Bonus Birthday Post: It’s a Birthday Miracle!

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It’s a miracle!

Warning: This is a rare positive outlook post containing wonderment and miracles! Do not read if you are in a bad mood and want to continue to be in a bad mood. If you want to continue to be in a bad mood click here.

Friends! It’s my birthday! January 18. Can you believe it? Well, you should because everyone knows it goes like this: Chanukah, Christmas, New Year, Rachel’s Birthday! That’s how it has always been…since the day I was born. True story. 

I am now 33 years old. Sheesh… My gracious. Friends… let me tell you it is just taking me forever to get to be the age I feel on the inside. I was born a baby… but on the inside, I was really a 65-year-old woman. Nothing said that more than when I was 10 years old than how much I loved my grandmother’s hand me downs. Like legit grandma clothes…stuff that no 10 years old should wear. But darn it if I wasn’t rocking it like I was a 65-year-old lady myself. I was all … long hair don’t even care. I got this amazing windbreaker from her, I wish had a picture. Anyways my point is… I’ve been old since I was born.

That being said …I have to wonder how does my no buy impact my birthday? If you haven’t read about my no buy year you can check that out here to learn more about it. But in general, it’s just how it sounds, but don’t make assumptions if you didn’t read the post.

Usually, I might buy myself a birthday gift…nothing specific, maybe a piece of jewelry or a piece of clothing I really like. This year…not so much. As they are non-essential items. Womp womp. And, even though I have been unsubscribing to every store ever on email (which btw has really streamlined my emails) I still get stuff in the mail. So I get birthday coupons and discounts in the mail from stores encouraging me to shop there for my birthday and get a free gift!!!

I started getting those in the mail and email in December, friends! December!!!! Really uncool. Talk about catering to consumerism. It’s your birthday… buy $30 worth of stuff and get a $10 item for free!!!! Uncool! 

Usually, I would be all over it. Because it’s my birthday! But now it’s the first month of my no buy year which makes for a lackluster birth month… or does it? I think it makes my birthday a bit more special because I am realizing that I don’t need to be buying all the stuff to just have a good birthday. Because I got better stuff anyways…

So not to be awkward… but what’s this miracle you are talking about?

Right…let me tell you about my miracle! (Which is the better stuff btw!) As many of you already know, since you are here, I have many a chronic illness…a couple of which are asthma and bronchitis. Back in November, I began immunotherapy. If you haven’t read my previous post which goes into detail about what it is… Immunotherapy is basically an allergen cocktail to help boost immunity to allergens. My immunotherapy shots are done in both arms every other day, and yes …I do the shots myself…eek! It’s not so bad lol.

Here is a picture of how I set up my stuff when I do my shots every other day. I have my biohazard container for used needles, syringes, two vials of allergen serum created specifically for me and off to the side is a bottle of Benadryl because my arms get incredibly itchy afterward which is normal and taking the Benadryl helps to ease the itchiness.

 

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Image description: Set up of my every other day immunotherapy shots which includes: two vials of allergen serums, alcohol prep pads, two insulin size syringes, biohazard container and log to write down that I did my shots.

The purpose of these shots was to ease my asthma and bronchitis which is exacerbated mostly in the colder months. If I get a cold…it becomes bronchitis. If someone else has bronchitis…I get bronchitis. There’s generally no stopping it. Asthma and bronchitis are my longest running chronic illnesses that I have had since I was a child. And I get bronchitis yearly without fail…sometimes multiple times a year.

Okay…so where’s the dang miracle?!?!

This past week my 8-year-old stepson, Reid, became sick… he had a fever and started coughing. Usually any time he is sick and in the house with me…I get sick without fail. I don’t have the immunity to fight off the sickness. I kept washing my hands and just praying and putting it out to the universe that I wouldn’t get sick. 

And then yesterday (Thursday 1/17/19) Aaron took him to the doctor and it turned out he has bronchitis. He has bronchitis?!?!?!?! But I don’t?!?!?!?!

Back the truck up… On Wednesday 1/16/19 I went to see my allergist for a check in to pick up new vials of serum and she told me that the immunotherapy could be working for me. Since it’s winter, now is the time that I would be noticing the difference. And then Thursday Reid has bronchitis …and I can see the light!!!!! And immediately Fiddler on the Roof, Miracle of miracle started playing in my head. 

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Image description: Gif from Fiddler on the roof. A scene from the song miracle of miracles with Tzietel and Motel running through the forest. Text says Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles!

I am absolutely thrilled for this birthday miracle. Friends, I can’t even tell you how many times I have been sick with bronchitis on my birthday. But not this one! Huzzah! It turns out there is still hope for random treatments working. My doctor and I tried this immunotherapy treatment as a sort of sweeping grand gesture last resort because there was nothing else left that would work for my asthma and bronchitis and there was really no assurance that it would work.

I don’t know if it will continue to be bronchitis free but I know that for right now I managed to live in the same house with bronchitis and not get it! This was just a short-ish bonus birthday post that I wanted to post today to share my excitement for this miracle that I am experiencing. I’ll post again at my usual time on Sunday!

This does indeed feel miraculous and wonderous. Happy birthday to me! 

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Image description: Never stop believing in hope because miracles happen every day.

 

 

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My No Buy Year 2019

My no Buy year
Image description: My No Buy Year 2019

Here comes my first post in a series that is seemingly unrelated to anything and everything I will have ever posted here. However, this is a blog in my journey where I live less invisibly, where I open myself up and live an authentic life. This is a place where I hold myself accountable even. And that’s exactly what I am going to do in this upcoming year.

Maybe you already guessed by the title of the blog post but I am introducing you to my no buy year! Sounds exciting? or terrifying? maybe confusing? Yes to all of that. I recently learned of the no buy year online and was fascinated so I researched it. People who spend too much money frivolously on non-essential items such as clothing, housewares, makeup, plants and more. Anything you can imagine people buy in excess…

I think it is important to clarify what a no buy is and is not:

What a no buy is not

  • Buying absolutely nothing at all
  • Not buying the things you need
  • Not buying food
  • Not buying gas for the car
  • Not buying medication you need to survive

What is it then?!

  • Not buying things casually meaning no frivolous spending
  • Not constantly browsing for things to buy online
  • Not buying things you don’t need
  • Not buying more than what you need
  • Buying only enough of what you need
  • Buying replacements of or replenishing what you need, if and when your items run out
  • Cutting out temptation/unnecessary junk emails (unsubscribe from emails of companies you like to buy from, unfollow Instagram and Facebook, etc.)
  • Setting rules and limitations for yourself to follow
  • Appreciating what you already have

Alternatively, It can be…

  • A low buy – That is to say, instead of buying nothing, you can commit to doing a low buy. Which is just how it sounds. Basically, it’s a budget but it sounds nicer and a little less overwhelming for some people.  

What I have learned through my reading of blogs, watching vlogs and a book, that I now love called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders…is that it is important to create your own rules. There is no one way to do a no buy. It can be for any amount of time, some people do it for one month, others for 6 months. I have decided to do it for one year, actually, a lot of people do them for one year, because of the book The Year of Less. I had actually already planned to do my no buy year when I found her book and felt so lucky to find that extra support.

Oh my gosh, why would you even do that!?

I have asked myself this question a million and half times and I probably will continue asking myself why am I doing this over and over again. But my reasons are legit, I promise. I have found that in spending a lot of money I am trying to fill a void inside of me.

I have not mentioned here before that I have C-PTSD (Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it is just not something I share with a lot of people but now is the time to be less invisible, it’s in my name! My C-PTSD leaves me with a lot of severe mental health issues that can easily go unchecked. In the last year, my spending habits on things have careened unhealthily out of control. After a lot of introspection and reflection on why this was happening, I realized it was because of my C-PTSD.

Mental health issues can account for impulsive spending habits and our consumerist society certainly doesn’t help. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements on TV, magazines, Facebook, Instagram, and other online sites…These remind us of all the stuff we want and should aspire to have.

Instagram perfect lives are what we all wish to have…but in reality, it’s just a singular pre-arranged filtered moment that someone created to make life seem perfect. What that person doesn’t tell you is how many times they had to snap that selfie to get just the right angle or lighting… or how long it took or much it cost for them to something. Or for stores to use Instagram as a platform to sell you things to have your perfect life. But really it’s all just to make you think you need more.

What I hope to gain from my no buy year

Well aside from having less stuff, in the long run, I plan to declutter things that I no longer need. I will rehome items that I no longer cherish. Find friends who might appreciate items or donate them.  I want to appreciate the things I have and just enjoy life…not things. Spending money on stuff will not make me happy. 

What else? 

Over the upcoming months, I will do check-ins, let you all know how I am doing. What I have bought or haven’t bought. In the first 13 days of my no-buy I have bought some things… that I neededOn the few occasions, I wanted things I wrote them down in a log, that I am keeping on an excel spreadsheet…if I still want them in a year maybe I will buy them then… or not. Understand..when I say I want things, these are things that I get in my brain and I feel like I NEED them but I know I don’t… like some makeup or a cute shirt or something that I have no need for. But I keep track of them to see where I end up in a year. 

Here’s the courage

In my previous post, My Year of Courage, I basically said this is a big year for me and this is one reason why. I have a lot going on this year and taking on a no-buy is a huge deal and takes a lot of courage…its a big commitment but I am ready for it. My health…physical and mental, need a solid commitment like this to carry me through. I don’t think I have ever committed to such a big undertaking. But I do believe that as a chronically ill person that it will benefit me greatly.

If I am spending less money on junk I don’t need, I will be less stressed out about money and stuff piling up in my home. I am committed to this. And my courage will get me through this, along with my lovely and wonderful support system.

My support system is my boyfriend, Aaron and my friends who will be there for me. Maybe I will feel like I need to buy something and I need to tell someone badly. So I text my friend and tell them about it to help me get through the year… this is the support system I have implemented for myself.

Should you do a no-buy?

That is 100% your decision, but just remember it can be as long or as short as you want. 1 month, 6 months or longer. Just make a commitment and go with it. Google it, research it. Message me and I’ll be happy to talk about it. 

Low-buys and no-buys are something to consider this year. If you think you can’t commit to such a thing…think again. Because when I thought about doing it at first…I thought it sounded insane. But I have fully committed. I made a whole plan which I will be sharing with everyone soon.  

What to expect from this No Buy commitment

Expect to see what kind of rules and limitations I have set up for myself in the next couple of weeks because this is a crucial part of a no buy. Without rules, doing a no buy would be very difficult if not impossible. In the upcoming months expect updates about how my no buy is going and how it is impacting me, mentally, physically and emotionally. 

Join me on my journey as learn what it’s like to not spend money during my no buy. 

More was never the answer. The answer, it turned out, was always less.
Image description: More was never the answer. The answer, it turned out, was always less. -Cait Flanders.

2019: My Year of Courage

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Image description: Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow”

My 2018 resolution was to pick a word and incorporate that word into my life. I like the idea of incorporating a word into my life that I wanted to practice or embody in the new year. The word that I chose for 2018 was self -care. I chose self-care because as a chronically ill person I feel that it is important for me to take care of myself, meaning set time aside to rest, consciously do things that I normally wouldn’t… like rest. 

For example, early on in graduate school, I would do school work long into the night…exhausting myself and quickly burning myself out. But through self-care, I realized that was unnecessary and unhealthy for me, so I established a rule: no school work after 9pm. And it was a beautiful rule that enabled me to know there was an end in sight. At 9pm, I would stop and I could do anything I wanted, watch tv, read a book or go to sleep… just not school work. 

If you haven’t guessed it already my word for this year is: courage

Courage (noun) cour-age \ker-ij  :mental or moral strength to venture persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Synonyms: bravery, daring, courageousness 

This is an anxiety-filled challenging year. And ya’ll I just gotta tell ya… I’m kinda shaking in mah boots. It’s a big year. First I have my full-time internship which is 32 hours a week (4 days a week) until May. This internship is a big one. It’s at a psychiatric hospital an hour away from where I live and it’s not only super important but incredibly challenging. The patient’s in the hospital were sentenced there by the court system after they were found unable to withstand being in the prison system do to being mentally incompetent. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know my last internship was at a reentry organization where I worked with recently released inmates and went to the DC Jail on a weekly basis. So this internship is exciting and challenging. I started it on January 3rd…so far so good. I can talk more about it later.

Dealing with stress in any form can be impactful on chronic illnesses. As many people with chronic illnesses know…big life changes bring about big health problems. Do I worry that this might happen? Sure. Going into this new internship is exciting and stressful and it has caused a lot of migraines just from changing my sleep schedule.

After then I graduate. And I will be done with school for a while (until I decide to go for my Ph.D.). I have been a professional student for … well… forever. I love school. I’m not too cool for school as the kids say. I’m too school for cool.  

This will be the first graduation that I actually walk the stage for. I figure…well I didn’t walk for high school, when I graduated the interpreter program or when I got my BA in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet. But I am getting my MSW (Master of Social Work) from Gallaudet, so I might as well walk…even though I really don’t want to…it’s not something I’m interested in. It’s very stressful for me as a very introverted person. Also, I’ve been to graduations and just going causes me a lot of pain. By the end of it, I always feel worn out, exhausted, in an excessive amount of pain and have a migraine. So as a chronically ill person, it’s a lot for me too. 

But I was also threatened by my friend, Shelby (yea I’m calling you out)…. she said I have to walk or else. Or else what? Not sure. Didn’t ask. But let’s gather up the courage to do something I’ve never done before and walk that darn stage, right?! Here’s hoping I don’t trip and fall… Oy!

And then… getting a job? I’ve already begun the process of looking. But I’ve never had a full-time job. I’ve worked multiple part-time and/or freelance jobs most of my adult life. Until grad school, when it became too much for my health. I don’t doubt I’ll find a job, that’s not the issue. I’m more just worried about what it will do to my health. But maybe having a steady job will be good for me instead of the erratic schedule and heavy workload of grad school. Only time will tell. 

I also have a few other upcoming things that I will need courage for, but I’ll be explaining that in my next blog post. 

I believe that manifesting and mediating on courage each day will help me get through this year of unknowns. We can never know where life will take us but we can try to be courageous and brave while we are along for the ride! 

Do you have a new years resolution? Or a word you want to reflect for your new year? 

Here’s to a courageous 2019!

@rachelbob_here
Image description: Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin