Those Commercials

olga-guryanova-167262

When I am watching a show that is not on Hulu or Netflix, I get stuck viewing commercials. Often the ones I see are for a medical condition, and the commercial goes on about how 1 in 5 guys will suffer with something and I usually dismiss this as “oh that stuff won’t happen to me, it can’t happen, I am not like those guys, I am normal”. Well guess what? I was wrong, it did happen to me.

A few months ago I started to eat healthy as well as started going to the gym 3 to 5 times a week. I started to feel good, energy was up, I was feeling more positive, and you know all that wonderful stuff that happens when you actually eat right and exercise. About 2 months into the “new me”, I started to get extremely tired. My energy level was horrible and I would wake up feeling like I didn’t good sleep or get any rest. I couldn’t figure it out, I was working out and eating right, I should not be getting worse, I should be getting better.

After about 3 weeks of feeling exhausted I was sitting in my recliner, trying to find the strength to get up and go do something, I saw one of them dreaded commercials again. Feeling tired? No energy? Feeling down or depressed? Every symptom I answered a yes to, the commercial was about low testosterone. Again that can’t be why I am tired, I am in my early 40’s, I am getting into shape, I am active. So I decided to go see my doctor, who in turn ran a few simple blood tests. A few days later I got a call from the doctor. He said your testosterone is 200, normal is between 300 and 800. So that was it, that’s why I was feeling so horrible I was one of those guys in that commercial with the low testosterone.  The doctor gave me two choices, come in to his office every two weeks and get a shot, or apply a gel every day to your shoulder; I took the gel on the shoulder route. It took about 2 weeks to get back to normal, but now life is back to feeling grand and I can get back to eating right and logging those miles on the treadmill.

So fellas, if you notice an unexplained change in your mood or energy level, do yourself a favor, go get checked out. The fix might be easier than you think. Life is too short to sit around not feeling well from something that is actually common to us “normal” guys. Take a few minutes to take care of yourself.

*Testosterone Facts

  • Testosterone is made in testes of men ,ovaries in women and the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys in both men and women
  • Low Testosterone is called Hypogonadism
  • Low testosterone has a high connection to belly fat.
  • You are more likely to have sleep apnea if you have low testosterone levels.
  • Testosterone helps women and men strengthen and maintain bone density, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.

-Pragma

Father’s Day

hope-house-press-251255

Father’s Day

Many will talk about their own father or absence of around Father’s Day. Today I want to talk about what it means to be a great father to my own children. As many of us do, we also have a blended family. My children know two fathers who are active in their lives, biological and a stepfather. I do not need to individualize them, as both have stepped up to the plate and are positive role models.  My children and I are very lucky to have them both in our lives. According to the National Center for Fathering, more than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father and 40% of these children have not seen their father in the last year. Of course we all know that mothers are very capable of raising children by themselves, but if we don’t have to, then why? I can’t stress enough how important the father/child relationship is.

jordan-mcqueen-1290Let’s take the activity of jumping on moms head or climbing and body-slamming me in the tummy as I’m trying to get out of bed. No Thank You. Please go jump on your dad! Here is a great video on the importance of roughhousing with your child.

CLICK HERE ON HOW TO BODY SLAM YOUR CHILD

Another key point in becoming a great father to my children is learning to love their mother. This doesn’t have to be flowers and kisses but it does have to show caring and respect when speaking to or about myself in front of our kids. When a child sees that their parents care and respect each other, then everything is right in the world. They also learn and mimic the relationship therefore preparing for their own marriage someday. Great father’s will keep trying no matter how many times they hear “I hate you”, “you never let me do anything” or “but mom said it was okay”.  Have fun with your kids, bring them up with thick skin but a gentle heart and above all, teach them how to love their mother.

I want to encourage everyone to give the fathers you know a break this Sunday. Everyday should be Father’s Day and if you ask me, it looks like hard work. Don’t believe me, just watch here

CLICK HERE ON FATHER’S WHO DOMINATE AT PARENTING

filios-sazeides-106953

-Alice

For more tips on Father’s and parenting, see these websites:

http://www.fathers.com

http://www.artofmanliness.com

http://www.positivecoach.org

http://www.thefatherhoodproject.org

 

 

My Brain Hurts

jake-davies-235504

My Brain Hurts!

Round three and the logical thoughts and emotional feelings have been puked onto your bedroom floor. Here we go again. Yes we are in our room looking at each other dumbfounded, trying to decipher what the other one is spewing out of their pie hole. Let’s be real for a moment. You know the scene. You have been trying to get your point across every which way possible and your significant other is piling up more bricks than Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  One of you is an emotional communicator, where you may cry, laugh, or yell. You try to convince by using your feelings. The other is a cognitive communicator. There must be fact, rational, and logic. Surly we can fix this disagreement right now.  You both wonder how long it will take to break down the wall by slamming your head against it. No wonder my brain hurts.

Before we can begin to understand each other, we must accept that we have different styles of communication and neither is right or wrong, it just is. Validation of one another is important within any relationship. Validation does not equal understanding or that you agree, but rather you recognize the point they are trying to make. You acknowledge that you are listening and not just thinking about what you are going to say next.  Easier said than done, right?

A common mistake is yelling at your partner. We feel misunderstood, and become passionate about what we are saying. If we raise our voice somehow they will understand me more. This concept is like me yelling at a blind person so I can make them see. I’m not a yeller, but I do find myself passive aggressive. Jabs of negativity can be just as damaging as yelling.  My tone of voice is also something to be desired, or at least I have been told.

And what about those who withdrawal and say nothing.  According to the authors of the book Fighting for Your Marriage, “withdrawal and avoidance are different manifestations of a pattern in which one partner shows an unwillingness to get into or stay in important discussions. Withdrawal is an indicator that helps researchers predicts divorce with surprising accuracy”. I have found that withdrawal cycle seems to occur when one partner pushes more for a result and the other climbs deeper into their safe place of silence.

So where do we go from here? By educating yourself you can be a step ahead of the next disagreement. Readers Digest has always been a great source of advised even in my parent’s time.  They have “Three Ways to Defuse a Runaway Argument”

These tension-tamers can short-circuit an argument that’s getting too hot to handle.

    1.Use anger as a red-alert sign to stop the discussion. Walk away and use meditation, exercise, or another pleasant activity to de-stress.

  1. Reconnect frequently during tough conversations. Use empathy and appreciation to stay close to your spouse. And be on the lookout for your spouse’s attempts to heal or avoid breaches.
  2. Soothe yourself and your spouse. Breathe deeply, slow down the conversation, and take a few minutes to review all the positive steps you’ve taken together to solve the problem already. Share your feelings. The more effectively you can soothe yourself and each other, the more productive your problem-solving session can be.

To read more from Readers Digest on communication, Click Here

-Alice

An Affair of the Heart: Placing the Blame.

paul-bence-222393

An Affair of the Heart, Placing the Blame.

It was the Fourth of July and I was eight months pregnant with our youngest daughter. My husband and I went to a friend’s house for fireworks and had a great time. When we arrived back at home past midnight, we had a fight.  I don’t remember what we started yelling about; I was very pregnant and angry enough to tell my husband to just leave if he didn’t want to be here anymore and he did. It wasn’t the first time we fought, in fact, we were that couple that bickered a lot. When he left, I assumed like any other time, he was just going for a drive, except this time he didn’t come home that night, or any other night for the next few years. The next morning I found out he went to his coworker’s house, her name was Sara. As our marriage and home was turned upside down, I found myself lost. I never saw it coming. We had been married for 7 years, 2 children and another on the way. I experienced every emotion possible trying to figure out why. My husband never had the answer as to what prompted him to leave his family and cling to a younger, single girl with no children and a full free life to live. After 2 years of filing for divorce, endless counseling sessions, tears, anger, and destructive thoughts; we decided to work on our marriage for the children. We were able to stay married another six years before I called it quits. The pain and distrust never got better. It seemed as though neither of us were happy and the kids were definitely not happy. I blamed him for it all, ruining our marriage, our kids’ lives, our families, our house, us having to move, and just life in general.  Now, seventeen years after that Fourth of July night, I can say, the blame was equal.

The biggest culprit in the destruction of our marriage was communication. Both of us came from dysfunctional families. We were brought up where no one talked to each other unless they were yelling. No one gave hugs or said I love you unless it was a special time or event. We never saw our parents show affection to each other and yet we just expected to jump into a marriage because we were young and in love. The expectations were set so high and yet we never discussed them with each other. My husband thought he was playing the role by working all the time, providing for his family and when he came home, he was tired, crabby and expected to be left alone.  The kids and I had to walk on egg shells around him. That left me an angry and bitter wife. I chose the children over him. I was so self-loathing, I actually at one point thought, well, if Jesus was crucified, I can endure this marriage. If I wasn’t crying, I was demanding. I didn’t listen to my husband; therefore he shut down and never talked to me.

Enter the other woman. Sara was young, full of energy, worked side by side with my husband, but most importantly, she had something I didn’t have, a heart for listening. Don’t get me wrong; what my ex-husband did was never an okay way to handle a broken marriage. I now understand that my ex-husband worked so much because he felt more appreciated at work than at home. You see, life gets in the way. Let’s say you have a swimming pool filled to the top with love. You then add a few children (one being special needs) into the pool, along with pregnant hormones, a stressful job, bills, In-Laws, kid’s school activities, PTSD, lack of sleep and just as the love (water) is over flowing onto the grass, you throw in all your suitcases of your dysfunctional upbringing baggage.  Now the pool is packed with everything except the love. Instead of trying to find the love, you fight about who isn’t showing the love, when in reality it is both spouses that has allowed all of the “stuff” to outnumber the love.

peter-hershey-177645

Emotional affairs start out as heart driven. We feel validated, worthy and attended to. Finally someone is listening and giving me the time I so much crave.  To me, affairs of the heart, is so much more damaging than physical affairs. Wendy Lustbader, an affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work stated “It turns out that feeling understood on the level of the soul is far more sexy than sex itself.”  What is more fulfilling than to be connected and understood?  As the significant other who is void of this affair, we doubt ourselves and question our ability to be loved. Why didn’t they confide in me about that concern? Why do they enjoy working more than being at home with the family? Why are they telling the other person about our intimate bedroom life? Why do they seem much happier after talking to that friend than they are with me? Am I not worthy of their love?

What can you do? I encourage you to communicate, but do it in a way that is respectful and loving. This means no yelling, no accusing, and no placing the blame. Write a list of your hurts and concerns. Write a list of your expectations of your significant other. Write down your feelings, using I statements and then come together and talk about it. Cry about it. Learn from each other. Be open to changing the way you view your significant other and be willing to change the way your react to stressful situations. Really listen and repeat back so clarification is accurate. Plan a monthly date night. Invest in a couple’s conference like “Weekend to Remember”. Read some helpful marriage books together. Most of all, Do Not Judge feelings. Feelings just are. Take all that extra energy you are spending on bitterness, hatefulness, selfishness, and self-doubt and transfer it positively into your marriage. If my husband would have told me, he felt unloved, unappreciated and unworthy; I would have placed more effort in correcting my actions.  Remember why you choose each other. Just as it took both of you to come together, the blame of an emotional affair is shared.

-Alice

Arrow Lip Balm

arrow_boost_colorenhancinglipbalm_capoff_1_900x900

In my BirchBox this month, I received Arrow Boost Color Enhancing Lip Balm.

Their description reads: “Between running things at the office, running errands, and running at the gym, we usually find ourselves running low on time. Enter this high-tech lip balm. Formulated to adjust to your unique pH, it enhances natural lip color to create a just-for-you hue. Nourishing ingredients like mango seed butter hydrate and protect, and it has a lovely minty scent. Like all ARROW products, it’s vegan, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.”

“Arrow” is a new product line only made from BirchBox. I first saw this product and thought, that pink is so light there is no way it will do anything for my pale lips. I put it on and a slight mint scent produced an amazing pink color. Not too dark but enough where I did not have to apply my normal stain. You may also layer this balm if you want a little darker color. This moisturized my lips and seemed to stay on for quite a while.  I was curious to see if this only worked on my lips or other parts of my body. I then applied it to my cheeks and behold, they developed a rosy color. Oh the things I could do with this balm.  I will definitely be purchasing this after I am finished with the one I have.  Online you may only order this through BirchBox .  $14 for the balm is an easy price for such great results. If you join BirchBox today,

You can watch this video for more information.     Meet Arrow

If you are interested in purchasing or even trying out BirchBox for only $5 on your first box,   Click Here

-Rebel

Mother’s Day

journey-cloud-241665

Mother’s Day

My entire life, when Mother’s day came around, I would always get mom a little gift,  plant, flower and a card to let her know that I appreciate her. This year I thought to myself that I have never stopped to look into the history of Mother’s day.  Just like most holidays I know what we are supposed to be celebrating but often I never really know what are its origins?

In the United States, the Mother’s Day we currently celebrate stems from a woman by the name of Anna Jarvis who wanted to have a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton West Virginia. Anna’s mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist who had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. Ann Jarvis had also created Mother’s Day work clubs to help address public health issues. When Ann Jarvis passed away in 1905, this was the year that Anna began her quest to honor her mother for all that her mother had to done to help others.

In 1908 the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, but in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day to be held on the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers. Thus began the tradition of taking one day a year to celebrate Mothers.  How I see it, is if your mother took the time to give birth to you, and regardless of how bad or good a mother she may have been, I suppose one day a year can’t really hurt to thank her for giving you life. However I want to leave you with one thing to ponder on, what about a transgendered man, female to male transgender person,  who gave birth to a child, but is now living his life as a man, do you send him flowers each year? Food for thought. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

-Pragma

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who just suck!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who just suck!i-m-priscilla-107402

It isn’t any surprise everywhere you look is blooming Mother’s Day; the commercials, beautiful thank you cards, flower shops and retail chocolate. What you don’t see is the heartbroken and hurt, either an absent mother or an abusive mother has inflicted on one’s heart.  There are many types of toxic mothers but I will only speak of a few.

I have many friends who have endured the tears while telling me stories of how their mother enabled their abusive father. He would tell her how worthless she was, a burden, a hardship, never good enough all while her mother stood in the wings observing but never saying a word. Even as an adult, they weren’t sure if they hated their father or mother more. She just stood silently and allowed her child’s heart to be torn apart only to be molded back into either a codependent or bitter adult.

Then there is the controlling mother, the one that lived in constant fear.  She didn’t allow you to have friends, sleepovers, phone calls, a job, play sports, or socialize with anyone outside of her safe group. She needed to prove to herself and everyone around her that her child would obey to the fullest extent and in turn she never knew she was impeding any growth or independence.

Of course we can’t forget the Narcissistic mother for they live through their daughters and crave the attention for their low self-esteem. They seem to always “one up” you.  If you say you are tired, they will advise you how they are more tired. If you say you lost weight, they will remind you that you have more to go. They are ego driven. If you imply they may have done something wrong, the guilt trip will ensue and you are left with the feeling that nothing you do is good enough. They would rather not talk about a situation than to validate your feelings.

What about the absent mother? Many will say, “at least your mother didn’t yell or hit you”.  “You are right, but she didn’t even love me enough to be around”. Children of unavailable mothers usually grow up into the role of a comforter or protector. As a child of an absent mother, uncertainty and abandonment will take hold.  Your own happiness may seem self-indulgent and as you become an adult you will find yourself always being the responsible one and the “grown up” in many situations. There is no time to trust that others will be there for you, so even at a young age, you become the parent while your mother becomes the child.

Although these examples are prevalent, they definitely do not cover all of the toxicity experienced by children. I personally do not know of any child who has had the perfect mother. In fact, I have seen myself react during my time as a parent in some of the above. As I became a mother, I wanted better for my children than what I received. I knew exactly what not to do as a mother and although the road can be rough, I am still learning. It is very important to recognize the damage that can be transferred over many generations. I encourage you to take some time this Mother’s Day and self-heal. Understand that you do have the ability to not allow your childhood to mold you. Your Mother’s Day does not have to suck.

-Alice