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.
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It’s been awhile…with updates

 

my-expectations-for-us-moving-in-together-are-at-least-marginally-higher-than-the-medical-community-finding-a-cure-for-my-chronic-illnesses--d1fb0
Image: My expectations for us moving in together are at least marginally higher than the medical community finding a cure for my chronic illnesses.

Okay…so I’ve kind of dropped the ball here. But it’s summer… that’s the excuse I’m going with. I’ve been busy with a kid and packing. First I’ve been super busy on the mommy train…just daily entertaining and dealing with Reid as best as I have been able to. My first week off of mommy duty which was the past week and I have literally spent the entire week from the time I woke up at 8 am until midnight packing.

Packing??? What for? To move. Yea that’s right I said it. I’m moving. Don’t worry I’m not going to far…not even out of state. But nonetheless here I go. Aaron and I are moving in together. We have been searching for a place to live for the past few months. We found a house.

All of this on top of my health… has been … eventful. I’ve been on and off antibiotics for my IC. Currently, I am off of them. Which always makes me feel extra crappy and kind of like I am getting a kidney infection so I am waiting for my urine broth culture results to come back.

And my doctor increased my Topamax, which is my migraine prevention medication because the visual auras flashing in my eyes has been getting out of control. The biggest issue is the side effects of this medication include problems with memory and struggling with word comprehension…and yes those side effects do impact me quite a bit. I love it…./sarcasm.

But hey…we are moving! To a house just outside of Washington DC, still in Maryland. It’s about 20 minutes from Gallaudet so it will be an easy commute for me to get to school. It’s a four bedroom house, with a basement, a screened in porch, backyard, fireplace (which we won’t use because of my asthma and bronchitis). And the biggest and best advantage is its 5 minutes away from Reid’s mom and her boyfriend. We wanted to find a house that was as close to Reid’s mom as possible. And we did! Just a few streets over. The house is everything we were searching for. 

I realize it’s a bit out of the norm trying to move closer to your child’s other parent. Usually, people want to escape their ex. And maybe for awhile, they did. But now it’s all changed. The four of us, work together to parent Reid. We constantly tell him that he has four parents who love him so much. We do monthly family dinners and see each other often. And now we will live within walking distance so Reid can have a closer relationship with all of us.

I am excited about all of this. Moving in with Aaron is huge. I never thought I would end up in a long term relationship. And now I’m moving in with Aaron and we have a family. Me, Aaron, Reid and my four awesome cats (Blinken, Stanley, Marzipan, and Ziggy). 

Getting packed up is difficult for me for a few reasons. Firstly, I have a lot to pack up…but who doesn’t…amiright?! Secondly, having chronic illness defintely makes packing more of a challenge. I tire more easily and feel weary. I need to be careful that I don’t overwork myself or I could make myself sick. So I take frequent breaks to rest and sometimes I have to just move slower than the average person. I started packing awhile ago so I would have more time to pack up and get ready. 

I’m going to work on keeping this blog better updated while packing and moving even if it means shorter posts. 

I have a few pictures to share. The first is from a wedding of a good friend of mine that Aaron and I went to recently. I just thought the picture looked cute because we were all matchy and adorable. And I forgot what it feels like to put on dramatic makeup…purple eyeshadow with a dark eyeliner and what not. It’s been a really long time…not to mention heels. Wow… I forgot how much heels suck. lol. I haven’t worn heels at least since I injured my ankle a couple years ago. But luckily my ankle was fine. 

I guess I wanted to show this picture, because as I always like to emphasis as someone with invisible chronic illnesses…it can be difficult to tell that I am in pain and chronically ill. I clean up really well and people don’t realize how much pain I’m in when I’m standing there smiling like this. 

 

Image: Rachel and Aaron standing in a gazebo with scenic farmscape in the background. Rachel smiling, her hair up. She is wearing a purple dress with white polka dots and black heels. Aaron is smiling, has his arm around Rachel. Wearing a black suit and a purple dress shirt to match Rachel's dress.
Image: Rachel and Aaron standing in a gazebo with scenic farmscape in the background. Rachel smiling, her hair up. She is wearing a purple 1950s style dress with white polka dots, black tulle poking out from underneath and black peekaboo heels. Aaron is smiling with his arm around Rachel, he is wearing a nicely tailored black suit and a purple dress shirt to match Rachel’s dress and his black tie and purple polka dots on it.

And the next picture I wanted to share is just a nice pic of me, Reid and a starfish at the Baltimore aquarium. We had a lot of fun along with my best friend Shelby. One thing that I would like to say is that I am always honest with Reid about my pain. He might not know all the exact details of my pain and illnesses but he knows I have pain and that I am sick and he can tell when I am in pain. So he knew walking around the aquarium was hard for me, but I wanted to take him because we had been talking about going for awhile. He knew that we would take frequent rest breaks and bathroom breaks.

This picture doesn’t display the amount of pain I was in or the fact that I had just taken a bunch of ibuprofen and tramadol to get me through. But it does show how much fun we were having regardless of my pain. 

Image: Background is a tank at the aquarium with various fish swimming around and a starfish stuck to the glass. Rachel kneeling down with her arms around Reid smiling. Reid wearing a bright green shirt smiling really big.
Image: Background is a tank at the aquarium with various fish swimming around and a starfish stuck to the glass directly above Rachel and Reid’s heads. Rachel kneeling down with her arms around Reid smiling. Reid wearing a bright green shirt and smiling really big.

And last picture below is our soon to be home as of August 4th. There’s no place like home. 🌈😍

image-house first floor red brick with red front door and two front windows on either side. Second floor light blue paneling with three windows and blue shutters. Chain link fence surround
image-house first floor red brick with red front door and two front windows on either side. Second-floor light blue paneling with three windows and blue shutters. Chain link fence surrounding the house.

 

 

Self-care: A love story for the new year

Self-care – This was the word I chose as my one-word resolution for the new year. I resolved that I would actually and truly take care of myself this year because I need it. It’s not that I just want it..nope…I truly need it.

So here it is, one month into the new year and it seems like the right time for an update on how my self-care has been going.

I have been doing self-care stuff that I am not particularly fond of that I have mentioned before…like quitting my jobs, getting a rolly backpack, a cushion to sit on during class, the Keto IC diet, migraine glasses, alkaline water and diet, and so on. I don’t love doing all of these things, but I am doing them because they are the right thing for me and my body at this time. I make sure to take time out to rest, even though I feel like I should be doing something productive like school work…because…grad school.

So while other people out in the world might be floundering and forgetting their New Year’s resolutions right about now… I am thriving with mine. I can only hope that will continue to thrive and hold true to mine, even if I feel resistant against some of the stuff I am doing. I have to remember that I am doing it because it is best for my health at this time.

So yes… I have resigned myself to this. I have not decided if I can resign myself to this forever. I have moments where I get stubborn about it and decide to resist my inner self-care voice. For example, one huge challenge I have is the steps in Aaron‘s apartment building…they are very steep and difficult for me to go up and down. The other day I arrived and wanted to take all my stuff up, my school stuff and my sleepover bag. So I did that. Huge mistake. The whole time this was going through my mind… I can do this. I am a normal person. Normal people can carry some bags up some stairs. I used to be able to carry these bags up these stairs. I am normal. I am normal. I was about one-fourth of the way up the stairs when I came to my senses and remembered….I’m not normal. But it was too late. I had to keep going. So I decided to power through.  My second huge mistake of the day. Which at that point was the only way I was getting up the stairs because if I stopped for even a second I wouldn’t be able to get moving again.

By the time I got to the top I was beyond exhausted. And was completely ready to drop to the ground. That was not a good or wise self-care moment. Usually, I do much better than that. But there are just some times when I try to forget I am chronically ill and try to remember what it’s like to be normal Rachel again. I have to learn to let go of that. Self-care is remembering that I am not that Rachel anymore. And some self-love would be telling myself it’s okay that you aren’t that Rachel anymore, you are still Rachel. You are growing and evolving. Love yourself. Self-love is a part of self-care but it’s much harder to do.

And yes, as the title of this blog post says, this is a love story. You have to love yourself when you are doing intensive self-care. And I am learning to love myself through self-care. -Rachel Bob

It’s very difficult to love my body when it is changing in ways that I cannot comprehend. It’s difficult to love my body when it pains me daily and honestly often leaves me feeling betrayed. But part of self-care is not focusing on that too much because I can’t harp on that self-hate/dislike/whatever it is or it will just hurt me further. That’s where priorities come in.

Part of self-care is prioritizing. I have to really look at my life and my priorities and see what is important and what is excess. Anything that is excess will basically be cut from the to do list because I don’t have the energy for it. I have very limited energy and therefore I have to prioritize my life. My number one priority right now? (you might be able to guess this one) myself. And then there is grad school, my family which includes my mom, my four cats, Aaron and Reid, my support system and my blog.

It isn’t easy to take care of yourself. Anyone with a cat (dog/other pet) or a child… or in my case both… knows the struggle of being able to get some self-care time when you have all of these little people who constantly want and need your attention. When I’m at home and try to take a bath. I have no less than two cats in the bathroom with me at all times…usually they are telling me how much they need to be in the tub and that I should drain the water so they can do that. Or they are telling me how badly they need me to pet them. When I’m at Aaron’s, Reid is in constant need of attention which is to be expected because he is six years old.

But despite all the road blocks, and that is all they are…road blocks. I have to persevere and keep trying until I find success with my self-care. So when I do get to take care of myself what kind of stuff am I trying to do?

  • Remembering to breathe….2..3..4..
  • Sleep. I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to me (not just me), so I’ll say it again in all caps…SLEEP!!!  Sleep is the time for our bodies to rest and repair. It’s important. Getting a good 7-9 hours of sleep can be a challenge but it’s worthwhile if you’re on the self-care plan like me.
  • Taking long baths with Epsom salts and baking soda. I just bought Magnesium flakes which I haven’t used just yet but I am looking forward to trying.
  • Making time to see my friends who support me. Last semester I was so overwhelmed with school and pain that I never saw my friends and I think that was a huge mistake on my part. So now I am actively making sure to see my friends. Like my bestie, Becca…pre-grad school we hung out every Sunday. But once grad school hit we didn’t see each other for months and months. I think that only hurt my health more. So now I decided we will see each other at least every two weeks.
  • Learning how to cook for and feed myself in a healthy way that fits my needs and my diet
  • Taking a break and just resting – This can make all the difference between being in a lot of pain or being in more bearable pain.
  • Learning to tell people what I need – This is a big one. I think this is one that a lot of people with chronic illness struggle with. We don’t want to be seen as needy or a burden so we don’t tell people what we need. Or we think that by asking for something we are asking too much. Like when the lights go on and off suddenly that impacts my migraines. I get bright flashing lights in my eyes, it’s disorienting and I have trouble seeing. I have learned to ask people to let me know when they will turn the lights on and off. I didn’t used to do that because I thought it was bothersome and too much effort for the other person. I would just try to live with it, but why? It’s not that much extra work for them to be like Hey Rachel, close your eyes. Boom…done. And it saves me a lot of pain, which is always nice.

Self-care is so important for everyone, but especially those of us who are chronically ill. We need to take care of ourselves or we will not be able to function and participate in the daily life. Everything I do now is for the future. Is it hard? heck yea it is. Even with the label of self-care, it is still a challenge that I struggle with every day and sometimes I do it begrudgingly. But you know what… that’s okay. As long as I try to take care of myself …that’s all that matters.

 

it-still-holds-true-that-a-person-is-most-uniquely-human-when-he-turns-obstacles-into-opportunities-1

On coming out

 

[Image description: Close up of an ornate key in an lock with the door cracked open]

I was diagnosed with IC in March 2015, so almost 2 years ago. And I always thought it would just be easier to not tell people. The less people that knew the better. If people knew, it would just make things more complicated. It would create more questions. People might question me. They might question if I am actually in pain or if I actually have this disease/condition/illness/whatever. There’s the dreaded, “But you don’t look sick”. That every chronically ill person loathes.

And what if they looked at me differently after I told them? What if it makes me appear weak? Or like I can’t handle the stress of whatever comes my way?

I didn’t want to have to explain it. Maybe I was embarrassed too. Who wants to talk about their bladder and lady parts or [insert body part here] with their family? Or friends? or strangers? or whoever? It’s personal. It’s uncomfortable.

But guess what? That’s my life. My life revolves around my bladder now. I have slowly started coming out and telling more people. It started last year… one year ago during Chanukah when I was kind of forced into telling my Aunt Ro. And I am so glad I did. It is one of the best things that has happened to me since I was diagnosed. And one day I hope she reads this and knows that I feel so fortunate having her support me through this. She works at a urologist’s office, so she knows what goes on with people who have IC. When she found out I have IC she started checking in on me. Which might seem like nothing to some people, but to someone with a chronic illness… it means a lot.

People who have chronic illness often feel isolated and alone. I am no different. I have a wonderful support system. My amazing boyfriend, Aaron, who is there for me every day. My friends Becca, Shelby, Christine, and Nai. And, of course, my mom. And a few other people. I am so lucky to be supported and loved. But I still feel alone in my pain. Because as much as these people love and support me, they can’t feel my pain and they can’t understand what I am going through. I joined a support group online early on. And I have become very active in the group recently. There is comfort in knowing that I am not alone.

But back to my point. Over the last year, I have started telling more people. I told 2 out of 3 of my teachers this past semester. And I will tell all my teachers this upcoming semester. I’ve told a couple of my cousins about it. And last night at my family Chanukah party I told my Great Aunt and my Uncle. It feels like a huge weight is being lifted off of me every time I tell someone. Yea…it’s uncomfortable. But that’s my life. That is life. Why should I struggle through this alone when I have people who care about me who are willing to help me carry the load?

And like many chronically ill people, I do worry that they will get tired of me and start thinking of me as a burden. That is a frequent worry of mine. But I have to trust that these people love and support me and will always do so.

Coming out to friends and family as chronically ill is never easy. I waited until I was ready to tell people and that’s okay. If I never told anyone…that would be okay too. But feeling less burdened because other people know what I am going through and can help me through it… that’s a good feeling too.

 

Coming out as anything is never easy, and in the case of people with invisible chronic illness,.png
[Image description: coming out as anything is never easy. and in the case of people with invisible chronic illness, there comes a time when if you don’t tell people it starts to negatively impact your health]