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 :)