bloggingchronic illness

My 13 Goals for 2018

Blog and Life Goals for 2018

Create a blogging schedule:

As I have noted many times in the past, I am a creature that thrives in structure (which doesn’t always jive with chronic illness) so as one of my first goals of 2018 I want to create a loose enough schedule in that it gives me just enough structure but also provides that bit of wiggle room that is always a necessity when it comes to living the chronic life. Tuesdays will be posts specifically about living with chronic illness which is obviously the foundation of this blog. They may pertain to certain struggles common to illnesses. They may be about new treatments on the horizon. They could even come from caregivers. Wednesdays will be Chronic Style posts. These posts will involve beauty, makeup, style, and fashion. They may include makeup tutorials or makeup tips and tricks. They may include outfits of the week or advice on how to dress both comfortable AND cute. Thursdays will be more lifestyle type posts. These posts may include DIY home projects, recipes, etc (all spoon friendly of course). They may include marriage, family, and parenting topics. This is kind of a “catch all” category. Fridays will be focused on faith and devotions. I used to have a series called “Friday Words of Faith” and these posts will be very similar in nature. They will often feature songs that speak to the heart of making the journey through life with chronic illness. They may cover tough questions such as “Where is God when I am sick?” While I am a Christian and many of the posts will be specifically Christian-based, there will also be other types of inspirational posts to help those who may not follow a particular faith tradition. And lastly, Saturdays will be for video content! Videos will not go up every week – at least in the beginning. Most of the videos will be Chronic Style related but others may be more fun, family oriented with some fun challenges or vlogs. There will also be Q&A style videos included. I know that many YouTubers create blogs as an extension of their channels but in my case, I am created video content as an extension of my blog. I do not plan to necessarily create a YouTube channel but it will basically act as a hosting for my videos. I will upload them there but will also embed the videos in posts here at A New Kind of Normal so you won’t have to visit anywhere else to be able to catch up on all the content. Wow, that was a long first goal!The other’s aren’t as long I promise!

Be more active on social media by actually having conversations! 

Does anyone else miss the days when you could post a question on Twitter and actually get an answer? Or actually receive a comment on a blog post that you worked so hard to write? Long gone are the days where social media actually seemed to be social versus a sea of ads and sponsored content (neither of those things are bad but in much needed moderation please) and these platforms don’t do you any favors by constantly changing the algorithms that seem to constantly bury any real content. I remember when I could spend hours chatting on Twitter and Facebook and making true, honest connections with others. I asked this question on Twitter the other day and I had several people respond very quickly that they missed the good ol’ days as well. I’ve decided that if you want to see something you, sometimes you need to be the change. I hope you will help change this with me by joining in! Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! I have a Snapchat but I can’t figure it out for the life of meand not entirely sure I actually need it. What are your thoughts on Snapchat?

Commit to sending at least two snail mail letters or cards a week.

Long before we lost the art of conversation online, we lost the ability to communicate with a good old fashioned hand written letter. Sending an email from the heart can be nice but nothing beats something hand written, am I right? Just like I am taking on the role of trying to be the change to bring back conversation online, I want to bring back the lost art of snail mail. I want to send a minimum of two letters or cards to friends and family a week. If you would like to be a part of my snail mail list, please shoot me an email! I am working on setting up a PO Box if you would like to join the movement as well and maybe want to drop me a bit of snail mail every once in awhile. I would greatly appreciate it! As soon as I have the PO Box up and running, I will have that information added to my Contact Me page.

Actually do the things that I pin on Pinterest.

 I am honestly scared to look up how many pins I have actually created across the many boards I have created on Pinterest. What is worse is knowing how few of those pins I have actually set out to accomplish. That, however, is going to change in 2018. I am starting a series called “Been There, Pinned That” where I am going to share pins that I have actually completed whether they be home projects, recipes, makeup looks, or outfits I have recreated. Ok – I finally got brave and checked out how many pins that I have saved. Are you ready for this? Drumroll please . . . 5,801. That is a lot of time spent on Pinterest saving beautiful hairstyles or lovely home decor I’ll never have. When I popped over to check my number, I did notice that Pinterest has actually added a feature to each pin to mark whether or not you have tried it! You are able to attach a photo or note! How awesome is that! That makes me even more motivated to succeed in this goal. How many pins do you have saved on Pinterest and how many have you actually done?

Work outside of the home at least one day a week. 

I am lucky enough to have a space in my home that my husband is allowing me to convert into my “Babe Cave” which will give me a place to have my makeup storage and my vanity so I have a place to sit down and get ready but it will also give me a place where I can sit down to blog, read, and hopefully film. It is currently a work in progress. My desk is pretty much set up but the rest of the room is a disaster. We are going to take the bed out of the room and put in in a futon instead which will really open up the space. I will definitely do a room tour when I am done! So, while I have this wonderful space that I can work in (in addition to working from any other room in our house), I want to get out of the house at least once a week to work to get the creative juices flowing. We used to have a little coffee shop on Main Street (I live in a quaint one stoplight town) but unfortunately it has closed down so now I need to find a new place to work! I am determined so it will be like being on a treasure hunt to find the location of the hidden fountain of creativity located somewhere in our county!

Do my hair and makeup at least 4 times a week even if I never leave the house.

I have come to the conclusion that if you want to be productive, you need to get yourself put together. Let me rephrase that. If I want to be productive – truly productive, I need to get myself put together. I have a hard time getting motivated to be creative in my Jack Skellington pajama pants, my old glasses, and a messy bun. Granted there are some days that call for my messy bun and Jack Skellington because my body has nothing to offer the world and to merely exist is about all I have in me. However on the days where I do have the spoon supply and I have some writing, filming, or creating I want to do, I need to take the time to fix my hair and put on some makeup. This year is all about reclaiming my ability to feel spunky, audacious, and fierce . Plus if I am putting on makeup but not leaving the house, that means I can play and try out the wildest, must fun colors in the palettes.

Spend at least 45 minutes of quiet time each morning. 

Mornings are often a rough time at the Miller house. None of us are morning people so there is usually a lot of grumbling and grunting versus intelligible conversation. To get my mornings off on the right start, I want to spend it with the One who created me. I want to dedicate at least 45 minutes to prayer, devotion and maybe a little music (I know I said quiet time but you know what I mean). Abby and I got a digital piano for Christmas and after I brush up on my piano skills (it has been awhile since I have played), I am hoping that I can incorporate some time for worship in with my morning routine.

Life & Blogging Goals for 2018

Another routine I want to make a priority this year is getting physically active.

My chronic illnesses and adhesions make it difficult to be as active as I would like but they don’t make it impossible and I need to do my part to find out what those activities are that allow me to be active without turning myself into the tin man for the following week. I watched my parents struggle with their weight my entire life and I don’t want that to be the same for Abby. I want to be a positive role model and keep my weight and muscle tone in check as much as I possibly can. This morning I actually tried out a Tahitian Cardio workout and really loved it. It was a lot of fun and it made me feel really confident and sexy as I completed the workout and it was only my first try so I am really looking forward to trying it out again and if the workout can give me a body like those ladies leading it, I will power my way through it. My thick incision can run right down the middle of those six packs those ladies were sporting! LOL.

Complete the 100 Pushups, 200 Situps, & 200 Squats Challenges.

These are fun little challenges to add to your workout routine and add a little bit of fun competition with maybe your friends or loved ones. I know as a spoonie these challenges may seem like a lot but if you research the challenges, you actually work slowly to build up to those numbers and I can easily set my own pace. For example, for my first day of the Squat Challenge, I have 18 squats to perform and they are broken up into segments with rest time in between. There are many different types of apps out there for both IOS and Andriod phones as well as challenges you can find online and print off but I am using the Zen Challenge Series and I purchased the all in one bundle on iTunes to share with my husband as he is on a weight loss journey as well.

My husband and I will have a non-negotiable weekly lunch date. 

2017 was an exceptionally hard year on our marriage (you will hear a lot more about that in upcoming posts). Now, more than ever, it is important that we are very intentional in making time for each other. We are seeing a counselor who has the best name in the world – Dr. Miracle (I am totally serious) who is phenomenal and actually has a lot of experience working with chronic pain patients (back in Georgia he worked at a co-op practice where there was a pain management specialist, hiimself (a counselor), a physical therapist, and one or two other specialists of one form or another) so he has been able to add some very valuable and practice insight to help John and I on our journey of healing. In addition to committing to our “date” with Dr. Miracle, we need to commit to a weekly non-negotiable date with each other. We chose lunch because it seems to be the easiest and with the least amount of interruptions when it comes to our lives with his work in ministry and my work with multiple chronic illnesses.

In addition to dates with each other, we will have at least one “couple date” a month and I individual girl time/guy time a month. 

We are both all about holistic health and while we are working really hard to be healthy as a couple in spending a lot of time one-on-one, we also know that it is very important and healthy for us to spend time with others both as a couple and as individuals. We need to spend time with other couples for fun and fellowship but also for support. Marriage is hard and it is important to have other couples who are also in the same boat that can offer support for the day to day life of a married couple. It is also important to have individuals that you can go to for support. Sometimes there is nothing more refreshing than some quality girl time (can I get an amen?!). It is nice to have someone where you can feel like you can talk about anything and still feel loved, supported, and encouraged. So as one of the goals of 2018, we need more of both.

Complete simple mini-house projects on a  monthly basis!

We have some big projects that are taking place around the house this year such as adding a second bathroom (FINALLY! HALLELUJAH!) but there will also be smaller projects that will be done throughout the house such as the Babe Cave renovation or making over our master bedroom. I want to show off some easy DIY projects to show that we can make a space feel like it is ours and have a place where we find comfort, solace, creativity or whatever it may be. I think it is important to share those little tips, tricks, & secret finds and I look forward to sharing them with you!

Embrace my flag and wave it proudly. 

I know this statement sounds completely nutty but I promise it is not. I will go into a lot more detail in an upcoming blog post but an activity that John and I recently participated in was called The Flag Page. It is not a personality test but it helps you to see how you succeed in life, what motivates you most and how you’re different from the people close to you. It helps you to understand what you value the most about yourself such as I learned that some of the things I value the most is my creativity, being unique and marching to my own beat, and being a deep thinker. When you do The Flag Page with a loved one, it helps you better understand what motivates them and what they value the most and therefore helps take your communication to a whole other level. This is just a brief description and like I said, I will be going in depth in a post coming up very soon but as one of my goals in 2018, I most definitely plan to be proud of who I am and what I value the most instead of hiding it.

 

Do you have any goals for 2018?

Images: IvoryMix

bloggingchronic style

Welcome Back To A New Kind of Normal!

A New Kind of Normal Relaunch

Words cannot describe how excited I am to say, “Welcome back to A New Kind of Normal!!!”

It has been way, way too long since I have had a chance to really sit down and write and – excuse my French – damn it feels good! 2017 has a hell of a year all the way around and I am so glad that it is OV-ER and a new year is upon us! I have so, so much to tell you and so, so many things that I want to see accomplished this year but I am learning to embrace moderation to avoid burnout.

I am sorry that this post is so short but so far I have been working on this blog for 8 hours straight! You will be seeing a lot of sawdust as the site is still under construction! I know you saw the Maintenance sign up but what can I say, I am a girl that changes her mind and I just have so many ideas that I want to put into action and I just didn’t want to wait any longer!

Reconnecting

A New Kind of Normal has always been focused on changing the lives of those with chronic illness and encouraging the to choose hope and joy despite chronic illness and to live boldly in spite of it. This will continue to be the driving force behind it but this year the focus will narrow in on reconnecting to our bodies in a positive way and reclaiming our confidence. When you have chronic illness, it can be difficult to maintain a positive view of your body when you feel like it has betrayed you. If I had a dollar for every time I ever said “My body hates me,” I would be living on a tropical island. I hate feeling this way and I know that I am not alone that is why I am hoping to change my way of thinking. Scratch that – that is what I am hoping to change our way of thinking.

Reclaiming

Along with reconnecting, let’s talk about the reclaiming. My family makes statements all the time about my love of makeup as an attempt to feel beautiful when it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t need makeup to be beautiful. God stitched me together piece by piece and He called me beautiful so I can feel beautiful in a glamorous wedding gown or a hospital gown or in full glam makeup with false eyelashes, the whole nine yards or not a stitch of makeup. Now that we have laid that to rest, let’s get to the real reason why I love makeup so much.

The second half of this goal focuses on reclaiming our confidence. Makeup doesn’t make me feel beautiful, it makes me feel confident. It gives me an avenue through which I can express my creativity. I can feel feminine. I can feel edgy. I can feel both. I want for each of one of us to find an avenue through which we can all reclaim this confidence. I want us to feel good about our bodies and feel spunky, sassy, sexy, fierce, creative, bold, audacious, unique, and on and on. I want that for all of us. Each and every one of us deserve to feel like the most rockin’ chick on the planet.

This is what I want for A New Kind of Normal. This new mission statements reads:

to create a community of rebel hearts living boldly to smash through the limitations that chronic illness has tried to build around them with a fierce beauty and confidence all their own.

The five things that I want a reader to feel while she is reading my blog is connected, empowered, inspired, creative, and confident.

Reading these five words get me so excited that my husband is honestly giving me weird looks.

This is just a small taste of what is to come! I cannot wait to finish telling out everything that I have planned for A New Kind of Normal but that will have to wait until tomorrow!

chronic illness

avoiding cross-contamination when you have celiac disease

May is Celiac Awareness Month so it is perfect time to build on to my post with 5 insider tips when you are newly diagnosed with celiac disease. There is so much to learn when you change over to a gluten-free lifestyle and are living with celiac disease and it can be totally overwhelming at times. Today’s round up of tips for living with celiac disease focus on some little things that are often overlooked that can lean to some painful gluten cross contamination.

Here are 5 tips that you may want to know when you are living with celiac disease:

1- Purchase a second toaster specifically for gluten-free use.

I am so glad I had met with that dietician or I would have never thought of this! Putting gluten-free bread in the same toaster as regular bread is just asking for trouble. Think about all the crumbs that hang out in the bottom of a toaster. You do not what your GF bread hanging out in there.

In my house, I have a separate area in the kitchen that is kind of like “gluten-free corner.” I have my own toaster and keep all of my breads, snacks, etc in that area. My toaster is also red as a visual reminder. Some other items you want to be weary of sharing with non-gluten free foods include a deep fryer, bread machines, wooden utensils and tools (such as cutting board, rolling pin, etc), and even microwaves. You don’t need to have completely separate microwaves but you need to be mindful of how you are using it with both gluten-free and gluten-containing foods.

For more advice on how to set up your kitchen, check out this post about 10 ways you may be getting glutened by your kitchen.

2- Prepare and/or serve gluten-free foods first.

Obviously others are not worried about being contaminated with gluten-free foods (except when it comes to eating a gluten-free biscuit – I think my husband almost died from trying to choke down a dry-as-the-sahara biscuit I attempted to make in my early years of GF baking) but some issues can rise when the kitchen gets busy and both gluten-free and gluten-full foods are served on the same countertop. Some people with Celiac do not have a strong reaction to cross contamination but for others, it can take the smallest amount of gluten to induce a major reaction which depending on the situation can be slightly embarrassing.

The reason I mention serving gluten-free foods first  (or allowing the person with Celiac to fix their plate first) is that naturally as a family is gathered around the table, serving spoons don’t always stay where they should or people can grab something with their hands and without noticing, contamination can become a problem. This is especially true if you have a larger family meal, a dinner party, or a pot luck type situation so instead of having to worry about it throughout the meal, allow the person with celiac to go first or just automatically dish out a certain amount of foods to be put aside away from the rest of the dinner to keep your gluten-free foods safe. No one wants to spend time worrying when they could be fully enjoying the fun and their guests.

3- Educate family and friends.

It may seem uncomfortable but it helps so much in the long run to educate family or close friends that you enjoy sharing meals with frequently. You don’t need to give them the full rundown of Celiac and its affects on the body but just letting them know what kinds of foods contain gluten – BROW – barley, rye, oats, and wheat. My parents do SO much baking at Christmas (I cannot even begin to guess how many dozens of cookies get cranked out of that kitchen every December) so my mom really wanted to learn about how she can adapt some of my Christmas faves to be gluten-free. My dad is so amazing and he always goes out of his way to research my illnesses. If we are planning a trip, he always finds the gluten-free dining options ahead of time which always makes me feel special. Obviously I am adult and always do the same thing but it makes me feel special that he pays attention the way that he does. I have amazing parents, people.

As far as friends go, the easiest thing would be to host the meal so you know everything that is going on in the kitchen or to prepare yourself a gluten-free meal and bring it with you so no one else has to worry about it. I like to do this as it is easier all the way around but I do have friends that want to know more about my diet needs so they can prepare gluten-free meals when they wish to. Even if you are the one that does all the cooking, it is just a good idea to give your family and friends the cliff notes version of celiac just to be sure.

4- Adopt the phrase “If I don’t know, it don’t go.”

As I mentioned in my post on things to know when you are newly diagnosed with celiac, reading labels is of great importance as is knowing restaurant menus. Eating at pot lucks and buffets are pretty much impossible if you have Celiac because you either don’t know fully what is gluten-free and what isn’t but the chances of cross contamination are huge. Just to be cautious and as someone who has a violent reaction to the slightest bit of gluten, if I don’t know 100% that the food is gluten-free, then I don’t eat it. Something that can be noticed on some food labels is the phrase “made on the same equipment with products containing wheat/nuts/etc.” This is really important to take notice of. The food itself may be gluten-free but it is processed on the same equipment as gluten-filled products which heightens the risk of cross-contamination. For examples, Rice Krispies themselves are gluten-free but because they are processed on the same machines as other cereals, they become contaminated. When you are reading labels, make sure to read the whole label versus just the ingredients so that you know all the facts.

5- Keep Gluten Cutter (or a similar product) on hand in case you get contaminated.

Gluten Cutter does not allow you to indulge in gluten-filled foods but it helps your body process the gluten and remove it from your system quicker. It doesn’t work the came way Lactaid does for those that are lactose intolerant.  You will still feed all the funky side effects but it will help your body process it out of your system quicker which in turn should help those side effects fade quicker as well. Supposedly they are working on a type of medication for those with Celiac that allows you to eat gluten-filled foods. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there!

Tips for living with celiac disease

In the meantime, as persons with Celiac, we just need to be diligent to avoid gluten-filled foods and situations where cross contamination could be an issue. Hopefully these posts have been helpful! Coming up with be a post with 3 of my favorite super-easy and super-yummy gluten-free recipes!

What tips for living with celiac disease would you give someone about cross-contamination and maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle?