Self-care

For years, I never gave much thought to taking care of myself, not in an emotional sense anyway. I was raised to help others and essentially bury my feelings to be understanding and empathic towards others. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a friend finally wore me down after weeks of nagging to finally set up a self-care plan for myself. 

At the time, I was so stressed and burned out that I wasn’t sleeping or eating and my stomach was in knots.  My job really took it toll and I wasn’t taking time for myself which in turn made my arthritis flare. I spent all of my spare time doing things for others instead of taking a few minutes or hours to myself each week. 

I try to do at least one thing from my list each week. It sounds simple but we all know life has a way of sneaking up on us and suddenly we don’t have time to get everything done, even when we organize and prioritize. Below are a few things that  try to do on a regular basis. 

  • Warm shower
  • Face mask
  • Read a book
  • Watch a movie
  • Play with my dogs 
  • Take a walk
  • Mani/pedi
  • Light a candle
  • Sleep in
  • Watch church service online
  • Shopping
  • Coloring 
  • Talk to friends
  • Coffee date
  • Journal
  • Relax in bed
  • Bullet journal 

If you’ve never tried self-care, you’re missing out. Taking even 15 minutes a day to do something for yourself makes a world of difference. Let me know what you do to de-stress after a crazy day. 

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Flare Makeup

My annual arthritis flare is upon us. Every year between the end of February and beginning of April, my arthritis decides to remind me that it’s present. We have a fun game going called, “How Swollen Can One Joint Get?” So far, my knuckles are winning.

During my flare ups, my hands are very swollen and sore. It makes doing simple tasks like buttoning pants or fixing my hair incredibly painful. I’ve worked out some simple hairstyles and plan clothing accordingly but makeup is something that I refuse to stop using.

I love makeup! I love watching makeup videos. I love looking at beauty blogs. I love shopping for makeup. I’m a little obsessed. Instead of giving up on makeup all together, because let’s face it, I would never be able to, I’ve adapted my morning makeup routine to be simple, quick but still pretty.

  Painterly Paint Pot | Urban Decay Blackout | Maybelline Fit Me Concealer | Loreal Magic Skin Beautifier | NYX Eyebrow Pencil | Benefit Roller Lash

I can easily do my complete face with this simple makeup.  I love the end result and gives me some confidence when I’m feeling my worst. Here is the finished product from a few days ago. 

  
What are your favorite products for a quick makeup look to feel more confident when you don’t have enough time or are struggling with a flare up? Leave a comment below.

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Confidence

Confidence is something that everyone strives to have. Everyone wants to approach life knowing, without a doubt, they are doing the best they can and everything will work out. Unfortunately, most people are usually self-conscious about something that makes them lack confidence.

Growing up, I was incredibly self-conscious and lacked confidence in myself, especially after I was diagnosed with arthritis in my early teenage years. That was a serious blow to my confidence. I was embarrassed because of my disease and thought everyone was making fun of me. Luckily, I never dealt with bullies regarding my arthritis, at least not to my face. Now as an adult, while I am secure with my arthritis, I still have moments, that last from a few hours to a few weeks, where I feel really embarrassed still about the way I walk, or put on a jacket, or move in general.

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During my arthritis flare ups, my confidence is really down. I don’t feel pretty or confident in my physical appearance in general. I walk with a wobble, can hardly lift my arms and can’t rotate or turn my neck. I generally feel like I’m turning to stone. During these pain filled weeks, it’s easy to stay in bed and not leave the house, except when forced for work purposes, simply because I don’t feel good. But, I’ve found 3 simple things that boost my confidence and make “adulating” a little easier.

Get Dressed

It sounds crazy, but just getting out of my pajamas and putting on “real clothes” really helps me feel less frumpy. Don’t get me wrong, I spend the majority of my free time in yoga pants and hoodies, especially in the winter, but just changing out of sweats and frumpy pajamas, really changes my mood and makes me feel more put together. Besides, most people wear yoga pants everywhere! So it’s now considered a real outfit…right?!

Manicure

I am nail polished obsessed…seriously obsessed (just ask my sisters)!! My hands look like crazy witch hands right now, even though  my arthritis isn’t in full flare mode (just working up to it). But when my nails are painted, I feel like it takes the attention away from my knuckles and finger joints and puts it on my nails. I tend to like bright polish colors so my nails are usually kind of flashy. If my hands are really sore, I love getting a manicure. It’s so relaxing and a fun afternoon out of the house with friends.

Makeup

Over the past few years, I’ve really gotten into makeup and love experimenting with different looks and discovering new products. Doing my makeup, even basic, natural makeup, really boosts my confidence. I don’t wear makeup everyday. Honestly, most weekends I don’t wear anything on my face, but if I’m having a rough day, putting on a little makeup not only makes me look like I’m feeling better but gives me a little confidence boost as well.

So there you have it. Three simple things I do to feel more confident in my physical appearance when I’m feeling my worst.  Let me know what makes you more confident in the comments!

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Sleeping with Chronic Pain

Sleep is such a wonderful thing. I mean really, who doesn’t love sleep? Unfortunately, sleep is something that we take for granted…until it eludes us. Having lived with arthritis for 15 years, I’ve had my fair share, and my sister’s share, of sleepless nights for various reasons.


Usually, my insomnia comes from not being to turn my brain off or shooting pains from my arthritis or simply not being able to get comfortable. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things really help me to relax, mentally and physically.

Warm shower (or bath).

There is something relaxing about standing in a warm shower while the water and steam relieve all the aches and pains from a long day.  I also like to do some stretches in the shower to work out the kinks from a busy day.

Heat.

Nothing sooths my sore joints like sitting in bed with my heating pad or electric blanket. For me, heat works better than ice on my swollen joints. If I’ve had a particularly rough day, I spend about 30 minutes snuggled up, relaxing. I especially love this one during the cold, winter nights.

Warm drink.

I love having some hot cocoa before bed. I’m learning to like tea and just starting to get into it but something about a warm drink and a good book that is very relaxing. Mint cocoa is my favorite, for those of you wondering.

Medication.

If I’ve had a rough day physically, I will take an Aleve, or a prescription medication if needed, before going to bed, even if I’m not hurting at that moment. I know that as soon as I stop moving, my joints will start to seize up and stiffen. I try to be proactive with my pain management as much as possible. By taking an Aleve before bed, it allows the medication to work while I’m sleeping, making me less stiff in the mornings.

No electronics.

I try to stop using my phone or watching TV about an hour before I want to go to sleep. I used to be obsessed with checking social media right up until I went to bed. I was the queen of “one more scroll”. By putting my phone away an hour before bed, I’m able to relax more and let my body have some quiet time.

Read a book.

Reading is very calming for me. Getting lost in another world, in character’s problems, allows me to shut my brain off and forget about my own crazy life for a little while. I’m currently reading “The Fault in Our Stars”. I’m a little late on the bandwagon but so far I’m really liking it.

Make the bed.

For years, I never made my bed. I always felt like it was a waste of time when I was just going to mess it up again. However, making the bed before I get into makes a world of difference. I love a freshly made bed. I mean really, is there anything more relaxing and comforting that freshly tucked sheets?

These are my tips to getting a good nights sleep with chronic pain. Let me know your tips for relaxing and falling asleep at night in the comments. Sleep tight!

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Arthritis & Fashion

As someone who struggles with arthritis, fashionable and arthritis are not generally used in the same sentence. Finding clothing, shoes especially, that are comfortable, supportive and cute (not sneakers) is more difficult that you’d think.

Last night, I went out with some friends to see Twelfth Night which is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays of all time. We met up at one of my friend’s house and went together. The play was hilarious, most of the actors were fantastic!

 Afterwards, we went to a late night, hole-in-the-wall burger joint and holy moly! They had the best burgers! I highly recommend Bunz on Baxter Ave if you’re ever in Louisville.


I knew a head of time what our plan was but I was unsure how much walking was involved. Parking downtown is so unpredictable! Picking out footwear was like playing Russian Roulette with my arthritis. My common sense was telling me to wear the sneakers; be comfortable and don’t kill your feet. But, I hadn’t been out in such a long time, that I wanted to wear the cute leopard print flats. After some debate, I went with the flats.


Man, am I paying for that choice today! Between the 3 hour play and walking to dinner, my ankle is incredibly angry with me today, even though it was taped. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it to spend a fun evening with friends. Someday I will learn to take comfort over fashion but apparently, yesterday was not the day.

So I’m spending the day in bed, relaxing, cuddling with my puppies, watching Hawaii Five-O until I have babysit tonight. Hopefully my feet are less angry with me by then.

Let me know if you have suggestions for cute, comfortable shoes (that aren’t sneakers) in the comments below!

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Workout Frustrations

One of my goals this year is to be more consistent working out. I started this journey last year, lost some weight and then kind of hit a plateau. After I stopped losing weight, I kind of gave up pushing myself and just accepted it was the best I could do. My weight fluctuated around 5 pounds, nothing serious, all things considered.

Since deciding to get back to my workouts, I’ve been incredibly frustrated by my limitations. I’m constantly on Pinterest, scrolling the Health & Fitness board, for workouts, stretches, or inspiration in general. It always makes me incredibly motivated and ready to eat healthy and hit the gym. My frustration comes in the form of lack of mobility.


Obviously, because of my arthritis, my range of motion is incredibly poor; especially in my elbows, shoulders and ankle. This means that I’m limited to what stretches and workouts I can do correctly. I recently decided to get in touch with my physical therapist from my shoulder surgery and get some help regarding my ankle.

To say I was unsuccessful is an understatement. I wasn’t expecting to miraculously get a ton of range of motion back but I was hoping to strengthen my ankle and make it more stable in general. After three sessions, the physical therapist told me that we were wasting time and money. My ankle was what it was and while he didn’t think that surgery is the answer either, he didn’t believe that physical therapy would help because my ankle was just…stuck.

I’m grateful that he was honest without wasting my time and money because let’s face it, physical therapy can be incredibly expensive! However, now I’m left with an ankle that has 14 degrees of mobility. I have to be very careful not to do too much walking or sitting, both of which can cause swelling and pain.

This last month I decided to go back to the gym and work on cardio and some strength training that I can do correctly given my lack of mobility throughout my body. I mainly stick to the elliptical and some light free weights. It’s nothing crazy but I’m excited to be back at the gym.

I also have a workout buddy this time! My sister had a baby 9 weeks ago and has cleared to return to the gym so we are working out together. We set a schedule that works for both of us and are motivated to make a change. I also got some new shoes and a few new pairs of yoga pants and a couple tops. New workout clothing always makes me motivated to look good and show off my new gear.

I’m hoping that my lack of mobility won’t hold me back too much. I would love to know how you stay active and motivated with physical limitations. Leave a comment below!

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Things Only Someone with RA Would Understand

Let’s be honest. Arthritis sucks. It just does. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to your face! Over the years, I’ve learned to find the humor in my disease. I mean really, how can you not laugh and be excited about hip replacements squeaking when they need to be revised? Personally, I cannot wait for this moment in my life. How hilarious is it going to be to squeak when I walk?!

But seriously, everyone has heard that ‘laughter is the best medicine’. I used to think that was such a ridiculous quote because for a while, it didn’t matter how much I laughed, my body still hurt! And I needed those meds! But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that maybe the quote should be, ‘humor is the best medicine’. The ability to find humor in situations really will make life with chronic pain a little more bearable.

During a recent trip into the black hole that is Pinterest, I came across an articled titled 29 Things Only Someone With Rheumatoid Arthritis Would Understand. I laughed through the whole thing. I applaud the author of the article for hitting the nail on the head. I’ve thought these things too many times to count. I wanted to share a few of my favorites because they are 100% completely true. Enjoy!

You know that MTX SubQ isn’t the name of a rapper.

RA Rapper

You’re a self-taught expert in “fighting with the insurance company” law.

Insurance RA

Doesn’t everyone keep injectable medications between the milk and the eggs?

fridge RA

Steep stairs with no railings are an invention of the devil.

RA Stairs

Confirmed plans aren’t really confirmed unless it’s a rheumatologist appointment. Those are set in concrete.

plans RA

You’re doctor asks what hurts and you sing “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes” to answer.

head shoulders knees and toes

Leave me a comment about which was your favorite. Have a great rest of your week!

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