Friday, October 13, 2017

Natural Deodorant


Finding a Natural Deodorant used to be a never ending struggle for me. I constantly would ask my friends, what type of deodorant are you using? In hopes that I could find one to end my stinky ways.

Unfortunately I have come to find out through this natural deodorant journey that I stink like no other. My sister will vouch for this. One time I let her smell my underarm, and she said it was the worst smell and experience she has ever had in her entire life. She continued to say she wouldn't wish that smell upon her worst enemies...Sister's am I right? Anyways, the deodorants my friend's were using never seemed to work on me...until I found Schmidt's All Natural.

Now one thing you should know is, when switching to a natural deodorant there may be a brief time period where you smell a little more than you normally would. That's because for years, you have been using antiperspirants that don't allow your body to sweat, which is a healthy and natural process. So once you start using deodorant without the antiperspirant (aka chemicals -cough cough ALUMINUM) your body may go through a slight detox to rid it of unwanted toxins. But to be honest, I never came across this transition. So don't let the idea of a detox scare you because it's totally worth it in the end! If it does happen to you, you can use witch hazel to help cleanse the pores morning and night. OR you can simply reapply deodorant throughout the day. 

So let me introduce you to my favorite natural deodorant that I have come across thus far (thanks to my friend Lauryn)...may I present SCHMIDT's All Natural.

It's a company based out of Portland, Oregon that always puts their customers and ingredients first. In 2017, their mission was to "Change the way people think about deodorant" And I have to admit, they 100% changed the way I think about it. 

Not only does Schmidt's come in a variety of scents but they also offer a Sensitive Skin Formula, as well as a Jar Formula for people who prefer that type of application. Either way it's a win, win as their jars and sticks are 100% recyclable, and a little goes a long way when it comes to application. 

So if you have been thinking of making the switch to a natural deodorant, I highly suggest this one. It's available online or at Whole Foods, Target and even Wheatsville Co-op.


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Just to clarify this is a not a sponsored, or paid post. It's simply a brand that I wanted to share, since I have been receiving a lot of questions about my green beauty products on the new Clean Living with Little Pieces of Hope instagram. I hope this is able to help a few people out, and allow you to make the switch to a green and clean beauty routine. 



Monday, September 25, 2017

Clean Living with Little Pieces of Hope - Make up



A few weeks ago I started a new Instagram page, called Clean Living with Little Pieces of Hope. Throughout the years, I have found myself switching to a cleaner lifestyle. Not only with everyday health choices, but with make up products, household cleaners, as well as around the home products. 

I of course find this stuff super interesting since it goes hand-in-hand with my PCOS journey, and anxiety journey, so I wanted to share all that I have learned with you.

Last week, I went LIVE on Instagram to show off what's inside my make up bag. I know I have done one of these posts before, but as I keep learning more and more about this new lifestyle, I keep coming across new brands and products that I want to rant and rave about.

So, here are the newest members of my make up routine. 



This is how I start my makeup routine. After I put my facial oils and lotion on (which is important with this product to achieve that flawless no make up, make up look) I then put this on with my hands. I love how lightweight this moisturizer is, and the fact that is also has SPF 30 in it is beyond awesome. It's a light coverage, so it still shows your freckles underneath, and lets your skin still look like skin. Which to me is always important. I hate that cakey look on me.

This product is hypoallergenic, chemical free, cruelty free and fragrance free. It has soothing ingredients such as organic coconut, broccoli seed oil and ginseng. 



If my skin needs some extra love, (HELLO DARK UNDER EYE CIRCLES) this is the next step for me as it helps provide more coverage than the Bio Tint Moisturizer. I don't know about you guys, but anytime I use a concealer, I always have that issue where it dries out that problem area and almost draws more attention to the part I was trying to cover up, rather than actually hide it. That is before I found Glossier's Stretch Concealer. I LOVE this concealer. My friend Jewlie, turned me onto this stuff as it's buildable, flexible and nourishing. It has ingredients such as beeswax, avocado oil, jojoba oil and cocoa butter. 

And again, this product is paraben free, fragrance free and cruelty free.



At first when I was introduced to the idea of my bronzer being in cream form rather than loose powder, I was completely intimidated. Little did I know, it's totally fool-proof. Plus, the product itself is so itty-bitty that it's perfect for traveling or applying on the go (which I tend to do more and more these days)

I remember when I first showed my friends this product, they were all like "whoa that looks too dark" and truthfully it does look super dark especially for someone like me who was a rather fair complexion. However it blends so well, and gives you that sunkissed glow everyone is going for these days. I simply apply this to under my cheekbones, and the top of my head for that natural sun-kissed look and blend with a brush. Super easy, and super clean. Ingredients include aloe extract, and green tea. Added bonus, this item is vegan!



I never knew my brows needed help, until I found this product. When I discovered Glossier I purchased a set of pre-packaged goodies, and Boy Brow was one of the things that came in the set. It took me a while to actually use this product because I thought my eyebrows were already good on their own. Woof, was I wrong. 

I love this stuff. I have had eyebrow stuff used on me before by makeup artists and it leaves them feeling so crunchy. Almost like they hair-sprayed these bad boys into place. Boy Brow is completely different. It's thickening, but yet also very flexible and buildable. So it's nice for people like me who already have dark eyebrows and just want them to have a little structure, AND it's good for people who don't have the darkest brows but want a natural looking product that will thicken and darken them up.



This product is definitely the product I have been using the longest. It's an all natural highlighter that I use under my eyebrows, in the corners of my eyes (to look more awake), on my cupids bow, and of course right above my cheekbones. It gives me that dewy, hydrated and all around healthy glow. I apply it by either putting the stick directly on my face, OR using my fingers first and then dab on my face on the areas that I want to glow. 




I found this product about a year ago, and not only do I love it but my sister has been known to steal it from my makeup bag as well. I purchased the Nude Peach color and it's great for any time of year. I use it not only on my cheeks, but also on my lips since I'm not the biggest fan of lipstick. With this stuff I just put it directly on my stick from the applicator. No brush needed, although it can definitely be used with one since it's a creamy formula. 

Another blush option I love is...


I used to think blush was a product of the past. In high school I was all about bronzer, even in College I was still living that bronzer life. Until I found Cloud Paint.

Seriously so much fun, and such a cute design. It's legit like paint that you get to mix and match and apply to the apples of your cheeks. It's easy, enhancing and plumping. Plus it gives you that naturally effortless flush look.

I love using Beam and Dusk. Again, Jewlie does a great job showing you how to use these on her instagram stories. 



Last but not least, I use Wowder to help set my make up. I use this with the brush provided in the Wowder Duo, and swipe under my eyes and usually around my nose, and forehead to take away that shine. Plus some people aren't a fan of that dewy look, so this can help minimize that and mattify it all. I don't know how this product works, but it does! It doesn't look like a power when it's applied, hence the cheesy name WOWDER, but this product is magic. Sometimes I just use this on top of my W3LL People Bio Tint, and call it a day. Again, this product is vegan!


Just in case you were wondering all these products are fragrance free, cruelty free, paraben free, gluten free, and hypoallergenic.  Some are even Vegan. 

As with any transition, ditching your toxic make up for cleaner alternatives takes time. Yes, make up is expensive so don't go out and expect to change everything at once. I recommend going to the Think Dirty app, typing in the make up you are currently using and swapping out your "dirtiest" offender.

With my experience I have found that I try to stay away from synthetic fragrance, as that is the worst offender in my book. Synthetic fragrances are NOT good for anyone, especially women with PCOS or hormonal problems, as they are known to disrupt your body's hormones. Constant exposure to these synthetic smells have been known to negatively impact our central nervous systems, and can even trigger allergies, migraines and asthma symptoms. Yuck.

There is no better time to ditch the chemicals and switch to a non-toxic, cleaner way of life.

I have linked all these products above, and even have a coupon code in case you are wanting to try Glossier out. Head to the link below, and save 10% if you are a first time Glossier customer.
http://bff.glossier.com/f6of1





If this type of information interests you, I kindly ask you to come on over and follow my new accounts on




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anxiety Resources



One of the best things about releasing my 3 part journey with anxiety and sobriety has been the outreach I have received with questions, comments, and tips/tools on how to live life a little better.

I decided I wanted to put together a separate blog post talking about all my favorite tools, and the questions I have answered over the past few weeks. Because chances are, if one person has asked then a few more have probably thought to ask the exact same thing. So, here we go. This post will be broken down into helpful books, a question & answer section, as well as other helpful resources such as YouTube videos and activities that helped me during my reawakening.



Before I ever tried any anti-anxiety medication, I was a big advocate on reading self-improvement books. Let's be real, I am still a big advocate on reading these books, but now I don't have that pressure that this is my only solution to "getting better". Books are wonderful.  Especially self help books...which I like to call self-improvement! Self-help books have such a stigma around them. I remember the first time I purchased a self-help book I immediately felt a little embarrassed that I was reading a book for "sad people". Then I realized, what's inside these books can help give you a different perspective on things.They are a way to connect each day, in hopes to love yourself and understand yourself a little bit more.

So that being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite books along my journey.

BOOKS

-Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss-

This book is a short, quick read that introduced me to the power of positive thinking. On the back of the book it states that from reading this, "you'll learn how to adapt to life's inevitable changes, how to deal with stress in a healthy way, and how to nurture a mindful happiness in your daily life." I always recommend this book for beginners

-Be who you want, Have what you want by Chris Prentiss-

This was my first self improvement book that I purchased right after my break up. I was in a place where I needed help, and this book definitely gave me a platform to change my way of thinking and offer hands on exercises. I know the title of this sounds cheesy, but this read really was my gateway book that opened me up to a whole new world. 

It has a lot of exercises throughout the chapters, and was even responsible for teaching me how to meditate. You can best believe that it's covered in highlighter and dogeared pages. Seriously love this book, and recommend it to anyone looking to change their life for the best.

-The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz-

This is another great short read that is a "Toltec Wisdom Book" I have had a few friends in recovery that state they have read this book after treatment, and continue to read it every year for a refresher. I started reading this book before I stopped drinking, and the 4 agreements still ring true regardless of if you are in recovery or not.

-Woman Code by Alisa Vitti - 

This is a recommendation for any woman that has issues with their monthly cycle, fertility, or even sex drive. I started reading it due to my diagnosis with PCOS, and I still refer to it every once in a while when I'm trying to figure out what to eat or what type of supplements to take to alleviate certain pre-menstrual symptoms.

Alisa Vitti is so intelligent, and broke down everything in simple terms. She talks about the science of what is happening in your body, and how to help it along with healing foods and nutrients. I learned so much about feminine cycles, it truly was fascinating. 

I even recommend this book if you are just trying to better understand how to best care for your body (healthy periods, optimal fertility, and a healthy sex drive)

-The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein-

I freaking LOVE Gabby Bernstein. I can't quite remember how I found her, but I am so happy I did. She is a quote on quote "Spirit Junkie", that is stylish, straight-forward, and seriously WOKE. This book is all about how to feel safe and trust your life no matter what. I love this book because it talks all about turning your fear into faith. And it doesn't have to be a religious faith, it can be a spiritual one. Again this book has a few exercises throughout, and even some references to her website for guided meditations. 

I recommend looking into her website and instagram page, because she is just so real. I love how she is so spiritual, but still is just like every one of us. She admits to having fear in her life, but tells you how she remembers at any given moment she has the power to choose again. 

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

I have to admit I am not done with this book quite yet, but I know I already recommend it. I love how Mark Manson is so real, and communicates in such a way that most self improvement books aren't written in. It is groundbreaking and seriously has made me laugh out loud during certain chapters.

I love how it makes me feel confident to be uncertain in life because as Mark Mason states, uncertainty is the root for all progress and growth.

I have my sister to thank for this recommendation. Someone who is NOT a reader of self-improvement books but yet found this one extremely helpful, and refreshing.




Questions & Answers

"I've stopped drinking in excess (I haven't been drunk in over a year I'd say), I'd like to give it up for good - What advice can you give on going out with friends who like to drink? As of late, I've just been backing out of plans or not responding to invites to avoid drinking all together."

Seriously, an AWESOME question and I got my cute, and sober boyfriend, Maxwell, to help me come up with an answer.

Passing up on socially drinking can be so hard! I think I had it "easier" than some because my friends knew medically I needed to stop drinking due to my anxiety. So thankfully they never pressured me or guilt tripped me into drinking.

However, Maxwell mentioned 3 great things to hopefully help

1. Give yourself a break from that type of environment while you are building a foundation of living a sober lifestyle. Try not to feel pressured to go out just because everyone else is. I know that is sometimes easier said than done, but make sure to take the time to treat yourself, relax and ease into this new lifestyle.

2. Try doing something else with your friends. So instead of saying "let's go grab drinks" suggest going on a walk, trying out a yoga class, or even coming over to cook a meal together. This not only helps you get out of the drinking environment, but it also helps give you and your friends the healthy option of nourishing your body with love and care. But let's be real, you can also suggest to go out and get some ice cream...because it's all about that moderation people ;)

3.Most importantly, be honest with your friends. The transition of no longer drinking can be difficult. Tell them your reasons why you don't want to drink anymore, and if they try to guilt trip you, it's usually because they themselves feel guilty for not taking the step you are. 

I remember I was really nervous to no longer drink in front of my friends. I was scared of losing that "fun" connection with them, but thankfully a new connection has grown in place. Something that is still fun, and adventurous.


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In regard to managing stress and/or anxiety, what are your favorite resources for meditation? I'm a newbie and don't know much.

In the beginning of my meditation journey, I very much needed a guided meditation. Simply because I didn't know what I was doing, and I wasn't sure if I was doing it "correct". And to address that issue, there is no one correct way to meditate. Of course it can sometimes take practice, but the benefits always outweigh the little work it can take to get there. Scientifically, meditation changes the expression in our DNA, and ultimately alters your actual response to stress, and essentially quiet down the signals in your brain that make you feel bad.

One great resource for beginners is the app Headspace. I have used it for close to a year, and I love it. The first 3 lessons within the app are basic guided meditations that teach you how to breathe, and sink in to your relaxation. Then after you complete those 3 courses, you can customize your meditations however you please. So there are meditations that focus on Change, Anxiety, Stress, Regret, Anger, Self-Esteem...the list goes on and on. There is even a guided meditation called SOS for when you're in panic attack mode and I have definitely had to use this once or twice. I really love this app and can't say enough great things about it. 


Other guided meditations I enjoyed are from Gabby Bernstein's YouTube channel, and from Deep Eddy Psychotherapy's website. I love the forest relaxation one. Any meditation that includes visualization is the easiest, and most rewarding for me. I'm very much a visual person, so I love imagining being in the forest, and smelling and breathing in the mountain air.

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What are some other ways that reduce your anxiety or ways you're able to find stress relief and calmness besides meditation?

The best way for me to relieve stress and anxiety include

1. Journaling - Write down all your feelings. Whatever they may be, and don't hold back. I always feel better once I get out all my emotions and fears out on paper

2. Be Active - Hello, endorphins. Working out is a great way to kick stress and anxiety to the curb. According to Dr. Robert Bilder, a neuropsychologist, the best thing you can do for your brain is exercise. Even more than meditation! 

This is due to the increase of oxygen flowing to your brain. Physical activity is also that the best way to grow new brain cells. So if you're in a state of depression or anxiety, your brain cells are harboring an environment for those sad, and scared emotions. Then when you start to become active, your brain is creating and forming new cells that create a new environment for a happy and healthy body. It's awesome because in studies you can actually see neurons change in size and volume as a result of being active. 

My favorite ways of being active include riding my bike, going on walks or hikes, yoga, swimming and rock climbing.

3. Go outside! This kind of goes hand in hand with Being Active, but seriously the great outdoors changes everything for me. Since I work from home, I definitely get cabin fever a lot. If I feel as if I am getting too much in my head I will go outside and just simply soak up the sun, or read a book. Of course going outside and being active is a double whammy so that's usually what I try to aim for. Whether it be a 10 minute walk, a bike ride, or even a swim. Something that wakes up my senses, and helps me get out of my head and start over again with a clear slate.

3. Treat yo'self - Usually when I am in a state of anxiety, I like to try and create an optimal space for relaxation, and calmness. That being said, I'll take the time to light a candle, or even fill up my diffuser with some calming essential oils. Some of my favorite from the Young Living line include, Lavender, Peppermint, and Peace & Calming. My girl Emily Recker, has a great Instagram and Facebook page to learn all about oils, and how to use them. I seriously recommend it!

I also have started a new Instagram account called CleanLiving.LPOH to share and document my journey with oils.


*If you are interested in learning more about Oils I just signed up for a Membership with Young Living. They have seriously changed my way of living. I use them every single day for all types of things. Sleep, anxiety, headaches, immunity, you name it, and I probably have an oil for that.*

Here's the link in case you want to sign up on your own.

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When you eliminated drinking alcohol and coffee how did it make you feel? Did it help with your anxiety?

I believe I eliminated drinking caffeine before I stopped drinking alcohol. I have always been really sensitive to caffeine, so when I realized I was having anxiety troubles I did some researching and found out that it can be helpful to lessen the amount of caffeine and sugar in your diet.

So immediately I stopped drinking coffee, soda, energy drinks, and even green tea. Granted my anxiety was severe, so any type of caffeine would trigger my mind to race and then I felt as if I had a ton of energy and I didn't know how to process it all correctly.

Every now and then I will have a few sips of some CLEAN Sparkling Energy (which is very lightly caffeinated) and I can always tell if I have had too much. It still triggers that feeling of "Oh sh!t, I'm about to HULK out." So usually I still skip out on the caffeine, unless I know I am about to do a physical activity such as rock climbing, or biking.


As for alcohol, I first stopped drinking it due to the fact that I realized that it was just a temporary fix for a problem I knew was bigger than booze. Once I eliminated drinking, it was almost as if I had to face my problems head on rather than skirt around them, and numb myself for a few hours with a cold brewski. Yes it was scary and intimidating but it was something that needed to be done, and I truly feel mentally stronger from it.

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YouTube Videos


I loved this series with Camille Rowe and British Vogue that is all about wellness. I learned a lot, and I think it's good for everyone to get a little glimpse into what the heck wellness really is. Plus it's awesome to hear how many times Camille Rowe snorts throughout it. Seriously the best. 

It covers topics from nutrition to meditation and even movement, and how each are integral for the optimal level of health. 


I also love the Wanderlust YouTube channel. One of my favorite series they do are the speakeasy lectures that they put on for each Wanderlust Festival. My favorite speaker to watch so far has been the late Wayne Dyer in regard to manifesting. He is seriously such a vessel for information and love.

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"We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it's easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they're given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it's not necessarily the people with the best cards"
- Mark Manson - "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" - 

I hope you all have enjoyed this post, as it seriously is FULL of the resources I use whenever I'm feeling a bit anxious.

Comment below if you have a tip, trick or tool you use when you're experiencing anxiety.

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.

_______________________

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.

______________________


"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-

______________________

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.

_____________________


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.

_____________________


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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