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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Word and Color Theme for 2015 Goals and Dreams

brave bold red orange inspiration san diego hr mom
I came across a blogger who mentioned she chooses a word and color for each year, kind of like a driving theme or north star to guide yourself by.  I thought about this, mulled it over in my mind for about 2 minutes, and instantly fell in love with the idea.  She talked about how to choose your word and color, and before she even got two words out, I instantly knew my word was going to be Brave.  When I closed my eyes, all I could see were oranges and reds like the sunset.  Ironically, as I came to this conclusion, she mentioned her colors were going to be the same exact ones.  I had only skimmed her blog post before and laughed to myself when I went back and read it in more detail.  Her word last year after thoughtful reflection was Brave as well though she never formally picked one.  After reading that, I knew it was just meant to be.

So what then do you do with a word and color?  I take it as a driving theme for myself, a filter and a question through which I will run all my plans and actions.  It does not have to be formal, but I have posted my word above my work space as a fun reminder about the Brave new things I want to do in 2015.  I want to make sure I consciously stretch myself and go out into the world with bold ambition.  If I find myself feeling timid or shy or questioning whether I should take such and such risk, I will remember my word.  Brave.  I will close my eyes, focus my energy on that word.  Repeat it to myself.  Feel the colors, the warmth radiate as I imagine the soft oranges and reds swirling around in my mind's eye.  I will use that energy to inspire and fuel my efforts.

I am so excited to see what 2015 will bring.  What do you think?  Will you be choosing a theme word for your 2015 Goals and Dreams?  Please share below.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Have Narcolepsy - What Does That Mean?

lots of naps drowsiness narcolepsy

Do you suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness?

I hate how that question sounds like the beginning of a pharmaceutical ad or commercial.  Doesn't it?  Well, here is my story.  I am sharing it in the off-chance it might help you.  It scares me because it makes me feel vulnerable, but I think it is important to share.  I know during this journey, I often felt like I was the only one, so if I make even one person feel not so alone, it will be worth it.

Here is what I know:
  • I cannot drive more than 15 minutes without feeling drowsy.  My husband has to drive if we are going anywhere long distance. Just on my commute to work, I usually have to listen to an audio book or call a family member to keep me engaged. 
  • I cannot sit in a meeting or even a seminar without my eyes starting to flutter. I literally have no control over it.
  • If I am just sitting on the couch with my daughter, I cannot control falling asleep. She has actually come up and slapped me in the face and held my head in her hands staring at me. Even though she's only one (almost 2), I think she understands the gravity of it.  It might not sound that bad but with the birth of my daughter it has become pronounced.
Before You Ask....because I have heard these already:

1.  Do you drink caffeine or consume alcohol?
I don't drink coffee or tea.  I may have a diet coke or a glass of wine once a week.

2.  Do you get enough sleep?
Yes, I usually get anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

3.  Have you considered your diet or exercise?
I exercise 5-6 times a week, and I eat fairly clean.

And For Driving...

4.  Have you tried turning up the music, rolling down the windows, or blasting the air?
Yes I have and none of it has worked.  Even, I hate to admit this, slapping myself really hard across the face does nothing.

5.  Are you safe to drive?
Yes, I am a really good driver at short distances and have never been in an accident.  I have managed it really well by listening to audio books or calling family members via bluetooth, and my husband drives most weekends or on road trips.

Have You Gone to the Doctor?

I had before with no results, BUT it had come to a point that I was worried I would fall asleep watching my daughter and she would get hurt.  Before, when it was only me, it was not as big a deal if I took little cat naps here and there. I mean I literally could fall asleep anywhere. People were enviable that on a flight to Europe, I could sleep for 90% of it. They called it my super power. Not so fun anymore.

Could it be Depression?

Initially the doctor's assessment was that "Sometimes there are no answers."  She was skeptical I had anything wrong with me because my symptoms did not perfectly fit into any diagnosis she could immediately think of.  When I burst into tears from frustration that she could not help me, she said, "Well you know, it could be depression. I could prescribe you some anti-depressants."  Eventually we ruled that out too.

In the end, at least, she deferred to sending me for some more tests.
  • Blood Work to see if I was anemic or had a thyroid issue
  • A Sleep Study to see if I had sleep apnea.
  • Referral to Neurology to see if I had narcolepsy
She assured me I had none of them but that we might as well rule them out.

Well the test results are in, and I Have Narcolepsy...without cataplexy (loss of muscle control).

Which means, I do not lose muscle control, collapse, and fall over while walking or talking to you, which is why I think I never considered I might have narcolepsy.  Cataplexy is probably the most prominent symptom people associate with narcolepsy.  In doing more research, I learned that Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that impacts 1 in approximately 2,000 people in the United States.  Incidence of Narcolepsy can vary by ethnic group as well. The highest occurrence is found among the Japanese at one in about 600.  And I am half Japanese.  Need I say more?

It's like a light bulb has gone off for me.  All the dots are beginning to connect.  I am still educating myself, but overall I just feel a sense of relief.  The neurologist I saw was amazing. He talked with me for a full 45 minutes and really listened to what I had to say. At the end, he shared that he actually has narcolepsy too and chooses just to manage it instead of medicate.

It might not seem like much but he recommended eating sunflower seeds while driving. I tried it and IT WORKS. For me that is literally life changing.  I currently have anxiety about meeting up with friends that live in another city because I know the drive will be too hard for me. How sad is that?

The Other Symptoms I have but never thought were related are as follows:
  • REM Sleep within 5 Minutes of Falling Asleep - versus the 80-100 minutes it usually takes others.  (I never thought having 5+ dreams a night was weird).
  • Sleep paralysis – A limpness in the body associated with REM sleep resulting in temporary paralysis when the individual is falling asleep, or awakening. Episodes can last from a brief moment to several minutes.
  • Hypnogogic hallucinations – Events of vivid audio and visual events that a person with narcolepsy experiences while falling asleep, or while awakening.  
  • Disrupted Nighttime Sleep (DNS) – The inability to maintain sleep for more than a few hours at a time.  (I assumed I just had an active bladder).
It is still a fairly recent development for me in the last couple weeks.  I am not even sure I should share it for fear of what people will think of me.  My doctor even said I should ask my manager about working in naps during the day (would have a doctor's note and everything) but that just feels like too much right now.

I do not want people to look at or treat me differently.  I am determined though to manage this and not use it as a crutch. I honestly just feel relieved to know that I was not making stuff up. I really do have a condition and the validation of that was really all I needed.  Do you have any friends or family that this sounds like?  How about yourself?

Let me know.  This is all new to me but I would love to connect!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hampton Creek Just Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip - Product Review

dairy free no egg cookie dough
Mmmm....cookie dough.  One of those sinful indulgences that usually conjures up memories of baking cookies in the kitchen with mom.  I know it does for me.  I immediately have images of licking spoons and even purposely ineffectively scraping the bowl just so there would be extra cookie dough I just had to eat (wink wink).  It has been a long time though since I have made cookies from scratch, and with the whole raw egg thing, I have long grown out of eating raw cookie dough.  Enter Hampton Creek's Just Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip.

When I was first asked to review the product, what really stood out to me was that it was endorsed by Oprah.  I thought, this must be legit if Oprah is writing about it.  I do not usually accept requests to review products but for this I made an exception.  

Here's what I LOVED:

  1. All Natural
  2. Sustainable
  3. Affordable
  4. Cholesterol-Free
  5. Dairy-Free
  6. Egg-Free
The only thing that would make it over the moon incredible for me is if it was also Gluten-Free.  Maybe someday ;)

They suggested a variety of recipes, but as the days passed by I found myself just taking a spoon out of the drawer and scooping myself a bite while I pondered which recipe I should try.  Being egg-free, I felt it just screamed to be eaten in its true and happy state.  Cookie dough is no longer cookie dough once you bake it, therefore if you love cookie dough, this is probably one of the safer products for you to indulge.  Back to my dilemma though of how to eat it, should I:
  • Ball it up and toss it into a brownie mix
  • Stick it between a couple graham crackers for a dough sandwich
  • Blend it into a milkshake (Tried this one and don't recommend it.  The cookie dough gets lost.  Maybe if you just ball up a couple pieces and mix it in with a spoon)
  • Add it to vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Drop it in some yogurt
  • Use it as the base of a pie or tart
  • Make cookie dough pops
  • Deep fry it
Alas, I only got to try one of those options, aside from the boring just bake it in the oven on a cookie sheet recipe.  I found that the days passed and the dirty spoons piled up fast.  I opened my fridge and as pictured above, I realized my husband and I had eaten the tub.  I think though that the point of the review is right there in that fact.  It was delicious enough and on its own merits to be eaten just as it is.  No need to add anything or fancy it up.  I think there is some poetic beauty in that given it is about being natural and free from "the other stuff".  I give it a thumbs up!

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rainbow Vegetable Bake Casserole

Healthy Recipe Lose Weight
Looking for a healthy vegetarian casserole?  I have been wanting to try this for a while now, and am so excited with how it turned out.  The vegetables you use are totally changeable and up to you.  I tried to incorporate as much color as I could, but much of what you choose will probably depend on what is in season as well.

If you are new to my recipe posts, please know that I tend not to measure things so these are estimates.  I am kind of a free spirit in the kitchen :)

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion
2 Tablespoons of Garlic
4 Zucchini Squashes
1 Purple Potato
1 Sweet Potato
4 Small Red Potatoes
4 Red Bell Peppers
1.5 Cups Mango Salsa
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Cup Shredded Cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Dice up the onion and mince up the garlic.  Saute both in a skillet with olive oil until softened.  
  2. Spray the inside of a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread the onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish.
  3. Slice the rest of the vegetables up.  The thinner the better.  Place the sliced vegetables in the backing dish vertically, in an alternating pattern.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Pour the salsa evenly over the top.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
Enjoy!  This is a great dish to make on the weekend and heat up during the week as a side dish to anything you make.  So yummy and a fantastic way to get all your daily vegetables.

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