Easy Christmas Cash!

Make an easy $90 (or more!) to spend on Amazon for Christmas (if you start now).

(Yeah, I *know* it's currently the middle of August. Bear with me.)

This is easy. Seriously. It's hard to save money for Christmas. We've all seen those novel ideas about saving through the year but how many of us actually do it? Or commit to it every week? So then, especially if you're a single parent, you're on a fixed income or disabled, we come up to the holidays each year wondering how we're gonna get all the gifts on our list. This isn't a get rich scheme or anything by all means, but something you can do while watching tv in the evenings or relaxing to put back just a little. (You can cash out to PayPal as well but I do Amazon gift cards because you can buy everything from toilet paper to lawnmowers on that site.) Also, disclaimer, this will be a referral link but trust me, it's not gonna be making me rich either. I'll just get a few points as you earn each day which helps me get closer to my Christmas shopping goal. Totally recommend sharing with your friends after you join!

First, you're gonna click here or click the image below.

Join Swagbucks!
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What's Online at 


Next, you'll register (sHAiRah is me, the person referring you) and begin to earn Swagbucks which are points you can cash out for PayPal cash or gift cards.

To get the bare minimum (easy 90 bucks before Christmas), notice at the top it mentions your daily goal. It's generally going to be between 70-112 a day. Easy to hit most days. That's gonna equal about a buck a day, in three months, that has you cashing out for AT LEAST $90 before Christmas. You can earn soooo much more though!

Surveys are how I earn the most. You can complete these while watching tv and they don't take long at all. I cushion those earnings by downloading the Swagbucks app and watching videos on my phone while doing them. Also, there's an awesome facebook group called Swagbucks Swaggernauts where members discuss tips, tricks and best paying offers.

I've been doing Swagbucks for about six years. There are lots of "get paid to" sites out there but this has been the most reliable one and the most consistent earner for me.

Shut In, NOT Shut Out: How can I help a shut in person?

(If you haven't already read the first post in this series you can do so now by clicking here. It may help you identify someone in your life you may not have associated as a shut in person before.)

So, you know a shut in and you want to help. How? You want to be supportive and care for them but you just don't know what would be helpful versus hurtful or where to begin. I hope to provide some ideas and get you moving in the right direction towards being an amazing source of support and joy in this post.

1. Empathize, not sympathize. 

It’s easy for someone who doesn't understand or has never experienced a chronic illness or a hardship that would have you stuck at home to get frustrated with someone who won’t or cannot leave their home, so try looking at things from their perspective. I can guarantee you it's not the life they exactly planned. Think about how they feel looking out the window to see others walking down the street laughing, enjoying outings with their families, traveling and having a blast. Being isolated is like prison. Don't be dripping with sympathy, however. There's a difference between having the "oh, I'm so sorry" sentiment and actually taking the time to try to gain perspective and understanding. Grief, self-pity, depression, a cycle of negative thoughts is already a daily battle for many so combating that by trying to help us find the silver lining and being positive is incredibly helpful.

2. Small gestures of kindness.

While there are larger needs that must be met, we will get to that later. You don't have to stress about grandeur. The tiniest gestures can be a big difference maker. A card in the mail, a phone call just to check in, stopping by for a few moments to say hello, a small gift left at the door or an inexpensive gift. Does the shut in you know enjoy word puzzles? Snip out the puzzles from the newspapers and include them in a mailed card. If it's a child/teen, maybe drop a couple puzzles or a new video game at the door. A nice bouquet of flowers or a small houseplant would be a lovely idea for anyone.

3. Meet a need.

Imagine not being able to run to the grocery store at will, struggling to take your trash out, needing someone there with you at all times and you'll get s glimpse of the dependency a shut in person may be having to deal with. It's hard on them as well as their caregivers. Offering to grocery shop for them, do some lawn maintenance or chores or even just come sit with them while their caregiver gets out of the house for awhile would be an amazing gift. A shut in may be missing getting to go to church services and someone committing to coming and doing bible study with them would be incredibly beneficial. Bring copies of sermons, books, pray with them and if you can find a ministry they could help with from home (provided they are able) it could remind them how valuable they are! Social visits to play games, visit, have a meal together are wonderful but be sure to assure your loved one that they need not worry about having the house clean or how they look as trying to get the house "company clean" and themselves all dolled up may exhaust them too much to even be able to enjoy the visit. If they have a pet, offering to vet them or take them for a walk could be helpful. If they have a hobby, bringing them supplies to continue doing that would be incredibly kind (knitting, crocheting, painting... just a few common ones that are easy to find supplies for).

Think inside and outside of the "box". Spend a few moments thinking about the personality of the shut in person you know. If you really cannot figure out the best way to be helpful- ASK! Let them know you want to be supportive and do something nice for them. You may be met with hesitance because it's hard to depend on others and accept so much help but you may also uncover a need you hadn't thought of.

Shut In, NOT Shut Out : What, or who, is a "shut in"?

ˈSHəd ˌin
noun: shut-in; plural noun: shut-ins
1. a person confined indoors, especially as a result of physical or mental disability.
Confined to a home or hospital, as by illness. Disposed to avoid social contact; excessively withdrawn or introverted.

Wiki- shut in is a person confined indoors, especially as a result of physical or mental disability agoraphobia.

Hi, I'm a shut in person. I have left my house successfully only a handful of time thus far this year. There are two reasons. One is my fibromyalgia. Getting in and out of vehicles hurts, getting dressed and putting shoes on hurts, walking long distances is exhausting and I get sick a bit easier than others. The other is agoraphobia. Anxiety and panic attacks have been a battle I've fought most of my life but every few years I get a flare of it that's a bit worse than other times and this past time, it's been the worst yet.

There are lots of people like me all over the world. We're young and old, male and female. I know before I became a shut in I pictured a shut in as a very old lady in a nursing home with no family. Some shut ins, in fact, are elderly ladies that reside in nursing homes or alone. Not all are. Some shut ins are teenagers who have had to withdraw from public school to home school. Some are middle aged men with health problems. Some are even healthy young moms. So, the first thing to do to understand who is a shut in is to wipe your mind's picture away now in order to re-imagine it. Got your eraser out? Okay, I'll wait. Good to go now? Great.

I'm going to give you some examples of (fictional) people who could be considered shut ins in order to trigger your thoughts towards someone you may know that fits the bill:

  • He's recently turned 85. His wife has passed away, his son lives in another state and his daughter has her hands full with her new grandchild. He sits alone day in and day out, nobody to tell his long life full of stories to. Meals are only once a day and do not consist of much because there's only him to cook for. A layer of dust sits on many things in his house because he's unable to get to them well enough to clean them off. His medications are delivered to him but his milk has been out of date for a week and could use some new slippers. His eyes sparkle with wisdom and memories and there's nobody there to share them with.
  • She's a newly single mother. She was uprooted from the place she grows up and moved to another place when her former husband took a new job. Now he's gone and she's busy with two toddlers she's raising alone. She lost her car, so she has no transportation and doesn't have a steady income. She wants to get out and find a job, a church, some friends... but she's feeling trapped. 
  • He's 16 and is finishing his high school years online. Panic attacks began to plague him a couple years ago and bullying at school intensified his anxiety so much that he missed a lot of instructional time. Agoraphobia has now gripped him so that the only social interaction he has is through video games. His parents are supportive but do not understand his anxiety and they unable to be there for him all of the time.
  • She's developed a chronic health condition before she even found her first gray hair. Pain never leaves her body and her immune system is low. Going out in public can be exhausting and puts her at risk for catching what would be a common cold for most but could be worse than a flu for her. She has friends and a family but they have busy lives so she spends most of her time in the bed trying to stay out of their way. Depression is a blanket over her and it's hard to see through that fog. 

I'm pretty sure most people know someone similar to one of the four people listed above. You may have a different image in your mind now or the image may be the same but you've been able to see a few different perspectives. The thread in common with all of these people is the need for compassion. Not sympathy, compassion. 

In my next post, I'll shed some light on how you can show care and compassion for shut ins.

I'm Still Here!

As anyone with chronic illness knows, depression can seep in easily. It's incredibly easy to lose interest in things when you feel "stuck" sometimes. I've let my mind get to that place a bit over the last four months and abandoned my writing. Not completely, as some drafts have been typed and some ideas jotted down, but enough so that I have let just shy of four months go by without hitting the "Publish" button.

I thought it'd be a good idea to put some accountability on myself by making this post showing what I'm working on coming up, so I will *have* to get it done.

The Shut In, Not Shut Out series is what's taking the longest to get out. It's heavy for me, personal and tough. I just really hope it's gonna be worth it.
I start a new job this upcoming week, speaking of Work From Home 101, so my most recent job hunting has provided me with some new insights to share.

So, maybe I'm just talking to a wall, cuz, ya know, if *I* was subscribed to a blog that went dormant, I might unsubscribe but hopefully some of you are still with me! 

"Can't I just cut it all off?" Spoonie Hair.

My hair is thick and wavy. Unmanageable on even some of my eight-spoon days. I had pretty much buzzed all of it off several years ago and now it's the longest it's been in almost 15 years, hitting almost halfway down my back. I have cried in the shower while shampooing it at the weight of it, sobbed as I yanked tangles out with sore arms and shoulders and thrown down my heat tools in exhaustion. Clips and pony tail holders have become my go-to items. I really don't want to cut it though so I've tried to find some ways to make my mane look presentable without wearing myself completely out for the rest of the day. My newest favorite style is a messy curl look with my flat iron.

That kid's detangler stuff... the no tears or the fruity smelling suave stuff is an amazing thing to have on hand just as a tip. ;)

Here are some videos I found that inspired me a little on some new ideas....

This one honestly takes less time to do than it does to watch the video and looks great even if you miss a few hairs and have some "strays":

The 1st and 4th ones presented in this one were more difficult to me personally but the second and third were easily doable and didn't hurt too much (and side note I hate that it says "lazy" hairstyles but uh, we know we aren't lazy, just in need of these hacks!):

I have found something that works great for me personally and it's to let my hair mostly dry naturally in a clip then blast it for just a few to finish with the blowdryer. I then heat the flat iron up and only section my hair into two sections (upper and bottom layers). I just run the flat iron from my scalp to mid-shaft and in big sections, just to smooth it a bit. After I'm done with each section, I take smaller sections and twist it in my fingers then spin my flat iron just a touch from mid-shaft to the ends to make a loose wavy curl. I don't finish with product because it irritates my skin but it stays pretty well and even as it loosens up, still looks good.

Please add your tips in the comments!

Spoonie Tunes - A Wave of Calm

Many people listen to classical music to calm them or help them focus but I've found that much of the classical music on the playlists for those tend to agitate me more, heighten my senses and have an opposite effect. The songs on this playlist I am going to share are the ones that I have rolling when I'm reading, trying to relax, unwinding after a tough day or just need a calming moment.

1. Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
2. Arms - Christina Perri
3. Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra
4. What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
5. Only Time - Enya
6. People Help The People - Birdy
7. Remember When - Alan Jackson
8. Crash This Train - Joshua James
9. Every Storm - Gary Allan
10. What Love Really Means - JJ Heller

If those make you too sleepy and you need a boost of energy, click here.

Spoonie Tunes - A Boost of Energy

"Music listening is one of the most enigmatic of human behaviors." So very true. It's incredible how much it can alter your entire mood. To read more about the actual science behind that statement, read this article from NCBI.

This list is the first in a series of "mood music playlists" I want to share. Some of these songs may seem cheesy but cheesy is good when it comes to mood lifting and boosting energy, I think. I listen to these songs sometimes when I am trying to cook or clean or get out of a "funk".

1. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
2. Roar - Katy Perry
3. Brave - Sara Bareilles
4. Fight Song - Rachel Platten
5. Survivor - Destiny's Child
6. Behind the Music - Cher Lloyd
7. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
8. Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow
9. Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves

I've also made a Christian playlist of songs that give me energy as well as a "spiritual boost", all upbeat and energetic songs.

1. Overcomer - Mandisa
2. Gold - Britt Nicole
3. It's a Beautiful Day - Jamie Grace
4. Hello My Name Is - Matthew West
5. Free to be Me - Francesca Battistelli
6. Alive - Hillsong Young & Free

I'll have other playlists that are public coming up on my youtube so be sure to subscribe and watch for more Spoonie Tune playlists!

A Spoonful of My Life 3/23/2017

Every time I've sat down to write a post in the last month I've stared at the screen and drawn a complete blank. Oh, I have plenty of things in my handy dandy little planner but none of those seemed right to work on at the time. I intended to not make this blog a job or a chore so that I was only sharing authentically so I decided each time that I would just not try to throw something out there that was forced or not really what I wanted to share at the time.

In the last month I have determined that I may be more well-suited for customer service on a sales side or de-escalation side than I am for technical support and that I also may not be able to do a straight 8-9 hours at a desk at a time right now. Therefore, I am not working at this time. I do have a new job lined up that I will be starting in just over 6 weeks that is more on the sales support side and a more flexible schedule.

So what in the world have I been doing with my time, you may wonder. I'm not working, blogging or incredibly active on all the social media platforms, so what have I spent my time doing? Self-care. Resting. Netflix binge-watching, reading, sleeping, stretching, trying to get into a modified exercise routine again and best of all... spending time with my daughter. 

I think I have some pretty good posts on the way soon as a result of my little vacay but if they don't get out in the next few days, no sweat. You'll see me sharing them as they come out. ;)

Why I Blog

I need the outlet.

I need the space to just put out into the world what goes through my mind.

That's the generic answer, though, so I figured it's worth explaining my purpose in this blog just tiny bit more in depth than that. 

I tend to write about topics that have an effect on my life in some type of way. One of the biggest daily struggles I have is with my chronic illnesses. Fortunately, not everyone understands these struggles. I say fortunately because I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I may look fine but you can't see my sweating palms, my palpitating heartbeat, my nausea, my racing thoughts, the shooting pain going down my hip and leg, the tension between my shoulders, the ache in my head, the random twinges of ache in my arms, wrists and hands or any of the other zillions of things I'm feeling at any given moment. Only those who have been inflicted with this or have truly been there next to someone going through it have a clue, so the internet has become a huge source of support for Spoonies like myself. I found comfort reading others' blogs and I hope to provide the same here, whether through sharing something that makes my life a hair easier or just by letting someone else know they aren't alone in their struggles.

I have read enough Pins and posts about "How to Be A Successful Blogger" or some variance on that to know that you should have clear goals for a blog. I just don't function that way. Would it be awesome if a reader clicked on an ad or link and I made five cents passively here and there? Shoot, yeah! I'm the kind of girl that gets excited when I see a quarter on the pavement, so that's the same thing. I don't write to make money though. That's not my big purpose here. Therefore, I may not have a perfect publishing schedule or the most professional layout because it doesn't matter too much to me. Do I want to see a bit of traffic coming though? Yes. Because that's how you network with people and reach the readers you want to see your "stuff". I'm just not too focused on that right now because it takes away from the pure joy of being able to sit down and say what I want to say for only those who want to actually read it. (I overshare on social media sometimes and I'm sure my friends get sick of it so... here... you have to actually choose to click on a link to come read this so it's not annoying you in your newsfeed!)

A Spoonful of My Life 2/15/17

I'm getting sick.

Just a common cold/head cold/sinus junk thing but it's been trying me for about a week and has now seem to set up shop completely. My sweet child had it over the weekend and luckily she's seemed to pretty well kick it in a matter of about five days and is mostly on the mend but I won't be so lucky, I'm sure. These tend to beat me down for weeks and if it hits my chest- oh, boy- it could take more than a month. Throw a quick prayer up for me if ya don't mind that that won't happen! 

My mind has been so spacey/all over the place the last week or two that I haven't been accomplishing the things I had in my planner for this blog or some of the other plans and goals I had in general. I hope as I get into a better groove with my new work schedule and fight this cold off, I'll get back on track with the planned content and getting my to-do list checked off. I have a few more things coming along on the Work From Home 101 series that I need to get ironed out in the next two weeks and also working on a series to follow that. 

Valentine's Day 2017 was far better than my last, ohhh... maybe 4 or 5 Valentine's Days, haha! I didn't even check that "Memories" or "On This Day" thing on Facebook because I didn't even wanna be reminded of how cruddy it's been in the last few years. I was determined to make the best of it I could this year and planned a "Gal-entine's Night", inviting my daughter's two closest friends over to have a "girls' night in".  I was worried as this head cold began to really force in that I would have to cancel but I was able to tough through. I ordered pizzas, we watched Alice Through The Looking Glass and they decorated brownies and sugar cookies. I had actually put a little makeup on, gotten dressed and stepped outside to take a few pics of me and my kiddo together, so that ate up a few spoons. Soo... by the time I was stirring up the cookie dough, I was out. I announced after the movie went off and the girls finished decorating that I was completely spent and needed to rest and that was totally okay. The girls enjoyed their customized sweets and turned on another movie while I rested. Despite the exhaustion, it really was a lot of fun!

I also had a few surprises.

I get a sweet good morning text just about every morning from someone pretty awesome but woke up to one a bit more... sweet, I suppose... on Valentine's Day. I'm trying not to overthink it so I won't get too scared (because if ya read the Chronically Single series, you know I totally have reason to be!) and just kinda enjoying the moments and we shall see what happens. (If you know me you're laughing right now because you know I can't ever seem to do that!)

Not only did my parents drop by unexpected the night before bringing gifts, I also got a really nice flower and candy from a friend and even my kindergarten teacher messaged me with a super sweet surprise! (She's like, teacher of a lifetime, y'all. There needs to be a carbon copy of her in every kid's life! She's always been so special to me!)

So yeah, summary is that Valentine's Day didn't completely kick rocks but this cold needs to. 

My Spoonie status is still house-bound mostly between agoraphobia still being a looming monster and painsomnia still hanging around in fierce mode from my latest and greatest Fibro Flare. I've got hope though. :)

In Sickness and In Health: Dating with a Chronic Illness

Dating and relationships are already known to be a hairy challenge for many. What if you have chronic illnesses looming over your head as well? Well, that takes "It's Complicated" to a whole new level! Different illnesses can present their own difficulties but I'm going to be presenting my personal struggles from the perspective of Fibromyalgia, Anxiety/Panic, Agoraphobia and Misophonia.

The struggle is real.

Dating... date... yeah, you kinda have to go on a date sometimes to truly be "dating" huh? Not always a complete inability for me but at times, it definitely is. In the "flare" I'm in right now, any date outside of coming to my house to eat with me and watch Netflix is most likely not a huge possibility. I might could do a picnic at the park down the street but most restaurants are still out of my "comfort zone" at this moment. Fun, right? Definitely makes for an inexpensive date but boring, too. When the agoraphobia isn't as much an issue, the fibro still comes into play limiting the things I have the energy for. It's just kind of a bleak outlook in general. Anxiety and panic play a nice role of blanketing some insecurity and fear of being hurt over the whole idea of starting a new relationship and trusting someone. Misophonia is less of an issue for me as mine is more flared when I'm hurting badly, sick or very panicked so I would likely have cancelled a date at that point anyways and I also am not too triggered by chewing sounds (but a fork dragging on a plate makes my skin crawl!). So, at this point we've already deduced I'm doomed to becoming a crazy cat lady, right?! Maybe not.

Alone is scary enough, alone with a chronic illness is even scarier.

There is definitely more motivation, I think, to have that comfort of a partner when you are a spoonie. Maybe not for everyone but I think it's already a natural desire we have. The raw and transparent truth is that a good partner sure does make life easier. Let alone the most horrible days of flare ups when someone to care for you would be a-maz-ing.

So what does it take to be a good partner for a Spoonie?

It takes the most selfless and warm of hearts, I do believe. Kindness, gentleness, compassion all play the biggest roles in the personality traits necessary for sure. You can't get into a relationship with someone to "fix" them, which is true across the board, not just for us. Chronic means just that and while being happy and nurtured can definitely lessen some symptoms sometimes and having a good support can be encouraging, you have to be willing to accept this is life. Having a caregiver's heart which does not mean you'll be a 24/7 nurse but that when there are moments where care is needed, you're eager to do so. A spoonie's significant other should be a lover first but be ready to take on a second role as caregiver in the moments when it's needed. Honest and trustworthy- biggie there... if we can't be with you all of the time when you are out can we trust you? Can you assure me that I'm not a burden to you but that I am a treasure and you'll be happy to come home? Definitely a huge one there. 

So, "In Sickness and In Health" is possible. 

Or at least, I'd like to believe it is. I sure do hope it is because I'd love to cancel this pre-order for my crazy cat lady kit I have on hold. It just takes a bit more open communication than many are used to, a good bit of patience (and who has that?!) and a sprinkle of hope.

Got any dating tips you'd like to add? Jot them down in the comments below and share with us!

Work From Home 101: Radiant Resumes

A resume is basically a summary of your skills, qualifications and background to send to potential employers for review, usually sent with, before or in lieu of an application. The goal is to gain the attention of the employer during the screening process and give them all information needed to bring you to the next step in the hiring process- an interview.

If you are completely new to resume building or you are starting from scratch there are a few sites like LiveCareer or ThePCman's Free Resume Creator to help you begin. My personal favorite job-searching sites, CareerBuilder also has a resume builder and is how I created my first resume. If you are still struggling with how to get one started, contact your local workforce development or department of labor to see what services may be available to you.

Here's a link to a pretty good and basic sample. It's run-of-the-mill, in my opinion, but will give you some sort of idea on what you're aiming for if you are completely new to this.

Some companies use a software to scan resumes for keywords they are looking for in potential employees. Often, these keywords are found in the job description or on their company's about page. Take a moment before sending your resume to read over the mission statement for the company, find words they use a lot or seem to highlight and try to incorporate these into your resume.

This is a list of keyword ideas to consider: List of Resume and Cover Letter Keywords

My biggest advice? Don't lie. Don't over exaggerate. Do play up your skills and what you have to offer. There's a big difference between creating a radiant resume that highlights your qualifications even if you do not have much experience and one that fudges everything.

Missed my first post in this series? Check it out here! Work From Home 101: Home Office Essentials

A Spoonful of My Life 2/7/17

Is there a word for being a strange mix of incredibly motivated and utterly drained at the same time? Cuz that's me right now.

Since my last personal post, I've completed the first two weeks at my new full-time job. I underestimated how difficult it would be to keep this blog on schedule, maintain my home, enjoy time with my daughter and possibly even date along side working full-time. Possible? Oh, yes, definitely. Difficult? Fo' sho'. Thankfully my job being a work-from-home one, it's not physically tiring aside from getting my comfort/ergonomics just right but it is mentally taxing. I've got to do some real work on figuring out some time-management and getting myself super organized. 

My Falcons lost the Superbowl. I'm still pretty sad about that. However, my Falcons made it to the Superbowl, so that's something to celebrate by itself. Bringing home the win would have been so incredible but I'm still tickled they proved so many people wrong just by making it there. Football season is over now so that takes one of my favorite things away until August, so blah to that.

I mentioned in my last post that someone from my Chronically Single series had contacted me and that it messed with my head a little and I'm happy to report that hasn't happened again and I'm starting to get back to healing from that pain and confusion. (I'm listening to random, shuffled music while I write and on a totally hilarious random sidenote: Blank Space- Taylor Swift just came on. Ha!) I've had to fight off some wierd feelings of bitterness and frustration in that department but I'm getting to the point I can just let it go. God closes some doors to protect us. I have no doubt that was done for me in so many cases. I shared a pic I saw on FB recently that summed it up:
While there was a "connection" I'm beginning to realize how fleeting it was and how much I was lied to and made to be the fool once again and that I do deserve better than that. It's really raised my standards for a relationship so much higher. There is still someone I'm talking to regularly and that even my kiddo is rooting for (she says she is "shipping" us, the fangirl that she is) and I'm holding this person up to all of my new standards and so far, they are meeting them well. We shall see how that pans out in the coming months while I struggle with balancing my new full-time job schedule with everything else. My focus is really strong on building a better life for me and my daughter right now so everything else will have to fall into place around that. Dating as a full-time work from home, chronically ill, single mom is a challenge, no doubt!

I have a few posts I have to polish off and get finished up to come out in the next week or two, so enough rambling about my personal stuff and on to those. 

These are a few of my favorite blogs...

I've found some incredibly amazing bloggers in the past month or so that have become the top blogs I follow. These are the ones I actually look for posts from, routinely check their sites or seek out when I get a free moment.
Especially if you are a spoonie or a blogger or even a WAHM, you should be following at least one or two of these awesome blogs.

Elna at TwinsMommy.com has sort of become that blogger I look up to. Kinda that whole, "oooh, I wanna be you when I grow up!" kinda deal. Her blog about helping moms become mompreneurs is fun, informative and amazingly well organized. 

Hannah at Bald blogger, Hairless Hannah has been an inspiration and a joy for sure. Her post about Bedside Manner was what really connected me to her and hooked me on her blog. She's a fellow Spoonie and one with great thoughts and a way of expressing them as if you're chatting with one of your pals.

Janine at Confessions of a Mommyaholic has one of my favorite mommy/lifestyle blogs. She has a great balance of posts directly related to being a mama and those that are relevant to anyone. Another one of those bloggers I look up to as a newbie, for sure.

Stacey at Chronically Whole has a writing style that feels like a warm blanket around your soul at times. I love reading her posts late at night when I'm struggling with pain or anxiety because it calms me. She's highly relatible and definitely a great source for spoonies.

Rebecca at A Punk with MS is just one rockin' chick. She is a kick-butt spoonie with a lifestyle blog full of posts that will grab your attention and leave you thinking about it hours later. If you have MS or a loved one with MS, this post from her is incredibly informative and helpful.

So there's my top five I follow right now. If you are a blogger with similar styles or niches, leave me a link in the comments as I'm always adding to my Bloglovin' roll!

Work From Home 101: Home Office Essentials

I'm still getting messages through various social media, in-person questions from friends as well, about how they can get out of the rat race and earn a living from their own home without huge start-up costs, sales expectations or having to self-incorporate. Basically, they all want to know how to gain employment remotely. I have decided to start a series of how-to posts, basically, to dive a bit deeper into the subject than just what I covered in my previous post Stop Commuting, Start Computing!
One of the first and biggest questions I hear is often about what is needed to start or what can be expected as needed in creating a home office. 

I live in an approximately 830 square foot duplex unit. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, no bonus rooms. You may be wondering how I have space to have not one but two office areas. 
Well, my first "office" is a larger desk with drawers for filing away papers, office supplies and holds my personal computer. I used to use this one for my first job as well as for personal use but eventually it gets tough hiding everything away and pulling it all back out as many jobs that deal with customer accounts ask you not to have paper and pens out for security reasons. I now use this for my personal and household use as well as for blogging. It's against the wall in my kitchen. Yep, in my kitchen. Ya gotta work with what space ya got!
My second "office" is a smaller desk, much more minimal, in my bedroom. I chose that spot for my current job as I need to be able to close the door behind me to create a completely distraction-free environment and be sure nobody else can see the screen in which I may at any time have a customer's account information on while I'm assisting them. My dad took the arms off of my office chair so it would fit under the smaller desk better, so it's not in the way of my walking path through my small bedroom. Honestly, this works nicely for me, as I keep a throw blanket on my bed within arms reach if I get chilly and I have nice natural light during the afternoon on that side of the house preventing the need for more harsh lighting during at least the first part of my shift. The company I'm with now provided the computer I use for that one.

Every company/program is going to have different expectations/requirements! One may ask you to use your personal computer and require it to be a desktop model and also ask you to use a land line with corded headset. Another may allow laptops and the use of a VoIP. 
The common requirements I've encountered with every single position I've had are:
High-speed Internet
Hardwired (connect with Ethernet, not Wi-Fi)
Distraction-free or noise-free environment (close a door or if you have small children, you'll still need childcare)
Minimum computer requirements such as 1 GHz Intel Pentium P4 processor or better, at least 1 GB of RAM memory and an updated operating system (often at least Windows 8 or better on PC and for the ones allowing Mac, it varies but I've seen 10 and I've also seen Yosemite, so... be sure to double check if the company even allows Mac for it's program)

At the base minimum, aside from a good computer and desk, you'll need a comfortable chair because your behind will be in it a lot! I lucked out when I started and spotted a yard sale the same day I got my first job offer with a sturdy and comfortable office chair for five dollars. It's held up fabulously but I am planning on getting another soon, just to match the decor in my room a bit better. A cushion such as this one on Amazon is a great idea to make any chair more comfortable. This one is the one I'm ordering in a few weeks. I'll be sure to update and let you know how it is. 

Having wrist rests, supportive pads to rest your hands and arms on is also helpful. Something like this is an expensive version but there are many variations on these to fit your own needs. I've even used a rolled up pillow case in a pinch! Ergonomics is often covered near the beginning of most training I have encountered as it's often required by OSHA but here's a great link to read up on it.

If the job asks for you to use USB headsets for VoIP or for training and doesn't provide one, any headset with a usb plug and a mute option will probably work but the ones I use and really love are these cushy Plantronics.

If you are asked to have a land line for use, some allow you to simply add a corded headset to your existing phone but I've been using a dial pad with corded headset for each job requiring this and I would recommend it as the way to go hands down. The one I use isn't available on Amazon any longer but is almost identical to this one and has been perfect. I use a binaural headset out of preference and many of my co-workers have agreed it's best but there are single ear options available as well.

Thanks for visiting and I do hope that answered some questions about getting started in your work-from-home journey! Feel free to message me utilizing any of the social media links in the upper right sidebar or by commenting below if you have any more questions about setting up your first home office or if you have suggestions as well! (p.s. the links to the products on Amazon are in fact affiliate links meaning if you purchase from Amazon I may get a small commission from that sale but I will never link to anything I do not use or plan to purchase soon. All of the linked items are either what I use, similar to what I use or on my wish list! See my disclosure page for more on that.)

What's in a name? Why Spoon Serendipity?

It really didn't take me long to come up with the name for this blog. I have suffered from battled anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, pain and fatigue for most of my adult life and even some in my childhood but not long after my fibromyalgia diagnosis I discovered the Spoon Theory and began to find support and encouragement in the Spoonie community. I knew that since it's such a huge part of my life, the word spoon would have to play in somehow.

Serendipity just immediately popped into my head. It's a word I've always felt a magnetism towards, since I read a book when I was a little girl called Serendipity about a sea creature. 

The actual definition of the word according to Merriam-Webster is: 
the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also :  an instance of this

Since fibromyalgia, anxiety and the agoraphobia have become such a huge part of my life, I've been forced to live differently. I've definitely found valuable and agreeable things I would have never sought out if not forced to see things from a new perspective. There's been multiple instances of seeing how blessed I've been to be slowed down a little, not in the typical rat race. 

I work from home. I do so out of necessity but I think I would choose to even if it wasn't my only option. I get to be at home with my child. I don't have to spend money on fancy work clothes or commute every day. I may not get much sleep at night or have a good sleep schedule because of pain but it's extra time to think, journal, pray, craft and do things that allow reflection and quiet. I will have to choose a partner carefully, whoever (if there is one) chooses to partner with me will have to be an incredibly strong and wonderful person. I have to be extra cautious and that's never a bad thing for the future. So, see... silver linings.

To me, the name for my blog represents finding a silver lining, learning to live happily somehow even with chronic illness and just trying to make the best of things. Finding serendipity among the spoons. <3 :)

Quick, Easy Cleaning Tips for Spoonies

*This post may contain a few affiliate links to the products I love for making cleaning a little easier. I will only share products I actually think are great personally and think are a good deal. :)

If you're a Spoonie, you've most likely said that phrase out loud before or at the least, thought it. Even if you aren't a Spoonie- if you have young kids or a busy lifestyle, chances are you've stared at a disheveled house wondering how you could squeeze in the time and energy to get even simple tasks done. 
This is just a brief compilation of a few of my tricks and hacks to get things done.

  • OxiClean. Yes, yes, yes! Love this stuff and wish I'd discovered it years ago. Usually I buy this tub which is available from Amazon on Prime Pantry as well if you use Prime Pantry but occasionally I will also buy Dollar Tree's Awesome! version as well and it works just about as good. 
          I use this for:
  1. Stain Treatment: make a little paste with a half a scoopful and some warm water in a little bowl and scrub it in with a toothbrush or just brush it on and let it sit a bit.
  2. Brightening or refreshing colors in the wash: just throw a scoop in with the load.
  3. Bathroom: I use this the same as I used to use Comet. Less smelly, more powerful in my opinion. Cleans the tub amazingly and a wipe down with it on the sink makes magic!

  • I keep a "random stuff" tote around. You can use a storage box, small basket, tote bag, whatever works for you depending on your household size. If I have to get things straightened up quickly, it's where things left laying out go. Later, I'll sort through and direct things to their appropriate places but often if we can't find something- it's in that little basket and we know to check it. Kinda like a big junk drawer that you can tote around with you as you clean then neatly hide out of sight. 

  • Swiffer! Sweeping and mopping absolutely wipe me out and cause me a lot of pain. Even in the smaller place I am in now, it can be exhausting for me. I got my Swiffer Wet Jet from Amazon because I found it there just about two dollars cheaper than at the store and with Prime, the shipping was free. I have seriously found that most of my favorite brands of household items and cleaning supplies are great deals on Amazon, so a Prime membership definitely pays off getting the free shipping on those.  Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

  • Take breaks! I set a timer for 10-15 minutes of cleaning, then sit for a few before I go back at it. Also, keep a light weight chair like a folding chair or camping chair nearby that you can take with you where you might be working for awhile in case you just get overwhelmed or dizzy.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help! Even if they grumble a bit about it, your loved ones would probably rather lend a helping hand than see you over-do it and end up hurting yourself or making yourself sick. I'm blessed that my daughter (12) doesn't mind chipping in at all and will even sometimes do extra things I haven't asked her to do. Now, she is 12 though so... her room may be a disaster while she's unloading the dishwasher for me but... ya gotta choose your battles! Hahaha!

Do you have some awesome tips or a link to some? Please leave them in the comments! I've also included a Pinterest-sized graphic if you'd like to share these with someone or save them for later.

What Your Friend with Chronic Illness Wants You to Know

It's incredibly frustrating at times to explain how you feel, why you can't do something or what your boundaries are to someone who isn't going through it themselves. I've found myself completely flustered and feeling hopeless trying to make some of my loved ones understand before I realized that they just cannot truly understand it and that's okay- actually, that's awesome because I wouldn't want them to experience these struggles.

I've been blessed enough to have a couple of real-life friends (I say real-life to distinguish between my pocket-friends, those amazing, supportive fellow Spoonies I meet in chats, social media networking and on support group boards) who are also Spoonies and generally know what I'm saying when I'm trying to explain myself.

The biggest thing I wish I could get everyone to really know is that what I need more than anything is for them to just be there. No pushing, no pulling, no advice... just keep loving me. Trust me, I've tried, at some point in the last decade and a half, just about every pill, vitamin, diet, breathing exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, miracle cure, etc. I've Googled my brains out. I highly doubt you're going to suggest something I haven't thought about or tried. 

Unfortunately, some of my conditions are chronic. They aren't going anywhere. I believe in the power of prayer. I know that if God wants to lift this off of me, He will. There have been so many times I've cried out to Him and He's given me rest, relief or gotten me through a moment I found unbearable. However, I'm accepting of the fact that He's allowed this for a reason and it's up to me to make the best of it.

I reached out on social media to ask what some others would want their friends to understand about their illness or being a Spoonie and this is what some of them had to say:

  • The pain is there even if I'm pretending to be normal and your laundry detergent is giving me a migraine.
  • The story is inside, not the pretty cover for my kids.
  • It's not a choice.
  • I have about half the energy on a good day compared to an otherwise healthy person. On a bad day its about 10% of a healthy human.
  • Every aspect, every second of my life takes so much effort and it is filled with immense pain. Be gentle.
  • I still want to be asked to do things or be told about things. Treat me normally even if I can't get out or make it.
  • I may not always see them but I love them unconditionally.
  • I still want to be asked. Don't just assume I'll always say no. Give me a chance.
  • It could happen to you.
  • I didn't ask for this and don't want this so please stop treating me like I can change it so easily.
  • I don't expect you to fully understand, I just want you to understand enough to not hurt me.

These responses came from fellow Spoonies with a wide variety of types of Chronic Illness so they definitely aren't "one-size-fits-all" but do convey very common thoughts and wishes amongst many of us.

If you have a friend that you really care about and you've seen them label themselves a "spoonie" before, this might guide you in the right direction but I would encourage you to ask them personally what the one thing they truly want you to understand is and then be patient for a response- sometimes some of us can be too tired to even explain what's going on in our lives or bodies. Taking the time to read this post shows a huge step of dedication to your friendship and that is an incredible thing. Thank you for that and please continue to be a source of support and love.

Crock Pot Loaded Tater Soup

I'm not really a great cook. I grew up on Spam and Mac N Cheese, hot dogs and chips and Hamburger Helper. My attempts at experimenting in the kitchen have been about as successful as my attempts at having houseplants. However, occasionally I manage to whip something up that ends up being a hit not a miss. This one was a hit. I'm always trying to find simple dinners that I don't have to stand over, breaking my back to get done. This one was especially easy because a dear friend peeled and cut the taters for me, so all I had to do was dump and stir. 
I added a bit of garlic powder to the mix as well, and substituted regular salt for onion salt, which gave it just a tiny bit more flavor. If you try it, let me know what you think and what variations you try in the comments! Enjoy!

Happy National Hugging Day 2017!

It's National Hugging Day! 
Per National Day Calendar the purpose of the day is to help everyone show more emotion in public. Click on the link to learn more.

Here's a few things to consider while observing this holiday:

1. Hug a spoonie gently. Nerve pain, trigger points and soreness are just some of the issues that can create a barrier for affection sharing. Ask if they are needing a big warm squeeze or if a more gentle hug would be appropriate for them today. There's also a possibility they might not want a hug at all and if that's the case, it may feel like a hug to them to know that the sentiment was there and someone cares. 

2. Hug someone for 20 seconds. I don't know just how credible they are but I've seen a ton of articles reporting that hugging for 20 seconds increases Oxytocin. I can say that I've tested this and found myself in an awkward situation when I was asked, "umm... why are you counting?" but that I do find a longer embrace does tend to give a more "warm and fuzzy" feeling.

3. For goodness sake, don't cough on anyone, keep your hands washed and don't participate if you're currently in the contagious stages of an illness. Especially if you're hugging a spoonie. We don't need that. Just give us a rain check.

I'm gonna be sharing this graphic (below) on my personal social media, hopefully since I'm still trying to fight my way out of this agoraphobia and not travelling out much some of my friends will find me where I always am and give me a hug if they are out and about in my area! (lol) Share it, share this post and share a hug. :) 

A Spoonful of My Life 1-20-17

Today wasn't too bad.

I was hurting pretty bad and unable to sleep last night but I got some napping in this morning while watching Netflix.

I left the house twice.
That's kind of a big deal.

The first trip out was successful- a quick run to Rite-Aid. 

Then, I logged on to my new job for the first time to meet my trainer, make sure I could access everything and had everything set-up right for my first day (Sunday! eek!) and that went really well. My trainer seems incredibly nice and everything was good to go, which is a complete shocker for my luck and not at all how my last two jobs started! Even though it's a bit different from what I've been doing and a little more challenging, I'm super excited.

The second trip out was not as successful- attempted to go out to eat with a friend. I made it about two miles down the road before the fight or flight kicked in hard and I turned it around. I beat myself up for it a whole ten minutes before I decided it was okay and my friend just brought me some take-out. 

I've been goofing off with my kiddo since then. We put on goofy hats, glasses, scarfs and even cami's and bras over our clothes and danced to our favorite songs. I love being silly with her. 
I think there's storms coming this weekend. I've seen some stuff about it on my phone and I can feel barometric changes. That's gonna be fun. Ha. 

I had some stuff get to me the last couple days and I think I've been able to shake it off some this evening. Someone from my Chronically Single series kind of contacted me and I thought I'd made complete peace with the situation but it's really a weird situation and there was no closure so... I just had to be friendly with my response and let it go. I feel a strong conviction that despite how much I felt hurt by some things- I should still be praying for him so I am but it's hard to pray for him AND not to think too much about the whole situation at the same time. Messy messy mess. *sigh*

Anyways, that's kind of the casual what's up stuff in my life right now. Tomorrow is National Hugging Day, so I'm gonna share something about that in the morning, then I start the new full time job Sunday so the next post will probably be Tuesday unless I hammer something I've been working on out on Monday before work.
Have a great weekend!

A not-so-crafty Spoonie's DiY project

Painsomnia. Pain in my legs, back, shoulders... you name it. So tired and yet, sleep won't come. The day after one of my last really bad painsomnia nights I made a trip to the Dollar Tree in search of a few things to be kinda creative with and came up with this. I'm by no means a crafty chick. I'll have awesome ideas come into my head and then end up just hot gluing my fingers together. This was simple enough though and super cheap to accomplish.

I wanted something to sit on my desk and remind me that even if this handful of spoons is all I have to use in a given day to assign to tasks- I can make each one fabulous. Taking a shower- play my favorite songs and sing along while I'm in there. Actually blow drying and flat-ironing my hair- smile at myself in the mirror and take plenty of selfies when I'm done. Going to the store- celebrate it as a victory! Working- make someones day better with kindness and empathy. I might not be able to run marathons, accomplish my entire to-do list often but I can do what I can do with a bit of flair!

I grabbed 8 spoons (sold in 2-packs, so that's $4) and 1 small vase ($1). I already had beads, shells, paint, paintbrushes, glitter nail polish....

I just painted each spoon with two coats of acrylic paint and once they were dry I added a coat of a super glittery nail polish to each. I grabbed a handful of mixed beads and tiny shells from my jewelry supplies box (I make handmade earrings for myself and friends sometimes) and put them in the vase then arranged the spoons. Grabbed a random couple of sprigs of something floral and voila!

  How do you make each spoon spent fabulous? Do you have reminders to do so? Share with me!