making dinner?

Spoonie friends, I’m willing to bet you have. For those of us with chronic illness and/or mental illness, there are some days where the thought of having to come up with something to eat—even if it’s just for yourself—is enough to break you. Severe fatigue, pain, and mental fog are a daily reality, and they can prevent you from taking proper care of yourself. As spoonies, we’re all probably aware that it’s better to eat fresh, healthy foods and home-cooked meals, but there are times when that ideal seems laughable. Heck, I’ve had days where I knew I had a frozen burrito waiting for me in the freezer and that all I had to do was get up and stick it in the microwave, but you know what? Even that seemed too hard. Reader, I cried.

I cried because a frozen burrito didn’t seem worth the effort. I didn’t really want to eat it.

I cried because it seemed like the only option.

I cried because we were out of eggs and tortillas and cheese and I was too tired to go to the store.

What I’ve learned since then is that when you live with chronic illness, you need to plan ahead knowing that your best intentions may fail you. If you know yourself and can plan for your needs, you’ll find you’re much better equipped to take care of yourself on the days where everything is difficult.

On the “Day of the Burrito” my planning failed me because my plan hadn’t taken me into account. I had stocked my freezer with burritos because they were cheap and easy, not because I actually wanted to eat them and definitely not because they were good for me. Pro tip: when your body already feels crummy, don’t feed it $0.50 burritos. Your body needs and deserves more from you.

The other thing I’ve found that makes dinner so difficult some days is the process of deciding what to eat. When you’re over-tired and clouded by mental fog, no amount of staring at your pantry or fridge will make your decision about what to eat easier. So I find that having a list of go-to options combined with keeping a well-stocked pantry and fridge is a huge help in avoiding dinner-prep tears. With that in mind, today I’m sharing my top five fast, easy, low-spoon dinners.

Five Super Easy Dinners that are Low-Spoon Friendly

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Fab Friday: How to Make Your House Feel Like Spring

It’s Fab Friday, and Tuesday was the first day of spring! Hooray! We’re only just finally starting to get some more wintery-feeling (read: wet) weather here in Southern California, so I’m going to embrace that while it lasts, but I’ve also seen the mustard plants starting to bloom in the foothills near us, which means spring is definitely here. Do you have signs like that where you live?

I love when the seasons change, and there’s something about winter to spring especially that inspires me. It makes me want to do more, see more, be more! One thing is always the same, though: I always get the urge to make my house feel more like spring. But how exactly do you do that? How do you bring that springtime feeling inside? This week’s Fab Friday has got you covered!

How to Make Your House Feel Like Spring - thriverguide.com

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Why I Clean My House During Lent

Why I Clean My House During Lent

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m going to talk about God and Christianity from time to time here. It’s a huge part of my life, and by that I mean in part that I live my life according to the church calendar, fasting and feasting in due season. So a lot of my experiences and thoughts are directly shaped by these seasons and will likely come out in what I write.

It’s Lent right now in the church year—the great fast that precedes the great feast. In some traditions people give up meat (and dairy and oil and sweets and alcohol and sex), but joining in that practice presupposes a dietary and cooking flexibility that I am not able to accommodate. So Lent in my house for the last few years has meant a sacrifice of time and effort to a worthy cause: cleaning time. For the 40 days of Lent, I concertedly spend extra time cleaning my house as a spiritual discipline. That’s not to say that I don’t clean my house in other seasons—I just do it more attentively in Lent.

Why? I don’t know. Because disciplines are good, and they help form good habits, maybe. I have never in my life been a clean and organized person, so there’s always something that needs more attention. I live in the perpetual hope that one day I might become a clean and organized person. I recognize that order is objectively better than chaos, and especially now that I’m a mom, I don’t want my son to grow up in a house full of chaos. But I think there’s something about cleaning house that’s metaphorically resonant with the practice of the Lenten fast.

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Fab Friday: Essential Baby Gear for 6 Months and Under

I know what you’re thinking—another baby gear list? Yeah, that’s exactly what the internet needs. I know, I know, but give me a chance! My mission here at Thriver Guide is to help find ways to make life easier, more beautiful, and more joyful for those of us with chronic or mental illness, so to that end, this list of baby essentials is something I made with spoonie parents in mind.

Without further ado, here’s this week’s Fab Friday roundup:

These baby essentials saved my sanity when my baby was under six months old!

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6 Reasons Why You Need a Breast Pump

Me: Hey you! Are you currently a pregnant person?
You: ………..yes?
Me: You should make sure you get a breast pump!
You: Uhhhh, even if I plan to exclusively breastfeed and want to forgo bottles?
Me: Get yourself a breast pump!
You: I feel a little uncomfortable discussing my breastfeeding choices with a stranger—
Me: *stomping feet and punching the air* Get! A! BREAST PUMP!!!
[End Scene.]

I don’t actually yell at people on the street (just on the internet). But you can bet I’d give this same advice to any and all of my pregnant friends. Get a pump, any pump, although if you’re a spoonie like me, definitely go for an electric one if you have the option (old “arthritic hands” over here can’t reliably operate a manual one!). At the time of writing this post, all insured pregnant people are entitled to a free breast pump as a result of Obamacare provisions. The type of pump might vary from insurer to insurer, but I know a lot of people who have been eligible to receive a double electric pump of high quality for free through their insurance. All I needed personally was a prescription from my doctor and a list of approved vendors from my insurance company, and then I picked out my pump and ordered it online and had it shipped to me for free. It was actually really painless. I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump Starter Set, and I have zero complaints. It’s pretty cushy, actually. I use it 3-4 times per week now that I’m back at work part-time, and it has been great. I haven’t even had to replace any parts yet, and my son is nine months old.

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Why should you get a breast pump? I know someone reading this is going to be all like, “women have gotten along just fine for thousands of years without breast pumps.” You know what else we’ve gotten along fine without for thousands of years? Cars, airplanes, grocery stores, antibiotics, the internet. I’m going to guess that you use at least some of those things and don’t find the argument convincing that you should do without them just because they were invented in the last two centuries. So let’s just agree not to be Luddites, here…

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Fab Friday: Sick Day Self-Care

Happy Friday! I’m thinking I want to introduce Fab Friday as a series where I can recommend something Fab to you all, something beautiful or helpful or whatever that you might enjoy.

For me, I’ve been battling sickness for the last month after my immune system was weakened from a bout of shingles, and on Tuesday night, my current sinus bug struck me hard. I’ve had vicious insomnia since starting antivirals for my shingles outbreak back in January, but come 7:00 pm on Tuesday night, I literally could not keep my eyes open.

So I thought I’d make a Sick Day Self-Care inspiration board for this first Fab Friday, since that’s where I am at. Some of these things are things I’ve found helpful this week, and others are things I wish I’d had! (Click on Continue Reading for links to each item.) Enjoy!

Sick Day Self-Care | Fab Friday Recommendations | thriverguide.com

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Life with Limits: Spoon Theory and Family Life

Today we’re going to talk a little about spoon theory. Credit for this theory belongs to Christine Miserandino over at butyoudontlooksick.com. If you haven’t heard of spoon theory before, I highly recommend clicking over there and reading her essay explaining the metaphor and its origin. It isn’t very long. I’ll wait.

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Okay! Spoons! [Continue Reading…]