If I Can Have Less Stress Please

Before last year I worked in the customer service and sales industry my entire life. There always seemed to be not much to distinguish which came first: my foul mood or my cranky customers. Did they give me a foul mood or are they cranky because I am in a horrible mood? I feel like that is representative of life in general. I want to believe that if I put out goodness I’ll get back goodness, you know, the whole Karma concept. However, I have been thinking even further that when I put out gratitude and good vibes I feel them more in my soul. Maybe, fake it til’ you make it?

With fibromyalgia and the tense pelvic issues, I am supposed to be stress free. That can be one of the most important things when dealing with chronic illness, which to me feels very ridiculous to me. Most people can’t be without stress. Life can be filled with extraneous stress that I can’t control. Also, what a luxury is it to have a disease that requires me to cut out all that is stressful in my life? I come from a long line of working people: fire fighters, truck drivers, oil field workers, and stay at home moms. These are people who had no time to complain or feel over stressed. It is a tradition of self-sacrifice mindset I am working against. Physical and spiritual toughness is something valued not just in the culture I came from but all over. It is hard not to feel shame when I need down time or to take care of myself in seemingly extravagant ways. If I didn’t have these health issues I am sure I would be just like all the other strong Oklahoma women, who soldier on through all sorts of stress and against all odds no time outs to speak of, but I do.

Thank you @gaiam for seeing all of us @ybicoalition @nataliecummingsyoga @thefeistyyogi @greentreeyogala @melmelklein

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I have no choice. See if I have too much stress or over exert my body I end up in debilitating pain. I have fibromyalgia which knots up my muscles so much my doctor called them waves, because they feel like waves to the touch. When they are knotted like that it is hard to move my limbs. Also with more stress this pelvic problem gets worse so I am doubled over in pain. So I am far more productive if I don’t take in stress. I am more productive over all if I take breaks. To that end, I have to embrace this new Oprah- Zen – hippy-fied- mindful – self-care mindset, and I don’t have the luxury of feeling guilty about it anymore. I must embrace it as if it were how I was raised. So I thought I would share some of the things I am doing to embrace my new more stress free lifestyle.

  1. I don’t talk politics with people who yell. Actually, I don’t talk to anyone who yells. I just can’t deal with that anymore. Passion can be portrayed other ways. I’m just done allowing that in my life. I’ve learned it’s not productive to talk back when people are that upset.
  2. I don’t watch the news. I know that is a horrible thing to say but I have the internet. I can read. If anything big is happening in the world I see it there. The news is always bad. I don’t want to constantly be upset about things I cannot change. So many times I take the news into my heart and it stresses me out. I know enough trust me. I get the news from places where people write thoughtful discourse. I research candidates for elections and when I have a chance to vote I know how to get informed.
  3. I cultivate my social media feeds to be stress free. If someone is spouting hateful stuff I can’t listen to it anymore. I have added a lot of people who inspire me; people who are general trying to recognize what is good in our life. Facebook is less good for this. On Facebook I am friends with everyone, but I have chosen not to have certain people’s posts go to my Facebook if they are usually political and usually mean.If you would go through my Instagram feed however, you would think I am an extremely cultured and calm relaxing person. I follow many yogi’s, body positivity advocates, and nature lovers. I also follow National Geographic, NASA, Bookriot and DailyOverview which are amazingly insightful and beautiful. I love being able to view the gorgeous pictures and read about people all over the earth trying to live better lives. Everything is beautiful on Instagram. Isn’t that the point? I don’t really get Twitter. I just try and fill my feed with funny people there.

 

  1. I’m also trying to recognize what is good. I am trying to everyday be more grateful for the life I do have. It starts with the little things. Instagram is a great place for this. I take a picture of something and write why I am grateful. It makes me feel good to look back on my feed when I am having a bad day. To remember what had me so tickled the day before.
  2. I am embracing this mindful thing everyone keeps talking about. When I am with my husband my mind is fully with him. When I am walking down the Philadelphia streets I am embracing and now fully becoming part of the crazy. I am enjoying my walks, looking at all the people and dancing at stop lights…yeah I am doing that. When I am doing yoga, I am listening to my body more deeply every time. I am also making a show of most things. I have dinner by candlelight. I sometimes even have breakfast by candlelight because it makes me feel special. Actually, I really like candles so these days I am using them a lot. I am in a dark room right now, typing by candle light and laptop screen! I am trying to make life as pretty as I can. It might sound superficial but it makes the minutes better. Why not?
  3. I’ve added meditation to my prayers, sometimes guided sometimes not. It’s helped me slow down and really feel blessed, even when I am in pain. Something I am learning with yoga, meditation, and prayer is that my body, my mind, and my breath are all interconnected. If I slow and deepen my breath then my body loosens and my mind is more clear.

Is there something in your life that you have changed in order to take the stress off yourself? These are just a few of the things I am doing. Is there something you do that makes you feel better about yourself and the world? Please share. I need all the help I can get. I am guessing we all do.

Crash Toone

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This was one of my very high pain days! 

About three weeks ago, I had an appointment with a genetic counselor. I didn’t want to go, but I saw it as a stepping stone to getting my hysterectomy. With my fibroids and supposed Endometriosis, I thought this might remove my pain. My doctor said that she wouldn’t take out my ovaries unless I was at great risk of cancer. I can’t tell you how much that ticked me off. I was under the impression my ovaries were causing me pain. So what? I am supposed to go to this appointment to find out that I am at great risk for cancer? Really?

Well, it didn’t turn out that way. I refused to take the blood test. I don’t want to know if I am at great risk of ovarian or breast cancer. I really don’t. I also don’t want my DNA on file with some lab for them to test. The counselor told me I shouldn’t do it if I felt uncomfortable. So I didn’t.

So I went back to the gynecologist, who is also a pain specialist, who told me that there was no reason to get my ovaries taken out because my ovaries are not causing the problem. She is now telling me that I may not have endometriosis, but too tight pelvic muscles, IBS, and too much stress. Since I have heard for years that this pain is part of my reproductive organs, and this doctor’s office agreed a couple weeks before, I had a hard time believing this new information. It took her the better part of an hour and an intense examination to, sort of, prove it to me. Rather, I should say to get me to shut up and go away dismayed and disillusioned.

I walked to meet a friend who was there for me because we both knew this appointment wouldn’t have definitive answers. She and I talked and she amazingly enough comforted me as much as you can a person who is overwhelmed with emotions, and hasn’t really processed something. On the way home after leaving her I fell in a rather dramatic fashion on thirteenth in the middle of two restaurants outdoor seating. I did a slight somersault and knocked over some chairs. It earned me the nickname Crash, which I have to say I am taking a liking to. Husband says it’s shocking someone hasn’t said that before. Not only because I am unbelievably clumsy at times, but because I like to attack problems and even social situations with all the subtlety of a hammer. I think it makes me sound like a superhero Crash Toone.

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Part of the damage from my fight with the pavement

That was about two weeks ago. Since then I have been processing all this information and I have started physical therapy for pelvic pain. I have also had two of the worst weeks of this pain I have ever experienced. I don’t know if that means it is working or not. I have been on my pain pills most of the time but when I wasn’t I was crying from a deep engulfing depression. It’s been overwhelming. It has been isolating so I haven’t just stopped blogging until now but also haven’t talked to a lot of family and friends. I just had to work this out of my system.

See this new diagnosis I am holding as tentative. It requires me to go to three different doctors several times and change my diet, my exercise program, and my schedule. It is also very expensive. I could go through all of it and still be in pain.

My homework from my first physical therapist appointment is that I have to do ten upward dogs every two hours, and for three days write down my food intake and my waste outtake. That’s uncomfortable. I still have to make some other appointments. I know I should have more done but I promise you that I have been going through the worst pain in my life so far, and hopefully forever.

Last night I finally put on my big girl panties and decided to do attack this with more vigor. I am not going to be grudgingly going to my doctor’s appointments. I am going to be CRASH TOONE, attacking the pain. I am going to plan and write down everything I eat, cut out everything I need to, and do all my physical therapy. I am researching everything I can about all of these diagnoses, and going above and beyond. If this doesn’t fix me I might just have to camp out at my Doctors office until I get an answer. Crash Toone is done playing around.

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Crash Toone: Because superheroes should always have a red lip. 

The Good News

This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that's an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.
This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that’s an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.

September of 2013 I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was prescribed 1750 mg of a drug called Metformin and a Victoza injection every night. That day I cried on the floor with my husband looking on helplessly. In the two years since, I have gone through so much pain and setbacks. I have quit my job, my Dad had a heart attack, I left the friends and family I love so much and moved across country. It has been a really hard two years. Between the PCOS and Endometriosis, I have been in pain, depressed, on pain pills and frankly fed the fuck up.

Slowly I have been trying to take control of my health. First, I started eating all organic about three months ago. I have learned about all the chemicals and antibiotics they put in our food, and how cruel they are to animals in industrial farming. I have wanted to vote with my money for a long time, but finally put that into fruition three to four months ago. An amazing side effect of this choice is my PCOS symptoms have lessened. It was surprising but also very motivating, and so Brad and I decided to take it further. About a month ago we went to a mostly vegetarian diet. Ninety percent to ninety five percent of our diet is meat free.

I went to my doctor’s appointment last week, at the time I found out that I had lost twenty-nine pounds in just a month and a half of my last appointment. This is really awesome, but not even close to the best part. This morning my doctor called to give me the results of my tests. I am overjoyed with the results. I now have the A1C results of a pre-diabetic, not a diabetic!!!! Hard work pays off!  I am not out of the danger zone yet. I doubt I will ever be out of the danger zone truly, but for the first time ever…my numbers are going the other way!!!!!! I am only taking one Metformin now and no Victoza. My doctor wanted me to take two but said it would be okay if I waited another three months to see what I could do in that time to get my blood sugar down.

I have three months to get my sugars down .2 points in order for my doctor to feel good with my current medicine regimen. So that is where I must start. I can do this! I am of the fake it until you make it camp so I say that a lot. However, for the first time ever, I believe it. I am so happy that the choices that I have been making are finally the right ones. I feel like I should celebrate, but I will wait. I have many more meals to plan, and miles to walk before a PLANNED celebration. That’s how I do things now. I plan my indulgences. I make good decisions. That’s me, controlling my destiny over here.

Okay, so I might be having a mini celebration in my head which is pretty powerful these days.

Endometriosis? Really?

I think this is the appropriate sentiment.
I think this is the appropriate sentiment.

It has been a long time since my mother has had to remind me of who I am. I don’t know if everyone has someone like this, but my parents are realists when it comes to parenting. They believe their kids are smart, handsome, beautiful etc. just not the most of any of these qualities. Neither of them have any qualms about telling me how flawed I am if I decide to get too big for the britches as they say.  For instance, once I was very indignantly mad at my husband and Mom pointed out, “You are not such a peach either.”

I am not complaining. Knowing where I stand is something I value. I am telling you this to say that when my parents give me a compliment, I know I deserve it. So Friday, when my Mom told me that I am one of the strongest women she knows, I know she means that. It was one of those moments where I looked inside myself and found something so deeply hidden, it is probably going to take months to dig it out and that is my indignation.

I have gotten a little soft lately. I think it is because I found love and all that bliss it contains. So this pain I have been having every month, this horrible bed ridden type pain that is making me a little crazy, I thought there would be a solution for. I was looking for an answer from other humans. I trusted the medical professionals to find me an answer and just remove this pain. It seems logical. It was blissfully ignorant, the hope and faith that people have who believe in love and such. Right? I mean that is how the world works right, you go to the doctor and leave feeling better and with hope you will feel better…yeah not so much.

I have been going to the doctor with intense menstrual pain for over twenty years. I have had a gazillion different appointments where I have described excessive bleeding and intense pain. I have missed work, vacations and other fun.  I have had ultrasounds and even emergency room visits where they pumped me full of morphine. They have told me the entire time that I have PCOS and that the cysts where causing me pain. So my last appointment at a new doctor here in Philadelphia I asked why I didn’t just get my ovaries removed if they were causing me pain. She said that sounded reasonable so she set me up with an appointment with one of the best gyno/surgeons in Philadelphia.  If you are a follower of my Facebook or Twitter feed, you probably know I have been sort of excited at the prospect of no pain. I have been daydreaming about my ovaries in a jar.

The first thing this accomplished doctor told me was that PCOS doesn’t cause the pain I am experiencing so removing my ovaries would be pointless and stupid. Well she wasn’t that rude but by the look on her face I knew that is what she thought. I immediately started crying. Why the hell hadn’t anyone told me that before? Why was I blaming PCOS for all my pain this entire time? Why didn’t any of the ten doctors I have seen for this before tell me this?

She thinks it is probably endometriosis, but will have to do tests to be sure. She was very vague about treatment. Maybe we will try IUD or to put me on a medication that will put me on a fake menopause. Neither of these things sounds pleasant or like something I want to do. She also said surgery most likely won’t fix anything.

Afterwards I was in a daze. I didn’t really know how I felt other than devastated and extremely exhausted. I had a coffee date with a friend after and she was so lovely to me, and reminded me that there was still hope with this new diagnoses and I was still on a journey to getting better. She also told me that it was okay I felt sad. This was good because the minute I got back to my apartment I called my Mom and broke down.

She was mad too. She had hoped the same things I did, that it would be as simple as removing the pain. Furthermore, she wanted me to get mad too. She said, “Cry today. You deserve to cry today, but then you need to pull it together and be you. You are the strongest person I know and I want you to talk to the doctor and tell her what you want. Don’t cry at the doctors. You are a very capable women, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are not.”

You know it wasn’t the doctor making me feel like I wasn’t capable; it was me and the pain. I let the pain make me feel feeble and timid. I am not timid. I am a bulldozer in sneakers. My family and friends know I am not subtle. My sister told me I needed to pretend that I was advocating for her, because she knows I would be searching for solutions all over.

I would love to say that conversation gave me instant back bone and now I am researching with a resolve. I am researching.  However, I am still having a bunch of feelings I don’t understand. They range from frustration with a system that took over ten years to give me an answer, sadness that I will continue to have this pain, and anger that I still don’t definitively know anything. I am creating a girth of information and choices for me, but in the meantime, I am frustrated by the lack of information. I am re-angered as I look for answers in the chat rooms. The women there have all been ignored or told their pain either is made up or doesn’t matter. There isn’t one story I have read so far of women who were believed, cared for, and helped right away; years after years plagued by a debilitating pain and no one listened. I flit between resolved to find my answer and all these other feelings, some of them all at the same time.

That is where I am at now. I am in research mode. At the very least, I am again taking my health into my own hands and searching for an answer.

I had no idea I was so disgusting.

When she invented "smad".
Sookie from Gilmore Girls. (Thank you Buzzfeed for the pictures)

I enjoy this new fat turn around we have been having.  Women of all shapes and sizes are starting to claim Hey, assholes, we are humans too. I didn’t really understand the depth of distain for me or my people. I mean I have dealt with teasing and the occasional conversation where people give me a certain look of embarrassment for me and my shameful fat—but hate? I haven’t experienced hatred. I am sure people do hate me, but not usually because I am fat. I am not saying it doesn’t happen. Apparently fat hate is common according to a Salon article I just read here: http://www.salon.com/2015/06/14/back_off_thinsplainers_fat_people_have_heard_it_all_before/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

These ladies have studied fat and assumingly fat people? I don’t really know what that means. I know the hatred must be true because I have a lot of friends who have felt this weight distain. My husband has told me there is a Reddit section that had to be blocked called: r/Fatpeoplehate. I know I might have joked once or twice about beautiful thin women saying, “Don’t you just hate her,” but that was only teasing and was meant to be flattering. Do thin people really HATE fat people?

Isn’t this the stuff of middle school drama? Aren’t we all supposed to be grown? Media? Society? I don’t really understand it. Aren’t your mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters fat? I mean I can’t imagine when sixty plus percent of the American public is fat that there is anyone who doesn’t know and love a fat person. However, these things are as illogical and apparently as prevalent as racism, sexism, and homophobia. All of them stem from fear and pain. There is no logic in hating a section of humans.

On the other hand, the resulting body positive movement has been good for me, even though I haven’t felt this blatant hatred. I have been following Instagram ladies that are plus sized like me and it has been a revelation. I am really loving seeing women who are my size wearing beautiful clothes, made up faces, and in yoga poses I aspire too. It is amazing to me that at thirty nine, I have never seen this before. I have never had anyone in the media whose beauty I felt was attainable.

The beautiful Tess Holliday

Also, now we finally have plus size models. Before the store Torrid came on the scene, we used to be relegated to trying to figure out what a garment would look like on our bodies. We would flip through catalogues looking at women a size two modeling a size twenty four. It would look like a shapeless tent, even if the clothes were tailored. Torrid was established and that was the first time I saw women my size selling clothes my size. It seems logical now, but back then it was amazing. Now we can even look on certain web sites and see normal women wearing the clothes. Things have changed slowly, but it is still astonishing for me to see women like Tess Holiday creating beautiful tableaux’s in fashion magazines. When I do it makes me feel more beautiful than ever.

Between those pictures and my favorite actresses Melissa McCartney and Rebel Wilson I am finding it amazingly comforting to see someone who looks a little like me in the media. I was surprised to have been affected so much just by seeing Sookie on Gilmore Girls in those cute clothes and the story line that never addressed her weight. It was like a dream. When Lorelai asked her how long had it been since Sookie had been in a relationship, it wasn’t even implied that Sookie should lose weight to have a more successful love life. As she taste tested cookies and whipped cream, no one said, Hey, you shouldn’t eat that… Sookie was treated like a human, a fully formed person who was loved. It wasn’t that she was loved in spite of her weight. She was loved in her totality. I already loved that series but loved it even more because of Sookie’s portrayal.

When she was super cool.
Sookie played by the wonderful, beautiful Melissa McCarthy

It is only in recent years that we have gotten persons of size on TV and movies in more than a supporting role, and Sookie is the only one I can think of that didn’t draw direct attention to it. I just want to be a human. I want all my plus sized loved ones to be considered human, complete. As I write this I am pleading for myself, but also my family and friends. In my heart I feel a desperation. As that desperation hits me in a wave, I recognize the words. I just want to be a human. I have seen that in my Facebook feed before, I am sure of it. It is the thread underneath every call for equal rights. Why do we look for so many reasons to dehumanize each other?

Yes, being overweight is a health issue, but seriously do I discuss anyone else’s health? Do I point out all the other health issues or waste any time at all thinking about any of the preventable diseases out there? Truly, I don’t think anyone is concerned about my health at all, unless they are a friend or relative. Those people who have posted on a hate filled Reddit, or have made my friends and family feel less than. I can only say, mind your own business, because if I ever stop being socially oblivious and notice someone doing that to a person I love. I don’t know what I’d do, but I am pretty sure you’ll be embarrassed.

We Need A Different Way Of Seeing Things

These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped.  I was the same weight in both.
These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped. I was the same weight in both.

I started this blog because I got tired of hearing how easy losing weight is. I got sick of hearing, “I lost weight like this and you can too!” This is typically accompanied by a picture of the happy smaller person in some sort of tight clothing, next to one when they weighed their worst. The worst picture is always of the person wearing something unfortunate and usually sitting down so their rolls are perfectly blatant or chin down, double chin emphasized. A picture like that could bring one to their senses and start a weight loss journey.

However, what really upsets me is the myth that is perpetrated by the media that weight loss is easy. If I did it this way– you can too. This is not true. In the most basic sense, yes, it is possible to lose weight a myriad of ways. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. It is even more unlikely that I will lose the weight the exact way anyone else has lost it. Everything I do, from waking up in the morning, to talking to my husband is different from anyone else. The most essential and basic relationship is the one with sustenance, and it’s a personal one. Not even my siblings like the same things or eat the same things I do and we are essentially genetically as close to one another as can be. We each have different emotional responses to food, exercise and will power. My own mother approaches food differently than I do, yet, the one stop shop method of weight loss is peddled from every media outlet possible.

One thing sadly missing from most weight loss programs or ideas is the emotional component. It seems blatantly ignored. If you look at other programs for addiction they deal with the emotional component. They ask questions like: How do you deal with stress, how can you get support, why do you use this addiction to cope, and how does your addiction affect the ones you love?

Here is the support food addicts get, jewels like: calories in/ calories out, eat less / exercise more, and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. The simplicity galls me.

What is worse is that over simplification can make failure all the more disappointing. By making weight loss seem easy then it makes it even harder not to internalize self hatred and pain. The fallacy perpetrated by most weight loss companies, that anyone can do their programs, does more harm than good.

For me, I didn’t realize how hard it could be until I had failed many times.  Each time I failed at a diet attempt or exercise venture, I would go into a deep guilt and binge for days. I am sure I am not the only one who didn’t realize that weight loss is a lifelong goal, and a very difficult one. No one admits they were deluded into believing that they could lose weight easily. I would say we are all patsy’s of the weight loss community. If you look at the statistics, you can see two thirds of Americans are overweight, I think that something is wrong with the system. There is a multimillion dollar industry out there, and it isn’t helping as much as we’d think. I believe the problem is the misconception that it is easy.

I want to show that losing weight and getting healthy is not easy. To weight loss professionals and to companies who provide weight loss assistance, I would like to offer this advice: don’t trivialize weight loss. If you want to be helpful, acknowledge the struggle it takes to change an entire lifestyle. Let those people, who do accomplish this great thing for their bodies, be even more proud because society could finally realize the difficulty. Even more, allow people who are having trouble losing weight be kinder to themselves so that it is easier to get back on a healthier path. Studies I’ve read show confidence and self esteem is an important factor in weight loss. It is time that as a society we started to work towards that goal instead of against it.

The Best Advice is the One You Can Take or Leave

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My glorious and wise “Glamma”

I like reading. Magazines are my guilty pleasure. One of my favorite things to do is to lounge on the couch watching a TV show maybe even a marathon and read magazine after magazine. I read everything: Shape, Self, Eating Well, Cooking Light, Marie Claire, Better Homes and Gardens, and many more. I have a subscription where I get a hundred magazines a month and I sometimes even read Consumer Reports. Better Homes and Gardens will tell you how you can make your back porch look luxurious on little money. Some mags will tell you the best food to eat when you’re on your period.

The last couple months, I’ve been seeing the same article in many magazines. These articles say that you should keep your razor somewhere else other than your bathroom. Now, that makes no sense. Something about how the moisture wears the razor down easy and there’s bacteria in the bathroom. I was very small when I started shaving. I matured super early, my black leg hairs sprouting, around second grade. I have been keeping my razor in the bathtub vicinity since then. I have had no problems. My momma and her momma did the same thing. I know because I used Grandma’s to shave off the paint surrounding the tub.

Picture me lathering up my legs in a full bathtub figuring out I left my razor in the living room. Okay, not the most practical place to keep a razor but if not in the bathroom where would I keep a razor- maybe in the bedroom on the dresser? Either way, I would have to get out of the tub and go find a razor because there’s no way after 30 some years of shaving my legs I’m going to remember it is stored somewhere else. I’m just not going to.
What I am figuring out is that even though many educated scholars and doctors contribute to these magazines not all of their advice is for me. In fact, I find some of it to be pretty ludicrous. Maybe they just don’t shave their legs.

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My sister, the summer beauty

My Grandma, my sister Katie and I were at the lake the year before Katie graduated from college. Katie was telling Grandma every piece of advice she had gotten about what degree and school she should was considering. Grandma very gingerly patted her on the arm and said, “You know you don’t have to do any of that right?” Katie looked at her quizzically, her golden hair glistening in the sun. Grandma smiled patiently and said, “It’s just advice. No one knows what you want but you.” While I was a bit perturbed by Glamma’s wisdom there because I had been trying to talk sister into coming to live with me and go to Boise State, I realized what Grandma was saying was the best thing you could say to a young twenty something. Really, it shocked me so much, the simplicity of the statement, that it really hit home with me. It’s just advice.

Shrugging my shoulders, trying to affect a laissez faire look on my face, I say it again: It’s just advice. How freeing is that? Right now, I can go onto the internet, turn the TV to a certain channel, or open a magazine and get loads of advice. Personally I always want to improve myself: my weight, my reading list, my home, and love looking at recipes. Even though I know all advice is subjective and not always for me, it can still feel like I can’t keep up with all the advice. I still don’t have any art over the couch in my apartment I have lived in for over a year. I can’t cook chard to save my life. I will never get to finish all the books from Oprah’s book club. Don’t tease. They pick out really good books.