Thursday, August 10, 2017

1 Year of No Drinking : Part 3


Wahoo! On to the last and final part of my story with anxiety and sobriety.

Hello, my name is Ceci, and I have anxiety.

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After my appointment with my therapist, my mom helped me book an appointment with a local Psychiatrist to talk about my recent experiences with panic attacks and anxiety.

Throughout this whole process I felt as if I was at fault for getting anxiety. I felt weak that I wasn't "strong" enough to beat anxiety and this darkness that was all-consuming.

Thankfully, my psychiatrist quickly understood how I operated and began explaining the science  and chemistry behind anxiety. Anxiety can literally be a chemical imbalance in your body where your brain may need a helping hand in getting it back to tip top shape. He also mentioned how anxiety is very much passed down through genetics, which in my case is very true.


I tried to do without daily medication even after my first appointment, as I just hadn't let go of that stigma that comes with medication. I truly felt as if weak people took medication, and I didn't need that. I thought I was better than that. Little did I know that was FAR from the truth.

Then one day I woke up and realized Xanax wasn't enough. I needed to be on a daily medication to get my life back. I was tired. Exhausted of sitting on the sidelines of my life, and I wanted to enjoy the little things again.

Now, I'm not saying medication is the end all be all. I'm simply saying it was my solution, and even that being said, it's not a 100% guarantee. I tried everything before getting on anti-anxiety medication. I tried meditating, exercise, natural supplements, single session therapy, group therapy, you name it I more than likely have tried it. At first I felt defeated when I started my medication. I still experienced panic attacks, and noticed I was developing a new series of temporary side effects due to the influx of serotonin being released in my body thanks to the medication.


I stayed in bed for about 2 weeks while my medication was trying to kick in. Napping, eating, watching TV, looking out the window, praying this all would be over and soon. Then one day I woke up from my medication coma, and I had a glimmer of hope.

I saw the light in things again, and I even felt motivated. Motivated to make a to-do list, work again, grocery shop. I even started calling my friends back, and eventually making plans to meet up to go grab food.

Throughout this process I remained sober, as my psychiatrist told me my medication didn't mix well with alcohol. So I did what he told me, and laid off the booze.

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About a month or so after I started taking my medication, I created a profile on Bumble and decided it was time to put myself back out in the dating world. Looking back on this, I have NO idea how I had the courage to do this as I seriously was just starting to feel comfortable leaving the house again on my own. I think there was some Divine Intervention with this process as I clearly was just beginning to take baby steps towards getting my life back again.

My first day on the dating app, I came across a familiar face. Someone who I knew from my Middle School and High School days. I knew him as Max, a freckled boy with pretty green eyes that was good at math. We had a few classes together back in the day, and a few mutual friends, however we never really knew each other too well.


After our first date, I knew I wanted to spend as much time with this man as humanly possible.
Of course, I was very much still adjusting to my medication and even handling the responsibilities of every day life again, but when I got together with Maxwell, everything shifted. I forgot about my anxiety. I forgot about feeling sick. I was able to have fun again. Not to mention, he too was (and still is) living a clean and sober lifestyle.

Without Maxwell, I wouldn't be where I am today in terms of healing and growth. He helped show me how to rebuild my life again in a way that I would be proud of, anxiety and all. And as much as I wanted to run away from my anxiety forever, there were definitely still glimpses of darkness in my beginning days of dating him. I struggled with random anxiety attacks, as everything was so new and foreign to me. As much as I wanted it to be gone forever, I would still bump into issues that eventually Maxwell saw. I was horrified that he would run away once seeing how I had some baggage that came along with dating me, but he stayed and loved me for exactly who I was and still am.

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Dating Maxwell has been nothing but a breath of fresh air. He has taught me a lot about recovery, rebuilding, and how to have fun in life the old fashioned way...SOBER. What's been most rewarding about this new clean lifestyle for me is the fact that I am facing everything head on and feeling what is going on with my body directly, rather than immediately reacting and numbing myself with alcohol.

Of course, I am in no way shape or form 100% free of anxiety, but I am proud of having one year of sobriety under my belt.

I have learned that being sober, and having anxiety, doesn't mean you have to live a boring life. I live an even more exciting and exhilarating life than I ever have. I still go out with friends to see shows, and dance the night away for bachelorette parties. I still actively participate in my social group, and attend happy hours with my friends. Yes, my role may have shifted from sad party girl, to sober girl, but guess what...I'm never hung over (yep, imagine that for a few seconds. It's wonderful) and I still manage to dance like a crazy person.



Not drinking has brought me clarity. It has brought me peace, it has brought me freedom and it has restored my light from within. Not to mention it has strengthened my relationship with myself, which is the relationship I value the most.

I am still learning what works for me in terms of tools on how to accept my anxiety rather than fight it. I have learned that my struggle and pain, has lead me to a life that I am proud of. A life that is worth fighting for, even if I do have a few more hiccups than I used to.

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"It's simple, really: things go wrong, people upset us, accidents happen. These things make us feel like shit. And that's fine. Negative emotions are a necessary component of emotional health. To deny that negativity is to perpetuate problems rather than solve them.

The trick with negative emotions is to 1) express them in a socially acceptable and healthy manner and 2) express them in a way that aligns with your values.

When we force ourselves to stay positive at all times, we deny the existence of our life's problems. And when we deny our problems, we rob ourselves of the chance to solve them and generate happiness. Problems add a sense of meaning and importance to our life."

-Mark Manson / The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck-

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As always, I want to thank the people near and dear to me during this time in my life.

           picture found on pinterest

To my sister, Hannah: I can't thank you enough for always watching TV with me during my bad days. No matter how many times I said "I don't feel good", you would lay with me and distract me from what was happening. Whether that be with silly snapchat filters, or wrestling and getting bit by a wild raccoon, you helped me immensely. Thank you for being you and always making me laugh.

To my Mom: Thank you for taking care of me when I couldn't take care of myself. Thank you for ALL the nights of sleeping in my bed, and scratching my head. Thank you for driving me around everywhere and constantly setting me up for success. I love you!

To my stepdad, Buster: Thank you for always being so kind and loving. I will always remember last Summer, and swimming at the dock with you and Mom at sunset.

To my dear friend, Emilie: Thank you for always checking in on me, and messaging my sister to see how I was feeling. You were one of the only people I trusted to take me out of the house on your weekly errands. Through thick and thin, you will always be my rock.

To my friends Lauryn, Melanie, Sammi, Erica & Jocelyn: Thank you for being so patient with me, and calling me endlessly until I finally answered. Thank you for still being my friends after all these years, and letting me be a part of all your bachelorette parties, weddings, and every day life.

To my dear boyfriend, Maxwell: Thank you for loving me at a time where I didn't even love myself. Thank you for continuing to love me and teach me every single day how strong I really am. I am so thankful we were brought back together again after all these years.

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I can only hope my story will inspire you, or someone close to you, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life can be hard, but guess what, it also can be amazing. All you have to do is find what works for you. Sometimes it may be a year long journey such as mine, or it might be just a few days. The whole point is to stop focusing on how others live their life, and find out what works for you. If that includes medication then by all means, get on that medication. If it includes yoga, then sign up for a yoga class. There is no right or wrong answer for how to do things. This is just simply my story.

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The next blog post will feature some of my favorite tools I have used throughout my journey of living a clean and natural lifestyle. I was also thinking of including a Q&A section, so if you have any questions please feel free to email me or comment below.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1 Year of No Drinking : Part 2



Well, on to Part 2. Say hello to my not so little friend, Anxiety.

I'm going to be real with you, I have proof-read this blogpost many times, thinking...is this too dark? Is this too real? But I want to be 100% honest with you on how I got to where I am today. Like I mentioned in my previous post I want to not only share the glorious mountain top view, but also the sweaty climb it took to get there. So while this may be a debbie downer of an article to read, I hope it is able to give hope to someone in need. Plus there is a What About Bob? Youtube clip at the bottom, so I mean, you'd be silly not to read through.

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After my visit to the Hospital, my ER doctor told me that I was as healthy as a 14 year old girl ready to take on the world. He told me it was more than likely a "little" anxiety, and I just needed to take it easy.

But that's the thing. I didn't feel healthy. I didn't feel ready to take on the world. So with some encouragement I went home, cracked open a beer and immediately started to relax thanks to the alcohol. Then the next day I woke up with that same feeling of impending doom. As if my body and mind couldn't keep up with what life was throwing at me. After days of being completely terrified, and not being able to take care of myself, I packed up my things and decided I needed to move in with my Mom and Stepdad. I couldn't take care of myself anymore. I was crippled with fear and soon lacked the mindspace to do the everyday things I used to be able to do. I couldn't drive, cook for myself or even shower as they all brought on a sense of panic and fear. Don't worry, I was eventually able to shower so I didn't stink too badly ;)

Now let me tell you, Summer is my absolute favorite time in Texas and I spent my entire Summer in bed. Crying, scared, feeling completely alone and just out of it. I felt as if this darkness consumed my body and mind and I couldn't remember who I was anymore. I was scared. What happened to happy go lucky Ceci? What had I become? I had no idea what to do or how to get out of this darkness.



During this time I completely lost touch with my friends. They had an inkling that something was going on with me but I never gave them a full explanation. Mainly because I didn't even know what  was going on with me and I was embarrassed to tell people what I was experiencing for fear of what they would think of me. I stopped answering my friend's phone calls all together and eventually their texts. I had completely disappeared from the world.

Now of course as I was going through this I had no idea it was JUST anxiety. After a year of Doctors diagnosing me with health issues, I thought I was legit dying. I had no idea anxiety could create such physical pain and discomfort.

It got to a point where I would just constantly sleep because that was better than waking up and living in the fear and pain I was in. Now don't get me wrong, I tried everything I could think of to get far away from this feeling. I tried reading a plethora of self-help books, I watched endless amounts of Ted Talks and Wanderlust Speak Easy videos. I journaled, journaled and journaled some more. I tried to white knuckle my way through it, but the anxiety seemed stronger than me.

Every night my Mom would come into my room, say a prayer and scratch my head until I fell asleep. Everyone did their absolute best to help me during this time. My sister would come over to simply lay in bed and watch TV with me. My friends would consistently text me, even though I never messaged them back. Everyone was rooting for me, yet I still couldn't manage to climb out of this dark hole I was in. 



Occasionally, I would have brief moments of peace where I realized I wanted outside help. I missed my independence, and I felt guilty because I couldn't take care of myself. I felt like a burden to my parents, although they showed no signs of becoming impatient. They just wanted me to feel better again.

Weeks went by and finally I agreed to go to therapy. Of course I was not a fan of it at the time, but now I have to admit it is my biggest and most useful tool towards healing. Big shout out to my sister, as she was the one who helped me find my very own Dr. Leo Marvin.
(What About Bob? Reference for those who don't know - Watch video at the bottom of this post for some much needed comic relief)



So in order to try and find my independence again, I went to therapy every single week. Sometimes even twice a week. Then thankfully after a few weeks of therapy I decided it was time for me to take my very own baby steps and try to move back home. Which thankfully moving back home meant living with my sister in her cute house.

My family did everything they could to help me succeed. They went grocery shopping for me so I wouldn't have to drive. They would come home early from work to check on me and my mental state. Things were okay, but I couldn't be left alone with my thoughts for too long. Not to mention, my family needed to start attending to other things in their life such as work obligations. So while my sister was on a work trip, my Mom would come sleep over. And not just sleep over, she would sleep in my bed because I couldn't even handle sleeping alone anymore. She did this for about two weeks or so until my sister had a steady enough schedule to keep tabs on me.


Talk of medication kept coming up in my therapy and I kept rejecting the idea of it due to shame and embarrassment. I kept thinking I can do this without medication. If only I just could read more self help books, and then I'll be able to cure myself. 

Weeks went by, and still I was rejecting my friend's phone calls and unable to leave the house. I felt physically weak, as if my legs would collapse from beneath me. Then one day I went into my therapy appointment and admitted to being exhausted. I couldn't do this anymore. This was bigger than me, and I needed help. I wanted my life back.



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I remember during this time I always thought that I was responsible for getting myself into this dark hole of anxiety. I remember thinking, if only I did this instead of that I wouldn't be in this situation right now. But let me tell you, if you are currently struggling with depression or anxiety, this is not your fault. In no way shape or form did you choose this, it just simply happened. And guess what, there are many tools to help you pick yourself back up and lead the life you've always dreamed of. I  mean look at me! I still struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, but guess what...I recently bought a house on my own! Yes, me! The girl who less than a year ago was "dying in bed" is now on her own and living with her handsome boyfriend and his pup. Life can throw us some shitty changes, but guess what, we just need to baby step our way through our fears and soon enough all those little steps add up to a big jump.


So in the mean time, watch the What About Bob? clip below, and soon enough we will both be sailing through our fears, and on to my healing journey.

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Alright you guys...you made it to the good stuff. The What About Bob? clip. Although anxiety and depression is a serious topic, I think it's important to intertwine some hilarity throughout the journey.





So stay tuned and get ready for part 3: Hi, my name is Ceci and I have anxiety.



Friday, July 7, 2017

1 Year of No Drinking: Part 1


This time last year, I decided drinking alcohol was no longer serving me. I spent July 4th of 2016 numbing myself with mixed drinks, and woke up on July 5th realizing I needed to make a change in my life. 

Now, this wasn't just a decision I made based off of one day and a bad hangover. It was a decision that had about a 2 year history leading up to it. This will be a multi-part blog series as there was a lot of background information that brought me to where I am today. 

As with sharing anything so raw and honest, I am extremely nervous. I have started writing this story many times, only to delete it or table it for many weeks at a time. And then I came across this story from Erin Outdoors, that inspired me. About how too many people talk about the highlight reel in life, and never about the struggles. They post pictures of the mountaintops but not the sweaty climb. The peaceful sailing trips, and not the violent puking off the side of the boat (her words, not mine). And then it hit me. I have an untold story, that needs to be told. In hopes of it helping others heal and move forward.

So here it goes...my 3 part story.

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To be honest, 2015 and 2016 were ROUGH years for me.  2015 started with a bad breakup that absolutely destroyed me and rocked me to my core. I'm not going to touch too much on this subject as I don't think it's fair to disclose details about a personal relationship without both people's consent. However I can say, thankfully that breakup led me on a whole new journey in life, and even a once in a lifetime trip to Mongolia. Yep, you heard me...Mongolia.




I came back from that trip completely changed. I met so many great people and truly felt stronger mentally and emotionally. I felt as if I could conquer anything that came my way. And I did for a bit...until I started experiencing some weird symptoms. I was noticing I was gaining a lot of weight in a short amount of time. My hair started falling out, I was experiencing extreme stomach aches, and worst of all my monthly cycle disappeared all together. For months at a time.

After about 3 months of this I decided it was time to go to my OB/GYN to see what was up. After one visit, and a few tests later she diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. She followed up by telling me that I had about 15 cysts on my ovaries, and was more than likely not going to be able to have children in the future, unless it was with IVF treatments and even then it was unlikely. She then referred me to an Endocrinologist to get more blood work done as PCOS usually comes with a handful of other symptoms such as diabetes and high cholesterol. And that was that. She told me this horrifying news and then sent me on my way. I remember sitting in my car after the appointment just sobbing, thinking "I will never be able to have children". I got home that night and called my friends and family for some much needed love and support. 



A few weeks went by, and my sister drove me to get some blood work done for my next round of appointments. Little did I know they were collecting close to 14 viles of blood after I had done a 12 hour fast. Sure enough I fainted and came in and out of it while my nurse was telling me a story about her road rage in Austin and how she throws tennis balls at cars that get in her way. In all honesty I have no idea how we got on this topic, but she also told me she will throw a moldy orange at a car if she needs to. So if you live in Austin and someone throws a tennis ball at your windshield or some old produce...you know who the culprit is.

Once the test came back in I was called into the Endocrinologist's office to discuss my results. Sure enough as my OB/GYN thought, I was pre-diabetic, and had high cholesterol. Cool. Just keep the good news coming, right?

For the next 6 months I bounced around from Doctor to Doctor in hopes that someone would just help me. I wanted to find a doctor that would understand me as a person, and not just look at my symptoms. I wanted to approach PCOS in a way that was going to help eliminate my symptoms all together rather than just put a band-aid on it and temporarily fix everything. Needless to say, I was diagnosed and misdiagnosed many times. Whether it was Hypoglycemia, Insulin Resistance, Parasite Diagnosis, the list goes on and on. There was even one point where I was taking up to 45 pills a day.  I continued to take 45 pills a day for 3 months until I just couldn't handle it any longer. My body was tired. My mind was tired. I was tired. I spent the last year being diagnosed with one thing after another while my friends were out having fun and living life. 

I couldn't do it anymore. My body was deteriorating right in front of me, and I had no idea how to fix it. 



Then Father's Day rolled around, and I was in the Hospital with my family after experiencing a panic attack. If you have never had a panic attack, be thankful! This was my first one, hence ending up in the hospital, but it felt as if I was dying. I couldn't make sense of anything. I couldn't talk, I couldn't breathe. 

Thankfully my Sister was an absolute boss and calmly dealt with me in my crazed state. I remember looking around once I calmed down and seeing a sign in the hospital that said only 1 guest per room. You can bet your bottom dollar my entire family showed up to the hospital and bunched their way into my tiny room. They had my favorite snacks and drinks in tote, and went on with their day as if it was normal for me to be in the Hospital with EKG monitors all over my chest.

 

Now this is only the start of the journey, so don't worry things DO start to look up. I am not telling any of this story to ask for pity, I am simply sharing in hopes that it resonates with someone else in this position. And if I can tell you one thing, it's that your medical issues/anxiety/depression do not define you. You may be going through a tough time but as with all things "this too shall pass". So buckle up, and stay tuned for my Part 2 series. Say hello to my not so little friend...anxiety.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Sale

  


Have you had your eye on anything in the Little Pieces of Hope shop lately? Well now is your time to make that purchase, and save yourself a few extra bucks.

Our yearly Summer Sale is here, and ready to save you 25% on your LPOH shopping cart. All you have to do is type in "SUMMER2017" before checking out in the designated coupon code area and you're good to go. 

So like I said, take advantage of this Sale while you can because we won't be having another one until Early Fall.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Real Talk : Q&A Video



Let's get real. I was nervous to post this video for a variety of reasons. I haven't ever done a Q&A video before, and I usually like to stay behind the scenes for certain things due to the sometimes unfriendly environment of social media. 

 As you may have seen me post on Instagram recently, I had the opportunity to work with Chaco's for a Euphoria Music Festival photo shoot this April. I had an absolute blast and loved every single second of it. I learned a lot, I danced a lot, and I had the coolest outfits. Unfortunately, once the pictures were released I have seen some not so nice comments about the photos. Mainly due to the nature of my very long, and very skinny toes. Let me tell you, I'm already very self conscious about these bad boys, and it hurt to see strangers making fun of my feet. I know these are first world problems, but nonetheless it still stung.


The worst part is, this isn't the first time I have been upset due to mean comments on my social media. It has caused me, and many other bloggers (not that I'm a blogger), to become extremely self-conscious, and constantly trying to be picture-perfect or snap that instagram-worthy moment. Not to mention, Instagram has also become more difficult for small business owners due to the change of algorithm.

At first I thought it was something I was doing wrong, such as not posting creative enough content or aesthetically pleasing photos, but the more I talked about it to my other entrepreneur friends the more I realized their business was being negatively affected as well.

With all that being said, I thought I would try something different. Instead of worrying about keeping up the "image" of Little Pieces of Hope, I decided I want to break free from that Instagram "blogger" life and instead re-center myself back to being real and not obsessing over posting content every-single-day.



Of course, I'm nervous as hell to show you guys this due to my recent incident, but I wanted it to be real. At first I spent hours trying to edit it so you wouldn't see my slip-ups on words, or the fact that I may have said "Um" or "So" one too many times, but I realized that I didn't want to pretend to be perfect anymore. I wanted the video to feel like a real conversation. Not something cut and pasted to make me seem like a professional, or even like I know what I am doing. I wanted it to be real. To be raw. To be authentically Ceci.

I can only hope this video inspires some of you, and I humbly ask for your love and kindness.



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All Chaco photos are shot by Jules Davies

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Summer 2017


Last week we launched our Summer 2017 Collection, and I couldn't be happier with the response from it. Summer is always my favorite season to design as it's my favorite time of year. I love to explore new swimming holes around Austin, and bask in the hot Texas sun.

As I was designing this year's collection, I was greatly inspired by our National Parks. Having never been to a National Park before, I got on Pinterest and started pinning all sorts of photos from Utah, California, Alaska, and the list goes on. I loved the earthy colors of the red arches in Utah, and the brown/red color of the Sequoias. Which eventually led to a collection of earthy, yet modern Tibetan designed pieces. Not to mention, each piece is named after the National Park which inspired it.

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We also came up with a new convertible necklace this season that can be worn a variety of different ways. To learn how to style this beaut, take a peek at the video below!


What do you think of the Summer Collection?
Shop the Summer Collection now


How To: Wear your LPOH Convertible Necklace from Cierra Tucker on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beauty Routine





 As I mentioned in my previous Skin Owl post, I am a complete and utter product junkie. Mainly a Green Beauty addict, but nonetheless a junkie.

In the warmer months, I rarely wear make up. In fact I rarely wear make up all together but in the hotter months I really try to let my Summer glow shine through. That being said, I wanted to take y'all through my every day (aka on the days I wear make up) beauty routine. 


On a side note, I also just discovered the Think Dirty app thanks to the girls over at Treasures & Travels. This app helps you scan your beauty products, to see if your bathroom shelf is full of clean or dirty products. So for example it uses a "Dirty Meter" scale of 1-10 to rate how "clean" your beauty products are. 

0-3 
are products that do not contain any ingredients which have a documented potential negative health impact

4-7 
are products that use ingredients which have potential moderate negative long term health effects

8-10 
are products that have ingredients which have potential serious negative long term health effects

For each product I share today I will put the Dirty Meter rating in parenthesis next to it. If a product doesn't have a number next to it, it's not yet listed on the Think Dirty app.


First, I prep my face using Glossier's Soothing Face Mist (1), and Skin Owl's Beauty Drops and Eye+ Gel. If you are interested in learning more about the Skin Owl products, take a peek at my last post here.



Next up, make up.

First I prime my face with Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer. I absolutely love this stuff. I have used it for close to a year, and I love how it preps the skin for make up. 

Then I use my Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Medium (1). I started using this stuff thanks to my friend Jewlie and her Instagram feed. I love how light and sheer this product is. It's very minimal coverage so if you have freckles, they will still very much show through this product. However, I am a big fan as this doesn't even feel like make up. It just feels and looks like your skin.

Next up, my W3LL People Bio Bronzer Stick (3) This may look dark in person, but it blends beautifully. I just switched over from the powder form of this to the stick form and I am IN LOVE.

Then I add a little glow, with my W3LL People Bio Brightener (0). I have tried other brand's highlight sticks and this is my favorite so far. Again, I have used this product for a little over a year and it's still a favorite in my bag. It makes your skin look as if you are fully hydrated and radiant.

Last but not least, Glossier's Mint Balm Dotcom (2) Seriously cannot go anywhere without this. Great consistency, and protects my lips from getting chapped while also giving them that extra hydrated look. As I am typing this I am having the urge to find it from my purse and put it on now.

*I also set my make up with the Glossier's Soothing Face Mist - It not only keeps your make up in place, but helps you achieve that dewy look everyone is going for these days*



Just like I start the day, I end the day with Glossier & Skin Owl. First I use my Charcoal Beauty Bar to wash my face. I then follow up with a nice spritz of the Glossier Soothing Face Mist and the Mangosteen Beauty Drops. I then finish off the regimen with the Eye+ gel and off I go to bed.


To me, my beauty routine is my self-care act of the day. I want my products to not only look good, but to help nourish my skin and soul. With green beauty products, you are treating yourself to the best with the best. If you have any questions or would like to try out some products, send me a message! 

I also have a link for you to save 20% on your first Glossier purchase.