Thursday, August 25, 2016
Do you remember the video of a journalist supposedly having a stroke on air that went viral in 2011? It was frightening to watch Serene Branson begin to slur her words and struggle to form a coherent sentence. What was even more shocking was that she wasn't having a stroke at all. In fact, a few days after the incident, news outlets were reporting that it was just a migraine and the story faded from the headlines.
But is a migraine ever just a migraine? I thought so, until I started experiencing them for myself.
I began experiencing migraines in 2009, around the time I turned twenty. Before that, I had been under the false assumption that migraines were just really bad headaches. I didn't realize that the effects of a migraine went beyond the pain: slurred speech, trouble forming sentences, vision problems and vomiting were among the other effects I was dealing with. I would take aspirin to combat the pain, but eventually I was taking so much pain medicine that it was upsetting the lining of my stomach. I was burping up foam, y'all. Not good. The physical toll it took on me was so bad that I didn't think something as simple as a migraine could be causing it... But that is what I was experiencing.
Migraines are bad enough when you only experience them every once in a while, but I was suffering from migraines more often than not. I often found myself in too much pain to go to class, and my grades were reflecting that. I was cancelling plans with friends because I would wake up with a migraine that would last for days. Eventually friends stopped making plans with me – I would just bail later. It was a cycle of pain and depression that, along with other extenuating circumstances, caused me to take a year off from college.
During that year, my health took center stage. My family has a history of migraines, so I started talking to them about their experiences. My grandma talked about how the pain of the migraines made her temperature rise – another side effect I was experiencing – so much so that she would lie on the cold hardwood floor to cool off. I also learned that these hereditary migraines seem to start during our early adult years, as mine had, and fade the closer we get to 30.
With this information, I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Chronic Migraine, which meant that I was experiencing migraines more than 15 days a month. I was given a daily prescription for Topamax, a nerve pain medication that is used for treating migraines, and another prescription for a pill that I could only take when I was experiencing a particularly bad headache. My doctor warned me that Topamax wasn't always effective; it was only a first step. But I was incredibly lucky: within two months, I had gone from nearly 20 migraine days a month down to two.
I finally felt like I had my life back. I went back to college and made great grades, got a new job and started making new friends. I would still have a migraine every once in a while, but now I could take aspirin for it without upsetting my stomach. I learned what my triggers were – the smell of diesel and musky perfume, as well as loud, rattling bass – and avoided them when I could. I held my breath behind many a truck and school bus.
Last summer, I weaned myself off of my medication. There were many reasons for it, but I was afraid that the migraines would come back with a vengeance. They didn't. I am incredibly lucky that my migraines do seem to have faded as I've gotten older. I still experience them a few times a month – it is what inspired me to write this blog post – but I've learned how to soldier through when I can and when to stop and take care of the problem.
I wanted to write about my experience because it's something I don't see discussed often. So many illnesses are visible in one way or another, which causes society to forget about or ignore the illnesses they can't see. It makes it easy for those suffering from an invisible illness to ignore theirs, or feel as though it isn't important. But it is important and you need to take care of yourself. If you are experiencing symptoms of an invisible illness, talk to someone close to you or make an appointment with a doctor. You deserve to live the best life you can.
Monday, August 22, 2016
When I started blogging back in 2012, I was completely green to the process. My images and graphics were shit, I never backed up my files, and I couldn't keep track of everything I needed to do. When I began freelancing as a social media & branding consultant, I had to get my shit together and I couldn't do it on my own. Now, as an entrepreneur, I especially understand how important it is to find useful apps and resources that help you stay on top of your game. Luckily, I happen to have discovered a few along the way that I want to share with any other struggling boss ladies out there.
Asana. Calendar? Check. To-do list? Check. Teamwork? Sure. Asana is a project tracker that is perfect for teams and individuals. Put in what you need to accomplish and when you need to accomplish it, plus add subtasks that you need to complete on your way to reaching your goal. If you are part of a business or group, add your coworkers and assign tasks to them to help them keep track of your project. Create different projects for separate clients and keep track of your own private to-do list. And you can view everything in a personalized monthly calendar.
My business partner and I use this to keep track of all of our different clients and what we have to do for each of them. If I think of something she needs to do, I can add the task and assign it to her and she is informed by email and push notification on her phone. And when you mark a task as completed, you are sometimes rewarded with the most adorable animals flying across your screen. The company preaches mindfulness and balance, which only make me love it more.
Canva. This is a new find for me, but one that I have already fallen in love with. I recently had a client ask me for an easy-to-understand explanation of the insights for their Facebook page. A big block of text would have been overwhelming, so I decided to put the information into a simple infographic. I'm no graphic designer, so I hopped over to Google in hopes of finding a free infographic creator and found Canva. They have tons of free customizable infographic templates as well as templates for Pinterest, quote and blog graphics. The templates are easy to use and make your own and, if you don't like the free templates, you can purchase others for as low as $1.
Pixabay. Maybe your graphic design ability is on point but you aren't very good at photography. Or maybe, like me, you just don't have the space to take quality photographs for your blog or website. No worries! Pixabay is your new best friend. All of the photographs on Pixabay are free to use under the Creative Commons CC0 License, meaning you can modify them or use them on your blog with no royalty fees. You can even find illustrations and other graphics that you can incorporate into your own designs. It's especially perfect for the blogging newbie.
Typeform. Looking to find out more about your audience? Have a client who wants to create a customer satisfaction survey? Don't use a boring old form. Keep your surveys looking sleek and interesting by using Typeform. Typeform surveys are eye-catching, easy to create and simple to use. Plus, Typeform surveys look great on all devices. Incorporate different types of questions, from multiple choice to short answer. Results come in two forms: results, where you can see each and every answer given, and reports, where you can see the top answers for each question. Premium is definitely pricey, but the free version gives you adequate customization for most survey needs.
Google Drive. If you aren't already backing up your most important documents and images in the Drive, you should start now. Not only can you save your personal data, you can also save things to shared folders, meaning they go directly to your business partner or client without having to send email after email.
Recently, my hard drive crashed and I thought I had lost everything. Luckily, I had backed up all of my work files into my Drive and was able to access them through my new computer. It was a small blessing, honestly.
Hopefully these resources will help you on your blogging or career journeys – or both! What are some of your most loved resources? Tell me in the comments!
Monday, August 15, 2016
Is it hot where you are? It's been pretty warm here all summer, with temperatures staying in the 90º range since mid-July. And the West Virginia humidity has always been the stuff of nightmares. Just walking outside for a minute can make a person start to sweat, and don't even get me started on my outdoor workouts.
One good thing has come out of this uncomfortable weather: I have perfected my sweat-proof makeup routine. And I didn't even do it on purpose. I'm pretty insecure about my skin–rosacea and acne will do that to you–and I always wear face makeup when I work out. I'm also an avid Snapchatter and selfie-taker, so of course I take the occasional snapshot of myself post-workout.
Last month, after a particularly grueling workout in 93º weather, I took a couple of pictures and realized my makeup had not budged. Not a bit. Underneath my makeup, I was sure I looked like a human tomato, but no one would have been able to tell that. My mom, who was my workout partner that day, even noticed. I was amazed.
So I'm sharing my routine with you.
I start out by applying the elf Face Primer with my fingers, patting it into place where my pores are particularly noticeable. Then I take one pump of the Too Faced Born This Way foundation and apply it with a Real Techniques buffing brush, pressing the product onto areas that need a bit more coverage. If I need a little extra coverage, like when my acne is flaring up, I will use another half of a pump on the areas that need it. I finish with MAC Studio Fix powder foundation, using a fluffy brush to press the powder on.
When I'm going somewhere after my workout, I will add some contour using the Kat Von D Shade & Light palette and line my eyes with the Flower Forever Wear eyeliner. Sometimes I will use MAC Fix+ to set the look, but it does just as well without it.
You want proof? Take a look.
This picture was taken at 1:29 PM on a 90º day. I had applied my makeup that morning at 7 AM. That is six and a half hours of wear during which I worked out, went shopping, and worked out again.
I also have a cheaper version of this look that I will be talking about soon, so stay tuned.
How do you make your makeup last all day in the heat? Let me know in the comments!
Thursday, August 11, 2016
If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably know a little bit about my skincare journey. For any new readers, here is a quick rundown on the history of my skin:
I had acne once when I was in high school and cleared it up pretty quickly with ProActive. Beyond that, I never had any problems with my skin (aside from my hereditary rosacea), despite not taking very good care of it. When I went on birth control as a teenager, my skin dried out horribly. And now that I've moved away from hormonal birth control, my skin has gone crazy, leaving me with oily skin and the worst acne of my life.
Since last October, I have been trying anything and everything to keep my skin clear. Literally nothing was working and I was starting to think I would just have to deal with bad skin for the rest of my life. Dramatic, I know. At the same time, I was making a move towards minimalism: eating simple, clean foods and being careful about what I put in and on my body. So when I spotted S.W. Basics on the shelves of my local Target, I was thrilled.
S.W. Basics is a Brooklyn-based skincare company that lives by the motto less is more. They believe that "using fewer ingredients means more potent skincare." I would have to agree. I bought the cleanser and toner from this line a few months ago and, when I take the time to use it regularly, I see a massive improvement in my skin.
The cleanser has only three ingredients: organic rosewater, organic vegetable glycerin, and organic tea tree oil. I use it after I remove all of my makeup by putting some onto a cotton pad and rubbing it in circular motions on my face. It gets rid of any traces of makeup left behind and leaves my skin feeling clean, but not dry or stiff. You know the feeling I'm talking about.
I rinse the cleanser off and do the same thing with the toner, which has five ingredients: water, organic raw apple cider vinegar, organize witch hazel, and organic essential oils of clary sage and sandalwood. This product might scare some people; it has a slightly browny-yellow color from the apple cider vinegar, as well as a film that is from the 'mother' part of the vinegar (the most useful part) and a slight odor. But it honestly feels amazing on the skin and you get used to the smell.
In the few months I have been using this-- again, when I remember to use it regularly-- it has diminished my hormonal, cystic acne, faded old acne scars, and even lessened the appearance of my rosacea. I even notice a little bit of a glow to my skin when I use these products, plus I feel better knowing exactly what I am putting on my skin. These two products are $22 dollars each. It sounds a little pricey, but they do last a while and they come in reusable glass bottles. When I have finally finished using up the product, I plan on using them as little vases on my desk.
If you're interested in learning more about these products or S.W. Basics, visit their website here. And, by the way, this was not a sponsored post... But if they see this post and like it, I wouldn't mind a coupon or something. I got student loans to pay, y'all.