Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There's a Frenzy in April...

There is a Frenzy that starts tomorrow and it lasts through the entire month of April. The play writing community just loves it, but Mathew Broderick-- uh, not so much. April is the time to dust of your pencils, pens, paper, or that lap top you use as an expensive paper weight, and write to your hearts content... Or at least 100 pages of a screen play.

You might be wondering why I'm even talking about this today because it has nothing to do with fibro. And you'd be right, writing has little to do with fibro, but it has everything to do with feeling fabulous. I know that not everyone out there in the reader world is a writer, but we all have things we like to do.

Some of us like to garden, read, practice yoga, or go bike riding. Whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time is the topic for today. Now, some of you are probably saying to yourself right now as you read this, yeah, you're crazy Kim if you think I have any spare time. I know you are thinking that so don't try and think any different. We all have very little time that we dedicate to ourselves because so many people depend on us. We make breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. We feed the pets, walk the dog (or in my case, the cats-- no seriously, don't laugh-- I have to give mine exercise because he's on the pudgy side), we take care of the kids, drive the kids to soccer practice, go to the PTA meetings, make the coffee, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and what ever else that may be needed on any given day. We have a tough list to finish all day, every day and I sometimes wonder how I've made time to brush my teeth. My days can last any where from 12 hours to 18, so there is really very little time for me to be me. I'm sure it's the same for all of you too.

But we shouldn't be doing this to ourselves. We matter because if we don't take some time out for ourselves every day, we can't do what we need to for others. And when you have fibro, that's all the more reason to take some time because you don't need a flare to stop you in your tracks.

Carving time out in your day should be one of your priorities to keep yourself feeling fabulous. This can be a tough task when other family members are involved because sometimes they don't understand why you need time. I know it's happened to me because I'm Mom, I don't need anything... That card sound familiar? When my hubby tries to sneak in more free time than he should by pulling that card, I kindly remind him that I'd be more than happy to do what he wants me to do, but he needs to prepare himself for the day when I have a flare and he'll have to do everything on his own.

He might not like the gentle reminder that he's just as capable to do chores, but I'm sure he'd rather hear that then do all the chores on his own-- I know I would. I do the same with my oldest too and I try hard not to feel guilty about it because, after all, they make time for themselves, so why shouldn't I?

Script Frenzy is my way of giving myself permission to take some time for myself. It's a way where I can carve out an hour a day, or a few hours in the week, just for me. It will be a tough challenge to carve out enough time to complete a 100 page script, but I think I can do it. But even if I don't, I am still a winner because I'm taking time out of my day to feel fabulous.

So, why don't we all try a challenge to give ourselves some time to relax. You do what ever tickles your fancy, it doesn't have to be about a 100 page script. It can be anything you want, just try and track it for yourself in a journal or on the calendar so you can look back on April as a fabulous month.

Contest Update: We are just 6 comments away from a winner so keep the comments coming!

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shopping for ZZZ's

Every so often I get an email from someone who suggests a particular subject matter for my blogs. They usually will contain not only the idea, but a product that they happen to sell and, of course, would love a plug from me. I don't mind these emails too much because I used to work in retail management for eighteen years and I know what it's like to have to sell a quota.

I also know what it's like when a boss wants you to think "outside the box" and surf the internet for the next way to sell that gem of a product. Selling is a hard job, and at times, customer service is a thankless one too.

But the hardest thing today is to try and sell yourself and your product to a perfect stranger via email, because, frankly, most people won't give it a second thought when they hit the spam button.

An email sent to me today from a gal by the name of Kirsten, caught my attention, though. It had nothing to do with the actual product, or even her introduction that made this email special, in fact, I've never had a need for her product in my almost 9 years of marriage and I had never heard of her. I know of her product, which is a bed, but I've never tried that brand before.

So, you might be wondering why I'm even bringing all of this up. Well, what struck me was the fact that Kirsten added a very interesting article and youtube video to look at and research. The article is about a study done on sleep and how doing something as simple as changing your mattress could make you sleep a whole lot better. The video also talks about this same study and shows you how pressure points in your body could make sleeping difficult and have you wake up with back pain.

Now, what Kirsten doesn't know, and what all of you all are about to, is that one of the many things that I used to sell was mattresses when I worked in retail management. They can be the hardest thing to sell to someone because you want to make sure that the customer doesn't feel foolish when lying on one in the showroom.

That may sound funny to any of you who have never worked retail, but it's really very true. Just go back to the last time you were shopping for a mattress and think back to how long you did the Charmin test when you felt the thickness of each mattress. If you actually laid on it, how long did you do that before you said, "I'll take it." Chances are, you didn't spend that long. You may have even purchased the same brand that you've had for years because it seemed like a good one.

Mattresses are a long time investment, that is a very true statement. And you do spend about a third of your life on one. Having said that, you may be wondering which mattress I think is the best, or you may even wonder what I sleep on. And the answer to that is simple, I don't have a preference. I have what is comfortable for me. I don't suggest anything in particular to anyone because everyone is different.

I've owned only two beds in my almost 36 years of life. The first was a very flat and very firm twin mattress that I had during my childhood and early adult years. The second is the one I sleep on now which is a full size pillow top from one of those discount mattress places. I didn't pick out either of these because they were gifts to me. The first was from my mother who purchased the best one she could find so I could start out my big girl life with a good bed. The second was from my mother in-law who purchased the best she could find so Scott and I could start out our married life with a good bed. I liked each of these beds because of their comfort level-- at least the full was comfortable before kids and cats. Now, it's a bit crowded lol!

I really can't tell you if a Sleep Number is the way to go. I've never had one, I don't work for that company, and as I stated before, everyone is different.

But what I can give you is some good information on how to shop for a mattress the next time you need one. Picking the wrong mattress can spell trouble for anyone with fibro and that is certainly not how one can feel fabulous, so let's get to the tips, shall we?

Tip number one: If a fire hazard is of any concern to you because of children or smokers, the best mattress to purchase is a pillow top. You'd think that it wouldn't be, but the thickness actually helps in this case because it takes much longer to burn one. A flat firm is the absolute worst in this case and a plush didn't fair much better. The actual test was done on a television show several years back. It was a show dedicated to testing out products to see which ones really held up.

Tip number two: When shopping for a mattress, lie on each type, a flat firm, a plush, and a pillow top for at least 10 minutes at a time BEFORE you decide which one to get. And if you sleep with a partner, make sure they do the same so you can better decide. Mattresses today are much more sophisticated and they have actually split the comfort levels for each sleeper. You can purchase a mattress that has firm on one side and plush on the other if that's to your liking.

Tip number three: Make sure you lie on the mattress the same way you do when you sleep so you can get the best idea for your comfort.  So if you are a stomach sleeper that means you should sleep face down.  Now, that may help you to decide on a mattress, but I can't guarantee you'll feel good about germs that way.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to find the best mattress for yourself. These tips won't do you much good, however, if you don't know when you should start to shop for a new mattress.

The answer to that, is that you should start shopping for one if yours is around 10 years old or older and if yours is starting to show significant wear. Most mattresses will start to get big dips in the middle when they wear out. So if your cat, dog, or small child tends to disappear in the middle of your mattress, it might be time for a new one.

Small impressions are body impressions and those are a normal occurrence on a mattress. These may make the mattress look "lumpy" when you put a flat fitted sheet on the bed, but they are fine and are not signs that it's time for a new one.

Another big reason to start looking when your mattress hits it's 10th birthday, is dust mites. Dust mites are inevitable, they are hard to get rid of, but not impossible. You can kill some of them off by deodorizing your mattress from time to time with a bit of baking soda or Borax. Just follow the labeling directions. Once they die, they can, however, stay trapped inside a mattress and cause it to become very heavy throughout the years. This is why it is suggested to shop every 10 years for a new one.

For any further information, you can check out the youtube video that Kirsten from Select Comfort passed along to me. It will give you a few other ideas about shopping for a mattress.

You might also want to take a look at the contest Select Comfort is doing between now and April 2. You can register to win a mattress from them which is pretty cool. I'm not sure if you have to become one of their mailing list members, but, to enter for a possible chance to win, that might not be so bad. I'll leave that up to you all.

Also, don't forget about the contest I'm running for a chance to win an autographed copy of Fibromyalgia and Sex Can Be a Pain In the Neck...and back and shoulders or The Fibro Hand. The 25th commenter (which is coming up very soon) will be the first lucky winner!

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flares

Flares are a major part of what we deal with when it comes to having Fibromyalgia. They can last anywhere from one day to months depending on what we do, eat, or sometimes our body reacts to the change in temperature.

Most people look forward to the season change, and I admit that I used to too, but since being diagnosed, I look at them with a bit of dread sometimes too. You see, my flares tend to worsen when the temperatures are warm in the day and really cold at night. Twenty degree changes reek havoc on my joints and can make me very tired. There are days when I just want my favorite pair of sweat pants, sweat shirt, turtle neck, and robe, and that's about it. But sometimes, you can't stay in bed. Sometimes you have important things to do like a parent-teacher conference, or you need to go to work.

So how can one feel fabulous on days like these? It's not easy-- I can tell you that much. But there are a few things that get me by on the bad days. One is my kids. The power of love is a strong thing and can be the best medicine around.

My oldest, who is eight, has seen me go through a lot with this beast. There were times that I literally couldn't get up from the couch after an eight hour day of work. But I never wanted to disappoint her when she asked me to play go fish or even run the water for her bath. We would make a game out of getting Mommy up. I'd have her try and pull me up from the couch when she was about 4. I would eventually get up with her help. It was fun for her and yet, it gave me some time to alert my body that it was time to move.

When I had my youngest, who just turned 14 months, was born, we considered her our miracle child. We had her, after we found out I had gotten a handle on my Fibro and knew what my limitations would be. Round the clock feedings were not a picnic, but she kept me going with each smile. The serotonine from breast feeding her helped, as well.

My husband keeps me going too by lending a hand when (or where) I need it. There are days that I just don't know what I'd do without him.

We all have days when the phone rings and we may not want to talk to that person on the other end of the phone. Sometimes they just don't get how tired or achy we may be feeling, but sometimes it can be us that makes the mistake of shutting them out.

I know I've done it. I had a friend who thought I could cure myself if I'd take certain supplements or go on a certain diet. She would come over and get this twinkle in her eye and take me to places to find a cure.
I knew I was in trouble, so some days I just wouldn't answer the phone.

Now, thinking back, maybe I should have, because even though she really didn't understand the research of this disease, she understood that her friend needed her around. This is of course, is another great form of medicine, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.

I can take my flares for granted sometimes. I see them as me being me and I get alone in my zone of feeling bad. But when somebody rolls down their window at school drop off to make sure I'm okay, or a clerk at a grocery store stops me and asks if I need help getting my groceries in my car, I take notice. I take notice, give thanks to the person at hand, and then at that point realize that my flare isn't as bad as I thought. It's not as bad because I am realizing at that moment that people really do care-- no matter how big or how small it may be at the time it is assumed.

Take thought in the little things when you can, it may help with your flares. And don't forget about my contest! The 25th commenter will get a free copy of one of my books. That number is coming up soon!

Stay Fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Health Care, the Good and the Ugly

This may sound like it's a bit off topic, but hear me out and then you'll know why it applies to fibro. I was listening to NPR and the Today show this morning and found some interesting admissions about the state of the world today on both shows.

Now, I know that listening to the news can be hazardous to my health and cause me a lot of undue stress, but do you know that going to the doctor for "routine" tests could also be hazardous to your health too? The Today show had a topic this morning about the testing for certain cancers. The segment went into saying that even though these screening for cancers can pick up a tumor, a doctor can't tell if the tumor is deadly or not. Having said that, they also don't know if they are "over treating" the cancer because of this finding.

I must say that I am by no means telling any of you to stop getting physicals or tests that may help save your life, but I am cautioning you as to what I see as something capitalistic.

Doctors are trained to help people, yes, they have taken a medical oath to do so. They are told certain things in medical school, like certain testing will help prevent this or that. But they may have been fed the same load of crap we all have been fed at one point or another in life.

What I mean by this, is that by learning said test will help, they of course want to use it to do just that, just like a certain medicine might help, or a procedure. I have no problem with that, but what I do have a problem with is who is giving them this kind of information.

Are the people making the drug giving truly unbiased clinical trials on their drugs? What about these tests for cancer? Why is there all of the sudden conflicting reports? Could it be that there is something else on the horizon that they want the medical community to believe in and prescribe to patients?

Maybe I might be sounding a bit cynical, but really, how much of what they are feeding us as a truth is really just that, a truth? And how much of it is someone "bending" it to sell their products. When you boil everything down, someone was making money off of these tests and pills, so how bias can they truly be?

NPR was doing a segment on how frugal Americans have been becoming as of late. Americans on average have been saving about 5% of their income since this past December, a number that is surprising because on average, no American has been saving for the past two decades. The special guest was asked how frugal he thought society might take this. And his answer was surprising, but all too true.

He stated that most people before the fall of economy were interested in "bells and whistles" on products. He used a refrigerator as an example. Most people wanted a water dispenser or maybe if you were lucky enough to afford it, a TV on the gosh darned thing. Now, people want a product to last and are not as concerned about the "look" of it. He went further to say that fridge manufacturers will probably be coming out with things that actually last like they once did.

Now, why is this surprising? Well, if you are like me, you go out and buy something in the hopes that you get some really good use out of it. For instance, I don't buy a car and then turn it in after four years, I actually drive it until it can't be driven anymore.

I've had two cars in my 20 years of driving experience. The first one I got at 23, 7 years after I first started learning how to drive. The second I got after being without a car for 3 years, and that was 6 years ago. That car is now the only family car we have.

I buy everything with that intention of having it for a long time and I get ticked off when I buy an article of clothing that falls apart or a vacuum that burns out in a manner of a year. I don't have a ton of money to waste on frivolous things and I have even less to buy the good stuff, so we often go without and make do with what we do have because my intention is NOT to waste money.

I can also truly say that I don't do the extras when it comes to my fibro. I can't afford costly medication that will probably wind up killing my liver one day anyway. I also can't afford to go to a rheumatologist once a month so he can "assess" how well I'm doing on medication. I used to feel ashamed about that because the media seems to constantly drill into us that we need to be health conscious and concerned. But I don't feel that way anymore.

Why? Because I truly feel that a lot of this stuff that's out there that is supposed to help us or make things easier on us is just a ploy to get us to spend money, and in some cases, money we don't have. I will still go to the doctor when I need to, but when I do, I am taking more action than I used to.

Before the doctor even starts to draw blood, fill out a script, or whatever it may be, the first things that come out of my mouth are, how much is this going to cost me?, and, what are the side effects? I am passionate about taking care of myself in ALL aspects of my life, not just the problem at hand, so if I've got to stress over the bill, it's just not worth it to me and I will find another way. To me, feeling fabulous, is about achieving an all around general well-balanced approach to life.

Stay fabulous
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sound Off

Something that never ceases to amaze me is how misunderstood we sufferers can be. It's something that we have all dealt with from time to time, but really, should we have to in today's day and age?

I have always been an advocate of living life to its fullest. I don't think anyone should sit on the sidelines and let wonderful things slip through their grasp just because they are scared, depressed, sick, or just plain feeling stuck in life. Lots of things can be wonderful excuses for us NOT to live our fullest lives, but when you come down to thinking about it, those excuses really are just ways for us to stop trying.

I remember when I was a first semester freshman in college and I got my grades. I was always a good student, but college was different and my grades truly showed that because I did awful. I failed my first semester miserably and I remember feeling like I let everyone down. I even felt guilty that my parents were footing the tuition for a failure. I had a long talk with my mom that night and told her that college wasn't for me and that I'd be better off at a retail job until I could hack the grownup world of college. I told her I didn't want her paying for a failure and that I would work towards my own education and some day go back.

To make an incredibly long story short, my mom was furious with me-- but not because of my grades like I thought she'd be. She was mad that I would give up so easily at something she knew I clearly loved. I started college because I wanted to be a journalist and my mom knew how much I loved to write. Writing has always been a part of me-- even when I was very young, I loved to write. She told me that under no uncertain terms, I'd continue to go to college because she believed in financing my future.

I didn't know what to think, but I went back after break and I looked at college in a different light and applied some different study habits. I went from a 1.5 GPA my first semester, to a 3.0 GPA the second. The moral of the story? If I used my excuses as a way of quitting college, I would have never gone back and succeeded the way that I did.

My college experience is a lot like my diagnoses of fibromyalgia. I could have given up and stopped doing the things that I enjoy, like yoga, gardening, karaoke, playing with my daughters, heck, even having a second child, the list could go on and on at what I could give up, quit, or stop trying as an excuse. But I didn't do that. I still do what I love, just not as often or as long as I used to due to fatigue and pain. I look at the activity in a different way now, just like I did with college.

What ceases to amaze me, though, is that there are still some Negative Nellies that think that the pain should run your life and not the you. I've come across many Nellies over the years because I'm a writer, but what is so disheartening isn't what's directed towards me. I write because I feel a need to say something positive, a negative comment isn't going to change the way I think, but it might change someone else's thoughts, and that's the sad part.

Patients with fibromyalgia have been misunderstood for centuries. We don't need anymore negativity in our lives. People who can't see that are just making this beast we deal with even more misunderstood, and that's just sad.

So, the next time you come across Nellie, knock her off your friend's list. I know I will.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Calming the Beast

I came across a really funny news story about an hour or two ago and it was interesting enough to me to share. The story is about playing Barry Manilow's music in a strip mall so the teenagers will stay out.

What I found funny was the fact that the teenagers found the music choice to be out of date. I grew up with Barry. I remember the long hair, bell bottoms, and shells he wore while singing Mandy. I was just a little thing when Mandy came out, but it wasn't that long ago.

The thing that isn't funny about the article is the reason why the mall decided to go with easy listening music. They chose it because it can calm one's mind. They figure that the teens won't hang around spray painting their names onto the store fronts if Can't Smile Without You is playing.

Now, teens are teens, and I really find it hard to believe that Barry will stop them from coming to the mall. But what may happen is that some of the adults will feel good enough to stay and shop. Supermarkets at one point did some research into the shopping habits of the female shopper, and found out that their target shopper will buy more if easy listening music is played.

Now, that may sound like nonsense, but the facts are true because soft music will calm the beast and help you to relax. I find that my clearest moments are those when relaxing music is on. Granted, I like rock and roll too, and I will put on some 80's Hair Bands when I'm cleaning the house, but when I'm trying to concentrate on a writing piece, I've got Barry on.

Life can be stressful and turn your body and head into knots. Having fibro can make it worse, but if you can find something that will help, like listening to music, it can make things a little more fabulous.

BTW don't forget about the contest! Keep the comments coming, we are almost half way there to giving away the first book.

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

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