Past Trauma Pop-Ups. How Rude to Show Up During a Pandemic.

Past Trauma Pop-Ups. How Rude to Show Up During a Pandemic.

They keep saying these are unprecedented times. And that’s true, but what they mean by that is that these are unprecedented times as a collective whole – for the world, our country, our states. There’s never been a worldwide pandemic in our lifetimes with this kind of ability to travel nationally and internationally and thereby spread the disease with a more feverish ability. And that is scary and truly unprecendented.

But it’s not completey unpredecented for me. I have lived through something that tore my whole world apart. I have had my world view shook. My reality changed overnight. My routine torn apart. Sure, comparing one family’s loss of a mother at a young age isn’t the same as a worldwide pandemic. But it is something that can be described as traumatic.

I saw this post from @findyourshinethearapy back when the pandemic was just strating to ramp up and it said, “If you’re a trauma survivor and are frustrated by how (well) you’re coping right now, it may be important to acknowledge that the very survival mechanism that feels unproductive to you now, is the same force that has allowed you to survive everything you have in your life up to this point. Your survival brain is working hard and, if you are reading this, it’s done a pretty good job.”

I found another that said if you’re feeling weirdly calm it could be because chaos feels familiar to you. These posts made me stop in my tracks a little. I haven’t been pissed, per se, that I have been acting pretty calm during this pandemic, but it did seem odd to me that so many people were so rocked by it.

Of course, this made me a little retrospective. I hadn’t really considered that my trauma had made me into the person I am now. I’ve always thought that this was just who I am. I was born this way and the moment I found my mom after her first seizure that day before school was sort of a turning point – a light bulb moment if you will – when I realized that that’s just how I am in a traumatic situation. Under pressure, I stay calm. I did in that moment and I have moving forward, but I sort thought that was just how my family dealt with these kind of situations. Not much you can do but move on is our unofficial family motto. That day some 16 odd years ago, it was like I went into survival mode. And it feels like I have for this situation as well. 

I mean, in theory, there’s not a lot else one can do in this situation. I can just stay home and not panic…which I’ve been doing. Buy a tie dye kit. Start new routines with special takeout nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Paint a new watercolor once every other week. Create content for Instagram/blog. Start a TikTok.

But I also realize this is a bit of a mask. I have always been the one who when something bad happens to try not to dwell. I try to walk right through it. Keep myself busy. Projects make me feel better. They are how I cope.

It’s too early to sit in my feelings about how this pandemic brought up old feelings of trauma, but it’s good to at least acknowledge that it might be something I need to address with a professional in the future. Right now it just means writing a blog post. Connecting with my family and sister to be with people who went through the trauma with me. And to just be. And breathe.

 

 

5 Board Games You Need in Quarantine

5 Board Games You Need in Quarantine

My family and I are a bunch of gamers…board gamers. Ever since we were kids, we have been a very competitive foursome (my dad, my mom + my sister). On New Year’s Eve, we had an epic all-night game night where we played like 7-8 games in teams of two competing for the ultimate goal of having winner’s bragging rights for the rest of the year. So now it has become a tradition that we gift each other a game on Christmas to play during the year, so yea you can say I’m sort of a game expert. Here are a few of my faves – all with Amazon links – that you can buy to keep you entertained during the shelter in place orders!

Encore

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This game has been a family favorite since I was weeeeee youngin. We used to play this every chance we got when my parents would have people over. Yes, we were those annoying kids who wanted to play with the grown-ups. I apologize to all my parent’s friends who just wanted to drink in peace. Encore is a singing game. You split into teams and as you progress on the game board you hit certain colors on the board which indicates the difficulty of the word you will get. Once you pick your word card then you have to sing a song with that word in it. It sounds easy, but there is, of course, a timer and you have to SING it – you can’t just talk the lyrics so it gets really funny. Click here to shop.

Utter Nonsense

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This acts similarly to a game like Apples to Apples. There is a judge and they pick a card that has a funny accent or voice card on it. Each player has to pick a saying from their stack of cards that they think the judge will think goes best with that funny voice or accent. Some of the voice cards are easier like a skater boy or a baby voice, but some are really hard like Jamaican (for me SO HARD!). There is a dirty version and a family edition.

Code Names

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This is def a family favorite after I bought the dirty version without realizing it. Life is never the same once you hear your dad say the words, “pussy bitch” in a sentence. There is a family version though! How it works: a set of random code words are placed on the table. Each team tries to guess the words on their assigned card before the other team does with the help of their spymaster who is coming up with code words to get you to guess the code words on their assigned card. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not once you get the hang of it! Click here for the dirty version and here for the family-friendly version.

Buzzed 

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A simple game designed to get you buzzed. Take turns drawing cards that gives you or the group different prompts to drink. For example, “Drink if you’ve ever been caught watching porn.” Yep, also dirty so think twice if you want to play with your family. But this is an easy one to play virtually on Zoom calls. Shop here.

5 Second Rule 

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Another one of our family favorites! Pick a card, read the topic and then start the timer. You have 5 seconds to name 3 things that fit the topic. It’s a LOT harder than it sounds and very funny. All sorts of topics, but it’s definitely family-friendly and good for anyone over the age of 10. Shop here.

WFH Tips During Quarantine

WFH Tips During Quarantine

I am lucky enough that during this time of social distancing and possible lockdown that I have experience in the art of working from home. And trust me, it’s an art. Here’s the back story since everyone might not know, but I don’t blog or “influence” full time (ugh hate the word influence). I have a full-time job as a Customer Success Executive at a technology agency called 4th Down Solutions. We create digital solutions for sales teams to learn and train remotely and efficiently so the business is actually booming right now. Message me if you have a need for it – we will probably have a solution. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch!

I have been working from home for this company for two and a half years, but before that, I worked for a large pharmaceutical company and that was a work in the office everyday sort of culture. So I have gone from one extreme to the other and I know it can be difficult.

When I first started working from home two years ago I loathed it. I missed the camaraderie of an office, structure, and taking breaks, but it’s still possible to do all those things from home so below are my tips on becoming a WFH expert like me!

Set up a dedicated workspace. 

This is probably the most important advice I can give. When I first started working from home I would set up my desk at my kitchen counter and leave it there morning, noon, and night which isn’t a very good work-at-home practice. Setting up an area that is JUST for working is essential. If you don’t have enough space to leave things out and put them AWAY aka close a door on your office space then you should put the work away physically each night. Don’t keep your notebooks, devices, and laptop open after you are done working. This practice will make you work LONGER and unnecessarily and when I did this I saw my mental health just go bonkers. So make sure you do this if NOTHING else!

Start your workday and end your workday at certain times. 

This goes along with what I was saying above. Keeping hours of when you’re working is very important. I always sit down at my computer between 8:30am and 9:00am and then shut my computer by at least 6pm unless I have a late meeting or something that absolutely cannot wait until the next day. It’s easy to start working earlier and earlier and later and later and you want to avoid this. Start and end your day the way you already normally do. My one coworker even sets a timer at the end of the day to remind her to stop because sometimes you can lose track of time and already it’s 7pm. Trust me, this will help your sanity.

Take breaks. 

You do this when you’re in an office even if you don’t know you do. You talk with coworkers, walk around the office, go get coffee, shop online, etc. Make sure to take those breaks even though you are working from home. A lot of people start to feel guilty when they are home and not continuously doing something, but trust me if you were at the office you would probably be less productive. I know, it sounds not true but it really, really is. Sometimes I take breaks to walk to the grocery store, listen to a podcast, shop online, make a playlist or have a snack. It can really be anything but do it.

Keep your cell phone in a different part of your home while working. 

This one has been key for me lately especially because I also have the Sassy side business. I am constantly getting DMs, notifications and other things that distract me from my full 9-5 job, so I keep my phone stored in my bedroom where I can take breaks to look at it but it can’t be with me in my office space. This is really helpful during conference calls where it is easy to get distracted by your phone and not focus. Don’t be that person who has to ask, “can you repeat that?”. I have been that girl, it sucks.

Make your bed in the morning. 

A lot of people will recommend that you get dressed for work. This has never appealed to me and I did try it for a week or two and gave up after a while. I usually roll right from the bed into my “office” and it hasn’t affected my productivity. However, not having my bed made always made me feel gross. So pick your poison but do something that makes you feel ready for the day. Wash your face, put on makeup, make your bed, put on real clothes instead of PJs or work out clothes – just do something that you know will make you feel like you’re more YOU in the morning.

Music vs. TV 

More me having the TV on is distracting. Sometimes if I’m doing things that don’t require a lot of brainpower like updating Excel sheets with user data or tasking people online then I will move my office to the couch to be able to have the TV on the in the background but more often than not I end up muting it or pausing it because it’s too much of a distraction. I MUCH prefer putting on music to keep me positive and upbeat throughout the day, but that’s also what helped me study in school so whatever helped you be productive while studying will most likely help you when WFH. Some people like to listen to podcasts, classical music, the radio, or just have silence. Again, do what you would do at work.

Set up times to just connect with coworkers. 

1000% this is what I miss most about not being in a physical office space – the people. I am very much an extrovert and a people person and my job does require me to be on the phone a lot which sort of helps with this whole no physical contact thing, but sometimes you just want to talk shop or complain about your clients or just talk about your life outside the office and yea not having a coworker just sitting next to you is hard. My coworker Emily and I used to make it a point to message each other when we needed to complain or bitch about something and get it off our chests and it has made us so much closer because of it. So if you have someone that you are really close to at the office – see if they will Face Time or Skype with you during the day – this practice always, always made me feel better and made transitioning from an office to a WFH situation so much easier.

Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

A few years ago my friends and I came up with the concept of a friend babymoon. See, a babymoon is typically when you take a trip somewhere with your husband before your baby comes, but what about seeing your BFFs before that happens? Once you have the baby you have less time to see friends and do things like get pampered and eat at fun restaurants, so why not do something before that (temporarily) gets put to the wayside?

Enter: the friend babymoon!

I’ve thrown a few of these over the years, some lavish and others not, and I think for my friend Meggie’s babymoon we found the actual perfect recipe so here is how to throw your friend the most awesome babymoon in Chicago ever.

1. Don’t tell her it is happening. 

This has been the major key for all my best babymoon plans. The best way to surprise her entirely is to have her husband or partner in on the plan. Ask them for a few free dates and then set it up behind her back and have her husband bring her there for a completely different reason and surprise her entirely! Another way is just to ask her for a few dates and then tell her you have a surprise planned for her and to be ready at a certain time, pick her up, and bring her yourself. You know what your friends prefer so do what works for them aka some people do not like surprises and need some warning 🙂

2. Book the Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park for you and all your friends.

This was my first time going to Kohler Spa in Lincoln Park for a massage treatment and WOW I cannot recommend this place more, but before I get into my amazing massage let me tell you the amazing deal they have. On Thursdays and Fridays after 5pm, Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park offers The Happier Happy Hour. If you have a group of five or more guests you get 20% off your services when you book together*! This spa is meant to be enjoyed as a big group of friends and that is exactly what a Friend Babymoon is all about! Their water treatment room is great for catching up with friends over their really tasty snacks (all recipes from the original Kohler Spa in Wisconsin!), amazing water therapy pool, and the saunas and steam rooms. Add cold towels and you literally have the recipe for the most relaxing girl’s night.

While my friend Meggie got the prenatal massage, I got the Uniquely Yours massage. They use all sorts of techniques to massage your body based solely on what you tell them to focus on. I had just done a really intense squatting workout so I asked her to work on my thighs and she did some stretching techniques that were just sensational. I left feeling relaxed, soothed, and also stretched out so I could work out again later (yep, past Alex scheduled ANOTHER workout after this – so silly that past Alex). I really like light touch and really intense smells bother me, so I told my massage therapist all of this before we got started and she tailored the massage exactly to what I like. This is unique because most spas have set massages you are buying and sure you can ask for a deeper massage or a lighter touch but they aren’t going to tailor the massage around stretching just because you asked for it!

After your massage, they take you to the relaxation room and Meggie legit looked into ordering one of the chairs in the room to her house since it was so comfortable for her! It is very easy to fall asleep in this calm and peaceful room and we almost did, but we had places to be so we made for the locker room where the Kohler rain showers are. I would pay to just come to stand in that shower y’all!

*All group members must receive a 50-minute ore more treatment. Advanced booking is required – at least four weeks is suggested.

3. Set up dinner afterward at a nearby restaurant. No makeup needed.

The best part about a babymoon is that no one cares what anyone else looks like so post spa go completely makeup-free, put on your finest sweats, and book a big table at nearby Summer House or a equally fun atmosphere restaurant if you are booking a different spa. Preorder ALL the cookies – trust me the pregnant woman will want them! And have some rose, you deserve it for planning this perfect evening.

4. Give her one last surprise.

Some people like to give the massage as a gift (great idea!), but if she or her husband offer to pay another nice add on is one last surprise – a nice robe! I have asked many, many of my mama friends what they would want before their first baby that they didn’t know they needed and a LOT of people say comfortable PJs or a nice robe that you can breastfeed in! We got our friend one from Monica + Andy for her babymoon gift. Very comfortable and monogram-able which was very up her alley.

Fun fact: My friend and I went for her prenatal massage treat last week and this weekend she had the baby! So, safe to say this massage did all the wonders in the world for her to get that baby moving!

January ’20 Outfit Round-Up

January ’20 Outfit Round-Up

Shopping via links is hard so here is an easy way to do it by shopping one blog post of all my featured outfits of January. So in no particular order, here we go!

For reference, I am usually a size 16/18 in dresses, 20 in pants, and almost exclusively a 1X in anything Anthropologie.

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{Coat: Old Navy black puffer jacket Beanie: Macy’s knit cuff beanie, shoes: Target wedge platform shoes}

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{dress: ASOS tiered mini dress, barrettes: Squared Tortoise hair clip set, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}

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{jeans: Old Navy Rockstar distressed jeans, top: Jessica London keyhole swing tunic, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}

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{pajama set: Dreams & Co. 2-piece classic pajama set}

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{top: Jessica London Georgette hi-low tunic, booties: ComfortView Sidney booties, leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings}

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{dress: Chic Soul You Go Girl dress, headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband}

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{gym set: Fabletics}

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{headband: Chic Soul Candy Shop headband, top: Chic Soul Lost the Battle top, Leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}