TRUTH: I hate long blog posts. Every piece of literature I’ve read on blogging and how to keep your readers locked into your page starts by saying “make your posts longer!” But honestly, It annoys the crap out of me. My husband always tries to look up recipes on pinterest and he’ll get so mad, like “DAMN IT JEN MOTHER OF FIVE I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BAD HAIR DAY AND HOW YOU MADE THIS RECIPE FOR YOUR KIDS’ BIRTHDAY PARTY JUST TELL ME HOW TO MAKE THE DAMN FOOD!!”
So, I’m going to start making my blog posts shorter and getting to the point – starting today with my top makeup & skin care products I am currently loving and using in my daily routine:
Fenty Foundation and Gloss Bombs
I am definitely a gloss over matte girl (especially in the winter when your skin & lips get so dry!)- and I am in love with Fenty’s Gloss Bomb formula. It’s rich & quality texture, without being too sticky. This is one of her most popular colors in Fussy – I use it every day! ($18.00)
Her foundation, also, is worth the hype. All of her products are reasonably priced for high-end makeup – including this foundation. I use it as my daily wear – Currently using shade 300, but I could go a little more pale because winter has stolen my tan ($34.00)
2. First Aid Beauty: Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, Ultra Repair Cream, Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer, Hello Fab Bendy Avocado Concealer
First Aid Beauty has slowly taken over my skin care routine, one product at a time. I started with their face cleanser, ($21.00), and the tried out their Ultra Repair Cream, (try the mini for $12.00) and now I have a whole FAB collection.
FAB’s Ultra Repair Lip Therapy is a game changer. I seriously have the WORST problems with my lips (autoimmune issues) and no chapstick or lip scrubs help. I started using their Lip Therapy before bed and I have been waking up with soft & smooth lips – a true miracle. ($12.00)
Also – FAB’s Bendy Avocado Concealer is a new necessity of mine. The avocado in it helps hydrate the skin (so important during the winter) and it’s TRULY flexible & full-coverage. For only $22, I don’t know why people aren’t talking about it more! (Thanks for the recommendation Danielle @ SEPHORA Inside JCP Cedar Rapids IA)!
3. Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream
I have the WORST time with my under-eye bags. Largely in part due to my autoimmune disease, these bags are permanent and nothing really works to get rid of them. This Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream is my daily go-to, and while it doesn’t totally get rid of my bags (nothing can) it helps SO much. Combining this and my FAB avocado concealer is my daily routine. ($32.00)
4. Lush Dream Cream
You ever go into LUSH and get Sticker Shock?! Some of their stuff is so pricey, it’s like overwhelming. You’ve got people all over trying to bring you to the tub to drop some bath bombs, workers attacking you with samples, and the floor to ceiling shelves are so overwhelming I swear! When in doubt, grab a bath bomb, and ask for the Dream Cream. I am a lotion lover – and I have never, in all my lotioning days, used a lotion that feels so rich and luxurious as this dream cream does. Not to mention, it’s not a zillion dollars, and it comes with all the perks of buying a lush product – Vegan, cruelty-free, made from the best, natural ingredients. ($29.95)5
Hi friends! I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me. (My last blog post was in September… I hate myself). BUT, I have a good reason! On October 1st, I received my Illinois Bar Exam results (which you may have read about on my Insta) and found out that I PASSED on the first try! My work immediately promoted me from Graduated Law Clerk to Associate Attorney, and just like that, the past few months FLEW by.
In those few months, I also lost my dear grandpa. He had been fighting a brave and furious battle with cancer. I don’t like to say he lost his battle with cancer, because he didn’t. He fought and fought hard, and he did it because he knew we wanted him to. At the end of it, he contracted an infection from the radiation, and when he moved on to a higher realm, it was ultimately his choice, as his heart stopped beating. So, we like to say he CHOSE to move on, the cancer itself isn’t what pushed him on. He moved on with all of us around him, holding his hands, and surrounding him with love.
For anyone who has lost someone near and dear in 2018, God, do I feel for you. This has hands down been the most difficult thing to go through. His funeral was the day before Thanksgiving, which we always spent with him. Christmas was hard. Every day has been hard. But, I know he’s with me and watching over us all. As Carrie Underwood put it, “but I won’t cry ’cause I know, I’ll never be lonely, for you are the stars to me, you are the light I follow…”
With the past few months being the whirlwind that they have been, I’ve been doing a LOT of deep reflection the past few days. I see so many people mock New Years Resolutions, and the whole “New Year, New Me” trend, but damn, this year I feel more motivated than ever before to start the new year fresh. Screw people who think being motivated to better yourself is dumb. There’s something magical about a new year beginning, and if it’s that little bit of magic, that fresh slate feeling, that gives you that little spark of motivation to be who you want to be, then DO IT!
I wanted to write this post for anyone who wants to make a change in 2019 but doesn’t know how or where to start. I’m not a life coach or anything, but I feel like my success, if you will, gives me a platform to encourage other women, and I want to use it!
Do your actions match your beliefs?
Have you ever heard “live with intent”? I was listening to Rachel Hollis’s RISE Podcast last night (which you NEED in your life) and they talked about living with intent. This resonated with me in a huge way because of some of my goals I’ve mapped out for myself for 2019.
If you don’t know, I am a lifelong vegetarian and animal spokesperson. I say spokesperson because I use my voice for those who don’t have one, and animal “activist” has negative connotations because people hate PETA, lol. I have always believed that animals’ lives are equal in value to our own, and that we do not have the right to take another living being’s life. I KNOW that all animals are capable of emotion, including love, compassion, anxiety and fear (the list matches our own human emotions). See, Stella the family duck. Despite living my whole life believing that animals should not be hurt, killed, tested on, used for entertainment, etc., my own actions haven’t been matching those beliefs.
To explain, I was buying and consuming dairy products. I bought a pair of Bearpaw (not vegan) boots. I was buying all the “hot” products at Sephora and Ulta without checking if they tested on animals. I was eating at Jimmy John’s. The list goes on. By doing these things, I was funding and supporting the dairy industry which is rampant with animal abuse and neglect, I was funding the skinning of animals, I was funding and supporting companies that harmed animals that live their loveless, uncomfortable life in labs being burned by chemicals, and I was funding the owner of Jimmy John’s taking hunting trips to trophy hunt beautiful exotic animals.
Long story short, my actions, namely, where I put my money and what food and products I consumed, did not match my deep core values. After a lot of self-reflection, I decided I want to kick 2019 off on a different note, and make SURE my actions match my beliefs. I have decided to go VEGAN (yay!) and have already did a massive fridge and pantry dump, and refilled both with vegan EVERYTHING. I have done research and will only be buying makeup and other products from companies that do not test on animals. Also, I stopped eating at Jimmy John’s, and when my boss suggests ordering for lunch, I’ve started protesting 😉
I want you to sit down and write out your deeply held values, and go through each one and evaluate yourself – have your actions been matching your beliefs? If not, what can you do to change that in 2019?
2. Work hard, SLEEP harder
This is one thing I am FOR SURE qualified to speak on. HOLY moly, am I an anxiety-ridden, people-pleasing, overachieving, perfectionist workaholic. I blame (and also, thank) my parents for this. One thing I am HORRIBLE at, is taking the time I need to rest and recharge so I can continue to put my best foot forward in the workplace and at home.
With my autoimmune diseases, I need 10-11 hours of sleep a night to feel my best. I don’t even get 8. I average, actually, between 5 and 7 hours a night. That is, like HALF of what I need to be getting, and I do it every night! And THEN, I have nights like last night, where I had nothing to do and could not wait to go home and sit on the couch and relax all night. I sat down for about 10 minutes, got antsy, felt like I was wasting precious time to be productive, and bounced up and meal-prepped until 11:30 pm.
WHY AM I LIKE THIS. I know it’s partially a good thing, because I wouldn’t be a lawyer at a dope firm at 24 if I didn’t have this deep drive within me. But, I’m not being the best version of myself by doing this all the time. I’m sleepy at work and I’m grumpy at home. Sure, I may be productive and working towards success, but I’m not being the best version of me.
Going into 2019, I’ve vowed to get more sleep, and learn to fight the urge to get up and do something when I’ve been blessed with valuable resting time. If I rest more, I can still kill it at work, but I’ll be less foggy, need less caffeine, and I’ll be more productive! All of us can use a reminder that you can be productive and successful, and also get your beauty rest. You can conquer the world, but also take a nap here and there. You can do (almost) ALL the things, but ONLY with the rest your body needs!
So, ladies, we are slaying AND sleeping in 2019.
3. In your mother’s voice: “You’re not leaving this table until you take your vitamins and finish that glass of water!”
This one’s simple. Drink your water. Take your vitamins. Put GOOD things into your body. It’s the only one you got! This will only fuel your body to feel better and more able to take on the world every day. If you have trouble drinking enough water (like me), stick some lemon and limes in there. Get to chugging.
4. STOP “just surviving” and STOP “living for the weekend”
I am the worst when it comes to this. I catch myself in this sort of tumble, rolling out of bed, crawling into work, dying to get home, doing nothing until bed, sleeping a little, and waking up to do it again…. All the while BEGGING for Friday to get here sooner.
THIS IS SO EFFED. Wow, what life are we living in a constant cycle like this? It’s so easy to fall into, but damn, do we need to break it! Every single day there is opportunity to live a little. Every time you wish for the weekend, you are literally wishing the numbered days of your life to pass you by faster. Work is part of life. It is not your whole life. You are not your job. Your job is not who you are.
You are a runner, a sister, a golfer, a blogger, a mom, a daughter, a crafter, a movie-goer. You love baking, you love watching reality TV shows, you love reading. You take photographs. You like spending time with your family. You like going to the gym. You like thrifting. Whatever you love doing, stop waiting for the weekends to do it. Carve the time into your days to do a little bit of what you love and enjoy every day. Stop stumbling through the week and start living your life!
5. You are not required to spend time with toxic people because of a blood relation
Oh, boy, this is huge. I know some people (especially older people) will disagree with me on this. Don’t let people guilt you into spending time with toxic people because “well they’re family so get over it!” NO. Just, no. You are not required to spend the limited time you have on this earth with people that make you feel bad.
This goes for friends, too. People change. Just because you’ve been friends forever, doesn’t mean you’re meant to stay friends forever. If that person brings negativity to your life, if that person judges you, doesn’t support you or your decisions, and makes you feel bad about who you are, what you love, or who you love, CUT THEM OFF. Blood or not, CUT them off, sister. They are not worth your time. YOUR TIME HAS VALUE! Spend it with those who love you and make you feel good. Each day is a gift, you never know when you might not see those people again.
Minimum payments = self-sabotaging your future self
This is off on a bit of a tangent, but dang, is it important. Money is such a huge part of our day-to-day lives. You can sit there and be like “no it’s not, money doesn’t matter” and pretend that life is all rainbows and butterflies, but those butterflies aren’t paying your bills, are they?
Money and bills and debt is a huge underlying cause of depression, anxiety, and just general unhappiness with your life. Even if you don’t think bills and money stress you out that bad, it’s lingering in your brain. You would feel so much better if you were taking active steps to be financially above water, trust me. This means, STOP JUST PAYING YOUR MINIMUM PAYMENTS!
I recently had to set up my student loan payments that start in January (gag me). I looked at all of my options for monthly payments, including what my “end total” would be with each. The lowest monthly payment would be nice for now, but I would have ended up paying about $40,000.000 more at the end of my payment period just in interest!!! While it’s going to suck now, I chose a higher monthly payment (which means less shopping and eating out/going out) so I save about $40,000 in the long-run. I know so many people who have been bragging about how they “don’t have to pay anything yet” because their income isn’t high. YEAH, well I don’t HAVE to pay near $500 a month for my student loans, but I’m going to so I don’t drown in interest and growing debt.
I know, you’re probably thinking “I don’t have the extra money to pay more than my minimum.” If you sit down with your monthly debit or credit card charges, I’m POSITIVE you can find some extra money. Cancel that monthly subscription to the gym or tanning salon you never go to. Stop getting your nails done every two weeks and paint your own for a bit. Cancel your Apple Music or Spotify Premium payment and put up with the Spotify adds for a while. Make your coffee at home for two weeks and don’t go to Starbucks or Dunkin. There’s money, you have to just keep a closer eye on it!
If you’ve been thinking about who you want to be this new year, I hope you join me in doing some deep self-reflection. If anything, let this be a guide to you on setting some new year resolutions for yourself.
If any of this inspired you to set a new, new years resolution, comment below! I want to hear it!
This post is a little different, and a little personal. I’m going to share a bit of my medical struggles I’ve been facing because I feel like people truly need this advice.
I am 24 years old, and I started having severe back pain when I was 19. I was raised in a “put some dirt on it” family, so I ignored it as long as I could and let everyone tell me that I couldn’t have a serious back problem because I was only 19. “You’re so young, you don’t have arthritis.” “You’re probably just sore.” “Take some ibuprofen.”
I listened. I ignored it as much as I could. I took Aleve, Ibuprofen, I stretched, I took hot baths, whatever I could to get through the day. And that’s what I did until one day, I was riding in the car with my parents for a drive that was about an hour long. I remember sitting in the back seat and freaking out that I just “threw out” my back, and my pelvis felt detached from my lower spine. I was SOBBING. My parents didn’t know what to do, so we went to the emergency room.
This was definitely a bad idea in retrospect. I had a terrible doctor treat me in the ER, who ordered X-rays of my lower back, but before the X-rays came back, he thought it would be a grand idea to flip me over and examine my back, and without my consent, he yanked my leg up and put all his weight on my lower back to “pop it back in” because my “lower spine had popped out of place.”
I could have had a fracture or something seriously wrong on the x-ray, but he did this before seeing them. THE PAIN. Oh my god, I sobbed so hard in that ER rolling bed that I remember thinking he just broke my back, because I couldn’t breathe.
Flash forward about half an hour later, when he actually saw my x-ray results. He told me everything was fine, nothing came back from the x-rays, and prescribed a muscle relaxer and told me I was just stressed.
Obviously, I wasn’t pleased with this treatment, so as soon as I could get in, I went to my primary care physician and had the x-rays sent over to her. It was here that I found out the ER doctor who told me everything was fine, actually found degenerative changes and mild arthritis on my lower spine and didn’t bother to tell me (probably because he had just shoved my back around while telling me I was “just sore”). So here I sit, in my PCP’s office, while she sits in a chair telling me that she doesn’t understand why I’m crying, and that mild arthritis wouldn’t cause any pain like what I’m feeling. So again, she chalked it up to soreness – didn’t even get up from her chair to look at my back or examine it.
I asked her, “so what do I do for the arthritis?” She told me to take some Aleve and I would be fine. I told her I had already been taking Aleve and it wasn’t helping. She STRAIGHT UP TOLD ME that she couldn’t do anything else for me. So I asked, “well isn’t arthritis like a permanent thing? What do I do long-term?” And she tells me, “you’ll probably be taking Aleve for the rest of your life. That’s it. That’s all you can do.”
Again, obviously, I was not pleased with this appointment. But, I let her convince me that I was being dramatic. That I only had mild arthritis and I should suck it up. I was just sore. I was just stressed. Take some Aleve and get over it.
I dealt with this for a few years, along with chronic fatigue and other weird things going on. Right before my 21st birthday, I had something strange happen. I found a lymph node in my neck that was rock hard and swollen. I remember that moment so clearly. I was sitting in my mock trial coach’s constitutional law class, in the back of the room, and discovered it. I immediately felt my stomach drop because I always think the worst – so right away, I was like “oh my god, I have cancer. I have lymphoma.” I grabbed my laptop and backpack and left in the middle of class and drove straight to immediate care.
I won’t get into those details – because obviously immediate care didn’t do anything for me but tell me to see a doctor. I’ll summarize this briefly – I had an ultrasound. Wasn’t looking good. Had a CT scan. Wasn’t looking good. Had a needle biopsy to test for cancer. This test would be determinative. It wasn’t – and it wasn’t looking good. Had surgery to remove and test the node for cancer. This process went on for two months. Two months of bad news, and thinking I could very well have cancer. Two months of my now-husband being in denial. Two months of my poor mom trying to stay positive. Two months over-thinking about how my life could change, how I wouldn’t be going to law school that fall, how it was going to affect everyone around me…
Negative. The test, thank God, came back negative for lymphoma. I never in my life have felt relief like that. I ran to my car and sobbed. But…. The next day, I realized I hadn’t gotten an answer for WHY. Like, don’t get me wrong, I was SO HAPPY I didn’t have lymphoma, or Castleman’s Disease, or any other problem they tested for… But I didn’t get an answer for why this lymph node was blocked, swollen, large and rock-hard. When I contacted the specialist who did both my biopsies, he said they didn’t know.
So I moved on with life and didn’t think about it much once I was recovered from surgery. Then I found out I had Celiac Disease.
If you don’t know, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease where your immune system basically freaks out upon contact with gluten, and attacks the tissues of the body. Basically, the molecular makeup of gluten is so similar to certain tissues in the body, like the lining of your lower intestines, that as the body attacks the gluten as a “threat,” it accidentally attacks the lining of your organs, especially the lower intestines, thinking it too, is a threat.
As with all autoimmune diseases, when you have one, you probably have another. But, my doctors at my university’s Health Services weren’t that great, and when I went in for concerns about autoimmune issues, I got no help.
Flash forward again, and my back problems came back with a vengeance. I had multiple x-rays done. Mild arthritis. I was referred to a specialist and had an MRI done. Mild arthritis. I was sent to Physical Therapy. My back problems got worse. “You’re just sore.” “It’s just muscular.” “Mild arthritis wouldn’t be causing this pain.” “Just stretch more.” “Take ibuprofen.”
More and more of the same.
So I ignored it. I ignored my body screaming for help. I ignored my body when my hair started falling out. I ignored my body when every other joint in my body started to feel like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy oiled up his creaky joints. I ignored the signs of nerve damage. I ignored the headaches. I ignored my chronic fatigue that demands I sleep 10-12 hours a day to feel “normal.” I ignored the debilitating pain every time it was going to rain. I ignored everything, because I had been told so many times that I was being dramatic and that there was nothing wrong with me. I didn’t want to pay more and more money for doctors to keep telling me to take ibuprofen and deal with it. I gave up and told myself “you’re just going to have to live this way.”
Then my teeth started breaking, and I woke up one day screaming that I couldn’t use my arms, and it felt like my bones had migraines. So, I started researching. I was worried I had another autoimmune disease flying under the radar. I started learning as much as I could about autoimmune diseases that involve severe joint pain. I started learning about Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. And then, I went to a new doctor to try again.
Only then, after I did my own research of all of my symptoms, and read multiple “feeds” of people posting about living with multiple joint autoimmune diseases – did I find a doctor who listened to me. I pulled out my sheet of notebook paper that I wrote all my medical problems and the things I suspected were wrong with me. I read it all to her, knowing full well she was probably annoyed that I was “self-diagnosing” using the internet. I did it anyway, because I needed to. And, to my surprise, she listened. She ordered tons of blood tests to see if I would set off any autoimmune indicators or rheumatoid markers.
Finally, five years later, I found out that I have some sort of connective tissue autoimmune disease. We’re not sure which kind yet, but I’m being sent to a specialist to narrow it down between RA, lupus, etc. And still, since I got those results, I’ve been doing deep, DEEP research into the depths of google, preparing to help this doctor – and myself – as much as I can.
Why did I just have you read all this?? Because I lived FIVE YEARS in pain. FIVE YEARS I went undiagnosed because I wasn’t fighting for my health. I wasn’t fighting for the answers I deserved. I was rolling over and letting doctors tell me I was dramatic and nothing was wrong with me because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re not supposed to google our symptoms. We’re not supposed to tell doctors what to do. We’re not supposed to tell them what tests we need. We’re not supposed to argue. They know best.
This is not at all a bashing of doctors. This is a mere recounting of the bad doctors that I’ve had, and this is massive criticism of MYSELF for not being my own health advocate. There are bad doctors out there, just like there are bad lawyers, bad police officers, bad teachers, etc. The point is, you need to be your own health advocate, because YOU, and ONLY YOU, know how you’re feeling. NO DOCTOR knows the pain you’re feeling, or the weird symptoms you’re having that you chalk up to be “nothing.” You have to help doctors for them to help you. And sometimes, you have to be stubborn.
Here are five MAJOR things you need to do to be your own health advocate:
Don’t let anyone, family, doctors, friends – tell you how YOU’RE feeling. If you feel like you’re not getting answers, and you feel like something “just isn’t right” with your health – listen to yourself! I said it a few lines ago, and I’ll say it again. You and ONLY YOU know how you’re feeling. Even if you have the best doctor in the world, they can’t feel what you’re feeling in your body. Trust your instincts, and listen to your body, even when people are telling you you’re wrong.
Do Your Own Research
When I say this, I am NOT talking about going online and doing a quick WebMD search and concluding you have cancer (we are all guilty of this). I am talking about DEEP in the depths of the googlesphere research. I’m talking about joining forums where people talk about health issues you think you might have. I’m talking about hours of reading multiple articles from several sources. I’m talking about reading complicated health journals written for doctors. Research, research and RESEARCH.
Don’t Take No for an Answer
If you feel like you need a test done, and you’re getting a no from your doctor, or being told that it’s unnecessary, PUSH. If a doctor tells you there’s nothing wrong with you, PUSH. If you don’t feel right, and you’re getting “no, no, no” – change doctors. Get a second opinion. Post on facebook looking for recommendations on specialists. If you have a PPO, go to them. If not, demand that your PCP refer you to the specialist you want to see. Do not take no for an answer – this is your body, your life, and no one cares about it like you do.
Be Involved Even When You Feel Annoying
When your busy doctor is reading you your test results, ask questions. Ask what an EO% is. Ask why you might have low blood pressure. Ask questions until you’re satisfied. They are making bank off of your appointment – don’t let them shoo you out leaving you with a million questions.
Be Persistent Until You’re Satisfied
This kind of ties in with number three, but this is more of a “reach your end goal” point. For me, it took five years to get some kind of answer. Why? One, because the bad doctors I had. And two, because I wasn’t persistent enough. I gave up on myself and ignored my problems again and again until I reached another breaking point and would see a doctor again. I wasn’t persistent in reaching for answers, and I let people tell me I was dramatic and nothing was wrong with me. Be persistent, and don’t make the same mistakes as me – push and push and push until you get an end-answer that you’re satisfied with.
WOW. This is definitely my longest post to-date, and I feel so good getting this all out there. I hope this helps at least one person get closer to solving their daily health issues that they put on the back-burner. Have any of you been through a similar experience? Are you currently going through a similar experience? Comment below – I’d love to chat with you!
Loft is having a huge sale right now – 40% off your entire purchase in stores and online with code NEWNOW. I put together my top 8 picks for this fall – and all you have to do is CLICK the image below to shop!
Should I make #thriftythursday a thing? Idk, you let me know!
I feel like I have been scoring major deals left and right, and I have a few for ya in today’s post! I posted this pullover before in a flatlay on Insta, and I was waiting for my Gucci belt to come in to style it how I had envisioned. This pullover is actually a dupe for the Free People “Found my Friend” sweater – the OG one is 40% off right now at Nordstrom (only cream and red left), but this dupe is only $19.99 on PRIME and is SO SOFT. Not to mention, it comes in six colors!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, are these insta-famous leopard slides from Target.
Y’all, I found these in the clearance shoe aisle of my local Target for only $7.48. I would def hurry in and check the summer clearance shoes and score these before they’re gone! While you’re there, check out the cute fall decor in the notorious dollar section – I went a little crazy in there myself.
Everyone knows that one girl who responds to an outfit compliment by saying “Thanks!!! It was only $15!!!” Or “I got it at TJ Maxx!!”
That’s me. That is me every day. I LOVE finding bargains and sharing them with people. SO, here I am, doing just that! I’ve been wanting to order the instagram-famous A&F fleece pullover for a long time now, but never could follow through with paying $68 for it. I came across this dupe on Amazon Prime for only $24 so I bought it to see if it came close. And, truth be told, I am beyond pleased.
This pullover is SO SOFT. I was worried about it being poor quality, as you sometimes get with dupes. However, the material is soft and warm, and actually blocks a lot of wind, so it’s not thin and cheap. Peep this close-up:
This dupe is totally worth the buy. And, it comes in other colors!