Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guys-- Whatever You Do, Get THIS Part Of Her Gift Right

OK, so it's time again for me to reiterate the importance of Stocking Stuffers in making her feel special at Christmastime. So CLICK HERE to read what I said two years ago-- to this day, it's one of my most visited pages on my blog, because the tips there are timeless, and I'm betting you'll learn something.

Then, after having read that, you still need more gift guidance, feel free to visit Stuff Kimmy Likes: The Store for my favorite gift picks for this year. I've even gathered a bunch of unique Stocking Stuffer ideas that you may not have considered-- many still available to be shipped in time for Christmas.

Best of luck, gentlemen. YOU CAN DO THIS!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Because it is Invisible Illness Week, 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

This is one of those questionnaire things that some of my friends participating in Invisible Illness Week are answering and passing along. In solidarity with those who suffer an Invisible Illness, and in hopes of raising awareness, I've decided to share my answers, too. This is not a "fun" post, but one in which I am brutally honest about my experiences and feelings surrounding being chronically ill. Even if you know me very well, I doubt you know much of this stuff, because I don't normally share on this level. But today I am, so here goes. You've been warned... ; )


1. The illness I live with is: Chronic (Daily) Migraine

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1975, when I was five, with Migraines. Confirmed in 1980 and specified as Classic Migraine without Aura. Diagnosed with Chronic (Daily) Migraine in 2004.

3. But I had symptoms since: 1975

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: not having been able to work for the past few years.

5. Most people assume: that, because I maintain a positive attitude, I am far more "OK" than I really am. 

6. The hardest part about mornings is: those on which I wake in agonizing pain. (The migraines often start while I am asleep.)

7. My favorite medical TV show is: not on the air, apparently, because I do not have a favorite medical TV show. Wait, is Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew considered a "medical show?"

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my iPhone. When I'm most home-bound, the internet is my lifeline to the outside world. The iPhone allows me to reach out, but I don't have to sit up to do it. The iPhone also makes it easier for me to track my illness/treatment, using various apps.

9. The hardest part about nights are: not being able to get comfortable enough to rest/sleep during an attack.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please.) Approximately 4-8 pills. Up to 3 injections.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am open to anything that makes sense, given my symptoms/patterns/triggers/etc., and have explored and/or tried almost every reasonable treatment option that's been suggested to me.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: a visible illness, in a heartbeat. I've found that most people who have never experienced a severe migraine have no idea what it is like. Because the extent of the pain I experience is not accurately depicted on the outside, it can be very isolating to endure it alone, on the inside.

13. Regarding working and career: I miss working/being a productive member of society/a full partner in my marriage far more than I could articulate here. No words.

14. People would be surprised to know: the degree to which my illness has devastated me, as well as the variety of ways it has done so. Sometimes I feel like Humpty Dumpty, looking for pieces of my old self anywhere I can think to look.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: my profound limitations, and the fact that I cannot expect/depend on my body to comply with my wishes, plans, or goals. And that sometimes we just flat-out don't get what we want. Period.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: taking the initiative to start something that I thought was much too big for me to handle, yet too important to not try. I tried, and succeeded, and it's truly ended up being one of my proudest accomplishments. (But it's private, so no questions, please.)

17. The commercials about my illness: make me think violent thoughts about the advertising/marketing professionals responsible for putting them on the air. Particularly, whoever came up with the idea of putting Excedrin, Advil, or anything else into a different box with the word "migraine" on it. Hi, I can read. And it says here that it's the same medicine as the one without "migraine" in the name. So thanks so much. For the new box. That contains the old medicine. That didn't work under that name, either. [SMACK!]

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Working. Thriving. Making money. Surpassing expectations. Being "the best" at something. My swagger. (But it IS coming back, bit by bit.)

19. It was really hard to have to give up: work, my income, feeling capable/talented, a sense of achievement, and eating lots of fresh bread. =)

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: crocheting. I taught myself while in the hospital a couple of years ago, and I enjoy it.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: accomplish something-- anything-- that I could be deeply proud of, no matter how big or small the task. I wish I could go back and work a day in my old Origins store with everybody who was there at that time (during the holidays, even), because I was good at it, and had such fun doing it. It may have been an hourly job with retail hours, and considered "a waste of my potential" by some, but the *feeling* I got doing that job well was invaluable, and I'd give anything to have that back. (Not the store-- the FEELING.) Helping people feel better about how they looked truly enriched my life.

22. My illness has taught me: that thinking I would be able to "push through" my migraines for my entire life was an unreasonable expectation. I was lucky to have been able to do it for 31 years before my body finally caved. I admit that I sometimes hate myself for not appreciating my own strength in having been able to "function" for that long, but choosing, instead, to be angry with/disappointed in my body for its having failed me, and, thus, dismissing all the victories that came before. I've learned that I should be kinder to myself, and it's often very difficult, as I am my own worst critic. When conscious of it, I make the choice to love and be grateful for my body, rather than undermining its efforts with negativity and resentments.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: anything that feels like pity to me. Compassion is a wonderful thing, and I cherish it, but if I hear how "sorry" someone is for me more than, say, twice in one conversation, I start to have violent thoughts about whomever is saying it to me. And they get more violent with every instance it is said. Seriously. If you do feel sorry for me, I would just rather not know.

24. BUT I love it when people: follow my lead when I try to change the subject from my illness in conversations. I appreciate people caring and wanting to stay updated on my progress, but it really is one of my least favorite things to talk about in the whole wide world, so if I do try to change the subject, I'd love it if you'd let me. [You can bring it up! Just follow my lead, and move on when I do, k? K.]

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "this is only right now." and "I've survived worse pain than this. I can do it again." And a photo I have of a precious child, my youngest BFF, whose look says to me, "You can do it, Aunt Kimmy!" And she's right. I can, and I do. So far, every time.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: that, if pursuing an answer from traditional medicine, it is imperative that you be evaluated/diagnosed/treated by a Neurologist who specializes in Migraine, because there is still much too little known about the disease yet. Anything short of a migraine specialist is a waste of time, and a disservice to you. Think about it-- it's a BRAIN DISEASE, so you want to make sure you're being treated by someone with a full grasp of what your treatment actually DOES to your brain. 'Cause it's pretty important not to mess it up. I feel compelled to also say here that if your child starts to experience frequent headaches, the same rule applies-- take them to a Pediatric Neurologist who specializes in migraine. I implore you to never stop looking for answers until your child has relief of some kind. "He/she'll outgrow them" is not an answer. Keep looking. Read everything you can. Be your child's advocate. Do not stop.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: the depth of the trauma of failed treatments. I realize now that hope is sometimes the most frightening thing in my world, because the disappointments over the countless things I've tried that didn't work have been so incredibly painful. I can hardly give it much thought without some part of me wishing I could just immediately cease to exist. Poof! Over. [Whew. Yuck. Next question.]

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: When I was little, my mom was great at "talking me down outta the tree" when I'd become hysterical from the pain. I still try to hear her soothing words when I have trouble settling down from the anxiety that excruciating pain can cause. She'd rub my back and  say stuff like "It's OK… deep breaths… be still, now… I'm right here… Let's think of the beach… You're lying on the picnic blanket under the umbrella… You can hear the waves, and feel the breeze… You can do this… You can do this… " She was also really good at guiding me through a body scan meditation, which was/still is especially good when I felt the most uncomfortable in my skin. Sometimes, I have to be coaxed into relaxing, and she was so kind to always make such an effort to soothe me, when there was really almost nothing that anyone could do to make me feel better. She found what she *could* do for me, and did it without hesitation. My dad did, too. He has always rubbed my neck when my head hurts, and it really helps. His anti-headache neck rubs are The Ones By Which All Others Are Judged.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: my Invisible Illness has impacted my life in countless ways, but I tend to keep pretty quiet about it, because it's depressing! But if my experiences help anyone else out there who suffers, I'm happy to share it. I went decades without knowing others who had poor health, and I realize now how lonely that felt.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: like somebody out there wants to understand me/my experience a little bit better. I am grateful if any words on this page get read by anybody but me, so if you can see this, thanks, whoever you are. =)


Click http://invisibleillnessweek.com to learn about Invisible Illness Week, and consider participating in "the note" project!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Like National Headache Awareness Week.

You may know that I've endured chronic migraines since I was five. Up until I was 34, I had an average of 3-5 migraines/week, which then turned daily. Since then (and I am now 40), it's been a challenge I never expected to be so difficult-- I eventually became unable to work, haven't been healthy enough to start a family, and am coming out of a couple of years of being virtually homebound. To say it's impacted every aspect of my life would be an understatement-- it's taken a toll on my mental wellness, my marriage, my self-worth, my confidence in my (seemingly long-gone) professional abilities, and my friendships. It's been the biggest challenge I've ever faced.

The good news is that I have made huge progress in the past year, thanks to finally having found a Neurologist who was willing to team up with me to find what might work FOR ME. He asks (lots of) the right questions, gives great consideration my answers and my past history, and is willing to "think outside the box" to develop a plan for effective treatment. For me, that plan included 5 1/2 month with a PICC line in my arm, giving myself IV meds every eight hours. Since the removal of the PICC line in December, I've self-administered the meds via syringe, as needed. It hasn't been perfect, especially considering my aversion to needles, but it's been progress that I have desperately needed. While I still experience debilitating attacks a couple of times a week, as well as "manageable" mid-level pain on other days, I am also enjoying pain-free time, which is something I hadn't had for many years.

I know that I am not the "typical" migraine sufferer, but I write this to share with you the seriousness that can come with this complex biological disease that is often dismissed as commonplace and insignificant. "Devastation" is probably a better word, actually. My extreme case doesn't affect my empathy for anyone else in the world who suffers from headaches of any kind, any severity, at any frequency. IT IS A PROBLEM, and it is my hope that awareness can help solve it.

So here is a link to information about National Headache Awareness Week. I hope you will check it out. Let others you know who suffer from headaches know that the cause is important to you however you see fit. And if you endure headaches on a regular basis, GET HELP. There are simple solutions out there for many, so, as a personal favor to me, don't suffer if you don't have to.

To that end, here are three books that I've found to be among the most informative and helpful. If your head ever hurts without relief, read them. More importantly, if someone close to you suffers from headaches, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is your understanding. It's common to feel helpless when someone around you is in pain you can't fix. Believe me when I tell you that YOU being informed profoundly helps the one who suffers.

Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain
Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain
The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health
The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health

Migraine-Free Cooking!
Migraine-Free Cooking!

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Celebrating being pain-free as I end this note (YAY!),

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Oscars

Oscar Night is one of my all-time favorite nights of the year, so I thought I'd share something I wrote about it on another blog on Sunday, February 27th, 2005. (In case you don't remember, it was to be a great night for "Million Dollar Baby.") 

Tonight is Oscar Night, which simply does not happen without thinking of my mom.

When I was growing up, we watched the Oscars EVERY year. We'd cry at the sweet speeches and roll our eyes at the people who took themselves entirely too seriously. (At a young age, I just rolled my eyes when mom did. My Eye Roll Radar came later, with age.) We loved watching the glamour and pageantry of it, and we loved movies, so we had all sorts of opinions and guesses as to who should and/or would win. It was great fun, but not without rules.

The Rule was this: we could watch the Oscars (read: stay up late on a school night) if and only if the ladies (mom and I) wore something sparkly and the gentlemen (my brother) wore a tie *somewhere* on their person. This usually meant that I'd put on a pair of her clip-on rhinestone earrings with my very favorite nightgown and my brother would wear pajamas with a tie around his head, then his waist, then his arm (a la Rambo), and any other place he could come up with as the night progressed. (He wasn't *into* the Oscars then like Mom and I were-- more into the staying up late-- so he got bored quickly.)

This rule was enforced (by me) even on the Oscar nights we were with my dad, and the tradition has continued every single year since I can remember. It's still upheld (by me), so as I type this, I am in my very finest fleece PJs and a tiara (I just happened to have one), while my husband cooks dinner in jeans and an ugly tie, in case he gets food on it.

I love this tradition she left me, and can't help but consider Oscar Night just a big ol' glamourous tribute to my beautiful mom. :)

If you watch the Oscars tonight, I hope you enjoy them, and that your favorite films do well. I will be wearing something sparkly (which I have yet to pick out) while remembering my mom, rooting for "Precious" in just about every category for which it's nominated, and celebrating this night dedicated to the recognition of outstanding accomplishments in my favorite art form.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Latest Obsession: Norma Kamali for Walmart

Yep. I said Walmart. Thanks to one of my most fashionable friends, Ashley, I discovered last year that Norma Kamali has a clothing line at Big Box Behemoth, The Walmart. (I'm talking about THE Norma Kamali, style icon since forever ago. The designer of two of the coolest vintage pieces I own-- one full-length hunter green french terry coat, and a fabulous brown cape, both from the mid-80s-- my Mom's prize possessions!)  Ashley gave the heads-up on a gorgeous NK trench that could be had for a mere $30. As soon as I heard this news, I jumped right onto The Walmart.com (yes, the "the" is intentional-- it's "The Walmart" in Real Life, so it's "The Walmart.com" online. Deal.) and snapped me up a Kamali trench in black. And I have worn the heck out of it ever since. The quality is outstanding, the cut is perfect, and the PRICE. Well, it just cannot be beat. It even won an award from Travel & Leisure Magazine!

But my love for Norma's stuff at The Walmart didn't end there. Oh, no. I fell in luuuurve that day. Since then, I've purchased several staples. A Boyfriend Jacket that retailed for $20, marked down to $10 when I found it on a clearance rack. I got the All-In-One Jersey Dress, $24, in a gorgeous wine color, which can be worn several different ways. The quality of the jersey fabric is exceptional, and far exceeded my expectations of something that only cost me $24. A black jersey cowl neck tank for $6. My favorite thing, though, is what I believe to be THE Best Sweatpants Ever Made. You may have seen them in Lucky Magazine recently. Norma calls them the French Terry Athletic Jog Pants, but she's just being modest. They are $15, and worth every penny. In fact, I won't even go into what I actually put myself through to get spare pairs (I needed one grey, one black, one brown, of course), but it did violate my personal No Ordeals Rule, and I don't regret it a single bit. Anyway, I think you need at least one pair if you ever sport a "relaxed" look, because these are nice. As in not sloppy looking. Chic, even. I know, I know. Don't ask how. Just get yourself some and then come back here and tell me how versatile they are. Besides, they have pockets. Four of them!

ANYWAY, the greatest news I have for you today, though, is that I've seen the Spring Line on Norma's website, and it is fabulous. These new pieces are gradually being added to The Walmart.com, so the links I have for you to click on are a mixture of those from that store with links to the pieces shown on the Norma Kamali website. The ones for which I have prices listed are now available for purchase. So... ready to hear what's to come? Here's a taste.

As I mentioned before, the quality jersey fabric she has used in her past pieces is outstanding. If this season's pieces are "cut from the same cloth," we are in for some exceptional styles. Here are some of my favorites.

Jersey Kimono Top, $18This one is described as having a tube-style midriff, which I think could be very flattering when paired with the right pants or skirt-- as long as it doesn't add any bulk to your middle. I really love that the sleeves are elbow-length, because the drape of the jersey is beautiful. I can see myself wearing this a lot, both with a belt and without.

Sleeveless Tie-Waist Dress, $18
This one has a timeless silhouette, and sports what has always been my favorite neckline (somewhere between a bateau and a Sabrina). This is a classic Little Black Dress, with a sash that can tie in front or in back. It hits just below the knee.

Also check out the Sleeveless All-In-One Dress, which is expected to be online on 2/21 and in-store 3/1, and the entire jersey collection here.

The Career Jacket and Cropped Pants are great pieces to add to your work-outfit rotation. I do admit, though, that I would love to see a long pant in this collection.

The Trench!
Gorgeous, right? I absolutely love mine. This season, it's available in black and "vintage marine" blue. Looks like it will start to be available on/around 2/1. I highly recommend it, as everyone needs a well-fitting trench coat in their closet.

Casual Line
These are the pieces that excite me most this season. They're very "me," and I could see myself wearing almost everything in the collection. Here are the ones I am craving most.

Belted Wrap Cardigan, $20
I am all about the open cardigan right now. Ever since having fallen in love with Victoria's Secret's Soft & Sexy Wrap, I have started collecting them. They're casual, yet versatile enough to dress up, and they're usually cuddly and comfortable. And if you don't know me, I'm a slave to comfort.

This one doesn't have the long front of the VS wrap, but it has enough in front to warrant the name "blanket sweater" on the NK website. I love it, and can't wait to wrap up in it, myself.

The Cap Sleeve Shirtdress Stripe is simply adorable. The Pin Stripe Jean Jacket is a great new spin on the plain denim jean jacket. Check out more from the Casual Line here.

Since this is the category from which my beloved sweats came, it makes sense that within it is my absolute favorite piece from the entire Spring Line.

Motorcycle Jacket

Available in black and grey heather French Terry, I think of it as a kinder, gentler version of the on-trend leather biker jacket. I love the zipper detailing, as well as the long sleeves. I want it, and can't wait to have it! Kamali's website says it will be available 2/1. I guess I can hold my horses until then...

Check out the rest of the Athleisure line here.

Organic Cotton Tees

Of this collection, I think the Button Peace Crewneck Tee is the super-cutest, and is high up on my wish list. Her tees typically run between $8-$12, and I'm hoping this one will be priced similarly. It will look great under a blazer with some denim trousers. (Or with some cute grey sweats, of course...)

More to See
As if these aren't enough to whet your palate, Kamali also has even more new offerings in Maternity, Swimwear, and Accessories.

Obviously, I am completely smitten by this fashion icon's low-cost contributions to the retail fashion world. But I'd love to hear what you think. Does it make you want to check out The Walmart? Have you seen similarly budget-friendly lines that we should know about? Leave a comment and let me know!