Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House

I don't know about all of you, but I would venture to say that most people like to live in a clean, clutter-free space. Am I right? Or am I right?

We just recently moved.
And moving will force you to de-clutter, and I will say that I am so glad!

Our place is more organized than ever. Most of that has to do with the fact that I had two weeks off after we moved, before I started my new job, so I actually had the TIME to put some good storage and organization systems in place. Also, it helps that we moved from an apartment to a house with a two car garage, so we increased our space, without really increasing the amount of stuff that we have, so that's a win-win.

I love organizing.
So, I jumped at the chance to review this book.

At first, I was intrigued. A clutter-free house in 5 days? Sounds pretty good. Then, when I started reading, I realized that the level of clutter-busting this book is talking about is a different level than I generally need.

I am like an anti-hoarder.
And I stay pretty organized.

The 5 day strategy is really for anyone who has a LOT of stuff, and doesn't have a place for everything. I don't mean to make myself sound super clean and organized, I'm certainly not perfect, and I still like to have some notice when guests are coming over, but we generally don't have non-clear surfaces.

BUT, if you do have a mess and too much stuff on your hands, this book will definitely help you get a grip, and bust through that clutter. The basic ideas are to get a team together, get some boxes, and go through your home level-by-level, and pack the clutter up. Then, box-by-box, unpack the items and make sure they go to their own place.

Remember, I said there's nothing like moving to force you to organize? This strategy is kind of like moving, but not moving.

I did learn some great tips and tricks for staying on top of things, though.
I love the ideas of timing yourself to see how much you can get done, like the idea of the "ten minute tidy."

I would definitely recommend this book if you are in over your head in clutter. If your house already looks like a copy of Real Simple Magazine, or you generally have good systems in place, you can still learn from the tips and tricks to keep your house that way.

The other cool thing about this book even for those of us who are pretty organized already, is it can help us understand how to tackle a MAJOR de-cluttering job. This is great, because I'd love to help friends who want to do some organizing, and it's good to read about a strategy for tackling a big project, that works.

You can check out 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House for more information.

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book in order to review it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

GIVEAWAY: She Knew That She Was Blessed and Highly Favored

I'm so excited to announce this next GIVEAWAY, in celebration of the eBook, "We Are: A Caregiving Manifesto."

This is a little sign that will bring a smile to your face, and hopefully some encouragement to your heart.

I got this little 5x5 sign in my gift bag at the Allume Social Conference last October. I immediately fell in love with it! I don't know about you, but I constantly need to be reminded that I am blessed and highly favored, and that the God of all is on MY side and loves me!

The sign, produced by Red Letter Words (click on the link for complete details) inspired me to do a cubicle makeover at my old job before I left DC:
And then, after we moved, it was the inspiration piece for my little home office!
I know you will love it.

Here's how you can enter the giveaway: Purchase the eBook! You can go to the website Michael built for the book, and if you have a Kindle or a smartphone or a tablet with a Kindle app, you can buy it through the Amazon link. If you don't, and you'd like to read it on your computer, or print it out, you can buy it as a PDF.

Once you do that, just forward me your receipt to:
Put the title of the giveaway in the subject line of the e-mail.
If you've already bought the book, and want to enter the giveaway, that's totally cool!

I will use to choose a winner, and I will announce the winner on Sunday, February 24th! (in the evening) You have until 8:00am Sunday to enter.
Let me know if you have any questions. I'd really appreciate it if you spread the love on this giveaway, and help us get the word out about the eBook!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Danger of "Innovative" SCI Treatments

Recently I saw a post on a Facebook group for a high schooler recently paralyzed in a gymnastics stunt. She was discharged from the hospital around Christmas and recently was released from her neck collar. With so many similarities I was eager to follow her progress. The recent post stated she and her parents went to Mexico for exciting treatments "not approved by the FDA." It went on to say she was being injected through her belly button with stem cells.

Red flags flew up for several reasons. First, I don't like the idea of going abroad for treatments medical professionals in the States won't perform. Second, I don't like the idea of some doctor abroad injecting biological material in somebody. Third, from what I understand there's no way for stem cells injected in the belly button to migrate to the spinal cord.

I expressed my concerns to the Miami Project. Their response:

Thank you for contacting us and for your concern about the stem cells.  There are no proven treatments utilizing any kind of stem cell so far and as you know there are several experimental “treatments” being introduced for purchase without a valid clinical trial program being completed, leaving their safety and efficacy untested.  This is a great concern to researchers, clinicians, and most importantly people with paralysis.  It is unethical to charge people money for unproven medical treatments.  It is important to remind your friend that any cells that are put into your her can never be removed and it will exclude her from participating in valid clinical trials.
Another important point from her response:

There are three main reasons why a person might feel better that are unrelated to the actual stem cell treatment: the “placebo effect”, accompanying treatments, and natural fluctuations of the disease or condition. The intense desire or belief that a treatment will work can cause a person to feel like it has and to even experience positive physical changes, such as improved movement or less pain. This phenomenon is called the placebo effect. Even having a positive conversation with a doctor can cause a person to feel improvement. Likewise, other techniques offered along with stem cell treatment—such as changes to diet, relaxation, physical therapy, medication, etc.—may make a person feel better in a way that is unrelated to the stem cells. Also, the severity of symptoms of many conditions can change over time, resulting in either temporary improvement or decline, which can complicate the interpretation of the effectiveness of treatments. These factors are so widespread that without testing in a controlled clinical study, where a group that receives a treatment is carefully compared against a group that does not receive this treatment, it is very difficult to determine the real effect of any therapy. Be wary of clinics that measure or advertise their results primarily through patient testimonials.
These are extremely important points we need to understand and educate our peers on.

We who live with spinal cord injury and other neuromuscular conditions understand the peculiar nature of the central nervous system: no two injuries result in the same exact symptoms. As the body heals over days, weeks, or years improvements come and go. In the first year particularly the body recovers significantly.

If you really want to walk again, the best route is to join a trial going on at research organizations like the Miami Project. Active participation in physical treatment goes a long way toward rehabilitation, maximizing the body's potential. These efforts benefit individuals and future recipients of treatment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Let it Be Wooden Sign

Okay you guys, I'm ready to host my first giveaway in celebration of my first eBook, "We Are: A Caregiving Manifesto."

It's been so fun to pull these items together, my friends have been so supportive of me and this project, and I'm so grateful to them!

The first item is this super-cool sign from The Orange Leaf.

It's a wooden sign that says, "Let it Be."
I absolutely love this Etsy shop, run by one of my good friends, Becky Rogerson. Becky is a talented artist with a good eye. She makes these signs by hand! We have one in our bedroom that says, "Always Love," and it's one of my favorite details about the room!
Here's how you can enter the giveaway: Purchase the eBook! You can go to the website Michael built for the book, and if you have a Kindle or a smartphone or a tablet with a Kindle app, you can buy it through the Amazon link. If you don't, and you'd like to read it on your computer, or print it out, you can buy it as a PDF.

Once you do that, just forward me your receipt to:
Put the title of the giveaway in the subject line of the e-mail.
If you've already bought the book, and want to enter the giveaway, that's totally cool!

I will use to choose a winner, and I will announce the winner on Thursday, February 21st! (in the evening) You have until 8:00am Thursday to enter.
Let me know if you have any questions. I'd really appreciate it if you spread the love on this giveaway, and help us get the word out about the eBook!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Having Another Woman In My House and Being Happy About It

A quick little update on us.

This past week just did not go as planned as far as the blog and the eBook giveaways, etc. go. My heart and thoughts were here in this space.

But, nothing happened. If it makes you feel any better, I also did not clean my house or pay any bills or get the van inspected.

Prepare for some raw openness here, folks.
We are were completely overwhelmed.

Remember a few years ago, when I married Michael, moved, and started a new job? How all of that sent me into this situational depression/anxiety nightmare tailspin, and I said I'd NEVER do that again?

Remember a few years ago, when I left a great job with great people, only because I said I'd NEVER work the overnight shift again - not even for the freaking Today Show?

Well. They say "never say never," and my friends, "they" are right.

Okay, so I didn't just get married again - but I did move, start a new job, and I re-assumed 100% of Michael's personal care on my own (not my choice - I'm still working out some bitterness issues with that - in the spirit of full disclosure). I am now working overnights.

And you know what?
It's been too much.

We haven't been sleeping enough, our bodies are still adjusting to the schedule, my brain is still adjusting to being back into local news and to being in management and to working 10 hour days. I haven't been cooking, so I've been eating junk food and that means less energy. And the only waking hours Michael and I were spending together were when I was either getting him up and ready for the day (night) or getting him in bed at night (in the morning).

I felt like some sort of Cinderella in a mental fog, with constant back pain.
And it was Valentine's Day. Or was it? I don't remember. Monday-Thursday felt like one long day.

We got through it, of course. Eating frozen meals, and snuggling each morning, and Michael held me as I cried wondering if I can do this, and he promised me it would get better. And I prayed for it to get better.

And yesterday, it did.
A wonderful young woman answered the ad Michael put on Craigslist for a personal care attendant. We're paying out of pocket for her to come three nights a week, and take care of his bathroom stuff.

She is here now.
I'm upstairs, in the guest room, "sleeping." Okay, so I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I read a few chapters in a management book, and listened to Brokaw snore, and now I'm having a cup of coffee and soon I'll be in the shower.

Then, I'll go downstairs right about the time they will be finishing up, and Belinda will be leaving. And hopefully we'll have breakfast together.

I never thought I'd be so happy to have another woman in my house!

I fought this so hard a couple of years ago. I wanted to take care of him, 100% of the time. I felt like I should, and I could. But then, I learned my lesson.

It's so nice to have this second floor where I can escape to when she is here. It's perfect. I can still be home without feeling awkward or in the way.

I'm so thankful that I don't have to do all of that, then go to work all night on no sleep. I only have to go to work all night on no sleep. :) Believe me, that's way better!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

eBook Launch Day!

It is with much pride and anticipation and gratefulness that I write this post!

After months of work, my very first eBook is now for sale!

You can find all of the details here, on this snazzy website my wonderful husband made just for the book!

Also, make sure you like it on Facebook!

If you want to jump right to Amazon, here you go!

The eBook is built off of this blog post that I know resonated with so many of you. It was a reader who actually encouraged me to turn it into a book! A new friend pushed me over the edge with some encouragement and an old friend did an amazing job of editing it for me. Believe me, she had her work cut out for her!

I have been completely overwhelmed with all of the support for this project! I feel the love from all of my family and friends who are standing with me and behind me, in getting this message out to the world.

You guys, this is for you.
May you all find love like this.

To my dear husband, you are my inspiration, my technical guru, my glass-half-full, and the partner in my dreams.
I adore you. Thank you for pecking away at your computer endlessly, making this happen.

Okay - now to the fun stuff!
We're going to celebrate LAUNCH WEEK this week with some fabulous GIVEAWAYS!
Stay tuned for more!

For now, a sneak peak of some of the treasures my dear friends have agreed to share with you!
And this isn't even all...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pep Talk

Have y'all seen the Kid President Pep Talk video?

I saw it a couple of weeks ago, and like anyone else who saw it, and is breathing, I liked it on Facebook.

This morning, I needed it.
I needed a pep talk real bad.

I am happy in our new place, and at my new job.
But I'm using mental muscles I haven't used in years, so I'm sore, and exhausted. I'm working overnights (yes, I know I said I'd never do that again... but never say never, folks. Just don't. You'll eat those words for breakfast at 9pm) which is a huge adjustment.

I've completely neglected spending quiet time praying and reading and this morning, I unfortunately became the worst version of myself. Mean, selfish, impatient, and saying some really not-nice things.

Then, I collapsed and cried.

I'm not sharing this with you because I want your pity. At the bottom of my pit this morning, I had my own pity, which – no offense – is worse than having your pity. And pity is not good. Pity is nasty, heavy goo piled on you when you're already at the bottom of the slimy pit.

No thank you on the pity.
I am sharing this with you because I can.

I used to feel like this all the time. Like I can't do this, I'm not the right person for this, I'm not strong enough, I'm not good enough, and all I want to do is fall asleep and wake up with a different life.

Then, all of you came along.
And as I opened up and told you how it was for me, you told me how it was for you.

Then, something magical happened. I realized I'm not alone. I'm not the only wife who cries in the bathroom while emptying a giant bag of pee 2 minutes after rolling out of bed. I'm not the only wife who doesn't want to do that, but has to anyways, so I do it, through tears.

I don't need pity. Mom, I don't need you to worry about me. I'm fine. Really, I am. I just need some margin, and I'm going to get that today. I need to slow down, to cut myself some slack, and to wear PJ bottoms all day and drink coffee and read and write. And we may need to order dinner, even though it's Saturday, and we do have groceries. Because I'm maxed out, but I have to keep going.

This life gets really hard in some moments. And those moments hurt, and they feel deep and heavy, and in those moments, it feels like I'll never crawl out of the hole of self pity and exhaustion.

But there is fresh coffee, and lots of beautiful natural sunlight in our new house, and a fire in our fireplace. There is beauty even in the dark place. I just have to reach.

This morning, after I had my crying meltdown, and started the day over (pretending to not look at the clock) I came upstairs to my little world. I have an office on the second floor of our house. It's my own space. It's pretty and open and clean and it's white and my favorite shade of blue and my desk looks right out the window. This space is here because I need it. For times like this.

I came up here, and I pulled up the Kid President Pep Talk video on YouTube.
And I watched it like 4 times.

I smiled and I cried. I love this kid.
I love this message.
I want to memorize the whole thing – every single word, and every single dance move.
Oh, and I also want to go all Raising Arizona and just go steal that little boy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Who Knew Winter at the Beach Could be So NICE?

We got to go to to Virginia Beach the other day. And who knew that going to the beach would be so nice on a Winter day? We strolled up and down the boardwalk enjoying the sunset and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.

One thing that was unexpected was a couple who came by wondering what we were doing. The man noticed the person taking our picture, and was curious about the camera. His wife was like, "oh, that's nice.... it's freezing out here, let's go." And then he started to talk about the weather, wondering about different things.

They reminded us of a certain couple.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A New Chapter

I finished my first week at work. Insert celebratory date night picture here.

Which means I'm not quite feeling like a foreigner in a country I'm not used to, but also not feeling like I've been in the neighborhood for a long time.

I have the computer login.
I know people's names, but not their phone extensions.

It's very familiar, because I worked at this same television station 10 years ago.
I was 23 years old, and just starting out on my dream journey to become a network television news producer who covers the White House.

Now I return, having been a network television news producer who has covered the White House.
There are a lot of the same people there, a lot of the same technology systems.

But, a lot has changed, as well. There are new people, a new set, and literally some walls that weren't there before.

I'm sitting one cubicle over from where 23 year old Dana Brown sat. It's so weird. Like riding in the backseat of your own car or something.

But, I'm 100% certain I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I'm so pumped to learn, and to grow in ways that I haven't yet.

And I'm looking forward to experiencing covering the news in my hometown now that I'm a legit adult. Now that I'm not looking at this job as a stop on the train that is speeding towards all those "dream job" goals.

This is me.
I am here.
I am here to do this, and only this.

And I'm so ready.
I can't wait to be a part of this team.
To be a leader in the newsroom.
To be a force of good and take journalism in this market to the next level.

I start Monday.
Bring it on.