Thursday, April 6, 2017

Baby Chicks!

Guess who got CHICKS?!

Meet Penelope and Persephone, cute little Easter Eggers, believed to be Americauna mixes of sorts. :)

(Basically, they are chicken mutts, who will likely lay some pretty eggs!)

I've wanted chickens for quite some time, but it was Boyfriend who gave me the final push. 

I'm currently spending about $8 a week in farm eggs, so why not spend about $15 a month in chicken supplies for fresh eggs? 

We are planning to build the coop and run using scavenged and free parts, hoping to cost next to nothing. (Chicken wire is no joke on cost y'all...for real!)

Also planning to let them do LOTS of free ranging so they eat bugs, etc. from the yard, therefore their feed (non-GMO, organic, antibiotic free) will just be a supplement once they get to be adult chickies. :)

Aren't they just so cute you want to die?! 

This is their temporary home, also known as a "brooder". 

It's a box, with a heat lamp, puppy pad, waterer, and feeder!

So, stay tuned for lots of chicken updates!!!! <3 <3

As always, leave me some comment love.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

5 Ways to Balance Mental and Physical Health

I've been extremely open about my struggles and reality of life with my physical disability. What I haven't talked as much about are my mental health struggles. While many of these struggles I have had and dealt with the majority of my life, they were highly compounded after the trauma that I experienced last year and the constant stress of managing my physical disability. As such, it's often times a huge struggle just to maintain stability.

So how do I balance it? How do I balance the need for constant vigilance for my physical health, while also doing the things I need to do for my mental health?

It's hard. It takes work. Many days I don't feel strong enough, but I make myself handle it.

Here are a few things that I do to manage the balance that I need:

1. Have a very supportive tribe.

It is imperative that I have a strong tribe. People in my life who understand the struggles that I have and understand the balance of knowing that I will sometimes not be a good friend, I will sometimes not text or call anyone for days at a time, but also know how to support me when I reach out for support. My tribe is small, my tribe is loyal, and a good portion of my tribe also deals with their own need for balancing mental health struggles with real life, which make each of us far more empathetic and understanding of how to support each other. 

2. Prioritize what is necessary from what should get done.

Using the "Keep" app by Google, I have an alerting list of reminders of things that NEED to get done (appointments that need to be made, errands that need to be run, etc.) as well as lists for what I *must* do every day (eat, take meds, shower, take care of Jaxson, etc.) as well as things that I should do my best to get done (daily household chores, etc.) from what I should try to get done (writing, exercise, etc.). I also have a daily task list which I fill in every night before bed on what I need to do that next day.

3. Organize and manage medications.
 In addition to having "take meds" on my daily must do list, I also have alerts on my phone and computer at the time of day my meds are to be taken. I keep my meds organized in an AM/PM med organizer, and I have all of them on auto refill so that a few days before I will be out, I get a call from the pharmacy to come pick up my meds. If you are not one of the many Americans who take anxiety and/or depression medications everyday, you may not realize this, but they must be taken like clockwork at the same times every day or it can completely throw off the balance of serotonin levels in your brain which can wreak absolute havoc on your mental health, ability to cope, ability to function, appetite, and more. Realistically, managing and being responsible for making sure my meds are taken exactly when necessary is probably my most important tool at balancing my mental health.

4. Be extremely self-aware.

I remain vigilant in extreme self awareness. I have to know at all times what my needs are. If I am in a high stress or triggering situation, I have to recognize that quickly so that I can remove myself from that situation immediately. I have to be aware enough of my anxiety to recognize when I am perhaps not thinking rationally, and immediately begin practicing coping skills to calm down the extreme anxiety I feel before it escalates into panic. If I wake up and recognize that I feel lethargic and depressed, I have to immediately acknowledge that so I know that today I only need to focus on my "What I MUST do" list. 

5. Practice self-love and self-care every day.

I say affirmations of self love every single day. On bad days, sometimes it's multiple times a day. I forgive myself without apology when I have to shut out everything for the day. I love myself WITH my disorders, not despite it.
I practice self care every day. I have a list on "Keep" of self care activities so that even if I'm having a very low day, I know I can look at that list and come up with a self care plan.
I never, ever, ever apologize if my needs dictate that my entire day is being spent on relaxing TV shows, comfy pajamas, and coloring. I do occasionally struggle with guilt for those things, but I push through that guilt and remind myself that I can't serve from an empty vessel, and that my day of self care is just as valid and important as a day of working.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

5 Ways To Keep Sane During Insane Times

Everyday I wake up, turn on my TV and laptop, and start browsing through the news. I scroll through Facebook and Twitter, catching up on what the social justice leaders I follow have to say. Each day, it gets worse. Each day, I'm in awe that this is reality.

Between bans on Muslims, press briefings about lies being called alternative facts, daily accusations of fake news, a white supremacist being placed on the National Security Council, insults to federal judges, insults to Australia, threats to Mexico, vague threats to Iran, China now peacocking about nuclear seems to be never ending. There's so much it's almost impossible to keep up with it all. This is reality? This is real life?

Even if you don't meet the criteria that I do with having a chronic pain condition as well as big struggles with mental health, even the most sane person could just look around and feel hopeless.

So how do you stay sane during insane times?

Here are the top five ways I keep from losing my mind:

1. Give myself limits to watching the news. Take a day off if necessary.
It's easy to lose track of yourself if you stay enveloped in the daily drama. As scary as it is, turn off the TV. Close the computer. Put the phone down. Pick something different to do. Read a book, watch a relaxing movie. But disconnect from the source of the stress, even if just long enough to regroup. 

2. State my opinion LOUDLY.

It makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER tweeting to representatives, including Frump, with my opinion on whatever topic is being discussed. (My feed is now at the top of my blog, but do follow @ClaireInRVA to see my daily antics.) Calling my representatives, sending emails, signing petitions. These are active things I can do to make my voice heard, without worry about being able to get out and physically protest. I protest with my words until I can handle a protest with my body. 

3. Make an action plan for local support.

Contact soup kitchens, find charity events that support organizations you support, pass out blankets to the homeless in your community, volunteer with a refugee support organization, volunteer anywhere you can! Even if it takes a while to actually put the action plan into motion, making a plan will keep your focus on something positive you can do within your local community to help make it a better place.

4. Make a plan for DAILY self care.

I make a self care plan EVERY DAY. How much self care will vary depending on the day and need, but each and every day I make a self care plan. Take a bubble bath, color a picture, watch a favorite movie, cook a new recipe, snuggle with my puppies. Each and every day I have to take some time of the day for myself and only myself. This isn't selfish, it's necessary. You can't serve from an empty vessel. 

5. Find ways to LAUGH.

I watch Trevor Noah, SNL, and make sure to throw in a few "tiny hands" digs when tweeting to Frump. A dear friend of mine joked about ways to make ourselves useful when the Chinese invade. As disturbing as this level of humor is, it helps. Tremendously. Maybe the tiny hands orangutan jokes aren't what gets you going, but find something to bring you joy and humor to help lift your spirits and keep you sane. :)  

As always, leave me some comment love. <3

Thursday, November 10, 2016

You Have to Hear the Pain ~ Election Thoughts

I will begin this by sharing what I posted on my Facebook page with regards to who I voted for and why:

I was quite open about my intention to skip the presential ballot and just focus on the down ballot. But despite my numerous numerous numerous issues and concerns-
As an lgbt, feminist, sexual assault surviving woman who grew up in a border state playing with children from undocumented families, who has had Islamic friends and roommates, who cares very deeply about poverty, equality, POC, women's rights, and the love and respect deserving to all people-
I could NOT lay my head down tonight knowing I did not do everything I could to defeat someone who is a legitimate and real threat to myself, my friends, and so many people living in this country.
I do not for one second believe that she is going to do even 1/4 of what she says she will do, I do not believe she represents the kind of leader I really want, but I do believe that a Trump presidency is not one we will survive.
So, because of all of those reasons, I voted for Hillary Clinton. And despite all of the issues I have, I have no regrets in my decision.

I watched the election until around 11pm, before heading to bed. I woke up the next morning utterly devastated at the results. I spent most of the day crying and depressed, not because of a GOP president-elect, because we just gave the most powerful office in the world to someone who ran their entire platform on hate.

When we tell someone, "Hey, you can say whatever you want, be as racist, sexist, and misogynist as you want- and we will elect you president." what we inevitably tell the overtly racist is that they have the green light to be as vile as they so choose.

The door that has been opened is one that took us back 50 years. These are the some (and I mean some, please feel free to google, there's hundreds) of the reports for the 24 hours post-election.

Social media posts aren't enough for you? 

Okay, here's a list of articles regarding the various monstrosities which have been occurring: 

Now, beyond the fact that these things are horrific, my major problem is the criticism against the protesters. People are TERRIFIED- FOR GOOD REASON. 

This is the best way I can think to explain this....

You're walking down the street. Suddenly you are grabbed and thrown down. There are people all around, some who don't seem to see you even though you're screaming, some who apologize and say that they wouldn't do that. Then the attacker starts kicking and punching you. Then spitting on you. Repeatedly. And the same thing happens. Some pretend not to see or say "well at least he isn't kicking you now, it's just spitting" and there's others who again apologize but do nothing to actually help you.

Would you just continue to sit there and do nothing while being beat down and treated less than human repeatedly? Or would you get up and fight?
You don't get to determine how the victim defends themselves. That's why its called self defense.
So to everyone telling all the protestors and scared people to just love and stop the hate, remember that you're just blaming the victim for reacting to the situation you have ignored, defended, justified, and therefore been a part of.

Honestly though, Van Jones said it best on CNN. So I will leave you today with this. Regardless of where you stand politically, I would hope that you see these atrocities and demand that they cease. That you publicly align yourselves with marginalized people and show them that you are NOT going to just stand by, you will defend them, you will fight for them, and that you are with them. 

As Always, Leave me some comment love. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How You Can Help (If you want to)

So I have been asked by several people what they could do to help me in the current limbo situation I am in. Honestly, saying that I even NEED help feels uncomfortable for me still, so this is a really strange post for me to even put together.

However, since so many people have asked, I figured I would compile a small list of things people could do to help support me.

1. PLEASE subscribe to the blog, like me on social media, subscribe to my YouTube channel, click on the ads. All of those things will help me as I am trying to find an alternate source of cash through writing and sharing my journey.

2. Buy my books! If you are local, I have print copies available for $5 that I will sign for you. :)

3. If you are local and make a soup or casserole or pasta sauce or anything like that freezes well and could spare an extra serving- that helps me greatly! On bad days, cooking is nearly impossible so the ability to just heat something up makes all the difference in the world to me.

4. I have an Amazon wish list if you would like to send me something. There's a little bit of everything on it from medical and household stuff I need to a few fun things that just make me happy.

Here's the wishlist-

5. Jaxson is absolutely my emotional support animal and the only thing that gets me through lonely bad days. If you would like to support me by supporting him, that would mean the world to me. I typically try to get him grain free dry food, but he does not have GI issues and switching brands or types is not an issue for him. So if you would like to donate any dry dog food for him, that would be greatly appreciated!

6. There are other things I could absolutely use if you have any of the following extra things around your house-

*Winter clothes or clothes in general (I wear a medium shirt unless juniors size then I will wear a large, a size 12 jeans, size medium leggings, 8.5 wide shoes, and size 36d bra) After losing so much weight and continuing to lose, I am down to just a few pieces of clothing that fits, and a whole bunch that doesn't. 
*King Size sheets, towels, and hand towels are very slim around here and always appreciated.

*Extension cords and surge protectors are in need. I have one extension cord I use for my phone charger and heating pads, and have to move the whole cord every time I move where I am so if you have an extra or two lying around, I would love it!

*Heating pads and heated blankets. I am pretty much constantly using my heating pad, and since I typically have multiple sources of pain, I am constantly adjusting where the pad is. So an extra pad or two or even a heated blanket would be absolutely amazing. 

*Walmart and Walgreen's gift cards to help pay for my prescriptions. Since I am uninsured, I have to pay roughly $100 a month (and probably more soon as it looks like I will be adding to my current regiment) just for my medications. I primarily get my prescriptions at Walmart but have one that is cheaper at Walgreen's. Gift cards to either of those places will be going directly to my medications.

*A spare DVD player and/or VCR. I currently have no regular home internet and just use my hotspot, and since my laptop is broken if I am working at the computer I can't also watch a dvd, which I am unable to use for my living room TV. If you have an extra in your garage, that would be awesome! :)

7. If you want to help to support me monetarily, I have a support button through PayPal on the sidebar of the blog now. I am probably most uncomfortable about this way of asking for help because I believe people have abused crowd funding and ask for money when they don't need it. I am in no way of the mindset that anyone owes me anything at all, but if you would like to contribute to me in this way, here is the link to this option:

How You Can Help

8. If you own a blog, business, online shop, or anything else and you would like to advertise here on the blog or through my other social influencer channels, please click the advertise link at the top of the blog. This helps me tremendously!

9. If you get a Sunday paper and are not a couponer, please send me your inserts! Those coupons are the difference between me having laundry detergent and personal care items and not. They also help me stretch my SNAP/food budget so I can stock up better and be more secure in having food. 

10. This is probably the most important to me. Emotional support! Leaving me comments and sending me messages offering support and kind words really does lift my whole day and makes me so happy. 

So, I hope this gave insight into the kind of support that someone could offer to me if they choose to. Kind words and sharing my blog and journey with others is by far the biggest thing that I ask for, but as you can see, any type of support that someone wants to offer I will graciously and humbly accept. 

As always, leave me some comment love. 


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